When I was a teenager, adults thought we were in constant danger of sliding into depraved morality because we were doing things we enjoyed. Well-meaning but overreacting adults would gasp and clutch at their pearls at anything that required imagination, made us laugh, or had rhythm.
Watching Saturday morning cartoons lead to violence. Dancing would lead to sex. Rock-and-roll would lead to sex and drugs. Dancing to rock-and-roll would make us drugged-out sex perverts. And Dungeons & Dragons would lead to devil worship.
But they never believed it would lead to sex because have you ever seen teenagers who play Dungeons & Dragons?
However, many parents worried that dancing to heavy metal would make us oversexed, drug-addled Satan worshippers, which barely ever happened. Very much.
Or if my kids are reading this, that never happened.
(Joke's on them: My kids never read my column.)
Of course, none of the pearl-clutchers thought country music would make you kiss your sister, though, which seems unfair. Why did they pick on the rock-and-roll kids?
When you were my age, you could always count on at least one adult collapsing onto their fainting couch whenever teenagers tried to enjoy themselves.
I thought we had reached peak outrage in the 1980s when Satanic Panic was all the rage. Every police department in every city reassured frightened parents that "the debbil" would never gain a toehold in their jurisdiction.
They had heard all the stories about covens of witches stealing babies over in the next county, but of course, not one police department ever had reports of witch-stolen babies. Any stories you think you heard are urban legends that have been proven to be false, so just relax.
But 40 years later, the mayor of Hudson, Ohio, Craig Shubert, has found something new to panic about. Earlier this month, he said ice-fishing in the Cleveland suburb could lead to a moral problem that has plagued humanity for millennia.
It happened during a city council workshop where the members were discussing whether to allow ice-fishing shacks on the frozen lakes in the area. Most people were all for allowing citizens to put ice fishing shacks on the frozen lakes, but Mayor Shubert was worried.
"While on the surface it sounds good," he said, "then what happens next year?"
Council members puzzled and pondered what would happen next year? Ice houses? Ice mansions Homeowner ice-sociations?
No, none of that.
"If you're going to allow ice fishing in shanties," declared Mayor Shubert, "then that leads to another problem: prostitution."
It's not so much Satanic panic as it is a panty vigilante.
To be clear, he didn't say "ice prostitution," just regular prostitution. As in, regular prostitutes would descend on the frozen lakes of Hudson, Ohio, and turn the tiny shacks into fishing houses of ill repute.
Maybe the Hudson Convention & Visitors Bureau could create some tourism slogans around this idea.
"Hudson, Ohio: You'll catch more than just fish."
"Hudson: Putting the 'OH' in Ohio."
"Get hooked in Hudson."
Needless to say, Mayor Shubert's comments raised more than a few eyebrows as the story appeared on newscasts and websites around the world.
"Clearly," said Minnesota and Wisconsin, "this man does not understand ice fishing!"
"Clearly," said Nevada and New Jersey, "this man does not understand prostitution!"
Then they said in unison: "Nobody wants to be outside in the cold doing that!"
Mayor Shubert realized he may have overinflated the problem because he resigned as Mayor this past Monday.
He issued a statement that said his comment about the 10-below bordello was both a joke and a real concern for his community.
The statement read, "My comments at Tuesday's workshop were made out of concern for our community; what could become of unintended consequences of new legislation, based on my prior television news reporting experience. My attempt to inject a bit of dry humor to make a point about this, in the midst of a cold, snowy February, was grossly misunderstood."
Your statement sounds like an Alanis Morisette song:
"I'm serious, but I'm kidding,
"I'm clear, but misunderstood,
"I'm dedicated, but I quit, baby!"
In the end, you weren't grossly misunderstood. You understood exactly what you were saying: you think ice fishing is a slippery slope to prostitution. That's crazy because everyone knows it's actually duck hunting.
If the former mayor of Hudson really wants to worry about something, he needs to speak out against dancing.
Because the ice strippers might slip and bruise their tailbones.
Photo credit: CraigSteffan (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)
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