Monday, December 05, 2005


The Sun Shines, Albeit Dimly

I've already stated the reasons for my general antipathy towards The Sun, so I shan't bother to do so again, but I found myself with no other choice again today, and so I braced myself, squared my shoulders, and plunged in.

I have to say, I was reasonably satisfed. The nation's obvious Visigoth-like hordes of paedophiles and asylum-seekers failed to get a single angry rant, which was a relief, and one column in particular was actually rather sensible. This came, unbelievably, from agony aunt Deirdre Sanders, writing about 'Why It's Right To Teach 5-Year-Olds About Sex.'

The article, which was a defence of the government's plans to introduce sex-related education from primary school age in a bid to lower the number of teenage pregnancies and STD's, is a surprisingly reasonably-argued and lucid one. I was concerned at first by her invocation of vague and unnamed 'research' to back up her argument, which is often a sign that the writer doesn't actually know if any research on the topic exists, but to be fair to her, it could just as easily be a lack of space, given the fact that she was clearly given about a 300 word limit.

The one sentence that jarred particularly badly with the sense of the rest of the column was this one:

'It would be wonderful if we could simply tell all teenagers under, say, 16 or even 18, that they are forbidden to have sex, and rely on them to obey.'

Eh? Would it? I know she's addressing this to parents, but in fairness I don't think parents have to be outrageous libertines to accept, and perhaps even approve, that their kids may very well have sex before they reach University age. I mean, you can get married when you're sixteen, and imagine two years of marriage without sex. Ok, for some couples that must be easy, but not the first two years.

This sentence is a real shame, because it engages in something all tabloids do, which is talk down to their readership. Parents are intelligent enough, or, if they aren't, too bad, to make up their own minds about the sexuality of their children. Equally, I personally have no problem with kids of a reasonable age, say fourteen or fifteen, having sex if they want to. I certainly don't think bedroom police are the answer.

In another column, by 'financial journalist' Ian King (who he?), which is essentially an ad hominem attack on David Cameron, King claims that Cameron 'will not cut it as leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition.' He provides as proof of this claim the statement that during his time as press secretary at Carlton, Cameron was a 'smarmy bully.'

Call me cynical, but I suspect that being a smarmy bully is just about the best attribute for the job.

Call me cynical, but does providing a Wikipedia link as an explaination for the phrase 'ad hominem' not talk down to your readership somewhat? Are you angling for a job writing for The Sun?

Seriously though, it's a very good point: teenagers are in a difficult position, being legally children but physically adults. The state can't impose hard-and-fast rules on everyone as each case is different. Therefore it ultimately falls to parents and teenagers themselves to try to make a sensible choice. All the government can do is try to make sure it's an informed choice.
You rumbled me. I certainly am. Murdoch pays a much better wage than I'm on now. I'd sell my soul down the river for a few extra quid.
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