Letter: What age is too young?

Dear Editor,

On Aug. 9, a letter to the editor written by Mr. Rance Brode was published. This letter was addressed to the “young people” of Owego protesting in front of the courthouse, and contained a patronizing tirade of assumptions disguised as questions. 

While I know nothing can change Mr. Brode’s made up mind (nobody who writes a letter like that actually wants answers to their questions in lieu of acquiescence), I am compelled to speak to the Owego community about the use of the term “young people”. 

“Young people” has become a catch-all phrase for those who have yet to reach the ever-moving goalpost of validity that is apparently brought about by visible age. Its intended use, both in Mr. Brode’s letter and in politics at large, is a silencing tactic. Its message is clear: you are too young for your voice to matter, sit down and be quiet. It is invalidation through infantilization. 

But who are the “young people” Mr. Brode refers to in his letter? Is it the high school student activist, utilizing technology to amplify concerns for their future, or is it the millennial parent, marching for the lives of their brown and black children? Or is it just meant for me, because I’m protesting in a small town to raise awareness about the police brutality occurring nationwide, and that makes Mr. Brode, and people who feel similarly to him, uncomfortable? 

I will be 30 years old this winter. I graduated high school with Mr. Brode’s daughter (we even played in the same jazz band). I am a homeowner, a college graduate, fully employed, and I pay taxes. I even have a few gray hairs! How old do I have to be for my concerns and values to be valid? 

I think I have an answer: No amount of age or life experience will be enough to validate my claims, so long as those claims are in conflict with Mr. Brode’s worldview. I implore the people of Owego to consider this perspective before dismissing a movement or idea based on the age of those supporting it.

Lastly, I would like to correct Mr. Brode’s inaccurate account of our demographics. There is a broad range of townspeople that support our protests, including some silver-haired civilians from the First Presbyterian Union Church congregation as well as candidate for New York State’s 124th Assembly District, Mr. Randy Reid.


Irena Horvatt 

Owego, N.Y.

7 Comments on "Letter: What age is too young?"

  1. I respect Irena Horvatt for replying to my article and having the courage to sign her name. The intent of my letter was not to insult or categorize “young people” but rather to understand what this nationwide movement is really about. The “questions” I asked were intended to stimulate thought for ALL Readers and YES I WOULD like them answered to understand what the Biased Social Media is trying to accomplish. So there was NO INTENT on my part to categorize or underscore “young people” or any age group!!! (BTW ,There were NO Questions addressed in this rebuttal at all.)

    • Hi Rance, I’m glad you saw my response. I did not answer any of your questions in my letter for the following reasons:

      1) I questioned whether or not they were being asked in good faith to begin with
      2) Letters to the editor have a 400 word count limit
      3) There were so many questions that required answering that attempting to answer them all would have prevented my response from being published.

      Other letters also reflected this issue of a word limit. I am more than happy to address all of them here if that is your wish, or you could come down to the courthouse any day to have a chat.

    • Hi again Rance, since you have also commented on Colin Evans’s letter asking for answers to your questions, I will address them here by pasting his response:

      Question 1: “Is it your views of racial injustice or are you supporting the radical movement that is sweeping this country, driven by the unbelievable power of social media biased against anything but their own agenda.”
      We are protesting as I said in my letter. Can you please, with documented evidence, show what radical movement is sweeping the country and how it is driven by a biased social media?
      Question 2: “Are you protesting in the courthouse square against the brave Men and Women who gave their lives defending our country and our freedoms?”
      Question 3: “Are you supporting the senseless violence and destruction in many cities across the country that has devastated communities, businesses, and the safety of their citizens?”
      Question 4: “Are you supporting defunding our brave officers so that this violence and anarchy can continue?”
      I am speaking for myself, and not the group as a whole. I do support defunding the police. In that I mean I believe we spend too much on policing and not enough on other social services. I believe we need the police and do not want to abolish it. Defund and abolish are two different things.
      Question 5: “Are you supporting the liberal Democratic Party whose sole objective is to make our citizens dependent on the government, thus increasing the government power?”
      Every single person out there has different political views. BLM is not a political movement. Equality and fighting racism should not be partisan. Personally, yes, I am proudly registered Democrat. Though I disagree with your opinion that its sole objective is to make citizens dependent on government.
      Question 6: “Do you have any understanding what Government controlled Communism has done to their countries?”
      Yes, I do. Do you have any idea about the success of the following countries: New Zealand, Ecuador, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Peru, Portugal, Netherlands, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Tunisia, and Sweden.
      Question 7: “Are you supporting the destruction of National monuments and statues that are our history?”
      Personally, yes. I believe there is a difference between knowing history and honoring a racist. Maybe those statues should belong in a museum, not atop our cities to be glorified. Glorify racists and traitors is pretty un-American to me.
      Question 8: “Are you aware that prior to the coronavirus impact our nation was experiencing tremendous economic growth, and the lowest unemployment rates for all of our citizens including blacks, Puerto Ricans and other minority groups?”
      Yes, these factors were continuing a long trend that started under President Obama.
      Question 9: “Are you aware that until the last several years it was considered wrong to wish someone a Merry Christmas or to have Prayer in public places?”
      I have been alive for 30 years, and not once I have ever met someone who thought it was wrong to wish someone a Merry Christmas or to pray in public.
      Question 10: “Are you aware that our country is based on God and his lessons, but our country does not specifically define God, allowing people of faith to define who their God is?”
      Our country was founded by men who believed in God, but who went to great lengths to ensure that we are not a Christian nation, and that anyone can practice whatever religion they want to in safety.
      Question 11: “Are you aware that our country is one that allows their citizens to leave if they so desire?”
      Sure, are you aware that thanks to the devastatingly inept handling of the pandemic at the federal level, our passports are basically useless right now?
      Question 12: “Do you support the destruction of our country and individual rights that many have died for to protect?”
      Question 13: “Or do you wish for True Democracy to continue to grow so that our country continues to evolve?”
      We actually don’t live in a true democracy. We live in a federal constitutional republic where we elect representatives to vote for us. I do want our country to continue to evolve, which is why we are protesting against racism in Owego, and nationwide.

  2. I am 43, have 4 kids(from 6-15) and live in Apalachin. I am employed full time and work on the rd. First I’d like to say this, It is the right of ALL people to voice their opinions and to have peaceful demonstrations to have their opinions heard as Americans. White, black, purple, blue, male, female, transgender what ever. I do however feel that it shouldn’t be a single type of life matters. It should be all life’s matter. I understand with all of the injustices that have happened that one could be brought to or elevated more the. The others but…
    As a people, we as Americans need to stop and think about this phrase. ALL LIFES MATTER. Weather you are White , Black, Asian, Latin, whatever, we all matter. People have lost site of this and need to remember this. Respecting each other’s opinions in a constructive way will go a long way to fixing a lot of social issues. So if you don’t agree with what someone stands for that’s fine. Just don’t be a ass about it. Be an adult and let them be. The young people of today will be the leaders of tomorrow. They will be responsible for fixing the issues that we leave.

    • Hi William, thank you for engaging with my letter. I’m really glad you said what you did, especially the
      part where you wrote that you could “understand with all of the injustices that have happened that one could be brought to or elevated more”, because that is exactly the purpose of Black Lives Matter, and signs that say the same thing.

      BLM is the equivalent of calling the fire department to put a fire out at your house because it’s on fire. You don’t hate your neighbors houses, and that doesn’t mean they don’t matter to you, but yours is the one on fire right now. It is a gift that we don’t need to hold rallies saying All Lives Matter, because all our houses aren’t on fire, even though we live on the same street.

      Our signs don’t say ONLY Black Lives Matter, because we are in agreement with you that all lives matter. But right now, (and for a long time before this cultural moment) Black lives have mattered less. Black lives didn’t matter at all when our constitution was written, Black lives didn’t have a legal say about their rights as citizens until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was ratified, and Black lives occupy over 40% of our prisons in spite of being less than 15% of our population.

      So again thank you for reaching out, and for your compassion. It means a lot to have reached you.

  3. Michelle Amato | August 17, 2020 at 9:16 pm | Reply

    Irena Horvatt, girl you are my hero. 👏

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.