Should Children Be Protected From Sex, Violence, Alcohol and Profanity While Traveling?

osting this article regarding the official confirmation directly from a Hilton Worldwide spokesperson of the elimination of on-demand adult video entertainment from its hotel and resort properties worldwide effective immediately reminded me of this article I wrote about a mother of two young children who posted a petition wanting four commercial airlines and NBC Universal to stop showing violent and sexually inappropriate movies and television programs on drop-down and bulkhead screens aboard airplanes.

Sarah Coburn-Rothermel allegedly witnessed several movies with French dialogue almost two years ago showing scenes with domestic abuse and sexual situations accompanied by English subtitles laced with profanity. 3,653 people signed the petition in support of the mother of two young children who lived in Tulsa at the time.

The comments which had been posted in response to the article — most of which were against the petition in question — prompted me to wonder: should children be protected from sex, violence, alcohol and profanity while traveling? Is censorship the right course of action here?

Please allow me to relate a personal story to you. I had an extremely close relationship to my paternal grandfather, who I respected and admired.

When I was a child, my grandfather enjoyed drinking one small bottle of beer every night after dinner. For some reason, he eventually abandoned this practice without notice years later; and he never was an alcoholic.

He called me into the dining area of the kitchen one evening after dinner — when I was about five years of age or so — and wanted me to try a sip of his beer. I had no interest; but he insisted. The beer tasted horrible to me — and it must have been apparent: he laughed at my reaction. I never wanted to try that swill again…

…and I never did. I cannot stand the taste of alcohol to this day.

Even when my friends were drinking when I was a teenager, they wanted to see what I was like if I was drunk. No amount of peer pressure would force me to even sip an alcoholic beverage — let alone get drunk.

To this day, there is a long line of people who would love to see how I would act if I were drunk — especially given my personality while sober, as that can at times be beyond wacky.

In my adult years, colleagues enjoyed imbibing in alcoholic beverages after a long day of work — especially when traveling on business. They would invite me to try a beer. After replying that I did not enjoy the taste of beer, they would insist that I would have to “acquire a taste” for it.

Acquire a taste? Why?!?

Both of my parents smoked cigarettes. My father invited me to try one when I was young. I declined, but he did not insist. I would not be surprised if the invitation from my father to try a cigarette was similar to the invitation from my grandfather to try a beer: to satisfy a curiosity I never had in preventing me from possibly wanting to indulge later on in my life.

Both of those attempts were successful.

Despite the supposed theory that children are more than likely to pick up the bad habits of their parents, the smell of second-hand smoke was more than enough to deter me from ever wanting to smoke anything — such as cigars, cigarettes, pipes, crack and marijuana — and to this day, I still have no desire to smoke.

In fact — despite my parents, relatives and friends cursing on a regular basis — I vowed at a young age that I would never use profanity. As a part-time actor, I refuse to use profanity if it is in a script. Usually the director and writer will work with me, as there is always a way around using profanity. To this day, I do not even use mild profanity, let alone strong profanity. Why? Because to me, profanity serves absolutely no purpose. Sure, it might be funny in a comedy routine — but not if it is used gratuitously or excessively, in my opinion.

I still enjoy watching cartoons created from as many as 80 years ago. They are filled with violence — yet somehow I am not a violent person; nor have I been traumatized or mentally scarred in any way as a result of Elmer Fudd blowing the beak off of Daffy Duck with his shotgun or Jerry dropping an anvil on Tom.

A petition will not protect children from sex, violence, alcohol and profanity, in my opinion — nor will shielding them from those activities. Rather, proper parenting and supervised controlled exposure could go a longer way towards protecting a child — similarly to experiencing illness at a young age to develop a stronger immunity later on in life. Of course — unlike, for example, a certain former spokesperson for an international chain of sandwich shops who recently admitted to guilt of engaging in sexual activities with children younger than the legal age of consent — I vehemently believe that a child should not perform a sexual act or commit violence at a young age; but it is virtually impossible to shield that child from witnessing those activities at some level when they are presented as a movie or television program, as they are a part of life for many people.

At the most basic level, the child should receive proper guidance. Explain the consequences of violence — as well of as the abuse of drinking alcoholic beverages and engaging in sexual activities — to a child at an appropriate age. Detail the benefits of sex and alcoholic beverages; but also suggest when and how they should be used. Empower the child to form his or her own opinions and decisions about sex, violence, alcohol and profanity rather than to forcefully ban it from the child without explanation — which in turn may only foster his or her curiosity all the more.

Although I agree that some times and places are more appropriate than others, if an adult wants to watch entertainment containing sex, violence or profanity — or imbibe in an alcoholic beverage — while in a hotel room or seated as a passenger aboard an airplane during a flight, that should be the choice of that person. That choice should not be removed solely due to the censorship of someone else who does not want his or her child to be exposed to those activities — whether in real life or via recorded content.

