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Parental delinquents


WASHINGTON -- The shock-rocker with the nom de grunge "Marilyn Manson" blew through Washington over Mother's Day weekend.

His band's "act" contains the usual outrages, from blasphemy (he ordered the playing of Christian hymns in advance of his show during which he tore the Bible into pieces), to pierced body parts in the band and audience, lyrics about mutilation, sodomy and death, T-shirts saying "kill your parents," middle finger-waving and chants of "We love hate! We hate love!"

No surprises there. All of these, in one degree or another, have become predictable parts of the rock fringe scene.

What disturbed me was the parents who took their young teen-agers to this warm-up act for the damned and sat in a "quiet room" while their kids ingested the moral equivalent of cyanide.

The legal definition for contributing to the delinquency of a minor would seem to fit such parental irresponsibility: "an act or omission which tends to make a child delinquent."

And what is the legal definition of a delinquent? It is a child who "engages in disobedient, indecent or immoral conduct, and is in need of treatment, rehabilitation or supervision."

Whatever the need on the part of the thousands of teen-agers who attended this event, it is apparent that their parents may also be in need of treatment, rehabilitation and supervision.

While Manson (who takes his first name from Marilyn Monroe and his last from serial killer Charles Manson) screamed "God Bless America" and pulled an American flag between his legs to simulate toilet paper, Olga, who declined to reveal her last name, said she wasn't happy that her 15-year-old son was in the crowd.

"If I had put the law down, he would not have been here," she told a reporter. "But then he would start acting out. Maybe this will scare the hell out of him, and he won't want to come back to any other concerts."

Or scare the hell into him. Did she try this strategy on her son to persuade him not to play in the street? Getting hit by a car might have scared him enough not to play in the street again.

Kit, another no-last-name-please parent, brought her daughter. "My husband thinks we're somewhere else," she whispered. "He heard the stuff about the lyrics saying something about oral sex" and told their daughter she couldn't go.

But Kit, in true baby-boomer fashion, didn't want to see a pouty expression on her daughter's face, so she lied to her husband. "I don't want her lying. I don't want her going behind my back," she said.

Pat Kristensen of Columbia, Maryland, who brought her 15-year-old son and didn't mind her last name being used, told the Washington Times:

"I have mixed feelings as a parent. I don't think any parent is crazy about their lyrics, costumes or attitudes, but it's all around, and you have to have faith in your kids and that you raised them right."

Really? Would a decision to attend a concert like this be an indication of good or bad child rearing?

If good, what behavior would show a parent that perhaps her child-rearing wasn't working to her or her child's advantage?

District of Columbia City Councilwoman Nadine Winter tried to block the show, but was unsuccessful. Ms. Winter said no protest was planned at the site because she feared a violent response from some concert-goers.

Perhaps if parents started acting like generations before them, children might understand that they are not the ones in charge of families, any more than they are in charge of making laws that govern their ability to drive, drink alcohol or vote.

Some members of the most self-indulgent generation ever are contributing to the moral delinquency of their children because many of them identify with the late Abbie Hoffman, who once said, "God is dead and we did it for the kids."

Marilyn Manson with his "Antichrist Superstar" tour has risen to take His place.

Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist.

Pub Date: 5/16/97

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