Opinions

Young implies dumb

The illegimate prejudice

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In light of a letter describing how poorly-written one of my pieces in the Gauntlet was, I started to think that maybe students taking Physics shouldn't get into anything so Humanities-driven as the school newspaper. It was then that another thought struck: obviously, my article wasn't the worst story in the Gauntlet since 1974; this was simply a case of ageism.

Ageism, like the other isms one can come across, is a form of discrimination: discrimination against those of a particular age group. It seemed to me that my column was just fine, but I came to the conclusion that because it was written in a pseudo-offensive style youth like myself like to use, and it contained a naïvete on my part with respect to a word choice, it must simply have been dismissed as being written by a dumb kid. My conclusion, however, could have just been trying to explain away my faults, so I left my thoughts at that.

Later in the week, when I was walking down 40th Avenue after a drink with a friend, an incident made me realize how big a problem ageism actually is. The police pulled over beside us after having driven by us three or four times. The officer on the passenger side of the vehicle rolled down his window. They had apparently received a complaint that "some young people were stealing signs," and we fit the bill, so they asked whether it was us. When we replied in the negative, they treated the answer as though it were false and persisted in asking.

The incident left me unsettled. How did we garner such disrespect? I came to the realization that it was a cosmic sized denial of the antecedent fallacy. In general, our cultural rule is: if somebody is older, they deserve more respect. This does not translate into young people deserving less respect, however; to think so is to fall prey to the fallacy.

To be fair, we deserve a small amount of cynical treatment. Youth and young adults commit more petty crimes than adults. But to think that this modicum of skepticism toward youth merited by our group's general behavior translates into grievous errors in treatment that we occasionally receive would be like the cops persisting in asking when they received reports that "a black guy was stealing signs."

I do think that my article was fair, and I enjoyed the tone it presented. It was definitely guilty of the folly of egoism, but that doesn't make the points I made any less valid. It seems a shame that ageism is so culturally ingrained, however, that this article will probably be brushed off by offended readers as only written by a stupid kid.

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Comments

Ben,

The only thing worse than writing and publishing an article fraught with grammatical errors is the vanity of devoting an entire article to defending your poor choice of words. Just because you have a soap box to stand on, doesnít mean you need to use it to rebuke people who criticize you. You made a mistake. Someone caught it. Grow up and move on.

Claiming that you were the victim of ageism is just plan sad. Forget putting physics students in their place (unless youíve forgotten that they too pay Gauntlet dues); you were chastised for writing a bad article. No one knows or cares how old you are. English is English and you messed up. Letís not claim some grand, societal conspiracy on the part of the boomers to defame your character. Poor grammar knows now color, creed or age.

Lastly, it is interesting that the best defense you can offer in favor of your article is that itís not the worst since 1974. Using the lowest common denominator as your barometer of success is a sure-fire way to build a great newspaper. Yes, Ben, your article wasnít the worst in 30 years, but it sure as hell wasnít one of the best! Next time, take your lumps and donít waste peopleís time with your vainglorious babble.

A Student Whoís Fees Contribute to the Running of the Gauntlet

Taking my own advice above, I recognize the spelling mistake of the word "now" when I meant to say "no"...I guess people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

A Somewhat Chastised Student Who Still Pays Gauntlet Fees

I knew this would happen.

I was debating myself all production night about whether or not to run this article. The introduction was supposed to be merely a means to access the argument about ageism that I had constructed.

I hoped that maybe the critical parts of the essay would be marginalized by the point, that the article would seem more introspective than critical. It appears I was wrong.

I am sorry to people who read the section, Anonymous was right in judging the article in poor taste. I should have found some other way of accessing the point.

I do not, however, apologize for my point. I think my concern about ageism warrants some consideration by people.

You all deserve better from me, and I apologize for my rampant egoism.

Hey, Anonymous, your writing style seems familliar. Do I know you? A yes or no answer is fine if you don't feel comfortable with anything else.