I am aware that liberal has a completely different meaning in the rest of the world than in the USA. In the USA, liberal more closely resembles the progressive party and libertarian is closer to the rest of the worlds definition of liberal.

Are there definitions of liberal that support discrimination agaisn't the young? (What behaviors or thoughts do they support restricting?)

For example, in the USA, the legal drinking age is 21. Would a liberal (USA or otherwise) support restricting young people's drinking behavior?

  • Another example might be registering for the draft. Which discriminates based on sex and age. – user1873 Dec 10 '13 at 0:01
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    Probably not enough to be an answer, but the progressives were strongly against child labor, which technically speaking limits the liberties of the young. – Publius Dec 10 '13 at 0:15
  • This question appears to be off-topic because it is a hypothetical question about a stereotype rather than a question about an existing policy or position. – SoylentGray Dec 17 '13 at 18:18
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    Not all liberals support keeping the drinking age at 21 (because a lot of them view drug prohibition as an artifact of religious moralism), but those who do generally do it for utilitarian reasons. (See the discussion of Rawls in my answer.) They think that at the age of 18 people are acting so irrationally that the state should prevent them from hurting themselves, until they've attained an age where they have the ability to engage in some clear thinking. It's just a question of what age people genuinely mature at. – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 21 '13 at 16:36
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    Well, they support restricting the choices of people who aren't adults yet. A 5-year old can't drive around or smoke, for instance. You can say that we're restricting the child's right to smoke, but lots of people would argue that they don't have that right until they've matured into adulthood, so until then the State can restrict their lifestyle choices. So it's just a question of where you draw the line of adulthood. And you can even draw that line differently for different things, like the age of consent, the voting age, the driving age, the drinking age, etc, based on maturity required. – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 21 '13 at 17:19

Most political ideologies are in favor of restricting the behavior and thoughts of just about everybody, young and old.

There are some very obvious examples, such as Homicide and Larceny, which even Libertarians agree should be restricted.

and Yes, children are more restricted than adults in many ways.

Most among both liberals and conservatives

  • agree that children shouldn't watch porn.
  • agree that children shouldn't drink or smoke.
  • agree that children shouldn't labor.
  • agree that children shouldn't live unsupervised by an adult.
  • agree that children shouldn't drive.
  • What about drinking by adults who aren't 21, what is the liberal position? I am interested in differences between the liberal position for young versus older people, liberals (or most other political philosophies) don't discriminate with respect to murder/larceny (although they sometimes lessen the punishment). As far as drinking and smoking, isn't that just a USA thing? I hear in many European nations, you can drink if you can see over the bar. – user1873 Dec 10 '13 at 1:59
  • " which is about as close as you can practically get to restricting thought" I am not so sure. There are many instances where liberals seem to be intolerant of others speech. Under the liberal philosophy, must you be tolerant of intolerance? – user1873 Dec 10 '13 at 3:54
  • @user1873 it depends. A traditional definition of liberalism would likely defend a right to hate speech, but many on the left (especially outside of America) are okay restricting hate speech. – Publius Dec 10 '13 at 7:24
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    This small-l libertarian believes that it would be better to regard children as being property of their parents until they reach a certain age, than to consider them the responsibility of the government. As a practical matter, if enough parents do not want their minor children perform some activity, requiring by rule that unaccompanied minors be presumed not to have the permission of their parents to engage in such activity would be more reasonable than requiring parents to supervise their children 24/7. Note that some parents will really mess up their children, but that will be true... – supercat Nov 2 '14 at 21:25
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    ...no matter what any government might try to do. While there may be some cases where government might legitimately override parental authority (making it not absolute), such cases need to be approached with extreme caution. Parents have a much stronger vested interest in doing right by their children than government agents have in doing right by those same kids, and should consequently be trusted more. – supercat Nov 2 '14 at 21:28

Legal drinking age of 21 is quite extreme of USA, compared with legal age for having sex as little as 15 AFAIK. In Poland legal age for drinking alkohol is 18, and many neighbour countries are more liberal (not sure, but in Czech I've heard it's legal to give beer to own child).

Liberals are generally for removing restrictions for behaviours not hurting other people. There are discussions about legalizing all drugs etc. The same applies for lowering the age restrictions - but not removing them.

I know some liberal movements that want to make legal everything what parents approve, no matter how young the child is. I know no options giving full political rights to the children from the moment of birth or Conception. It would be too extreme. It's an obvious fact that very young children are not able to make mature decisions because their minds are still in development and stating something contradictory would be ignoring the common sense and the state of the cognitive sciences.

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