Stuff We Don't Talk About: Sex
Sex will always be one of those shiny objects people just have to look at when they see it, and people trying to sell things (including news) will always put their shiniest objects forward. That I can't change. But I do have a modest proposal for limiting the constant need to discuss sex as a policy issue.
First, for the "I demand approval!" people:
Please recognize that insofar as your sexual actions affect the public at large, society as a whole does have some right to set limits on what is socially acceptable. That means if you want acceptance, you have to kindly minimize negative impacts on other people.
For example, the public has a right to protect itself from sexual abuse. So you should get meaningful consent from anyone and everyone you want to engage in sex acts with. Meaningful means everyone giving consent must do so of their own free will, without coercion or bullying. It also means they must be capable of understanding what is being asked, including the ramifications of their choice. (That means no animals, children, intoxicated or comatose people, or people with mental problems that prevent them from thinking clearly, among others.) Consent means informed consent to all significant aspects of the acts you wish to perform with them. Obtaining consent via lies of commission ("I'm on the pill"), omission (not mentioning you have an STD), or deliberate vagueness about your intentions is not okay. And even if you get consent, it should be understood that this consent may be revoked at any time by any party who becomes uncomfortable with it. (Okay, revoking it afterwards is too late, but if anybody says "Stop!" you have to stop.)
The public also has a right to protect itself from inadvertently witnessing your sex acts. Sure, people who deliberately go to sex clubs, peek in windows, read sexually oriented email lists, or watch X-rated movies can't complain if they see or hear something naughty. But regular folks going about their everyday business should reasonably expect not to suddenly find themselves confronted with you and your co-worker groping each other in the copy room. And all those people on the bus with you don't need to hear you yakking loudly on your cell phone about all the explicit details of the great sex you had last night.
Finally, the public has a right to protect itself from the biological consequences of your sexual choices. That means if anybody has or could have an STD, use protection. And if the sex you're having could result in conception, please be sure all parties involved want and are prepared to have a child before you decide you don't need birth control. If you are sorry afterwards that you didn't do these things, please have the guts not to blame other people for your choices.
Anything you want to do within the above guidelines should be socially acceptable, if not universally appealing. (Yes, this includes some stuff I personally find icky. But I don't have to participate in it or witness it, so I'm willing to deal.) Be happy with that. Don't try to argue that society has a moral obligation to let you "act naturally" with no strings attached, or claim that anybody who isn't interested in doing what you're doing, watching you do it, and/or throwing you a party afterwards to celebrate must be unnaturally repressed. That kind of stuff gives sexual freedom a bad name and sends folks over to the other side.
Now for the "You can't do that!" people:
Please recognize that while other people's sex acts may offend you, violate your religious morals, or gross you out, they're not actually your business unless they affect you or the public clearly and directly. (And no, "contributing to the general moral decline of society" doesn't count, especially if your proof that it does is that James Dobson said so.) If everybody around you is properly keeping their fun and its consequences to themselves and their consenting associates, you should be able to live an active, virtuous life without taking part in or witnessing any sexual acts that bother you. Be happy with that. Don't try to argue that society has a moral obligation to impose your every sexual rule on the world, or that people who disagree with your rules are unnaturally perverted and generally evil. That kind of stuff gives sexual morality a bad name and sends folks over to the other side.
Now that that's settled, can we please talk about something else?