"We the Teens" by James E. F. Landau (contents attached)

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Teens proudly flout their city curfews in acts of civil disobedience, refusing to let themselves be punished when the police
come in. People under eighteen conspire together to register to vote despite contrary state laws, in hope of attacking the
voting age. Kids at lower and lower ages drink and smoke marijuana. Meanwhile, web pages spring up all around the
U.S. and Canada, stating "Teens are human beings, not property!" and "End slavery now!" All of these are not isolated
incidents, but are part of a national, and, to some extent, global, change in our country's climate. A new revolution
paralleling the Flower Children of the sixties and punks of the eighties is taking place, once again among our country's
youth. The monsters of mainstream society they target this time are both the classic enemies of conformity and social
conventions, and the demon of age discrimination itself.

During the 1960's, college-age students in particular ranted against the injustice of age discrimination in inherent in
drafting males age eighteen to twenty without letting them vote. The rebellion of this time finally led up to the
Twenty-sixth Amendment, lowering the voting age to eighteen. Now, 27 years later, the youth of America are enraged
again about a voting age that is too high, that has failed to change with the times. "Youth libertarianism", as their
movement is called, attempts to fight all restrictions on teen-agers, not only in regard to the voting age, but also to the
general right to be seen by the law as separate people and citizens, rather than property and animals.

There are two main forms of youth libertarianism that are observed today: activist and drop-out. Activist youth libertarians
fight aggressively to get forms of discrimination written out of the law books. They picket, host "Operation Register"
symbolic voting registration days, join Americans for a Society Free of Age Restrictions, and write to their public officials
demanding rights. The second variety, drop-out youth libertarians, reflect the cynicism typical of Generation X that has
been the result of too many uncaring adults. Having observed the utter failure of working within the system, the drop-out
teens of today, by far the larger of the two groups, have rejected all faith in the law, which they see only as a form of
unconstitutional fascism, a farce not worth abiding by. What with all the recent hysteria there has been among adults who
demand curfews, parental permission for abortions and body piercing, restrictions of teen access to TV shows and the
Internet, and even raising the driving age to eighteen in some states, it is no wonder our young people have lost all respect
for the law. If this is what the law is about, we'd be healthier and happier living a righteous life outside of the law.

The concern against these discriminatory laws stems from an increasing national wave of libertarianism, including the
libertarianism that most young people today espouse. It has evolved in our minds that we are born with inalienable rights
as individuals, and that it is not just restrictive, but totally morally wrong, to deny anyone those rights. We must be
allowed to exercise our free will, as we were not born into the human world by choice, only by fate.

Starting from here, I'll go on exploring and explicating the entire ideological structure of the generation that demands teen
rights. I'll talk about what laws need to be changed and why, what "turns off" teens from the current society and what our
philosophy is and why, as well as why our philosophy is the one that should, must and ultimately will be adopted. From
now on, I'm going to refer to libertarian and/or rebellious teens in the first-person plural, as "we". One can most credibly
speak for his own generation when he has conceded that he himself is indeed in it. If enough people come to realize the
validity of our ideology and the messages it tries to get across, we can find a cure for our current adolescent turmoil before
it gets inexorably worse, eventually spiraling down beyond recovery.

Teen rights and age dicsrimination

Central to the movement of the rebellious teens of Generation X is the war for teen rights. Teens are the last victims of
discrimination by a country with a long history of government-enforced discrimination. America, the most hypocritical
country in the world, was founded claiming democracy, when in fact everyone except the rich White males aged
twenty-one and over was treated as an animal, a slave, something subhuman with no rights. Although women, ethnic
minorities and people of all economic strata have eventually gotten the rights they deserved all along, the law still treats
every American who has not reached his/her twenty-first, let alone eighteenth, birthday as if s/he were some abusable
piece of property.

Teen-agers are still the property of their parents -- at least until they can leave the house or undergo some ridiculously
difficult emancipation process. The power parents have over their children is almost totally unlimited. Currently, there is
no way to promise anyone under eighteen freedom of religion. There is no way to guarantee they will be protected from
being forced to conform to their parents' fundamentalist beliefs. Forcing of controversial cultural values (more about
which later) is left to the total discretion of the parents (or during the school hours, teachers) which as we see cannot be
done. Young people still with their parents even have no say over whether or not to join the Ku Klux Klan -- if your
parents force you to join, you're in there.

Higher legal rights look just as anti-youth. Although the voting age was lowered years and years ago to eighteen, the basic
privilege of voting is still denied to anyone under, even those in the sixteen to seventeen range. This is as unfair as was
forbidding African-Americans or women to vote. The extreme absurdity of this situation can be grasped by the readers if
they consider this: if you're 17 years and 364 days old on Election Day, you could be imprisoned and fined a huge amount
of money if you try to sneak in and vote, but if it's your eighteenth birthday, the law actively encourages you to vote, or
else you are not, supposedly, a good American? What kind of sick legal system do we have? The Australian system is
even more absurd and totalitarian -- whereas it is illegal for juveniles to vote, people eighteen and over are all required by
the law to participate in elections. An American today of seventeen is no less intelligent, discerning or rational than one of
eighteen, more about which later.

Not only are all juveniles persecuted and prosecuted, with the weak excuse of "it's the law", if we try to express our
opinions on ballot every early November, but in many states they do not get basic rights of trial in court. There is no good
reason whatsoever for doing this, and the likelihood of an unjust ruling increases manifold because of this bit of "law
designed to rip off adolescents. Under the current system, juvenile courts are basically doing something unconstitutional --
the young people being tried are assumed guilty until and unless proven innocent, whereas adult courts are constitutional,
functioning the other way around.

The reason traditionally given for trying juveniles differently is the assumption that they have less life experience and are
altogether more stupid than adults, less capable of making intelligent decisions. But this argument, if it ever was true, is at
least not true today -- teen-agers are no less vulnerable than adults, no more unlikely to make unwise decisions. Any
sensible teen-ager is willing to give up this extra so-called "protection" for more constitutional freedoms. The main
"advantage" of juvenile hearings, probably the only advantage, is less harsh punishments in the case that a person is found
guilty. But it is really a person's own responsibility to do what is right, his/her choice to rob a store or set a building on
fire, and as the person has proven s/he cannot be trusted to do what is right, no punishment could really be called
excessive. Most people, at least most in the current generation, would rather get ten years in jail for something minor we
actually did than receive a slap on the wrist for something we didn't even do. PRINCIPLE and THE SYMBOLIC
NATURE of legal actions are very important to us. Getting fined even ten dollars when you have been incorrectly found
guilty of a crime is unacceptable, just on the principle that if we had gotten what we had morally deserved (and it is every
human's duty to give others what they morally deserve), we would not have been amerced one cent.

And finally, trying juveniles differently is wrong because it underestimates their judgment. Granted, a 15-year-old may
not be quite as wise as a 25-year-old, but it is stretching it to say that the former was not mature or cognizant enough to
know the consequences of his actions, to know the difference between life and death. For this reason, the support the
current moves of government towards lowering the age at which one can be tried as an adult to thirteen. Some states,
California at fourteen for instance, have already made great strides towards this goal of equality. Teens are no longer in the
"morally formative" stage and are now independent thinkers. If we do something wrong, we know it's wrong -- anyone,
either teen or adult, who blames behavior on the media is only making excuses, exaggerating the inducibility of young
people for the sheer purpose of trying to fool the court into giving them some leniency. The rights that come along with an
adult trial, such as the power to call witnesses to stand and be heard by a jury, increase likelihood of a just verdict and are
long overdue.

This current treatment of teen-agers as third-class citizens is in reality a form of slavery. The definition of slavery is the
treatment of human beings as voiceless property because of their race, age, sex or any other characteristic a person has no
control over and that has no bearing on his/her character. Not only was forcing African-Americans to labor on the
plantations slavery, but so was the practice of having men own their wives, who had to wear painful dresses and work in
the house all day.

The African-Americans were taught propaganda by their masters that their race was inferior and stupid, they were kept as
slaves until 1865, they could be prevented from being employed or sharing swimming pools along with Whites, and were
forbidden to vote. Women, similarly, were actually seriously believed to "have delicate brains" as well as delicate bodies
(which is why girls once did not go to school), could not vote until 1920, and were regularly beaten by their husbands
without being able to do anything about it. And America's bright, talented sensitive 13-to-17-year-olds of today are not
covered by freedom of religion laws. They are taught lies that they have poor judgment. These are just as false as the lies
once told to Blacks and women, and what little truth there is in the lies comes from the fact that adults try to keep them
stupid by denying them opportunities. If women and African-Americans were treated as subhuman beings in the
nineteenth century, it is understandable that they actually did appear to be less able than White men -- they were told they
were of lesser worth and not much was expected at them. Look at the great things that are being achieved by people of
every sex and race now. If adults started telling young people, "We can count on you", whatever young immaturity there
still is would soon vanish. The "life experience" explanation is a myth -- if we look at teen-agers who were respected by
all adults as they grew up, we find the same maturity as in adults. People made similar claims of mental inferiority on
behalf of female and minority Americans, and few people would still make those claims now.

