Keep kids out of politics

“Out of all of the freedoms we enjoy in this great country of ours, freedom of speech comes first and foremost. It’s nice, being able to express our opinions and not be persecuted because of them. As long as we keep it nonviolent, that is. We are who we are largely because we’re allowed to live as we want and say what we want.”

Out of all of the freedoms we enjoy in this great country of ours, freedom of speech comes first and foremost. It’s nice, being able to express our opinions and not be persecuted because of them. As long as we keep it nonviolent, that is.

We are who we are largely because we’re allowed to live as we want and say what we want. It’s our choice and it’s great.

And now, right before a major election, we see people taking advantage of that ability to express themselves all over the place. Politically inspired pins, shirts, bumper stickers, signs, billboards, commercials and Web sites are manifestations of that expression. We’re seeing them everywhere. It’s almost a bit too much.

Along with voicing opinions for or opposing a particular candidate for a particular office, we also see support for or against the different issues.

With this incredible amount of information and opinions being thrown at us from countless different directions, it gets overwhelming. But, just like those who are expressing those opinions have done, we are able to formulate opinions of our own. It’s our right, and in supporting our country’s democracy, it is our responsibility as adults.

However, children have no place in this as far as politics is concerned. Why have children not yet in middle school holding signs expressing their stance on an issue? They’re only kids, how much can they really have researched and contemplated to make an informed opinion? Probably not much. But children can be used to instill emotional appeal into an issue.

Last week, a group of anti-abortionists gathered on Market Street near Exchange, waving their pro-life, anti-choice signs and shouting at passing vehicles. In that group, equally participating, were several young children.

Considering how emotionally charged this issue is and how sensitive people can become discussing it, using children to convey a stance on it seems ridiculous. Many of us may feel uncomfortable talking about something like this, but at least we still have our own opinions. Some of us are even willing to look at it from the other side and understand and respect someone else’s opinion.

Do you really think these children knew why they were holding their signs? Do you think their parents sat them down, showed them pictures of aborted fetuses, explained the sanctity of life, lectured them on God’s will and let them create their own message?

It’s also unlikely that the parents talked to their children about how a woman has a choice about what she does with her body, how the laws should not apply to it and the horrible effects that unplanned pregnancies can have on both the mother and society.

Needless to say, these kids did not know what they were preaching that day. I very much doubt that they have considered all of the different perspectives about it, decided exactly how they felt about it and chose to wave a sign in front of traffic. The parents may not have thought much about it either, which may be why they had to resort to using their children to express their message.

It’s sad. Let the kids grow up a bit before you subject them to something akin to brainwashing. We have a right to form an educated opinion; let them do the same.