Saturday, June 09, 2007

Josh Carter, Warlord of Mars

"An 18-year old living at home has no idea of what it’s like to pay a third of the money you make to other people and watch those people spend it foolishly."
- Spring City Chronicle

"There isn't a man alive who hasn't wanted to boot a kid."
- W C Fields

"Children should neither be seen or heard from - ever again."
- W C Fields

A couple of points about Pete Kennedy's article this morning regarding young Josh Carter and his high school gang.

One, despite the odd situation of one columnist for a newspaper interviewing another columnist for a newspaper, I think he quoted me fairly and in context. That rat.

That having been said, I never realized I was that eloquent and quotable,
"Nothing I wrote on the blog is different than anything I said to his face," Wigderson said. He maintains Carter simply doesn’t have the experience to get so involved.

"I remember when I was a senior in high school," Wigderson said. "Somebody that age rarely has the maturity, or the understanding of the larger picture, to be involved on an advocacy level."

It’s understandable if Carter wants to learn because programs he cares about are being cut, Wigderson said. "But that isn’t the role he took," he said. "He’s already aligned himself with some advocacy groups. He’s in over his head.

"You remember when you were that age, and your views change. Have him come back to me after he’s gone to college, been exposed to different professors," Wigderson said.

"You’re asking someone at 18, someone who’s never paid a property tax bill, who’s never had to put a kid through school, what he thinks of school funding."
By the way, I'm told I said similar things directly to Carter when I met with him, and even short term readers know I believe "children should be seen and not heard."

I should also add that a high school senior is not going to convince me of his maturity by whining to another columnist about his hurt feelings. In the immortal words of Tony Soprano, "Those who want respect, give respect." Carter could comment here, or write a letter to the editor, or even complain to Bill Yorth, editor of the Waukesha Freeman. Instead, he found a sympathetic columnist who let him vent his hurt feelings. I suppose it's cheaper than Carter's parents sending him to therapy, and the kid gets more attention this way.

I know my attitude towards the wise youth of this country is not exactly progressive. (Hey, if they think they're being ignored now, wait until they get a job.) But the flip side of that for the columnist/blogger is that unless we go along with the program we're in a no-win situation. We're criticized if we don't take them seriously, or if we do take them seriously we're criticized for attacking children. So I've happily adopted the middle course: I criticize them for what they say and do, AND for being children.

A couple of nits to pick with Kennedy:
  1. He could've mentioned with which organizations Mr. Carter chose to align himself. He also could've asked Carter about his group's seeming interest in "closing corporate loopholes" and using that money for school funding. Carter is going beyond learning about an issue to advocacy.
  2. Kennedy wasn't at the last forum, but if he's not going to take my word for it he could've asked the Waukesha Freeman reporter who was there about the crowd's behavior. Any objective observer would tell you it wasn't pretty.
  3. He let Carter take a free shot at the WTL without contacting them to see what they think about Carter's school club.
  4. I think he should've told the kid to write a letter to the editor instead.
My favorite quote from the article? "This is the first time I’ve done anything like this," {Carter} said. "I used to be just as apathetic about politics as anyone."

He's 18 years old. There's a lot of things he's doing for the first time. There's a lot of things he has yet to do for the first time. Fighting acne and deciding who to ask to the prom does not make him experienced enough to say, "I used to be..." about anything.

Wait until he's dated his first college girl, moved out of his parent's house for the first time, paid his first bar tab, got married for the first time, put his name on a mortgage for the first time and paid a property tax bill for the first time. Until then, in the immortal words of W C Fields, "Go away kid. You bother me."

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