We should have figured out the way it works by now: discrimination always gets thrown out of the law sooner or later.
The voting age will surely not be kept at eighteen for the rest of eternity, so why not lower it now -- better sooner than
later: we must fight for our rights to make our condition better than that of slavery. And it also must done now -- if we
keep postponing it, it will never be done.

If we could be happy to remain "children" until our legal majority comes, the status quo would be fine, but in reality,
society has forced the teens of America to grow up ahead of time, and with society treating us as adults and the law
treating us as children, it just doesn't work out. As long as a person is forced to obey the community laws of a mature
citizen, he or she should not be subject to the entrappings of a minor, or else we are in a no-win situation, with no rights.
If you were a teen-ager forced by your parents and teachers to "behave like an adult!", any just legal system should surely
afford you a way out, a way to your God-given freedom, by allowing you to drop out of school and be free from your
parents. If not that, any just legal system would at least afford you legal rights of the adult you are forced to be -- the
power to vote, practice the religion you know is right, stay out as late as any other citizen is allowed to, go where to want
and date whom you want.

Sixteen and seventeen, and increasingly fifteen, are the ages at which people are most often joining in the teen rights
crusade. The reason is obvious when we consider that 16- and 17-year-olds are in an extreme "crunch", a cramped room
with probably fewer freedoms than any other age group:

Age 13, 14, 15 -- no adult legal rights; but most teens not forced by society to "be an adult"
Age 16 -- no adult legal rights, forced by society to "be an adult"
Age 17 -- no adult legal rights, forced by society to "be an adult"
Age 18 -- forced by society to "be an adult" and can be subject to parents' rules but has several major legal rights (like
abortion) guaranteed
Age 19, 20 -- forced by society to "be an adult"; but almost certainly living away from parents and has several major
legal rights (like abortion) guaranteed
Age 21 -- forced by society to "be an adult"; but has all legal rights guaranteed and probably has the chance to live away
from the parts of society that force him/to to "be an adult"

When I talk about about society forcing youths of sixteen and seventeen to be an adult, what I am talking about is this. As
soon as a person turns sixteen, there is clearly an unwritten rule -- unwritten yet seemingly universally recognized --
enforced by many parents and school faculty that "proper" behavior is to be expected of him/her. They force their
children/students to speak in a "maturely quiet" tone of voice, not be argumentative, and in short not express themselves,
as expression means young irrepressibility. Any intelligent teen-ager who is so tightly molded by adults would realize the
evil anti-freedom nature inherent in society and the legal system would obviously be driven to rebellion -- it is no wonder
we are becoming such an incurably cynical group of people.

Perhaps one of the most disturbing repercussions of age-discriminatory statute in the U.S. is the denial of freedom of
religion to juveniles. Due to the fact that the government allows parents to force their children to practice the religion of the
former's choice, many people under eighteen have been very seriously injured or even killed due to anti-medicine religious
beliefs (Amish, Christian Scientist) of their parents --- something that could be prevented if juveniles were promised the
right to make their own choices regarding religion, break with their families' religious tradition and get the operation
required to save their life. Freedom is religion is a universal necessity purportedly granted every U.S. citizen by the
Constitution -- a freedom that may not be taken away.

Since we do not know for sure which of the organized or non-organized religions, if any, is the true one, we must
promise all people the right to do as they see -- as they believe they know -- is right. Let us assume, for example, that
Blebdahism is the one true religion, that God is a Blebdahist and believes anyone who betrays Blebdahism is sentenced to
Hell. But one child who believes in Blebdahism deep down in his heart may have parents who are Sporgalists. The
parents may, by law, force the child to practice Sporgalism even though it is wrong, which would thereby condemn not
only the parents, but also their child, to Hell for refusing to practice the rituals of Blebdahism. Since no one knows God's
exact sentiments, one could not promise children that God would understand if they betrayed their religion only because
they were forced; it could very well be that God thinks conforming to parental force is no excuse for not following
Blebdahism, even for part of one's life, and still refuses to let those children into heaven, regardless. Of course, it may
very well be that God understands people who betray their religion because of coercion by authortity, that several religious
paths lead to "heaven", or even that heaven does not really exist. But the point is that everyone must be allowed to follow
his/her own path from the start, just in case.

Teen-agers suffer from discriminatory laws, both federal and state, even citywide and countywide, in other ways too.
Parents and school faculty who traumatize their children/students, whether physically, verbally or by action of power (yet
not drastically enough to be technically considered in violation of written abuse laws) lead to a life of emotional
enscarment of their victims, raising psychiatrists' bills and forcing society to suffer its own debts. Rules and discipline, if
carried to the point at which they infringe upon teens' rights and limit activity that is not even morally wrong, can really be
abuse. Teen-agers are hurt when they are not given the liberty they know they deserve.

Young people are also forced by their parents daily to reveal information that their parents have no moral right to know. It
is none of a parent's business where his/her teen-age son or daughter went on Sunday or why s/he stayed after school so
long. Whether or not a teen is still living with his/her parent, his/her right to privacy must be protected. The teen's right to
privacy takes precedence over the parent's so-called "right to know" on account that everyone is a separate, independent
human being with his/her own rights, regardless of what the law says. We all start out equal, so just as a mother has the
right to keep her personal knowledge to herself now matter how much her daughter asks, so must a daughter the the right
to keep her personal knowledge to herself now matter how much her mother asks.

Furthermore, several parents have unreasonable rules and beliefs that would cause them to unjustly punish their children if
they pulled certain things out of them. For instance, if a suspecting homophobic parent demanded his son tell him whether
he was gay, the son would either have to resort to (a) committing the ethical breach of lying by saying no, and also in
effect fail to stand up for the rights of gay people and cast shame on his own sexual orientation; or (b) saying yes,
incurring on himself parental punishment, abuse and rejection when he has done nothing wrong.

A similar dilemma occurs in the case of runaway laws. Not allowed to leave their parents' hometown without receiving the
label of a "runaway" gay teens stuck in Bible Belt areas are usually forced after all their attempts into one tragic ending:
suicide. Under the aegis of the law, we believe they should be helped move away from home without parental permission
to find help in more liberal, accepting areas.

Along the lines of homophobia and religious freedom is racist indoctrination. Every year, thousands of parents get away
with teaching their children racist values, continuing the national hate problem. Even when and if the children break away
from their parents and realize that racism is bad, they may still be persecuted and ostracized by their parents for standing
up to their beliefs. Even dissenting children can be forced by parents to attend hate group rallies and act in support for
things the children know are wrong.

With no limits on the extent to which parents may make rules for their children, forbiddance of interracial dating by
parents is allowed under the law. Take this scenario: a seventeen-year-old girl named Nicole has dated several boyfriends
over the past few years. One day she meets a boy named Marcus, who is intelligent, kind, sensitive, tasteful, and nothing
any reasonable parent who object to. Although they have not objected to any of her past boyfriends, Nicole's parents
forbid her, however, to date Marcus simply because he is African-American. Nicole knows these reactionary restrictions
by her parents are morally wrong, and for no reason should she have to wait until she is freed from her parents' custody
to date him without her parents allowed to restrict her. One day, Nicole and Marcus go out together. When Nicole returns
home, however, her parents inform her that she is grounded. Having done nothing morally wrong (and knowing so), she
refuses to accept the punishment they have instated. After they refuse to negotiate with her, Nicole finally runs away from
home, on the principle that she should not allow herself to serve any punishment for doing what is right. Unfortunately,
Nicole is reported and later caught by the police, who try her as a runaway. A dilemma in the judicial proceedings then
occurs. Either (1) they can decide that Nicole is not guilty for what she has done, and therefore break with the tradition in
the written law that parents have total discretion over their children; or (2) they can decide Nicole is guilty of parental
defiance, thereby admitting that the U.S. government condones racism. In such a case, obviously choice (1) should be
made by the courts. Parents have no right to make such unreasonable restrictions over their children.

The growing adult trend of curfews is also unconstitutional, from the same reasons. Aside from the wrongs inherent in
age discrimination, even pragmatists must agree to the results of studies proving that curfews have done nothing to
reduce teen crime. Many of these studies also state that as many as ten percent of American cities have had their teen crime
rate rise noticeably after curfews were installed.

