Age of dissent

When it comes to columnists, I prefer writers with distinct voices and thought-provoking opinions. I don’t always agree with them, but that’s a big reason why I like them—distinctiveness and thought-provocation.

Anthony Peyton Porter has knocked over bees’ nests with his past two columns. Letters last week and this week call his judgment (and mine) into question. Even members of the CN&R family take issue with “Masochists” and “Sexy children.”

Anthony addresses the July 19 piece in this week’s column, “Words,” as does Christine G. K. LaPado in a counterpoint titled “The power of those words”, so I’ll focus on the July 26 issue.

I knew we’d receive angry letters when Anthony discussed the age of consent. He clearly states, “I don’t advocate sex with children; I just don’t want government goons involved.” No matter; his last line—“Lowering the age of consent from 18 to 12 would never fly here, of course, but 14 …”—ensured a strong reaction.

Since my wife is a pediatrician, I have some expertise by association. I don’t take “14-year-olds are not emotionally mature” as a caveat, the way Anthony does, but as a valid observation. “Fourteen-year-old girls are nearly always advertising their sexuality”—yes, yet the “I’m ready!” message he perceives is nearly always a bait and switch.

My immediate reaction was to suggest Anthony go with 16 or 17 instead of 14. Then it hit me: That’s exactly what he’s talking about. “There’s no line between childhood and adulthood, between immaturity and maturity, except artificially via legislation.” So while 16 or 17 would be more palatable, it would be no less arbitrary.

Point taken. Thought provoked.

The CN&R is not my personal soapbox; it’s a community forum, and I don’t feel the need to agree with every commentary we publish. I take exception to character assassination, disinformation and calls for harm—otherwise, this editor prefers the role of devil’s advocate to thought policeman.

Best of Chico: On the subject of individual preference, our annual Best of Chico selection process is underway. Voting begins today (Aug. 2) at and continues through Sept. 3. See page 35 of the printed paper for the sample ballot.

Calendar: The CN&R’s Calendar has grown more interactive, thanks to a new feature our Ops team has rolled out. Venues, groups and artists can post their events via the Internet, and the information will go live on soon after. Check out the site for details.

And finally …: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Butte County has asked me to run for the honor of Big Celebrity. I don’t get hounded for autographs, but I am a Big Brother, so I’m going for it. Please e-mail me (<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript"> </script>) or call me (894-2300, ext. 2240) if you’d like to help me beat the broadcast media … oh, and support this great organization.