April 7, 2018

If They Could

Filed under: Assorted Politics,Going Places,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 11:26 am

So I was at the March for Our Lives in DC two weeks ago, joining in with WES, who I somehow managed to find in the crowd.

Check out my sign!

Yup. I figured everyone else would have the basic gun control angle well covered, so I went the voting age route, if with a well-deserved jab at the NRA to play to the audience.

And if this whole thing isn’t a major reason for lowering the voting age, I don’t know what is. But more on that in a moment.

The speakers were mostly Parkland students, as well as survivors and friends and family of victims from that and other shootings, all demanding an end to gun violence, all urging our leaders to take action. All calling for sensible gun control.

Not that that’s a simple solution. Gun control has its own complexities and can very easily be racist, ableist, and numerous other inequalities (which, not being Kathleen, I’m not going to sit here and spend ten paragraphs naming!). Certainly not even those at the march would be in agreement as to what that would look like, as some just want guns to be more difficult to get, requiring background checks and perhaps licensing, while others straight up want the Second Amendment repealed.

But all that aside, gun control as a response to school shootings would be significant in a way I hadn’t really even realized before. Until one of the speakers straight up said they do not want zero tolerance policies.

That’s right. Zero tolerance policies and other academic security theater, making the schools become somehow even more like prisons, are often the go-to response from policymakers when these atrocities happen. We’re seeing calls for harsher school environments. The idea being that if students are super restricted they won’t shoot or be shot.

In other words, instead of going with gun control, which would directly affect and restrict adults and acknowledge that adults must accept responsibility and make sacrifices, whatever they may specifically be, they go for zero tolerance policies and tougher schools, all of which pin all the restriction and blame on the young students they’re supposedly protecting.

They also say that #WalkUpNotOut bullshit, telling students not to walk out and demand change but to just “walk up” to some lonely classmate and befriend him so that he doesn’t flip out and shoot everyone. Which, while certainly befriending people is good, is just more of adults shirking responsibility and blaming the problem on young people and bullying, with a side of “therefore, sit down and shut up because it makes me uncomfortable when you challenge authority or think critically except where doing so is convenient for me”.

To these adults, it’s all a young people problem, young people need to be made to behave and kept on a short leash, and if adults are responsible for anything it’s that they’re not being tough enough with those horrible young people.

And, of course, gun control would affect voters. The students being heavily restricted and nonetheless still shot at aren’t old enough to vote.

That’s also why I’m so dismayed at the push to raise the firearm purchase age to 21. As I said before, it doesn’t actually accomplish anything or force our society to tackle the hard questions around guns. It just, like with the zero tolerance policies, pins the blame on young people and calls that a victory. They rightly see zero tolerance as the pathetic cop out that it is, yet somehow raising the purchase age is any better? Vast majority of these mass shooters were well over 21, and the deaths of their victims weren’t any less tragic and horrifying. Nikolas Cruz is only 19, sure, but I doubt an age restriction would have stopped him here, or that in two years he’d be over whatever made him do this and that he’d be all sunshine and roses. Not that I think he should have been able to get an AR-15 however he did, but that should be a question of the general population’s ability to get one rather than picking on and thus blaming young people.

After all, blaming young people is just going to make this worse. Not only are policymakers choosing to place restrictions that apply only to young people and not anyone or very many old enough to vote while ignoring gun control policies which would apply outside of schools and affect adult voters and actually be effective (or at least much moreso than zero tolerance policies and increased age restrictions), but in showing little willingness to consider more effective options, they’re making clear that, despite the thoughts and prayers, they don’t really care that much that these kids are dying. After all, they are teenagers, a group thoroughly villified at all corners of society. Teenagers are nothing but trouble, something their voters must put up with. The voting parents are devastated, absolutely, and that’s where there’s some lip service to these voters having lost cherished property but not much more. Even after Sandy Hook and the victims being much younger, nothing was done. Kids might make adults as a whole feel sentimental, but it doesn’t mean they value their lives enough to make widespread societal change for them. Except where they can make themselves look like they care to score points with other adults.

Hence my sign.

The march included frequent reminders to vote in November, against those who just do and say whatever the NRA tells them. Those who would rather make schools more restrictive and punitive than even think that an adult might not need to be able to get a semiautomatic weapon that easily. Because, as the march concluded, we must remember the children at the ballot box.