Just to be clear, I do not view the decision by a lodging chain such as Hilton Worldwide to eliminate offering the option of selling adult content as a form of censorship — if only because with the advent of the Internet, there are actually more choices that are less expensive which are no longer “officially sponsored” by the hotel property attempting to sell it directly.

Despite having been exposed to those vices, I do not drink alcoholic beverages, engage in violence or curse — but I have no problem with other people who drink, curse or want to watch violence as entertainment. Those are their choices; and I stick to my choices.

What are your thoughts pertaining to that petition? How should the conundrum of questionable content shown while traveling be solved? What do you believe is the best way to deal with sex, violence, alcoholic beverages and profanity where it pertains to children?

10 thoughts on “Should Children Be Protected From Sex, Violence, Alcohol and Profanity While Traveling?”

  1. shaun says:

    I think hilton should do the “One night in paris” movie night to make up for it. They could charge per inch /per hour

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I laughed when I read what you wrote, shaun. Thank you!

  2. David says:

    maybe your grandfather should have asked you to try writing for a blog. if you’d have developed a childhood aversion to writing, it’d have spared us all from these contrived pseudo-intellectual blog posts.

    if you’re going to write like a snob, write better.

    1. Captain Kirk says:

      Hey Dave,

      I have an idea, if you don’t like what someone is writing, then don’t read it. Maybe If your parents had taught you to act like a civil human being, it would have spared the rest of us from dealing with your pompous, negative attitude.

  3. Jeff says:

    Man,

    Harsh words from David.

    I think if you are going to try to make an apples-to-apples comparison between your smoking analogy and violence/sex, your grandfather would have had to push you to drink multiple times and same for your dad with trying cigarettes.

    Additionally, the fundamental complaint about media violence and sex is how it is presented. When you were offered alcohol, it was not with the promise that even though it tastes terrible if you keep drinking it you will get big muscles and grow to be tall. Silly as that is, I think most parents who worry about the media are worried about the way it portrays these vices.

    Your cartoon example is a good retort but I just don’t think most people see that as the same thing (I know a lot of people who hurt themselves as kids trying to fly after watching Superman the movie. I don’t know anybody who tried to drop dynomite down a rabbit hole).

    Just some musings. I think the discussion is valid about media, but binding think your examples are a fair comparison. Even if they are, the fact that you “got lucky” in your response to both those situations doesn’t mean offering cigarettes and alcohol to minors is a sound strategy that the rest of the public should be subjected to. It’s kind of flawed from the beginning.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Thank you for a reasoned and thoughtful argument to my article, Jeff.

      I prefer when readers disagree with what I write, as I learn from them; and your comments definitely provoke thought.

      I hope that readers of The Gate continue this discussion from differing points of view.

  4. Graydon says:

    I would like a clarification Brian:

    “if an adult wants to watch entertainment containing sex, violence or profanity — or imbibe in an alcoholic beverage — while in a hotel room or seated as a passenger aboard an airplane during a flight, that should be the choice of that person”

    Do you consider porn to be the same as entertainment containing sex? I’m fine with just about anything except porn on a flight.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Please see this article I just posted, Graydon

      http://thegate.boardingarea.com/whats-on-your-mind-pornography-aboard-an-airplane/

      …as it was written based on the very question you asked.

      Whether you agree or disagree, please continue to feel free to comment, as I do appreciate your point of view.

  5. Captain Kirk says:

    I don’t have any problem with parents restricting the content of media their children see. I obviously don’t have an issue with people choosing to not partake in drinking, smoking, or pornography. If Hilton changes their policies due to customer trends and desires I have no issue with that.

    The issue I have is that some people in this world need to get a life. Instead of worrying about themselves and their children, there are people out there who feel they need to start petitions against anything they personally don’t like. Twenty years ago, you never would of heard of this woman and her petition. With social media and a large audience available to just about anyone with an internet connection, this kind of nonsense happens. If she didn’t like it, don’t watch it. It’s called parenting. I don’t know about you Brian, but I have a family and a job and don’t have the time nor the inclination to start petitions against things I personally don’t like. I chalk it up to “who cares” and I keep it moving. I wish more people would do the same.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      There are indeed some people who seem to not have anything better to do than to impose their beliefs on others, Captain Kirk — whether or not those beliefs were solicited.

      The reason why I imparted my personal experiences in the article was because I would like to think that I was raised in a manner where I have a reasonable moral barometer — despite being exposed to vices which some people cannot seem to control.

      I do not smoke; I do not drink; and I do not use profanity — ever — not even as a child. It is not because I am such a good person who is holier than thou — I just somehow know how to control myself and do not partake in anything I do not like.

      I have always believed that bad exists in this world for us to better appreciate what is good…

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