The Gospel Blimp

PZ Myers encounters Spire Christian Comics and is predictably — and appropriately — horrified by Al Hartley’s aggressively preachy and condescending take on the Archie Comics.

I had most of those Spire comics when I was a kid, and Myers is right that Hartley’s take on Archie and Riverdale seems like the work of a “demented fundamentalist.” He links to a post by Josh Dobbin exploring some of Hartley’s other overt proselytizing in the pages of the non-Spire Archie comics. They show a Jack-Chick-ish tendency to despise the very people that his evangelism is supposedly trying to reach, with contemptuous, condescending portrayals of the “unsaved” as arrogant fools.

Dobbin also provides a bit of context I never knew before: “Christian cartoonist” Al Hartley was also the son of Rep. Fred Allen Hartley Jr., the New Jersey Republican best remembered as a sponsor of the anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act. Both Hartleys’ politics, in other words, were somewhere to the right of those of Hiram Lodge (Veronica’s father, the “richest man in Riverdale”).

The strangest thing about Hartley’s drawing for Spire Christian Comics was the way he maintained the exaggerated perkiness of Betty and Veronica, making all women look like dancers from Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour. He even did this when drawing Johnny Cash’s mother and Corrie ten Boom.

Those were two of the better Spire titles. “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash” is pretty cool because, of course, it’s about Johnny Cash. And “The Hiding Place” is the story of the ten Boom family’s efforts rescuing Jews from the Nazis in occupied Amsterdam. Even Al Hartley couldn’t ruin stories like those.

But the strangest of all the Hartley-drawn Spire Christian Comics may be “The Gospel Blimp,” which was Hartley’s comic-book adaptation of the movie version of Joseph T. Bayly’s satirical book.

In very broad strokes, “The Gospel Blimp” tells the story of a group of Christians in a small town who, inspired by the sight of the Good Year blimp, decide to get an airship of their own to reach their unsaved neighbors with the good news of salvation.

The project becomes ever-more showy, obnoxious and ineffectual — they drop thousands of gospel tracts from the air and broadcast Bible verses in multiple languages over too-loud speakers. The clumsy and off-putting bungling of the blimp “ministry” is contrasted throughout the story with the clueless characters’ repeated failures to reach out to the “sinful” neighbors on a more human level.

The essence of the story, in other words, is a critique of the very same self-absorbed, condescending pseudo-evangelism that characterizes nearly every other Spire Christian Comic drawn by Hartley.

“Satire,” Jonathan Swift wrote, “is a sort of glass wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own.” A shrewd observation, but also a humbling one — a cautionary reminder not to laugh too loudly at Hartley’s inability to discover his own face peering back at him from the broad satire of “The Gospel Blimp,” because there will likely come a time for each of us when we fail to recognize our own faces in satire’s smirking glass.

It is possible, though, to take precautions against falling into the trap Hartley has fallen into here. As a guard against clueless projection, for example, we can try to cultivate a habit of considering how any criticism we offer might also apply to ourselves. And more generally, as a guard against becoming the sort of foolish Malvolio that Al Hartley comes across as in his comics, we can try to cultivate the habit of not being self-absorbed, self-centered, pompous jackwagons.

Anyway, WFMU’s Beware of the Blog has .pdfs of “The Gospel Blimp,” “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash” and a couple of other Spire titles. Enjoy.

  • Jonathan Pinyan

    Yep. Johnny Cash can make anything awesome. (first!)

  • Andy

    I recall that Hartley also illustrated a comic-book version of Hal Lindsey’s “There’s A New World Coming”, his follow-up to “The Late Great Planet Earth”. (Reading the Josh Dobbin link, I see that he mentions this as well.)

  • Anonymous

    Are there any obnoxious or just plain silly polytheist comics out there? I’ve heard some pretty stupid Wiccan jokes making fun of Christians, but never seen any comics. I’ve already got some scripts…

    Xian: I worship the Son of God!
    Poly: Which one? [points to a long line of Greek heroes; Xian falls down.]
    * * *
    Xian: Have you found Jesus?
    Poly: Hold on, let’s ask Mercury! [Xian falls down.]
    * * *
    Xian: In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Sp–
    Poly: Hey! I thought you said there was only one!
    Dork: That’s Highlander, dude. [Xian and Poly fall down.]

