Let the kids protest

  • 2004-05-20
I believe that in your issue #405 (April 29) Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga must have been misquoted or her statement taken out of context.

She is quoted as saying, in reference to the Russian-language demonstrations, that promoting strikes and skipping school to meet politicians "is absolutely immoral, as the school kids are not voters, and they are being done over, and the education process is being disturbed." It appears highly insulting to the president - holder of a PhD in psychology and a respected professor in Canada - to ascribe such antidemocratic attitudes to her. It sounds more like the attitudes of the Soviets toward the "Baltic Way" demonstration of 1989!
Clearly she knows full well that in a democracy, the people have the right - even the duty - to assemble peacefully and to petition the government for redress of their grievances. Your quote made it sound as though the president said that young people don't need lessons/experience in participatory democracy!
Nothing they are taught in school on any given day could have the importance or personal impact as learning first-hand about democratic political processes. This is why every week Washington is visited by thousands of teenagers - to meet politicians and to experience democracy in action. What better way for them to learn about the essences of democracy than to observe its action/inaction in person? Surely this is the most important - and most memorable in its impact - education they can receive!
Just because one does, or does not, agree with them is no reason to denigrate their thoughts or to deny them their democratic rights. Remember, kids are people, too!

Tom Pendleton


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