Shocked. Horrified. Disgusted. Sickened. That’s only a handful of the emotions that overtook me when I found out that my 14-year-old son was a captive audience to a two-and-a-half-hour public display of hardcore heterosexual and homosexual obscenity—and no one said a word. I dare not even repeat here the vile images that are now imprinted on his brain.
Just a few generations ago the common sense standard of the general public was (at least) to shield the most vulnerable among us from anything that may pose a threat to a child physically, mentally, or emotionally. It was common for even perfect strangers to hold high public standards in the defense of children.
As much as I’d like to believe that the majority of the general public still holds this view, it’s rapidly becoming clearer that standard decency and common sense in regards to children are neither common—nor do they make sense.
Sky High Porn
My son was traveling on a Delta flight from Minneapolis to New York City with a team of adults to serve the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Originally, he was seated with another team member, but when their flight got rerouted, he was sandwiched between two middle-aged men three rows from the back of the plane.
Just after takeoff, the man seated to his left pulled out his iPad and proceeded to watch hardcore pornography. My son said he tried not to look—but how could he not see it? It was practically in his lap, especially since the man was so large that he took up nearly half my son’s seat as well.
He wanted to complain, but was too intimidated by the man to say anything. Feeling trapped, he chose to bite his tongue, and no matter how hard he tried to avert his eyes, he was bombarded by “flesh” in his peripheral vision.
Since the man was continually being served alcohol throughout the entire flight, there were ample opportunities for the flight attendant (or even a nearby passenger) to take notice. However, no one said a word. The man exposed my son to an entire pornographic movie and several short videos throughout the two-and-a-half-hour flight.
Needless to say, I was completely horrified.
Is airplane porn now acceptable?
Has porn become so “normal” that there’s no longer any inhibition about viewing it in public places?
What about children? Why wasn’t there one person who cared enough for a child to speak on his behalf?
At the very least, this man was insensitive, compulsive, and selfish. On the other hand maybe he knew exactly what he was doing.
It didn’t take long for frustration to set in after hearing, “Really, I’ve never heard of that before” over and over again from Delta representatives. Was this really a brand new thing? Delta reps seemed to think so and were clearly not trained in handling the situation. The best they could come up with was to offer us a $75 Visa card, which we declined.
After speaking to several reps, we were assured that Delta has a “zero tolerance policy” for such things and that they “do not stand for that at all.”
Parents, Take Action
Now, I understand many might say the blame lies squarely with my son for not speaking up, or the blame lies with me allowing him to fly on an airplane without his family. Should my son have said something—maybe sought out another team member he knew on the plane who could have helped him think about what to do? Sure. My son was paralyzed with fear and confusion, and perhaps he shouldn’t have been.
But let’s place credit where credit is due: should we expect kids to always know how to cry for help amidst a scary, profane situation, or should we hope adult men would have the decency to leave their hardcore porn at home?
Was this an isolated incident, or is airplane porn more common than we think? When flight attendants are themselves concerned about public displays of porn in-flight, when men are arrested for watching child porn at 60,000-feet, when the flight crew tells concerned fliers to change seatsrather than telling porn-viewers to stop watching, and when the FBI have to investigate men masturbating in full view of other passengers, it seems clear to me this isn’t a fluke.
A common response from flight crew in a lot of these stories is, “I can’t do anything about it.”
Really? Why not? So, is it acceptable to watch pornography in full view of the general public?
Not too long ago this was a no-brainer, but today, this is a question society is asking. In libraries, gyms, coffee shops, cafes, and even driving down the road, porn is becoming an acceptable norm in the public square. There’s no “right” to smoke in many public spaces, because someone may be exposed to toxic physical poisons against their will. Yet the “right” to infect others (even children) with mental emotional, and spiritual poisons is becoming more tolerable.
Parents, we must “foresee the danger ahead and take precaution” as Solomon says. Abuse, child sex-trafficking, violence, rape, molestation, neglect, STDs, addiction, gender confusion, fatherlessness, divorce—every day millions of children are being sacrificed on the altar of sexual idolatry in one way or another. This time, it was my son’s heart, mind, and emotions that were sacrificed, and it grieves me that I was ignorant to the danger. I hadn’t prepared my child for such a scenario, but you can.
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Sexual vulgarity is crouching at nearly every corner of our society. As long as it is up to you, don’t let your child be the prey.
It may still be criminal to knowingly expose a child to pornography, but that’s not where we’re headed as a society. Delta may have a “zero tolerance policy” for in-flight porn now, but that isn’t the case for all airlines. Parents beware: The acceptance of public porn as the “new normal” isn’t that far away. What is merely tolerated today will be lauded tomorrow.
1. Parents, teach your kids early about the sacredness of their bodies and the goodness of sex. Kids need to know our over-sexualized culture is not bad because sex is bad, but because sex is good. The problem with porn in any form, from the soft-core magazine covers in the checkout isle to the hardcore movies online, is not that is shows us too much sex but because it doesn’t show us enough—real intimacy cannot be ripped from its relational context and put on the screen or in a magazine.
2. Teach your sons and daughters how to react to perverse scenarios. It doesn’t have to be hardcore porn on a plane. It could be in the locker room at school. It could be crude jokes in the lunchroom or the school bus. It could be a sext kids are passing around from phone to phone. Kids need to be taught how to respond to such situations and we need to teach them.
3. Know how to react when you see public obscenity. Whether its on an airplane, a local library, or a school—if you see someone viewing pornography, they are likely breaking federal public obscenity laws. Ask the person viewing to put the pornography away. If this fails, inform someone else immediately—the flight attendant, librarian, teacher, etc.—and if they tell you nothing can be done, inform them that this is not a matter of preference; it is a matter of public obscenity crimes.