Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Codes of Conduct And Lack Thereof

My mother didn’t like me hanging around with Jack. She sensed that he lacked a moral compass or control to check his impulses. It was about 1966 when my best friend Philip and I hitchhiked to Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, which was then the coolest place for fifteen-year-old Tewksbury, Massachusetts boys like us to hang out, and Jack somehow managed to tag along. We strolled along the boardwalk and met a trio of pretty girls our age.

We made introductions, paired off for walks along the beach, and made a plan to meet back at the boardwalk in two hours. Philip and I got on well with the girls we accompanied, but upon return we saw Jack being arrested. “You’re arresting me for swearing?” Jack said to the cop. “That’s against the law here?”

“Yup,” he said as he walked Jack toward the cruiser.

“He’s a garbage mouth!” said the girl who made the complaint. “Come on,” she said to the girls with us. “We don’t want to be with these guys.” Jack was actually arrested for making making lewd and lascivious remarks in public. Philip and I hitchhiked back to Tewksbury without him and with soiled reputations for being associated with him. It was my first exposure to what we now call sexual harassment.

The way some men act, they should be ashamed but they aren’t, and that’s the problem. When exposed they say they’re ashamed, but are they really? I don’t think so. Jack wasn’t. They regret their facade of respectability is gone, but that’s not shame. Sexual harassment has been around forever but fifty years ago it wasn’t tolerated in the company of good men. Then it was for decades. Now suddenly, it isn’t. Women are reporting it again like that poor girl who ended up with Jack.

The fathers in my neighborhood were role models for us and they treated females with respect — when we were around anyway. Jack’s father, a WWII vet like almost all of them, had died young of a heart attack before I met him and Jack’s widowed mother couldn’t handle him. The rest of us had fathers who enforced codes of conduct. We were interested in sex the way all fifteen-year-old boys are and we talked about it a lot with each other, but not in mixed company. I had older and younger sisters and treated all girls as I treated them. Jack would never have disrespected my sisters because he knew I would pound him. He acted like a gentleman because he had to.

That’s how it was in the mid sixties where I grew up, but the sexual revolution changed things. After a few years it was okay to “talk dirty” the way Jack did to that girl. Whatever the lyrics to “Louie Louie” actually were (and no one could really decipher them), high school boys and girls would sing whatever salacious versions they imagined while dancing. By the seventies and eighties, boundaries dissolved in the name of “liberation” from “oppressive sexual norms.” Sex wasn’t procreation, but recreation. There was birth control for everyone, and if that failed, abortion. It became item one on the list of “women’s rights.” Pregnancy was disease to be “treated” in “women’s health care clinics.”

Men who had been boys like Jack were delighted by these developments. Then one was elected president in 1992. He was a big supporter of abortion and when his sexcapades became public, feminists defended him. It didn’t matter that he was credibly accused of sexual harassment, groping, and even rape. Feminist and journalist Nina Burleigh who covered the White House for People and Time, said in 1998: “I would be happy to give him a ******* just to thank him for keeping abortion legal. I think American women should be lining up with their Presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs.”

Defending her remarks nine years later in 2007 for the Huffington Post, Burleigh wrote: “The insidious use of sexual harassment laws to bring down a president for his pro-female politics was the context in which I spoke.” Pro-female politics? Clearly she meant abortion. If Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas supported abortion, would feminists have tried so hard to block his nomination nine years earlier?

Today Nina Burleigh teaches at the prestigious Columbia Journalism School. The so-called “Burleigh rule” prevailed for nineteen years until Harvey Weinstein’s sexcapades went public. He and a long list of other pro-abortion men in Hollywood and mainstream media have been brought low. What’s going on? Are things changing again?

My friends have not heard from Jack in decades. If he’s still out there I’ll bet he’s concerned.


Uber_Fritz said...


I enjoy the nostalgic aspect of your blog because it allows me to use a mental time machine to sojourn, perhaps, to better days. As I've previously mentioned, I was raised in Massachusetts and attended a magnificent (embellishment) public high school with a stringent code of conduct. For example, smoking was rewarded with a three-day suspension on the first offense. And, even chewing gum in class was a suspendable violation.

