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Briefly, On Policing The Rhetoric Of Teenagers

After two decades of mass shootings scattered all over the country, from Virginia to California to Colorado to Texas and at seemingly all points in between, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting seems to have been an American breaking point. In the aftermath of that particular shooting (seventeen died and another seventeen were injured), polling support has skyrocketed for overhauling the way Americans access and own guns. Even conservative outlets are having a hard time producing polls that undercut the American desire for something, somewhere, to change.

This is a problem for the Republican party. For decades, they have insisted that widespread gun ownership is an unobjectionable good, while simultaneously doing everything imaginable to both destroy the reasonable safeguards that had previously existed in the American system while also blocking all sorts of emergent proposals. After the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, Republicans reached for all of their usual, post-shooting talking points, confidently assuming that they could play the game the way they always had before:

  • Step 1: Offer shooting victims, and their friends and families, utterly meaningless thoughts and prayers, and then get full-on pearl-clutchingly offended whenever anybody points out that thoughts and prayers don’t accomplish anything.
  • Step 2: Insist that the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the time to discuss either mass shootings specifically or gun control generally.
  • Step 3: Angrily blather that it would be unfair to “punish” law-abiding gun-owners with regulatory schemes that might help to prevent mass shootings, regardless of what those regulatory schemes might be.
  • Step 4: Wait for the furor of the shooting to die down.
  • Step 5: Pretend like it never happened.
  • Step 6: Cash checks from various gun groups for having once again stymied any attempt to reasonably regulate guns.

In their defense, this has always worked, even in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting, a mass killing in which 26 died, including 20 children. In its aftermath, gun control was again proposed but predictably failed after Republicans used the filibuster to sink various ideas. “Think of the poor precious guns!” wailed various Republicans who simply could not be bothered to think that merely twenty gunned-down children were half as bad as the inconvenience of gun-owners having to wait…*checks notes*…a few days to finalize their purchases.

But unlike most shootings, the still-living victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting did not agree to play along with this particular script. Various students from the school – including Emma González, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, Alfonso Calderon, Alex Wind, and Jaclyn Corin – responded aggressively to the Republican post-shooting playbook, repeatedly roasting what they saw as vacuous impotence in the face of what was, to them, an obvious and ongoing problem. School shootings and mass shootings are a constant in American life. In the faces of condescending conservative politicians who repeatedly insisted that young people simply did not understand how wonderful it is that Americans have widespread and almost entirely unfettered access to guns (despite having literally endured one of the consequences of that widespread unfettered access themselves), those five students (and countless others) started the #NeverAgain movement. Several weeks ago, millions of Americans participated in their March For Our Lives at events across the country, indicating publicly what polling had already been showing: there seems to be significant support for gun control among the American population.

It remains to be seen whether common sense gun control is appealing electorally. This November’s upcoming elections might give us that information. But in the immediate aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, Conor Lamb, a Democrat running in southwestern PA gun country, won an election while backing a stronger system of background checks, one of several ideas that has been proposed (and subsequently stymied) in the aftermath of various shootings. His opponent, who believed that no new laws were necessary and who enjoyed an A+ rating from the NRA, had been favored to win by double digits. Lamb won in a nailbiter.

Then, earlier this week in Wisconsin, Rebecca Dallet, a liberal candidate for the state Supreme Court, absolutely eviscerated her opponent, winning by more than ten points. Dallet did not shy away from gun control and the NRA poured money in to oppose her but, like Lamb, she not only paid no price, but potentially gained support for her positions on the issue.

Republicans have already been sounding the alarm, apparently concerned that doing absolutely nothing about gun violence beyond proposing that Americans buy more guns might be more of an electoral liability than it has been previously. The intial Republican plan was to simply dismiss the #NeverAgain teenagers out of hand, which included participating in a community forum in which they imagined that the combination of Marco Rubio and the NRA’s Dana Loesch would convince everybody that these teenagers were overreacting to having been shot at. Things did not go as planned. Rubio, thinking he would get one over on the students and the parents, argued that an assault weapons ban would only ban 220 types of guns; Rubio imagined, apparently, that the crowd would nod knowingly and agree, “How could we have been so stupid to have been concerned about gun violence, what with fewer than 20 of our children having been killed. You’re right, Marco.” Instead, the crowd cheered his proposal. This was not the idea. What might have once worked – although it is not clear whether anything so brazenly absurd would have actually sealed the deal – was going to necessitate newer strategy.

So Republicans then have been forced to try other approaches instead.

One of those strategies has been to rabidly conspiracy-monger, apparently believing – or, at least, claiming to believe – that various elements about the shooting itself are either fake or badly misunderstood. This includes all sorts of non-factual claims, including the utterly absurd idea that the entire shooting was staged, or, in lieu of that utterly batshit insanity, simpler, subtler attacks, including photoshopping the students into compromising positions or insisting that they are basically the same as Hitler Youth. Ted Nugent has gotten involved, which always the precursor to subtle, nuanced discussion. Here is somebody angrily insisting that the relative robustness of Hogg’s pubic hair should influence any understanding of his advocacy, which is a very normal thing for a very normal adult man to spend his time thinking about. One of the better and not-at-all-desperate attempts to sway the public against the shooting’s victims involved insisting that at least one of the #NeverAgain movement’s student leaders was not in school the day of the shooting, a claim that collapsed within seconds, owing to such things as this, a video showing the student hiding, in a closet, at his school, during the shooting.* And then there’s Hogg Watch, which is the real name of a real thing that real conservative adults are really doing.

But in the aftermath of the March For Our Lives, Republicans are also now trying their hand at tone policing #NeverAgain’s leaders. This involves appearing to generally agree, at least in the very most general and non-specific ways, with what those teenagers are saying about the current state of American gun violence, but then balking at what those student leaders are proposing and, more importantly, how exactly they are saying it. In this version of the response, some Republicans insist that although they very much want to do something to address the persistent issue of mass shootings, they, unfortunately, cannot, owing to the rhetoric being used by gun control advocates. In this version of the attempt to undermine efforts to address gun violence, those advocating for gun control become the bullies; those insisting upon doing absolutely nothing become the bullied. This effort has focused on several major issues – Hogg, for example, got into it with Laura Ingraham, and refused to back down when she attacked him, which somehow led to an awful lot of conservatives concluding that Ingraham was Hogg’s victim – but the one that currently seems to be most problematic for these particular Republicans is the claim that elected politicians care more about donations from gun groups than they do about the victims of gun violence.

Students and parents at the aforementioned open forum had the temerity to ask Rubio about the money he has accepted by the fistful from gun groups. Rubio’s response, that of course he was going to continue accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the sorts of gun groups that stood opposed to any attempt regulate gun purchasing, played roughly as well as everything else he said that night. Students pounced, and have repeatedly argued that politicians including Rubio care more about those gun groups than they do about students.

Aghast while reporting live from his feathery soft fainting couch, here is Rich Lowry, writing at the National Review, explaining the phenomenon:

All you needed to know about student activist David Hogg’s speech at the “March for Our Lives” in Washington, D.C., over the weekend was that he affixed a price tag on the microphone to symbolize how much National Rifle Association money Senator Marco Rubio took for the lives of students in Florida.

That, for the record, is Lowry’s opening gambit in a column that accuses the students of being braying meanies whose unkind words about gun advocates are poisoning the well for civil discourse. Comparing students to donkeys is, on the other hand, entirely acceptable because…umm…reasons! Yes, reasons. Unexplained, unstated reasons. But we will get back to that part of it though.

Here is what Lowry is describing – Hogg explicitly accused Rubio of valuing his life, and the lives of every other student in Florida, at $1.05 apiece. As Vox notes, Hogg was not shy about what he was saying:

“I’m going to start off by putting this price tag right here as a reminder for you guys to know how much Marco Rubio took for every student’s life in Florida. $1.05.” Hogg pointed to the bright orange $1.05 price tag he and other classmates wore to the march.

The figure is their calculation of what each Florida student is worth to the Republican senator; they came up with it by dividing the amount the National Rifle Association has spent to support Rubio’s campaigns, $3.3 million, by the 3.1 million public and private students in the state. Since Rubio’s first Senate bid in 2010, the NRA has spent about $1 million to support his campaigns, and $2.3 million to attack his opponents, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

This is what Lowry is so incensed about. How is it possible that these students could possibly conclude that Rubio is motivated by the huge donations he receives from the NRA?

Yet none of that excuses their scurrilous smears of the other side in the gun debate. The student activists presume that there is a ready solution to mass shootings that everyone knows, and the only reason why someone might not act on this universally accepted policy is malice or corruption. This makes the other side the equivalent of murderers.

Lowry’s argument – that he is literally asking his readers to accept on its face – is that it is a ridiculous smear to believe that politicians would do anything in exchange for money. Hogg’s refusal to be decent to those that he believes aided and abetted the murder of his friends went further though.

In a video interview with an outfit called The Outline, David Hogg said that the NRA and its supporters “want to keep killing our children.” Not that they inadvertently enable people who carry out school shootings via misconceived policy, but they themselves kill children and want to keep doing it.

Lest he be misunderstood, Hogg added, “they could have blood from children spattered all over their faces and they wouldn’t take action because they will still see those dollar signs.”

Lowry thinks this is absurd and offensive. How is it that this mere teenager could possibly conclude that Republicans generally, and the NRA and its supporters specifically, prefer scenarios in which children are gunned down at school? The answer is, of course, right there in Rubio’s record: the Florida Senator has consistently opposed gun control, both vocally — in the immediate aftermath of the Florida shooting, Rubio rushed to the Senate floor to tell everyone that gun control would not have stopped the shooting, which is a hell of a claim considering it was not given the opportunity to do any such thing — and with his constant votes in opposition to gun control. The teenagers really needed to look no farther than the juxtaposition between Rubio’s publicly made comments – at the public forum after the shooting, Rubio said, “I will support a law that takes that right away,” referring to a proposal to up the age-limit on purchasing weapons – and his publicly taken actions, like legislation he himself wrote ending Washington D.C.’s ban on selling rifles and assault weapons to 18-year-olds. Seems like a bit of a disconnect.

Lowry sees the same disconnect everybody does but cannot understand why students are laser-focused on Rubio’s voluntary actions, instead of focusing on his words. He said he cares about children, Lowry protests, so how dare these students conclude otherwise based upon his actions? And, because conservatives can never avoid describing themselves as the real victims, even when talking about the literal victims of literal gun violence which they literally have no interest in even pretending to try to stop, Lowry manages this:

Tellingly, it is Marco Rubio who is the foremost object of the ire of the students, when he has been notably open and accommodating. He showed up at the CNN town hall to get abused and has shown remarkable forbearance in handling political attacks on him that are shameless blood libels. He sponsored incremental school-safety legislation that is becoming law, and for his trouble he is deemed a moral monster who doesn’t care how many people have to die as long as he gets a few more campaign contributions.

Yes, heaven forbid Rubio’s votes (and votes, and votes, and votes) be held against him, because, after all, Rubio said he is opposed to gun violence, and per Lowry, this is what really matters, no matter what those votes of Rubio’s end up producing. Per Lowry’s calculus, it is outrageous to allege that Rubio cares more about his neverending faucet of campaign contributions than he does about student lives, despite his having repeatedly voted in lockstep with what those campaign donors wanted, and in opposition to what those students are advocating for. Correlation is not causation or something.

Which leads us to Lowry’s clincher:

It was hard to believe that our public debate could get even more sophomoric. The student activists are here to say, Yes, it can.

Attaching meaning to actions, it would seem, is a crime that is wildly beyond the pale, one that makes it impossible for Republicans to go along with any gun control proposals at all. Ain’t it just the damndest thing in the world that Lowry ended up exactly where he started? Yes, this shooting had been different, and yes, Lowry was ready to discuss possible changes, but then those mean teenagers were insufficiently respectful of Rubio (and, by extension, Lowry), and he was forced to retreat back to a position he has staked out literally a thousand times before.