In light of all these problems of discrimination, several changes must be made in all American legislature. Within the next
few years, we must see the voting age lowered to sixteen. Freedom of religion may not be curtailed to anyone on account
of age. The government must make for the emancipation of all 16+ year-olds, under which they can be promised they will
never be treated as their parents' property. All Americans aged 13+ will have the right to adult trial. All age-discriminatory
curfews will be abolished. Choice of hate group membership may not be denied to any citizen on the basis of age. All
contracts signed by American citizens sixteen years or older are totally valid. The drinking age must be eliminated, perhaps
first lowered to eighteen and then sixteen before we can convince Congress to eliminate the drinking age altogether.

The reason I choose sixteen for the age of majority so often is that at sixteen, society sees a person as a de facto adult, or
at least as having crossed the biggest milestone to adulthood before age twenty-one. Sixteen has traditionally been seen as
the threshold of maturity. Girls may legally marry at most states at sixteen. In California, both boys and girls may legally
marry and have sex at the age of sixteen. Tradition holds that boys not wear tuxedoes or jewelry or girls the corresponding
women's formalwear until their sixteenth birthdays. In "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen", Neil Sedaka flatly states the
societally recognized demarcation of real adulthood when he sings, "Now you're not a baby, anymore." And, as I
mentioned before, people of sixteen are expected to start behaving the way "adults" supposedly should act. Lowering the
age to sixteen in these cases makes such bills likely to be passed, at least more so than lowering the age to five.
Sixteen-to-twenty-year-olds are in the greatest need of legal protection right now. As the struggle goes on over the years,
these ages of majority could be progressively lowered to fifteen or fourteen or thirteen or twelve, and eventually eliminated

Adults today now may be wondering why all these enraged youth libertarians don't simply go ahead and write their
assemblypeople, state senators, representatives in the House, and President Clinton in Washington. The reason is that the
days of Samantha Smith are over: we have tried and failed, adults involved strictly "in the system" have lost interests in
pursuing to concerns of young people. Today if a teen-ager writes a letter addressed to Bill Clinton, no matter how much
he wrote his heart and soul out insightfully explaining the need for teen rights, the letter will not be personally read by
Clinton at all; rather, it will be directed to one of many workers in a bureaucracy, scanned through, and then responded to
routinely with a form letter with a copied stamp of the president's signature that may or may not be in any way germane to
the original letter. The president will never have seen it. People in lower offices often use bureaucracy to redirect the teen
to another office, write back with a non sequitur letter, or fail to respond altogether. It is no wonder we have taken to
"dropping out", hating the law, and staging angry boycotts, protests and activist web pages to promulgate the message of
our cause.

One way that ASFAR (Americans for a Society Free of Age Restrictions) has been getting national attention is by hosting
"Operation Register" projects. In these projects, several underage teens in any one city on a given day register to vote
(except, to keep it legal, without presenting fake identification or signing the "I am at least 18" statement on the registration
card). These teens then hold a protest once they are denied the right to register. The media then pick up the protests in
these cities, building awareness of the unconstitutionally discriminatory nature of voting-age laws.

For various reasons, many people, most often adults, strongly oppose lowering the voting age. But there is no reason
why we should not lower or even eliminate it. Perhaps the most often given, in fact clich‚, argument is the claim that
people under eighteen are not mature, educated, responsible, sentient, etc. enough to make good decisions. However, the
theory that people who have been around a longer time have a better idea of the workings of the world and therefore can
make better decisions is just that -- theory. No actual, recent polls or scientific studies have given the results that adults are
more intelligent than teen-agers. Obviously, a 29-year-old will probably make better decisions than a 5-year-old, but one
must remember that (a) this is due mostly to natural accumulation of critical thinking skills, lessening of natal impulses and
selfishness, etc. and (b) the difference between 18-year-olds and some younger teen-agers, in the area of life experience or
in any area, is negligible.

Perhaps even more disturbing is the lazy use of generalizations that opponents of liberal views have always taken on in the
past. Some juveniles may not be whatever enough to make good decisions, but many, if not the majority, are. Few
sensible people would think it right to deny those who are a basic liberty just because of a demographic variable. Just
because the majority of some 17-year-old's friends aren't mature enough, does not mean that the majority of 17-year-olds
as a whole are not mature enough, and even if that were the case, should that mean the government can deny you to vote
just because you just happen to be a certain age?

Most Generation Xers as well as Baby Boomers will remember the studies reported in Murray and Herrnstein's
controversial book, The Bell Curve. Studies have proven that certain ethnic groups generally get lower SAT/IQ scores
than other ethnic groups. However, if the government tried to deny certain people the right to vote just because they
happened to belong to a "less intelligent" ethnic group, they would immediately be accused of racism. If people decided
that Asians were less safe drivers and therefore should be subject to stricter driver's licensing laws, there would probably
be more overall safety on the highways, but millions of Asian-Americans would object, the courts would decide these
laws unconstitutional, and it would not be morally right to discriminate thus against Asian-Americans due to their
Asianness, regardless of how many lives were saved and accidents prevented. Discrimination is never an acceptable way
to deal with a problem.

Some may point out that there is one main difference between age dicsrimination and all other varieties of discrimination,
and that is that age changes during the course of life, whereas a person born Black could never become White all of a
sudden and have the right to vote from then on. This argument is true, but it is not fully relevant, not does it always apply.
I don't think if that person became White one day and was finally allowed to vote because of it, he or she would forgive
and forget all the needless discrimination in the past! In real life, your world does not become a clean slate again once you
turn eighteen; rather, the pain of discrimination from the past carries on. Lost time that can never be found again is forever
wasted away by abuse from adults. And many, in this real, imperfect world, die before their eighteenth birthdays. They
never have a chance to vote, no matter how intelligent or contributable they were.

Furthermore, time moves in only one direction and is unrepeatable, and so an election only comes once. A person born in
1980 would not get to vote until 1998, and the thousands of decisions voted on in 1996 and 1997 would not have that
person's say. He may get to vote on 1998 bills, but it is already too late for him to vote in the Clinton-Dole election of 96,
which is lost forever in the annals of history. All the bad decisions of voters leading up to the current day could have not
been passed had younger people, who tend to have a more liberal and idealistic (rather than selfish) attitude, been allowed
to vote. Assume the following scenario. At age sixteen, you are raped. You need an abortion but your parents forbid you
to get one. Then your state passes a proposition next November to allow teens to get an abortion without their parents'
consent. However, as you are not eighteen yet, you are not allowed to vote in the election. This proposition loses by one
vote (which does really happen). Then, a few months later, you die from labor. Who can say waiting "won't kill
anyone"? Even if there is no literal killing, there is permanent emotional destruction from being mistreated by the "justice"
system. How would you feel if you were in that supposed "minority" of responsible youths who deserved the right to
vote but didn't get it?

Some argue that the law has to make the cutoff somewhere on the age continuum, that between the extremes of letting
2-year-olds vote and restricting voting to senior citizens there has to be one exact age above which everyone can vote and
below which no one can vote. But even if so, eighteen is way too late in life to finally be allowed to vote. Come to think
of it, the eighteenth is one of the most uneventful (except legally) birthdays in adolescence. By the time you are twelve,
you begin puberty; by the time you are thirteen, everyone considers you a teen-ager (by traditional definition) and treats
you differently from before once learning your age; by the time you celebrate your fifteenth birthday, you have graduated
junior high school; on your sixteenth birthday, you are considered as an adult (or at least on equal ground with an
eighteen-year-old) by society and usually forced to act like an adult; by your nineteenth birthday, you have graduated from
high school; by your twenty-first birthday, you are considered an adult by a long-recognized tradition. Introduce someone
to a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old, though, and they won't see them any differently. All the advantages that 18-year-olds
are supposedly allowed -- smoking, buying pornography, freedom of religion, buying lotto tickets or speaking on the
psychic hotline -- are strictly legal technicalities.

Another common argument is that the majority of juveniles will not be informed voters. However, some polls show that
as many as 80% of American voters are basically clueless as to the platforms gubernatorial or local candidates are running
under! The clear devil's-advocate comeback would be that no one wants to raise the figure to, say, 90%. But in actual
practice and effect, it will make no difference whether 80%, 85% or 90% of the voting populace is insufficiently
informed. If there is no effect, except in very tight races, on increased informed decisions once all youth are enfranchised,
one may wonder why any of us even want to vote. The reason is that voting has become much less a literal electoral
process than a power thing. Before African-Americans could vote, they were nobodys; after they got the right, they were
somebodys. Before 1920, women were slaves; after 1920, they were human beings. Being enfranchised simply means
knowing that the law sees you as being the human being you are, rather than something no different from an animal.

