The old joke starts with the question: “What are the last words of a redneck?”

The answer: “Hey, ya’ll, watch this!”

If you don’t at least smile, you grew up differently from many of us who rarely enjoyed a youthful day without dares, double-dares and daredevils. There was always someone doing some risky stunt — and inviting us to join in the foolishness.

Such peer pressure is even in the news these days as Delaware GOP Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell, now 41, explains her 1999 TV confession that she “dabbled in witchcraft” as a teen. Unknowingly, she said, one of her first dates was a witch with whom she shared “a little midnight picnic on a satanic altar.”

Her innocence seems quite plausible to me since she apparently didn’t dabble enough to not equate Wiccan practices with Satanism — although neither of those block votes in Delaware were likely in her corner anyway.

But her current assertion that responsible adults should not be judged by everything their peers tried — and tried to get others to do in their youth — makes sense to me.

An important part of the maturation process — that parents pray will kick in early for their own offspring — is learning not to follow the crowd or even the single loose cannon among a son or daughter’s circle of friends.

Why? Well, it’s amazing what crazy ideas some folks can come up with — even when beyond the most impressionable years.

Like: “Hey, let’s go hike along the Iraq-Iran border.”

Uh, no thanks.

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