Maybe all of this would be more convincing if Lowry’s convenient tone-policing was more than just an attempt to wave away the reality that, like Rubio, Lowry believes that the only solution to gun violence is more guns, a point he himself has made repeatedly, even in the aftermath of last year’s Las Vegas shooting, the worst of its kind on American soil. In fact, the Republican bid, currently, is that the only thing that needs to be done in response to horrific mass-shootings is for Americans to purchase even more guns while lessening the strength of whatever rules governing gun-ownership still barely exist. It is almost as if their offer is to do absolutely nothing at all.

But we must ignore all of that, just as we must ignore the occasional disconnect between what Rubio does versus what he says because we must remain focused on the real scourge: the children who had the audacity to be shot at without quietly respecting the glorious freedom that such a shooting represented.


*Infowars, meanwhile, remained just as Infowars as hell about the whole thing.


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367 thoughts on “Briefly, On Policing The Rhetoric Of Teenagers

  1. The Stoneman spokespeople have mostly reminded Americans why we don’t let high school kids vote. A lot of people I’ve talked to have been discussing the need to raise the voting age back to 21 because current youth seem to be stuck on licking Tide Pods and snorting condoms.

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    • George, this tide pod and condom bit is really brilliant. (censored by maribou for being personal attacks) You and your friends should keep it up, and double and triple down on it any time you’re challenged. There’s basically no chance it will backfire and lead to a series of humiliating cultural and electoral defeats.

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      • Unlike Sam’s comment above, yours went past what George said and into his personal qualities. Ad hominem attacks on particular commenters are still ad hominem attacks on particular commenters, even if they are expressed sarcastically. .

        Part of the reason we have human moderators, not an algorithm.

        Don’t do that, please. Consequences will probably follow if you do it again.

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  2. “the utterly absurd idea that the entire shooting was staged”

    Literally the first time I’ve seen that.

    “Lowry’s argument – that he is literally asking his readers to accept on its face – is that it is a ridiculous smear to believe that politicians would do anything in exchange for money.”

    Lowry never made that argument. But I would gladly make the argument that politicians hardly ever do anything they think is wrong in exchange for money. The NRA is responsible for about 3% of Rubio’s total political donations. Do you think he doesn’t believe in the things he says? Do you think if the other side came up with 4% that he’d change his positions?

    “In this version of the attempt to undermine efforts to address gun violence, those advocating for gun control become the bullies”

    Of course they are. They’re trying to make other people obey them without convincing them. They’re bullies. As for this Hogg / Ingraham dust-up, he got people to boycott her sponsors after she made fun of him for whining about not getting into a college. That has nothing to do with gun rights. It was a personal offense, and Hogg used the power he’s accumulated to retaliate. How is that anything other than bullying?

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    • They’re trying to make other people obey them without convincing them. They’re bullies.

      This is silly. It would imply that every law that isn’t supported with 100% public consensus is bullying now.

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      • This is silly. It would imply that every law that isn’t supported with 100% public consensus is bullying now.

        My expectation is most of the gun controllers don’t own guns themselves, so what they’re trying to do is impose their morality and worldview on others. They’re the Left’s equiv of the Pro-Life movement, or even the anti-gay movement. “You shouldn’t be in this situation, you should be living your life the way I want you to”.

        Notice the kid’s outrage at those transparent backpacks. Other people are supposed to give up Rights because of their moral outrage, but they personally should not because they’re not the people who need to change lifestyles.

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        • Sure, but gun control is in no way unique in this way. Most people against graffiti don’t paint graffiti. Most people against theft don’t steal. Most people against rape don’t rape. Most people who want some drugs prohibited want to prohibit specifically ones they don’t themselves consume. Most people who want a law against dumping toxic waste in the river aren’t the factory owner who’s dumping his toxic waste in the river.

          Everybody always wants the law to prohibit things they don’t do, keep away from things they do.

          Gun control movement / anti-gay movement would be a better analogy if guns were built for killing oneself not others (for all that something like 60% of gun deaths are suicides, that’s still not what what they’re designed or sold for).

          Rather than finding analogies that support your point – find a counter example. Find a group of people lobbying for any law that would inconvenience them personally. Hold them up as the example of a non-bullying movement with respect to getting any law of any kind passed.

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          • I think you’re, hmm, formally correct, but that the formal objections you’re making also at least apply pretty strongly to the anti-abortion movement.

            But they also, I find, tend to resonate with social liberals. And I think the basic shape of the argument can be strengthened and refined to the point where they’re effective arguments.

            Getting to that point may get away from the bit about bullying… but I think one of the things that’s stuck with me about this conversation is that the whole thing about the Parkland teens being dumb, or jerks, or bullies is… pointless. It doesn’t actually move the ball in a useful direction even if you think they’re substantively wrong.

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          • Sure, most people against graffiti don’t paint graffiti. Most people against theft don’t steal. Most people against rape don’t rape. Most people who want some drugs prohibited want to prohibit specifically ones they don’t themselves consume.

            So owning a gun is the equiv of graffiti, theft, drug use, and rape. Of course, the acceptable number of rapes (etc) in society is zero.

            Elsewhere on this post-set we talk about the lack of trust gun owners have for the anti-gun group and I claim it’s based on a correct reading of where they’re at rather than an incorrect understanding.

            Gun control movement / anti-gay movement would be a better analogy if guns were built for killing oneself not others (for all that something like 60% of gun deaths are suicides, that’s still not what what they’re designed or sold for).

            There’s always some reason why me inflicting my world view and lifestyle on you is acceptable but the reverse is not.

            And your point can be countered but I’ll spare everyone (especially myself) any parrotting of the anti-gay movement.

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    • Pinky: “the utterly absurd idea that the entire shooting was staged”

      Literally the first time I’ve seen that.

      Wow. Have you been living under a rock since Sandy Hook to have never heard of this? It’s become the go-to for InfoWars type rightwing media when it comes to school shootings. There are people up in CT who still get vile messages and even death threats from people sold on the idea that they aren’t grieving parents but operatives of some leftwing conspiracy to take everyones guns.

      The claims that all of these students were paid ‘crisis’ actors hit the pro-gun circuit widely enough for it to show up in various MSM literally two days after the MSD shooting. Claims that Hogg in particular is an actor rather than a student have even been publicly made by various local politicians. And yes, MSD families have gotten threats from nuts convinced now that they are actors in a ‘false flag’ operation.

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      • There needs to be a new rule of internet discussion that’s a variation of the fallacy of the mean and/or the false dichotomy. “The existence of a trivial number of people on the other side of an argument who take insane positions on the internet isn’t evidence of an argument’s validity.” Call it the InfoWars rule if you want. I started using it around the time I stopped citing Salon.

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        • The problem is that we don’t know and can’t tell whether this is a small number of people making these arguments. The crisis actor/staged conspiracy thing is always the first thing that hits these days and it can and does become a political talking point. It can also lead to actual violence. See #Pizzagate.

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        • I don’t think anyone was arguing that the “crisis actor” conspiracy business has any validity.

          It’s just that, the right-wing media is set up, in a way that centrist-to-left-wing media mostly isn’t, with a sort of semipermeable membrane that allows memetic bleed from Infowars to Breitbart to Fox and beyond.

          It’s not that a few Infowars wingnuts dreamt up the conspiracy theory – it’s that it regularly shows up as a serious topic of discussion on supposed MSM.

          The left has a few basket case chemtrail believers – but chemtrail conspiracy crap doesn’t bleed into MSNBC or even Vice.

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          • That’s because people think there is a symmetry between the far left and the far right when there really isn’t.

            Lee and I have done the history here a thousand times but the far-right decided to take over the Republican Party in ways that the farther left rejected and/or were just not able to. Rick Perlstein documented this.

            The further left in general does not trust Johnny Come-Latelys to political movements. They also think the Democratic Party is wrong for supporting Capitalism like it always had even if it supports regulations and welfare state policies.

            There were some left-wing conspiracy types like Louise Menstch (sp?) who briefly got attention at the start of 2017 but they were mocked and dismissed much more than you had people wish-thinking about how any day now “The Master Seargent of Arms will be asked by the Chief Justice of the United States to issue a warrant for the arrest of Trump” or something like that. Many on the left also did not trust Menstch because she started as a right-wing Tory.

            Also the left-wing variants of Infowars and/or Breitbart don’t get the numbers those sites do. Pacifica could get whacky but they also ran into constant budget issues and/or wondering about why their listeners were just aging radicals without any money who couldn’t fund the stations anymore. The closest mainstream variant of Infowars/Breitbart on the left is probably the sentimental swarm of Upworthy. It is telling that conservatives go for Breitbart and liberals go for Upworthy.

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              • I used to listen to my local Pacifica station here in So Cal back when I was a conservative, and found them to be oddly charming and inoffensive.

                Partly it was their earnest belief in their righteousness that compared favorably to the NPR yuppy smarm and hypocrisy. It was also their utter incompetence and irrelevance to anything approaching a threat to the capitalist order they so despised.

                My favorite moment was when they had a show devoted to Native American dance, and the guests proceeded to demonstrate one.
                A wordless dance. Without music. On radio.

                So for about 10 minutes radio listeners were treated to the sound of shuffling and stomping feet, until the obviously delighted host came back to talk about it.

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                • WBAI in New York did a start to finish marathon reading of War and Peace that the old-timers still talked about. Now admittedly this is pretty cool but they were stuck living in the past when the Weather Underground or similar groups mattered.

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  3. As for the broader point of the article, no one gets to enter the marketplace of ideas without exposing themselves to criticism. They don’t get to be voices of the future when they make demands and untouchable teenagers when you question them. (I looked at that sentence every way I could, and still ended up with the creepy phrase “untouchable teenagers”. You know what I mean though.)

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      • Sorry if I’m taking this line seriously if it was just meant as an offhand remark, but they’re not holding rallies to complain, they’re holding rallies to propose legislation. That’s just another aspect of the central dichotomy. You can’t simultaneously play the roles of an untouchable kid publicly grieving about a tragedy and a citizen proposing policies which impact the country. The first role absolutely requires us to be silent; the second role absolutely requires us to debate.

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        • They get to either be tragic victims, or they can advocate doing something about it, but they aren’t allowed to be both. This is a variant on the “Don’t politicize this tragedy for which we are contributing our thoughts and prayers” line, which in turn is merely a deflecting technique to change the subject until the news cycle has run its course and the whole thing can be quietly forgotten.

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          • I guess there’s a similarity. Both involve the attempt to use passion to override reason. Truthfully, I don’t care when a debate takes place or who is involved in it, as long as all reasonable points are considered. In such a scenario, we’d be talking on a gun policy thread, not a politics of gun policy thread.

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            • So write such a post, about policy, and I’d be willing to say for that post, only policy arguments will be considered, and enforce it as a moderator.

              I mean, we’ve done that before.

              But in the meantime, since this is a primarily a site about politics and culture, posts about what people find incredibly frustrating about political culture will still happen regularly.

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                • Indeed, that would be quite a different context.

                  And yes, the response being criticized in the OP is exactly that, and the reason why I said we will always have posts “about what people find incredibly frustrating about political culture” … because some things that occur in political culture are, in fact, incrediblly frustrating.

                  Just because I like (some) guns doesn’t mean my own personal response to the dumb articles that Sam was criticizing in the OP didn’t come out as mostly gibberish followed by a string of swear words.

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  4. A lot of the current right-wing stars like Ingraham, D’Souza, and Coulter have always been bullies. This has been their shtick since college when they wrote for right-wing trollish newspapers on campus like the Dartmouth review. Ingraham famously named college students who attended an LBGT meeting at her undergrad. This was in the 1980s when attending such a meeting had different results than in 2018.

