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Sex and Civics

Washington Law and Politics
April-May 2001

“Dad . . . I’m home.”

“Hey, big guy. What’d you do in school today?”

“Not much. Sex Education.”

“Oh? What did that involve?”

“They showed us a movie and passed out deodorant. Condoms was last semester. Dad, what are the three branches of government?”

“Media, Special Interests, and Consumers. Why?”

“Ms. Ventriculo said we’d be talking about it tomorrow.”

“In Sex Ed?”

“No, Civics.”

“So Sex Ed is now a branch of Civics?”

“Be serious, Dad.”

“Or is Civics now a branch of Sex Ed?”

“Neither. Hey, Dad, there’s this concert next week I really wanna go to. It’s a great group and they’re totally non-objectionable.”

“What’s their name?”

“Bare Naked Ladies. Can I?”

“We’ll discuss it later. What’re you learning in Civics?”

“How the government works.”

“My son, Civics tells you how the government works the same way Sex Education tells you how a good relationship works.”

“So they’re lying about that, too?”

“Square business, dude. Never confuse the rule book with the game. Actually, speaking of games, you’d learn more in that computer game you wasted $40 on. The one where you design families and relationships. What’s it called?”

“The Sims.”

“Do they have sex in it? I mean, if you want to start a family?”

“Nah, you just click on ‘Babies.’ What’s Judicial Review?”

“That’s what gives the Supreme Court the right to rule on everything.”

“That’s in the Constitution?”

“Nope. They made it up.”

“Is that the same as Judicial Activism?”

“No. Judicial Activism is when you start with your conclusions and then make the evidence say what you want to hear.”

“Just like Sex Ed. What’s Strict Constructionism?”

“That’s getting dead people to tell you why you can’t do something.”

“They mentioned that in Sex Ed, too. Dad, who runs the country?”

“A very powerful aristocracy.”

“You mean the Rich?”

“No. The Dysfunctional. The Rich, and the rest of us, only fund them. But they’re pretty democratic. Anybody can join. It’s called ‘Getting Dyssed.’ Once you’re in, you can stay as long as you want.”

“Sounds crazy.”

“Hey, crazy’s a big part of everything these days. The Census of 1840 was the first to try to count America’s loonies. They had two categories – alcoholism and dementia. There are now around 400 officially recognized ways to go bonkers. There’s even a catalogue. The DSM.”

“Is it on-line?”

“Might be.”

“Ms. Ventriculo wants each of us to pick an issue to study.”

“What’s yours?”

“Social Security. Dad, why’s it so messed up?”

“Abortion.”

“Say what?”

“Since the Supreme Court made abortion a constitutional right, there have been about thirty million. That’s thirty million Social Security cards that were never issued. Thirty million people who aren’t here to pay into the system.”

“I can’t say that. Ms. Ventriculo’s very pro-choice. She says sex is a private matter.”

“Then why do they teach it in public schools?”

“I don’t think I’d want to ask her that.”

“Thirty million people is more than sex. It’s Civics. Anyway, Social Security was founded on the premise that we’d breed fast and die young. Now we do the reverse. So the problem is sexual.”

“But don’t we give them money and they keep it for us until we retire?”

“Nope. They call it a Trust Fund and tell you that you’ve got an account. But you have no right to that money. The Supreme Court says so. And anyway, it’s set up so you’ll never get it.”

“Explain.”

“Well, the government takes our money and uses part of it to pay benefits to present retirees. The rest goes into special treasury bonds. The government uses that money to pay other expenses. In a few years, the Social Security surplus will disappear. The Trust Fund will start cashing in bonds. But where will the government get the money to redeem those bonds?”

“From us?”

“You got it. They’ll either raise taxes or cut benefits. Probably both. If a corporation ran its pension system the way the government runs Social Security, they’d all be in jail.”

“Why don’t they go to jail?”

“No room. We’ve got two million people in prison right now and millions of others out on probation and parole.”

“For doing what?”

“Breaking the laws, I guess. We’ve got so many laws and regulations on the books that nobody can even count them anymore. You know what Bush should do if he’s serious about helping the kids?”

“What?”

“Appoint an Independent Special Prosecutor to find out who’s responsible for Britney Spears.”

“I want to go to her concert, too.”

“We’ll discuss it later. You know, son, the Founding Fathers understood that sex and civics have a lot in common.”

“Go on.”

“Well, both should be free people coming together freely, to make their worlds together. But too often it’s people using and dominating each other, just in it for themselves. The Founders succeeded because they never forgot what things should be while dealing with things as they were. We’re here today because we’ve always had enough people who shared that idea in whatever they were doing. Not everybody. But enough.”

My son paused a moment.

“Ms. Ventriculo said something like that.”

“In Civics?”

“No, Sex Ed. After she apologized for the movie and the deodorant. She seemed sad. I guess the two are related.”

“Everything human beings do is related.”

“Sounds like it. Now, what about Bare Naked Ladies?”

“Ask your mother.”