Naturally, teenage females were a primary source of wonder. However, as you mentioned, there was an ever-present code of conduct. High school dances and dating were significant social events. Why? Because that was all that was available so we relished it. Dating might occur if you had the fortitude to ask, and asking was a requisite. It was also feasible that the person of your affection might say, "no!" If that tragedy occurred, then egos were demolished. A similar set of circumstances were in place at high school dances. You just didn't start dancing with a teenage girl, you had to ask. Again, a degree of mettle was necessary and there was a measurable likelihood of being "shut down." Is that what the Beach Boys were describing? Oh, a senior moment, that tune was about drag racing. "Tach it up, tach it up, Mary's gonna shut you down!

Finally, picking up a teenage girl at her parents' home caused angst! You just knew that you'd be under close judicial scrutiny. Thus, pain and fear were powerful motivators!

P. C. Poppycock said...

Somehow as I started reading this I began to recall the stories and scenes of high school kids dancing in total bump and grind mode, with close contact between partners. When was that.....10, 15 years ago? Complete with stories of how adults were helpless to prevent it?

Imagine how those events could be turned into harassment stories if desired. "Without warning, he pressed his swollen crotch against me, grinding it with clear sexual intent. I was helpless in the dim lighting and all the noise and commotion."

Peter said...

I'm really not sure what point the column and the responses are trying to convey. It seems evident that women have always been sexually abused and harassed, no matter how nostalgic the era may be, or whether or not students were allowed to chew gum in class. I'm not sure that sexual harassment got worse in the 60's than it had been prior. The 1964 Civil Rights Act actually addressed the problem by covering it in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Poppycock is correct in the assumption that there have surely been many, many incidents on the dance floor of actual sexual harassment as opposed to frisky, friendly teens dirty dancing. I bet creepy strangers approaching and rubbing against women is a major problem on many dance floors. The point being...?

So it is unclear to me how much Uber, P.C., and Tom actually support the women who are getting assaulted, molested, and abused. Surely you all believe that the accusations against Roy Moore are atrocious and credible. If they weren't, you can bet that people like Richard Shelby and Ivanka Trump, and many others would not speak out against him. How can you not be ranting and raving over the fact that a probable child molester is running for senate? I can only imagine the depth of the outrage had Obama been credibly accused of being a pedophile. And then there are the many charges against Trump. Again, the same charges against Obama would have sent you up in flames. And the pictures of Bill Clinton and Harvey Weinstein? It seems to me that these pictures should remind you just how horrible these predators are, and that you should be speaking out against the rest of the sick lot, Moore, Trump, etc.

So it seems to all come down to politics over human decency. I can only guess that the main reason for turning a blind eye to such atrocious behavior, for poo-poohing away the charges against a pedophile is abortion. People have convinced themselves that it is morally better to protect future lives than it is to protect the lives of those already living. Are the women being abused simply sacrificial lambs to the potential lives of the future? A feeding to the entitled and powerful who will make sure to keep voting for "our values"?

Your friend Jack may very well be still sexually assaulting women, but he is probably not too worried. Not when so many twisted people defend his type, and when he see that his behavior is good enough to be voted into the Senate.

Annie said...

Another excellent column Tom. My husband and I have been discussing how much morals and values have changed over the years. There are no longer any restrictions about what is shown on TV, movies, and other media. Everyday speech is punctuated with swear words and/or vulgarity. Parents don't control their children in restaurants or elsewhere, allowing them to roam about or given devices to keep them quiet. What is being taught in high schools, colleges, etc. has also changed, even to the point of eliminating history, like it never existed. What has happened and is happening to our country??

Peter said...

I agree with almost everything Annie says (I don't think schools have eliminated history), but somehow people try and put a political slant on this. Bad morals are bad morals, speak out against them all.

Brian said...

Hallalujah! Alabama, you done good!!!!

Brian said...

Tom includes a picture that says real men don't beat women, they beat the men who beat women.

Interesting how many people showed themselves not to be real men in not beating up, at least verbally, a person like Roy Moore. Thank goodness that the number of Trump deplorables was not enough to carry a scumbag like Moore into office. And now all his defenders (which include those who turned a blind eye and refused to speak out) are left with nothing - no dignity (not that Trump has any to begin with), and no Republican Senator in Alabama. The 2018 elections could be real interesting!

Anonymous said...

Weinstein trying to blame the 60's and 70's as an excuse for sexual harassment is as pathetic as Tom doing the same: "it was okay to “talk dirty”

Get Real said...

Tom says that "men in Hollywood and mainstream media have been brought low." while totally ignoring people like Roy Moore! He actually goes a whole column on Sexual conduct without bringing up Moore's charges, or Trump's! I guess he is used to "fair and balanced" news. Although, I guess you could assume by "mainstream media" he is also lumping in predators like Bill O'Reilly and Roger Ailes.