    The right-wing troll crew always got away with their shit, were encouraged for their shit, paid well for their shit, etc until now. The question is why. They might have been the majority of their generation, maybe liberals from previous generations did not know how to respond and only encouraged further trolling.

    The newest generations are much better at hitting the right-wing troll crew where it hurts. The Ingraham’s of the world don’t know how to react to this. Hence the need to tell teenagers to shut up plus a lot of concern trolling from entitled old people on the dangers of a boycott and going after corporate sponsers.

    Have you ever heard a middle-aged right-winger talk about how they got into right-wing politics? Most of them were teenagers or young adults when Reagan was elected President. They often talk about how the Democratic Party was broken and had the same old-talking points, all the exciting and new ideas were on the right-wing. Now the right-wing is the broken record with the same old-ideas. However, they don’t want to admit that they are losing popular votes and only winning majorities on technical victories and gerrymandering. So they will repeat like broken records.

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    • The right’s idea problem isn’t new vs old, it’s good vs bad. The right has the lion’s share of bad ideas, because their views are quite proudly less correlated with reality. I hate to say it but it really is that simple.

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  5. Nothing is more ridiculous than expecting a basic grasp of current policy and facts before acquiescing to vague and potentially broad policy changes. After all, no one in our society has ever used the cries of children to further cynical, foolish, or short-sighted ends.

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      • It depends on the specific effort and the goals of the effort. The one’s I’ve seen proposed (with the possible exception of looking into the issues with background checks) do in my opinion fall into that bucket.

        What I can say is I’m not convinced they know much (read anything) about the GCA and NFA which are the major federal laws in play, or are well versed on crime/criminal justice policy in a way I think one needs to be to talk about the subject intelligently. And look I get it, they’re kids. Plenty of adults don’t understand it either and weigh in with all kinds of asinine views. My point is just that passion and/or being a witness or victim to something bad does not grant special insight into public policy.

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        • This and related talking points are something I’m seeing often. “These kids don’t know what they’re talking about.” And I’ll confess to bristling a little (and, elsewhere, sometimes a lot) at the idea of, “Wisdom from the mouths of babes.” As an early childhood educator, I actually find the idea on the “profoundness” of 4-year-olds more troubling than whimsical or inspiring… but I’m digressing.

          So, yes, I recognize the legitimacy of the sentiment that we should not take policy cues from teenagers nor necessarily offer added weight to the policy preferences of those most proximal to tragedy.

          But… the thing is… if these kids are so ill-informed — if their policy proposals are so daft or “cynical, foolish, and short-sighted” — it should be reasonably easy to refute them with knowledge, data, facts, reason, etc. Instead, what we’re seeing are personal attacks, lies, smears, propaganda, etc.

          When CNN hosted the town hall, I didn’t walk away thinking, “Rubio is a monster or idiot for not just caving to the wants and needs of the survivor. I walked away thinking, “Rubio might be a dummy because he couldn’t win a policy debate with an emotionally-charged, likely under-informed teenager.” Now, maybe the forum and atmosphere was such that he was in a lose-lose situation, but I think the broader point still stands: if these kids are wrong — so obviously blatantly wrong — it should be relatively easy to make that case without resorting to so much of the ugliness that we’ve seen (though not necessarily on these pages since we generally have reasonable folks here, yourself included).

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          • I see this as more of an issue about the state of political debate. To expand on what I said to Sam above, these kids are far from lonely in making claims about policies and issues they apparently don’t understand. Virtually the entire Republican party and conservative media has spent the last decade doing it with health care. They aren’t being intelligently refuted because the way our media and public debate work right now doesn’t seem to allow for the intelligent refutation or discussion of anything.

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            • I don’t disagree with that. But what stands out is that much of the response I’m seeing to the kids is framed as, “They’re just a bunch of emotional, uninformed teenagers!” Their is explicit acknowledgement of this fact/making this claim. It would seem the logical follow up would be, “And here is why they’re wrong.” (Sort of how you did here… since you’re not some sort of media monster.)

              Elsewhere, “debate” seems to jump right to, “YOU’RE AN AWFUL HUMAN BECAUSE OF THIS MEME AND THAT DOCTORED PHOTO OF YOU!” What stands out to me is that here we’re seeing folks leading with, “Sixteen year old shooting victims are ill positioned to determine policy. Want to know why? Because they love Castro and never got shot anyway.”

              I don’t know if it is progress that there is that little kernel of legitimacy or a stepbackwards that even in demonstrating a bit of legitimacy they can’t actually build upon the logical follow up to that base.

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              • I don’t see much progress in it, just a different tactic for clicks and eyeballs. A friend of mine used to listen to a local right wing Lymbaugh wanna-be on AM radio so I’d hear it when I was in the car with him. I never asked if this was supposed to be ironic or if he was into the message because I kind of didn’t want to know.

                Every once in awhile the host would start to make what sounded like a legitimate or interesting point, but then immediately go down the rabbit hole about dyed red Marxists posing as Democrats and similar nonsense. I don’t know if the interesting part was a hook to catch listeners or if the thought process was just that ridiculous. I suspect the former but who knows.

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                • Ha!

                  Very likely.

                  It boggles my mind. And, frankly, really pisses me off when I see folks who would otherwise be ideological allies go off the rails and criticize the stupid or irrelevant. I mean, for about 9 different reasons focusing on Trump’s skin, hair, or weight is not just unproductive, it is likely counterproductive (on top of actually being illiberal in any number of ways).

                  Like, there is so much legitimate ground to oppose folks on all sides. And yet, here we are… doctoring images of 16-year-olds and chortling about lame ass jokes like “Commander in Cheetoh” or whatever. THAT IS NOT AN ARGUMENT!

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                  • I think the difference is social media and the psychology of it. Not to say that confirmation bias or crass jokes or dumb ideas haven’t always been out there. What’s new is it’s been perfected, commercialized, and put in everyone’s pocket.

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                    • And perhaps we’re misguided in calling much of this debate. Often times, those “arguments” are not being made while actually engaged with ideological opponents or even in service of challenging a position but merely as signaling to members of one’s own tribes. It’s cheerleading at a pep rally, not (failing at) debate.

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      • Gun control efforts are “cynical, foolish, or short-sighted” then?

        “Cynical” is a good word when the word “gun violence” is used to inflate school shooting deaths by lumping them together with suicide and/or drug war numbers. “Cynical” is also a good word if the proposed solution couldn’t possibly have worked against the problem it’s supposedly trying to address.

        “Foolish” is a good word to describe a plan that depends on mass murderers obeying the law.

        “Short-sighted” is the word if long term effects (or history) are ignored, i.e. “does this make gov repression and/or genocide more possible” or even “does this make crime worse”. Our country’s repeated experiments with prohibition do not suggest good things if we try to outlaw vast numbers of guns.

        For example, we have a history of law enforcement mistreating minorities. If we fire up a “war-on-guns”, it will be law enforcement which enforces it, and our expectation should be that it’s the minority communities which end up on the front lines. Very likely it’d be a serious expansion on the war on drugs.

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        • All very good points.

          I’ve put some thought into this, and I believe the current gun control efforts are misguided.
          It needs to be context-dependent rather than individual-dependent in order to be effective.

          This is incredibly similar to our set-up with criminal justice, where individual responsibility is routinely assigned to societal problems; and also one huge reason why it’s so ineffective.
          An individual always acts outside of their individuality in order to create a danger to others– no act outside of their individuality, no danger.

          This came from the realization that I am completely unconcerned about a criminal owning and maintaining a firearm.
          In that case, it is never going to be used, or else the criminal will be in big trouble for having a firearm.
          The danger is where a criminal obtains a firearm for a short period of time (say, fifteen minutes) without intention of ever maintaining it.
          That is, the hazard attaches not to the person, but the context.

          No matter how many criteria are sorted in a system of background checks, the project is doomed to failure.
          The question is: Is this a feature or a bug? Is the intent of background checks simply that of generating make-busy work while achieving nothing in particular?

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    • Is this supposed to be for or against the Parkland teenagers? The teenagers are doing this themselves. They aren’t being manipulated by adults. And the right-wing, being the Avignon Popes that they are, always claim to have a monopoly on policy and facts.

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      • Well for, the record, let me genuflect and ceremoniously state that I think most Republican lawmakers on the federal level are idiots and I disagree, in many cases vehemently, with the majority of their agenda.

        For the teenagers themselves, I think they are probably well-meaning but are being made useful idiots by people with a pre-existing agenda. I look at them the same way I look at most crime victims of unspeakable but ultimately rare acts who are paraded out to push for more criminalization and more surveillance. I’ve seen the movie enough times before to know where it leads.

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        • For the teenagers themselves, I think they are probably well-meaning but are being made useful idiots by people with a pre-existing agenda.

          This seems a weird conclusion, especially in light of the idea that they are pushing a pre-existing set of policy proposals.

          Not, I think, a particularly good set of policy proposals, but ones that lots of people have. The their wrongness is somehow particularly attributable to their age and, to quote one of their adversaries, their resulting propensity for “licking Tide Pods and snorting condoms” seems to be entirely without foundation.

          Yeah, I know that you aren’t on the Right, et c., but the thing is the Right is going well beyond simply saying they disagree. They don’t want to talk about how the kids are wrong, they want to talk about how the kids are jerks. Mostly by justifying how the kids are being mean–“bullying”, even–hapless, innocent victims like Marco Rubio and Laura Ingraham.

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    • I agree 100%. I get a sense that there are some gross individuals on the Left that have decided to use these kids as human shields so they can advocate for the same gun control proposals we have heard for years and then folks like the author of this post can complain about how these nearly-adult individuals are being mistreated.

      I lost what little interest I had in their movement as soon as they complained their constitutional rights were being violated because they had to carry clear backpacks to school. That seems to demonstrate the exact kind of self-centeredness one should expect from teenagers and should remind us all what we are dealing with.

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      • I get a sense that there are some gross individuals on the Left that have decided to use these kids as human shields so they can advocate for the same gun control proposals we have heard for years and then folks like the author of this post can complain about how these nearly-adult individuals are being mistreated.

        To be blunt, this is gratuitous nonsense. If the kids are advocating for the same gun control nonsense we’ve heard for years, and they’re nearly adults, the idea that they somehow had to be be manipulated into it is almost self-contradictory. They react to the problem at hand the way many adults do.

        As for complaining that the kids are being mistreated, well, um, maybe don’t mistreat them? It’s not like the didn’t find real examples, and even if we hadn’t, the first comment on his post proved his point for him.

        I lost what little interest I had in their movement as soon as they complained their constitutional rights were being violated because they had to carry clear backpacks to school. That seems to demonstrate the exact kind of self-centeredness one should expect from teenagers and should remind us all what we are dealing with.

        How self-centered of them to think they have a constitutional right to privacy.

        Why, clearly everyone who brings up any sort of constitutional rights in the context of public policy responses to school shootings is just being immaturely self-centered, and is best ignored.

        Time to confiscate every gun in the country!

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        • I’m not suggesting that the kids are being manipulated to do this. Kids, especially today, love attention of any kind. What I am saying is that some folks on the Left are happy to have found surrogates that they perceive as above the fray. Given their ages, I would disagree about that status.

          And the self-centeredness comes from a willingness to trade away other people’s rights for your security but not your own.

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          • What I am saying is that some folks on the Left are happy to have found surrogates that they perceive as above the fray.

            So what? It would be a total nonissue if bilge merchants like Laura Ingraham had the faintest shred of self-control.

            And the self-centeredness comes from a willingness to trade away other people’s rights for your security but not your own.

            Yes, only a teenager has ever advocated for doing any such thing, and it’s not like disagreements over what is a legitimate right and what isn’t have been the bread and butter of American politics since before the founding of the republic.

