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Jewish World Review June 25, 2001 / 4 Tamuz, 5761

Bill O'Reilly

Bill O'Reiley
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Consumer Reports

Freak dancing -- HERE'S how bad it's gotten. In June of 1963, I was about to graduate from St. Brigid's School in Westbury, Long Island. There were celebratory dances, and parties and barbecues all over the place. The big show dance song was "Hey, Paula," by the unforgettable duo Paul and Paula. Whenever that 45 hit the turntable, it was time to get close to the 13-year-old girl of your dreams.

But there was a rule for the eighth graders at St. Brigid's -- we had to leave room for "The Holy Ghost." There was no "cheek-to-cheek" dancing allowed, and certainly no fusion of body parts. What the Holy Ghost was doing at the dance remained a mystery to me, but chaperones and shark-circling nuns strictly enforced the rule.

Thirty-eight years later, we have "freak dancing" going on. This is basically "lap dancing."

Somehow what they do in the strip clubs has been adopted by some of America's children, and all over the country, teen dance clubs and school proms have turned into "Playboy After Dark."

You think I'm exaggerating, don't you? Well, I'm not. Kids from coast to coast are grinding and simulating sexual acts on the dance floor. They are mimicking Kama-Sutra positions to the beat of rap and techno music. They are touching each other in ways that would frighten Pamela Anderson. Ask any kid.

This is not Elvis swiveling his hips. This is not Chubby Checker twisting like a madman. This is intimate bumping and grinding. How did it happen? How did the USA suddenly become Denmark?

The answer to that question lies in the popular culture and in the adult world. I asked the owner of a dance studio in Washington, D.C., whether she was disturbed by 14-year-olds "freak dancing." Not at all, she said. It's just "creative expression."

Ah, "creative expression," so that's it. Another rationalization that allows conduct that would have been unacceptable 38 years ago to flourish today. We don't abuse drugs and alcohol -- we have a "chemical dependency." We don't fail to control ourselves -- we have "anger management issues."

So what's so bad about teenagers bumping and grinding on the dance floor anyway?

Well, first of all, it is inappropriate behavior. Do we use that expression in America anymore? Sex, or the simulation of it, is supposed to be a private pursuit. It's not supposed to be flaunted as public recreation.

Secondly, sex is supposed to have some meaning to it. We are not wildebeests -- at least not yet. Humans are supposed to form some kind of emotional attachment before we start bumping around. What kind of lessons are teenagers learning from doing these mating dances? Are they auditioning for a spot at the "Hot Pants Gentlemen's Club"?

When I first editorialized about "freak dancing" on television, I received a bunch of letters from kids who called me an "old fogey," or other words to that effect. And I guess that's true.

I am of the opinion that America now accepts behavior that is corrupting and destructive, behavior that would have been condemned just a few years ago.

I am not coming at this from a prudish point of view. What adults do in private should be of no concern to the government or cranky columnists. But what kids do in public should be scrutinized, and this "freak dancing" deal is appalling.

Thankfully, some schools have banned the dancing at social events on campus. But I have heard little social outcry from the media. The reason, I believe, is that the media panders to youth.

Magazines and television feed young people a steady diet of salacious images because they sell.

All kinds of adult conduct are funneled into articles and programs designed for teens. Seldom is there a lesson at the end of the provocative display, and that leaves many kids up "Dawson's Creek" without a paddle.

There is no question that America's children have been sexualized to a greater extent than ever before. In the early '60s, kids had their dances and their fantasies and their stolen kisses. But there was a mystery to adult behavior, and there were taboos for most of us who were young back then.

Now the mystery and the stop signs are gone. And the kids are freaking out.

JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of the new book, The O'Reilly Factor: The Good, the Bad, and The Completely Ridiculous in American Life. Comments by clicking here.


06/18/01: Work or die
06/11/01: Soundbite nation
06/04/01: Paying through the nose
05/29/01: Graduation Day 2001
05/21/01: Accepting the unacceptable
05/14/01: The Clinton legacy
05/07/01: Kerrey's ordeal
04/27/01: Is the party over?
04/20/01: Racism in public education
04/16/01: The fleecing of America
04/10/01: People who need perspective
04/03/01: Dubya's bottom line --- and ours
03/27/01: Don't tell, don't ask
03/20/01: Greenspan with envy
03/13/01: Clinton and Jackson
03/07/01: All that's left in America
02/27/01: The Letterman experience
02/20/01: Bread and circuses
02/06/01: How the Clintons do it
01/30/01: The Bush dilemma
01/24/01: I have been investigating Jackson's finances for the past two years
01/17/01: Sifting Ashcroft's record

© 2001 Creators Syndicate