    Okay, those weren’t very funny, but funny isn’t the point, is it?

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    Yeah, I’m fisking “There’s A New World Coming”, but it feels like I’m picking on a kid a third my age and weight. The paradox of “whole some Christian comics” with tight perky sweater girls just shows that some genres don’t work for some messages.

    Magic_Cracker – I seem to remember Mel Brook’s “History of the World Part I” had a few jokes along those lines:

    Comicus: Have you heard of this new sect, the Christians? They are a laugh riot! First of all, they are so poor…
    Swiftus: How poor are they?
    Comicus: Thank you! They are so poor… that they only have *one* God! [drumbeat, everyone laughs]
    Comicus: But we Romans are rich. We’ve got a lot of gods. We’ve got a god for everything. The only thing we don’t have a god for is premature ejaculation… but I hear that’s coming quickly.

  • Tonio

    very same self-absorbed, condescending pseudo-evangelism that characterizes nearly every other Spire Christian Comic drawn by Hartley.

    I’ve suggested this of the LB book as well – is stuff like this really intended to evangelize to non-Christians, or is it intended to provide “approved” Christian entertainment? I remember a member of Petra claiming that “missionaries must learn the language of the people,” yet the few listeners I ever met of either Petra or Stryper were already evangelical Christians.

  • Joe

    Interesting…I’m about as anti Christian as they come, but I remember Spire comics very fondly.   They had a hippy-dippy vibe,  with Archie and the gang inviting you to join Jesus in a groovy love-in.  Al Hartley’s Christianity seems more like Fred’s than like Ellenjay’s. 

  • Anonymous

    Big orange blimps: the one point at which Evangelicals and Conan O’Brien intersect.

  • Heart

    Completely off topic, but I’d be interested to see Fred’s, and the rest of the commentators’, view on the phone hacking scandal that has resulted in the News Of The World closing.

     TW: Child Abduction and Murder.

    Also, incredible unethical actions.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/News_of_the_World_phone_hacking_affair

  • Matri

    It’s a Rupert Murdoch company.

    I’m numb at this point.

  • muteKi

    http://www.progressiveboink.com/archive/newworld/01.html
    Did someone mention “There’s a New World Coming”? Man, this was like one of my first total exposures to this viewpoint outside of what I think was a Chick tract in a public restroom somewhere.

  • http://feygelegoy.myopenid.com/ Feygele Goy

    Is it just me, or does anyone else find this comic to be strangely hip about uniform fetishes, as well as prescient about bears?  I base this on the two men in the lower right, a Wehrmacht Major Santa Claus hoisting a riding crop above his head as he seduces an overly eager New York Jewish chaser to the North Pole… of iniquity! With plans to make plenty of toys… for gays!

  • http://feygelegoy.myopenid.com/ Feygele Goy

    Hee hee hee!  You beat me to it!

    For anyone interested, we’re talking about a sort of article similar to what Fred does to the Left Behind series, except it takes only thirty-five pages.  It’s also sometimes racier and less respectful of religion, so be warned.  Though if you love Mystery Science Theater 3000, it might be up your alley.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659001961 Brad Ellison

    Interesting…I’m about as anti Christian as they come, but I remember Spire comics very fondly.   They had a hippy-dippy vibe,  with Archie and the gang inviting you to join Jesus in a groovy love-in.  Al Hartley’s Christianity seems more like Fred’s than like Ellenjay’s.

    There is, as Fred has noted aforetimes, something a bit refreshing and redemptive in the loony fundamentalism of the Hal Lindsey era as opposed to now.  I guess in keeping with the zeitgeist, stuff like Spire Comics, <The Late Great Planet Earth, the Thief in the Night movies (my youth group once spent a fantastic night giving the whole series the MST3K treatment during a church lock-in), and The Cross and the Switchblade had more of an interest in love, brotherhood, and genuinely reaching out to the folks outside the circle, all lacking in their successors in this generation.

