Friday, February 23, 2018

The HS kids have shown how to take on the bad guys. Will media and other adults learn from them?

I haven't spoken much about last week's massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, because it's hard to gather rational thoughts together in light of such a sickening (and preventable) mass murder. But I do have a few thoughts on why things feel a bit different than what we've seen with past mass murders, and the inevitable inaction and inertia that follows. And I think it's because the kids in Parkland and other places are showing how public activism needs to be done in 2018.

To me, there are a few big reasons why the students in Florida and elsewhere have been so effective at moving the needle compared to prior mass shootings, (beyond being a sympathetic group because THEIR SCHOOL BECAME A KILLING GROUND).

1. They have the time and ability to keep up the pressure. Most of us have jobs and bills and lives to deal with, so many of us inevitably go on to other things while the NRA lobbyists and other regressive interest groups can continue to get in front of cameras and have the ear of elected officials.

These students have no such barriers, which enables their voice to keep getting out and soaring above the right-wing noise machine. They have the time and energy to walk out of school and have public events where they can be heard, and they have done a great job doing so.

Same thing happened here in Madison last week, where high school students held a press conference at the Capitol to demand action on background checks and other gun control measures.

2. Related to that, young people are savvy about using social media, and use it a lot. Plus, because they’re not “polished” or particularly concerned about offending certain people who they don’t respect, they can be blunt and make pointed statements that reveal just how bought and BS the average GOP politician and/or media member is on this issue. Here's a great example from a Stoneman Douglas student calling out US Senator Marco Rubio, and then using one sentence to show up Faux News sociopath Laura Ingraham when Ingraham responded.

3. On the flip side, our “legitimate” media relies on access to those in power, so they can’t call out the NRA puppets’ BS to their faces like the students can. Remember Chuck Todd’s infamous “the first time we bark is the last time we do the show” comment to Lewis Black and other comedians in 2014?

But sometimes the truth is on one side of the argument. A rapid-fire, large magazine assault rifle was the weapon of choice to kill 17 high school students and teachers last week in Florida, and an overwhelming majority of Americans want the availability of that type of weapon to be restricted. However, "objective” media won’t call out the BS and redirections that NRA puppet GOPs try to pull in order to take public attention away from that fact, because corporate media thinks if they did do that, it would make them “biased” by not giving “both sides” equal time.

The students don’t have to be beholden to those rules, and can say “Stop lying! Do better!” to the faces and social media accounts of these scumbuckets. It illustrates how our media has failed so badly in a time of Faux News and Trumpism, because they think that positions of power and/or public access mean that you have “legitimacy” and should be respectfully listened to. But when those RW hacks are wrong and lying, they shouldn't be allowed to throw that garbage out there unchallenged...or even be given a forum in the first place due to their bad takes and bad faith.

4. Everyday people know the NRA puppets are lying, and they know many politicians in power are being dishonest and deceptive on other issues. But far too often, Democrats will try to be level-headed and sensible because they think that's the best to get something worked out, and that voters prefer politicians to “be adults that try to solve problems”, which ultimately gives them enough votes to win elections.

Republicans and their mouthpieces on AM Radio and cable TV do not worry about such comity. They attack and throw crap against the wall to smear their opponents, and they don’t worry about offending some Soccer Mom, as long as they get enough votes from dumb rubes who like seeing people “speak from their gut” and give voice to their frustration. Because to the rubes, it doesn't matter how BS the GOP’s smears and solutions might be, and the "civility" types don't change who they'll vote for either, outside of extreme circumstances.

You know what those Soccer Moms despise? The idea of guns being taken into their kids' schools. And seeing Dems shrug and say “There’s nothing we can do because the GOP is in control and won't let anything pass” is not an acceptable answer. On this and other issues, Dems need to BRING THE HEAT, and speak in moral terms where it is an imperative that something be done. And it should be considered DISGUSTING that GOPs refuse to act to move responsible legislation that will stop these mass slaughters. This goes well beyond a simple difference of opinion.

5. On a similar note, this is why Jimmy Kimmel’s statements on his nighttime show during the health care debate were influential for people. Not only did he speak from the personal experience of his infant son’s health issues, but it came from a place of moral outrage. “Are you seriously thinking of taking away the chance for young people like my son to survive and live a decent life? And why are you lying to my face? WTF is wrong with you?”

That type of blunt language won’t turn off voters (at least the ones you can win). It will impress them by showing that this time WILL be different, and that things can change for the better if we change the politicians who are getting in the way of real progress and a better life in this country.

The kids are speaking truth to power and changing the conversation. Will the adult politicians and media members recognize it, and do the same? Because we need more of them to.

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