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My Way

You're just a kid – what do you know?

December 18, 2013 - "Don't trust anyone over 30."

Back in the turbulent 1960s, that was a popular slogan among members of the Yippie/Hippie New Left.

As much as I disdain that anti-American movement's treasonous politics, I must admit there might be a bit of truth in that slogan when it comes to the way some adults view young people, particularly teenagers and children.

On the surface, we say we want young people to be independent thinkers, communicators, open-minded and principled individuals and risk-takers.

But the truth is there are some adults out there for whom that's only the case when the young people are silent or agreeing with them or serving as a reflection of their glory.

They only want young people to express their opinions when it doesn't conflict with their agenda.

Everything's fine when young people are posing for photos, receiving awards and making headlines with their talents and achievements. It's at these moments we call them young adults, leaders and role models, and praise their intelligence, abilities and potential.

Everything's fine as long as they're doing what they're told and performing as expected.

But isn't it amazing how quickly that can all change when a young person expresses an opinion that differs from the party-line, challenges authority or questions the status quo? In the blink of an eye, the young people who dare to commit these sins are quickly dismissed as inexperienced children, emotional minors or confused youth.

The word you're looking for is hypocritical.

Frankly, I don't believe a person's opinion should be automatically dismissed, discounted or not given the opportunity to be seen and heard by all simply because they've not yet reached the age to vote, fight in a war or belly up to the bar for a shot of whisky.

Yes, many young people lack real-world experience. Yes, many young people don't pay taxes. Yes, many young people don't know what it's like to take care of themselves or support a family. Yes, there are young people who are emotional and prone to exaggeration and overreaction.

By the same token, I know many adults who could easily fit in all of the above categories.

But that doesn't mean young people don't have valuable insights, valid opinions and thoughtful observations to offer us old farts when it comes to things like the schools that teach them, the sports teams they play on, the police officers they encounter, the parks they recreate in, the stores they shop in and the community they live in.

That's why at the Oxford Leader, there's no minimum age requirement to have a letter to the editor published.

Whether you're 7, 17 or 77 years old, we want to hear what you think and we think the community should, too.

All we ask is you do your best to express yourself in the clearest manner possible; you don't write anything that you know is not true or libelous; you don't use obscene language; and you sign your name.

So, to all you young people out there, I say, "Take a risk and show yourself to be an independent-thinking, principled communicator by writing a letter to the editor regarding an issue you feel strongly about or something you believe the community should be made aware of."

Remember, you don't need anyone's permission to exercise your First Amendment rights.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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