And I was standing there with gritted teeth, thinking “there’s an obvious change to call for here… politically active teens needing to beg adult voters to vote a certain way… we’re just a few miles from three towns that did it… come on…”

Because, seriously, would this be an issue if these teens could vote? I mean, yeah, probably, but all this highlights what a gross injustice it is that they can’t. They want safer schools and for these mass shootings to stop, but because they don’t have the franchise, elected officials aren’t under all that much obligation to listen or care except where those of voting age show solidarity. Because the group that is endangered in these shootings, the students, isn’t considered a group worth having a voice except by way of parents and teachers, which is of course not good enough. Lower the voting age to 16, and make the high school students a voting bloc who can tip the election results one way or another, and suddenly the candidates can’t afford not to listen to their demands or at least stop scapegoating them.

This isn’t just wishful thinking on my part. Lowering the voting age has very much been part of the conversation here, with a slew of articles and whatnot coming out around this issue here and here and here and here and here and here and here. The Parkland students’ activism, while not about this specifically, absolutely demands it. Without the youth vote, adults can much more easily simply choose not to listen.

Without the youth vote, adults can much more easily not care when young people die.

March 21, 2018

Nothing but a Number and a Distraction

Filed under: Assorted Politics,Decrees!,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 10:36 pm

I hereby decree…

Age restrictions aren’t solutions to serious social problems.

For one, they are in and of themselves a serious social problem. But even if you don’t care about that, there is still a lot to be concerned about with a reliance on age restrictions when faced with a public health challenge.

With still more horrifying mass shootings in recent weeks, talk of gun control vs gun rights has surged as expected. It’s a messy issue that I mostly stay out of as I really have no strong feelings or a lot of direct knowledge about it. But there’s still plenty of terrible ideas floating around, especially the suggestion to arm teachers, which is without a doubt just about the worst idea in the history of the universe.

Of course, there’s also calls for raising gun purchase ages to 21.

Which, aside from age restrictions being harmful discrimination against young people that exacerbates their already severe marginalization, is completely beside the point.

Raising the gun age does nothing about all the politicians who are in the NRA’s pocket. It does nothing about navigating the balance between good faith self defense measures and enabling someone who wants a lot of people dead. It does nothing about reconciling gun restrictions with those who feel this would be an attack on their culture. It does nothing about making sure any gun control measures or enforcement aren’t racist or ableist or otherwise target or scapegoat vulnerable populations. It does nothing about the conditions of certain institutions of our society that might drive someone to want to commit some atrocity in the first place. It does nothing about all the guns adults can still purchase and thus are still being put out into the world (something the retailers raising their gun sale ages don’t seem to mind continuing to profit from). These are the complicated issues, among many others, that need to be addressed to do the issue of guns any justice. At best, acting like an age restriction solves anything is a waste of energy, but worse it distracts from the real issue in all its complexity, making the age of a shooter at all important, making fixing that a goal, such that when it’s done someone can claim a victory without having really done anything. And given that, while this complicated issue is being negotiated, people are dying, distracting it with unrelated tangential non-issues is downright irresponsible. Focus on the matter at hand and leave age (and mental health, by the way) out of it.

And it happens in other areas.

States have been raising their age to purchase cigarettes from 18 to 21, just to say, hey, look at us championing public health. Even though most smokers are much older than that. They say the age restriction is because it’s easier to get addicted when you start young, but this then really just takes responsibility off older smokers to quit. When raising the age is touted as some big solution rather than a pathetic grasping for straws, then the issue of smoking is made to be a young people problem, that the problem isn’t that the tobacco industry is making bank putting out a deadly product but that those who use it are the wrong age.

And let’s not forget alcohol and the questionable logic allowing one to sincerely believe you stop drunk drivers by raising the drinking age to 21, rather than, say, doing something about actual drunk drivers. Or, like with cigarettes and guns, questioning the industry and culture that promotes and clings to alcohol so hard despite all the harm it does.

Seriously, with these and more, look for an age restriction someone wants to raise or enforce more strictly, and I’ll show you an actual serious social issue that’s being avoided. If young people are being restricted like this because of some personal or social hazard, maybe we should be looking at that hazard and its place in our culture.

Okay, so I’m not saying the age restriction is always at the expense of actual concrete solutions. But it does present itself as a bandage, as a comparatively simple fix to rally around just to be able to notch a victory. It makes one look like they’re taking action, doing something they think is at worst harmless and perhaps common sense anyway (which, of course, isn’t even close to true, but that’s what they believe), and patting themselves on the back for being on the right side of progress. And advocates need to wise up and stop falling for it.

In truth, age restrictions are far less about safety than about adult policy makers making themselves look good and responsible to one another while simultaneously shifting blame off themselves. And it’s so easy to do, because we’ve been conditioned from a young age to equate an adult restricting a young person with responsibility, without questioning the efficacy or morality of the restriction, without wondering that the adult has their own difficult questions to answer and changes to make on the issue.

Believe it or not, young people having even the slightest bit of freedom and autonomy isn’t the cause of all or even any of the world’s problems. If we truly want to solve anything, if we truly want to see meaningful change and save lives, stop acting like it is!

January 9, 2018

And Greenbelt Makes Three

Filed under: Check It Out,In the News,NYRA Happenings,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 11:15 pm

Usually when there’s a map of my region with triangles on it, it’s the Pepco Outage Map.

But here’s an awesome triangle for the region.

At one point farthest to the west, we have Takoma Park, the first of them, which did it May 13, 2013. The southernmost point is Hyattsville, the second, which did it January 20, 2015. And to the northeast, the third point, which did it January 8, 2018, is Greenbelt.

These three towns at these three points have all have lowered their municipal voting ages to 16! A move with lots of good reasons and lots to think about and lots of tweets back in the day.

I was there when Takoma Park and Hyattsville each sealed the deal. Sadly, I was unable to attend Greenbelt’s due to freezing rain encasing everything in ice. But at least the people who mattered were there.

The three towns are all right by each other, too. The idea is spreading throughout the region. College Park is inside the triangle, almost totally surrounded and must surely join in at some point! The geographical proximity commands it. You, too, Berwyn Heights, especially if College Park does get in on this. And you, New Carrollton, just outside the triangle to the southeast. Why should the Green Line terminus in Greenbelt have all the fun of being in a #16tovote town when you and your Orange Line terminus could as well? Also, perhaps you’d then provide a little encouragement to a certain town just a bit south of you, just off the above map…

Yes, I’m talking about you, Glenarden! Get it together!

January 2, 2018

Stalker App

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Idiot Box,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 9:42 pm

I began my 2018 waking up to the New Year’s Day marathon of The Simpsons on FXX I’d turned on the night before and had fallen asleep watching. I stayed in bed for a while and watched some more, not wanting to get out of bed because, don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s a bit extremely cold here in the mid-Atlantic states this week.

Then during one commercial break I saw it. A rather extended ad for a product (not saying the name) for tracking someone, ostensibly a family member. This way, you’d know exactly where this person is at all times, whether they are driving too fast, etc. You know, perfect for the psycho stalker on your belated or Orthodox Christmas list.

Oh, did I mention this product was specifically geared toward parents to use on their teens? Yeah, that’s supposed to make this any better somehow. I mean, even if that did, it’s worth remembering any spying technology doesn’t actually know the relationship of the user to the person being tracked. A man could be using this on his wife rather than his teenage daughter. Think about that. What healthy reason could he possibly have for tracking his wife’s whereabouts, knowing how fast she drives, and who she sees? Doesn’t that seem gross as hell? Don’t you kind of wonder that this wife should probably get away from him?

So for that matter, what healthy reason could a parent possibly have for tracking a teen’s whereabouts, knowing how fast she drives, and who she sees? What, the parent cares and wants to make sure she’s safe? Okay, but maybe that husband just cares about his wife and wants to make sure his wife is safe. Oh, wait, that doesn’t fly.

I would go further with this analogy, perhaps going into how we don’t want the government or Google spying on us like this (even though they probably are, every time we say “okay Google…” perhaps) so that we shouldn’t be normalizing it for the next generation, but the sad thing is, youth rights aspect of this aside, you find people are often not all that bothered by it. Some people may look at the husband spying on his wife example and not find anything wrong with it. Perhaps calling up the property argument, where the car and house and phone and whatnot are property that one has every right to keep track of and otherwise do as they wish with. Of course, what they also aren’t shy about saying, they see the teen as property as well.

So what I must wonder is the mentality of the person who clings to this right and would actually seek out and actively use spying technology on a teen (or anyone else). I mean, this is rather obsessive and time-consuming behavior that, well, even someone so inclined might lose interest after a while. After all, they have something better or at least more interesting to be doing. A show or a game is coming on. Got to go make dinner. Got to go to bed and get up for work. I mean, being like “okay, she’s at school… okay, now she’s visiting a friend… still visiting the friend… on her way back here…” is boring as hell.

Unless, of course, you’re just that obsessive. Or you’re looking for something specific. Such that simply talking to the teen about any concerns is apparently out of the question.

The ad indicated the product would prevent kidnapping (they literally used staged footage of a girl being pulled into a windowless white van), so that this would keep kids safe. Well, I’ve gritted my teeth through enough conversations with coworkers and others over the years to gather that safety is barely on anyone’s radar with the idea of keeping track of kids. Some have said straight up they’d catch them lying about where they are and would punish them, with no effort to hide their glee. Safety is the stated concern, but, let’s be honest, the whole idea is, here, assert your dominance over someone in your household who drives you nuts because you can!

And even without anyone purchasing the product or any of the far too many like it that have been around for some time, the ad does its own damage. It tells the parents and teens and others watching alike that this is normal, that this is how it should be. It reinforces the already far too reinforced message that teens are property that can and will cause major trouble at any moment and that it’s the parent’s right and duty to keep them as watched and controlled as possible for the sake of themselves and others.

All of that said, it was still pretty hilarious that the episode playing when I saw this ad was Barting Over, when Bart gets emancipated from Homer and Marge after exploitation and abuse. Now the ad just needs to run during Lost Verizon.

December 14, 2017

The Actual Innocence

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Think About It!,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 7:01 pm

Five years ago today, Sandy Hook happened.

Several children who should be navigating middle school right now instead had their short lives come to an abrupt and tragic end because some shithead came into their classroom and opened fire on them for some reason.

In the above post on the day it happened, I lamented this loss of life, wondering, as I said, what they could have ever done to anybody. After all, at their age, one is new to the world and still figuring things out and likely hasn’t gotten to the point of causing any deep and deliberate harm to others like those older have. Not that it’s ever okay to kill anyone, of course, but with kids, it’s hard to see any rationale for it. An adult might have deliberately ruined your career or betrayed you in some severe way or what have you. Again, not that the killing is okay, but you can see how one so distraught might decide it’s the thing to do. With kids, they aren’t capable of doing anywhere near the damage to others that adults are.

After all, children are innocent.

And that is what the innocence of children actually is. Innocence is the opposite of guilt. It refers to what the children themselves have or have not done, and how good or evil their intentions. This varies by child, as children are individuals, and there’s no specific point where one goes from “childhood innocence” to “adult asshole” as it’s a gradual progression depending on one’s specific life and circumstances and experiences. But any innocence refers to the individual’s intentions and actions.

As such, it has nothing to do with something being done to said innocent child, nor does it have anything to do with said innocent child’s knowledge of the world.
(more…)

October 31, 2017

It’s Not Your Candy

Filed under: Foodz,Think About It!,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 10:33 pm

Happy Halloween!

Anyway…

No.

Stop. Don’t touch it. It’s not yours.

Earlier tonight, the kids traversed their neighborhoods in their awesome costumes and visited their neighbors with a familiar chant in hopes of a yummy treat (specifically Nerds, Starbursts, and Skittles if they came to my door!). Afterward, they went on home, checked everything for tampering for fear of the urban myth about poison or razor blades in candy suddenly actually happening, and at long last chowed down. Yay!

All this candy in the hands of kids? What are parents to do?

Nothing. It’s not theirs.
(more…)

September 30, 2017

All Politicians Are Adults

Filed under: Assorted Politics,Decrees!,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 10:50 pm

I hereby decree…

Stop saying badly behaving politicians are “acting like children”.

Or any derivative thereof. Including referring to a lone sensible one as the “adult in the room”. Not sure if you’ve noticed, but all politicians are adults. All mayors. All governors. All of the House. All of the Senate. All White House staff. Even the President.

Yes, even that Orange Thing currently occupying the White House.

Think of all the horrible shit Orange Thing has done. Or, no, don’t do that. It’s depressing. Think then that it’s too depressing to think about all the horrible shit Orange Thing has done and continues to do. In any case, there are a number of words to throw at him. Racist. White supremacist. Sexist. Bigot. Loudmouth. Xenophobe. Narcissist. Sociopath. Evil. And countless others.

So why then, given all that, would you pick “child”? What about calling NFL player protesters “sons of bitches” while saying neo-Nazis are “fine people” makes you think “innocent little kid new to the world and figuring things out”? What about trashing the mayor of a hurricane-ravaged city asking for help makes you think “likes to drink from juice boxes while learning about shapes and watching Doc McStuffins”?

Yet, whether the images around inauguration time showing a leather desk chair being wheeled out of the Oval Office and a high chair being carried in, whether the sign I saw at the Women’s March that said “Maybe he’s teething”, whether countless others calling him a toddler throwing a tantrum, “child” seems to be a popular go-to “insult” to hurl at him.

In response to this, a week before the inauguration, I posted this to I Support Youth Rights:

Donald Trump is a racist, misogynist bully who supports torture, advocates war crimes, mocks the disabled, threatens those who oppose him, and brags about sexual harassment, among many many many other things that add up to him being absolutely abhorrent.

But you know what he isn’t? A child. He is in fact doing all of the above as an adult. Everyone who voted for him is also an adult. His various questionable appointees are all adults. Children are completely innocent here.

So those of you who think you’re insulting Trump by calling him a child, really? All of the above and more said, and what offends you about him is that he reminds you of someone who was born only a few years ago? Do you actually think all of the above is typical childhood behavior? In any case, when in light of all this behavior you call him a child, the only ones you’re insulting are children, who are, again, completely innocent in all this and yet still are in danger of the damage the incoming administration is poised to do to healthcare, the environment, civil rights, and so much more.

So cut it the hell out.

This was posted in January, before so many things happened. Sigh.

But of course it stands. If the Orange Thing actually were a child, that would be an immense improvement. But he’s a 71-year-old man. A vile 71-year-old man. I mean, any damage a small child might do would be by accident. The Orange Thing knows exactly what he’s doing. Or he at least decidedly doesn’t care.

December 26, 2015

Slot-Shaming

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Going Places,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 11:15 pm

Slot machines and other gambling gadgets are everywhere in Nevada. It’s kind of gross. Not just in actual casinos. Malls. Gas stations. Even the airports. If you want to compulsively piss your money and time away, this state makes damn sure to provide. They even supply the free alcohol to quiet your ability to think or self-reflect so that you’ll keep feeding the machine.

This of course also comes the 21+ age restrictions on all this, so that even though they are unscrupulously profiting off people destroying their financial health by gambling and destroying their physical health by drinking, at least they can pretend they’re Protecting Children. 🙄

December 21, 2015

Sitters Are Now the Sittees

Filed under: Christmas Time!,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 11:34 pm

You know what’s depressing? Twelve-year-olds in day care. Twelve!

As in, they’re in middle school, and parents need to arrange for some kind of after school care for them until they get off work.

Did I mention… twelve!

I mean, in many places, the parents don’t have much choice, as twelve or thirteen is about the minimum age a kid can be left alone at home.

Ugh. Rules like this are not only a huge insult to these kids, but they’re a boon for the care providers. I mean, if parents are required by law to use their services, they’re raking in the cash. I wonder if they’re behind the age of being left alone at home being so high, since they sure do profit from it.

And this just makes things harder on lower income families. Child care is expensive, and it doesn’t help to make parents and kids have to wait longer before the kids can just go straight home after school and take care of themselves for a few hours. They either have to shell out the money or quit their jobs. Or break the law.

And, obviously, of course kids twelve and under can go straight home and take care of themselves for a few hours before their parents get home. It’s what my sister and I did. I was home alone as young as eight. Last time I was in day care, I was the oldest kid there… at age seven.

In fact, when I was thirteen, I was the one looking after a four-year-old neighbor every week or so while his parents were out. I was the one doing the sitting at an age that kids now are the ones being sat.

Nothing biological has changed. Just fears of lawsuits and -gasp!- unattended children! Children who aren’t busy with some activity, who, if without an activity, will get into -gasp!- trouble!

December 20, 2015

21 to Drink… Anything

Filed under: Christmas Time!,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 11:04 pm

So I was at Target earlier and there were some sets of novelty drinking glasses on one shelf. One set’s theme was of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, with glasses showing the squirrel and Clark entangled in lights and other stuff. Oh, and this set identified these as “pint glasses” and had “Age 21+” printed on the corner of the box.

Yeah… Okay. A lot of things about this.

1. These are drinking glasses and contain no alcohol. Drinking glasses are not age restricted. They can be used for any drink.
2. There were identical drinking glass sets on the shelf of Wonder Woman, Minions, Peanuts, and Avengers and such, none of which said “Age 21+” nor identified them as “pint glasses”.
3. Pint is a unit of volume, equal to two cups or half a quart or 16 fluid ounces. This measurement refers to this volume of any substance, not just beer.
4. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is not an “adult” movie. In fact, it’s been on constantly all month on ABC Family.

December 16, 2015

Your Choice, Huh?

Filed under: Christmas Time!,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 11:21 pm

Some time ago, I saw a picture of a protest in California about some new vaccination requirements. Yeah, the protesters were anti-vax idiots (redundant, I know) who were none too pleased about this. One woman’s sign even clearly said “My Child, My Choice”.

There’s yet another sign of the mind-blogging extent of parental entitlement. When forbidding you from letting your child catch serious illness and die is suddenly some egregious violation of parental rights.

What’s next?

“How dare you force me to actually FEED my child? Food contains sugar and pesticides and scary sounding ingredients I can’t pronounce and know nothing about but am sure they cause cancer. I have a right not to give that to my child!”

“How dare you force me to actually give my child WATER? It’s also called dihydrogen monoxide and it’s the main component of urine! It’s also full of fluoride which will make my child stupid! Also chem trails.”

Sigh.

December 14, 2015

Unchecked Power

Ever notice how our world seems to give unchecked power so much benefit of the doubt? Or, well, I suppose that’s true by definition as, if it weren’t given benefit of the doubt, then it wouldn’t be unchecked.

Look at some of the reactions in cases of police brutality. “Oh, well, he must have done something wrong for the police to have gone after him in the first place. They wouldn’t beat him up or shoot him for no reason.” You know, because apparently if a police officer so much as looks at you, it just makes sense to these people that you might as well kiss your ass goodbye, rather than, you know, saying “hey, this is wrong!” like any decent person would.

There’s also child abuse. Parents have near limitless power over their children, which very much allows for abuse, and abuse is very much rampant, but when it happens, you get reactions like “oh, well, the kids are probably exaggerating or outright lying, just ungrateful brats who probably deserved it, all parents love their children!” Ignoring that, for one, no they fucking don’t, and that they have no actual reason to believe the kids are lying, or to know for sure either way for that matter. But what is known is that parents who want to commit unspeakable crimes against their children could do so very easily, and pretending they just don’t or wouldn’t is very dangerous.

Then there’s war crimes. A hospital or school or the like gets bombed, killing a bunch of innocent civilians. And what’s the response? “Oh, well, that’s war for you. Sometimes civilians get killed. In fact, they probably weren’t so innocent and were likely hiding the bad guys so they probably deserved it.” Based on absolutely nothing. Just more of avoiding the necessary task of calling out what’s horribly wrong and instead trying to justify it.

Know what else? God! If an omnipotent God allows all of the above and more and worse to happen, who’s telling him to knock that shit off? It’s always “God works in mysterious ways! Everything happens for a reason! God loves us!” Yeah, meanwhile, somewhere in the world, a four-year-old girl just died of an infection caused by a ritual genital mutilation, but sure, yeah, loving omnipotent God we should continue worshiping.

True, a lot of this comes from feeling helpless, seeing many of these forces not as always right but as all-powerful and therefore there’s no choice but to assume rightness. And just plain not knowing how to change anything and finding it easier to tell the victims that they were the ones who were wrong, to give the illusion that we have more control over our fates than we actually do. But we can understand that tendency and still acknowledge it’s wrong. I mean, you don’t need to know exactly how to make a certain change in order to speak up about what’s wrong. Shit, if you had to, about 90% of those protesting or raising awareness about just about anything would be out of work! But there’s bad things happening. Acknowledge that they are bad and quit making excuses for them.

December 8, 2015

Trans, Homeless, Preteen

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Estrogen,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 11:38 pm

According to a trans* activist friend of mine, apparently, in New York City, the average age at which homeless trans youth become homeless is 13.5 years.

Average!

I mean, I’ve written before about how parental love isn’t exactly as unconditional as conventional belief would have you think. But even knowing that, it’s so pathetic that parents would kick out kids who are in middle school or younger for any reason really, but still so much more mindblowing that it’s about something so ridiculous as the kids not acting the part of the gender their genitals tell them to be. How fucking petty and heartless can you goddamn get?!

I’ll bet these parents think they love these kids, too. I’ll bet lots of people think that. I guess the mere idea that they might not despite some clear evidence to the contrary here is just too much. 🙄

December 6, 2015

Coloring Age

Filed under: Christmas Time!,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 10:35 pm

So there’s a hot new trend these days of coloring books “for adults”. These things are everywhere!

Except coloring books for adults have already existed. They’re just called “coloring books”.

That’s adult society’s insecurities for you. There’s nothing explicitly “for children” about the coloring books that have already existed. Unless what you’re coloring being animated characters of some sort has some hard and fast upper age limit. Which it doesn’t. It’s just adults balking at the idea of doing anything associated with children. So label some coloring books as being “for adults” and they’ll clamor for them and you’ll make a mint!

