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The Aliens Among Us

One proposed basis for doling out rights to science fictional entities is "if they can ask for rights, grant them". To be applied to human clones, uplifted lab animals, AIs, and aliens. Sound sensible?

What if we applied it to children? True, young humans often aren't that capable, but then they may usually have a sense of their own weakness and dependence. But when they can strike out on their own, or when doing so seems less risky than staying with abusive guardians or an uncaring social worker system, is there a good case, principled or empirical, for keeping them from doing so?

My first exposure to such ideas was from radical libertarian L. Neil Smith, but later in John Holt's book Escape from Childhood, first book of the Youth rights movement, which latter has organizations such as ASFAR and NYAR.

A short essay by Holt on treating children courteously.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 14th, 2006 01:08 am (UTC)
a lot of my friends in jr. high and high school were from dangerous/pointless family situations... at best nuetral or a burden, at worst abusive. my own situation was pretty creatively repressive. we just all sort of put up with it... figured we were bright and capable enough to survive, more or less, if we hung together a bit and just got through. the one 'youth rights' type thing then that made a difference was when my friends were allowed to run away safely (to safe houses, which would not, if i understand correctly, turn the students directly over to their guardians if the students didn't want to go). what needs to be changed though isn't so much driving, drinking and voting ages as restrictions on when you can first get a job and an apartment. they could wait a year or two before they voted if needbe, but being able to get out of that situation (especially when you're 15 or older) probably would have done them a lot of good.

(laughs) when i was a kid i was always fighting for kids rights... arguing about all the distinctions between kids and adults that were arbitrary (i kept good track of them as i got older too, and in general i was right at picking out the arbitrary ones). never realized it was anyone doing it but me.
Nov. 14th, 2006 05:44 am (UTC)
My childhood was gratifyingly boring in most such ways... I'd like to hear your stories, sometime. I've wondered what the runaway laws *are*, though I think the courts have said parents have every right to ship their kids to re-education camps for whatever reason, such as being gay, backtalky, or sexually active. But yeah, I think Holt in his book emphasized freedoms to work and make contracts and hold their own property as more urgent than others.

What was your list of arbitrary distinctions?

In unrelated news, two days before I have to sign my lease renewal to head off prospective tenants.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


Damien Sullivan

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