Opinion | Biff America: Equality of impure thoughts
I have a confession to make.
Other than my mate and several dozen folks I’ve met in bars, the only other person I have admitted this particular transgression was to a priest.
Not sure how the Catholic Church handles confessions these days. But when I started my sinning career, you would go into a little room in which, on the other side of an opaque screen, sat a priest. Generally you would go to confession about once a month. I did so beginning at the age of 7 until my late teens.
During those early days, my transgressions were all “sinning-lite.” Mostly it was small fibs like lying to my Mum about brushing my teeth before bedtime or flushing the lima beans served at dinner down the toilet.
Confession began with “Bless me father for I have sinned …” You would then recount your sins, and end with “I’m sorry for these sins and all my sins of my past life.” The priest would then assign penance, (a certain amount of prayers to say) you did your penance, were forgiven, thus entitled to flush your lima beans for another month.
Seems Father Murphy did not love lima beans. He was very understanding about my food flushing but, along with my penance, he did give me a talking to in regards to oral hygiene.
It wasn’t until I reached my adolescence that confession got complicated to such a degree that I would disguise my voice.
It all began with laundry hanging from some of my neighbor’s clothes lines. For some reason seeing my three sister’s underthings drying in the sun did little to peak my interest, but the Fergusons sister’s unmentionables were another matter.
It did not take long for me to discover when the various laundry days were in close proximity to my house. Often a quick glance as I biked home from school was enough to spark my imagination. Those glances gave “rise” (sorry) to “impure thoughts.”
Pretty sure “undies spectating” never made the Catholic cut of top-10 sins. But “impure thoughts” was up there on the list that young boys should avoid (for fear of damaging vision).
Again Father Murphy displayed an amazing sense of hipness. Before issuing penance (slightly more than for my bean flushing sins) he told me as long as my impure thoughts were confined to humans, my interests were normal and I would outgrow it.
What a relief. But he did ask if I had been brushing and flossing before bed — so much for disguising my voice.
Father Murphy was right. I did outgrow it. There was no 12-step program necessary. It was more that the novelty wore off.
I wonder if the same thing will happen to the curious Colorado youngsters now that, in outdoor public spaces, women can be topless.
You might have read a recent, well-written article about it in this publication.
A worldwide movement called Free the Nipple has been taking various indecency laws to court. Mostly their argument is to stop differentiating what is legally indecent for the two genders. In the 10th Circuit, of which Colorado is part, a shirtless man was not considered indecent yet a shirtless woman was.
Through a process of arrest, lawsuits and litigation nation by nation and state by state, this group is fighting to make the indecency laws gender neutral. They have succeeded in the 10th Circuit. So going forward, what is good for the goose will be good for the gander and a topless gal will not face arrest.
Much has changed for youngsters since I was riding slowly by the Ferguson house on laundry day. There is way more titillation featured on the web and media. But, that said, I do think for the youngsters coming of age this could be an adjustment — at least initially.
Now, granted, this is striking only a small blow against the prevailing gender inequality. But it is also possible that this (though silly as it seems) could be a baby step towards equal rights and perhaps even a lessening of the institutionalized objectification of women.
So, that said, kudos to Free the Nipple group. “We are not governed by the majority. We are governed by the majority who participate.” But I will confess, once they rid the nation of laws promoting indecency bias I hope they can do something about forcing children to ingest the dreaded lima bean.
Jeffrey Bergeron’s column “Biff America” publishes Mondays in the Summit Daily News. Bergeron has worked in TV and radio for more than 30 years, and his column can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He is the author of “Mind, Body, Soul.” Bergeron arrived in Breckenridge when there was plenty of parking and no stop lights. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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