    On the other hand, Spire also did a biocomic about noted son of a bitch Charles Colson, substantially downplaying the fact that Christianity seemed to turn him into an even bigger son of a bitch than he was as Nixon’s thug, so, yeah.

  • http://hummingwolf.livejournal.com/ Hummingwolf

    I have to admit it–I honestly did like the Christian Archie comics when I was a kid.  It was disappointing to me, though, that there was never a version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch in those Christian bookstores.  It took me years to figure out why she was never going to be there…

  • http://feygelegoy.myopenid.com/ Feygele Goy

    Can any web programmers answer, why did Disqus suddenly spazz out with the HTML?  I would think it shouldn’t treat the word “the” as an HTML element.

  • http://feygelegoy.myopenid.com/ Feygele Goy

    Sorry, I was checking my logo, because I wanted to see if Disqus would update it with my OpenID profile, and it didn’t work. Now, I can’t delete this comment, so again, I apologize for the mishap. :-(

  • Arc

    Someone I know, somewhere between an acquaintance and a friend, wrote a book where he satirized a lot of people he knew personally.  He was expecting to lose a lot of friends over it, but he said no-one noticed.

    Oh, they noticed that he’d satirized other people they both knew, all right.  None of them recognized themselves, though.

    It’s comforting to know Swift described this in a more pithy fashion :] 

  • Arc

    By the way folks, I can’t read it all right now, but Hal Lindsey’s ‘There’s a New World Coming’ may be the greatest thing ever.   A psychedelic trip through the book of revelations! random charts! archie-style teens! too many exclamation marks!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Dude, look at that guy’s mouth.  And people think that the real Archie comic covers have sexual subtext.

  • ako

    Yeah, I was just reading those comics, and there’s something weirdly sweet about them.  They aren’t great, and there is plenty of stuff in there to object to, but I’ve been sort of mentally comparing them to Chick Tracts, and they’re far kinder.  It reads like they really do want to save everyone, and don’t have the taunting “You’re gonna burn in Hell!” quality you see in Chick Tracts and Left Behind.  And there’s some actual awareness, however limited, that it’s possible to make your message seem repellent if you push it through obnoxiousness and trickery.

    Sadly, I can see people going in with the “We’ll save them all with our loving kindness!” attitude, finding out that plenty of people aren’t wandering through life with a Jesus-shaped hole desperately waiting for someone to wave a Bible at them and show a bit of kindness in order to convert, and ending up with a “People who don’t convert after a conversation or two are all hellbound sinners who deserve to burn!” attitude.

  • Mackrimin

    “Satire,” Jonathan Swift wrote, “is a sort of glass wherein beholders do
    generally discover everybody’s face but their own.” A shrewd
    observation, but also a humbling one — a cautionary reminder not to
    laugh too loudly at Hartley’s inability to discover his own face peering
    back at him from the broad satire of “The Gospel Blimp,” because there
    will likely come a time for each of us when we fail to recognize our own
    faces in satire’s smirking glass.

    Or perhaps he _did_ recognize it, but just couldn’t help himself.

    After all, Hitler liked “The Great Dictator”.

  • Tonio

    I suspect that the sole Archie comic I owned was a Christian one. The feature had a young kid who Archie named “Gabe” who inspired everyone in town to treat others with kindness. The other story had Archie and a friend pretending to be street punks to convince a young boy not to run away from home. At the time, I assumed that all the Archie comics had messages like this.

    Today I own a far different comic, where Archie meets The Punisher.

  • Tonio

    It reads like they really do want to save everyone, and don’t have the
    taunting “You’re gonna burn in Hell!” quality you see in Chick Tracts
    and Left Behind.

    I wonder what Jack Chick was thinking. Did he fear his god so much that he was trying to keep non-Christians from antagonizing that god? Was he massively tone-deaf in social terms? Did he simply enjoy scaring the hell out of people, literally?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    I know that I had the Archie meets The Punisher comic when it came out, but it seems to have disappeared from my collection in the intervening years.  Not sure what happened to it.
    It was just so bizarre.

