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Sex Really Freaks Us Out, Doesn’t It?

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Sex Really Freaks Us Out, Doesn’t It?

Let it never be said that a Street Prophet who dressed in Biblical-style bedsheets couldn’t single-handedly bring down the core of Salt Lake City’s mightiest daily newspaper en route to finding himself a cherubic, harp-playing second wife. Chaos theory holds that even the flap of butterfly wings can eventually generate enough force for a full-scale hurricane.

Now look what Brian David “Call Me Emmanuel” Mitchell has inadvertently wrought: one nine-month, Taliban-style stint behind a veil for Elizabeth Smart, one retraction and settlement from The National Enquirer, two reporters fired, one frog-chinned editor resigned, one nervous police department, and a whole gaggle of reporters groping for “media ethics” at deafening volume. Is Mitchell giggling behind bars, or what?

& ull; In a press statement, the Smart family stated they “hold no personal animosity toward those who have acted in less than honorable ways” during the kidnap investigation and ensuing media coverage. Right. They just want to see a few heads on sticks. But that’s OK. Maintaining congeniality in the midst of stress and conflict is a Utah trademark. Besides, you too would be rattled at the leak of information during a criminal investigation. Alleged “secret diary sex rings” are so boring. “Retracted” ones are even worse.

& ull; Forget for a moment the specific issues at hand: media ethics, police protocol or playing harp for a nationwide television audience. Take a large view. This is about sex. It was a sexual impulse, couched in religious terminology, that led Mitchell’s wife-quest to Elizabeth Smart’s door. Maybe Michael Vigh and Kevin Cantera wanted to impress their wives with an extra $10,000. It was defense of the family name, dredged through sexual allegations, that led the Smarts to an attorney’s office. Sex, the holy fount of creation that must forever be stoked, preserved and honored, shines at the very center of this brutal mass of events.

& ull; Now look at the national headlines. A politician wants to mount his high horse? Use sex! Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn., proudly says, “I have a problem with homosexual acts.” President Bush’s nominee to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor, mounts the same horse: Homosexual acts are comparable to “bestiality, possession of child pornography and even incest and pedophilia.” That’s in a “friend of the court brief”—signed by Utah’s attorney general, by the way—before the Supreme Court’s imminent decision about Texas sodomy laws. What Santorum, Pryor and our own attorney general can’t seem to get through their thick heads is that the case before the court questions consensual homosexual activity. Besides, they’re the ones mounting horses. Beastly behavior, that.

& ull; Granted, there’s nothing wrong with keeping sexual matters behind closed—even locked—doors. The petty, seamy side of our personalities wants to know if our neighbor’s having more fun than we are. A lot of us believe sexual conduct reflects on the quality of political leaders. But let’s not kid ourselves about what so often propels human behavior during the course of even one single day. Look under the hood of your own libido now, before it’s too late. And when this whole affair’s reached its last climax, we can all smoke a cigarette.

BEN FULTONbfulton@slweekly.com

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