Another very common argument, probably second only in commonality to the general plaint that young people aren't
mature or judicious enough to vote, revolves around education. Fans of this argument say the likes of, "But when you
turn eighteen is when you (take Government/Econ, graduate high school, etc.)" This revolves around an untrue premise
ridden with incorrect math. By your eighteenth birthday -- the day that marks the first day you may vote without being
thrown in jail -- the vast majority of us have not completed high school or even Government class. These happen during
the year in between your eighteenth and nineteenth birthdays. A person's eighteenth birthday comes, most of the time,
somewhere in the middle of twelfth grade, and the first birthday on which s/he will be a high school graduate will be the
nineteenth. Therefore, if you were use education as your touchstone, nineteen would be the ideal voting age!

The reason why the voting age does not correspond with high school graduation, is that the voting age was never
intended to correspond with the date of graduation. The reason eighteen has been the voting age since 1971 is that people
could be drafted at eighteen, and with that responsibility, must also have a right -- suffrage. Eighteen, just like
twenty-one, dates back to the old European tradition, and both eighteen and twenty-one ultimately go back to the timetable
for a boy's training into knighthood. Eighteen was no more intended to correspond with high school graduation than
twenty-one, the old voting age, was to correspond with college graduation (graduation from a four-year college typically
comes while a person is twenty-two, the first birthday on which s/he has graduated from college being the twenty-third!)

Furthermore, formal education contributes extremely little to your personal development. Most people forget almost
everything they learned in twelfth grade a few years after, except for a few major concepts that were reinforced multiple
times by the outside media. Many people don't even listen in class. And reasoning, conscience, and those traumatic events
that shape a person's ideology like a wave shapes a stone on the beach almost always happen to someone for the first time
before his/her eighteenth birthday, at least in this unsheltered, turbulent world of the nineties. It is these that shape your
morals, character and judgment, not Mrs. Spiegzweiler's twelfth-grade Econ class.

Yet another argument is that if all are enfranchised, but then teens will be voting on things that don't even apply to them,
such as propositions on tax issues. Most of them, pushers of this argument claim, do not even care about politics. Like all
the other arguments already discussed, this one is absurd. One could say, by the same token, that if a proposition
concerns only senior citizens, then only people 65+ should be allowed to vote for it. And furthermore, how many
eighteen-year-olds do you know who pay their own taxes? Probably zero. And yet, they are already voting on tax-related
propositions, or at least allowed to. And many issues on which people vote do apply to people seventeen and under:
education, the environment, abortion, gun control, alcohol and other drugs, etc. And as for the concern that most teens
don't even care about politics, politics is much more than taxes, social security and big vs. small government. Every time
a teen disagrees with someone else about authority, morality, social mores, rebellion, conformity, school dress codes,
curfews, laws that discriminate against teens, etc., that is politics, too.

One last argument used, one so inane that it is almost an embarrassment to have to include it here, is the following
question: But aren't these radical proposals? My response is this: All proposals and causes have got to start sometime. If
we never start supporting these causes, they'll never happen. In 1900, women's rights and social security were
considered "radical" ideas. And yet, sure as the sun rises in the east, they are accepted and legally protected today. Not
only that, but if people today could turn back the clock to 1776 and enfranchise women and Blacks, most people would do
it without question. Every time you think something sounds "radical", think about how it will be 100 years from now. If
you think the voting age will still be eighteen in 2098, think again.

Eventually, after the voting age has been progressively lowered, it will be inevitable that it is eliminated altogether. Those
who fret that 4-year-olds who don't know what they're doing in the polls will be swinging the vote are forgetting
something. Only a small minority of people of ephebic, i.e. eighteen-to-twenty-one, age range actually vote. Figures for
16-year-olds will probably be even lower, figures for 14-year-olds lower yet, and so on, so that hardly any 4-year-olds
will want to go in and vote when they can't even read and don't understand politics to begin with. Even if any
kindergarten-age children do register, the number will almost certainly be so small as to make little difference in the voting

Many reactionary types subscribe to the adults-know-best philosophy, believing that adults know better than children what
is right and wrong, can make the wisest decisions and etc. etc. etc. Some adults may know best, but many don't. Are
child abusers (whether or not legally recognized as such) wiser than their children? Could anyone say that the parent
knows more than the child, and is always or even generally right, just by virtue of being the parent? Considering elders
mature due to a generalization has no more validity than its complementary fallacy of calling minors immature due to a
similar generalization.

Someone once submitted a very powerful entry to my guestbook for my Official Teen Rights Web Page. It details the
horrible injustices of giving parents total control over their childraising, and makes it clear why no age-group
generalizations can justify the government doing this. With permission from its anonymous author, the entry is here

I believe anyone who knows what is right and wrong should be able to express him/herself. I have been forced to
practise a religion I did not believe in till I was 16. My father also forbid [sic] me to socialize with my homosexual
friends and his constant racial slurs in front of my black friends were unforgivable. I should not have to keep silent for
fear of being ostracized by society. I am not protected by freedom of speech or press at school because of the supreme
court [sic] cases about censorship in schools being ok.

Finally, one must realize that age merely means the number of times the Earth has revolved around the sun since a person
came out of his/her mother's birth canal. It is a truly meaningless figure that was no more a person's choice than race or
sex. Integral to our new philosophy is the concept that fate should not determine a person's chances, choices, privileges or
rights in life. One of the great pillars of youth libertarian thought is not letting fate, that whim or caprice of some gods or
genetic monster or whatnot, restrict one's paths in life.

The evil of social conventions

Now we shall cover another belief almost universal among the progressive majority of teens today. This matter is the
elimination of social taboos. The elimination of pointless, restrictive rules with no moral reasoning behind them
whatsoever -- restrictions actually ideologically supported by only a few -- who claim that "society", by which they really
mean the fraction of the population with conservative ideals, demands people marry only one person of the opposite sex,
not walk around in the nude, thoroughly contain their bodily fluids, or sit, walk or even breathe in a certain way. No one
should be forced to do, or banned from doing, anything if the only argument is "just because" or "that's the way it's
always been done".

These rules are almost always imposed by some cultures without existing in others. Proponents of social restrictions and
conformity hold strong to the belief that the actions and ideas they consider taboo are acceptable in other cultures that
accept them, but are wrong in the United States.

To debunk these ideas, let us analyze the act of burping -- a sound "gross" to the ear yet involuntary, natural and in
conflict with not one rule of ethics. The Brazilian culture traditionally claims that burping is rude, impolite, etc. The
Arabians, on the other hands, have a rule of etiquette requiring people to burp after a good meal to show appreciation for
it. The conformitarian -- basically the opposite of everything we are standing for -- would say that in Saudi Arabia
belching is right whereas in Brazil burping is wrong. They believe society creates morals and morals cannot exist
independently of society. This claim is bogus, however. If you believe that morals are created by society, are you saying
there is no objective code of ethics? Would slavery be right when it was condoned, but wrong now, since it's illegal and
frowned upon by most Americans?

Burping in Brazil is as ethical as is burping in Saudi Arabia. However, the Brazilians, but not the Saudi Arabians, are
living under the delusion that there's something wrong with it, and passing those lies on to their children. Then again,
the Saudi Arabians, just to be fair, teach their own kids lies about subservience of a woman. They do such disgusting
things as female genital mutilation (FGM). FGM, however, is just as wrong in Saudi Arabia as it is anywhere else, even
though most Arabs refuse to realize the fact that it is wrong. And changes in mores over time do not change the inherent
morality or immorality of an action one bit. FGM is just as wrong now as it will be when people decide to stop doing it.

To further understand why morality is objective, we need to realize that everything -- every conceivable action, thought or
abstraction -- is either wrong, right or neutral. And the great majority of things people do in this world are neutral. If
killing someone is objectively wrong (which it is), there's no reason why everything else (helping a person stuck in the
street, vandalizing the school office, eating an apple, dancing the Macarena, touching your uvula, and ten billion other
conceivable human behaviors) should not be classifiable as right, wrong or neutral. To call what is neutral "wrong" is an
act that is wrong in itself. It is a judgmental, irrationally restrictive lie that says something is wrong when it is not. And it
usurps science's real code of ethics by letting human beings redefine morals. Now, burping, for one, is neutral. Not
burping is also neutral, for that matter. And so the Brazilians who majorly object to burping and get on someone's case
when s/he happens to belch are the Brazilians who are doing the wrong thing. And since not belching is also neutral, it
would be wrong of Saudi Arabians to insist of someone that they belch to show appreciation of a meal. And since this
applies everywhere, it would even be wrong for Brazilians to insist someone burp or Saudi Arabians to get after
someone for burping.

