“Let these kids bury their classmates. Let them mourn their lost friends and teachers. Let them seek and find comfort, privately and personally. Let them heal. And let them do all that out from under the bright lights of the media's exploitative designs.”
Of course, it didn’t happen. Personally, I received all kinds of nasty notes telling me that I just was embarrassed that these kids were destroying the NRA and that was the real reason I wanted the media to stop paying attention to them.
No, it wasn’t. I’m a high school teacher. I know this age very well. My concerns were exactly what I stated at the time, and they have subsequently been validated by one of my professional peers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who said recently:
“Every single day since we’ve come back to school, I have kids out in the hall crying because of the emotional toll that it’s taken, and we haven’t started to heal yet, because we’re in the news every single day, and every single day there are helicopters circling overhead.”
Conservatives, that should make you far angrier than anything David Hogg says about the NRA. Liberals, that should make you far angrier than any praise Kyle Kashuv offers for the 2nd Amendment. After all, both of those two young men (and their fellow activist classmates) have been thrust into a world they weren’t prepared to enter, are being expected to perform, and it is consuming and overwhelming them too.
I cannot stress enough how much some people, some adults, are losing their perspective. These are kids. They really are. No matter how mad they make you, they are kids. Of course what they say is annoying and ill-informed and over-the-top. Yet some people, not all but some, are overflowing with bile and venom about it.
There are memes about them, especially Kasky and Hogg, featuring, I kid you not, Nazism. A lot of them. I’ve had people reply to me personally on Twitter referring to them not only as “crisis actors,” but literally calling them Hitlers.
Imagine being the subject of so much hate and so much adoration simultaneously at age 17.
This was my concern from the start. It is not (and was never) defending political inaction on common sense solutions to school security and violent crime to say that those solutions should not be hashed out on the backs of grieving teenagers.
Those who have applauded this media circus have not done so because of their love for these Parkland survivors. They have done so because of their love of one side of this political warfare. They have championed David Hogg because he could say irrational and hateful things that they want to say but don’t have the platform or moral immunity to get away with. They have celebrated Kyle Kashuv because he was biting back at their political enemies with a platform and credibility that they lacked.
In other words, they have used two teenagers to score political points in a debate that is going nowhere, despite saddling those two teenagers with an unimaginable emotional baggage they will be forced to carry with them the rest of their lives.
It’s sick. It’s always been sick. And it will continue to be sick as long as too many of us put up with it. It’s why everyone should read Howe’s full piece in which he rightly declares an editorial ban on all stories involving these teenagers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It’s compelling and convincing no matter what side of the perpetual gun debate you find yourself. Read it, embrace it, and let’s collectively pressure all media to adopt it.
The victims of MSD deserve nothing less.