How about Rush Limboughs statement "Here come the rape police"? How moronic is that? What, is he going to complain about "murder police", and "terrorist" police too? What a deplorable man.

Anonymous said...

Code of Conduct.
Code Duello was pretty good.
Of course, there was no anonymity there.

Brian said...

Very strange indeed to talk about changing sexual codes of conduct in our country without bringing up the President of the United States, and the fact that he has bragged about sexually assaulting women, and the fact that the list of his accusers for sexual misconduct is over twenty. I guess there are not many "real men" here, because I certainly don't see them going after our Creep-in-Chief. What a great message for our young children. Do nothing about mistreating women if doing so is politically convenient. Yes, kids, sexual assault is not such a big deal - you can go on to be president even if you brag about it!! Turning a blind eye are sick, pathetic humans that can barely be classified as "men".

Get Real said...

But Trump says he didn't do it, so it just a case of "He said, she said, she said she said, she said, and she said, and she said and she said she said, she said she said, she said, and she said, and she said and she said. Who are you going to believe, Trump or any of the many women? It's not like Trump has an endless history of lying about other things, right? Or that he has admitted to it on tape? Damn those lying women! Tom is right to do the manly thing and ignore it all!

Anonymous said...

Code of conduct?
Code Duello was a pretty good one.
Of course, there was NO anonymity in THAT one.

Anonymous said...

Who IS this mysterious "Capt" who repeats him/her self?

Anonymous said...

"Legal Battle Erupts Between Hell Inc. and GOP Over Moral Low Ground"

The International Association of Societal Bar Adjusters Hell, Inc. filed an injunction to prevent the lowering of the Morality Bar any further.

“America is free to lower any morality bar to any point it wishes as long as it remains within the boundaries of the United States.”

The combination of the failure of the Republicans to distance themselves from Roy Moore, James O’Keefe’s recent shenanigans at the Washington Post (which indirectly supported Roy Moore), and Trump’s “Pocahontas” comment to WWII Native American Code Talkers has caused the bar to sink lower on it’s own.

“This is a truly grave situation,” said Asmodeus, Hell Inc. Legal Counsel. “Without any oversight the GOP Morality Bar will soon be within the boundaries of hell, and while past Infernal administrations have worked closely with the Republican Party due to recent shifts in direction, both above and below, Hell demands that the Trump Administration respect the earthly/Infernal borders.”

From The Daily Banter

Anonymous said...

"Republican embrace of Roy Moore reveals moral rot at the GOP’s core"

If the Republican Party’s craven rally around a reality-TV host who humiliated nearly every GOP veteran on his rise to the White House wasn’t enough to convince you that the once stodgy party has exchanged its last shreds of principle for power, then the recent Republican rush to endorse radical right-wing Senate candidate Roy Moore should serve as the definitive prove.


Imagine selling your soul in order to give corporate tax cuts and payoff your donors.

Anonymous said...

"Who IS this mysterious "Capt" who repeats him/her self?"
Who's asking?

Having "issues" with AOL/AIM
First one did't appear right away. Didn't expect it to eventually show up.

Steve said...

I’m not sure what the point of this piece is either. I think Mr. McLaughlin is trying to tie the acceptance of abortion to harassment of women, which is an absurdly strained cause and effect. But then again, when Trump bragged about grabbing women's genitalia when he was pro-choice before becoming pro-life to run for the presidency, so you might be onto something there, Mr. McLaughlin.
And since you brought up sex for procreation vs recreation again, I have to comment. The notion that God intended the most glorious and wonderful physical sensation and act to be relegated to the utilitarian role of procreation only is just nutty on its face. It actually sounds more like an ironic torture devised by the devil. Sex for the sole purpose of procreation is a step above self-flagellation. I think sex has been used for recreation for as long as we've been having sex. The civilization that gave the world democracy was noted for rampant recreational sex.
And on a loosely related note, I wonder how many Christian conservatives who feel their eternal souls slipping towards damnation because insurance policies cover contraception, feel an equal spiritual peril when their insurance policy covers their vasectomies or pay for their erectile-dysfunction prescriptions despite being in their 50s, 60s and 70s.

Anonymous said...

An Interesting abortion fact is that abortion rates drop much more drastically under Democrat leadership than Republican (due to making contraceptives easier to obtain instead of preaching unrealistic abstinence).

So, (unless there is a new Supreme Court ruling) if you want to "save the murdering of babies", vote Democrat!