- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 29, 2001

No 'superhighway'

"The Democrats made a big play for Silicon Valley, but the irony is that in doing so, they demonstrated how little they understand it.

"Gore & Co. are clearly authoritarians authoritarians with good intentions, but authoritarians nonetheless. Al Gore not only didn't invent the Internet, he doesn't understand it. Anybody who could come up with the phrase 'information superhighway' doesn't understand what the Internet is.

"The Internet is a self-generative organism, powered by the desire of people to communicate and connect. Gore's metaphor turns the Net into a massive, centrally administered and planned government project, which it isn't. Despite the important contributions of government research programs, the Net as we know it today has been built from the edges, not the center. No one planned it.

"There isn't a great deal going on that's more important than laying the foundations of the place where practically all commerce whether social, economic or political will be conducted for the next couple of thousand years.

"We really need to do this right. It's more important than fighting terrorism or continuing to lose the war on some drugs. It's more important than any of the things that the United States government is focusing on."

Cyberspace activist John Perry, quoted in "Cyberspace Cowboy" in the April issue of the American Spectator

Lost loyalty

"Of all the virtues presumed to have been lost in America, loyalty generally takes pride of place. 'Thanks to the decline of old money and the old-money ethic of civic responsibility,' the historian Christopher Lasch wrote in 1995, 'local and regional loyalties are sadly attenuated today.'

"Lasch pointed the finger of blame at upwardly mobile professional elites, whom he portrayed as 'turning their backs on the heartland and cultivating ties with the international market in fast-moving money, glamour, fashion, and popular culture.' …

"We are, writes the social critic Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, living in a 'divorce' culture, in which loyalty to spouse and children is severely tested by the siren calls of personal self-fulfillment and liberation… . When people vow to remain committed to each other until death do them part, these critics believe, something is clearly amiss when they part due to circumstances found inconvenient or unpleasant."

Alan Wolfe, from his new book, "Moral Freedom"

Safe sex ed?

"My son's school took all the right precautions. They practiced safe sex ed… . They sent home permission slips for us to sign. And ultimately they gave us the choice of pulling our kids out of the program altogether, with no penalty to them or to us… .

"But when the … course was done, the school had done pretty much what you'd expect a school to do: They reduced the complex physical, emotional and psychological landscape of intimate relationships down to a fairly sterile explanation of basic biological functions, and they threw in some scare tactics for good measure.

"But I think we've got to wonder how long that kind of message is going to stick when it competes with a gyrating Christina Aguilera, dressed in a shimmering body stocking matching the color of her skin, singing and moving oh-so-closely with the male dancers surrounding her on stage… .

"Television, movies, music, the Internet, newspapers, and magazines we get the message from all directions. Literally every entertainment avenue we know and use has a backdrop of advertising-driven sex.

"With a course in sex ed that massive, that constant, and that stimulating, how do we raise our kids to expect more from their future relationships than the jolt of an elevated pulse and the hope of physical contact?"

Katherine Murray, writing on "Practicing safe sex education," March 20 on MSNBC at www.msnbc.com

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