Where are all the grown-ups in times of crisis and grief? Don’t bother searching America’s prestigious law schools.
Two adult men, occupying lofty perches as law professors, argued this week that the voting age in the U.S. should be lowered to 16 because some high school survivors of the Parkland, Florida, shooting who want gun control “are proving how important it is to include young people’s voices in political debate.”
That was the assertion of University of Kentucky law professor Joshua Douglas on CNN.com. He praised some student leaders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who’ve been making the rounds on TV, shouting at President Donald Trump, Republicans in Congress, and the National Rifle Association “to demand change”—which Douglas defines obtusely as “meaningful gun control,” whatever that means.
Because these children are apparently doing a better job at broadcasting his own ineffectual political views, Douglas asserts, “we should include them more directly in our democratic process” by enfranchising them now.
Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe similarly tweeted, “Teens between 14 and 18 have far better BS detectors, on average, than ‘adults’ 18 and older.” On what basis does Tribe make such a claim? On a foundation of BS.
Undaunted, gun control advocate Tribe urged: “Wouldn’t it be great if the voting age were lowered to 16? Just a pipe dream, I know, but … #Children’sCrusade?”
This is unadulterated silliness. It’s hashtag hokum from a pair of pandering left-wing profs exploiting a new round of Democratic youth props. I have called this rhetorical fallacy “argumentum ad filium”: If politicians appeal to the children, it’s unassailably good and true.
This is not compassion, but abdication. America is not a juvenilocracy. It is a constitutional republic. There is a reason we don’t elect high school sophomores and juniors to public office or allow them to cast ballots. There are many, many reasons, actually.
Pubescents are fueled by hormones and dopamine and pizza and Sonic shakes. They’re fickle and fragile and fierce and forgetful. They hate you. They love you. They need you. They ignore you. They know everything. They know nothing. All in the span of 10 seconds. I know. I have two of them.
If you’re lucky, they’ve only Googled “Should I eat Tide Pods?” or “What happens if I snort ramen powder?” and not actually attempted the latest social media stunt challenges.
But that’s what kids do. Because they’re kids.
Many may be exceptionally smart, passionate, and articulate beyond their years, but they do not possess any semblance of wisdom because they have not lived those years. Their knowledge of history, law, and public policy is severely limited (Common Core certainly hasn’t helped). And their moral agency and cognitive abilities are far from fully developed.
Most are in no position to change the world when they can’t even remember to change their own bedsheets.
Yet, Tribe relishes the opportunity to hide behind the young Parkland activists headed to CNN’s propaganda town halls and Washington, D.C.: “NRA will meet more than its match in these amazing kids,” he gleefully cheered. “[I]t’ll meet its master and will be brought to heel. At long last.”
President Barack Obama employed this very same kiddie human shield strategy to ram his federal health care takeover through Capitol Hill and down our throats. Immigration and education lobbyists use it, too. Their cynicism is unbounded.
Human prop-a-palooza infantilizes public discourse and renders measured, mature dissent impossible. Those who question the logic, efficacy, and wisdom of the latest left-wing “children’s crusade” face accusations of “hating” the children. Refusing to acquiesce to their tears and protests is tantamount to letting them die.
Showing resilience and resolve in the face of horrific adversity deserves the highest praise and attention. Juvenile victim status, however, does not warrant absolute moral authority or the unfettered powers in the political arena that ideologically stunted law professors are so eager to bestow upon them.
It’s fine to listen, but do not let the children lead.