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Galen's Law of Ageism
June 30, 2005


A recent thread that I've been following on another forum has led me to write this law. The law is based on Godwin's Law and other various Internet 'laws' that've been around in some form or another as common sense since the early days of the Internet. Without further delay, here is my contribution to Internet culture:

Galen's Law of Ageism:

In any online debate, the probability of a poster attempting to discredit their opponent based merely on the opponent's age is extremely high.

We've all seen it a thousand times. An online debate is going along quite nicely (as nicely as online debates can get, anyway), but then for no apparent reason, someone throws in "You don't know what the hell you're talking about, you're just some stupid 14 year old. Go ask your mommy to explain the issues to you!" or something like that.

Strangely, the application of Galen's Law doesn't seem to depend on whether or not the offending poster is losing the debate or not. Even if the poster is clearly winning, they will at some point try to discredit their opponent by attacking their age. Nevermind the fact that being young is not a crime or an offense in any way. In fact, Galen's Law is often brought to life immediately upon the start of a thread. A very useful (though unfair) debating tactic. Doing this forces the opponent to argue that they do indeed know what they're talking about, regardless of their age, instead of debating the actual topic at hand. The invokation of Galen's Law has been known to derail a thread before it can even get started good.


Case In Point:

A poster on the NYRA forum asked me to post in a thread he'd started at another site to discuss lowering the voting age. You can find that thread here. The very first post which started the thread:

The National Youth Rights Association, NYRA, is an organization that is on the campaign to give youth the rights that they deserve. They have several chapters in numerous states across the country. Many of these chapters have convinced their legislators that it is time for the youth of this nation to receive their rights. NYRA has been featured in several newspapers including the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle, and has been on ABC, PBS, Fox News, CNN, and others. This group is a 501 c 3 non-profit organization. I am proud to be the Associate South Regional Director for chapter formation and the Vice Chair of the South Regional Committee on Public and Media Relations.

The rights of youth should be no different from that of adults over the age of 18 or 21. Essentially, they have no rights at all. Minors cannot vote until they turn 18, but there is nothing that keeps the General Assembly from lowering the age limit. All people must pay taxes, including the people not eligible to vote. Teens must pay sales tax every time they pay an item for themselves. Teens must pay gas taxes every time they buy gas for their car. Teens must pay income taxes when they get a job. Teens must also pay grocery taxes, social security taxes, and many more that are not made public. However, they have no say in the government about these taxes or any of the other issues they are faced with everyday! I am not saying that the voting age should be abolished, but it would be fair if our teens could have control of how the government treats them.

A possible solution to the voting age is to lower it to 16. Sixteen is actually a better age to start voting than 18 because 16-year-olds have lived in their community for years. They are not pressured by full-time jobs or college experience. Most teens are currently taking classes on government, civics, and economics in high school. Therefore, teens are almost as or equally knowledgeable as most adults.

The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal, but what if not all men are treated equally? How can age play a part in whether a person is considered a “man” or not? I believe that the term “man” applies to humanity. African-Americans and women have received their rights that they well deserve, but youth have not yet. Why are they given the right to be free and to express their opinions, when teens under 18 cannot?

Go to www.youthrights.org for more information.

A very nice post. Not antagonistic or unfriendly in any way. So, how did the so-called "mature adults" respond to this intelligent and well-spoken young man? I present to you, the first response:

OOOOOOkaaaay when you grow up you will see how silly this is

As if that's not bad enough, a few pages into this thread, the "adults" (and I use the term loosely) can be seen accusing the young people from NYRA of starting the hostility! Excuse me folks, but are you fucking retarded? The very first response was an invocation of Galen's Law (ie, "your opinion isn't important because you're young"). Oh, is that putting words into the guy's mouth? No, it's not. It's a paraphrase, but I don't need to put words into his mouth. He did that all by himself.

As you read through the thread, you may notice that there seem to be some missing posts. That's because a poster named SST80 deleted all of his posts in that thread shortly after he sent abusive IMs to Rory, a 13yo NYRA member. I was going to post his e-mail address here, but it looks like he's also deleted his account (or maybe the moderators of the forum decided that a ban was in order for any asshole who would send verbally abusive message to a 13yo). Mind you, Rory can take care of himself, but for an "adult" who claims to be so much more "mature" and "wise" it was quite telling to see how his reaction was significantly less mature than the 13yo in question. Kudos to Rory for making a fool of that moron by posting his abusive shit on the board!


So, really, what's the point of Galen's Law and this rant? It is simply this: Age is NOT an accurate measure of life experience or wisdom. I happen to know an 11yo who could probably put most adults to shame with the shit she's been through in her life. That child, immature as she is, is vastly more qualified to be voting than many MANY adults that I know. And, really, there's a bottom line on voting that none of the Asheville elite seem to have grasped. Kids, from birth on up, are a part of this society. They are subject to our laws and the punishments of said laws. They are the people MOST affected by education decision made by our elected leaders. They are citizens of these United States and that is ALL that matters. Not their maturity or intelligence, or wisdom, or experience, or knowledge of politics. We allow stupid adults to vote - hell we even let mentally retarded adults vote! - but kids can't get to vote? The decisions made by those who are elected DO affect kids VERY MUCH SO and that is the ONLY thing that matters! So kindly take your stubborn, closed-minded, arrogant ageist attitudes, and shove 'em up your ass, you fuckin' cock suckers!

"Age does not always bring wisdom. Sometimes age comes alone."
-- Garrison Keillor

I daresay, it seems that age OFTEN comes alone!



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