If you haven’t seen the headlines about her, then you haven’t looked at online news recently. As we all know, Miley Cyrus made a choice in early 2014 to dress in a nude latex bikini and perform a dance routine that belongs in a strip club, not on prime time television, and both (much older) singer Robin Thicke and MTV left it happen, and things have only gone downhill since then.
Miley’s getting the headlines, but she isn’t really the problem. She’s just an out-of-control teenager acting the part. (Hitting her 20th birthday clearly didn’t magically turn her into an adult.)
Did she have the right?
Did Miley have the right to wear a latex swimsuit and dance that way? Certainly – that’s why we have the Bill of Rights. While those bills are not absolute (no shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater), they are pretty close. Roughly speaking, you have to be endangering someone else or behaving in an extraordinarily inappropriate way to have your rights curbed. In short, if an action belongs in your bedroom or bathroom, you aren’t supposed to do it in public.
And that’s where the public distress over her actions comes in. I don’t like her outfit, but realistically, it’s a latex swimsuit. However, the outfit was designed to shock because it looked like she was nude on camera, and it amplified an already inappropriate performance and made it excruciating.
What troubles me more than her performance is that “adults” allowed it. The content of her routine and her wardrobe were hardly kept secret from execs at the VMAs and MTV. And those same execs – at least some of who were almost certainly parents – knew that her performance would be seen by teens and even younger kids. At twenty years old, Miley is not even old enough to drink legally. She routinely demonstrates poor judgment. She needs guidelines and help from those with more experience.
Which brings us back to:
Miley is getting the headlines, but she isn’t really the problem and we all know it. The thirty six year old married man who invited a twenty year old to perform and didn’t stop her is worse, but he isn’t even really the problem. If you stop and dig through the layers of behavior and enabling, I think it comes back to this: people sitting in rooms somewhere have written guidelines and instead of thinking for ourselves and making judgments, we use those rules to justify all sorts of things we know are wrong.
Anyone who reviewed her videos or previewed her wardrobe knew it was inappropriate, but no one – including her parents – seems to have objected because it was up to “someone else” to take responsibility and say it was inappropriate. Yes, she’s now a legal adult and an choose her own clothing, but nothing happens in isolation, and her routines were most assuredly seen and approved by people who could have forced changes, even refused to air them.
But Miley Cyrus is no longer just the individual person we see on the news. She has staff. A manager, an assistant, handlers, PR person, and other people who insulate her and prevent people and information she doesn’t want from reaching her. On top of that, because she has been turned into a brand, what she does impacts other people and their lives, and no one seems willing to risk upsetting her.
What does all this have to do with our Constitution?
Andrew Weiner. Bill Clinton. The NSA. The IRS. The Congressional Bank. For that matter, the D.C. Government, which is overseen by Congress.
What do they all have in common? They need(ed) a grown-up to pay attention to them and keep their behavior in check for (in order): sexting, too many women to mention, surveillance, selective “extra scrutiny” based on party affiliation, allowing criminal activity (bounced checks and such), and general corruption (Marion Barry, anyone?).
Our government is massive. We all know that. Some people think that is fine and it should, in fact, be even larger. The ideal size of our government is very debatable, but we all agree that oversight is necessary. When that is abandoned or becomes impossible to do, we have a very serious problem. The bigger and more powerful the government department, the bigger the possible consequences and the bigger the problem.
Realistically, Bill Clinton’s activities and the Congressional Bank letting Congressmen bounce checks are irresponsible, but they don’t pose a great risk to most citizens or the nation at large. Back in the ’30s when it was a relatively new and much smaller, less powerful, bureaucracy, the IRS put Al Capone in jail when no one else could. The modern EPA can (and does) pass rules that cause power plants and factories to shut down. The FDA passed school lunch rules that force kids to buy side dishes they don’t want (and only throw away) and schools to serve kindergartners and high school linebackers the same portion size. The list is endless. Some of these consequences are small, but others are not.
We must start pruning any areas that have grown too large, but it is even more important to make sure that we, as citizens, oversee our government. We must force our representatives to make the various bureaucracies justify their actions and only do what is truly necessary. No one person can oversee everything the government is doing, but if work together, we can catch a lot of it.
So here’s my suggestion:
Take one on-line time-waster (reading news about Miley or Lindsay Lohan, some of your Facebook or Pinterest time, etc.) and instead of doing that, search online for real news about a topic of interest or importance.
Look up “government shut down” and learn about past shut-downs and the short- and long-term effects.We all know that Benghazi was in the news but George Zimmerman’s trial displaced it. Google Benghazi and learn about that. For that matter, Google “George Zimmerman” and learn more than the headlines told you. (Did you know he volunteered to tutor disadvantaged black youth or that he went and complained to the local police when a black person was treated unfairly?) Google “Ebola” or the name of your local library – but please, start now and educate yourself!
Whatever the headline is, take a few minutes to dig in and learn more than the major news outlets are telling you. If all you do is read a series of articles written by the major news outlets around the same time, you won’t be learning much more than if you just read one, so make sure to select a variety of sources.
How is Zimmerman related to government oversight? The government official involved in bringing his case to trial needs investigated, if not entirely removed from office. Zimmerman was seemingly indicted strictly to appease people the main stream media had manipulated into believing the case was strictly a racial issue. (The release of an edited audio tape, among other things, demonstrate deliberate manipulation.)
The woman who decided to prosecute him also decided to prosecute a black woman, Marissa Alexander, who used the same stand-your-ground defense. Ms. Alexander is now in jail for 20 years, but outrage generated by social media has resulted in her getting a retrial. Social media has allowed a degree of oversight that has helped correct this apparent miscarriage of justice.