Cynthia Logan is the mother of Jessie Logan. Jessie Logan made what some might call a “bad decision.” She took sexually provocative photographs of herself and sent them to her high-school boyfriend. When the two of them broke up, he childishly sent them to all his buddies, and they forwarded them, and so on. Jessie recently took her own life, and as often happens her mom has been making the talk show circuit calling for “tougher laws.”
Jessie’s parents are attempting to launch a national campaign seeking laws to address “sexting” – the practice of forwarding and posting sexually explicit cell-phone photos online. The Logans also want to warn teens of the harassment, humiliation and bullying that can occur when that photo gets forwarded. (source)
I don’t want to cause any pain to the Logans, but lets assign blame where it is due before we start running off at the mouth that we should add new laws to the web of idiotic laws we already have. Why would Jessie be so despondent? Was it really all about “sexting?” Is the “sexting can kill” statement a whole lot of BS? Parry Aftab says that Sexting Can Lead to Death! On the other hand, Dr. Marty Klein tells us “Sexting” Can’t, Repeat, Can’t Kill Anyone.”
For the record, I’m going with the Doctor over the lawyer on this one.
What gets conveniently buried in this story is that just before Jessie Logan committed suicide, she attended the funeral of a 16 year old classmate who took his own life. What is completely omitted from the coverage is any call for personal responsibility — or perhaps any mention that our society’s absolute paranoia and erotophobia might have contributed to Jessie’s death. Why? Because the “fear of sex for profit” industry wouldn’t have anything to sell if those factors were taken into account.
The fact is that every damn kid thinks about suicide — it is a normal part of teenage hormone-driven angst – and teens require advanced parenting. Teen suicide doesn’t need an engine like “sexting,” and Jessie Logan is unfortunately not special. She’s just one of many teenagers whose parents didn’t see the warning signs and now they are looking to find someone, anyone, but themselves to blame — an eminently normal and forgivable reaction. I’m not saying that Jessie’s parents are to blame. They are as blame-worthy and blame-less as any parent of a teenager who commits suicide. They are blame-worthy for not seeing the signs, but blame-less because frankly, they can be almost impossible to interpret until after the fact – as virtually any parent or friend of a teenager who has taken his or her own life will tell you.
Do we need new laws? Is “sexting” really “dangerous” as those in the fear-mongering industry want us to believe? No, it sure isn’t. Lesson 1 is to communicate with your children about the over-arching issue here — teen suicide. When I was a kid, my parents suggested that if I ever wanted to kill myself, I could just decide to fuck my life up instead. I always kept that in mind as a backup plan.
Lesson 2 is to teach your kids to either not sext, or if they want to be comfortable with their sexuality and do so — to be prepared for the consequences. If those consequences arise, they just might need to understand that high school is only four years long, and once they get to college they can be whoever they want to be. I know a lot of girls who got tagged with the “slut” or “whore” label. You know how they dealt with it? Some reinvented themselves when they left for college. That’s part of the wonder of going away to college. Some just reinvented themselves in high school, turning Goth or some such silliness. Others reveled in the label and enjoyed their youth in a shower of promiscuity. Lets face it, sluts have more fun, and usually those doing the taunting are at their life’s unhappily low peak. You want proof? Go to your next high school reunion and look where the bullies are today.
Jessie Logan’s epitaph should not be written by the fear-mongering industry. If it is, there will be more Jessie Logans, they’ll just use stupid 18 year old logic to make permanent decisions about another temporary problem. But, if her epitaph is written by the fearmongers, we’ll have exactly the same number of teen suicides, but at least one more dumb law that encroaches on our liberties.
The bigger problem is the fact that the “fear of sex” business, both the right-wing religious nuts and the left-wing “junior anti-sex league” types has turned any exposure of a healthy interest in sexuality into something that an 18 year old girl needs to fear and be ashamed of in the first place. Instead of running around the country with shrill “warnings” about the “danger” of sexting — maybe Cynthia Logan’s message should be to tell kids that their interest in sex is normal and that there are options to suicide.
Losing a family member does not make you an authority on anything except grief. Cynthia Logan has the right to lecture on how to cope with losing a daughter — but losing a child does not give anyone the mental capacity to draft laws nor to lobby for other fools to draft them. In fact, it does the opposite.
Cynthia Logan should be forgiven for reacting foolishly. Any mother who loses a child shouldn’t be expected to think clearly. However, it is clear that she’s being exploited by people with a vested financial and political interest in fear mongering. It is up to us to stop that exploitation.