            Seriously, even you can’t just bring yourself to say they’re wrong without impugning their motives and character. Maybe the problem is closer to home than it is “gross individuals” on the Left.

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            • Impugning whose motives and character? The teens Sam is worried about in his post? I understand their motives and I don’t know their character. They are children. I tend to let a lot of stuff slide on that front, and it is also why I mostly ignore their opinions.

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              • I understand their motives and I don’t know their character.

                Well, I guess you are retracting this statement, which is, by your own admission, entirely without foundation:

                That seems to demonstrate the exact kind of self-centeredness one should expect from teenagers and should remind us all what we are dealing with.</blockquote.

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                • Pointing out the obvious contradiction of wanting to mess with 2nd Amendment but claiming protection under others isn’t a moral judgement about their motives. I just think it’s kids being kids i.e. self-centered little jerks. As the father of two of them, I’m also aware enough of developmental psychology to know it will pass for many of them.

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                    • Kids that want guns banned but aren’t willing to carry a clear backpack in support of their own security sure as hell seem self-centered to me.

                      I mean, seriously, half of the jobs at the mall when I was a teen required female employees to carry clear purses. At my job, we require all employees to carry clear lunchboxes, just to keep theft down. So if these kids are REALLY serious about their security, maybe they could all just agree not to snicker at some girls tampons… but y’know… teens are jerks.

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                        • Both. We don’t allow people to bring in weapons of any kind (including pocket knives) and we also don’t want to see theft. Win-win.

                          And kids routinely walk through metal detectors in less-than-affluent areas all over the country, so let’s not pretend this is new territory. Kids in inner-city school are subject to all sorts of daily inconveniences beyond their control. Making some upper-middle -class kids give up a smidge of privacy seems small in comparison.

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                          • That sort of thing I seriously disagree with.
                            Harsh as it may sound, I think it’s better in the long run to permit the threat.
                            Same with airport security. We need to steel ourselves up and accept that, every once in awhile, one of these babies gets hijacked or something.

                            Here’s news:
                            Last summer I got held up at gunpoint by someone that looked like a high school kid. I gave him my money, and that didn’t bother me so much. But I kept wondering if he was going to shoot me in the back while I was getting away from there.

                            Today, I saw a guy with a pistol in a side holster at my university.
                            I reported it to the university police, and I sincerely regret doing it. I hate it that I would feel targeted by the police for reporting something I felt to be vital information.
                            They found the guy, and they were tailing him while I sat there and listened on the radio.
                            But I wonder how many of those events go unreported.
                            This is likely the only national report you will ever hear of this incident.

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                      • I haven’t researched it but I can almost *guarantee* you that the kids who are serious about their security and getting this national attention, and the kids who “snicker at some girls’ tampons” are not, at all, the same set of kids.

                        Speaking as someone who was thoroughly bullied (physically, verbally, etc.) at school. It wasn’t the freaking drama club doing the bullying.

                        I don’t think “This is security theater that will on some level make our already really stressed out right now lives worse, and we want real solutions,” is an unreasonable response to security theater. Lord knows I’ve been saying it about getting scanned at airports for a decade now. It’s actually *reassuring* to me in some minor way that these kids give a crap about their privacy, I thought that was a battle that only Gen-Xers cared about one way or the other in general.

                        Also, again speaking personally, not authoritatively, and because I *know* you have better character than this, repeatedly calling a bunch of people who’ve just recently been through a pretty major trauma names and lumping their advocacy actions (regardless of one’s opinions of them) in with typical teenage jerkwad behavior is completely unnecessary.

                        It’s *very easy* to disagree with people without disrespecting their traumas – especially their very recent traumas – and I do it all the time. I’m not perfect at it but I also don’t justify myself when someone points out I’m failing at it, I just try to stop.

                        You can have compassion for individual human beings who are literally *just coming out of a great tragedy in their lives*, acknowledge that, and NOT go on to call them names and focus on ways in which you think they are failing to behave the way they should. And still completely oppose their actions and/or arguments. Without blaming your own behavior on someone else (in this case the people whom you believe are taking cover behind the students).

                        Given your high level of moral probity in general, I would have predicted, before reading these comments, that you would also have reflexively done that. I’m quite disappointed.

                        I hate to make this a conversation about you, and I won’t say more about it than that. If you want to call me out for breaking the rules and tell me to censor my own post, I honestly will do so.

                        But there it is. You’re calling a bunch of people who just recently lost people they love in a violent and terrifying way, names. Is that really who you are? What you want to do for *any* reason?

                        *******

                        I would also note (not so much in response to what you’ve said but because many people have been doing this, and I’m unlikely to comment further on this post in a personal role) that the kids themselves are not all advocating the same things. Emma Gonzalez is (perhaps unsurprisingly given class and ethnic differences) advocating *different* kinds of gun control than David Hogg. Lumping them all together as having the same agenda, rather than sharing common goals, is an error I’ve seen made elsewhere.

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                        • “Also, again speaking personally, not authoritatively, and because I *know* you have better character than this, repeatedly calling a bunch of people who’ve just recently been through a pretty major trauma names and lumping their advocacy actions (regardless of one’s opinions of them) in with typical teenage jerkwad behavior is completely unnecessary.”

                          I don’t think it’s ‘name-calling’ to point out the contradictions in their policy positions as self-centered. I also don’t think it’s a revelation to say that nearly all teenagers are, in general, self-centered and yes, jerks. I used to be one of them. I raised one who (thankfully) came out the other side a pretty nice individual. I live with one of them now who is in full Self-Centered Jerk mode and, if she follows the traditional pattern, has about 2 more years left in the cycle.

                          These kids are choosing to be public personalities right now. It’s perfectly acceptable to have an opinion about them specifically and their generation broadly. Implying that I am somehow disrespecting their trauma by doing so is pretty unfair IMO. Certainly even you don’t believe that having bad things happen to you gives someone the moral high ground or untouchable status forever…do you?

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                          • “Certainly even you don’t believe that having bad things happen to you gives someone the moral high ground or untouchable status forever…do you?”

                            Of course I don’t, and it’s absurd to interpret what I said that way. It’s also absurd to call people – any people – “little jerks” and then say you aren’t calling them names. Either own the name-calling, or don’t do it, but c’mon. Don’t do it and then say you aren’t.

                            I didn’t make any claims about them having moral high ground or untouchable status, I said that making sweeping name-calling generalizations about them is unworthy of you. I would be willing to say that making sweeping name-calling generalizations about *any* group of people who’ve been through particularly awful, literal *trauma* (which involves reasonable fear for one’s life or observing other people in grave danger, and is different than “having bad things happen”) is always unworthy of you, and that doing so within a year of said trauma, let alone within three months, when it’s remarkably obvious that the political action they are taking is directly tied to a stage of grief is particularly unworthy. (Survivors of trauma, as part of the healing process, almost always become activists or advocates in one way or another. Eventually. And not everybody. But it’s super-obvious and super-common and it’s super-easy to hold some extra space for them when it’s going on.)

                            I would also say that you can have opinions about them and their generation without name-calling.

                            I actually know a number of teenagers and their parents – I’m not a mom, but I’m an auntie very many times over – and their parents have extremely high moral standards for their kids, find the teenage years both inspiring at times and incredibly frustrating at other times, have complained to me in private about them – but also *wouldn’t* call their own kids – or anyone else’s high school aged kids – “self-centered little jerks” in a public forum. Particularly, they wouldn’t call their kids names to justify calling other kids names. It’s not that they wouldn’t talk about it, vent, compare notes, make arguments by analogy or any of that … they just wouldn’t be insulting. In large part because they want to be better role models *for kids* than to use insults when there are easier ways to make their points.

                            I expect your kids have the context and appreciation to understand what you do and don’t mean by that, and that even though it’s an insult, you don’t love them any less for it, but when you start calling strangers those kinds of names, those strangers have an entirely different context for what you are saying, as do the rest of us.

                            It’s cheap name-calling. You are better than that.

                            I don’t think it’s unfair to tell you I think you are better than what you are doing. It’s super rare for me and if you want me to stop, delete these comments, or whatever I will. I also won’t elaborate further because the last thing I’m trying to do is pile on to you here.

                            *shrugs*

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                              • Since you asked, not especially. It’s that it’s an insult, not the words used, up to a certain limit. I mean “self-absorbed fisher” (and read the actual f-word there) is not really *more* of a problem than “little jerk” either. It’s demeaning, it’s cheap, both to the insulter and the insulted.

                                There are certainly contexts where insulting people isn’t actually insulting – show up in my pal’s garage for poker any night and you’ll hear the insults flying. And for most adults, anyone who hasn’t, say, been in reasonable fear for their life within the last three months, I’d give it a year to be generous, or isn’t speaking about their most vulnerable and scared places, I’d say who cares what they get called. (Again, speaking personally, not as a moderator.)

                                But neither of those terms you suggest as potentially less objectionable is anything I would call any kid I felt responsible for/to in public and in writing, other than *maybe* in a behaviorally-limited, time-bound way, as in “BLEARGH, so and so was being such a self-absorbed fisher this afternoon can you believe what she did:” and even then I’d be cautious about it and probably obscure details.

                                Why do you want to call them names?

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                                • Again, I don’t consider it name-calling. I call it ‘an accurate description of behavior’. I also grew up in a family where people called you on your BS in exactly the same way and it never felt like anything other than tough love. I’ve done exactly the same with both my kids and will make zero apologies for it.

                                  And if I’m being honest, I’m sort of incredulous (though not really surprised) that so many folks to the Left of me find it troubling to make a generalization about teenagers (re: NOT just the Stoneman kids). Sadly, it’s the world we live in.

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                                  • , I’m not doubting your love for your family or your family’s love for you, to be clear. Nor am I asking you to apologize to anyone. Just to see if you can’t shift your perspective. Feel free to decline to make the effort, it’s not your job to not make me sad.

                                    I also don’t find it all that troubling to make *generalizations* about teenagers, and have said several times that that isn’t the problem. I find it troubling to make *generalized insults* about teenagers, or to make specific insults about specific teenagers, written down and in broad public contexts.

                                    I have a full slate of opinions about teenagers, generalizations, and I’m not telling you to stop having them.

                                    here are some of mine:

                                    When I think of the teenagers I know, of myself as a teenager, of the students I know who are barely out of teenagerhood? Yes, they have flaws, individually and in some ways as a group. Lack of myelin is a real thing.

                                    But they’re also capable of great heroism and great selflessness. (to be clear I am not claiming those things for the Parkland kids, I can see why people do, and I can see why they don’t – I have a lot of empathy for them, but they are decent human beings and activists, not heroes). I’ve seen teenagers act as nobly as anyone else.

                                    Teenagers are fully as capable as anyone else of being decent human beings. Teenagers are as likely as anyone else to be struggling under some pretty horrific weights and doing their best to look out for each other anyway (and *many* of them are in those positions, many more than CPS ever interacts with). And for many of them (probably not mostly kids whose demographics match David Hogg’s, I will concede, but some of those, and overall not necessarily a minority of kids, either), their biggest challenge will not be stopping being self-absorbed and unkind.

                                    For most people who are currently teenagers in the United States now, their biggest challenge will be some combination of learning how not to enact the things that were done to them on other people and / or asserting themselves and protecting their friends against a system that thinks calling them all kinds of dismissive names is perfectly fine. That thinks sneering, and insults, and outright mockery is just a normal part of how we talk to people who are somehow “less than” we are. And who backs up that attitude toward people with an equal amount of mistreatment of people.

                                    I tend to presume you also do not accept or endorse that system, cf your comments about how screwed up both major parties are here and elsewhere, so it surprises and bothers me when you seem to be folded into it, instead.

