The (Not So) Latest
7/18/08: Haley Ham, 11, Changes Law to Protect Children, Pets
A tragedy led to a triumph last month.
11-year-old Haley Ham suffered greatly when some sick-o poisoned her dogs. The perpetrator used antifreeze, a poisonous substance with, unfortunately, a sweet taste, which is why every year antifreeze poisoning kills (usually by accident) hundreds of children as well as thousands of dogs and cats.
These deaths can be prevented by adding denatonium benzoate to antifreeze, giving it a bitter taste that deters ingesting a fatal dose. Unfortunately, manufacturers don't want to spend the money to add this ingredient, especially if their competitors don't spend the money. Business owners fear the competitive disadvantage.
Ms. Ham solved the problem, at least in her home state. She lobbied her state politicians, and Tennessee now has a law (effective January 1, 2010) that will require all antifreeze sold in the state to include denatonium benzoate.
The Humane Society had tried unsuccessfully to have Congress enact a similar law nationwide. But Ham succeeded at the state level. Now that Tennessee is on the path to safety, Ham is lobbying for North Carolina and Georgia to pass similar laws. State-by-state, this girl is leading the way.
Why didn't Bruce Wayne think of this?
7/6/08: Gulag Bill Passes House
HR 6358, formerly known by the catchier "HR 5876," has passed in the House of Representatives by an astounding margin of 318 to 103! That's quite a statement.
Before this bill can become law, however, it must next pass in the Senate. So far, no Senator has stepped up to introduce this bill.
Please contact your Senators and ask them to introduce and pass a Senate version of the "Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2008."
With your continued help, we can enact this law and create at least some basic protections for youth trapped in gulag schools. Let's do this.
6/23/08: Gulag Bill Watered-Down
HR 5876, working its way through the House of Representatives, has been watered-down from the original version. The newer version lacks language that would have made it easier for parents to sue these gulag schools after they discover their children abused. The new version also removed the requirement that HHS (the Department of Health and Human Services) do spot-checks every two years to ensure these gulags are not breaking laws.
What remains is a long overdue prohibition on "acts of physical or mental abuse designed to humiliate, degrade, or undermine a child's self-respect." The specifics will be determined by HSS, and the HSS standards will be enforced by states. The original language of the bill would have let the HSS enforce its own standards, which would simplify matters and lead to more effective and universal enforcement. But what remains is still better than nothing.
One other change is dividing youth-advocates. While the bill originally applied only to gulag schools, the new language makes these regulations apply as well to serious treatment centers for youth. Some youth advocates complain this puts gulag schools in the same category as legitimate treatment centers and by implication legitimizes the gulags. Alex Koroknay-Palicz at NYRA, however, calls this change an improvement, pointing out that even "legitimate" treatment centers can be guilty of abusing young patients and therefore this change spreads the protections more widely.
Spreading the protections would be a good idea except for one problem. By not allowing parents and victims to sue, and relying solely on states to enforce these regulations, covering more institutions means spreading law-enforcement resources more thinly. Of course, we can always lobby our states to put more resources into enforcing these regulations, but that will be a state-by-state battle.
This watered-down version to be voted on in the House this week is not nearly as good as the version that passed the House Education and Labor Committee last month. But it's still better than nothing. We can only pray that when it goes to the Senate it will not be weakened further.
6/11/08: Nader Speaks out on Voting Rights
Ralph Nader, the man who forced car-manufacturers to install seatbelts and forced Al Gore to take the environment seriously, has written an article calling for a lower voting age. He urges America to see youth as "citizens now, not citizens in waiting," and he urges young people:
To jumpstart the 16 year old voting movement, youngsters need to start jumping. Needed are rallies, marches, and personal group visits to your members of Congress and state legislatures at their local offices, especially when the lawmakers are not in session and are back in their home communities.
Read more at http://counterpunch.org/
6/8/08: Take Action Against Gulag Schools - Help Pass HR 5876
For years, the gulag schools have been raking in money selling child abuse as "treatment." They tell parents that when their children drink, have homosexual thoughts, or merely insist on being treated with dignity, these are disorders, and they promise to "cure" these problems. How do they do it? The youth are routinely abducted, locked up in "treatment" facilities, and tortured until they agree to hide whatever displeases their parents. Dozens of "patients" have died in these camps.
Finally, Congress is considering a law against some of the worst abuses. Step one is to get this bill through the House of Representatives.
Please ask your Representative to vote Yes on HR 5876, the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act.
The easiest way: go to http://capwiz.com/mobilize/
"Won't my Representative just ignore me if I'm not old enough to vote?" you ask. They won't know your age unless you tell them.
You can bet Congress will hear plenty from the abusers demanding Congress leave their business alone. Congress needs to know there are Americans who want these abuses ended. If this bill passes, it will be the biggest step for youth Congress has taken in years. Please tell everyone you know: if you write only one email this year, this is the one to write.
5/10/08: Congress Considers Age-Restrictions on Video Game Purchase
If H.R. 5990 becomes law, stores will be legally forced to card customers trying to purchase video games with strong ratings. Once again, a consumer item draws controversy and, rather than take serious action such as banning the offending product for everyone, or standing firmly for individual freedom, politicians are trying to take the easy way of age-based compromise, demanding teenagers live up to a higher moral standard than adults are willing to live up to ourselves.
