Mona Charen

And what of Al Sharpton? The scandal there is that there is no scandal. Here is a man who rose to fame on the strength of a racially motivated smear of a group of perfectly innocent police officers. The good Reverend has never acknowledged wrongdoing nor apologized. As if that were not enough, he was the provocateur who incited a race riot in Harlem that led to the torching of a clothing store and the deaths of seven people. Again, no apology.

And yet he is a respected member of the Democratic Party who has the audacity to run for president. Not only is he not denounced by his fellow candidates, they take turns buttering him up and suggesting coyly that he'd make a heck of a running mate. Change the channel.

Don't let the kids look too closely at journalism. On the air, they'll find a debased search for the lowest common denominator. In print, they'll find plagiarism. Some plagiarists get lucrative book contracts (Jayson Blair). Others, like Stephen Glass, get generous book contracts and movies made about themselves.

Popular music? Whom do you prefer: Eminem or Britney Spears?

And now Michael Jackson does a moonwalk perp walk. There are rumors that he used alcohol and drugs to numb at least one victim. But we don't understand, Jackson insists. There's nothing wrong with having little boys sleep in your bed. It's just an expression of his extraordinarily loving nature. Change the channel.

But we can't change the channel, because this isn't just a television invention. This is our culture. This free-for-all, libertine, conscienceless maypole dance is what we've created from once-strong roots of Puritan rectitude. A nation once lampooned for its innocence now wallows in smut of every kind.

Were it not for the new counterculture -- the millions of families attempting to raise moral and idealistic kids despite the deluge of decadence -- I'd be in doubt about our future.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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