Not only that. It’s not like adults are supposed to be having fun with these “adult” coloring books. No, they’re therapeutic somehow. Stress relief! You know, the only thing adults’ leisure time is supposed to be about. Fun and imagination is just for children, after all. 🙄

I mean, there’s nothing wrong with these more various types of coloring books being out there, not at all. But by branding it as “adult coloring books”, therefore something typically associated with children being presented with the children somehow removed from the equation, it’s adults invading children’s space for their own benefit and shoving the real children out. Makes me start to understand what the hell people mean when they talk about “cultural appropriation”. *shrug*

December 5, 2015

Immunity Intact

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Science,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 10:53 pm

I hate it when anti-vaxxers and intactivists are talked about together as if they’re basically the same thing. Unfortunately, there is plenty of overlap, from those who see both issues as part of some “natural parenting” movement (more on that another day).

Anti-vaxxers are against vaccinations. Intactivists are against infant circumcision.

Those against both see it as some issue of infant body integrity, a thing I can get behind. But there’s one gigantic difference.

Vaccinations are actually extremely necessary, to save the baby and anyone around said baby from preventable diseases. This much is fact. When anti-vaxxers deny these life-saving vaccinations to their children, they are not protecting their children’s rights to their body. They are condemning their children to serious illness, a very severe violation of their rights and an abandonment of parental responsibility. And why? Because vaccines contain ingredients they can’t pronounce and that’s scary to them?

Circumcision, on the other hand, is not at all medically necessary. There is no prevention of life-threatening illness involved in it, unless you count the ridiculous grasping of straws like “uh, we think circumcision might possibly maybe prevent HIV (even though condoms would still be necessary so it doesn’t matter)”. And even so, most of the time it’s done for cosmetic or religious reasons, and people are really goddamn attached to these cosmetic or religious reasons, so this unnecessary barbaric practice continues. This is a painful violation of a child’s body that serves no real purpose and must be stopped.

Vaccinations save lives. Circumcisions are just “durr, foreskins are gross”.

Really no comparison.

December 30, 2014

Leelah Alcorn

What happened to Leelah Alcorn is tragic and infuriating.

She was transgender but stuck with super fundamentalist religious parents who told her that she’s really a boy and that she’s going through a phase. When she wouldn’t relent in wanting to transition, her parents pulled her out of school and removed her from social media and friends, completely isolating her for months. Finally, after leaving her suicide note on Tumblr, she committed suicide.

Why didn’t her parents accept her? Because she brought shame to them. Because they wanted to maintain for themselves an image of Good Christians. In their minds, she stood in the way of that. In their minds, she had to be removed.

So they did. They removed her from school and from public pretty much. They tortured her with religious pseudo-therapy. Did they think they would “cure” her? Or keep her out of “sin” long enough for her to outgrow this supposed phase?

Any way you look at it, they wanted Leelah gone. They might have preferred that she simply stopped being LGBT or maybe not. They wanted everything that Leelah was to be gone, out of their life, out of sight, so that she would no longer sully their image, their honor.

So now that she’s dead… problem solved! It may be more extreme than her parents intended, or maybe not. They saw her as a problem that needed to be removed, so she removed herself for them. In fact, given the treatment of her leading up to it, clearly this is exactly what they were hoping would happen.

They couldn’t kill her themselves without going to prison or – gasp! – tarnishing their image as Good Christians, so they drove her to do it herself, not only to keep their hands clean but to ensure, in their minds, that she goes to hell where she belongs. They wanted an honor killing, and they got one.

And, as a youth rights supporter, I must ask the very important question here. Why in the hell were her parents even able to put her through all this shit in the first place? She should have been able to transition whether they wanted her to or not. She should have been able to stay in school and stay in contact with everyone regardless of how her stupid parents feel about her. She should still be fucking ALIVE and happy!

But they had power over all of this. Because just like they cared more for their image than her life, our society cares more about their “parental right” to control her (even to death) than for her life. And that right there speaks volumes.

December 4, 2014

Good Kids, Bad Kids, Rewarded Kids, Murdered Kids

Filed under: Christmas Time!,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 11:44 pm

I’m so tired of the “naughty or nice” theme around Christmas giving. I’ve said before that Santa Claus doesn’t work that way and that those who say he does are assholes. Santa Claus is awesome and his story doesn’t need to continue being polluted with this manipulative nonsense.

There’s so much more to Christmas than this. There are legends and folklore from all over the place associated with the season. Let’s have a look!

First, here’s Befana:

In popular folklore Befana visits all the children of Italy on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany to fill their socks with candy and presents if they are good or a lump of coal or dark candy if they are bad. In many poorer parts of Italy and in particular rural Sicily, a stick in a stocking was placed instead of coal.