  • ako

    For a lot of people, “I’m better than you” and “I win, you lose” can feel really good.  And telling yourself it’s righteous condemnation of the willfully evil can make it very easy to indulge nasty impulses.  In certain ways and certain circumstances, anger and getting nasty about people who seem to be against you can be genuinely useful, and it tends to feel satisfying more often than it’s practically necessary, so there’s a common tendency to want to indulge the desire.  But going after people just because being angry and mean makes you feel good is generally disapproved of, so there’s the inclination to look for justification.  And “They’re all hellbound sinners who are constantly slapping Jesus in the face with their rejection” is a handy one.  (In Chick Tracts, the people on his side are always calm and reasonable, and the people on the other side are screamingly irrational, so I suspect his perception of his actions does not match with what people here tend to see.  I doubt he’d see or admit to the nasty gloating quality that I always get from his work.)

  • Lurkmaster 3000

    I haven’t read “The Gospel Blimp”, but I find it hard to believe it is much stranger than Hartley’s “Hansi: the Girl Who Loved the Swastika”. http://ape-law.com/GAF/2007/09/classic-gone-and-forgotten-hansi-girl.html

    You’re welcome!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659001961 Brad Ellison

    (In Chick Tracts, the people on his side are always calm and reasonable, and the people on the other side are screamingly irrational, so I suspect his perception of his actions does not match with what people here tend to see.  I doubt he’d see or admit to the nasty gloating quality that I always get from his work.)

    O wad some Power the giftie gie us 
    To see oursels as ithers see us! 
    It wad frae monie a blunder free us, 
    An’ foolish notion: 
    What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us, 
    An’ ev’n devotion!

  • Skiriki

    MisterKitty has gone through quite a lot of these comics.

    Here’s one Archie that made me cringe very much, it is one of the worst of the lot:
    http://www.misterkitty.org/extras/stupidcovers/stupidcomics210.html

    And an another “pro”-Christianity Archie:
    http://www.misterkitty.org/extras/stupidcovers/stupidcomics141.html

    But! Of course there’s some from the other side of the fence (somewhat NSFW):
    http://www.misterkitty.org/extras/stupidcovers/stupidcomics266.html
    http://www.misterkitty.org/extras/stupidcovers/stupidcomics267.html

    Enjoy the daily dose of stupid. :D

  • http://profiles.google.com/vlowe7294 Vaughn Lowe

    Oh my… I would pay real money if they’d have Sabrina show up in one of those Christian Archie comics.  “Burn the Witch!”  indeed. 

    The sunny smile melted from Sabrina’s face as the people she thought were her friends, surrounded her with angry shouts and expressions of pure hatred. 

    “Bride of Satan!” Archie shouted as he threw a rock at her feet.  “Get your evil out of Riverdale.  We don’t want you here!”  Angry shouts of assent rose up from the crowd.

    Something inside of her grew cold.  Her eyes narrowed and a wicked smile formed on her lips.  It so unnerved them, that even Moose took a step back.

    “Idiots,” she whispered.  Fire bloomed on her fingers and a low rumble of thunder punctuated her words.  “Did you even think about what would happen if you tried to burn a real witch?!”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7NB5FJ2VSINZPTPUGCJI6C24SU Kadia

    I always thought Sabrina the Teenage Witch would be great to rail against the “evils” of Paganism. If you notice (at least from watching the show; I’m not familiar with the comics) every time she tries to use magic it backfires in such a way that not only fails to solve her original problem but creates a dozen wacky new ones as well. The lesson becomes, “Stay away from the occult — it’ll drag you to Hell, and before it does that it’ll humiliate you in front of all of your friends.”

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    There’s always e-sheep’s delightfully over-the-top Saturnalia comic.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll have to check that out. When I’m not at work.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll have to check that out. When I’m not at work.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll have to check that out. When I’m not at work.

  • Nyder

    Big Spire Christian Comics archive here: http://www.carpsplace.com/spire/spire.htm , including one which seems to have been an influence on Jerry Jenkins’ “Soon.”

