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Canada Stupid young men often grow up to be fine, upstanding citizens

Perhaps it is just the Year of Stupid Young Men.

But then, what year isn't? I've had a few myself . . .

At the moment, the biggest manhunt in the history of Canada -- bigger, even, than the Liberal leadership race -- is on in Ottawa to track down three stupid, boorish, thoughtless young men who took a whiz late Saturday night against the National War Memorial.

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Veterans and citizens, even the Prime Minister, are up in arms, calling the act -- and other similar acts by other equally boorish young men -- "disgusting," which it is, and "a national disgrace," which it certainly also is to those who see this as a deliberate desecration of a national monument.

More likely, of course, it was just drunks looking for a place to have a quick leak.

Ever leave your car in a parking garage and have to walk up the stairwell late at night? The difference, of course, is that parking garage stairwells aren't sacred places and, usually, there are no cameras present to . . . sorry . . . splash a photograph all over the front pages next morning.

The more alarming matter, of course, is that some of the late-night revellers were also urinating on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a consecrated place, as if that poor brave and frightened First World War chap from Grave 7, Row E, Plot 8 had not suffered enough ignominy following his short life.

Those who want the tomb set off and protected are likely right, but the irony is that those who did offer this late-night insult to the dead were not out celebrating a World Cup victory, but the very country, Canada, this poor young man died defending.

That's why it's so hard to imagine the insult was intentional.

Just more stupid young men stuff.

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That may also be what led one of Canada's 17 suspected young terrorists to allegedly brag about beheading the Prime Minister, but this falls more into the category of stupid angry young men.

The ammonium nitrate fertilizer that could be used to make a bomb is quite a different thing and must, absolutely, be taken seriously.

Yet angry young men have been saying and doing foolish things since Cain, and there is a great difference between saying and doing, as Cain himself discovered.

In another time, if I may date myself, angry young men had pocket copies of Mao's Little Red Book, talked of following Che Guevara and said the most vitriolic things against Richard Nixon.

Back then, however, it was bar talk. Today's bar talk is on the Internet, and there is a world of difference.

What used to get you thrown out or, at worst, a punch in the nose, now can land you in shackles. It is, indeed, a different world; it may, however, still be occupied by similar angry and stupid young men.

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Even the Prime Minister -- who took the assault on the war memorial seriously enough to call it "a terrible thing" on an Ottawa radio talk show -- found the beheading talk a little wild.

"I can live with all these threats," he joked the day after the threat made news around the world, "as long as they don't come from my caucus." The man who allegedly made the threat is 25, roughly the same age Pierre Trudeau was when he was a stupid angry young man.

According to Max and Monique Nemni, former Trudeau acquaintances and authors of Young Trudeau: Son of Quebec, Father of Canada 1919-1944, the future prime minister of Canada was very much a jerk of his times.

He sympathized with fascism, didn't think too much of democracy in that it held back elites and even became, for a while, something that we today might call a "homegrown terrorist" in the country he would end up leading for 16 years.

As a stupid young man, he helped organize a secret, revolutionary society hoping for an independent Quebec and talked about open insurrection and a coup d'état.

In one speech he gave during a 1942 by-election, the young Trudeau called upon the crowd to "impale alive" those who supported conscription. He said the time had come to "eviscerate" those who did not share his thinking on the war.

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Just imagine if the young Pierre Trudeau had had his own blog -- he would never have become prime minister of this country.

What is most interesting about the book is that Trudeau himself came to realize what a stupid young man he had been.

"Before the age of 30," he wrote in his 1944 application to Harvard University, "a man is not intelligent."

The truly odd thing about incredibly stupid young men -- those who urinate where they shouldn't as well as those who say things they shouldn't -- is that they so often grow up to be fine and upstanding older citizens.

And those male readers who cannot accept this about Pierre Trudeau -- or cannot imagine it of these foolish young men from Saturday night -- might like to look in the mirror.

And reflect back.

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