Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Not-So-Fresh Debate

My new Super Hero of Brilliance is JoAn Karkos, for pretending she is the arbiter of taste and appropriateness for the Lewiston Public Library.

She borrowed “It’s Perfectly Normal,” a book for young adolescents about puberty and sexuality. She has heroically refused to return it.

According to news reports, Karkos claims she wanted to keep kids from having access to the book. Now she’s in trouble with the law, and, as of this writing, was about to be found in contempt of court and jailed.

It’s all part of her ploy.

Any time a non-heroin-addicted grandmother is on her way to The Big House for something besides prostitution, the national media goes bonkers.

As a result, several people around the country have sent the Lewiston Public Library new copies of the book. There are now five more available to be checked out.

Karkos has effectively quintupled the availability of the book to children.

We should all celebrate her sly, ingenious method of making sure fewer kids experience adolescence in a swirl of anxiety and confusion.

I remember it well. My junior high sex-ed class was informative, but it focused a lot on boring stuff like fallopian tubes and the vas deferens. As if I needed to know about my vas deferens in that moment. They left out the important stuff, like:

• How a woman gets the “not-so-fresh feeling” discussed in the commercials.

• Does size matter?

• What it actually feels like to finally have a girl… you know… look in your direction without making a face like she just tasted sour milk

The dictionary was not very helpful, either. What was I supposed to do, walk around asking people to define the “not so fresh feeling” for me? I learned after four or five tries in the grocery store how futile that was.

And “Hey, mom, do you douche?” was just not on the list of options.

These days, kids have Google to sort these things out, but some people are not comfortable with the idea of their child potentially learning about sex from some Internet pervert like Wikipedia.

So kudos to Karkos, I say, for giving kids better access to a professionally-written resource to help them make educated decisions about sex.

Sure, she could have just bought five copies of the book and donated them to the library. But that would have cost her $100, and it would not have drawn so much attention to this critical, overlooked issue.

She knows there are conservative nut-jobs out there who believe that if you don’t give kids information about sex, they’ll just go right on catching frogs and playing house until they’re 18, when it’s time to get married and have kids.

Karkos claims she’s practicing “Civil Disobedience.” Of course! She wants to go to jail to draw attention to her cause. That explains why she didn’t just tell the library she “accidentally” ran over it with a lawnmower or something.

By playing up the controversy, Karkos is championing the sensible idea that sexual feelings and behaviors are a (gasp!) normal – and maybe even beautiful – part of being human.

So no need to feel ashamed for being curious, kids. Read away.

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