Cicero: 'Oh the times, oh the mores'

In one evening of cable TV we can enjoy a small child being beaten with a tire iron, a women in her thirties in love with an 11-year-old boy, kissing him on the lips and taking naked baths with him. (She thought the boy was her dead husband.) Yeah, right.

And we wonder why there are so many crazies kidnapping children for sex slaves. The violent South Park film clip of children hitting an animal until bloody at the Oscars drew laughter and applause. We export South Park to millions of children who don't have drinking water.

Even our mayor can't say no to naked men walking in school zones. Now there's a new naked man walking around with only a "fanny pack" on. Why don't we just change the name of the town to As-land? If this is what civil liberties are about, liberties are not civil. I don't think the Founding Fathers had naked men walking around in public in mind with the First Amendment.

We are a people more active in protecting the right to own a gun than protect the rights of our children. We don't demonstrate what decency is because we are so unsure of what it is anymore. Worse, we fail to teach our kids the most important lesson of democracy — that freedom is not license.

Then there is the hypocrisy of not allowing nakedness downtown or in the parks for fear it might upset commerce and tourism. But it's OK if a child going home alone has to pass a naked exhibitionist on the street. Our kids should learn that the body is a miracle in school, not a nightmare out of school.

Our message to Ashland children is that they are not worth the money for schools and after-school programs for those who have nothing to go home to. That they are not worth protecting from weirdos. This defines the character of our town and the lack of character in grown-ups.

Most societies exist without the concept of childhood, while we avalanche our children with sugar and training by television. Children need a stable parent of whatever sex and means. They need laws to protect them and teach them right and wrong through common sense, because the older generation — even the mayor — has lost sight of it.

We don't teach children by keeping them removed and separate, unprepared and afraid of the world. We teach children by making life something that makes sense and is good for them to step into. They need to know we are prepared to make sacrifices for them. No wonder we have an explosion of sex, drugs and drinking among our kids.

What will it take for our town and those whose children are grown up, to realize that all children are our responsibility? That they take our mistakes into an uncertain time. They need our support, generosity and vision about such things as the meals tax for parks for kids. Only by our children (all children) are we truly known.

Leah Ireland is a freelance writer who runs a local caregiving service. Reach her at leahireland@aol.com.

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