My daughter will be 11 in three months. She’s interested in art, fiction, silly Japanese animation, animals, and Switzerland. It’s a great age – heck, they’re all great ages, if you have a happy child. There’s something about the pre-teen years, though, that combines a charming imitation of grown-up mannerisms with the simple pure passions of unsullied youth. I can trace much of what I love now to my own childhood, and I hope my daughter feels the same sense of connection some day with the person she is today.
Which is why we all worry about the internet, right? How it cheapens things, coarsens the soul, sexualizes kids before their time. If you discovered that your neighbor was running a website that told kids it was okay to have sex at the age of 11, you’d shun him, report him, stare daggers if you saw him at the grocery store. Pervert. If you found a guy outside your kid’s window, offering a box of condoms – you know, just in case, just to be safe you’d be tempted to introduce his front teeth to the back of his throat.
But when the government does it, well, that’s public health.
Behold: the City of Philadelphia’s website for sexually active teens, If the kids feel “weird” about going to a teen center to get a pack of French Letters, don’t worry: the city will mail them, free, to anyone who’s eleven or older. That’s what the page says. Eleven.
A friendly reminder: if you oppose this public expenditure, you want children to die of AIDS.
More from James Lileks: