BAILEY T. STEEN | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25, 2018
On Valentine’s Day, children were in the line of fire when a mass shooting occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Students from the only public school in the city started a movement calling for change, yet they can’t even vote for representatives who fund their schools and decide public policy on mental healthcare reform or gun control policy.
In the land of the free, it was decided the vote was a fundamental right guaranteed to citizens in the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — as long as the individual reaches the age of 18 years old. But what is the argument against 17 year olds? 16 year olds? Even conscious minors? All are citizens with their constitutional rights. They all have free speech, protections from slavery, illegal search and seizure, labor rights and contribute to the economy than holds a sales tax. On what grounds can the minority, perfectly able to vote, have this right taken away by the majority?
With reports from The Washington Post showing state legislation is being drafted to grant underage D.C. citizens the right to vote, let’s consider the ethics behind lowering the age for representation.
Universal Rights And The “Responsible” Fallacy
Would Uncle Sam deny a citizen their vote? If he were a Fox News contributor like Tucker Carlson, a columnist for Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire or even just an op-ed writer for The Washington Post, there’s no doubt the red flags would be raised about whether the youth have what it takes to “vote responsibly”. This may have some truth, but can the right-wing’s gun-clutching constitutionalists and occasional free speech advocates make this argument without being hypocrites?
America loves their second amendment, suggesting people have a right to unregulated market products like guns, and allow irresponsible people like Nikolas Cruz to exploit this to his violent content. The first amendment grants citizens the right to free speech, limiting government and social tyranny against dissent, yet it enables the far-right and far-left to irresponsibly speak vile hatred. Regardless of view on these rights, they must be universally applied to the enlightened™ citizen as they should to the “irresponsible”, whether they’re former black slaves from the racist 17th century, once denied the vote on the grounds of “experience”, “lack of education” and property owner status, to modern youth given same treatment based on age.
To say only the competent can vote would bring back illegal civics tests, literacy tests, IQ tests and other voting restrictions of the past — when it wasn’t so long that free Americans above the age of 18 voted for legitimate political idiots to run the country in Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It’s highly unlikely voters always know candidates, their office and the branches of government, yet they still have to live with appointed leaders who decide policy for adults and children alike.
Research has shown that 16-year-olds “possess the same level of civic knowledge as older young adults” between the ages of 18 and 21. The study found younger voters may have less knowledge than voters around the 40 year range, granted, but the research shows there’s more of an argument to enact a voting age gap for new adults than to restrict the voting rights for young citizens. Why not let the market place of ideas decide?
Both Sides “Exploit Children” — Why Not Give Them Free Speech?
While the left has David Hogg, hailed as this exploited poster boy pushing the globalists’ gun control agenda, the rights an absolute hard-on for Kyle Kashuv, the conservative survivor of the Parkland shooting. The pro-censorship right has this condemnation obsession with Hogg’s media tours, while in the same breath entities like Fox News, Daily Wire, Louder With Crowder, The Blaze, The Daily Caller, Turning Point USA and Breitbart are singing Kashuv’s praises as some constitutionalist hero. Unlike those outlets, we’re more than happy people are making arguments using their free speech — only this free speech is restricted when they reach the ballot box.
To use their argument, are conservatives so scared their views are unpopular among the youth they need to suppress the vote in their favour? Isn’t the right to vote the highest form of free speech? If these children are old enough to own gu
Under the American law, 16 year olds are allowed to make financial contributions to political campaigns, volunteer for campaigns, engage in political activism, attend political rallies, yet when it comes to expressing who they want in office this free speech is restricted. For this argument of misused rights to come from the shitposting movement that cry about censorship for disagreeable speech on the daily is laughable.
The Slippery Slope Fallacy
You’ve heard it all before — giving rights to a specific group will lead to sex, drugs, drunk driving, rock and roll and, of course, pedophilia. Both Vox and AJ+ layout the case why this slope isn’t as slippery as one may fear.
For starters, there is a distinction between the vote, where only children are restricted based on arbitrary characteristics of stupidity that’s not illegal for adult voters, versus actions of molestation to drunk driving that are universally illegal for infringing on other peoples’ rights. It was philosopher John Stuart Mill who noted there is a difference between unjust government intervention when stopping a man drinking himself to death than justly stopping a drunk driver set to unleash havoc on fellow citizens.
There’s this assumption the slope will come from granting children the vote, but are adult lawmakers really so competent. Consider the weird priorities these adults have when deciding teen-affected policy: at least 88% of workers earning the government mandated minimum wage are under 20 years old (this includes ineligible would-be-voters we can assume pay income taxes, sales taxes, excess taxes, etc), the drinking age is set at 21, the weapon age is around 18 at the federal level (sometimes lowered in other states), while the age of consent in over 30 American states is 16.
Why the inconstancy, adult lawmakers? Why not set these arbitrary ages to a flat answer, or even lower it? Why are those 30 states often majority Republican — deciding for themselves what rate it’s ethical to pay children, when it’s ethical to fuck a child, when it’s illegal to abort one and then leave the affected class with no say on any matter? There may be no slope for giving representation to the young, while leaving children’s fate to inconsistent adults may prove otherwise. It isn’t a crime to vote drunk, high or stupid — but voting while young? Gosh, that’s haram.
It takes time to change voter rights. The Nation pointed out that it took a constitutional amendment in 1971 to lower the voting age from 21 to 18, a movement spearheaded by youth who were sent to the Vietnam War without any vote to prevent needless service in bloodshed wars. For 16 year olds, facing the firing line of school shootings and terrorism, wanting the chance to decide on access to mental healthcare, gun regulations and how government institutions like the FBI stop these future tragedies, what is the argument against these fundamental rights?
Thanks for reading!
Bailey T. Steen is a journalist, editor, artist and film critic based in Victoria, Australia, but is also Putin’s Puppet™ on occasion.
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Cheers, darlings!! 💋