Are we really that surprised?


America is having an "acute stress response." We were so stunned at the reports of alleged child rape by ex-Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky that some news anchors were rendered speechless, shaking their heads and staring into cameras. Nauseated parents dove for the remote before their children were exposed to the news reports. Editors woke up in the night and composed scathing articles expressing outrage.

With all the fight, flight, or freeze going on, I have to wonder: Why are we so surprised? We are a society obsessed with sex. Just last Friday, The Denver Post carried at least six stories related to sex and sexual crimes:

  • A man who escaped from a Louisiana jail was arrested in Colorado-but not before he allegedly raped a 12-year-old girl on her way to the school bus.
  • Another long-time college coach is under investigation for allegedly sexually abusing young boys. This time it's Syracuse University's assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine.
  • Actors Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher are ending their six-year marriage due to Kutcher's alleged infidelity. "Marriage is one of the most difficult things in the world and unfortunately sometimes they fail," tweeted Kutcher.
  • A female teacher from Hilltop Baptist School (Colorado Springs) was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a male student on several occasions. Three other former school officials were arrested for failure to report child abuse or neglect.
  • The California Supreme Court ruled that supporters of Proposition 8 have a legal right to defend the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. (The governor and attorney general refused to defend the law.)
  • A University of Denver researcher co-wrote a new study claiming that Neanderthals were not subhuman, but in fact mated with people: "Humans didn't kill off Neanderthals by outsmarting them or outfighting them. Humans wiped out the prehuman race by sleeping with them. Often."

We must think sex is important because we start teaching our young about it in grade school. In middle school we give kids details so they can start practicing. In high school we help them deal with their unplanned pregnancies and diseases. If they need more education on the topic, they can now major in LGBT studies at San Diego State University (heterosexual studies not available).

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In addition, our society promotes sexual confusion and degradation with film, TV, and pornography. With the internet, it has never been easier to view and participate in such behavior. And yet we are shocked when people do such things in real life?

The truth is, deep down we know this intimate act should be private and beautiful-and within boundaries. It's not about conservative vs. liberal. It's about wisdom vs. foolishness. Fire in my fireplace is a beautiful thing. Fire in my living room is a dangerous threat.

Sarah Padbury
Sarah Padbury

Sarah is a writer, editor, and adoption advocate. She is a graduate of the WORLD Journalism Institute's mid-career course. Sarah and her husband live with their six teenagers in Castle Rock, Colo.


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