                                    And I get indignant on teenagers’ behalfs not because I want them to be coddled every time they get a hangnail, but because it seems like self-absorbed behavior on we adults’ part to look at the giant enormous mess we are leaving them to deal with, and then complain about how self-absorbed *they* are.

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                                    • Well and you know what?

                                      Forget what I said before about “I”ve never been a mom but..”

                                      I mean, sure, technically I have not mothered children. Technically, all my *healthy* experience of families is second-hand.

                                      Non-technically, I was the primary (most stable, most consistent, most reliable) caretaker for three other children starting when I was about age 5 (there were only 2 then, the third came along when I was seven). Including several teenage years of doing my damnedest (which I always was very aware was not enough) to mother not one, but *three* other teenagers while serving the needs of two very self-absorbed, narcissistic adults and dodging physical and other kinds of abuse. (As always, I can’t help but footnote that those two adults were really different and one’s self-absorption was a lot more toxic and less forgiveable than the other’s.)

                                      That’s what I was doing as a teenager. It almost killed me. And I bailed on my sibs to go to college – though not completely, they knew I was always ready to drop everything for them, and not without involving other adults in the family outside the home. Also, they have all told me they see it as blazing a trail for escape, not abandonment, so I try not to beat myself up for it now. At the time, though? At the time, I internalized every blaring complaint about how teenagers were self-absorbed, temperamental, temporarily insane and not equally valuable human beings, whether it came from my dad, aimed like a weapon, or just from the cultural consensus around me. I did believe those things. Those beliefs were like frigging shackles that made everything I accomplished all the harder to accomplish, weighing me down when I didn’t have enough time to even really notice I was wearing them, let alone navel-gaze.

                                      But they weren’t true about me then (I was kicking the universe’s ASS, surviving and mothering even in the half-cocked way I managed to do so) and they aren’t true about teenagers “in general” now. If you want to say I, and all teenagers, have certain developmental challenges – myelin, hormones, etc – that made what I did a lot more *difficult*. yes. I’m on board with that part. But not with the insulting and the eye-rolling and the assuming that every kid is going to act out in the way that kids who are, really, *very* privileged compared to the average kid will. Or that kids who just went through a hellish time are somehow best addressed with snark and name-calling, no matter how non-vitriolic the speaker intends to be.

                                      And I’m not going to defer to parental wisdom on that, because literally the only differences between me and real parents are the ones I outlined above. And I really don’t think that made the job of parenting *easier*, on the whole. (It was 110 percent frigging worth it and the only thing about my childhood I wouldn’t trade in for not having been abused -unless it meant they’d be saved from what we all went through *too* – but it wasn’t ever easy. And it didn’t leave any time for being self-absorbed.)

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                                      • “…the only differences between me and real parents are the ones I outlined above.”

                                        Maribou, you of all people, who has explained to so many people on this site over the years about how they do not really understand the female/abused/minority/LGBTQ experience without having actually experienced it…I’m really struggling to give you a pass on the statement above but it’s so blatantly wrong that I don’t think I have it in me to do that, so…I think I’m just going to excuse myself here.

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                                        • I think you misunderstand, and probably in my frustration, I wasn’t clear..

                                          I do not know what it is like to be an adult, raising children, at all. I do not know what it is like to be a parent in the best, most beautiful sense of that term. I don’t even know what it is to be a good parent, an adult with adult responsibilities and ways of addressing the world, with little kids to tend, at all – and I am far more adult, and more skilled as an auntie than I ever was as a “mom”. But plenty of teenagers are the kind of mom I was, not the kind of mom I think kids should have.

                                          I will never be a good enough parent to sit on the back porch drinking a beer and enjoying how much my (wonderful, going to be a force for good in the world, but also sometimes a huge pain in the ass) kids think I’m a self-righteous asshole. That’s not a set of privileges I will ever have. Nor will I have the worries and fears attendant on being an adult cradling one’s own tiny baby in one’s hands and wondering what the world will hold for them. There is a great deal, good and bad, that my attenuated version of parenting will never encompass.

                                          What I do have, and what I did do, and what I insist is freaking relevant to a lot of people’s lives, and a lot of people’s families, perhaps rather more so than the idealized experience that seems to be to be the exception, rather than the norm, in this relatively privileged country, let alone world wide ….

                                          Is to raise three children, in very trying circumstances, into wonderful, functional, adults who are also remarkably good parents (far better than I was and in an entirely different league than either of the adults who failed to parent us). Circumstances trying enough that they literally drove me to rewrite my whole self because *someone* needed to do that work and there was no way I was going to let my siblings not have the very very basic things I knew we all needed.

                                          I know what it is like to have a sick child, and to sleep in their hospital room, and to argue with doctors, and to measure life-saving meds that will also kill them if you mismeasure.

                                          I know what it is like to teach a kid to (really nurture a kid while they flower into the kind of person who can) read, to tie their shoes, to hit a baseball, to be kind, to solve problems, to stand up for their friends, to do the right thing and to admit it when they’ve failed.

                                          I know what it is like to be in a mother role in a house where the one quasi-functional adult works 60 hours a week and is not functional enough to mother. To serve meals, settle disputes, worry about bullies, plan birthdays, contact teachers, spend more hours driving kids around to after school activities than it seems like you should have available in the day (and set up carpools and work with other parents even) .

                                          I know what it is like to be an adult who is treated as the-best-closest-thing to a *real* parent three other adults will ever have, even as they and I both share the responsibilities of supporting and mothering the person who gets the credit from the world for being our mother (and who, when I was very small, *did* mother me and thereby teach me what being a mother was like).

                                          I’m not a mom the way your wife is a mom. I’m not a dad the way you are a dad. Not even close.

                                          But to tell me what I did wasn’t parenting, that I don’t know, for example, what it’s like to be the parent of a teenager and how insufferable and annoying teenagers can be and how much one can worry and work and set high standards to help them get past that stage in their lives?

                                          That’s pretty much, to address what you brought into this head on, like telling a gay person who has been married for 15 years that they don’t *really* love their partner because their context isn’t your context.

                                          If the idea of me being a parent, albeit in a different way than you are, is so wrong that you have to step away, so be it.

                                          But I’m tired of pretending what I did doesn’t count as parenting. Because, among many other reasons, I am damn proud of those three kids I raised. Not of the job I did, but of how they turned out. And they weren’t *parentless*. They didn’t just magically turn out that way. They had me.

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                                          • I also, if anyone is wondering and because I certainly didn’t have the time to be this self-absorbed back then:
                                            – bought groceries
                                            – made sure the bills got paid
                                            – mediated between two very angry adults who didn’t agree about money and both were financially incompetent to make sure they didn’t break our finances
                                            – was fully aware by the time I was 9 or 10 of every aspect of said finances, both legal and illegal
                                            – managed the doing of household chores (mostly doing them, sometimes delegating them)
                                            – literally, over and over, was the only person doing anything for our house and the children in it for days and days at a time, even nominally, starting when I was five.

                                            The only aspect of being a parent I really never did, other than being a grown-up with grown-up skills which certainly would have made everything a lot easier, was hold down a full-time job and be responsible for making sure there was income into the household. But having held down a full-time job for 20 years now, I am quite sure it is less work, all told, than going to school (particularly given that if I got anything less than a 100 percent I’d be threatened, ridiculed, and/or attacked) plus hiding all this from the world at large was. I think making that trade would make parenting easier, not harder, for me.

                                            My parents had lucid periods (and faked lucidity outside the home just fine). There were whole months, at times, where they pitched in on the parenting. But they weren’t in any sense reliable parents. If I look at parents who do a good job, and I look back at my youth, what I was doing was a lot more like parenting than not like it. What my parents were doing was not.

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                                            • And I was the person my siblings turned to when they missed the bus, had a nightmare, scraped their knees, didn’t know what to do in general. Not my mom. Not my shitstorm of a father.

                                              Me.

                                              My brother actually struggled a bit as an adult to determine that as kids, I had been more of a parent than a sister – not like we fought over it but like he spent a lot of time mulling it over in his own head.

                                              What he told me ended up being the clincher was – not any of the times I put my body between him and my father’s anger, not any of the meals I put on the table – but simply,
                                              “I remembered the time when you were in 7th grade and me and (sister) were in elementary school and we missed the bus and we knew home was an hour long bus ride away and we didn’t know how we were going to get home and we were really scared at first. We didn’t even think for a second to call mom or dad. Or some other grown-up.. We knew the teachers should just call you and then you would take care of us.”

                                              After he said that we both cried for a while. And then we stopped lying to ourselves about how our relationship is what it is, not what we pretended it was for the sake of our family’s reputation.

                                              Yeah, being in 7th grade kept me from being a *real* proper adult parent who would not have put kids into a situation where missing the bus was that scary for them in the first place. And it sure as heck constrained my options for solving the problem. But it didn’t keep me from solving that problem.

                                              And to loop back to the Parkland kids a bit – they aren’t perfect. But if their teenaged, definitely not as good as an ideal adult’s, attempts at turning their hurt into something better end up breaking the back of the NRA, I would guess that you, , and the other folks who IMO-and-by-my-cultural-standards do deserve to have guns (self included even though I choose not to have ammo in the house until and unless one of us ever gets our gun skills up to what I consider acceptable levels) are *more*, not less likely to end up not having a total gun ban. Because it doesn’t matter what those kids think about gun policy, or clear backpacks, or whatever dumb thing dumb pundits focus on. It matters that they are hurt, and they are taking that hurt, and trying their best to turn it into a positive force for good in the world. Including, by the way, reaching out and building bridges and *learning from* those very folks in Chicago and elsewhere that you rightfully pointed out the MSM doesn’t give a crap about. IF they keep doing what they are doing, and don’t let themselves get ground down and sneered out of their passions, things *will get better* and they will grow and improve and learn more about guns and what the biggest gun-related problems and best gun-related policies in the nation are, and when they are fully-myelinized adults they’ll do a damn sight better job of solving the gun problems that the country *actually* has, than anyone in our generation or our parents’ has done.

                                              It won’t matter, then, whether you or I agree with the policy suggestions they were chanting at these early marches. It’ll matter how we treated them, that, tough love or gentle, we did *love* on them and respect them and lift them up, when they were trying their best to be decent human beings.

                                              And it will matter *for us*, by that point, that they were the gun control advocates we needed, as outlines below, rather than the gun control advocates that should have existed in some ideal world.

                                              Just like it mattered to my siblings that I was the good-enough parent *they needed*, far more than that I wasn’t a parent in the proper, ideal sense of the term.

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                                    • “For most people who are currently teenagers in the United States now, their biggest challenge will be some combination of learning how not to enact the things that were done to them on other people and / or asserting themselves and protecting their friends against a system that thinks calling them all kinds of dismissive names is perfectly fine.”

                                      Is your contention that essentially modern teens have been dealt a shitty hand and their biggest challenge will be overcoming their status as victims? Yeesh.

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            • These two comments… ‘s here and ‘s above has me wondering to what extent is the vitriol being thrown the kids’ way is precisely because of the reality or perception that they are being used by the left because of their supposed untouchability.

              If you think your enemy is trying to win by annointing their new weapon as untouchable, maybe the best tactic is to show just how touchable it is.

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          • Since we’re going to describe entirely reasonable gun control efforts as “a willingness to trade away other people’s rights” I assume we can similarly describe gun control opponents willingness to trade away the lives of children for their own unfettered access to guns? Or would that be unfair in a way that what you just wrote isn’t?

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            • That logic would track if I believed that access to guns was the root cause of these shootings. Since I don’t, I can’t agree with your description.

              What I will say though is that I 100% support potential federal measures to reduce teen violence and death. My solutions are probably much different than yours, but we can both agre on the general goal, right?

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              • You don’t believe that access to guns makes shootings (and mass shootings) easier?

