tinue without that particular concept.nProbably so. Yet there is a price thatnwill be paid. Reputable authoritiesnagree, for example, that the real incidencenof child abuse is indeed rising innthe United States. There were 711,142nreported cases in 1979 alone. Postmannsuggests, correcdy I think, that part ofnthe reason for this increase is thatnchildren are now commonly perceived asnthey were in the l4th century—an eranalso characterized by its reign of terrornagainst the young—as merely “miniaturenadults” deserving no special protection.nIn 1982, moreover, 1.2 millionU.S.nteenagers became pregnant, a vast increasenover the figure from the 1950’s.nFour hundred thousand of these childrennturned to abortion; most of the othersnbecame children raising children. Thenrate of venereal disease among 10- ton14-year-olds tripled between 1936 andn1979 and has doubled again since the latternyear. Our culture’s little adults arenrapidly catching up with their elders.nThe social consequences are staggering.nSo what’s to be done? Here, Postmanntrips over his McLuhanesque determinism.nThe nature of the televisionnmedium, he repeats incessantly, allowsnfor no other result. “[T]elevision mustnmake use of every existing taboo in thenculture,” he states at one point. “[I]t isnthe character of the medium, not thencharacter of the medium’s users, thatnproduces the adult-child,” he explainsnelsewhere. “Although this [destmctionnof a 200-year-old image of the young asnchild] is exactly what . . . our modernnfilmmakers… andTVwriters are doing,nno moral or social demerits may bencharged against them,” he concludes.nSuch a view allows too many real villainsnto escape. We are no more captivesnof our media form than we are captives ofnour economics, our psychological drives,nor our evolution. All such “determinisms”noversimplify history and reducenhuman beings to mere pawns. To takenobvious examples, television executivesnchose to drop shows like Leave It TonBeaver, to add those such as Three’snCompany, or to broadcast an afternoonn26iinChronicles of Cultttren”children’s special” on 13-year-old sex.nParents are free, within limits, to denyntelevision to their offspring, or to restrictnaccess to the box. Moreover, blatant ideologues,nusually calling themselves socialnscientists, have been openly attackingnfamily life and children for nearly twondecades. Consider a 1971 article byn”family counselor” Robert Harper whichncalled for a “blockbuster intensive therapeutic”nFederal program to help childrennand youth “overcome the contaminationnand crippling of their sexual beings bynour culture.” Harper urged parents ton”encourage, help, and foster” sexualnplay among their preadolescent children.n”To prevent sexual hang-ups in interactionalnas well as masturbatory sex,”nhe concluded, “we have to start whennchildren are barely toddlers.”nEven nonsensical ideas, it appears,nhave consequences and theories such asnHarper’s gave credence to assaults on thenmores protecting children. Television’snauthentic and extraordinary challenge tonthe concept of childhood notwithstanding,nthere is still room for human choicenand still the opportunity to hold accountablenthose who have failed in theirnresponsibilities or who have intentionallynsubverted the social order.nPostman also stumbles over the fewnliberal coals still warming his wearynframe. He acknowledges that “thenliberal tradition . . . has had pitifully littlento offer” in response to the destmctionnof childhood. He goes so far as tonsuggest, albeit incorrectly, “that the onlynsizable group in the body politic that hasnso far grasped the point is that benightednmovement known as the Moral Majority.n” Nonetheless, Postman sdll wants tonbelieve that “the transformation ofnshameful behavior” such as incest andnhomosexuality into “social problems” orn”alternate life styles” may sometimesn”represent a step toward a more humannsensitivity.” The old faith dies hard.nIn the end. Postman suggests littlenmore than to view parenting as “an act ofnrebellion,” with rebel parents insistingnthat their children learn the disciplines ofndelayed gratification, sexual modesty,nnnand manners and that their children’s accessnto the media be limited. Such acts,nhe concludes, would contribute to “whatnmight be called the Monastery Effect,”nkeeping alive “a humane tradition” innan increasingly disoriented and hostilenculmre.nAlongside Postman’s analysis, MortimernJ. Adler’s The Paideia Proposal:nAn Educational Manifesto strikes one asnboldly reactionary and virtually irrelevant.nWritten on behalf of a group ofndistinguished educators, the Proposalnmakes sweeping promises to parents (tonreverse the decline in the quality ofneducation), to teachers (to restore classroomnorder), to school boards (to reversenthe flight of the middle class to privatenand church schools), and so on down anlengthy list of interested constituents. Itnseems safe to conclude that the promisesnwill not be met. In a nutshell, the Proposalncalls for the creation of an equal,nhigh-quality educational program for allnpublic-school students, grades 1 to 12.nVocational education and trackingnsystems would be scrapped, to be replacednby a general course of smdy involvingnsuch traditional practices as drillingnin reading, writing, speaking, andnlistening, a mandatory second language,nSocratic dialogues over great ideas, disciplinednconversations about values, civicneducation, and a sort of “great books”ncurriculum.nOn the surface it sounds good, andnmany conservatives have leaped with enthusiasmnonto the Paideia bandwagon.nAnd indeed, if the nation’ s whole educationalnstructure was somehow quicklynreorganized in line with this vision, itnwould probably be marginally better.nYet the Proposal all but ignores a wholenrange of developments btiffeting the educationalnenterprise: militant teachers’nunions; top-heavy school administrations;nthe corrosive value vacuum inherentnin educational theories predicatednon secular liberalism; a contracting taxnbase; the demographic decline of the nationnas the birthrate remains low; the infestationnof the schools by drugs andn