Thursday, March 22, 2007

Video Editing Capability and New Potential for Free Speech and Political Involvement for Youths

This past week a advertisement in favor of Barack Obama and against Hillary Clinton spread across the Internet. This ad, it turns out, was made by an individual who used to work in the industry making political advertisements.

Simultaneously, a group of kids who made a video depicting teddy bears fighting to kill their school teacher won a civil rights lawsuit because of their unlawful expulsion and a violation of their freedom of speech.

The man who made the Obama campaign ad was not a youth, but the extreme exposure his advertisement received demonstrates the wide potential for the dissemination of homemade videos. Websites like Youtube.com and Google Video enable individuals to distribute their video clips.

Youths with a point of view and a video camera can now express their feelings beyond the confines of their social circles. These youths could potentially make political advertisements that might influence a large number of voters, and bring youth issues to light.

I have blogged in the past about the dangers that youths on the Internet pose. This time, however, I'm interested in heralding the great potential that technical savvy holds for youths interested in becoming politically active.

Campaigns invest time, energy, and money to capture the web. This seems almost essential. The Internet can facilitate donations, spread platforms, and garner interest.

For youths this is particularly exciting. The teens who were expelled and later vindicated because they made a video depicting toys fighting in the name of killing their teacher might better spend their creative energies in creating a video depicting the injustices they feel. Youths -- even those who are under 18 and are technically without a vote -- might engage in the political process by influencing the debate, getting out new issues, and making themselves known.

Kids today will be the voters of tomorrow. These youths hold the tools that could enable them to influence debate and steer it in a direction that will react to their concerns and needs.

I hope that youths can start using their First Amendment rights in more productive ways -- to influence politics and policy -- rather than to attack or scare their teachers.

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