    I had mixed feelings about the Archie ones. About one-third seemed to me to have Fred-type messages about loving each other, forgiving each other’s trespasses, trying to help people in need, and generally that being a good Christian means being good to everyone. One-third struck me as dodgy or naive– e.g., “everybody at Riverdale is Christian, and therefore happy!” which is at best oversimplifying and at worst bigoted, and also the repeated storyline to the general effect that Big Ethel needs to stop envying prettier girls (which on the one hand had the positive message that beauty doesn’t equal happiness, but on the other hand ties in with the objectification of women it purports to critique). The rest struck me as downright wrong, like the one where Schoolmarm Betty in the Old West blames the unruliness of her charges on them learning evolution.

  • http://feygelegoy.myopenid.com/ Feygele Goy

    Hee hee.  I actually have to side more with the traditionalist Christians than the pagans in this comic.  At least they’re having their children perform in religious pageants, not play the drum next to parents having sex.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Heh. But the idea that children shouldn’t witness sex isn’t exactly a universal objective absolute, though, isn’t it? (It’s even evidence of a bit of privilege – you can’t prevent children from seeing their parents have sex if you don’t have separate rooms and doors and reasonably insulated walls.) One of the ways in which some people who identify as Sex Positive push back against mainstream taboos is to make sex something that can happen in front of other people — granted, this is done in safe spaces where bystander consent has been given ahead of time, so that everyone coming to the party or moving into the coop knows what they’re getting into.

    I think the bit of that comic that makes me squick (rather than just roll my eyes) is the idea that what the Prudish Fundy Xians Next Door really need is [rot13]n tbbq uneq obavat ol gur Ubearq Tbq. Orpnhfr crbcyr jub ner hcgvtug ernyyl arrq gb whfg trg ynvq[/rot13], amirite? Urgh.

    Magic_cracker: Ah, yes, I knew there was a good reason to link to the entry screen and not, as I nearly did without thinking about it at all, the next screen in. TOTALLY NSFW YOU GUYZ.

  • A A

     x

  • ako

    One of the ways in which some people who identify as Sex Positive push
    back against mainstream taboos is to make sex something that can
    happen in front of other people — granted, this is done in safe spaces
    where bystander consent has been given ahead of time, so that everyone
    coming to the party or moving into the coop knows what they’re getting
    into.

    That’s what bothers me about them having their children playing the drums.  Talking about consent when it comes to children in sexual situations gets really messy and complicated really quickly, and watching people have sex is definitely a sexual situation.  It it had been all adults participating, it would be much easier to go “Yay, freedom!”, but deliberately putting children in a position to watch people having sex has a strong association with sexual abuse (sexual predators will often expose children to pornography).

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Ah-ha, that is the link I was thinking of.  I forgot the name of it.  A pagan friend of mine shared that once.  He felt it was way too preachy, but he shared it just because he wanted one of those huge blow-up decorations for his house.  ;)

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Oh, somewhat related to this post is today’s Sinfest.  I figured it would be appreciated by this community.  :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659001961 Brad Ellison

    Oh, somewhat related to this post is today’s Sinfest.  I figured it would be appreciated by this community.  :)

    Sinfest is always, always appreciated, at least by me.

  • Mackrimin

    Except, of course, that the children aren’t _involved_ in a sexual situation, they’re mere bystanders. Which gets us to a question: should your consent be required for things that you aren’t involved in, but occur within the range of your sensory perception? If yes, then public space will be hijacked by the most prudish or neurotic; if no, then it will be taken by the loudest. And how far does your “extended personal space” extend? After all, this very forum can be reached from the other side of the world.