If the dangers posed by a given video game outweigh concerns of freedom and dignity, then that game should be banned for everyone. H.R. 5990 is built, not on moral principle, not even on public safety pragmatism, but on cowardly political pandering, singling out the most defenseless demographic for restrictions. Americans of all ages deserve better from our leaders.
Please write a letter to your Congressional Representative in the House, politely but clearly urging a NO vote on H.R. 5990. Find your Representative's name and mailing address at http://capwiz.com/advofy/home/.
5/08: New Study Shows how to Reduce Smoking among Teenagers
Age-limits don't work. Insulting ads lecturing youth don't work. So what does work?
A new study shows a technique that miraculously reduced teen smoking by 40%! The technique: non-ageist, universal bans on smoking in restaurants and bars.
"There is really no other smoking intervention program that could cut almost in half the rate of smoking," says the study's lead author Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University School of Public Health. Siegal explains, "When kids grow up in an environment where they don't see smoking, they are going to think it's not socially acceptable."
To put it another way, youth are not influenced by the hypocritical messages we adults shape for them. They are more influenced by the truths we adults tell one another. When we adults impose ageist restrictions, youth see nothing but an insult. When adults, however, push tobacco away from ourselves, youth see an honest example and hear a serious message.
More on the recent study at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24469911.
4/08: MADD Says Only Morons Serve Their Country
Mothers Against Drunk Driving has long been more effective at insulting youth than at increasing highway safety. Recently we witnessed another example as MADD's founder struggled to justify age-limits on alcohol.
For thousands of years, alcohol existed without any society seeing a need for age-limits. Back when Jesus famously turned water into wine, there were no age-limits on wine. With the rise of Islam came meaningful and effective bans on alcohol, not age-based failures. The first serious age-limits on alcohol came in America during the fight over Prohibition. Politicians saw age-limits as a way to pacify Prohibitionist voters by banning booze for at least some Americans while not upsetting voters who liked to drink. Our leaders have been rationalizing this Machiavellian move ever since.
Studies have shown that when states raised the age-limit from 18 to 21, it caused no decline whatsoever in driving accidents. (And we can only imagine the drop in drunk driving we might enjoy if teenagers could drink in their own homes instead of driving off to parties and then driving themselves home, hiding their fun from parents influenced by our leaders' rationalizations.) An organization that really cared about drunk driving would fight for legislation that might actually be effective even at the cost of annoying adults, legislation such as banning alcohol for everyone who can drive, or at least permanently revoking the drivers' licenses of all those convicted of DUI. Mothers Against Drunk Driving, however, has long been renowned for focusing more on fundraising to pay its administrator's high salaries rather than on improving highway safety. With most funders being older than 21, MADD's best fund-raising strategy is to forget restrictions on adults and focus instead on restricting youth, regardless of the effect that has on our highways.
In a recently televised debate, Alex Koroknay-Palicz of the National Youth Rights Association argued that the young men and women now serving in Iraq, risking their lives fulfilling their commitments to our nation, deserve to enjoy some freedom and respect. As our soldiers return home, they should be welcomed in their neighborhood pubs.
MADD founder Candy Lightner responded that those who risk their lives for American freedom are too stupid to receive any freedom themselves. She insisted the brain of anyone younger than 21 "isn't developed, and that's exactly why the draft age is 18, because these kids are malleable. They will follow the leader. They don't think for themselves.'" She added, "They are not adults! That's why they're in the military! They are not adults!"
Those who died fighting against the Nazis, those who died fighting to end slavery, those who died for American independence, all did so, Lightener suggests, because they were simply too stupid to think for themselves. Thank God the soldiers who died in more recent wars were "protected" from drinking beer! With their inferior intelligence, who knows what trouble they could have gotten into?!
I wonder if Lightener thinks Jesus was stupid, too. Or does she just think Our Lord was irresponsible? (Seriously! Can't you picture this MADD woman trying to card people at communion?)
Soldiers used to come home to communities that honored them and valued their dedication. Unfortunately the average age of those serving in Iraq is 20, and in America today there are many who hate that age-group more than they love their own country. Today American soldiers return home to insults, voiced on TV and enforced by law.
3/08: New Content
What would happen if students spent less time in school, less time doing homework, and enjoyed teachers treating them with more respect and dignity? Answer: students would get higher test scores. Check it out.
2/08: Ageist Restrictions Causing Death
Several years ago, California created the "graduated driver license." What they did, in essence, was place so many restrictions on drivers younger than 18 that, for these drivers, a license is now nearly worthless. Lawmakers said these restrictions were needed to save lives, permitting licensed drivers younger than 18 to drive only in situations the lawmakers deemed safe (daytime, parents in the car, etc.). These lawmakers then declared Mission Accomplished, insisting they had saved lives. But recently the true numbers came out.
Researcher Mike Males conducted a study comparing the traffic death-rate of California drivers aged 16-21 before the law was changed and the death-rate since. (The study factored out such elements as changes in population and even the state's 3% overall increase in traffic fatalities.) What did the study find? Traffic fatalities among young drivers are 8% higher thanks to these new restrictions.
That's right. Ageist lawmakers are literally killing young people with restrictions they justify as "safety" measures.