And exactly what does the word "in" mean? "In Brazil"? "In Saudi Arabia"? Those are just artificial human renditions of
delineated things on the land we call "countries". If a Brazilian family moved to Paraguay, assuming the Paraguayos
generally consider it polite to burp, would it be the right thing for them to do? Would it become right the moment they
crossed the Brazil/Paraguay border? And then, for that matter, when you're ON the Brazil/Paraguay border, is it right to
burp? And if today, a Saudi Arabian army invaded Brazil for whatever reason, would the rightness/wrongness of burping
be something "borderline" during the invasion, and after they had wiped out the entire population of Brazil, would it be
right in Brazil now that the Saudi Arabian culture had taken over? If one relict rain-forest tribe living isolated in Brazil
believes it's right to burp, even though all the others don't, is it right for them to burp? They ARE in Brazil, after all. And
is it right to burp in Brazil if 51% of the population says it isn't as 49% says it is? What if it's 50/50? 40/60? Where to
draw the line?

But the largest, irrefutable argument as to why the perpetuation of non-ethical social norms is in itself morally wrong, is
this. We can prove the rectitude of the undeniability of individual liberties, whether masturbating, burping or going
topless, regardless of time or place, if we first accept the premise that the all-embodying concept of good, the right way,
includes the value of justice. That means being fair. All morally right actions are fair, all morally wrong actions unfair.

Now, let's say the sixteenth-century Zarkenians are living under the delusion that there's something terribly wrong about
scratching your left thumb. And there's nothing objectively wrong with scratching your left thumb, is there? And suppose
there's one Zarkenian at the time who really loves scratching his left thumb. Why shouldn't he? Society should have no
right to dictate the right course in that matter. Suppose that in the eighteenth century, all the Zarkenians decide there's
nothing wrong with it after all. And suppose that during the sixteenth century, the Drahumians are scratching their thumbs
with no societal prejudices against it. IS IT FAIR, for this person who had to be, by some twist of fate, born in Zarkenia
in the sixteenth century to be forbidden to scratch his left thumb, even while the Drahumians are doing it freely and his
own people will some day? Obviously, denial of this liberty is not fair.

One of the basic precepts of justice is that no person gets any avoidable advantages over anyone else living at any time or
place. In fact, that is the very definition of the word "fair". Everyone, therefore, must be accorded the same amount of
liberty as would the hypothetical freest person anytime, anywhere, the hypothetical person who could do anything that he
wanted so long as it was not morally wrong due to impinging upon justice in some other way. Murder is wrong because is
takes away an individual's inalienable right to live. The urge to live is a perfectly sensible, natural and logical human urge.
Similarly with rape, as no one should force another into a mutual act to which the latter has no will. Stealing unfairly takes
away people's property, deserved by them but not by the stealer, and vandalism similarly unfairly vandalizes. Lying
unfairly bails a person out of crime for free instead of allowing for the admission of knowledge that will give easy
allotment of the sinner's true moral dues. But no one, so far as I know, can come up with a reason why any human being
would object to nudity, not counting indoctrination by a narrow-minded society.

After reading the definition of "fair", some people who think themselves pragmatists may question the idea that "no person
gets any avoidable advantages over anyone else". They ask, "What about the fact that some people are smarter, taller,
more athletically talented, etc. than others?" A clarification here: avoidable advantages means any created by society, that
society therefore can choose to avoid. Society cannot do anything about a person's genetic lot, but it can be tolerant
enough not to restrict a person from being able to do something because of sex, age or place or time of the culture or
cultures in question.

One social taboo that has to go, as heavy-felt and widespread as it is, is the taboo against nudity. I fail to see how any of
the rules of ethics, how any of the Ten Commandments, doctrines of Buddha's Middle Path, Bennettian "virtues",
Greco-Roman virtutes, Neo-Christian "fruits" or ideals presented in "values" courses in modern elementary school
classrooms, could find anything wrong with nudity. All sentiments against it either stem from unhealthy Puritan
uptightness or Bible-thumping relation of the story of Adam and Eve, or use the conformitarian arguments that it is wrong
"because society says it is". Society could just as readily make a rule against scratching one's left thumb or right ear, and
that would in no way make the action any more wrong. Furthermore, it does a great disservice to the concept of ethics,
those objective natural rules, to lie to tell nudists the lie that what they are doing is wrong when in fact is isn't.

And furthermore, targeting harmless practices like streaking only undermines the validity of rules to begin with. Much of
the suburban teen crime around today starts out with a total loss of respect for laws and social rules in general. Teens
think, "If society makes all these rules that don't make any sense, like telling us lies that spitting or going around as dirty
as you want is unacceptable, the rules are probably all a bunch of b.s." From this, they give up on trying to conform to
laws and conventions to please society. The trouble is that this leads to breaking of laws and mores that actually do hold
validity -- rules about respecting people's property, rules about kindness and sensitivity, rules about nonviolence. If all
laws that impinged upon non-unethical acts like smoking marijuana or having gay sex (still a crime in some states) were
repealed, and society got rid of all its repressive norms, teens would start seeing only real rules, which would lead to a
rules-are-basically-good attitude rather than a rules-are-basically-bad attitude, and most teens would see it as no trouble
being a law-abiding citizen.

The second taboo, actually enforced more strongly by religious teachings than any secular societal norms, is that
condemning homosexuality. Homophobia is an evil no different from racism or sexism, yet many people are disguising
their irrational hate under phony double-talk like "Christian teaching", "family values", "tradition" and "the maintenance of

No one's choices of love, or any other aspect of life for that matter, should be determined by whether an X-sperm or
Y-sperm made it to their mother's egg first so many years ago. And yet, several political and religious figures are trying to
keep heterosexuality, which has no more right than any other sexual orientation to be given the top hand, recognized as the
only form of erotic love. There is absolutely nothing morally wrong with homosexuality, and all arguments otherwise are
totally weak, are biased, or assume totally exaggerated ramifications.

The most commonly used argument against homosexuality is that the Bible allegedly says being gay is wrong. Not only
are all passages supposedly against homosexuality controversial as to meaning, but many other statements in the Bible are
incompatible with others, too many for any rational person to take everything in this book seriously. Furthermore, laws in
America are written to apply to every single person, Christian or not. If the whole purpose of founding America was
originally to promise freedom of religion, then why should Christian values have any more validity than those of Jews,
Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, counterculturalists, Hare Krishnas, Sikhs or Wiccans?

Another reason, often given by the same Fundamentalist types to support the "Christianity" argument, is almost as weak
and is giving totally contrived backing: that it will destroy the "family value" system of America. Any analysis will reveal
that "family values" is but an empty catchphrase coined by the right wing to scapegoat all our problems today on the things
they have irrational prejudices against -- women's liberation, liberation of both genders today from the ridiculous chains
we call "traditional sex roles", single parenting, the decline of the institution of marriage. In reality, only 10% (or less by
estimates) of the population is gay and the world is already overpopulated -- treating them as regular human beings and
letting them marry will not result in the extinction of the human race and the discontinuation of child-bearing -- the other
90% is going to be plenty to keep our population going.

And myths that the gay percentage has risen since the gay rights movement began are totally untrue -- gays have,
however, become more open. Sexuality is now known to be genetic in origin, and the gene pool is not going to change
over time. Myths that gay parents turn a child gay are also untrue: not only is there anything wrong with a child becoming
gay to begin with, but gay parents cannot turn a child gay any more than straight parents can turn a child straight. Look at
all those gays out there -- almost all of them have had heterosexual parents. Other commonly used but invalid arguments
are that homosexuality is wrong because society says it is, or that homosexuality is "gross" (a subjective reaction based
totally on emotion rather than reason) or "unnatural" (homosexuality evolved naturally, just as did sexual reproduction,
internal fertilization, foreplay and mating rituals, and the act of coitus for the sheer purpose of pleasure). Just because a
sex act does not fulfill any of the original functions of sex does not make it wrong, any more than having protected sex for
sheer recreational purposes with a person of the opposite sex is wrong. Few of us would even say it was wrong to have
sex with a partner hundreds of times and not once plan to have children.

