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For a short time, I had a humorous/observational column in a local magazine called Upstate Women. Unfortunately, the magazine is no longer being published. I enjoyed the experience of writing a column so much, that I would like to continue writing in that vein. So once a month, I will offer a new column about something that bugs me in some way that may strike a chord with you, too.

Several of the columns you will see have already been published; the others were written after the demise of the magazine. The column will be called "Inanities" because I feel that is the word which aptly describes the things that make us want to smack our heads in frustration. Please let me know your reactions to these columns as I would enjoy hearing what bugs you, too. You can reach me at


by Nancy Rechtman

Do you remember a time when National Geographic magazines were the only chance a young boy had of getting a peek at a woman's bare upper torso? Pre-cable TV. Pre-Internet. Pre-Super Bowl. It was something forbidden, not part of the cultural norm. Now, what is forbidden anymore? Let's start with this year's Super Bowl. While offensive, Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction was the least of it, in my opinion. The myriad of seductive ads for beer and for drugs promising middle-aged men that they could once again stand tall was ridiculous and impossible to avoid. Instead of discussions of touchdowns and great plays, how many parents had to blush their way through explanations of 'E-D' after that game?

And now, our Supreme Court Justices in their infinite wisdom have decided that free speech trumps our children's psyches. So the proliferation of pornographic websites that try to steal what is left of our childrenís innocence continues to multiply like vermin. And, we are told, it is up to us as parents to keep our kids away from this filth. Even if we could filter out every possible modicum of indecency on our home computers, our children have computer access at many other places, including school. You might think that schools would be safe places for our kids. But the insidious presence of these sites can break through anywhere. An example is the story of a little old boy who was working at his elementary school on a research project and typed something innocent into the search engine. The filth that he was exposed to on the site that popped up and which would not allow him to escape from that site has pretty much traumatized him for life. Sometimes common sense needs to prevail. This excrement is put out there for the masses to view without any concern about how it might affect anyone - the bottom line for these conscienceless human beings is money. A person is not allowed to stand up in a theater and yell "Fire!" just for the fun of it. So what makes it all right to claim pop-up pornography as free speech when the trauma is just as real and damaging to our kids? What is so wrong about setting limits?

We have truly lost our way when every aspect of society no longer is protective of its children, but promotes titillation and exhibitionism everywhere you turn. Almost every reality show on television is somehow related to how much of a woman's body can actually be shown and how far she can degrade herself to attract a mate. And even if sex is not always blatantly out there, backstabbing and lying are substituted - how much humiliation can be poured on the other team, how disgusting will things get, how stupid are these people going to be? We are fooling ourselves if we think we are any better than the Romans who watched animals tear people apart in the arena, or cheered gladiators fighting to the death. While we thankfully have kept our reality stars alive up to this point, the object is the same - appealing to our basest instincts all in the name of entertainment, which translates into raking in as much money as possible, no matter what the cost to our society.

And let's not forget the preponderance of video games which involve how many ways you can kill someone. There is something addictive about these games, particularly to young males. Somehow, females have managed to escape this trap more often than not. But these boys are starting to become numb to the violence that they see, and their young minds start blurring the distinction between fantasy and reality. I have heard a number of these pre-teens and teens who declare their desire to become soldiers and how cool it would be to go out there and fight - after all, theyíve done it over and over on their video games. As the games become more real, the danger grows of completely erasing the line between what is real and what is not. What we desperately need are reality shows with soldiers who have actually been off to war speaking to these boys and telling them the horrible, terrifying details of real battle, which might de-glamorize the visions and expectations put there by these games.

As adults, we need to help our kids navigate their way through this world. Parents cannot be everywhere at all times, as much as we wish we could. The world is too easily at our children's fingertips these days. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to help them find their way and raise our voices in defense of our children. Let's try to use some common sense and stop protecting the pornographers who peddle their filth in the name of freedom of speech. If we donít, that will be the biggest obscenity of all.

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Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved. Small excerpts of the column may be republished as long as appropriate credit is given. To request permission to publish larger portions or the entire column, e-mail