Last Updated Jun 12, 2007 5:12 PM EDT
The first is from Caitlin Flanagan, a wonderfully zesty writer, who takes on MySpace and online predators in the latest Atlantic Monthly (subscribers only). Unlike so many failed attempts to capture this phenomenon, Flanagan opines with originality and humor.
With the Internet, children are marching out intoA great sentence. And here she is after describing the elite private girls school of Jenna in Los Angeles:
the world every second of every day. They're sitting in their
bedrooms--wearing their retainers, topped up with multivitamins,
radiating the good care and safekeeping that is their lot in life in
America at the beginning of the new century--and they're posting
photographs of themselves, typing private sentiments, unthinkingly
laying down a trail of bread crumbs leading straight to their dance
recitals and Six Flags trips and Justin Timberlake concerts, places
where anyone with an interest in retainer-wearing 13-year-olds is free
to follow them.
The current resurgence of girls' schools like
Jenna's is based on the idea that to become strong and powerful, girls
need an environment in which they are protected from the various
energies and appetites of adolescent boys. Free of the sexually charged
atmosphere that will always pervade coed high schools, they can emerge
and evolve in ways they never could in the presence of ogling,
domineering boys. What contemporary parents of daughters--among them
some of the most liberal-minded--have come to believe is not so
different from what 19th-century parents believed: The sexual unfolding
of a young girl is such a fraught process emotionally as well as
physically that she needs to be carefully sheltered from the myriad
forces that would seek to exploit or coarsen her as she reconciles the
girl that she was with her biological destiny. That Jenna's parents
would pour such a river of cash into her school tuition to grant her
that safe and gentle place, and that--at the cost of not one cent--she
would have created a MySpace page so dangerously revealing (in every
sense of the word) is a terrific irony.
George Will on one of the biggest questions in political philosophy:
Is liberty valuable because it promotes virtuous behavior? Or is
liberty merely necessary because, given that there are deep
disagreements about what virtuous behavior is, we must agree to leave
one another a lot of social space to do as we please, or we shall not
have social peace?
Tom Brokaw in his commencement address at Skidmore College:
You've been told during your high school years and your college years
that you are now about to enter the real world, and you've been
wondering what it's like. Let me tell you that the real world is not
college. The real world is not high school. The real world, it turns
out, is much more like junior high. You are going to encounter, for the
rest of your life, the same petty jealousies, the same irrational
juvenile behavior, the same uncertainty that you encountered during
your adolescent years. That is your burden. We all share it with you.
We wish you well.