                As for the idea of a general goal, I would be extremely dubious if somebody told me that they wanted to stop flooding but were also against dams. We keep being asked to believe that gun control opponents “agree on the general goal” right before they insist that nothing should ever be done except ensuring more sales for the gun industry.

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                • Sam,

                  I focus on root cause, not symptoms. Assault weapons don’t cause mass shootings. If you’ve lowered the bar to ‘not less shootings but just less people dying in mass shootings’ then you should probably throw in the towel.

                  There’s a ton of things I would do, some of which even involve guns, but a lot of it doesn’t.

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                  • The root-cause of the overwhelming number of mass-shootings is unbelievably selfish men who believe that the world, having insufficiently rewarded them simply for existing, must be punished. The assault rifles make carrying out the mass-shootings much, much easier. It’s why Nikolas Cruz didn’t bring a black powder long rifle with him to Stoneman.

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                    • I do find it interesting to hear someone who sees racism lurking behind so many issues, putting the blame solely on these shooters for losing their sanity.

                      And tragic as these events are, I would just love to see the Left taking an equal interest in the streets of Chicago.

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                        • “Do you think gun control advocates ignore violence in places like Chicago, Cincinnati, or Louisville?”

                          I think folks that are solely focused on ‘banning guns’ absolutely ignore violence in those places. They prefer to focus on the less-than-1% of shootings that scare them.

                          As for those people who advocate for reducing more widespread gun violence…those folks ARE maintaining a presence in those places and actually offering real solutions. Unfortunately for them, they also look a lot different than most of the people attending March for Lives rallies and raging at the world on chatboards, so they don’t get the same media attention.

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            • Since we’re going to describe entirely reasonable gun control efforts as “a willingness to trade away other people’s rights” I assume we can similarly describe gun control opponents willingness to trade away the lives of children for their own unfettered access to guns? Or would that be unfair…

              Depends on whether there is any magic thinking and who is doing it.

              The proposed solution after Virginia Tech was a law that the gov talk to itself to prevent the legally insane from purchasing guns. If the GOP had opposed that legislation you could describe them as opposing “reasonable gun control” and a “willingness to trade away the lives of children”.

              Of course what happened was Bush signed that into law, the NRA was good with it, everyone agreed it was a reasonable way to deal with a demonstrated problem.

              The proposed solution after SandyHook was a waiting period for purchasing guns, but the shooter murdered his mother to get her guns so “waiting period” or even “purchasing” guns seem irrelevant. He also planned his crime for a year or so beforehand (which is typical).

              So the thinking here seems to be either
              1) Mass murderers will obey THIS law even if they’re willing to kill their mothers.
              2) This was signalling by the politicians to their supporters at the expense of the rights of the people affected and it wouldn’t have prevented SandyHook.

              If it’s #2 then the number of “children’s lives traded” would have been zero, so yes, it’s unfair.

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              • On the subject of “common sense gun control”, roughly 70% of the counties in the US have one or fewer murders, 54% have zero murders, lots of these places are awash in guns. 5% of the country has a problem, the other 95% does not, the 5% typically already has lots of gun control.

                That is the world of the NRA’s backbone, and it’s why “common sense gun control” looks insane from their point of view.

                https://crimeresearch.org/2017/04/number-murders-county-54-us-counties-2014-zero-murders-69-1-murder/

                https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/apr/25/most-murders-occurred-in-5-percent-of-countys-says/

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                • You’re aware that county by county has nothing to do with population percentage, right? That counties are in no way population balanced?

                  Like “5 percent of counties”, while relevant in a lot of ways, is absolutely *NOT* “5 percent of the country” having a problem, unless you think of “the country” as being a federation of counties rather than its people or its states.

                  I mean, I’m pretty sure you know that.

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                  • You’re aware that county by county has nothing to do with population percentage, right? That counties are in no way population balanced?

                    Yes, absolutely. Those links mention the ultra low murder rate is only 20% of the country by population (I don’t recall if that was the 50% or the 70%).

                    But it explains why the Guns! wing of the GOP is so strong in the outback, and why the outback’s views on this are so different. They don’t just think they don’t have a problem, with a murder rate of zero they actually don’t have a problem. Odds are they also need to shoot animals on occasion or know other people who do.

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                    • I don’t disagree with what you are saying about the outback, I just disagreed with the part where you literally said “5% of the country” had a problem and 95% of the country did not. Which was, as you acknowledge above,strikingly inaccurate.

                      I’m not trying to argue the argument, here, just encourage people to say what they mean and not what’s more rhetorically powerful.

                      Were I trying to argue the argument I would probably start by pointing out that the NRA’s central nervous system (not sure about backbone, I’d argue their backbone is made of money, not people at all) is not composed of the outback, but of people who want the outback to think they are on their side. (An argument Mike D has incorporated into what he has to say, before, I believe.)

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                      • “with a murder rate of zero they actually don’t have a problem. ”

                        Speaking as someone who spent her childhood in a county with a murder rate of zero, that doesn’t necessarily follow. I know (hearsay, non-admissible – but dude, I *know*) of one or two murders that were ruled accidental deaths because it was just better for everyone that way. One of them happened when I was a teenager, the other one before I was born.

                        OTOH I suppose the consensus of the people in that county *is* that those particular murders were not a problem. And still effectively zero compared to a lot of other places.

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                      • I just disagreed with the part where you literally said “5% of the country” had a problem and 95% of the country did not. Which was, as you acknowledge above,strikingly inaccurate.

                        Yes and no. We do have a lot of people living in those 5% of counties, but the murder rate isn’t even close to even in even those areas.

                        It’s not well supported by my links, but they do touch upon it when they start to go down past “county” and into “streets”. I’ve seen other research on this, for example suggestions that the VAST bulk of Chicago’s murder carnage is generated by 10k or so people.

                        I would be surprised it it’s even 5% of the country (by population) with a problem.

                        Big picture is the bulk of America (by land or population) has a murder rate which ranges between “average for Europe” and “absurdly great for Europe”, and we have a single digit percentage of America with an eye wateringly high murder rate. Witnessed blood on the streets multiple times, personally know lots of people who have ended up dead, high murder rate… and they also have high levels of gun control and it’s not helping much.

                        All of which implies gun control, if it’s going to work and not simply demo emotional outrage, needs to be targeted and intelligent. We’re not going to take away the Parkland shooter’s gun with some words on a piece of paper that he’s magically going to obey, but we had more than enough information to target him specifically.

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                        • As I said I wasn’t disagreeing with your argument. Just with the “5 percent of the country has a problem” math claim that you were making based on the specific numbers you were citing before.

                          I think of you as the/a math guy, I want your math rhetoric to be good!

                          The way you phrase it here, agree or disagree, is solid, the old way wasn’t. :)

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                      • I would probably start by pointing out that the NRA’s central nervous system… (not sure about backbone, I’d argue their backbone is made of money, not people at all) is not composed of the outback, but of people who want the outback to think they are on their side.

                        The job of the Guns! wing of the GOP isn’t to supply money to politicians, it’s to supply votes, especially during the primary.

                        I mean, sure, they do give money, and it’s encouraged, but the amount they give rounds to zero when compared to everything else. The Money! wing of the GOP gives money to politicians.

                        Money! has money but no votes (rounds to zero), Guns! has votes (ignoring God! and Moats! here who also have votes).

                        And agreed with the rest.

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                    • Also – asking because I think your way of framing this is interesting, NOT to barrage you with complaints – you realize the inverse is equally applicable, right?

                      Like if 80 percent of the country’s population, or 50 percent or whatever primarily knows guns as “stuff that bad people use to end lives and/or impose their will on the rest of us,” they’re not going to understand the Guns! wing of the GOP any more than those folks understand them.

                      Certainly not before the age of 25.

                      And it’s not like the Guns! wing of the GOP is exactly rushing to make themselves more relatable to those folks.

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                      • I hope it’s not piling on to say that I think if the Guns! wing of the GOP were outlining its position in the terms Dark Matter has been using here and elsewhere, it would discernibly move the needle away from gun control on the Left.

                        Like, not enough to change the overall partisan dynamic. But enough to depolarize things somewhat.

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                        • I hope it’s not piling on…

                          It’s not, and even if it were I’m an adult.

                          I think if the Guns! wing of the GOP were outlining its position in the terms Dark Matter has been using here and elsewhere, it would discernibly move the needle away from gun control on the Left.

                          Thank you very much, but I think you and I are very much in the minority (although maybe not on this forum).

                          Trump got himself elected mostly by pulling on emotional strings. Both sides of the debate on guns/abortion/pensions/WoD/etc mostly do the same; Every tax increase is sold “for the children”.

                          All of these groups are well resourced, experienced, do studies, etc… if logic, reasoning, and explanations of facts worked at this level then we’d see a lot more of it.

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                      • And it’s not like the Guns! wing of the GOP is exactly rushing to make themselves more relatable to those folks.

                        What do you suggest they do? We’re laughing at Rubio for not handling being called a ‘child killer’ especially well, but he went to that meeting to engage with people and handled it better than most of us.

                        The anti-guns group has a lot of emotion, a lot of ignorance, lack a desire for education, lack a workable plan but insists “something must be done and that something must be less-guns”.

                        With that as the starting point I’m not sure why the NRA is at fault for failing to find a “compromise”.

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                        • Dude, just turn your own frame around and look at “the anti-guns” group with the same charity you are giving the outback.

                          As for the NRA, their leadership at least, which I see as quite distinct from the outback people and responsible-but-swayed gun owners generally, they aren’t at fault for “failing to find a compromise.” They’re at fault for being a weapon used by giant profit-seeking machines that need things to get fanned higher and higher, rather than finding a compromise. Scared people *buy more guns*. The purpose of the corporate machine known as the establishment gun manufacturing companies is *to make more money*.

                          Human beings, in this case chiefly NRA leadership and politicians who let themselves be extorted through NRA leadership, are at fault for letting the machine’s need for more dollars trump human considerations to the point where they *actively* do everything they can to fan the flames of distrust.

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                          • Look at how they reacted to Trump. Instead of tweaking their message to appeal to large swathes of people who were newly distrustful of their government, they started sending Dana Loesch out to do Freikorps cosplay.

                            I really hate the “Oh the NRA are terrorists!” line some people on the Left have taken to repeating, because it’s both horrible in substance [1] and tone [2].

                            But still, given the way they aggressively and repeatedly go out of their way to piss off liberals for no reason, I’m not sure why it’s a surprise liberals hate their guts.

                            [1] They’re actually political activists exercising their Constitutional rights to be jackasses.

                            [2] Attacking them is one thing, and I do it with glee, but attacking them in ridiculously overheated and fundamentally false terms accomplishes the opposite of what is intended, and makes them look like they’re being unfairly victimized by the Left.

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            • I can point to a phrase that talks about the right to keep and bear arms and whether or not it should be infringed.

              We can *ARGUE* about whether it means what it says, but I can sure as heck point to it.

              When it comes to privacy… I’m wondering if you have anything close to a copse of trees to protect you from the winds that are blowing.

              (I know that this little copse is not anywhere close to immune to the chainsaw you’re using against the 2nd, but that’s fine. I know you know it too.)

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              • I can point to a phrase that talks about how the approach you’re using to determining what rights the Constitution protects is totally wrong, to wit: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

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                  • Sure. That strikes me as a totally legitimate argument.

                    What strikes me as a totally illegitimate argument is that disagreeing with over which rights the Constitution protects proves your character is so badly flawed that any arguments you make should be dismissed out of hand.

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                    • Well, I’m not a fan of “The 2nd Amendment doesn’t protect an individual right to own a gun! Wait! What about my right to privacy!” arguments.

                      I’m down with you arguing that you have an individual right to privacy. It’s in an emanation from the penumbra of the 4th.

