Are the BART train attackers — 40 to 60 teenagers who swarmed a train in Oakland, California, and robbed and beat passengers on April 22 — just children with immature brains who are not wholly responsible for their actions? Do leftists believe people under 25 are ill-equipped to vote? The answers to both these questions should be yes, given a new campaign in which “liberals are calling for 18- and 19-year-olds and even people in their 20s to be [criminally] charged as children, on the theory that their brains are not fully developed,” as American Thinker’s Ed Straker puts it.
The New York Times reported on this recently, writing (as presented by Straker):
After attending a lecture at Harvard on brain development, George Gascón, the San Francisco district attorney, decided to tackle these questions head on. In 2015, he and Wendy Still, then the city’s probation chief, established Young Adult Court, a hybrid of the adult and juvenile justice systems tailored to the biology and circumstances of offenders 18 to 24.
Mr. Gascón and his colleagues argue that neurological immaturity may contribute to criminal behavior. Adult sentences constitute cruel and unusual punishment, they say, and undermine the possibility of rehabilitation.
[According to studies] ... psychosocial maturity — measured by impulsivity, risk perception, thrill-seeking, resistance to peer influence — did not begin until age 18, gathering momentum through the early 20s.
Interesting is what this implies. To echo Straker, if a 24-year-old can’t be punished like an adult, is he capable of voting like an adult? After all, if leftists believe young people can’t be subject to adult levels of accountability because they lack neurological maturity, how can they take on adult levels of responsibility?
Perhaps the age for buying alcohol and cigarettes, joining the military, and entering into contracts should also be raised to 25, if 18 to 24-year-olds merely are “adultescents.” And then what of the liberal claim that someone can choose his “gender” at age five?
In point of fact, however, liberals have actually proposed lowering the voting age to 17, 16, or even, unbelievably, to 14. (This surely is motivated only by concern for “rights” and not the fact that the young vote overwhelmingly Democrat.) I’m just waiting for these leftists to echo NAMbLA and chant, “If they’re eight, it’s too late.”
Of course, this brain-development “science” is somewhat laughable, akin to how researchers “discovered” in the '90s that, lo and behold, boys and girls really are different. Is it a revelation that young guys can be impulsive and prone to taking risks? The observation “Men mellow with age” is probably as old as man himself.
“Social science” (an oxymoron if ever there were one) has long provided a specious scientific basis for leftism by excusing bad behavior. Why, in the news currently is a story about how a Muslim who raped a 14-year-old in Sweden won’t be deported because, it’s said, he has “ADHD” and can’t “interpret” the word “no.” But if we’re going to travel down No Accountability Ave., we should apply its principles consistently.
For example, the rashness difference between young men and young women is perhaps greater than that between young adults and older ones. Should we have separate male and female court systems as well? Should men be judged less harshly than women, instead of more harshly, as is the current norm?
Then, while 35-year-old men are less rash than 20-year-olds, the elderly are less rash still. Should we have a separate court, and separate sentencing guidelines, for each season of life?
It’s all quite ridiculous, evident of a misunderstanding of man’s nature. Modern psychology is destructive because everything once recognized as a sin is now redefined as the result of a disease or condition of the brain. You’re not responsible for your drinking or sexual perversion — it’s all in your genes.
You killed your husband? It’s PMS.
You misbehaved in school? It’s ADHD.
You cheated on your wife? It’s sex addiction.
It’s never-ending, partially because every time a new “disorder” is minted and new clients invented, psychologists’ market and earning power grow.
This harms society by eliminating the sense of responsibility: “Hey, not only is the ‘evil’ I do not evil but illness, it’s not my fault and I can’t control it.”
As with every lie, though, this one contains a grain of truth, one embedded within that misunderstanding of man’s nature. All this talk about “genetically induced” alcoholism, homosexuality, etc., or about rashness, is also just the rebranding of something long recognized: temptation.
And we all have certain temptations, and groups often have characteristic ones. This means we may have unique challenges; it means certain people may have a harder time than others walking the straight and narrow. But this doesn’t absolve us of personal responsibility.
Of course, there’s no doubt permissive liberal parenting stunts development — moral development. Just consider what more traditional parenting yielded. As I wrote last year in “Infantile Nation: How Breeding Overgrown Children Begets the Nanny State”:
A United States naval midshipman, David Farragut, commanded a captured British vessel during the War of 1812 — at age 12.… In 1798, Giocante Casabianca, who was 10 to 13, would not abandon his post without his commander’s word, and perished on his ship’s fiery deck during the Battle of the Nile.… Calvin Graham became the United States’ youngest decorated war hero, receiving the Bronze Star and Purple Heart at 13, serving heroically aboard the USS South Dakota during WWII. (He’d lied about his age to military recruiters.)
Today, as I also wrote, “major universities provide ‘healing spaces’ with Legos, coloring books, Play-Doh, and puppies for students who ‘can’t handle’ Donald Trump’s election victory.”
And with 60 being the new 40, is 25 the new 5? Exaggerations aside, psychologist John Rosemond has said that so-called ADHD is simply the extending of toddlerhood into later childhood and adolescence, which is now being extended into young adulthood — and beyond.
Notorious mass murderer Charles Manson once replied, to the question “Is Charles Manson crazy,” “Sure, he’s crazy, mad as a hatter. You know, a long time ago being crazy meant something. Nowadays, everybody's crazy.”
Well, a long time ago being a child meant something, too. Now, not so much.