    Then there’s this:

    http://media.photobucket.com/image/gay%20pride%20metal%20speedos/WafflesIsGay/Dianas%20Pictures/gaypride037.jpg

    It’s an image of a gay pride parade, complete with fit young men wearing nothing but silver speedos, which is quite obviously done for sexual purposes. I linked the image here; should I have gotten your consent first? And should the people participating in the parade have gotten your consent first? A parade like that most certainly bothers quite a few people; and while it’s easy to say they are homophobes who should just get over it or look away if they can’t, it’s just as easy to say that people who don’t think sex in public is acceptable are neurotics who should just get over it or look away as well. Both of which are entirely true claims, but that doesnt’ change the fact that those afflicted by said problems are de facto excluded from public spaces if said spaces are opened up to said activities; yet forbidding such activities limits people’s freedoms just to make someone else more comfortable.

    Frankly, I’m beginning to think that bonobos are wiser than humans in matters sexual.

  • Caravelle

    I think it’s a defensible position that whatever standard we pick for public sexuality, the standard should be stricter where children are concerned, and especially stricter where one’s own children are concerned (because the power differential is much larger).

  • Guest-again

    ‘If yes, then public space will be hijacked by the most prudish or neurotic’
    And not only that, the hijacking is then effectively passed on.

    To give an absolutely concrete example – in Germany, 1-3 year olds are routinely naked at public swiming areas – both lakes and pools (and I am not talking about FKK or nudist areas). If I had videotaped my naked children playing at such a swimming area with other naked children – and happened routinely in the summer over several years – more than a decade ago, and I had brought that tape into the U.S. to show the children’s grandparents, and that tape had been viewed by customs, I could have been imprisoned as a child pornographer by a not so strict interpretation of the federal laws then in force (they are even more extreme now, by the way, with even less leeway for interpretation).

    What is striking about this is, when I was in that age group as a child in the U.S., it was also quite normal (if not exactly routine in the German sense) to see naked 2 year olds splashing in a creek or pond, without anyone caring about it in the least. (Let’s leave aside diapers and public pools – the subject is no longer really about a lack of clothes at that point.)

    The process is ongoing and insidious – and it works by those doing the hijacking being able to effectively criminalize what they don’t agree with, and then teaching those growing up that such criminalization is necessary for ‘protection.’ Further, it confuses the utterly normal – a child splashing in water without clothing – by turning it into a situation overflowing with overwrought overtones that didn’t exist even a generation ago – or which don’t exist today in Germany. (And I would venture to guess, anywhere that 2 year olds are allowed to play in water, like Southeast Asia, or South America, or India, etc.)

    Bunches of naked babies and toddlers are not a sign of a society which is full of opportunities for child abusers to take pictures of – it is utterly and perfectly normal, and has been, worldwide, for thousands of years, as it is even today. Except where it has been hijacked, and is now part of an entire legal framework, where 2 year olds are not allowed to splash naked, being almost prima facia evidence of parental irresponsibility bordering on endangerment.

     

  • Guest-again

    And to add the final thought – this isn’t about sex, except in the eyes of those who believe that a naked 2 year is somehow a sexual subject.

    And this leads to exactly a situation where it feels like breaking some boundary to have naked 2 year olds splashing around in the water, instead of it being absolutely mundane. Absolutely and unremarkably mundane – and having nothing in the least to do with sex.

     

  • Tonio

    The difference between the two societies you describe may be this – one views social norms as a matter of balancing individual needs with societal ones, and the other views social norms as a matter of protecting people from temptation. While I don’t know if it’s “normal” to let 2-year-olds splashed unclothed, the assumption here in the US seems to be that doing so will provoke pedophiles. Not much different from the argument that females must show some modesty in clothing because of the alleged effect on men. I wonder how my country acquired such a negative view of human nature.

  • Anonymous

    Are spectators uninvolved in a baseball game?

    Somebody who catches a glimpse of a game while flipping channels is no more a spectator of the game than somebody who sees two women kissing in public is a spectator of the kissing.

    Somebody who drives past a baseball diamond and sees some of the game isn’t really a spectator, any more than somebody who happens to pass a Pride parade; the baseball diamond and the parade route are both clearly marked out beforehand and easy to avoid. For that reason, you needn’t have asked our consent before linking the Pride parade picture; we know what it is and needn’t click. (Also, nobody in the picture is engaged in sexual activity, and I can’t see why you’d think there is, unless you have a walking kink.)

