I care nothing for Pogue's opinions, but I do care about my children. My 13-year-old son listens to L. L. Cool J sing: "They tell me don't drink and drive. I say what is this? Pass the Heineken and mind your own business." (The reference to Heineken has been deleted from a newer version of Cool J's song.) Then my son turns on the TV and hears a jolting message from Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The conflict inherent in these two messages is confusing to my son.
My daughter, 15, hears on TV news "in many Middle Eastern countries women have virtually no rights," then later hears 2 Live Crew sing of the pleasures of sexually abusing women and Andrew Dice Clay glorify the beating of women. The conflicting message is that women here are free, but only free to be violated. My daughter feels confused.
Sustained confusion in a young mind can lead that mind to despair. And a despairing child may very likely commit a desperate act. It happens every day.
What Pogue calls an "ever-increasing wholesale rampage to squelch self-expression" is his particular perception of events. What is actually happening is a dynamic effort by some to shield young minds from a bombardment of confusing messages. With a shield, these young people can have a chance to form their own identity so that later, when they exercise their right to self-expression, they will have something to express.