In a memorable scene in “E.T.,” young hero Elliot (Henry Thomas), intoxicated by his psychic link to his marooned space alien pal, loses impulse control during Middle School science class and, while E.T. watches John Wayne’s passionate kiss with Maureen O’Hara in “The Quite Man,” embraces the class heart-throb—played by barely pubescent “Baywatch” babe-to-be Erika Eleniak!
— and gives her a passionate smooch.
If Spielberg’s classic premiered today, this scene might be condemned as sexual assault by feminists, who would insist that Elliot should have been charged. Is that really fair? Rational? Sane?
At Pikesville (Maryland) Middle School, a 13-year-old boy has been charged with second-degree assault for kissing a 14-year-old girl on a dare. Police were called to the scene by the school, undoubtedly influenced by the current sexual assault freak-out on college campuses. (The proper response of an ethical and well-led police force, by the way, would be “Don’t waste our time.”)
The higher education sex hysteria, which is in the process of making campus romance too perilous for young men to experience, is bad enough, but this slippery slopeage criminalizes childhood. Yes, Elliot’s impulsive conduct can be a tort or a crime when engaged in by an adult. When engaged in by a child, it is called growing up. The proper adult response to it, as has worked well for centuries, is to use the incident as a teaching opportunity—and what do you know? This happened in a school! The real-life Elliot could have been instructed about individual rights, on avoiding dare traps, on respectful treatment of the other sex, on how to handle stirring hormonal urges, on how to apologize. Instead, the school taught him that society believes in criminalizing being a kid, that political correctness vaporizes brains, and that schools are run by child-abusing fools.
These are important lessons to learn in 2015 to be sure, but it would be better if nobody had to learn them. In a culture in the process of abandoning all sense of proportion, empathy, compassion and fairness so it can march to the grim tune dictated by social justice warriors, however, they are mandatory.
If Elliot understood what was coming in American culture, he would have been well advised to go home with E.T.
It has to be better on his planet.