On the radio earlier today I heard a rather intriguing exchange between conservative talk show hostess, Laura Ingraham, and second-lady, Lynn Cheney. Cheney was talking about all the bad music, literature, movies, and TV that's out there that kids are getting exposed to and how best to shield children from that. Ingraham countered that she doesn't think it's possible to shield children from "the bad stuff" and instead suggested that rather than shielding them, exposing them to as much of the "good stuff" as possible would be a far better tactic. That way, when exposed to "the bad stuff" they'd have a basis of comparison.
Besides it's also human nature to want what you can't have, and as children and even moreso as adolescents that desire for the forbidden is quite strong. Trying to shield children from the negative influences out there would likely only serve to cause them to gravitate more towards those negative influences.
To extrapolate on this, I believe the religious right is going about delivering their "message" all wrong. If the message really is that good, really is that noble-- it should be able to stand up against the messages of society and of other religions, right? Trying to block out opposing ideas and influences only serves to call into question the strength of one's own arguments. That is to say, if your social/political/religious ideas are really that good they should be able to withstand the challenges posed by those with differing viewpoints.
I am a Christian and am constantly frustrated and disenfranchised by how organized religion has taken such a beautiful and simple message of love and tolerance and twisted it and distorted it to their own means and ends. And the thing is the message at the heart of Christianity-- when you strip away all the extra dogma that organized religion had added to Christianity (that has only served to complicate a message that is really quite simple) the message is not only quite beautiful, it bears a striking resemblance to the messages of Buddhism and other religions.
I believe I became the man I am today not because of what my parents shielded me from (which wasn't much really) but because of what they exposed me to. In exposing me to the movies, music, TV, places, and people they did they also instilled in my a compass to guide me in the right direction and an ability to filter the "good stuff" from the "bad stuff."