Derek E. Hollemans
It was a hot, sticky day. Children were packed into the gymnasium like sardines, and somewhere on the gym floor a man paced back and forth with a microphone. Nobody could really understand what he was saying, and nobody really cared for that matter. This was another typical high school assembly. Through the jeers and chants in the crowded bleachers, one could hardly notice anything outside of his own immediate area. Suddenly, everyone rose and faced the Stars and Stripes. A badly dubbed version of our national anthem played over the microphone system, and everyone respectfully honored our nation.
That is, almost everyone respectfully honored our nation. A small handful of individuals sitting a few sections below me remained seated, turning their backs on the flag. I found this to be in very poor taste. However, being the full blooded Libertarian that I am, I really thought nothing of it, respecting their right to make fools out of themselves in front of the entire school. As the situation grew to a boil one teacher approached these individuals, and asked one of them why they weren't standing up. The reply?
"because *I'M* an anarchist"
Needless to say, anyone with a shred of common sense would realize that these so-called anarchists just happened to be attending a PUBLIC school.
This is the mindset of many of today's youth who fancy themselves as being politically motivated. Although I admire their enthusiasm, most of them are completely off base in their arguments. I can even agree with some of the arguments that the stereotypical teenage radicals make, but most of their positions lack any sort of substance behind them. They want to see drugs legalized because they do drugs. They support things of that nature. If the issue doesn't affect them directly, it might as well not exist. What the older people see is that the politically minded youth are all radical fire breathers who gather for pointless protests in the streets.
Another issue I fail to come to grips with in the teenage mind is the protest march. There are two points I would like to address on this issue. First, these children are simply marching for the sake of marching. They have no cause. Where the young hippies of the 60's at least had a cause, today’s teens are struggling to find a reason to march against the "fascism of conformity", or some other pointless dribble. I am reminded of students who wander around my school wearing big patches that give off a strong message, "Fight Fascism!", and depict a fist bashing a swastika. That's nice. Secondly, along with having no cause, the young, narrow-minded radical will also have no tolerance whatsoever. These people believe that they have every right to peacefully assemble. They believe they have every right to broadcast their freedom of speech to the entire community. They absolutely have that right, yet when other viewpoints want to do the same, who are the first people that show up to deny it? The teenage radicals, of course. Freedom of speech is not limited to any one group of people. Freedom of speech means that we must be willing to tolerate the good with the bad. Homophobic people must be willing to tolerate Gay rights marches. We must be able to tolerate the Ku Klux Klan, if they choose to peacefully assemble. (on a side note, that is one thing I never understood either. Violence always erupts at Klan rallies because of the outside observers who show up. Isn't that exactly the publicity the Klan is looking for? If nobody showed up to their stupid rallies, it would just be a handful of guys wandering around with dunce caps on. We must tolerate it, but if we disagree with their message, why should we even acknowledge their existence). We must also tolerate the marches of the teenage radicals, just as they must learn to tolerate other marches they don't necessarily agree with. Tolerance does not end when an issue arises that we do not agree with. This is something that most youth today fail to realize.
My final objection to the stereotypical teenage "anarchist" is their endless contradictions. I have coined the term "anarchists on welfare" for several reasons. I think the whole mentality arises out of a need to be different, rather than a desire to see political change. That is what is most disturbing. They call themselves anarchists, but look for the government to solve every problem involving the poor, the immigrants. They want the government out of their lives when they're smoking crack, but are the first ones in line to petition the government to crack down on things they disagree with. They seem to be the first in line to petition the government for handouts as well. All in all, it boils down to their lack of understanding what a true anarchist is. Being a Libertarian, though, I must respect their rights to act as they wish, so long as they don't force themselves on me. It's too bad they can't find it in their hearts to respect other peoples rights as well.