Monday, November 16, 2009
A Boy and His Cause
In case you haven't heard, there's a 10-year-old kid in Arkansas who's refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance at school because he believes that there isn't, in fact, "liberty and justice for all." Will Phillips -- remember, ten -- is spending his youth apparently stressing over the fact that gays and lesbians in this country aren't allowed to marry across-the-board and are, as far as he's concerned, generally treated like second-class citizens.
Needless to say, this kid's a fucking teenage ulcer waiting to happen since he's already taking the weight of the world's injustices on his shoulders. But the story's interesting for a couple of reasons.
Whenever a child voices a staunch opinion on a politically controversial topic, I always make the natural assumption that he or she is simply parroting the viewpoint of his or her parents. This makes the most sense. At the age of ten, if it didn't have to do with Star Wars I didn't understand it, and I tended to model much of my social behavior after the people I looked up to the most at the time: my mother and father. But watching an interview with Will Phillips I get the impression that he really does believe the very adult views he's not only espousing but taking a public stand on. Still, is there some cut-off point where a child needs to be taught that he or she may not be able to process all the nuances of a subject and therefore any opinion or defiance is essentially meaningless? In other words, can a ten-year-old really know what the hell he or she is talking about when it comes to gay rights?
Another thing that has to be considered: How would the left, which of course is largely embracing this kid and defending his right not to pledge allegiance (not really a huge deal anyway since saying the Pledge has always been voluntary) still be standing behind him if, say, he said that he was doing it to protest the lack of prayer in public schools?
Regardless, there's no denying that Will Phillips is very smart. I can't help but wonder what he'd be like -- how articulate and analytical he'd be -- if he and his parents were the kind of people going on TV to say that they weren't getting behind the flag until gays are denied their rights.
Am I stereotyping? Probably.
But watch the interview with this kid and his father.
And then click the link below that and read the reaction to this story on the far-right website "Free Republic." And remember, the person they're talking about -- sometimes viciously castigating -- is a ten-year-old boy.
The Huffington Post: 10-Year-Old Won't Pledge Allegiance To a Country That Discriminates Against Gays/11.16.09
Free Republic: CNN Features Boy Who Won't Say Pledge Till Gays Have Equal Rights: Comments