When people think of the public morals of Europe, the word "decadence" comes to mind. Sex, drugs, and the decline and fall of the churches all define the trend. Amsterdam, for example is celebrated as "San Francisco times ten."
But that portrait doesn't fit as well in Eastern Europe. Take Lithuania, a small Catholic country of 3.3 million people that was forced to be a captive nation within the Soviet Union for five decades. At the end of 2009, their parliament, the Seimas, amended a new law passed in July for the protection of minors. It passed 58 to 4, with 25 abstaining.
The law limits a broad range of public information considered harmful to children, including graphic violence, instructions on how to make explosives, presentation of drug use in a positive light, pornography and ridicule or harassment based on race, religion, wealth or sexual orientation. The amendments also make clear that the legal restrictions apply to education, the mass media, advertising and all other types of public information, not to parents in the home.
The original bill - which drew widespread condemnation from the European Union - banned the promotion among minors of "homosexual, bisexual, and polyamorous relations." The bill was passed in reaction to attempts to introduce a fairy tale about two princes falling in love into the curriculum for kindergarteners in the public schools.
The libertines never respect parental wishes for grade-school innocence and can never, ever wait until children reach sexual maturity to begin "teaching tolerance." They insist on parental subterfuge with lessons pushing "sexual orientation" education on children who can't even write out their ABCs yet.
In September, the European Parliament voted 349 to 218 against the Lithuanian law, and directed their "Agency for Fundamental Rights" to opine on whether the law offends European anti-discrimination standards. Any such opinion would be "non-binding," though activists would likely use it to intimidate Lithuania into overturning their policy.
Lithuania responded by asking the European Court of Justice to declare that resolution null and void, as an intrusion on a democratic government's sovereignty. The court surprisingly agreed the European Parliament had overreached.
An earlier proposal by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, the "progressive" parliamentary faction, would have moved to suspend Lithuania pursuant to Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union, the 1992 pact that created the EU. This lobbying campaign is much more democratic than being in the Soviet Union, but it might feel like foreign domination of a different kind.
But the international "human rights" lobbyists turned that analogy upside down. Nicola Duckworth of Amnesty International cast the Lithuanians as the Soviets. "Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin wall, the Lithuanian parliament is turning the clock back by imposing draconian limitations on the flow of information and the freedom of expression and stigmatizing part of the population," she said.
Duckworth added that anyone who was convicted of violating the protection-of-minors law would be considered a "prisoner of conscience." Any agitator who wants to teach 5-year-olds about the two gay princes is apparently the new century's Andrei Sakharov.
If Amnesty International ultimately wins in Lithuania, it wouldn't be the first time. Great Britain passed a law in 1988 (Section 28 of the Local Government Act) against promoting homosexuality in schools. But the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child demanded a repeal, which it received in 2003. No prosecutions were ever brought in the 15 years the law was on the books.
Remember Amnesty International and the U.N. (and of course, the French) when people complain about how America's entertainment conglomerates spread a disrespectful virus of "cultural imperialism."
Last summer, as Lithuania passed its law, Britain represented Western European decadence in public education. A National Health Service leaflet advised teenaged school children that they have a "right" to an enjoyable sex life and that regular intercourse can be good for their cardiovascular health. Its slogan: "An orgasm a day keeps the doctor away." The government also proclaimed: "Health promotion experts advocate five portions of fruit and veg a day and 30 minutes' physical activity three times a week. What about sex or masturbation twice a week?"
There was a similar story in Spain. The government of the Extremadura region in the west recently suggested children be taught "self-exploration and self-pleasure." It launched a masturbation advice (and advocacy) campaign based around the slogan "Pleasure is in your own hands."
In their press statements, the "human rights" activists advocate freedom of expression and denounce the spreading of stigmas. But when it comes to traditional faith, values and parental rights in Europe, the freedom of expression flows only toward the decadent sexual "progressives," and the stigmas blow back on any parents who object.