Instinctively, no one on earth should take the ramblings of a 14-year-old to heart, especially if that teenager is a pudgy, right-wing Christian from Oklahoma. While stupidity and self-righteousness afflict Americans of all ages, it is a particular feature of the young because they have yet to experience enough of life to know that it is not enough merely to believe, even at the top of one’s voice. Most adults realize the complexity of modern life, and no kid has the mental capacity to understand that the world simply cannot change because you have decided in the comforts of your bedroom that it should be so. Teenagers, therefore, are impatient, demanding, and sanctimonious and usually whine and pout if the world proves to be too difficult and overwhelming. Holding one’s breath might convince mommy to buy you that video gam, but it won’t force Congress to ban abortion by tomorrow’s session. And while Kyle Williams, the author of Seen & Heard, is arguably more articulate than any teenager you’re likely to meet, it still holds that he has all of the fire and idealism of youth without any of the realism and perspective that tends to define adult life.

I will admit that seeing a teenager’s words in print riles me to no end, although I can take comfort in the fact that it is highly unlikely that any of Kyle’s words are original to his mind. The skeptic in me believes that the right-wing movement in this country wanted to push their radical agenda even further, this time using the “innocent” mug of a young person. I am sure that WND Books, the right-wing publisher of this book, saw an opportunity to present ideas that would have been assailed by the media had the author been an adult, yet might escape scrutiny with an author like Kyle because the critics would have been too busy patting the lad’s head or pinching his flabby cheeks. Hatred, intolerance, and bigotry are expected from Coulter et al, but if a kid like Kyle puts such thoughts on paper, they might receive more attention because the writer is a novelty act, much like a bearded lady. It would not surprise me at all if these pages were put together by Sean Hannity and Michael Savage themselves, then bound together using the picture of this “beard” from the Sooner State.

But for the sake of the review, let me grant that Kyle did indeed conceive of these ideas, most of which are vile, distorted un-truths made even more offensive by the fact that someone so young has reached such an advanced state of hostility. Let us, then, take the points made by Kyle one by one, exposing the flaws and silliness in a worldview that has become all too familiar:

  • On page 5, Kyle actually waxes nostalgic about a time when communities had “barn raisings, quilting bees, and barn dances.” Who knew conservatives so revered the Amish?
  • On page 11, Kyle actually refers to the Hollywood crowd as “liberal pinkos.” It’s good to see that conservatives are still using epithets circa 1954.
  • Kyle actually believes that the more sex a movie features, the less money it makes. He’s just pissed that he still can’t attend an R-rated movie on his own.
  • On page 19, Kyle accuses the ACLU of “sponsoring communism.” And to think that they also defended the right of Nazis to march a few years back.
  • Kyle claims that by age seven, he knew Clinton was a “sleazeball.” After all, most kids under ten have formed opinions of the President independent of the parents, have they not? But Kyle would insist that he has not been brainwashed.
  • In one of many contradictions, Kyle says on page 5 that it was a “good thing” when the Internet wasn’t invented (he says it has given rise to a sleazy culture), yet by page 49 he is praising it as “an amazing tool and the greatest form of communication to ever hit the planet.” I guess it wasn’t worthwhile until he wrote for a website.
  • Contradicting himself yet again, Kyle says on page 59 that “learning is not just math, science, history, etc., but it is also work ethic, patience, and organization skills.” Yet on page 21 Kyle sniffed about teachers, “Their job is to teach the three R’s: reading, writing, and arithmetic.”

Among Kyle’s other beliefs:

  • Homosexuality is evil and disgusting and a “lifestyle choice”
  • Raped women should be forced to have their children
  • FDR was a fascist and a criminal
  • Women who have abortions are more likely to commit suicide or at least be severely depressed
  • Clinton “murdered” the Branch Davidians at Waco
  • Clinton presided over the worst administration in history, one rife with “crime and corruption”
  • The homeless could get jobs but simply refuse to work
  • Abraham Lincoln is unjustly remembered as a hero and the Confederacy is misunderstood
  • Liberals hate America
  • The Supremacy Clause was a “post-Civil War” adoption (Check Article VI, dear Kyle)
  • There is no basis for morality without religion
  • There is no separation between church and state and what’s more, there shouldn’t be
  • If he owns a small business one day, he doesn’t want to be forced to work with gay people
  • Out-of-wedlock births did not exist before liberals started passing out condoms in school
  • Home-schooling is the best alternative for those wanting intelligent, well-rounded children
  • All the Founding Fathers were muscular Christians who wanted God in the public square

And on and on, dear readers, repeating ad nauseum that conservatism serves the people while liberalism leads to immorality, disease, depression, and death. I still can’t figure out how a young man not even old enough to drive came to such a bleak, narrow-minded view of the world, but one must blame the parents. It should surprise no one that this little creep is home-schooled in rural Oklahoma, as it is unlikely that he has spoken with, let alone seen, a black person or a homosexual. Being so protected in his little womb of religious intolerance, he has mistaken the words of his elders for the whole story. From all appearances, Kyle does a lot of reading and Internet exploration, but has he once considered the other side? Even G. Gordon Liddy might appear sane to someone who has never listened to another radio program or ventured beyond one’s front porch. And why in the hell is a 14-year-old so preoccupied with homosexuality anyway? He devotes numerous pages to the subject, even though he seems truly horrified by the thought that young people must be exposed to matters of sex by an atheistic media elite. Is it even possible for a kid this young to know about the ins and outs of complex sexual issues unless mommy and daddy have planted hysterical, hate-filled seeds from an early age? It is my humble opinion that children are instinctively tolerant and only come to make distinctions with the guidance of adults. If Kyle hates gay people, it is not, as he claims, because he has “researched” the issue, but rather because someone a lot taller has mandated that it be so.

Perhaps reading this book and finding fault with its contents is as simple as the old “shooting fish in a barrel,” but I will not be intimidated by the arrogance of this obnoxious brat. It is a good thing that a teenager read books and not be “typical” in terms of adhering to trends. Being “nerdy” is better in the end than being popular and I applaud the boy’s decision to become politically active at an age when many would rather be wasting away in front of a television set. Nevertheless, Kyle mistakes spewing out the Right’s talking points for analysis and nothing in his book is even remotely original or groundbreaking. In many ways, the opinions contained in Seen & Heard play like a parody of what conservatives have become in American culture. Hates gays? Check. Believes government is evil and the free market can do no wrong? Check again. Religion must win out over godless secular humanism? There it is. Guns, married sex, wholesome entertainment, working fathers, and stay-at-home mothers are on the shelf next to the apple pie? All present and accounted for. But I hold out hope for young Kyle, despite the odds. Once he manages to leave the house and accidentally brushes up against a fine female form, he’ll never look back. And after that first glimpse of sin, he’ll flip through this silly little book of his and wonder why in the hell he was so unbearable. And given how robotic this little ideologue is at this moment, there is no doubt that his parents, wanting to play puppetmaster just a wee bit longer, also know this to be true. Unless of course Kyle turns out to be gay, in which case those same parents will be responsible for him swallowing a shotgun three weeks into his junior year.

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Matt is the site’s Longest Serving Critic and chief misanthrope. He divides his time between classics of cinema and the most ridiculous movies he can find on Redbox.
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