                      But my willingness to use that technique on the 4th extends to a willingness to use it on the 2nd… and I can see how the 2nd can be read to imply that the right to keep and bear arms should not be infringed.

                      I mean, if we’re getting all broad in our readings and whatnot.

                      If you want to be broad on the stuff you like and narrow on the stuff you don’t, that’s your prerogative, of course.

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                      • There is also the possibility that the constitution of the US is not the perfect unchangeable everything document.

                        I mean, the whole thing with the various amendments to the constitution, is that they’re amendments.

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                          • “Sure. But I’d rather amend it than say “oh, yeah, it’s never meant the thing we assumed it meant for the last hundred years or so”.”

                            This simply isn’t true. – “From 1888, when law review articles first were indexed, through 1959, every single one on the Second Amendment concluded it did not guarantee an individual right to a gun. The first to argue otherwise, written by a William and Mary law student named Stuart R. Hays, appeared in 1960. He began by citing an article in the NRA’s American Rifleman magazine and argued that the amendment enforced a “right of revolution,” of which the Southern states availed themselves during what the author called “The War Between the States.””

                            https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/05/nra-guns-second-amendment-106856?o=1

                            A ’57 Chevy is older than the unalloyed individual right to own a gun.

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                            • One of the things that I inherited a while back was “Elsie”, the shotgun that belonged to my great-grandfather. Another was the gun taken off the dead body of a Nazi and brought back to the States by Uncle Bill. Yet another is the rifle that my father built himself from a kit when he was in Indian Scouts in the 1950’s.

                              And here’s a bunch of Winchester rifle ads from the 1950’s.

                              The past is another country. They do things differently there. But they seem to have had a lot of assumptions about gun ownership and its ubiquity.

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                              • Like when the Clanton gang said “You can take my gun when you pry it from my cold dead fingers” and Wyatt Earp responded “Your proposal is acceptable”.

                                Different times, man, different times.

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                              • Sure, ownership of guns happened. An unalloyed right to that ownership is not the same as ownership.

                                There’s no unalloyed right to drive an automobile – it’s a privilege for which you have to pass a test and that can be repealed if you prove incompetent to do so safely. People still do rather a lot of it.

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                                • I would add to this, my most beloved , that if you think your grandpa and your great-grandpa thought any old fool should be able to shoot off a gun… I mean, I guess that’s possible? But all the gun owners I grew up around (good or bad people) were united in their opinions that guns were for people who could be trusted to safely handle them.

                                  Their opinions about what exactly that entailed varied very widely, of course, and don’t necessarily reflect anything like gun control advocates’ opinions. But they were, nonetheless, *strong* opinions and they very *strongly* disapproved even of letting kids have BB guns *if they weren’t responsible about them*. To the point of taking social action against it. (Didn’t honestly grow up around many people who were in favor of bringing in the law to solve problems, if at all avoidable, which had its upsides but also really sucked sometimes.)

                                  They demonstrated no qualms with “person X can’t be allowed a gun, they suck at it” unless, perhaps, they were person X. (Noted above, they weren’t all good people. Plus none of us want to believe that about ourselves on some level…)

                                  I realize this doesn’t *disprove* your assertion.

                                  But given that context on my part, you have to do more work than just “people owned lots of guns! and they liked them a lot!!” to convince me that people also thought there was an individual *right* to guns. Let alone that the law did.

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                                  • …something that you had to ask permission for and then received if you were privileged or otherwise connected.

                                    I must be privileged or well connected, I applied for a licence to drive a car and was granted one with minimum inconvenience

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                                  • In my culture, it was something you had to prove you deserved. Even rifle kits for kids (like the one your dad built) were part of that proving. If the kid isn’t old enough to build his own rifle, he isn’t old enough to use his own rifle. If the kid is likely to use the BB gun to shoot people, he doesn’t get a GD BB gun (he doesn’t have to actually shoot someone to have the evaluation made). (And he gets sense knocked into him in healthy or unhealthy ways, until he is worthy of having one, most likely.)

                                    My experience of gun owners is that they are *responsible* and they expect a certain level of control. Yes, even governmental control although they would *far* rather sort these things out without calling on the law.

                                    My experiences of gun hoarders in America (and to be clear I’m talking about *a subset* of gun owners that I think has captured the NRA at about the timeframe dragonfrog references, NOT about your average gun enthusiast whether they make me nervous or not, whether they believe in a constitutional right to bear arms or not – though I do think the subset has poisoned the discourse for the rest of us by framing things as “what side are you on?” and getting regular gun owners to see themselves as on THEIR side) … is that these awful people don’t give a crap how many people who shouldn’t be running around with guns ARE running around with guns, and how much harm they are doing thereby, as long as nobody messes with their own guns.

                                    It’s one of the purest examples of FYIGM I can think of, and that’s as a person who thinks almost all claims that people are thinking FYIGM are bunk.

                                    OK, now I’m really done commenting on this post.

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      • I demur on who is and isn’t gross. Like it sounds like you are, I’m wholly uninterested in emotional, gut level appeals and affirmations. It’s been shown over and over again to be a bad way to decide on policy. That they’re so effective is a sad reflection of where we are.

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      • — I don’t want random strangers to see what is in my backpack. I carry all manner of things, some of them quite private. For a very obvious example, I might carry a book with an obvious LGBT theme. Must I out myself to every random person on the subway? Even if I’m willing to do that, should everyone have to? In every context?

        Do I want random people to see my tablet? My photo equipment? That stuff is expensive. It might attact criminals.

        Dammit I like my backpack opaque. Attacking these students for wanting the same is — well — it reflects poorly on you.

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  6. Personally, I believe the children are our are future
    I think that we ought to teach them well and let them lead the way
    We, as adults, need to show them all the beauty they possess inside
    and give them a sense of pride to make it easier.
    We need to let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be.
    Don’t forget, everybody’s searching for a hero
    Let’s face it: people need someone to look up to
    For decades, I never found anyone who fulfill my needs
    It was a lonely place to be
    And so I learned to depend on me.

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    • I like this, but it falls short somewhere.
      Part aspirational, part prescriptive, part pragmatic.
      I’m not sure if it’s the aspirational or the prescriptive part that falls a bit short.
      I think everyone arrives at the pragmatic part at some point.

      I think it’s this part:
      we ought to teach them well and let them lead the way… show them all the beauty they possess inside and give them a sense of pride to make it easier.

      I’m around a lot of 18 – 24-yrs olds these days, and there is a lot of good to be seen in them.
      But they have been infected in a fundamental way.
      In stead of “teaching them well” we have taught them primarily of the supremacy of our own fears.
      They are unfit to lead, because the lenses we have required of them to see through has altered the world into some odd cartoonish miasma. Viewed in the whole, it seems incredibly improbable, and not particularly credible. But that’s not how it’s presented. It sets on over the slow course of time, bit by bit, until, without realizing, it has them with an alligator-clench that can’t be shaken off.

      Perhaps we ought to teach them well, but we would rather poison them instead, at a slow and imperceptible pace.

      I want to tell you two things. One will make you feel good, the other not so much.

      In my class today, there is the girl who recently returned from a semester in Germany, and her eyes have been opened to possibilities. She is a good student, and very pleasant. She is a PoliSci major, and pre-law. Not sure what she’s going to do with that. Her boyfriend, on a football scholarship, sits next to her. He’s studying to become a teacher. There is the freshman, a religious studies/polisci major, very polite fellow, asks smart questions, makes a point of holding the door for everyone into the classroom. The young actress, avowed feminist, often traveling to audition here or there. The young married who adores her new husband. She’s taken a liking to me, and I’m glad because it makes things more comfortable for me there. The girl who always eats in class. The misfit girl, very pretty and pleasant, but she feels keenly that she is not part of the popular crowd. These are good people, and I am happy to be among them. Only the actress bugs me, but that’s because a lot of feminism nowadays is framed very much like NoI/Farrakhan thing noted on another thread; maybe that’s just the evolution of all identity movements.

      Names and places have been changed here, in order to protect myself and others:
      Years ago, I was working in the Midwest. The general foreman on the job was from New England; a really good guy, very competent– couldn’t ask for better. It was a horrible job, because it was so overrun with meth. A lot of the people on the job, and in supervisory roles, were from Appalachia, and many were related in one way or another. One of them was the main supplier, and he had someone else who was doing most of the selling for him.
      One day, the New Englander disappeared without saying any farewells, and everyone thought it was very odd, and unlike him. A couple of weeks later, the story came out. He had walked in on them in an office trailer when they had the meth laid out. He was told, “I don’t see anything on this table that doesn’t belong to you,” and was advised to leave immediately.
      That’s the way the main drug dealer on the job became the GF.

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  7. I’m going to echo here, these clearly aren’t naive 10 year olds, they are 16 & 17 and articulate and well spoken enough to be playing on the national stage. They are tossing rhetorical punches, I’m not going to feel bad for them if they catch a few in return. The whole Ingrahm dustup showed pretty clearly that Hogg understands how the game is played and is more than willing to play it.

    As for their opinions on campaign contributions, it’s a false narrative (that continues to remain effective despite that), and that isn’t how campaign contributions work. Groups do not give money to politicians who are not somehow already sympathetic to their policy goals. If Rubio came out tomorrow in ardent support of gun control, the NRA would not merely up their annual contributions to his campaign until he changed his mind back to their way of thinking. The money they give would dry up and they would focus their resources on unseating him. Politicians whose voting changes with the dollar amounts aren’t reliable and stop getting dollars to campaign with.

    So, either the kids truly are naive and think politicians are so easily bought and sold, in which case I’m not overly inclined to give them undue attention. Or they get how it actually works, and are employing an effective narrative because it’s effective. For that, I’ll give them props for understanding how the game works at such a young age, but I’m not gonna feel bad as the adults hit back, because they stepped willingly into the ring. Either way, hey, I’ll listen to them, because they did experience this, and they have an important perspective, and honestly they will be of voting age very soon, so it’s in my interests to hear them; but teenagers are notoriously self-centered and even worse about thinking things through than idealistic adults are, so I’m going to take their policy proposals with a huge grain of salt.

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      • Pretty sure there’s good evidence that he was at school, so accusations that he wasn’t are false, and people spreading it… I wish doing it would cost them something, but I’ve become too jaded to believe that. One could, perhaps, argue that he was in a part of the school that was nowhere close to Cruz, which might offer a means to discredit some of his claims (or not, I have no idea what he claims his experience was, other than he was at school that day).

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    • Are the teenagers more or less “self-centered” than the adults who not only refuse to discuss gun control as a reasonable approach to combatting gun violence, but who insist that even considering the discussion is an enormous personal assault upon them?

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  8. Groups do not give money to politicians who are not somehow already sympathetic to their policy goals. If Rubio came out tomorrow in ardent support of gun control, the NRA would not merely up their annual contributions to his campaign until he changed his mind back to their way of thinking.

    I don’t think this is an accurate description of how it works. Rubio might be -personally, and in general- more, rather than less, favorable to widespread gun ownership, but I very much doubt Rubio has very strong opinions on, for instance, background checks, or magazine sizes, or that definitely 18 years olds should be able to buy AK-15 rifles in DC. For all I know, in private, he might agree with here

    His strong opposition to, and the reason he votes against any, no matter how small, measure that could restrict gun sales, is because of the NRA contributions he, and most of his party, gets. So, yes, he might be more rather than less on the side of the NRA, but he knows, if he ever voted to, for instance, approve funds for gun violence research, he will lose the NRA contributions. And he’s rather not lose those

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    • @j_a

      Great, then all the kids need to do is get the various gun control orgs to offer Rubio more money and he’ll be more open to, or at least less hostile towards their goals.

      Problem solved!

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        • It’s not like gun control interests don’t have people with deep pockets as well. But my point was that politicians are not bought by contributions, so much as kept on task by them. Voter actions are still more important than just spending.

