SF Chronicle's Morford Defends Teen 'Sexting'

There's a legitimate debate to be had about the media's coverage of the alleged epidemic of "sexting" -- teenagers sending pornographic or suggestive photos of themselves nude or semi-nude via cell phone.*

After all, the media are well-known to glom onto a few anecdotes and drum up a "growing trend" without the benefit of empirical data to back up the alarming claim. That being said, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford is not the petulant adolescent man to make that point.

Indeed, Morford actually aims at excusing sexting altogether, all while distorting and mocking average Americans' sexual mores in his May 15 column, "You Dirty Kids!":

We ask again: Where are your boundaries? It's simply not fair, you being all young and smooth and fearless, just discovering the joys of your bodies and of modern technology and flirting and flaunting it all like you don't have a care in the world.


...We must teach you a lesson. We have to show you these things cannot, will not be tolerated. Remember this: Photos are for picnics and drab family outings and standing next to a tacky tourist spot and smiling meekly. Cell phones are for calling your therapist and crying. Got that?

This is why we are cracking down. You must understand the rules of the culture. You must understand that your happy teenage hormones must be held in check, beaten down, thwarted, stomped on and made deeply shameful until you become older and fearful and pathetic and sad. You know, just like us.

In other words, parents, school administrators, and prosecutors are not acting out of concern for children's safety, but out of envy of the adolescent sexual freedom. 

You might expect an argument like that from a horny high school teenage boy insistent on excusing "sexting" as harmless fun, but it's hardly an intelligent argument coming from a professional newspaper columnist.

*In my original post I wrote "cell phone text message" which, as blogger Catkeepr pointed out in his recent post, is technically inaccurate. A multimedia messaging service (MMS) would be needed to send and receive photos on a cell phone.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.