    Somebody seeing a baseball game taking place in the middle of a street and somebody seeing somebody else having sex in public, they’re both justified in complaining that the standards of consent have been violated. There is a place and a time for such things and that ain’t it.

    Somebody who buys a ticket for a baseball game, though, and somebody who stands there drumming while other people have sex, they’re intimately involved in the activity. Not as intimately as the baseball players or the sex partners, but intimately enough that their consent had damn well better have been obtained. Which means children had better not be drumming while their parents have sex, because children are by definition unable to consent to sexual activity, except when it’s teens with other teens.

  • Guest-again

    ‘While I don’t know if it’s “normal” to let 2-year-olds splashed
    unclothed, the assumption here in the US seems to be that doing so will
    provoke pedophiles.’
    Which is strange – any parent can tell you that essentially all kids roughly around that age go through a phase of peeling off their clothes, and many parents (at least those who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s) would also tell you that letting a naked 2 year old splash around in a muddy creek or in the rain is a lot easier to clean up – not to mention how much the kiddies enjoy it. This ‘provoking’ is something placed in society’s eyes by a group of people who have placed it there. It didn’t exist when I was a kid in the U.S.

    ‘I wonder how my country acquired such a negative view of human nature.’
    I do too – but it may come from our unceasing rain of humanitarian bullets, our unceasing stream of advertising that is able to convince people that a woman with unshaved legs is the ‘unnatural’ one, and Hollywood’s unceasing stream of unreality which is then considered to be the standard against which normal behavior is measured. 

  • Mackrimin

    Are spectators uninvolved in a baseball game?

    For some values of “involved, yes. Spectators are not playing the game. They’re simply watching one.

    Somebody who catches a glimpse of a game while flipping channels is no more a spectator of the game than somebody who sees two women kissing in public is a spectator of the kissing.

    “a person viewing anything; onlooker; observer”
    “An observer of an event”

    A dictionary seems to suggest that they are. You are free, of course, to substitute another word if you wish.

    Somebody who drives past a baseball diamond and sees some of the game isn’t really a spectator, any more than somebody who happens to pass a Pride parade; the baseball diamond and the parade route are both clearly marked out beforehand and easy to avoid. For that reason, you needn’t have asked our consent before linking the Pride parade picture; we know what it is and needn’t click.

    And a sex act is just as easy to avoid: just avert your eyes. Easier, even, since it takes far less room than a baseball game or a parade.

    (Also, nobody in the picture is engaged in sexual activity, and I can’t see why you’d think there is, unless you have a walking kink.)

    You are suggesting that the silver speedos are worn merely for comfort, then? That they have no sexual overtones whatsoever? _Seriously_?

    Somebody seeing a baseball game taking place in the middle of a street and somebody seeing somebody else having sex in public, they’re both justified in complaining that the standards of consent have been violated. There is a place and a time for such things and that ain’t it.

    That is a circular argument. Saying that public isn’t the place for such things is just another way of saying that such things are not acceptable in public. And if it’s not unreasonable to ask people to go out of their way (literally) to avoid a parade or baseball game, why is it unreasonable to ask them to avert their eyes or leave to avoid public sex?

    Somebody who buys a ticket for a baseball game, though, and somebody who stands there drumming while other people have sex, they’re intimately involved in the activity. Not as intimately as the baseball players or the sex partners, but intimately enough that their consent had damn well better have been obtained.

    Consent for what? Seeing something?

    That kind of thing leads to Janet Jackson’s nipple becoming a scandal.

    Which means children had better not be drumming while their parents have sex, because children are by definition unable to consent to sexual activity, except when it’s teens with other teens.

    Children are _legally_ unable to consent to sex, including teens with other teens. It’s just that it would be insane to accuse two teens of molesting each other, so such cases are usually ignored. This is done partly to protect a weak individual and partly because there’s a meme that children are innocent and sex is sinful. Which would be fine, except that it leads to abstinence-only sex education and justifying censorship in the name of protecting children from seeing sex, both of which harm people.


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