NOW THAT Christmas is behind us, let's turn our attention to the real issue of the day: teenage sex.
The announcement that teen TV star Jamie Lynn Spears, little sister of tabloid wreck Britney Spears, is pregnant at 16 is newsworthy, not because of her age - after all, 750,000 teenagers in the U.S. get pregnant each year - but because her blessed event has already become a lightning rod for moral and legal conflicts.
For example, social conservatives are conflicted because if they condone her decision to keep the baby and not secure a hasty abortion, will they be condoning teenage sex?
Then there's the potential legal conflict. For example, there are questions whether the father of the child, 19-year-old Casey Aldridge, will face statutory rape charges because Spears was 15 at the time she got pregnant.
And if that's the case, will he, too, be sentenced to 10 years in prison like Genarlow Wilson and Marcus Dwayne Dixon, two Georgia boys who in separate cases were sentenced to a decade behind bars under Georgia's mandatory sentencing for statutory rape? Both Wilson and Dixon, who were eventually released, had consensual sex as teenagers with young women their age. Both are black.
Aldridge is white, and involved with a celebrity. You do the math.
It's actually Aldridge's residence outside of Georgia that may keep him out of prison. That's because the country's patchwork system of laws and regulations governing sex and minors is as schizophrenic as society's attitudes toward teens and sex.
We don't want teens to have sex, and yet we cry "abstinence" at the same time we're making millionaires of young female entertainers who drape snakes around their nearly bare chests and dress like 30-year-old hookers.
Since 300,000 girls between 15-17 get pregnant each year, a pregnant 16-year-old isn't that unusual. Let's not glamorize Spears, or use her to further an agenda. Consider her a reminder of the nearly million teenagers now pregnant.
They, and their offspring, are the ones who really need our attention. *