In the aftermath of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the right-wing media has advanced two ideas about the students who survived it and are speaking publicly about it: they’re too young and emotionally distraught to have valid opinions on the issue of gun control, yet at the same time they’re savvy operators being coached or even paid by liberals to parade themselves in front of the cameras and therefore cannot be trusted on the matter gun control.
Either way, the message is the same: “Don’t engage these silly kids on this issue.”
I’m not going to claim that I ever endured anything remotely resembling what these students did. But as a high-school sophomore in December 1985, I was, in fact, present for a school shooting at a time when those were extremely rare (the lone fatality was the shotgun-toting former student himself). And one month later, a teacher at my high school was killed on national television along with six others in a space-shuttle mishap while virtually all of us, from the superintendent of schools to the cafeteria ladies, watched. I saw my teachers and other adults on the scene sobbing and wandering the hallways in shock, no better prepared to handle this unexpected plot twist than any of us kids were; this collective breakdown was itself an unreal tableau.
I would say that counts as trauma by any reasonable standard. And it didn’t mean our brains were hobbled.
When you’re a teenager, no matter how skeptical and scornful you might be toward your elders — especially teachers and parents — at some level, you tend to believe that they are better or stronger than you, or at least immune to crippling fits of emotion. That’s how it was in the 1980s, anyway, and it was still true in 2001, as I saw during the 9/11 attacks. You tend to think that only obvious psychopaths like Jeffrey Dahmer are ruined grown-ups, and you tell yourself you’ll never confront such monsters anyway.
As a result, I cannot imagine how appalled I would have been in the wake of Challenger disaster to see a supposed adult – a news figure, no less, or at least a flapping face on a TV screen — attempt to delegitimize my and my classmates’ ideas and feelings by declaring, in effect, “Whatever those Concord High kids are saying about the space program, NASA, Morton Thiokol — they’re not reliable commentators on any of it.” Sure, we were kids, but a lot of is were already a fuck of a lot more on the ball and worth listening to out there than at least half of the adults in this country.
But we didn’t know it. In those days, there was no national-scale media-propaganda outlet set aside especially for stupid and insane people, as there is now. Carnival-barker media figures like O’Reilly, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and every other squint-eyed piece of shit out there didn’t exist except in their ugly formative stages. Unfortunately, the sort of ignorant, resentful, incompetent mouth-breathing, Bible-banging bumpkins did, and they were an untapped market, unknowingly waited for a series of wrinkly peckers to metaphorically (in most cases) fellate (or worse).
Anyone suggesting that the kids in Parkland have an emotional stake in what they’re saying is absolutely correct. But trying to say this doesn’t matter is both obviously stupid and cruel. And people like Bill O’Reilly know it.
Also, my inclusion of that response from Shannon Moore, whoever she is (“a witch in search of her hat” is my first guess) was no accident. Despite being a simpleton, this “Christian” — who on her profile at least has the honesty to refer to herself as an aspiring writer, which makes sense given the wealth of basic grammatical and factual errors on her shitblog — is among the many amateur conserva-pundits pretending as though a handful of young people eating detergent constitutes a generation-wide phenomenon. Millions of howling rednecks, most of them older Americans like Shannon Moore, believe the crap spraying from the face-anuses of O’Reilly and Donald Trump every day, and most of them are “Christians” who think the cheerleader-fondling Roy Moore should have been elected because party loyalty. I’d say the latter peer group constitutes a greater danger to society than the former one does. Fortunately, they’re older and will die fairly soon, although not soon enough, the damage they’ve done will live on even as their bloated corpses rot unpretentiously away, the charred imaginary souls within destined for a Hell that unfortunately is as much of a lie as the rest of the nonsense these syphilitic twats believe.
If Trump were serious about an infrastructure overhaul, he would find a way to permanently plug the gushing sewer pipes extending from the faces of O’Reilly, Hannity, Carlson, Laura Ingraham, Dana Loesch, and of course himself and the various misbred proto-hominid life forms in his own family. He would find a way to detoxify the source of these messes, so whatever later emerged into the restored face-conduits was less obviously wrongheaded and inflammatory.