Thursday, May 3, 2012

Gateway Activities

A short introductory clip from one of my favorite B-movies, Heaven Help Us.  The story has some serious undertones, but this particular scene always makes me laugh out loud and reminds me of what the social conservative movement may have in store for government mandated family life education in the future.  Heaven help us. 

In 1984, the Kevin Bacon dance movie Footloose was released.  In it, the kids loved to dance but were stymied by a repressed congregation and morally strict parents.  Dirty Dancing in 1987 continued the theme of the decade that dancing would lead our impressionable youth astray from our foundational puritanical values and the unquestioning acceptance of the rigid gender role definitions of the preceding generation.  Patrick Swayze played the snake, and dancing was the forbidden fruit that corrupted poor innocent Jennifer Grey. 

It is quaint and charming to think that back in the 50s and early 60s, dancing was the gateway drug to the hard stuff.  You know, dancing with reckless abandon until you got out of the proverbial batter’s box and raced, mouth wide open, towards first base.  After rounding first, it’s a short 90 feet to second base, and no one wants to stop at second base.  If you give a runner second base, he’s going to want to try for third.
It’s common sense, people.  If you start out foot loose, eventually you end up just ‘loose’.

I thought that we as a nation had made peace with kids and their crazy dancing, but after reading about recent legislation in Tennessee, I must be mistaken.

From Talking Points Memo:

The Tennessee Legislature on Friday sent a bill to Gov. Bill Haslam’s desk that, according to the Tennessean, would require sex-ed classes to “exclusively and emphatically” promote abstinence and ban teachers and outside groups from promoting “gateway sexual activity.” 

The bill defines “gateway sexual activity” as: “sexual conduct encouraging an individual to engage in a non-abstinent behavior.” The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Jim Gotto, said the bill wouldn’t address things as innocuous as holding hands, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. But critics of the legislation say the offending behavior is not clearly defined. 

It’s been 40+ years since Elvis’ pulsating hips were allowed to appear uncensored on network television.  I thought the advent of American Bandstand had decriminalized the idea of non-abstinent behavior by way of dancing for millions.  Today, Dancing With the Stars is a top rating program that, while highly suggestive and often wildly inappropriate, seems to attract a wide audience even amongst Christian conservative Nielsen families.  Even The Hammer, Tom DeLay, former House Majority Leader, GOP firebrand and King of the Gerrymander, appeared and tried his best to gyrate from the hips.  While watching DeLay shimmy certainly isn’t “encouraging an individual to engage in a non-abstinent behavior” (at least outside the prison walls), his thrusting may nonetheless fit the definition in this law and remember, DeLay already has a criminal record.

So the newest tactic in the Republican War on Sex is the banning of gateway activities which may include the Electric Slide and the Mashed Potato.  Listening to Rihanna and Katy Perry on your iPod encourages a lowering of sexual inhibitions and listening should rightly fit under the category of “sexual conduct encouraging an individual to engage in a non-abstinent behavior”.  Health care insurance mandates are an unwanted intrusion into the personal lives of Americans.  Dancing footloose like Kevin Bacon at a church social?  That cannot be sanctioned, and indeed, must be legislated out of the culture!

I know, I know – is this really another War On…something?  I think it might be.  Earlier this year, the Republican Party in a small, conservative South Carolina county expected its candidates to sign a 28-point pledge that included promises not to watch porn, be faithful to their spouses and not to have sex outside of marriage.  Once they passed this test of purity and chastity, they also had to pledge to lowering taxes and easing regulations on job creators.  Gotta have your priorities in order.

The Laurens County Republican Party originally decided that anyone who wanted to run for office with the GOP's blessing would have to sign this pledge and be approved by party leaders. They backed off that idea after the state party told them it was illegal and the pledge received international attention, becoming another cultural issues nightmare for Republicans.

The 28-point pledge appeared to be at least in part a response to an extramarital affair had by the county sheriff, who was also accused in a lawsuit of driving his mistress to get an abortion in a county-owned vehicle, leading to an inter-party squabble when the local group's leader called for the sheriff to resign.  There is no evidence that the sheriff was encouraged to lower his moral guard after watching a steamy Charlie’s Angels rerun on Nick at Nite.  Signing the pledge now sounds like closing the barn door after the horses have already left, but what do I know.

The pledge included a statement that marriage is "fundamental to the stability, betterment and perpetuation of our society." (Newt Gingrich believes so strongly in that statement that he has practiced the sacrament of marriage as often as possible.  We Americans believe that more is always better, even when it comes to marriage I guess).

If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to want a glass of milk.  If you allow kids to touch while dancing, they’re going to want to join the Secret Service.  In the minds of the South Carolina and Tennessee Republicans, touch dancing may be the gateway drug to public service, and that my friends, must be stopped.

Once more, in case you didn’t watch it at the top of the post:

Heaven Help Us

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