Age Appropriate? 'Vagina Monologues' Update

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This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 20, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: “The Factor" Follow-Up segment: We told you last week about Amherst High School in Massachusetts, which wants to perform "The Vagina Monologues" (search) on February 13, right before Valentine's Day. That plays extremely explicit and sexual content, many believe unsuitable for young teenagers.

After our report, TIME magazine ran a piece about it, of course, describing opposition to the play as being driven by conservatives. This is what the elite media does all day long. Anyone who objects to inappropriate behavior is a dreaded conservative.

Be that as it may, joining us now from Springfield, Massachusetts, is Carl Seppala, chairman of the Amherst Town selective board.

You can understand I'm sure Mr. Seppala, that millions of American parents are just aghast at what is going to happen, unless you call it off at Amherst High School. Because the play is really explicit in its language and sexual situations. And children possibly as young as 13 or 14 will be seeing it.

You can understand the concern, can't you, sir?

CARL SEPPALA, CHAIRMAN, AMHERST TOWN SELECTIVE BOARD: Oh, certainly. But you should also understand that the young children that you're referring to, they won't be able to see this without their parents' permission. The school's not just simply putting this on and bringing all the kids into the auditorium. We're treating it like an R rated movie. The participants and those who wish to view it must have parental permission. The school is very much relying upon on the ability of the parent to assess the maturity of the child.

O'REILLY: All right, interesting point. But you know that this play is going to be a huge discussion vehicle in the school. The c-word is used. A 26-year-old woman has an affair with a 16-year-old girl. I mean there are a lot of really, really confusing situations for children. So the children who do go to see it, and their loony parents allowing them to -- although if you're 17, I can understand it -- I don't think the venue of the high school is the right place. You know, it is going to filter down to the 12- and 13-year-olds, and there, I think, is the destruction. When you have the conversation with immature minds who really can't process what this play is all about.

SEPPALA: Well, I would like to think that the parent of a 12-year-old would not bring a child to this. Certainly with the information and content of the play...

O'REILLY: But you're not going to tell them they can't. You're not going to say only 17 and up.


O'REILLY: See, this is what I object to. And I object to this vehemently. Your school knocked out "West Side Story," because you said it was stereotyping Hispanics. That's insane, that's politically correct nonsense. And then you this vehicle, the only high school in the United States to do so.

You know, I understand you're banking it off on the parents, but you, and all of the town fathers, have a responsibility, and you, I believe, are promoting this kind of entertainment to children, and that is not good, sir.

SEPPALA: Well, there's more to the story than just that. The play itself came out of a reaction to violence against women. And in high school, theoretically, we are training these young people -- and we are not talking children here. We are talking about people who are supposed to be ready to deal with the real world when they get out of high school. And in the real world, there is violence against women, there is rape...

O'REILLY: But once you get down to 12 and 13, saying, well, it is the parents' call, you are aiding and abetting irresponsible parents. I will give you the last word.

SEPPALA: Well, I would agree. I would be very hard-pressed myself to think that a 12- or even a 13-year-old would be ready for this material. We confronted the same thing when the play came through our town about five years ago. My daughter was 17. My wife and I had a long talk about whether or not we thought she could handle it.

O'REILLY: That was on a college campus. Right. That was on a college campus. That was appropriate. We had no problem with it. But using the high school to feature this vehicle, I do believe, and you ought to rethink this, that you are hurting the kids. Mr. Seppala, thanks for being a stand-up guy and coming in for the discussion.

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