Now that we are done with three days celebrating — or at least (more or less) observing — Independence Day with cookouts, fireworks, trips to the beach, and possibly even a thought or two about our independence from Great Britain, it might be a good time to turn our minds, however briefly, across "the pond" to jolly old (well, old anyway) England and remember a man who lost his head on this date 475 years ago.

Once upon a time, in a country half a century away, obscenity laws were enforced, parents forbade their kids (especially girls) to date until they were 16, sex was an intimate and private matter, schools emphasized academics and good manners, modesty and humility were virtues, and children were protected from disturbing and violent materials.

The July 4 news story in the Boston Globe described a scene that will be played out in virtually every school and community in the United States over the next five years, not always with the same decision. Cushing Academy — a 144-year-old private prep school located in the northern Worcester County, Massachusetts, town of Ashburnham — has decided to eliminate its library and replace it with an Internet center.

grade inflationThe Boston Globe reported July 4 that students have been studying less in high school and college compared with past decades. “In survey after survey since 2000, college and high school students are alarmingly candid that they are simply not studying very much at all. Some longtime professors have noted the trend, which rarely gets mentioned by college admissions officials when prospective students visit campus.”

Without a doubt, pornography is one of the biggest businesses on the Internet, with an estimated $3,000 spent on Internet porn every second. And with some 370 million websites devoted to sexually explicit materials, online porn peddlers are raking in over $12 billion every year in sales of videos, photos, books, magazines, and other pornographic merchandise.