Finally, almost a month after a horrendous school shooting in Parkland, Florida, American media seems to be showing signs that they might be starting to cool down on the topic of gun control. The thing that everyone seems to agree on after these kinds of tragedies is that we need to "do something" to solve what has become an ongoing problem in America. But while everyone seems to agree that we need to talk about the issue and come to some resolution, the national conversation has devolved into people choosing one of two camps, then telling the other side why they need to shut up.
After the Parkland shooting, several students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School showed up in the news media, pushing left-wing talking points on gun control. They immediately became darlings of the left-wing media, and several of them have made regular appearances on CNN and MSNBC since then. These are some of the ideal figures for modern political debates - while their youth and inexperience sometimes shines through, their victim status largely insulates them from criticism...or, at least, gives them something to punch back with when they are criticized.
It has been disturbing to see many on the Right lash out at these kids' entire generation, asking why we should listen to a bunch of dumb high school kids, or equating them with the few kids whose participation in the "Tide Pod challenge" spawned a social media phenomenon that was much larger than the problem it allegedly represented. I've known too many very smart high school students to write these kids off as 'dumb.' Their youth doesn't equate to stupidity, even if it is rather disturbing to see them becoming willing tools of the left's political agenda.
When it comes to the larger political debate on guns, we have seen these students bring an all-too-common trend into the debate: you're either with them, or you're with murderers. This is a tactic meant to shut down debate without having to deal in facts or evidence, and it has been used repeatedly in the weeks since the shooting in Parkland. David Hogg referred to the NRA as "child murderers,"and has repeatedly criticized the organization in similarly incendiary ways, while simultaneously ignoring the numerous failures of law enforcement leading up to and during the shooting. The governor of Connecticut recently called the NRA a terrorist organization. Not only is this language incendiary, it is an insulting, lazy argument unbecoming of an elected official. I am a gun owner and a member of the NRA. I have a career and a family. I contribute to my community however I can. I own guns so that I can protect my family, if ever they were in danger. But because I believe I should have the right to defend myself and my family I am a "child murderer" and a "terrorist?"
This has become the modus operandi for modern political debate. We need to have a national conversation about gun violence in America...but if you don't believe in banning guns, you need to shut up, you child murdering terrorist. We need to have a national conversation about 'women's health,' but if you have any objections to your tax dollars funding abortion mills, you need to shut up, you misogynist pig. We need to have a national conversation about man-made global warming, but if you harbor any doubts about this "settled science," you need to shut up, you science denier. Don't like President Obama's policies? What a racist! Are you not "ready for Hillary?" You must hate women!
This isn't a debate, it's a sideshow. Everyone wants to yell at the "other side," but no one wants to listen. We all want to live in our personal media bubbles, then we wonder why no one on the other side of an issue can see things from our perspective.
And people wonder why we can't seem to get anything done in America these days.
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.