We need a stupidity pass for young people

I am no fan of British prime minister David Cameron but this surprisingly long-running drama about whether or not he did something stupid involving a dead pig while he was a student at university is absurd. Cameron has issued some ambiguous denials and said that he is too busy to spend time on this issue and pursue legal action for defamation.

I think the media should drop this or at the most have a laugh and move on. Young people, and especially young men, do stupid things, especially when they are members of college societies that require all manner of absurd rituals as part of their initiation or loyalty rites. Such practices supposedly generate bonding by making the victim a target for momentary ridicule. The danger is that they tend to escalate because of the sadism of some of the perpetrators and can cause physical or psychological damage to the victim. I would like to see them disappear altogether because no person has the right to humiliate another.

Such practices undoubtedly reveal poor judgment by both the victim and the victimizers. But such poor judgment, unless it leads to dangerous or criminal acts, is the norm for young people and most of the time they grow out of it. If we use such acts to discredit them when they are much older, not many adults will be untainted.

I propose that we give people a stupidity pass for silliness committed before the age of 25.


  1. Who Cares says

    The reason he should not get a pass is that he and others in this society (and other societies like it) performed acts like this as a form of blackmail to each other. Don’t embarrass us and we won’t air this kind of stuff about you.
    Which incidentally is why it got out. A blabbermouth from the Piers society talked about it to Ashcroft. Who aired it in his biography of Cameron as a form of revenge for not getting what he expected, a cushy position in the government, in return for investing 10 million plus pounds in the Conservative party.

  2. Nate Carr (Totes not an imposter D:) says

    I wonder if the broader purpose if these activities is to ensure group loyalty through implied blackmail.

  3. says

    A pass for stupidity? Maybe, but only if there’s no criminality. Some will try to excuse anything.

    A pass for hypocrisy? Certainly not (re: George Bush’s prosecution of cocaine users and opposition to abortion).

  4. Pen says

    I think the media should drop this or at the most have a laugh and move on.

    I think we’re actually going to keep laughing about it as long as possible, given that we need all the laughs we can get, what with having to live with the not-so-funny stupidities he commits as prime minister.

  5. Dunc says

    This may be one of those US / UK things… While it seems to be fairly normal for young men in the US to do stupid things as initiation rites for college societies, it very much isn’t normal in the UK. We simply don’t have any equivalent of the “fraternity” system over here, and the few societies which do do this sort of thing are exclusively the preserve of the privileged elite. This issue is not so much around the specific act, but rather the class implications of it. If it were just “normal” student hijinks, I’d probably agree with you, but it’s not. It’s about his identity as a member of the gentry, and about the sort of social privilege that mere money or power cannot buy, but which remains extremely important in British society.

    The point is not that the allegations have discredited him. Quite the contrary, the point is that this sort of behaviour (and many other, much better-supported allegations of similar behaviour) is more-or-less expected from the class of which Cameron is a member. His ratings haven’t suffered at all as a result, whilst many other politicians from the lower classes have had their careers destroyed by much more innocuous matters.

    One of the key dynamics of the British class system is that they get to rule us, and in return, we get to laugh at them for their bizarre behaviour. It’s not the greatest deal from my point of view, but it’s the way things are.

  6. Mano Singham says

    GenghisFuan @#5,

    Thanks so much for that link. It is a fascinating and disturbing article and I am still digesting it.

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