On a similar note is polygamy. Polygamy may conflict with the teachings of certain religions, but if one man marries four
women and all four wives agree to the polygamous relationship, there is nothing that breaks any objective rules. For this
reason, I ask all states to grant people the right to multiple marriages. Anti-polygamy laws have no value to them, and no
real values behind them, either. Also met with varying degrees of social disapproval among different communities in the
U.S. are masturbation, transvestitism and, in the most backward, intolerant parts of the U.S., interracial marriage and
dating. No puritan paranoia on sexual matters can justify denial of our absolute human rights. If America cannot serve as a
model of a free country, which country can?

As much as traditionalists and conformitarians hold on to the concept of traditional sex roles, the return to or maintenance
of different rules, roles or rights for males versus females is unethical, for the reasons mentioned above. Anthropologists
claim that a civilization must have "division of labor by age and sex". Conservatives insist upon having their daughters
"grow up into fine young ladies" and their sons into "fine young gentlemen", not to mention supporting a whole system of
rules as to whose duty it is to do what during a date. Reactionary parents still demand that their sons play baseball and
their daughters learn to knit and sew. All of these claims are untrue, and they put people in chains because of sex, which is
really nothing more than whether an X-sperm or a Y-sperm made it to one's mother's egg first. Should a male have to get
a transsexual operation if he wants to behave in a way that you may consider "feminine"? Today's counterculture of the
youth libertarian types rejects the concept of traditional sex roles, as have all countercultures of past years done.

Equally innocuous are such simple acts as the picking of the nose and expectorating of saliva (so long as saliva is not used
to attack someone else), that have nonetheless been frowned upon by conservative supporters of manners and social
tradition. The only argument against such things as these is that they are "gross", and if society would stop indoctrinating
people with the message that they are "gross", people would discontinue acquiring that emotional perception. Etiquette is
pointless and serves only as a shibboleth used by the uptight and paranoid to see who is and who is not as
"well-mannered" as they; and as mentioned before, it detracts from the reputation as manners as a whole in the public
view, even such benevolent forms of courtesy as sharing or helping the sick and elderly, the pleasant kindnesses we all
learned in nursery school before we came to terms with rules that made us feel the need to rebel.

Though the procedure of debunking social restrictions has gotten threadbare by now, we still must forget not to bring up
the divisive issue of voice tone. Such a silly matter as a couple of decibels can cause rifts amongst the generations. Many
older people, including even some once-enlightened Baby Boomers, chastise young people today for "raising their voice".
Why this strikes such a chord in them has always puzzled me; it seems any voice tone over three decibels is called by these
restrictionists, "unacceptable in mainstream' society". Many adults I know simply accuse young people of "raising their
voice" every time thsee teens speak out angrily in self-defense. But this is the correct, normal, natural way to speak in
self-defense. Everyone's voice rises during anger. And I think it well to let people express their anger even if it may be
"disruptive" to the immediate atmosphere in the short term. Most people know that suppressing your anger is physically
unhealthy, and it is much better to break with order for thirty seconds than it is to let oneself boil over and rot inside with
suppressed anger, which can destroy an individual and ultimately lead to sociopathy thirty years down the line.

Also very intergenerationally divisive is the topic of dress. Just as with everything else discussed, dress, hairstyles,
grooming, body piercing and tattoos are matters with no "rights" or "wrongs", only "neutrals", and it is morally wrong to
claim that there is something wrong with any of them. Having dirty hair, a pierced lip or eyebrow, a goatee or a ripped
shirt, as unconventional as it is, is not hurting any person. Much of the teen dislike of corporations (not to say all teens are
anti-corporate) stems from the mere fact that they require employees to wear suits and ties, or the appropriate equivalent
female wear, and judge applicants on conventionality of appearance more than any real qualifications. Businesses that
readily hire bohemian types -- the local pizza parlor fulled with long-haired employees, the quaint offbeat bookstore on the
middle of the avenue, the computer programming business where the spirit of Steve Wozniak lives on -- jobs like these are
really the jobs that appeal to most of us, the jobs of the future in which individuality will live on.

The list of ridiculous and trivial social conventions pushed by Establishment figures could go on forever. Rules requiring
people to sit or stand in only certain positions, rules against sitting down on the floors of buildings despite the ready
availability of a chair, rules against anything weird, pointless, out-of-the-ordinary, but harmless -- these all have no ethical
purpose to them whatsoever. "Because it's the way everyone else does it" is hardly an argument for denying people their
individual liberties, no matter how strange or pointless they may seem.

As much as social restrictions on everything from male hugging to spitting are disappearing from everyday life in an
increasingly loose world, or at least disappearing from most of the circles in which a modern teen-agers would have
interactions, one stronghold of conformity that still pushes these locks on individual freedom is the school. Even in public
schools, many teachers are convinced they have to "teach" teens restrictions, by confronting them about even the most
trivial social behaviors (or personal behavior, as is usually a more accurate term for some of the things the teachers are
rallying against).

The libertarian coinage used for this concern is "sopoindo". Sopoindo ( from the words sociopolitical indoctrination)
refers to all comments (made either to the class or in confrontation of a single student), value judgments or ideologically
biased lesson plans that attempt to force the mores of any one teacher on a student or judge that student by the teacher's
values. Sopoindo takes place every time a teacher punishes or castigates a student for doing something the teacher feels is
wrong, usually a breach of a pointless social convention. Especially opposed by students today is the rule imposed by
teachers forcing students to remove their hats once they are inside the classroom. Since there is obviously nothing morally
wrong with keeping a piece of felt or polyurethane on one's head, teachers should not punish students for refusing to
conform to rules insisting otherwise. Teachers should have no right to confront a student and claim that what he is doing
is "inappropriate" or "unacceptable" or perhaps some other equally defamatory adjective, optionally modified by the
adverb "socially".

Mandatory education laws force a student to attend school, so as long as he is there, he will be in an unconstitutional
prison, being forced to go to a place that forces him to relinquish his rights as a human being, unless teachers respect his
freedom. Not only should the countercultural mass of young people have their culture respected by teachers, but students
from all other cultures are forced by law into one classroom too, and must also have their cultural space respected. Forcing
the mores of one's own culture onto a student who is not even at school by choice and may be of any culture should not
be tolerated by the state or federal government. If young people went to school to be taught their teachers' values and get
shouted at and have their feelings hurt if they did not conform to them, the freedom-of-thought-promoting government of
the United States would not have its states passing laws to make school mandatory. We should be going to school to learn
to read, write, spell and do sums, locate Brazil on a map, learn the history of the United States, and maybe, just maybe,
understand the importance of citizenship, wisdom and decision making.

Instead, all our taxpayers' school-funding money is doing is going into dragging students into a place where they argue
with their teachers. School as it is is actually pretty pointless, teaching teens very little actual material. Most "learning" is
only short-term memorization of facts caused by cramming and running off mass-produced formulaic essays. Very few
students are actually learning under the current school system. Many improvements could help America's schools to
"work" again, but building an accepting social atmosphere, for one, is definitely a necessary start.

Teachers may argue that by keeping students down they are maintaining "order" in the classroom, but today's generation
of students is much more culturally accepting and supportive than they think. Furthermore, not only do their restrictive
rules and values not help keep order in class, they teach children that that is all education, de facto, is about. Students of
all cultures -- Chinese, African-American, Persian, WASP, Chassidic, Navajo, Amish or countercultural -- have their own
firm set of values. When all that happens in school is hearing one teacher insist that everyone in his/her class accept his/her
culture, students will in mind "drop out", stop caring about their schoolwork and valuing education, slack off and
eventually flunk out, ending up on the streets. The status quo of our school system is actually responsible for turning
many students who had promise but just happen to disagree with their teachers on social issues into underachievers. An
open-minded, accepting classroom is the only thing that can turn them back on.

Some teachers may argue that they are just trying to teach students the restrictions they will need to know in the adult
world to maintain a job. Two things wrong with this argument. Number one: living in a culturally diverse area such as
California, and living in the Information Age, almost every boy and girl is pretty knowledgeable by the time they get to
high school about what values most of the major cultures in America espouse -- be it "mainstream", Chinese or Arab or
Rastafarian. They probably already know all the social values of their own teachers' culture, and could even act like a
person from a different culture if they wanted to, but choose to abide for conscientious reasons to the moral tenets of
their own culture -- these sopoindo-spouting teachers are not really teaching them anything. Number two: thanks to
capitalism and national expansion, the "adult world" now has jobs open for people of all lifestyles, from the most
conservative yuppie to the most radical bohemian. In this world of underground writers, corporate executives,
windowwashers, politicians, professional tennis players, artists, jail guards, McDonald's employees, street musicians,
financiers and CPAs, everyone can find a job that accepts him/her for who s/he is. If we want to live in a completely
countercultural atmosphere where no type of behavior is too outrageous, we can just go to work as an MTV
cinematographer. If we want a preppy atmosphere that insists upon traditional Anglo-Saxon manners, we can go apply for
a corporate job.

