Barbara Amiel from Macleans magazine writes In Steubenville, a bunch of high school teenagers got drunk at house parties and one of the girls ended up sans her clothes, of which there were not many to begin with, and no memory of how she got that way. This is a party ending that reminds me of my days living in Whitney Hall residence at the University of Toronto in the early ’60s, kitty-corner to the Zetes fraternity house, which specialized in drunken binges and the noisy smashing of bottles all weekend long. The girls wore more clothes, flip flops had not been popularized and, crucially, no such thing as cellphones and social media existed. But the end result looked much the same from my third-floor window. The Steubenville boys behaved like many drunken 16-year-old males before them when faced with a 16-year-old female drunk as a skunk herself; in other words, they behaved appallingly. Next day, the girl couldn’t remember a thing except that she didn’t have sex as we once understood it. Teenage boys, often horrid beings, texted boastful messages about how “dead” the girl had been and one sent out cellphone photos of her naked. Three days later, the girl found herself the star of a particularly grubby online gossip session going viral. In a normal society, the girl’s mother would have locked her up for a week and all boys present would have been suspended from school and their beloved football team. Instead we had a trial and media circus: two boys out of the many were declared juvenile delinquents guilty of rape (by inserting a finger in her vagina) with custodial sentences of a year each, one getting an extra year for distributing her photo. The boys go on a juvenile sex offender list. The girl could do with an alcohol abuse program while Steubenville clearly suffers from a shortage of parents in situ. We have created an anything-goes sexual society: premarital relationships, same-sex and transgendered ones, teen contraception, abortions on government health plans without parental consent, a popular culture celebrating sado-masochism in books that have sold more than 60 million copies. No problem for me. But to compensate, we’ve hung our opprobrium on a few minor vices. Hence our grim, prune-faced horror if an adult privately views child pornography or pinches a bottom. This is low Victorianism: quietly murder your unborn child but put dust covers on your computer screen should a child’s photo arouse you. Beats me.
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