Over the last couple of decades I have found it increasingly galling to observe how so-called soft-porn magazines have crept out from under counters, or from the separate rooms or the back of the shop in newsagents to be displayed, apparently without shame, front and centre at a child's eye level in shops where one simply stops to buy a newspaper or some petrol, or in a child's case a comic book or some lollies.
But when a clergyman complains about this, as I have, it is labelled wowserism (for American readers, an Australianism meaning 'puritanism'), as if name-calling were a substitute for an argument. Or, such complaints are dismissed as the attempt to inflict one's religious or moral beliefs on others, as though an argument based on moral grounds is automatically untenable and must be excluded from public debate. Never mind, it seems, the obvious dangers the open display of such material poses to the healthy development of children, let alone the dignity of men and women!
But you know the situation must be getting bad when left-leaning liberals begin to complain. An article today in The Age, Australia's most liberal broadsheet (click on the post title to read), explains that a report issued by child experts has called for soft-porn and "lad" magazines, which are reported to increasingly feature models just over the border-line of the age of consent made up to look years younger - surprise, surprise! - to be banned from newsagents, service stations and the like and relegated to adult only bookshops. The report is accompanied by a petition for the same which features such names from the left-leaning liberal ascendancy as Noni Hazlehurst, Clive Hamilton, Steve Biddulph, and Alastair Nicholson, along with more socially conservative women's groups. But not a clergyman is present on the list, except for Tim Costello, who is known more as the head of World Vision, as a social commentator and brother of the former Federal Treasurer and some-time aspirant to the Prime Ministership than as a Baptist pastor.
One is certainly grateful for the public stance taken by these notables, but I wonder why the churches were not invited to sign on? Is our social currency at such a discount these days that our inclusion would only cheapen this statement? It would be very interesting to know why.
[To date, 66% of the respondents to The Age's on-line poll on the question have indicated they are against removing soft-porn magazines from shops also frequented by children. The libertarians still rule, apparently, at least among those who read The Age.]
[Post edited on 7.3.10 at 4.20PM to reflect new information, courtesy readers Matthias and Vicar Thomas Pietsch. We at the old manse are nothing if not responsive to readers' suggestions and corrections! :0)]