Finally, one may ask exactly why it is that students are so unwilling to do something as simple as remove a hat. Why the
arguments in class with teachers when a student could simply do as ask, remove the hat, and the trouble would be over?
The reason is that removing a baseball cap is much more than simply removing felt from one's head -- it represents the
symbolic concept of evils like conformity and deference to authority figures. The reason we refuse to take our hats off
inside the classroom is that the only reason to do it is conformity. Is it right, is it fair, for us to be forced to do
something that has no moral backing to it whatsoever? Some teachers allow hats in the classroom, so is it fair for the
extent of our sartorial freedom to be determined by the fate of which teacher we get?

If we remove our hats as asked, we are in effect consenting to and accepting a major fallacy. The fallacy is that of
authority: that the teacher may do whatever she wants at unlimited discretion, that she is right just by virtue of being the
teacher. Under the concept of authority, which with good reason is a traditional counterculture enemy, if a teacher says
hats must go off, they must go off while if she says hats may stay on they may stay on. "Must" and "may", "must not"
and "may not" are now no longer determined by natural law and objective human rights defined by nature and God, but by
a fallible human being who is "playing" God, making whatever she says considered "right" or "wrong" just by virtue of
her being her.

One argument used over and over again by conservatives is the concept of order vs. chaos: letting people do whatever they
want, they claim, will lead to chaos. This argument is false and irrelevant for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, although "chaos", whatever that would be, is readily conceivable in the cases of people getting away with killing,
hurting and strangling other people, I hardly see how allowing people to walk around in the nude could contribute to any
definition of "chaos". In fact, so many of the things conservatives claim will make for "chaos", such as homosexuality,
free love, even walking around topless, are already practiced in such liberal cities as San Francisco, Berkeley and
Portland. No one would say that those cities have "descended to chaos". The liberal cities, and even liberal suburban
communities, of America are living proof that freedom will leave us with nothing to fear.

Secondly, some of the things conservatives see as maintaining order actually restrict people's constitutional and
God-given rights, as well as obstructing justice. The civil rights protesters of the fifties and sixties were accused of being
disruptive, but the question of disruptive or not was rendered TOTALLY IRRELEVANT by the fact that they needed to
protest to receive justice and freedom, as well as making the truth known. If a business is discriminating against female
and minority customers, and the town police are trying to hush up their complaints with the reasoning that their behavior is
"disruptive", their call for "order" is not justified. I see know reason why "order" is an ethical necessity. Justice, freedom
and the truth, however, are. What restrictive types see as order may not obstruct a promulgation of the truth that leads to
service justice and equality, along with the practice of human freedoms. When justice, freedom and the truth are all on one
hand -- all morally required of people -- and order, which is not even a moral necessity, stands alone on the other, the side
of "order" has a very weak case indeed.

And thirdly, all chaos stems from attempts to prevent it. By this I mean that if authority figures begin becoming too strict
and pushing for "maintaining the status quo" at all costs, the masses will become rebellious and possibly institute great
devastation. For example, if a high school bans exposed midriffs with the excuse that letting everyone show her navel will
be the forerunner of chaos, suspending and castigating students who do expose their navels, the student body will only
get angry, begin speaking out against the rule in class when confronted, complaining to the faculty, and possibly even
holding walk-ins or boycotting school. If that scenario isn't chaos, I don't know what it is. If teachers had never spoken a
word about the abdominal nudity of certain students, none of this would have happened and chances are classrooms
would have stayed just as calm as ever, or at least calmer than angry protests. A restrictive national government is just
asking for bombs, missiles and other extreme chaos in the form of war from its repressed citizens. Democracy does not
cause chaos. Denial of it may.

Ending the War on Drugs

Another cause that has been carried on from the sixties is the opposition to the war on drugs. With teen drug use
increasing in recent years, due partly due to increasing need for sentiments of rebellion among young people disenamored
with the law and Establishment, the majority of young people today support the right of the individual to smoke
marijuana, to drink alcohol and smoke tobacco regardless of age. The current persecution and stigmatization of the law by
people who choose to consume alcohol, marijuana or whatever must be ended if we are to call ourselves a free country.

No one should have the right to restrict others' ability to harm only themselves. Except in cases of drunk/stoned driving,
drugs do just that -- harm oneself only. Drunk drivers should be persecuted as such, but the mere consumption of a drug
should not be considered illegal. Some worry about treating emphysema, hepatitis, gingivitis and miscellaneous brain
damage that may occur, claiming that our taxpayers' money is going into helping people who use drugs. We in the youth
libertarian movement, however, believe that hospitals should not give free treatment to people who have hurt themselves.
If someone chooses to do LSD, that's fine with us, and he should have the right to do it without being labeled a criminal,
but if anything happens to him, it was his choice to shoot the acid, he should have to pay for any medical care.

The first drug that needs to be discussed is marijuana. Ever since 1937, the government has infringed upon people's right
to smoke pot. Since then, sentiments of the Right towards this misunderstood drug have skyrocketed. Worse yet,the
anti-marijuana faction has even composed lies and misinterpreted data in an attempt to keep their reefer madness,
reminiscent of the psychotic hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials and McCarthy Era, alive. Among the myths used to keep
the war on drugs afloat are that marijuana kills people (it is a fairly well-known fact that no one has ever died from
smoking marijuana); that marijuana is a gateway drug (just as all 100-year-olds were once 4-year-olds but few 4-year-olds
will live to be 100, most heroin addicts started with weed but very few pot smokers will go on to heroin or crack); and that
marijuana is ten times stronger today than the weed of the sixties (actual studies of government figures show that pot today
is only 150% as strong as its sixties counterpart). Groups like NORML and the Hoosier Cannabis Relegalization
Committee (HCRC) cite several studies disproving all the prevalent marijuana myths. The HCRC even mentions that the
Partnership for a Drug Free America presented television viewers with an outright lie when they aired a commercial with a
feigned scan of a brain wave, allegedly from a teen-ager on marijuana. I find it interesting that all the claims of the
anti-marijuana side are vague claims, whereas the pro-marijuana side cites actual statistics and studies for all of its

Another argument against marijuana is that pot smokers will become drawn inward and therefore "be unable to contribute
to society". But who is to say that anyone born, by fate, within the borders of the United States should become a slave to
a fascist regime, bound to society? The bindment of an individual to society may not exceed than the individual's
God-given rights as a person). We were born to have the choice of being free, just like gorillas and toucans and salmon
and snails and even ants (if they want to leave the colony). We are God-created beings with God-created rights first, social
beings second.

The individual is clearly more important than society in having its rights protected; as the individual has feelings and can
become destroyed emotionally when his rights are not recognized, whereas society is a faceless abstraction and therefore
has no feelings. Aristotle may have stated in his treatise on government that "the state is superior to the individual, as the
part is superior to the whole", but this claim is not true. A chain may be superior to a link or an entire television set to one
button, but in all cases the objects can be considered as in the same category, as they all are lifeless and soulless; however,
the individual is organic and with a spirit and the state lifeless.

There are currently no actual benefits of the criminalization of marijuana. People who want to smoke it do so anyway,
laws or no laws. Those who do smoke are only hurt by the stigmatizing label of "criminal", and thrown in jail, only
overcrowding our prisons and not helping anyone. On the other hand, total legalization of marijuana would directly benefit
many people. The medical use of marijuana is important -- the New York Times reports that 44% of doctors in the U.S.
have already recommended it to patients despite its illegality. The American Medical Association is pro-marijuana. I even
have a friend who told me about her tobacco-smoking brother; his doctor actually told him he'd rather have him smoking
weed than tobacco. And thousands of counterculturalists, from the original beatniks of the fifties to the teen-agers of the
nineties, have smoked it. How do you suppose these millions of Americans feel about the government's making what they
are doing illegal? Only bad people, we like to think, do ILLEGAL things. And the decriminalization of marijuana, as
with the end of all other rules, would help cause a general decrease in crime. Historians know that the criminalization of
alcohol during Prohibition undermined in people's minds respect for the law in general, much as unfair laws do to many
teen-agers today. During that period, smuggling, larceny, vandalism, etc. also increased.

