When debating the more minor issues of youth rights, one is often faced with a question, such as “Why do you care?” One person quoted the issue of curfews as failing a hypothetical “so what” test. Much of the difficulty in debating this type of question is the assumption that any given issue is discrete from others. This post attempts to explain the notability of the more minor and cultural issues of youth rights.
The main connection is relatively obvious: biased opinions of youth will lead to adults dismissing any proposals to improve their legal status. Even when not unconsciously relied upon, such biases can be summoned. A vivid example of this concept is illustrated in this article. The idea is relatively simple: by activating primeval beliefs, one can shut down logical thinking through the cleverly placed stereotype. The article narrates the story of a young person who is placed on trial because when he observes a victim of police brutality, he refuses to move away on police request. During the trial, the prosecutor is quoted as saying “This young man has been watching too much TV”. Having been biased from the start, the voters will make excuses and pick the option which they were originally inclined towards.
Youth rights issues should be looked at through the lens of how they would be viewed if the same were true for adults. When curfews were instituted during WWII, they were considered a genuine human rights violation. When a country denies its citizens the right to vote, it is considered autocratic. When countries such as Saudi Arabia denied their women the right to drive, it was internationally condemned as a basic violation of human rights. Prohibition in the United States was wildly unpopular. In the United States, a virtual insurrection would occur if the speech of adults was even minorly censored. An adult who was physically harmed would prioritize pressing charges above blinking an eye. Yet, when the same offenses are perpetrated against young people, they are “protection”, or instituted due to the immaturity of the young people.
Furthermore, it is important to remember that though a given issue may not be as materially oppressive as another, it is still oppressive. While the removal of a more oppressive constraint would lead to greater benefit for young people, it is still important to remove the lesser constraints. Keep in mind, that “why do you care?” is a double-edged sword. Those issues which matter less to young people should matter less to adults. In the same way that adults have a large interest in the maintenance of the voting age, they have little to no substantive interest in curfews. By instituting them, adults are kicking a dead horse. It is truly a sad reflection on the state of society that a class of people would bother to oppress another in a way that does not benefit them at all. They are going out of their way to reduce the quality of young people’s lives. As such, restrictions such as these must be fought. This is why the Montgomery bus boycott came about. Through a generally oppressive society, numerous more minor issues come together to form a state of being that is worse than second class citizenship.
Young people face oppression unparalleled since slavery. Free African Americans may not have been able to vote in practice, but they were legally allowed to. The state maintained a facade of “separate but equal”, while, admittedly, oppressing them nonetheless. Restrictions against young people have no such facade. They are blatant. In a way that no other can match, the discrimination against young people is both legal and societal. It needs not hide in the shadows. Unlike women, who could be relatively free if not married, young people are born into their status. Against this, ageists contend that young people are not as heavily discriminated against because unlike gender or race, age can be outgrown. According to their own logic, these critics wouldn’t mind a government mandate to bludgeon them in the face. After all, it will only hurt for a few months.