What a difference fifty years can make, in two generations we can see great change.
During the 1960’S, one of the great political subjects of the time was, “ old enough to fight, old enough to vote”. Rally after rally, it became one of the key issues of the time for all students to change the law and reduce the voting age from 21 to 18. This was a movement that insisted that those who could be drafted to serve in the armed forces, and fight in Vietnam, should have the right to vote. This movement culminated in the adoption of the 26th amendment to the constitution in 1971.
Today, we have another student movement taking form, that to restrict gun rights, and raise the age to purchase long guns, from 18, to 21. Yes, today we have students working to restrict and remove their own rights! Not expand them. After the tragedy of the Florida, Parkland high school shooting, many groups, including some of the surviving students have taken up the call to attack gun rights, including those organizations that are seen as an impediment to this agenda, as well as any corporate entity doing business with them. At first I found this “ ban everything “ approach to probably be solely emotional, as it is being promoted as key to the exclusion of all other ideas. But I think this approach says more about our current culture, than even political ideology.
Students today are rallying on campuses nationwide, for “safe spaces”, so that they can be protected from ideas and opinions they do not agree with. There are even polls showing students do not support free speech, if it does not agree with their opinions, and they protest, and shout down conservative speakers time after time.
I think we need to examine, and think about what is different now than fifty years ago, why do students now avoid debate rather than debating “truth to power”, and now demand safe spaces to risk exposure to others views? Why is the avoidance of responsibility to protect oneself now seen as the cure-all to random violence? Why does it take the Lewisburg School district organizing a student walkout on March 14, for our local students to protest? I guess they do not have the backbone to protest as their grandparents did, and risk the discipline they would have been subject to outside their safe spaces. One could almost be forgiven for assuming that our local students are being enabled as pawns.
Editorial submitted by Jeff Thompson, chair of UCRC “It Matters” initiative