D’oh! That’s no better. Still the good-bad nonsense.

Oh, well. Let’s try the Belsnickel:

The Belsnickel shows up at houses 1–2 weeks before Christmas and often created fright because he always knew exactly which of the children misbehaved. He is typically very ragged and mean looking. He wears torn, tattered, and dirty clothes, and he carries a switch in his hand with which to beat bad children.

What the holy fuck?!
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December 2, 2014

No Salvation for Male Teens

So apparently a homeless family of five sought shelter from the cold weather with the Salvation Army. Four of them were welcome, namely both parents, their 16-year-old daughter, and their 5-year-old son. The fifth, their 15-year-old son, was not welcome.

According to the guy’s father:

“They said he’s too old to stay on the women’s side, because of the women running around in their pajamas and they said he’s too young to stay on the men’s side in case some pervert wants to do whatever,” Lejeune said.

So he’s too dangerous to be with the women, while the men are too dangerous to him for him to be with them. Oh, God, it’s like wolf-sheep-watermelon riddle!

But seriously… what?! The Reason article calls it pedophile panic, but it’s quite a bit more than that. It’s yet another manifestation of the idea that teens equal trouble, both for themselves and for others. They are a danger to everyone, and everything is a danger to them. The curious ageist paradox that always seems to yield fewer rights for teens, who are never allowed a word in edgewise.

And it’s more ephebiphobic paranoia. “Help! It’s a teen! Is it a child? Is it an adult? Oh, Lord, I just don’t know. Let’s just shove it out of sight and not have to worry our heads with this freaky age-hybrid.”

The result? A young guy, whose only crime was existing and happening to be part of a family that fell on hard times, is forced to stay out in the cold, as is his family.
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April 29, 2014

Paglia on the Drinking Age

Filed under: Check It Out,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 10:53 pm

While it’s always nice to see articles in favor of lowering the drinking age, I’ve learned not to get too excited right away. The other day, a TIME article by Camille Paglia came out in favor of lowering the drinking age. Let’s have a look…

The National Minimum Drinking Age Act, passed by Congress 30 years ago this July, is a gross violation of civil liberties and must be repealed. It is absurd and unjust that young Americans can vote, marry, enter contracts and serve in the military at 18 but cannot buy an alcoholic drink in a bar or restaurant. The age-21 rule sets the U.S. apart from all advanced Western nations and lumps it with small or repressive countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

While I don’t care for the “it makes us similar to these piece of shit countries” argument, since its entire basis is “ewww… THOSE countries… THOSE people…”, the rest is right on. The drinking age is a violation of young people’s civil liberties and carries with it some nasty repercussions.

She goes on to briefly compare MADD with 19th century temperance activists (which seems a little unfair to the temperance activists :P). Then she mentions the marijuana legalization and uses that as a jumping point for lowering the drinking age, citing also that “The decrease in drunk-driving deaths in recent decades is at least partly attributable to more uniform seat-belt use and a strengthening of DWI penalties.” Which is the general argument against the pro-21 side’s “Raising the drinking age saved ALL OF THE LIVES!!!!”
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March 28, 2014

You Just Don’t Get It

Filed under: What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 10:48 pm

I find myself thinking this in exasperation in youth rights spaces sometimes, whether on NYRA’s Facebook page or elsewhere. Someone seems to agree with most that is posted or discussed. And sooner or later there’s a post that makes them flip their lid.

It goes something like this: “Ah, lowering the voting age to 17? Cool, neat… Ugh! What that school did to that girl was awful! They should be stopped!… … Wait, what? Lower the drinking age? Are you crazy? Teen brains are still developing!!!!111!!1!!”

You know, there can certainly be some leeway when it comes to people relatively new to the cause. I know when I was first getting involved some issues made me wary until I had the chance to think about and discuss them some more. But some people are determined to be intransigent on some irrational blind spots in their youth rights view. There’s a guy who has been with the movement for years and supports abolishing the voting age but for some reason supports corporal punishment.

I’m all for a “big tent” in the youth rights movement, since it’s a huge subject matter and so a big tent is just good sense. But someone whose support for lowering the voting age is based on believing it will get more Democrats elected is not a youth rights supporter. Someone whose support for homeschooling or unschooling is based on protecting parents’ rights is not a youth rights supporter. Someone who supports lowering the drinking age only in order to “stop unsafe drinking” is not a youth rights supporter.

Such people are certainly useful allies in specific campaigns, of course. And they could easily become youth rights supporters if we play our cards right and if it turns out they are so inclined after all. But they aren’t there yet.
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