How f*cked up is Ageism?

Continuing the discussion from Joe Biden, failing to support legalized marijuana, still thinks it may be a gateway drug:

I accept your rebuke.

At some level, making assumptions about people based purely on the number of birthdays they’ve had is some kind of -ism that I don’t want to be part of.

In culture in general, we routinely prohibit certain activities to people based on the number of birthdays they’ve had. Although we do it the other way 'round; there is a minimum number of birthdays acceptable for

  • Voting
  • Driving
  • Purchase/consumption of certain drugs
  • Entering contracts
  • etc.

Do you think this is a different issue from making assumptions about someone based on having had some arbitrarily excessive number of birthdays?

I mean that as a sincere question. No gotchas intended. I’ve exposed pretty much my whole argument, that I feel conflicted about this. For further disclosure, I am VERY much a supporter of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, but I am uncomfortable about their age. Being President, especially a good President, is really hard on a person. It puts on a load of years at least two for one, IMO

I find I often learn a lot from discourse on topics like this in the BBS.

Added the full text from the linked post so people could easily see what prompted this response.


I think ageism is bad and should be avoided. That’s why in my first comment boomer is struck out and replaced with substantive criticism of Biden. But I don’t think it’s exactly analogous to other forms or discrimination. Everyone alive ages.

I think part of why the “OK, boomer” meme has gotten so much traction so quickly is a realization that to a certain extent our government is a gerontocracy, because older incumbent politicians have an obvious advantage over younger rivals. A twenty-something politician could well turn out to be every bit as bad as Biden, and some are bound to, but there’s a difference that Biden’s had decades to demonstrate his awfulness. It’s not a function of age; it’s a function of experience. Age is necessary but not sufficient for experience. Other politicians his age and have had decades to demonstrate not being awful, or at least not nearly as awful.


You do have a point, but only in respect to competence. People below a certain age are restricted in certain activities because the society has determined that their maturation process has not yet equipped them to make certain choices/exercise certain rights. What those various ages of competency are is, and I think should be, debated, but there are some measurables that support the general concept as good policy. I don’t think there is much debate that there is some age below which people should be assumed to be incapable of consenting to sex, making long-term financial commitments, etc.

On the other hand, people of a certain age are assumed to be competent. Until proven otherwise. It is demonstrable that people of a certain age have a higher proportion of physical limitations that might, for instance, argue that they demonstrate competency in driving a car. When any person, regardless of age, is shown to be incapable of handling their affairs because of some infirmity, they can be legally declared incompetent.

The line is crossed into bigotry when someone is assumed to think, feel or act a certain way simply because they are old, young, black, white, disabled, gay, straight, fat, etc. There are very few areas remaining in polite society the U.S. where it is considered acceptable to judge people on superficial characteristics. That’s good. It should be beyond the pale. From my observation, I would say that it often fails to apply to old people, disabled people, Native Americans, and maybe to a lesser extent, fat people. Of course there are plenty of dark corners where such behavior is encouraged, and even celebrated. I see the BoingBoing commentariat as somewhat more enlightened than the general run of people, and find it unacceptable and distressing that reflexive judgments based on someone’s age can be freely thrown about, when negative assumptions about someone based on, say, race, would instantly wither under the righteous (and justified) anger of the community.

If someone makes a judgment they want to continue politics when they are advanced in years, then let them. They should be tested on their views, sharpness, fairly evaluated on their health and whatever else a voter might like to understand about them. But to say Joe Biden’s wrong-headed policy positions stem from his oldness, is, like I said, lazy and unacceptable. I don’t agree with everything Noam Chomsky says, but I think he’s over 90 and is active and makes cogent arguments. If you argue that he’s wrong because he’s an old fucker, you’re wrong.

But what do I know. I’m probably just an angry old fucker who is out of touch.


FTFY :hugs:


Do you object to noting someone’s age when how many years they’ve been doing whatever it is they’ve been doing (in Biden’s case building the carceral state among other travesties) is relevant? A person’s weight has no bearing on their ability to lead. How much time a person has had to reveal their character does. Obviously judging someone on their advanced age is wrong, but sometimes the amount of time someone has been in power is relevant. Both those things happen, but I get the sense that sometimes people conflate the latter with the former.


No, which is why the distinction you pointed up in your first response is important. There is certainly a raft of like-thinkers that have been in politics together and wielding power for a very long time that cling to wrong-headed ideas and/or rely on information that does not pass muster. I think of Biden in that way. I also think politics can be very corrosive on someone over time, where they lose the courage of their convictions because they are constantly calculating political expediency. I think Biden’s heart is probably in the right place on many issues, but he’s not going to go there with his head, or say it out loud. I think Warren and Sanders are quite the opposite in that respect.


John Scalzi posted a characteristically nuanced take on the controversy. I’m @'ing in case you’re interested in it. If not, no worries.


my dad was part of the silent generation cohort, i’m an older member of gen-x. we had the types of conflicts fathers and children tend to have, some of which could have been generational, but we found that our politics and the politics of social class united us. my father was a liberal democrat, a union supporter, and an obama voter in a texas county where he and my mother along with my sister were probably the only white people in the county to vote democratic in 2008. he died in 2009 but my mother is still living and she voted obama in 2012, clinton in 2016, and supports elizabeth warren right now.


Being ageist is the one bigotry most bigots will get to experience themselves. That’s part of their revulsion- time breathing down their necks as well.


This is my unsurprised face.



Good; that will instantly make the phrase uncool, played-out and hopefully it will die even faster.

I’m fucking tired of people bitching constantly about how old someone is, or isn’t.


Perfect vehicle for Lou Dobbs though.


Not Barry Corbin? Damn…


Which asshole is he, again?

There are so many opportunistic fuckwads making money from manufactured conflicts, that it’s almost impossible to keep track anymore…

That said, the silver lining is that someone linked to Scalzi, who is always worth reading, IMO:

I don’t think there’s much to be done about this sort of generational conflict. People are always being born and having to deal with the world made in aggregate by people older than they are. They will not always just accept the world they have been given and will seek to change it. The older generations will die off, the younger generations will have children of their own. Lather, rinse and repeat.

It’s also worth noting that the conflict between generations is often a sideshow to other demographic conflicts. The “generational conflict” in the United States, at least, is often a stalking horse for conflicts between conservatives and liberals, white people and everyone who isn’t white, and the rich and everyone who isn’t rich.


One of the menagerie of dingleberries dangling from the sphincter of Faux News.


The image of that is disgusting… because it is true.


Not gonna fib, I instantly regretted it myself as I’m just an hour away from preparing dinner.


Thanks for that apt if utterly repulsive visual.


Someone else made a damn good point;
It’s not how much time you’ve put in, but what you’ve done during that time which really matters.


Just wanted to say that Fox Television is at least superficially different from Fox News. One has Sean Hannity and the other has Bart Simpson, but both do dance to Rupert Murdoch’s tune.

1 Like