I wrote this for my friend Mike Hertz's website www.goodparent.org in July of '01. Mike is an excellant defender of the family and a very good editor.
Childhood innocence up for grabs
Author Judith Levine says children as young as twelve should be allowed to have sex with adults, and the Los Angeles Times is there to give her a platform.
By Dr. Glenn Layne
July 31, 2001
The image of Judith Levine, in her gabardine pants and fashionable black jersey, along with her thoughtful, folded hands, found its way to the front page of the Health Section of the Los Angeles Times this past June 3 in an article entitled "About Kids and Sex." Levine is the author of a controversial book entitled Harmful to Minors. Some, including this writer, would call her book more than controversial. They would call it morally scandalous and socially damaging in the extreme.
First things first: Levine is a free-lance writer, not an academic. She's written on "gender and family issues" for the last twenty years or so. But she is paired in the article with the likes of Harris Mirkin (who was also given a flattering photo, a looking-off-into-the-distance visionary look). Mirkin, who teaches at the University of Missouri, thinks that modern statutory rape laws are obstacles in the path of kids, who are unfairly portrayed as "innocents" rather than eager sexual participants.
Lawrence Stanley, another of the key sources quoted by Judith Levine in her pro-pedophile book, has recently been arrested in Brazil for possession of child pornography. He was also sentenced in absentia by a Dutch court in 1998 for the sexual abuse of three girls, aged 7 to 10. Stanley is also wanted in Canada on charges of sexually assaulting a girl under the age of 14. He gets around.
To be fair, the article, written by Times staff writer Stephanie Simon, treads lightly and raises about every possible objection to the lunacy promulgated by Levine, Mirkin, et al. But anyone who values the innocence (not to mention physical and mental health) of children will have problems both with Levine and with the Times itself.
First, Levine would be laughable except that the LA Times is actually taking her seriously. She is a radical relativist. She and Mirkin regard morals as a pure social construct. Right and wrong—if those terms still have any meaning—is what 51% of us agree on it being at any given moment. Transcendent morality-the idea of Right and Wrong as having a source outside of ourselves is simply outside of the view represented by Levine and Mirkin.
Since about 1960, we have as a nation been engaged in an experiment in sexual relativism. The results are in, and relativism doesn't work. STDs are going through the roof, people are less happy, kids are getting hurt. Just ask the family of Samantha Runyon or Danielle van Dam. Just ask the kids who don't know who their father is. Just ask the wife getting dumped for a newer model by a husband pursuing his own version of sexual relativism.
The same amoral tide has washed over the shores of one of the most morally absolutist institutions in the world: the Roman Catholic Church. Same result: people get hurt. Enough said.
Levine's solution to all this fire is to get more kerosene. We have knocked down the walls of the idea of abstinence before marriage and faithfulness to our spouse for life. Today's typical 16 year old has already watched on TV and film an average of more than 14,000 sexual acts. Sexwise, there's no other place to go but down—this time, down in age.
So Levine says that we should consider kids at age 12, fully liberated sexual adults, who can have sex with whomever they want. Why stop at 12? A sidebar story in the Times involves James, now an adult, who as a nine-year-old had a homosexual relationship with an 18-year-old motorcycle mechanic. James is 22 now and has no regrets.
Levine is a modern exponent of the myth of the noble savage—in this case, the noble and wise child. Is there a difference between coercion and consent? "Ask the child. They know the difference," says Levine. "I believe them."
Wait a minute. Ask the child? They know the difference? How can does a 12-year-old, who doesn't know that pizza is not a major food group, who feeds his or her brain on MTV and Austin Powers, know what is and is not exploitative sex? This is insane.
What Levine and her allies are doing is slowly crafting a license to exploit for the Alejandro Avilas of the world—so long as they take their time, develop a trusting relationship and then just don't kill them when they're done. Maybe, in Levine's twisted mind, the fact that little Samantha fought the animal that attacked her is a result of the oppressive morality taught her by her parents.
Enough with Levine. Clearly, she's just a freak. What about the LA Times?
Let's talk product placement. I've already mentioned the big, top-of-the-fold placement given this article, and the flattering photos afforded the chief subjects of the story. How about this: "Nonetheless, a handful of maverick writers and academics are calling for a cultural revolution when it comes to children and sex." Mavericks? The term calls to mind the old western and the lead in the movie Top Gun. Maverick is what they called John McCain during the 2000 primary season. The maverick is the plucky, ahead of his time hero. Levine and Mirkin are "mavericks?" Amazing.
And of course, we are told of the persecution that poor Dr. Mirkin has received at the hands of the Neanderthals in the Missouri State legislature, which stripped his university of a $100,000 grant and urged that he be fired. And there is the sidebar story, also by Stephanie Simon, telling us that while Christine and Scott suffered from their underage sex experiences, James (the nine-year-old seduced by the mechanic) is doing just fine, thank you.
The hand of the Times has been tipped. While formally repudiating Levine and Mirkin, the Times wants its slot at the cutting edge of societal evolution kept intact. Simon writes, "And while many experts find the calls for revolution alarming, some therapists and academics concede the issues are worthy of debate." Why? Because the Times wants to be in step with the hard-left relativists that would even debate sanctioning pedophilia.
Can I urge a simple plea for sanity? Drop kick Levine's book in the same dumpster as the LA Times. They are both toxic waste that we need no more of. Let's protect the kids, not find new ways to justify their abuse. Shame on you, Levine and Mirkin. And shame on you, you pandering rag — the Los Angeles Times.
Glenn Layne holds an MA in political science from Ohio University and a M.Div. and D.Min from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Temple City, California.