Commentary

Mary Sanchez | Grand jury’s obscenity decision was only sensible outcome

Updated: 2012-10-29T05:08:50Z

By MARY SANCHEZ

The Kansas City Star

All that outrage, all that time pounding the pavement for signatures, for nothing.

The outcome of Overland Park’s semi-nude “sexting” statue was a lock from the beginning, long before Friday’s grand jury opened and shut in a matter of hours.

A middle school debater would have come to the same conclusion. The statue does not meet existing standards of promoting obscenity. It was a matter of reading comprehension, applying written law.

What is ridiculous is that the statue’s opponents, the group adamant to be “standing against a sexualized culture,” remains clueless.

The American Family Association of Kansas and Missouri needs to ask around a bit. Talk to the teenagers they are so concerned about protecting.

You don’t sext from a camera. People do it with a cell phone. And teenagers aren’t influenced to take part by a bronze statue tucked away on a winding path in a remote portion of Johnson County.

Start here. It’s unclear how prevalent sexting is among teenagers; studies conflict. A lot of it has to do with self-esteem. And what is experienced and felt by teenagers daily in middle and high schools.

One study found 51 percent of teen girls saying pressure from guys was the reason they’d sext, with only 18 percent of teen boys saying they felt the same pressure from girls. So working with young men, too often left out of these conversations, is important.

The issue can be perceived power, why young girls will sometimes stifle their own best interests to gain attention from a young man. And that’s only one factor to consider.

Sexting simply mixes the power of social media with human tendencies. Obviously, there’s no lack of examples of people tweeting, blogging, posting to Facebook, forwarding risqué pictures first, then regretting it later.

Add in the impulsive hormones of adolescence, and it’s no mystery that a teenager might snap a suggestive photo, send it to a friend and find it spread around to schoolmates in a matter of hours.

Reasonable people can understand how some might find the Overland Park Arboretum’s bronze artwork a bit too explicit.

But the statue is not guilty of “sexting,” as was American Family Association’s primary stated concern.

The camera is aimed at her missing head. Not too much to titillate there.

Now they are fussing about the process. The jury outcome had nothing to do with prosecutorial tampering, a rigged system, as has been alleged. The jury applied standards.

So it’s fair to ask: If the American Family Association doesn’t understand how this admittedly worrisome activity is done, how can they possibly impact it?

So far, all indicators are they won’t. Making this saga a bunch of wasted effort all around.

To reach Mary Sanchez call 816-234-4752 or email msanchez@kcstar.com.

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