Opinion » Street Talk

Think of the children

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First, they came for Victoria’s Secret, and even though I was not a mannequin in the window, I spoke out. Still, a grassroots citizens group managed to successfully apply the biblical mandate of clothing the naked, even though, in this case, the poor soul who received the fruits of their efforts was a chunk of plastic in a teddy. Or a thong. It’s been so long I can’t quite remember. In either case, there was less fake flesh flashing in the Higuera display after the moral posse rode into the sunset, spurring their horses and clapping each other on the back for saving San Luis Obispo from its slow slide into hell.

Then, they came for New Times, and I certainly spoke out. This was my head on the line, after all. As much as I enjoy writing this column, I worry that it’ll be the death of me someday. Each Thursday, while local leaders lambasted and lampooned in these pages read whatever scathing crap I happen to churn out, I bite my fingernails. Someone’s going to order a hit on me someday, I just know it. I’m on so many pins and needles, I look like an acupuncturist’s voodoo doll. If a car backfires, I hit the ground. Then I say that I was just looking for my contact lens, a ploy that never goes over well, especially when I’m wearing my glasses.

Imagine my relief when, after seeing hundreds of copies of New Times thrown into the trash as thoughtlessly as if they were personalized mailers from Ernie Dalidio asking for support of his new project, I learned that people were mad at the meth coverage, not me. Still, I spoke out, only this time, I used an accent so people wouldn’t know it was me.

After the values vigilantes made their opinion of this paper known, they galloped off into the sunrise (it was early morning, I think) and once again hurrahed their victory against Satan, who, without the collective voice of concerned citizens, would surely slither his way into town in some form or another. He’s sneaky like that.
 
Then they came for Urban Outfitters, a clothing store that also happens to sell books like Position of the Day, the cover of which features a drawing of a man who appears to be giving a woman the Heimlich Maneuver. Sideways. Naked.
 
I would like to go on record now saying that I would never, ever, never-ever buy a book like that, mainly because I’m not in the best shape and I’d be afraid of throwing my back out if I tried even the entry-level positions. For journalistic research purposes, I flipped through a copy of the book, which I found near the kids section in a popular bookstore that no one was protesting. Yep. Way out of my league. Who did they interview for this book? Contortionists? Now that’s what I’d be protesting, if I could ever manage to make my voice heard over all the bunched-panty stuffed-shirt parents lamenting that their children, the fruit of their own modestly-covered and never-contorted loins, could walk into the shop off the street—the street!—and slap down some hard-earned paper-route money in exchange for smut.
 
Memo to concerned parents: If your 13-year-old is leaving porn out where you can see it, you should have a talk with him. If he’s hiding it under his mattress because he’s freaked that someone will find out that he actually sometimes thinks about s-e-x, he’s not going to walk into a well-visited store and buy it in broad daylight. He’s going to order it online, from any number of reputable shops that also sell books by Dr. Laura, and then he’s going to find some nudie pictures as long as the computer’s on. The problem, if there is one, isn’t in Urban Outfitters, it’s in your house, and I don’t see anybody protesting out there. Yes, I’m outside of your house right now. Talk to your kids about making good choices, otherwise they’re going to do as you do, not as you say.
 
Now, the high-minded purity police have turned their truncheons to Laguna Middle School, where a teacher is handing out pictures of mannequins making meth, doggie style. Or, at least, you’d think that’s what was going on. In reality, parents are concerned that their kids are being asked to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, because it’s too mature and deals with issues that junior-highers may not be able to handle yet. And they never will at this rate. You can seal your kids off from the world all you want, but, sooner or later, they’re going to learn the facts of life, whether those facts are that bad things happen and lying is bad, as in the case of “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,� or the facts that it’s possible to pleasure a partner while sitting backwards in a rocking chair, as in the case of “Position of the Day.�
 
The problem with taking matters into your own hands is that you’re often so focused on what you’re holding, you fail to see the bigger picture, the one that shows how the world goes on no matter what, and usually does better when people have full access to information and can make their own decisions regarding what they read and buy and do. Also, with your hands full, you can’t really protect yourself from swift kicks to the groin. It’s just something to think about.
 
Kicks aside, what’s next for San Luis Obispo’s grassroots groups? They could pull all of the roses out of local florist shops because the stems have potentially harmful thorns, or, better yet, they could give roses another name. They may smell as sweet even if they’re called “bloody pain blossoms,� but my guess is that people won’t be so eager to buy them. I wouldn’t. You wouldn’t either, unless you’re into that sort of thing, in which case, watch your back. There’s a group of people around here who want to boycott you. ∆

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