Religious freedom is also important -- Rastafarians, Buddhists and Hindus all do, or traditionally did, smoke cannabis.
Some argue otherwise, claiming that religious freedom cannot justify anything for the same reason it does not justify
things like human sacrifice. Human sacrifice, however, really hurts other people, no matter under what conditions it is
practiced. Marijuana "hurts" only the user. Furthermore, no humane religion has even sacrificed humans. A few that did
in the past such as Hawaiian Animistic religion no longer do, and even now headhunter-type cultural groups are still
breaking with ethics every time they engage in an act of ritual killing that invariably takes away another person's freedom
to live. Drug-using religions, on the other hand, such as the peyotistic rituals of Southwest Indians, tend to loving,
humane, liberal religions that have increased people's well-doing towards other humans. Even the Wiccan religion is
pro-marijuana (Wicca is completely humane -- the conception that they eat babies is totally untrue). At what price can we
endanger our religious freedom for the alleged benefit of "society"? Suppose Rastafarianism is the one true religion and
you need to do the weed-smoking rituals to be able to get into heaven? Then everyone would be dealing with either Hell or
jail in this unhumane world of ours -- what a dilemma! What is the stake of a person's eschatological future compared to
the condition of the faceless binding we call society?

Some may now attack my support for freedom of religion by supposing that one might need to ritually sacrifice others to
get into heaven even though that doesn't make it right. But ritual sacrifice is in conflict with real ethics. These are the
ethics of a formless god, determined not by any identifiable living being but by science. Even if people did not exist, even
if the universe did not exist, the objective principles of this real "God", which are determined by obvious ideas of right
and wrong from which all objective rules of conduct can be extrapolated by logic and mathematics, would hold true.
Supposing there is also a powerful superhuman being identifying himself or herself as God, that God could still not be the
ultimate authority for right and wrong, even if that God said ritual sacrifice was right. If any God actually does hold
unethical beliefs, such as homophobia or female subjugation, it would be our duty to rebel against that God in the name of
the real ethics.

One argument brought up by some is that legalization of marijuana would make for more stoned driving. But I cannot see
why high driving should not be subject to the same laws and penalties as drunk driving. Even liberal groups like the
HCRC support use rather than abuse of marijuana.

Additionally, in the Netherlands and a few other upright-thinking countries, marijuana is already legal. How can we say
Americans are freer than the Dutch if we can't even smoke a relatively harmless herb without being considered criminals?
From the days of the hemp Constitution, signed itself by several people now known by historians to have smoked pot,
our country has had the ambition of being the freest in the world. Just as bad, our nation has passed laws against drinking
under the age of twenty-one. In effect, anyone who has so much as one sip of alcohol, even wine at a Seder, is a criminal
if he or she is 20 years 364 days old. Misinterpreted statistics about driving accidents do not justify the mindless
criminalization of all "underage" drinkers.

Another drug of controversy is tobacco. The "legal smoking age" of eighteen must be eliminated, for the same reason it is
wrong to restrict alcohol use or anything else on the basis of age. However, the tobacco industry must end its extreme
pushing and use of duplicity. The current tobacco industry sells tobacco to third-world countries, addicting the natives and
wasting their little money on cigarettes with no nutritional value. The extreme sneaky advertising of cigarettes to
"underage" smokers must be kept under control, but those who really do want to smoke should not be criminalized for it.
If fewer people really "want" to smoke, the tobacco companies should not continue pushing this unhealthy business, but
rather downsize and let its employees move off into other fields, such as Barbados did when it switched from raising
tobacco to the just as profitable sugar.

Personal responsibility

Many other laws currently on the books are also wrong, and contribute just as much to youth distrust of the law. Many
laws twisting the concept of responsibility must be abolished. For instance, under current driving laws, if a teen-age
driver takes his parents' car and wrecks it, the parent's record will be ruined by this irresponsibility. These automotive
laws are absurd and totally unjust. Under these rules, a teen could take his parents' car without permission and crash it on
purpose, only to get them in trouble. Teens are like all other human beings -- responsible for their own actions. And
furthermore, it is completely ridiculous and impractical to suggest that parents should be monitoring their teens
twenty-four hours a day; there is no way on Earth they can be totally responsible for their children. These laws, as easy a
way out of deciding as they are, are completely unacceptable discrimination against both teens and innocent adults.

Another law that is unethical is that stating that theft victims must pay for their own possessions. If your automobile is
stolen, that is completely fate and not your fault; even the best-protected items can possibly be lost to larceny. Victims of
auto theft should have their losses recovered by money from the government. If the government is going to freely hand
out welfare and indiscriminately allot social security, and is going to grant medical aid to all who need it, certainly they
should do the same for involuntary victims of theft.

Equally unacceptable are laws stating that the driver "in back" is invariably responsible for a crash; under these laws, the
driver "in front" could simply back up into the innocent other driver to get the latter in trouble. And moving outside the
realm of automobile laws, age-discriminatory laws regarding sex are just as wrong. According to these laws, a
12-year-old would be considered guilty of molesting a 4-year-old even if the 4-year-old voluntarily walked up to the
12-year-old to explore his body and started touching the 12-year-old's organs. A 15-year-old who walked up and forced
an 18-year-old to have sex would him would only criminalize the 18-year-old under current statutory rape laws. Reforms
to expunge all such legislature will be essential if we are to reinstill in our children the idea that law is justice.

The new paradigm

Just as the twenties and the sixties introduced a host of new laws that improved people's rights and fought discrimination,
the late nineties can spark off a new reform era, under which the current paradigm of government can be changed. It
almost surely will be changed to the liking of the new counterculture, the libertarian teens who dominate the high school
scene today. Under the old paradigm, people could be denied their most basic rights on the basis of age and legal
technicalities and were criminalized for using drugs. Society showed itself as unfriendly by setting up irrationally tight
molds of what is considered "normal", turning teens away from it. Under the new paradigm:

• People will be seen as individuals rather than generalized about in groups.
• People's basic rights will be respected regardless of age.
• People will have the right to determine what goes into their own bodies.
• No one will have their chances and choices in life restricted by external fate.
• No virtuous human being will be considered any more of a human being than any other virtuous human being.
• No one will be limited by rules without reason, whether socially or legally enforced.
• No one will be tormented simply for refusal to conform.
• People will realize it should be possible to live without doing anything wrong.
• There will be no "authority", i.e. the declaration of a person as "right" or "wrong" by position rather than by actual
rightness or wrongness. No person in power will get away with making rules that are in conflict with objective ethics.

A switch to the liberal new paradigm will not only "turn back on" the drop-out teens that are increasing their numbers in
America nowadays, but will end the millennia of injustice caused by authority. Evil human feelings and ideas and an
imperfect natural world may always be inevitable, but there is no reason why we humans cannot do all we can to make
this world a better place.

The future of the new counterculture

At present, millions of teens are involved in the counterculture movement of the late nineties. Whether they don the skins
of a Marilyn-Manson-listening goth, or a punk, skater or stoner, or a neo-hippie or neo-beatnik, or an uninhibited bubbly
trendy type, or an alternative MTV type with body piercing, they are all contributing to the current youth beat that forms an
important counterweight to the attempts at restriction by many adults. These values should stay with these teens
throughout their lives, if they can continue to learn from history.

During the sixties, Baby Boomers went through their equivalent phase of hippieism, when they brought marijuana into the
forefront of America, practiced free love, and protested the draft, a procedure which was sexist, forced authority,
conformity and abusive conditions in Vietnam and may have even gotten our cure for cancer shot up in war. This form of
righteous idealism, however, sank during the eighties as Ronald Reagan became president, Baby Boomers turned to greed
and forsook the values they knew were right for success, and several far-right figures got appointed to the Supreme
Court. This new atmosphere brought coldness and lack of caring, corruption and materialism into America. We are still
trying to recover from the conservative movement of the eighties. I believe the new teen counterculture is not going to "go
bad" as it enters its thirties and forties; rather, we will have learned from the example of the Baby Boomers the virtue of a
countercultural lifestyle compared to the other option.

Furthermore, if we can avoid another reactionary turn such as the election of Reagan for president, the values of the
Establishment, the government, the law -- will be the same values that are right. If we can finally achieve our ideals and be
as close to a utopia as we can just by a few changes in law and social thinking, we will have nothing left to rebel against.
No sexism, no age discrimination, no criminalization of drugs.

Of course, it may not quite turn out that way, and many or even most of the countercultural teens of the nineties could still
"cop out", reverting to mainstream culture in the coming years. But whichever way the future of our generation turns out,
the second greening of America in the 1990's will be a significant and memorable era. The nineties will have produced a
new euphoric movement of youth that as history, may never be forgotten from our minds. Just as the Baby Boomers had
their heyday to remember, the heyday of the end range of Generation X, the high school and college students throughout
the late nineties, can become a lasting memory considered as one of the best times in history. Teens of the nineties, live for
today and cherish your life! (C) 1998

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