While Tinseltown is known for its leading men and women, when it comes to good old-fashioned morality, Hollywood is devoid of leadership.

In last week’s issue of Parade Magazine, actress Bebe Neuwirth, 42, briefly discussed her new movie role in which she plays an adult woman who seduces a teen-age boy.

To her credit, Ms. Neuwirth admitted it is morally improper for a “mature woman to bed a 15-year-old boy.” But she went on to say that she took the role anyway because it gave her a chance to work with Sigourney Weaver, whom she has long admired. Translated, that means she believes working with someone she admires is more important than refusing a role that purports to legitimize adult-minor sex, illegal in all 50 states, and that will be shown to impressionable over- and underage audiences all over the country.

While the long-term implications of Neuwirth’s decision are shocking enough, consider the short-term implications as well: She has decided to play a character who is “bedding” a teen-age boy just one year older than missing Utah teen Elizabeth Smart.

Moral relativists are groaning already, but Neuwirth’s decision has etched another scar in the rusting, dilapidated moral armor of our society. And yet, history has proven time and again that a society with no moral “norms,” no acceptable limits on behavior, usually destroys itself.

Not convinced? Then try this more modern example of the effects an overdose of moral relativism is having on Western culture.

According to a story published in Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper on Tuesday, family advocates are increasingly worried about the health of Australian children because more of them are having children of their own. Among other things, they blame Western “pop culture.”

“Family advocates blame the disturbing frequency of children bearing children on permissive sex education in schools and a pro-sex popular culture,” said the paper. “Soap operas depicting young people as sexually active, music videos and teen magazines must share the blame. …”

“… Must share the blame”? If only.

There is nothing defensible about adults “bedding” children; it is, for any reason, unacceptable, either on- or off-screen. Neuwirth’s portrayal, therefore, goes beyond the excuse of “artistic value” or even the First Amendment’s protection of speech and expression – neither of which qualifies here, by the way, but especially not when our own nation is awash in a rash of horrific child abductions, rapes and murders.

I’ve no doubt most Hollywood stars and starlets are legitimately concerned about the epidemic of predatory targeting of children in this nation. I would never suggest otherwise. But what are they doing about it? Are they willing to “share the blame”?

Are stars putting pressure on their colleagues to refuse morally reprehensible roles? Are they rebelling against screenwriters who create such situations for their characters? How do they feel about Neuwirth’s particular role?

Or will they simply flip us the collective “bird” again, admonish us to “grow up,” then hide behind the straw man argument of the First Amendment – even though not one of them can point to the constitutional provision protecting adult-child sex?

Whatever the case, there’s no question it’s way past time for Hollywood to step up and accept its responsibility for playing the largest role in creating this climate of sexual permissiveness currently permeating our society.

Stepping up isn’t about slapping down Bebe Neuwirth per se, and it’s not about judging the people who inhabit Tinsel Town. It’s not about being “cool,” and it’s not about shunning “the Establishment.” It’s about judging behavior. It’s about judging decisions. It’s about protecting against the sexual debasement of kids.

It’s about helping people like Elizabeth Smart and her parents. Are there any true leading men and women left in Hollywood capable of doing this?

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.