By Selwyn Duke
According to many gun-control advocates, 18-year-olds are too immature to handle guns — but are mature enough to advise us on gun policy. Thus we’re told we must “listen to the voices” of the young Parkland shooting survivors. Not only that, we’re not to question or oppose them because they’re young, they’re survivors and, by golly, because it’s absolutely devastating to the anti-gun agenda!
There’s something truly reprehensible about this situation, and it’s not conservatives criticizing the positions of activist Parkland students such as David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez. It’s that liberals are using the students as human props and human shields, letting them throw the punches and then condemning the assailed if they dare defend themselves.
Well, sorry, but as I wrote years ago in “The Grieving Activist,” if you want to grieve, grieve. If you want to play politics, play politics.
But my sympathy for grieving ends when the use of grief as a political battering ram begins.
Now, putting minors on the front lines is not at all unprecedented. The youngest U.S. naval captain was 12-year-old David Farragut, and the British would often have upper-class, preteen boy officers aboard their warships, as accurately portrayed in the film Master and Commander. But could you imagine if, after firing some salvos at French vessels and receiving a proportionate response, a British captain bellowed, “What do you think you’re doing?! There are kids aboard this ship!” Ridiculous.
But no more ridiculous than doing likewise in our political campaigns — and, mind you, “campaign” is a military term, applied here because at issue is political warfare. So put kids on the front lines if you wish, as the Nazis did in WWII’s waning days, but know that they’re taking flak because you placed them in harm’s way.
Of course, this all is very calculated. We know that CNN staged a town-hall affair, cherry-picking the attendees and controlling the questions. We know that, as pro-Second Amendment Parkland survivor Brandon Minoff related, the media are ignoring the voices of the pro-gun Parkland kids (so much for “listening to the children”). Nonetheless, while this anti-gun operation may or may not have George Soros’ fingerprints all over it, as Sheriff David Clarke suggested, it’s also no doubt true that the student activists are “wildly motivated,” as CNN’s Alisyn Camerota put it in response to him.
Yet there’s an obvious question here: Is it wise to have recently traumatized people advising on policy? Would we let someone whose dog was just killed by a neighbor help determine punishment for cruelty to animals? “Passion governs, and she never governs wisely,” as Ben Franklin warned.
Additionally, we’re a pretty immature civilization if we look to kids for policy advice. There’s a reason why societies might traditionally have been governed by a council of (hopefully) wise elders: Teen boys may sometimes have utility in warfare, but adolescent angst doesn’t make for sober heads. Moreover, mainstream media love publishing articles about the impulsive “teen brain”; now they say we should bow before these brains’ latest impulses. (Note: I instinctively knew the “teen brain” thesis was nonsense, as this article explains, but immaturity is nonetheless a factor.)
Yet something else must be said about these “wildly motivated” teens. To paraphrase late comedian Rodney Dangerfield, “They really care — about what I have no idea!”
It’s fashionable to beatify survivors. Endure a tragedy, and you’re suddenly a sainted soul whose motives are beyond reproach. But while I’m sure many Parkland students are what we’d call, practically speaking, “good people,” I’m also sure about their character as a group.
They’re just people.
Their number includes the good, the bad and the ugly. Heck, we’re only talking about this issue right now because of a Parkland teen who attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSDHS) and who is not at all a good person (I won’t give him publicity by using his name).
Yet the mainstream media exalt Parkland students as fonts of wisdom — while simultaneously infantilizing them, saying they can condemn but not be criticized, offend but not be offended. I’m different: realistic. I’m thus going to exercise some logic here, even though it’s wholly out of fashion.
With approximately 3000 Parkland teen survivors, what’s the probability that they’re all “good people”? Oh, I’m sure a handful will go on to do great things and that most of the others will do good but average things. Then there are the rest. Whom might they include?
Well, without naming names, is it inconceivable that a few of the 3000 might be Machiavellian enough to realize that the shooting’s aftermath is an opportunity for fame and possibly wealth and career-building? This doesn’t mean they don’t have genuine anti-gun passions — they may, as people’s actions are often driven by multiple motivations, some noble and some ignoble — only that the primary impetus may be a more self-serving one.
And, actually, out of 3000 students, it’s inconceivable that there wouldn’t be two or three of this mold. Teens ain’t potted plants — they can be manipulative as well as meritorious. Just ask “clock boy” Ahmed Mohamed about that.
The Left can huff and puff about these observations, but it draws distinctions among gun-crime survivors, too. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was seriously wounded by a left-wing activist in last year’s congressional baseball shooting, and Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, also a Republican, survived the 1999 Columbine High School shooting. But I don’t hear them trumpeted as voices “we must listen to.” Why? It could be what they have in common with the ignored Parkland pro-Second Amendment kids.
The latter, however, are just a few of the young voices about which leftists couldn’t care less. Other examples are the Boy Scouts booed at the 2000 Democratic National Convention, the six-year-old lad in a 2012 anti-Obama video whom liberals wanted dead, and the 650,000 babies they actually do manage to kill annually via prenatal infanticide. And this does reflect the culture-of-death mentality: Liberals want to hear young voices — until they become inconvenient. At that point their freedom of speech can be aborted.
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