It is tough to take a stand against high school dances without feeling a lot like John Lithgow's conflicted cream puff pastor in "Footloose." But apparently there is enough of a problem that the city felt the need to hike up rental rates for facilities and guarantee security.

Thank goodness.

The first hint that non-school sponsored dances in Ashland aren't exactly the same as Richie and Opie going to the sock hop can be found in the titles of the dances themselves: "Pimps and Hos," "Office Hos and CEOs," "Granddads and Golddiggers" and "Sex Dance" to name a few. You don't have to be wearing a cardigan to be a bit concerned if your 16-year-old son is going to a dance dressed as a CEO, or even a granddad for that matter, when considered in this context.

These dances are highly profitable. One student held several to raise money for an educational trip. Others raised money for charities. Some budding entrepreneurs, rumor has it, simply pocket loads of cash.

If we circle back around to the basic idea of individual rights, perhaps the city and schools should refrain from getting involved. Letting the parents sort it out makes sense.

The problem however, is that they are renting city-owned facilities. Problems with supervision are well-documented &

drugs and alcohol use among minors as well. That's all bad enough, but consider this little tidbit: Part of the new, heightened regulations include a ban against throwing these shindigs for credit towards a senior project. Weren't any parents concerned when their daughter dressed up for a so-called "Sex Dance" in support of a friend's senior project?

We can imagine the presentation to a slate of community judges:

"So, let me get this straight. You raised $1,000 for Planned Parenthood by charging your friends a five-spot to get into a dance, " says Judge A.

"Yes," says the student. "It was highly successful. As the photos on my presentation board show, every girl dressed up like streetwalkers or Vegas dancers. It was very colorful."

Judge B: "And this helped raise awareness of the problems of teen pregnancy?"

"Sure. The only problem is our security guards and chaperones didn't show up and the party was crashed by a bunch of drunk kids from school. But we got it under control."

Uh huh ... sounds like an "A" to us.

Can you imagine what Ozzie and Harriet might have said?

Without attempting to preach to the many concerned residents of our community, we consider it a legitimate concern that teens regard it as entertainment to emulate prostitutes and their pimps, even if all in good fun. There is nothing about men who prey on the most vulnerable women (and girls, and boys for that matter) of our society and subjugate them in tragic and deplorable ways that is worth emulating, even in good fun. When Anna Nicole Smith is a potential role model, something's amiss.

As a community that prides itself on tolerance, knowing the right time to stand up and expect a bit more is essential. High school dances, whether sanctioned or not, can be great fun and an important part of teenage years. But a little stuffed-shirt outrage over things going too far is probably warranted, uncomfortable or not.

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