• April 21, 2015

Iowa State Daily

Stoffa: Are adult-minor nonsexual relationships something to worry about?

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Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 3:38 pm, Sat Dec 22, 2012.

Why do I have to hear people talking about a Muppet's voice involved in sexual activities, when the issue has little to nothing to do with Muppets?

Kevin Clash, the third and most recent voice of "Sesame Street's" Elmo, is under legal fire due to allegations Clash engaged in sexual activities with a 15-year-old boy; the boy is now 23-year-old man Cecil Singleton.

Clash, who admits being homosexual, claims nothing sexual occurred while Singleton was underage; that when something happened, they were both consenting adults.

Please note it is the alleged sexual relationship between Clash and Singleton in focus, when the context of the nonsexual relationship is where the attention should really be. The new dark jokes behind Tickle-Me-Elmo vs. people's general lives are getting their wires crossed.

Folks across the world love a good scandal. Seeing others fail or falter is partly why so many people enjoy reality television; specifically those ridiculous scared-straight or cop-based shows.

So here is the actual sex-related information, with the pertinent gossip so you can get by it and onto what should be under discussion:

Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind "Sesame Street," underwent a "thorough investigation [and] found 'the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated,'" according to CNN Entertainment.

To add to the situation, Clash was accused earlier by another boy, now 24-year-old man Sheldon Stephens, of having a relationship. No lawsuit was filed, and the man said the actual sexual activities did not occur while he was a minor.

Stephens didn't file a lawsuit because no allegations of illegal activities occurred. Singleton filed a lawsuit because he claims sex while a minor.

For the conspiracy-minded, in October 2011, "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey" came out for limited release to make Kevin Clash a name for everyday chit-chat.

In June 2012, eight months later, Stephens is in the news talking about his nonsexual relationship as a minor with Clash, and then sexual relationship when an adult.

Shortly after in June 2012, Singleton files a claim and a lawsuit against Clash saying he had a sexual relationship as a minor.

So, eight years afterward, and not until another mention of Clash has appeared in the news and a movie about Clash has become a readily-known factor in society, does the alleged misconduct of Clash strike a chord?

Hmm. Perhaps this is like those claims in 2011 from Mariah Yeater to being Justin Bieber's baby-mama, which were later dropped due to lack of existing as reality.

There you go, there is the Hollywood gossip. Now that is over, let's get back to the more relevant topic.

Whether you think Clash is guilty of a legitimate crime is not very interesting. Whether Clash is "guilty" of being lonely and having a questionable nonsexual relationship with others not in his general age-bracket is something of a bit more substance.

"Sesame Street" has undergone numerous scandals in the past. From an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami, to the death of the character Mr. Hooper in an episode, to Bert and Ernie's sexual ambiguity, the public is fascinated with sensationalizing the content of the show.

The focus of attention has to, unfortunately, involve a bit of the Muppets, but those news stories hit well on the topic of same-sex relationships or death or HIV in regard to children's education.

As of now there is little focus to most columns on anything but the connection of Elmo's voice actor to sexual allegations. And this should primarily be about adult-minor nonsexual activities, as those are more of a gray area. Clash's issues are merely a side-note.

The issue of adult-minor interactions is a worthwhile conversation, and when we get some more facts rather than just allegations it will become a real news topic. Until then, this is one of those moral philosophical exercises of mental masturbation.

So can we drop Clash for now, and Elmo entirely? I know fans and concerned parents want to talk about this, but can we please wait a little bit to focus on the actual conversation, rather than waste headline after headline on gossip in connection to a Muppet?

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