THE year 1992 was a bad one for famous couples. Andre and Fergie, John McEnroe and Tatum O'Neal, Woody and Mia. Most conspicuous of all, Charles and Diana, the world's most overrated freeloaders, rang out the year in separate castles, and republicans (small r) the world over asked how much longer the British people will tax themselves to support these decadent throwbacks.
Diana is at least beautiful. Charles' claim on public attention is harder to fathom. As long as the monarchy remains in place, so, too, does the rancid British class system.
Over here, a former tennis star, whose social station at birth would have been beneath notice for such as the Windsors, demonstrated how to behave regally in the face of true adversity. Arthur Ashe, battling both disease and an ill-mannered press corps, proved that the term "gentleman" is acquired, not (royals, please note) genetic.
A feminist group in New York filed suit to win the "right" to go topless at New York beaches. Their reasoning: Men may. The Court of Appeals was persuaded.
The Supreme Court of the United States, meanwhile, declared that the Constitution will not countenance the thanking of God at a high school graduation ceremony. To do so would endanger our liberties, said Justice Antonin Kennedy, about whom it was once said that he was more conservative than Robert Bork.
God is out, but homosexuals are in. At least in New York City.
The schools' chancellor, Joseph Fernandez, attempted to railroad through a curriculum which would teach "tolerance" of the gay and lesbian lifestyle -- with suggested readings like "Heather Has Two Mommies" -- for the sake of students whose parents have unorthodox living arrangements.
But parents, black and white, are in rebellion. They recognize that the proposed "Children of the Rainbow" curriculum is really a weapon in a propaganda war. Must first-graders be instructed in anal stimulation techniques to avoid bias crimes against homosexuals? Sane, non-bigoted parents think not.
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a black think tank in Washington, issued a study of the black community that was immediately buried by the mainstream press. It showed that only 28 percent of blacks call themselves liberal, while 31 percent say they are moderates, and the largest percentage -- 33 percent -- label themselves conservatives. That isn't what the conventional wisdom wanted to hear.
Conventional wisdom also was very interested in interpretations of the Los Angeles riot that stressed economic deprivation, white racism and "neglect." Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., unofficial spokesperson for the rioters, refers to the riot as "the uprising" and recommends that the panel looking into ways to rebuild Los Angeles should interview "the people directly involved" to learn what their needs and objectives are. In other words, consult the arsonists on how best to erect fireproof buildings.
Another story the conventional wisdom wants to forget is the riot that followed the Chicago Bulls' championship game, just two months after the L.A. riot. Cars were overturned, shops were looted and burned, and just as in L.A., Korean-owned businesses were targeted for destruction. This time, there was no unjust verdict to cite. Is torching Korean businesses the natural expression of high spirits in the inner city?
Mike Tyson went to prison for rape. The Tailhook scandal shook the Navy. Sen. Bob Packwood stood on women's toes to prevent them from fleeing while he kissed them -- quite a technique. Sen. Daniel Inouye did much the same thing but got away with it. Anita Hill, who told the Senate in 1991 that she had nothing to gain by making scurrilous accusations against Clarence Thomas, was honored by the American Bar Association and feted on the lecture circuit.
Madonna's latest piece of tawdry exhibitionism climbed to the top of the best-seller lists, and for the first time in 50 years, the Weekly Reader presidential preference poll was wrong. It predicted a Bush victory.
zTC This may prompt the aging flower children now moving into the White House to adopt a new slogan: Don't trust anyone under 10.
Mona Charen writes a syndicated column.