Sean Young

Personal Opinion
Cory Doctorow: The Little Brother
The 1960s through Doctorow's Eyes
Doctorow: Here and Now!
Another Side to Doctorow


Are younger people today in this day’s new generation risking more for standing up for freedom/equality than the people of yesterday? Well there are two types of risks. They risk their freedom being taken away by the law or by society (in a sense). The risks that have greatly changed through time are risks due to society as a whole changing. Society’s new standards definitely bring greater risk for standing up what you believe in, and I think that greatly limits and restricts the new generation’s ability to do what they truly want to do. And that is a major issue that cannot be ignored. According to the experts, Bhavnani and Ross, younger people are more prone to protests, and will only protest when the costs outweigh the risk. However, the risks of protesting can be dangerously high in today’s day and age. [3] Students today risk much more than students of the 1960s. Back in the 60s, when social movements by students began appearing, college students didn’t have as much to worry about if they were kicked out of school. Society wasn’t centered on education as much as it is now. [4] As Piven has explained, there are so many factors that have changed since the 1960s. As an example, students back then could do drugs and get away with it; now if students are caught, they are expelled immediately. It’s the same concept. Students from earlier years didn’t have as much pressure to do well in school. Doing well and getting a college degree wasn’t essential to living life comfortably. Now, society has an image that a student has to pass college with flying colors to even get a chance to be able to live easily in life. [6] Thus, the students of today risk so much more when they stand up for what they believe in. Standing up for their beliefs may get them expelled or fired from a job, which is hard to recover from nowadays. Also, it’s much harder to rally a lot of people for the cause, as many and most students today will not wish to protest, even if they believe in the movement; the risks of losing their education, thereby, the rest of their life, is too large. Creating a successful social movement is much harder now due to increased risks for young people. [4] If you are kicked out of college today due to rebellious actions, people believe that it will look bad and will be a part of their reputation forever; earning a lesser job or home because that one action that caused them to be expelled was on that person’s permanent record. Back in the 1960s, people, or society, didn’t have that kind of mentality, that actions done as a young adult would haunt you for the rest of your life. Society itself has changed, thus changing and increasing the risks for younger people. [4][6]

On another side of the issue, there’s the way people think of risk in terms of the law. According to the experts, King, Bentele, and Soule, the government, or more specifically, Congress, has changed in many subtle yet huge ways throughout history. This is especially prominent during the 1960s where Congress finally begins to look at right policies and protests in a more serious light. [5][7] In this case, the government, or Congress, has changed existing laws so that non-violent protesting is much more tolerated and the punishments for rebellious protests are not that great (in terms of the law). [5] However, the law still stands that if someone commits violence or disturbs the peace in a specific way, that person will be arrested or even physically hurt if they refuse to cooperate with police. [1][2] In that sense of “risk”, both generations really risk the same things when standing up for what they believe in: freedom, getting arrested or hurt, etc., with the exception of the new generation having learned what their predecessors did.

Cory Doctorow, from his book “Little Brother”, seems to believe that younger people of today’s generation do risk more than what the older generations had to. He gives the exaggerated example that people who protest today, can risk being abducted and tortured, rather than just arrested. His real original contribution however is that he believes that younger people in this generation risk more than previous generations in terms of the law; that the law’s punishments are more risky now than before. However, I disagree with that statement. I believe that the law’s punishments are not what have increased the risks. Rather, society’s ever changing standards is what truly makes protesting more risky now than ever. My original contribution will be to analyze Doctorow’s interpretation and to explain my thoughts on the matter after doing my own extensive research on the topic.


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