If there is a God, and if that God has a wicked sense of humor, the following lyrics will be sung at this year's half-time performance at the Super Bowl.
"I'm your wicked Uncle Ernie
I'm glad you won't see or hear me
As I fiddle about ....
"Your mother left me here to mind you
Now I'm doing what I want to
As I fiddle about ....
"Down with the bedclothes
Up with the nightshirt....
"You won't shout as I fiddle about."
The lyrics come from a song named, appropriately enough, "Fiddle About." The song is part of a rock opera called Tommy, performed by The Who, who have, as you have no doubt heard by now, been invited to perform at the half-time show in this year's Super Bowl.
Only there is a hitch. Pete Townsend, guitarist and chief song writer for the Who, was required for a time to register as a sex offender in Great Britain. It turns out that he once accessed child pornography. And although he is now off the the British sex offender registry, Florida law -- the Super Bowl will be played in Miami this year -- requires that he present himself to law enforcement to register upon arrival in the Sunshine State.
Townsend was convicted of accessing a child porn site in 2003. He claims he was viewing material for research. From 2003 to 2008 he was registered as a sex offender in Britain. In Florida, he is still regarded as such.
Child Abuse Watch and Protect Our Children are raising Hell with the NFL, the state of Florida and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and anyone else who will listen. How was a pervert permitted entry to the US? Shouldn't Florida take Townsend into custody immediately upon his entry into the state? How could the NFL so undermine family values?
This is all hysterical gibberish. Even if Townsend looked at some pictures, it does not make him a danger. The law prohibits viewing these pictures for two reasons: first, the fear that viewing them encourages a market for new images, thereby placing children at risk; and, second, the fear, unproven, that looking at pictures is but a prelude to greater harm. I suppose there will soon come a day in which acts of violence cannot be shown on the silver screen, either, for fear that will inspire others to copy the violence, therefore causing harm to others.
Pete Townsend viewed prohibited images. He was convicted of a crime. Deterrence was served. But he is not a moral leper, any more than are the thousands of other folks who now bear a scarlet SO on their foreheads. The NFL had the good sense to see through the hysteria. It invited a talented musician to play at the Super Bowl.
Tommy has sold millions of records and CDS. Fiddle About is known to most Americans over the age of 50. I'd love to see The Who perform that piece at the Super Bowl. It might just help pop the bubble of hysteria that suffocates each person convicted of a so-called sex crime in the United States. Performing the piece would certainly go a long way toward demonstrating our sexophrenia: when it comes to sex, we just can't decide whether to love it or hate it.