In the course of raising my children, the older of whom - to use Marine aviation terminology - are airborne, while the youngest is still on the taxiway, we have encountered the spectrum of educational experiences from public school to private school to home schooling.
My youngest child, who recently entered the wild and wonderful world of her teen years, is home schooled, which began in Florida and has continued off and on since. She also spent several years in the public school system.
My home schooler takes algebra, Latin, geography, history, civics and government, current events, religion and philosophy, health, grammar, spelling, composition, art, literature, and science. We have a time set aside each day for physical education, and on the outside she plays piano, sings and rides horses.
My wife and I split the teaching duties which are spread out across the day, including weekends, and are not confined to classroom experiences. For instance, a trip to the store also is an exercise in mathematics, calculating weights and measures, as well as costs and taxes. We also delve into chemistry there, reviewing the various additives found in packaged food and researching their affects on the human body.
We try to keep a regular schedule as much as possible, and as part of the daily routine, every week day at 6 p.m., my world goes on hold for one hour and I sit down to watch Brit Hume's Special Report on Fox News.
I like a lot of the Fox newscasters and commentators, including Neil Cavuto's business hour, John Gibson's My Word, that airs just before Hume, E.D. Hill who needs no further explanation, and Chris Wallace's Fox News Sunday. I start my day with Fox and Friends.(I am still ticked off, however, that I can't watch Juliet Huddy in my area.)
I watch the others as my schedule permits, but the 6 p.m. show is such a mainstay in my home that if I am caught up in work, my wife will remind me of the time, and if at all possible I will stop what I am doing. Brit Hume brings us a wide range of national and international stories, his wry look at the oddities of the news in the Grapevine at 6:30 (eastern time) is always fun as well as informative, and I value the opinions of the panel of commentators in the second part of the show, even if I disagree with them.
I also have found that the 6 p.m. news hour provides a great opportunity to spend some quality time with my daughter, as we absorb the news of the day and discuss its ramifications to our lives.
There is, however, a fly in the ointment, that being the incessant commercials that air at this hour for erectile dysfunction - the inability of some males to get an erection. I am not mocking this issue here, I realize that for those who are afflicted it also can be a harbinger of far more serious conditions including circulation and heart problems.
I do not think Brit Hume has any input on the commercials that air during this hour, or even is aware of what is running, since studio personnel usually use the ad breaks to prepare for the next segment and are more tuned to the producers than the video monitor. Apparently, however, the demographic that the Fox ad people are targeting in the evening hours includes males who may be experiencing erectile dysfunction, so the show is heavily loaded with ads for drugs that address that problem.
Now, in the course of home schooling our daughter, my wife and I deal with sex education openly and regularly. As a child's body changes, and as their social lives become more complicated, the issues change and they need regular adult input and monitoring.
I firmly believe in parents taking the lead in this area. I have been involved in teaching human sexuality to my children ever since my son came home from public school some years ago and dropped the bomb that he had been taught about sex that day - and the instructor used baseball bats and catchers mitts to explain male and female physiology!
We also use this time to teach our values and the reasons for them.
But a teen-aged girl who is watching television as part of her current events and civics lessons doesn't need a constant bombardment of ads about a bunch of guys who are having a hard time - no pun intended - raising the drawbridge on demand. In fact the models in the ads look like the pictures of health, not guys whose circulation or cholesterol issues could be blocking the blood flow to the affected areas of their anatomy.
And the females in these ads look like they could raise the dead, to say nothing of ... well you get the drift.
There are enough things for parents of a teenager to discuss in this area without going into matters that are so far removed from daily life for most people that they just don't appear on the radar. I have to believe that people afflicted with erectile dysfunction can get more and better information from their doctors.
I am well aware that there are many issues regarding human sexuality in this world that can't and shouldn't be avoided. For instance, I also have found Rush Limbaugh to be an excellent teacher of American civics and government and we often listen to his radio show during our physical education time.
But Rush also is topical and if the topic of the day involves sexual issues in Congress or the White House, he is going to discuss it, as he should.
A few years ago I sent Rush an email during a show that was heavy on some sexual issues from the Clinton years, noting that I was listening to him with my young daughter. Immediately afterward he started giving his listeners a heads up if there was an 'adult' issue coming up.
I have no idea whether that was the result of my email or if I was just one of thousands with the same concerns, but he did respond and it is very helpful and very much appreciated. It only takes a second to say "let's take a break."
I reserve the right to teach my children about these issues my way, and all I am asking from the wider world of communicators is that they understand the nature of their audience and give us a chance to deal with adult subjects as we see fit.
So the question I have is, does Fox News have to run an avalanche of erectile dysfunction ads during the 6 p.m. news hour? Can't these ads be run at a later time, say during O'Reilly, or Hannity and Colmes?
Is there a way to warn parents when these issues are next on the ad agenda? Hell, man, I have enough to deal with just teaching my daughter about horny teen-aged boys, and it just isn't relevant to get bogged down in adult sexuality issues! If this was just the occasional ad I wouldn't be writing this column, but the fact is, these ads dominate the Special Report advertising and I flat our don't want to look at them anymore.
I'd hate for Special Report to lose a viewer, not because of anything Brit Hume did or said, but because of the advertisements that Fox's ad department chooses to run in that hour. It wouldn't be just one viewer, if that occurs, it would be two, because whatever I decide to do about this, the opportunity to have this special time with my family takes precedence over my choice of news outlets.
Rush Limbaugh found a simple, effective and very welcome solution to this issue. I believe Fox can too.
Oh, one last issue.
If I ever have an erection that lasts more than four hours, the last thing I will do is call a doctor as advised in the ads.
No Sir! If I ever, ever have an erection that lasts more than four hours, I'm going to hang a neon sign on that bad boy, call a press conference and start making money the old fashioned way!
Do you think they'd cover that on Special Report?
Wednesday, January 02, 2008