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          • Isn’t the NRA basically a front for the gun and ammunition manufacturing industry?

            One might reasonably expect gun control advocacy orgs to have, at most, financing levels on par with that smallish minority of the NRA’s budget that comes from gun fans rather than gun manufacturers.

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    • The assumption that the primary form of pressure the NRA applies to the likes of Rubio is campaign contributions (and the withholding of the same) isn’t terribly plausible. It’s that they command the attention and support of a sizable activist base [1].

      [1] The NRA has a fairly small number of members in terms of being representative of the population at large, but it’s probably measured in the millions, and that’s a lot of angry phone calls, letters, and the like.

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      • The assumption that the primary form of pressure the NRA applies to the likes of Rubio is campaign contributions (and the withholding of the same) isn’t terribly plausible. It’s that they command the attention and support of a sizable activist base

        This.

        The donations are not actually that relevant in changing behavior of how politicians vote. The relevant thing, the thing they worry about, is the threat provided by the NRA in the form of primary challengers.

        Although I suspect the teens know this and are just bringing the donations up because it’s a lot harder for Republicans to deflect real cash vs ‘You are scared the NRA will primary challenge you’. The donations are an actual fact people can point to and wear on their shirts, as opposed to a hypothetical.

        And I mainly suspect the teens know this because instead of running around demanding that donations be given back to the NRA (Which would accomplish basically nothing except rob the kids of a debate point.), they are instead running around collecting voters who are single-issue anti-NRA.

        These teenagers are very very smart. And it’s fun watching the right have no idea how to deal with this, and resorting to personal attacks…but the teenagers just…keep coming.

        [1] The NRA has a fairly small number of members in terms of being representative of the population at large, but it’s probably measured in the millions, and that’s a lot of angry phone calls, letters, and the like.

        The problem with the gun control side has always been lack of enthusiasm.

        The Parkland teens are changing that equation, and I think a lot of people are missing the fact they really don’t have to change things very much for the balance to tip to the other side. All they have to do is create roughly the same percentage of single-issue gun-control voters as on the other side, people who will see the NRA’s rating as a negative.

        And, frankly, I suspect the students have already succeeded. It’s a youth movement. If you graduated before Columbine, or even a for a few years after that, you have _no idea_ the sort of crap students have to put up with that is justified by ‘keeping the campus safe’. (And note some of this even a lie…a lot of that is due to the drug war, but it doesn’t matter…it was justified in the name of ‘campus safety’ because ‘people might start shooting the place up’.)

        The Parkland students just pointed a finger and said ‘Those gun-supporting assholes did this. They are the reason for all that. They are getting paid by gun manufacters’, and, well, they’re not obviously wrong. (They are perhaps over-simplifying stuff, but that’s a far cry from ‘wrong’.)

        And that, basically, was The End. I’m not even sure we need to wait for existing students to grow up, there’s an entire decade and a half of current voters who suddenly flashed back to active-shooter drills and said ‘Huh. Good point. I, like most of the population, was in favor of stricter laws about guns, but now I’m going to vote that way.’

        At some point, having the NRA endorse you will become toxic, and we might already be there. Or maybe we’ll have to wait for more people to graduate and start voting. But it will happen.

        At which point the Republican party will scramble to do something to try to pacify the gun control people, because this situation will result in pro-NRA Republicans always winning primaries, and then always losing the general.

        Of course, in the current world, the Republican leadership has almost no control of their party, or their base, and _already_ have a problem of the farthest-right candidate always winning primaries and thus blowing the general. So should be interesting to watch them try to cause some sort of realignment…while the NRA fights them, no less. (They have already completely failed at their realignment on immigration.)

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        • (They are perhaps over-simplifying stuff, but that’s a far cry from ‘wrong’.)

          Addendum: I think saying ‘You’re factually wrong, I’m not being bribed by the NRA, I’m being extorted by the NRA!’ is, perhaps, not a winning argument for politicians to make even if it _could_ be simplified to that level.

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  9. Oh I agree that the whole bully thing is stupid and remarkably rich from people who make a living saying inflammatory things and taking aggressive and controversial (and stupid?) political stances. Granted I also think that when the kids decided to become advocates they made themselves legitimate targets in the arena. And I do think they’re being used, though not necessarily wittingly, by those who already support a pre-existing agenda. Look up Chris Van Hollen’s remarks at the march the other week. None of this stuff is new.

    A useful comparison I think would be if somehow a 16 year old crawled out of the wreckage of Flight 93. I would certainly want to hear his or her story. Maybe that person would become understandably passionate about terrorism, and enter the public debate on the big issues of the day. But would I feel that kid was due some kind of special deference, especially if his or her experience was being played up by Neocons or law enforcement agencies and their apologists to push bad policies they’ve wanted for years? Of course not.

    Edit, seem to have botched the reply function, this was to .

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    • I mean maybe the kid wouldn’t deserve special deference, but I really don’t see what problem would be solved by focusing on how he was some kind of jerk, or even just naive and being manipulated, especially if he’s just espousing a fairly common (if wrongheaded) policy view.

      I know that complaining about ad hominem attacks in American politics is pointless and almost impossible to do in a principled way, but nonetheless it is, at least in principle, possible to argue a point while foregoing them, and sometimes doing so is smart politics. This really seems to be one of these times.

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      • The problem is, when one side* is holding victims forth as being due deference with regards to their opinions on policy, how do you effectively discredit that? Ad Hom isn’t particularly honorable or decent, but it can be damned effective.

        *Side being a bad term here, but I am insufficiently creative enough to come up with something better.

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        • The problem is, when one side* is holding victims forth as being due deference with regards to their opinions on policy, how do you effectively discredit that?

          At most, you just say that, and no more. “Look, neither their age nor their status as victims gives them any unique degree of policy insight.”

          I don’t even know if that is necessary or helpful here. If the kids are arguing for something and it’s wrong, just go after the argument. If they are making errors, go ahead and point that out. “Unfortunately, Mr Hogg has a common, but incorrect, understanding of how the NRA is so effective in advocating against gun control….”

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          • If the kids are arguing for something and it’s wrong, just go after the argument. If they are making errors, go ahead and point that out. “Unfortunately, Mr Hogg has a common, but incorrect, understanding of how the NRA is so effective in advocating against gun control….”

            Maybe I came off as more sympathetic to right wing media/Republican officials than I meant to be. I wish the discussion could be had this way. And I mean that on any number of issues, not just this one.

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          • At most, you just say that, and no more. “Look, neither their age nor their status as victims gives them any unique degree of policy insight.”

            Given the large bloc within the right that is actively opposed to the very idea of policy insight (creationism in schools, abstinence only sex ed, global warming denialism, drug warriors, voodoo / trickle down economists, anti war on christmas guerrilla movement etc.) – that seems unlikely.

            Republicans have to be careful around the concept of expertise, reality, policy insight. It can be useful as a stalling tactic to induce regression to apathy, but they have to be fairly clear to their base that it’s just words uttered in sleep-deprived hour 78 of the filibuster; that they’re not actually serious about letting expertise and science infiltrate policy making. Because, on some deep level, a lot of the conservative base knows that reality has a liberal bias.

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            • I would say reality has a liberal by American standards bias. I mean, I’m a social democrat and would prefer a much larger welfare state, more regulations, etc., but when I look into the actual specific programs of center-right parties in Europe, I’m not flummoxed and gobsmacked by them the same way I am Republican policies. I may not agree with them, but I don’t think they’d be ruinous for France or Germany or Bulgaria the same way the vast majority of GOP policies are.

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    • I don’t see the kids complaining. I see the kids responding to punches by punching back. Hogg didn’t complain when Ingraham mocked him over his college rejections (which probably happened a long time before Parkland). He just tweeted back with return fire and the power of the pocket book. Wouldn’t a right-winger call this Capitalism and the market in action?

      But the response from the older pundit class is to say that these boycotts are troublesome or to fall back on “Both Sides Do It!!!” in terms of a particular USA today editorial.

      To be somewhat fair, I do think that the right-wing trolls got away with being bullies for decades. I can only imagine that the response of liberals at Dartmouth when Ingraham was a student there was ineffectual at best and encouraged her most horrible instincts at worse.
      So there was a time when liberals/Democrats tended to be on the defensive and just curl up into a ball and scream “don’t kick me.” That time passed and now liberals/Democrats are saying “Fuck this shit and fuck you too” and the powers that be are agahst. The Reagan Youth are heading to the sunset and being replaced by something they don’t recognize and don’t like.

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      • I can see that. I’m the kind of wet blanket that doesn’t like this discourse in general. If some kids want to play in it they’re free to do so. I just don’t think there’s anything particularly special or compelling about them.

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        • In my ideal world, we would have noble discourse without inflamed rhetoric. In a realistic world, I’m tired of Democrats being told that they are the only ones with agency and need to do everything with one arm tied behind their back and their ankles tied together because we are the “good guys.”

          I get that everyone expects Republicans and right-wingers to act like trolls. I can’t tell if civility policing Democrats and liberals is because they agree with the Republican agenda and/or they want the Democrats not to stoop low and they have a naïve faith that such high ground will pay off.

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            • Maybe but there needs to be a balance between “higher expectations” and “being required to fight with one arm tied behind your back and both ankles tied to.”

              It might not be the intent but it ends up being the effect that the higher expectations ends up with liberals bound and getting punched in the face.

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  10. From the OP: “In its [Sandy Hook] aftermath, gun control was again proposed but predictably failed after Republicans used the filibuster to sink various ideas.

    I checked the link you provided and it doesn’t mention a filibuster anywhere. It does, however, mention two pieces of federal legislation (emphasis mine):

    “Legislation introduced in the first session of 113th Congress included the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 and the Manchin-Toomey Amendment to expand background checks on gun purchases. Both were defeated in the Senate on April 17, 2013.”

    You will notice it says defeated because both of these came to a vote and were not filibustered. Also, I will note that Connecticut passed some of the most strict gun laws in the country after Sandy Hook. A note on how well that went:

    “In February 2014, the Hartford Courant reported that Connecticut had processed about 50,000 assault weapons certificates, but that anywhere from 50,000 to 350,000 remained unregistered. “And that means,” wrote the Courant’s Dan Haar, “as of Jan. 1, Connecticut has very likely created tens of thousands of newly minted criminals — perhaps 100,000 people, almost certainly at least 20,000 — who have broken no other laws.”

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  11. My initial thought was that it’s kind of dirty pool to let kids say the things you want to say and then complain when they catch criticism for it because they’re just kids.

    Then I remembered that most of what passes for “criticism” in the cable news world is actually just name calling and character assassination, so maybe it’s a good thing to have kids involved so that fact is a little more obvious to everybody.

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  12. I think that a lot of the pro-rights-for-women-to-carry-handguns-to-protect-themselves people are doing themselves a disservice by fighting against these kids tooth and nail.

    Just invite them to speak. Ask a question. Let them talk for 12 minutes. Ask a follow up question Let them talk for another 8. Look at the camera and say “there you have it!”

    You’d get the anti-rights-for-women-to-carry-handguns-to-protect-themselves people tripping over themselves explaining “these kids do not speak for everyone who is opposed to women carrying guns to protect themselves!”

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  13. I think it is admirable how the Parkland teens have conducted themselves, but I can’t help but view them from the point of view of a parent of a young person.

    Which is to say, we can and should expect them to do or say something foolish, rash, or intemperate because they are after all, young people, still developing social skills, and entirely untrained in being public persons.
    David Hogg responded with admirable maturity and shrewd wisdom to Laura Ingraham, but it could just as easily have gone the other way.

    So it probably isn’t wise to place the bulk of the burden on their shoulders, or to delegate the gun control message and effort to them. Adults still hold the policy whip hand and we need to step up and take responsibility for the world while we still control it.

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