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Don't get your hackles in an uproar

September 5, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
When a co-worker dropped a printed copy of a Washington Post blog on my desk the other day with the word “Steubenville” prominently featured in the headline, I sighed, and prepared to get my hackles up.

Then I breathed deeply and read it and figured it’s not only darned good writing but an interesting point to make. And so, you’ve got a link to Richard Cohen’s Sept. 2 post “Miley Cyrus, Steubenville and teen culture run amok” here today.

About the only thing I peripherally might not agree with Mr. Cohen about is, as I said last week (“No shock to Miley, no more voice from progressive radio,” posted Aug. 26) is giving Ms. Cyrus more than her just due.

While he argues that it’s indicative of a teen culture run amok, I would take it a step further: It’s a culture run amok. Culture, neither adult nor teen.

What she did was nothing more than the crappy objectification of women that takes place in strip clubs from Vegas to the Weirton. And, so long as someone looks and is willing to pop a buck into the g-string, there will be a market for that crap.

Thus, its culture run amok, where the recently squeaky-clean teen is now the mostly naked bad girl on national TV squiggling her stuff. (The fact that there is a word for it, “twerk” is indicative of a cultural shift, again, Mr. Cohen, maybe I am making your case here.)

Yet we live in a culture that will edit songs on the radio but act appalled at the Miley Cyruses of the world, all the while raising them to another level by looking at them as the issue, not as a symptom.

The near-constant community divisiveness during the past year after the disgusting behavior on display in Steubenville as a result of the booze party, illicit sex, phone tape and Internet commentary is part of why I was less than shocked and could care less about Ms. Cyrus and don’t think of her more than an asterisk in the history of a failed culture.

At any rate, Mr. Cohen writes a darned good piece, with a darned good summary of the clearest capture of the whole Steubenville incident and its aftermath as written by Ariel Levy of the New Yorker, who was able to be a lot more objective about just how the story exploded than perhaps any citizen of the town, including those of us on the front lines.

The lesson is that hackles shouldn’t go up until we’ve got clarity.


Article Comments



Sep-08-13 11:32 AM

I've yet to read an article that actually covers the reality and truth of the Steubenville story. Generally it is spun either for or against Prinnie. What some on the front lines can't seem to understand is, Prinnie shouldn't be the focal point of what happened in Steubenville. The focal point is the fact these teens harassed April's alleged victim online publicly and again harassed JD as well just four months later. The focal point is these alcohol fueled parties especially when the adults who do come into the picture do not respond appropriately. Teenage drunk driving is another issue that needs addressed. What happened to Rehtaeh Parsons and Audrie Pott is not that different from what happened in Steubenville. When reading their stories did these Steubenville defenders also come to the defense of the boys who ruined the lives of these two girls? Instead of telling victims what they did wrong to cause their own rape why not raise your boys to respect women?


Sep-08-13 11:14 AM

I agree Miley Cyrus is unimportant in the grand scheme of things, she is simply a product of the culture and era she was raised in. Proof enough of this is a drive through the strip district in Pgh on a Friday or Saturday night. You'll find the majority of young women are dressed in a like fashion, is this the fault of these young people or is this our fault for allowing the moral decay of society as a whole. I long for the days of yesterday when young people took pride in themselves and had a desire to not only further their education but also a desire to provide for themselves and their families.


Sep-07-13 11:31 AM

Well, I have not seen the article, and perhaps it was great, but the fact is Steubenville has been in the minds of people all over the world waiting for the conclusion; the shoe to drop; on a case that is over a year old.

Yes, Grand Jury, do the take your time if there is more evidence that needs to be reviewed, but if you are stalling; and many suspect you are; the minds will not be cleared and articles will continue to be written; until you speak.

This writer believe it will end like the 1919 Black Sox case...."what evidence?"


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