Comment Of The Day: “Of COURSE! “Think Of The Children!” Takes The Next Irresponsible Step!”

More Stoneman High students, including the ubiquitous David Hogg,  appeared on the talking head Sunday show this morning, and I admit my reaction was the same as in my original post about the exploitation and hyping of these young Americans, who are both legitimately objects of sympathy and also inherently ill-equipped by education and life experience to add substance to the policy debate over guns besides visceral and simplistic reactions. I detest the concept of “moral authority,” when a particular experience is deemed sufficient to imbue a figure with prominence in a debate that the quality of his or her reasoning and knowledge does not. “You would feel the same way they do if you went through what they did” is not an argument, but a rationalization, and a stand-in for, “How dare you? Have you no heart?”

The news media loves bestowing moral authority, because giving a platform to victimes combines sentiment and drama—almost as good as sex and scandal. The grieving Sandy Hook parents similarly became instant experts in law and policy, just as grieving mother Cindy Sheehan had suddenly become an expert in warfare and Middle East policy a decade before. I never accepted the logic of this, even when my peers and classmates were closing down my campus, taking over buildings and dictating national policy in Southeast Asia using chants that would have been at home on any grade-school play ground. Their moral authority arose from the fact that they were facing the draft. So did much of their interest in stopping the Vietnam war. So yes, I am conditioned to view the latest edition of self-righteous, articulate, indignant and angry minors with all the answers with skepticism, and I confess, the urge to roll my eyes.

At least some of the protesters in the Sixties were pre-law. [ Otter: Take it easy, I’m pre-law. Boon: I thought you were pre-med. Otter: What’s the difference?*]

Michael has a different, less biased perspective. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Of COURSE! “Think Of The Children!” Takes The Next Irresponsible Step!:

Most of this analysis is “right on” logically, and we both operate on that scale. However, it is also not illogical to expect an emotional response from these children, who did experience the tragedy either directly or by connection. Nor is it illogical to expect them to react the way they are reacting,

BUT it would be illogical and ignoring (for them, perhaps ignorance of) history if we did. Those of us who lived through the protests of the ‘60s recognize that responding by calling them immature is not an effective answer. Yes, they are immature. Yes, they are ignorant of the Constitution, the Second Amendment (including its background and its interpretation by the Supremes), and the logic of either the gun rights or the gun control advocates (which, based on Heller, I do not believe have to be mutually exclusive). The power of their emotional response can be ignored only at the risk of erosion of Constitutional principles based on emotional reaction to them and to the condescension dripping from some of the strongest advocates for unfettered gun rights ostensibly based on the Second Amendment. Now, my own emotional response is no doubt devoid of logic.

Bless them for getting engaged in the shadow of another tragedy. Try to educate them on the applicable law and principles so that their own approach can mature. Listen to them. Maybe there is one or more prodigy who will then teach us something.

*“Animal House.”

15 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Ethics Train Wrecks, Family, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, War and the Military

15 responses to “Comment Of The Day: “Of COURSE! “Think Of The Children!” Takes The Next Irresponsible Step!”

  1. LFW

    It would be a lot easier to listen to them if they would listen to others with a varying view.

  2. Wayne

    This is a bit different that than the 1960s which I lived through as a university student. Many of the protesters then were motivated by fear of having their lives interrupted, not by any moral outrage about an unjust war. I would up myself in an Army Reserve unit where I was never deployed outside the U.S.
    As far this group of students and their emotional response to the right to bear arms, I am suspicious of any claim that emotions should trump reason. The left usually runs on claiming the priority of emotions over reason and hense having taken over most universities and school districts is responsible for turning these student into lemmings.

  3. trumpgurl42

    I think this assertion should work both ways, lest history will be made despite your argument.
    The final scene of Pirates of Silicon Valley:
    Jobs: “My system is better.”
    Gates: “That doesn’t matter.”
    Microsoft went on to clobber the more innovative, cultured, but arrogant Apple.

  4. Steve-O-in-NJ

    The Stoneman students and parents will find out very quickly how much their value fluctuates depending on who is in power. Right now they are useful as bullets against the Republican Party because the Democratic Party is completely out of power. You can expect them to continue to be trotted out not only throughout this year, but through 2020. If this year results in a blue wave, and 2020 sees the Democratic Party retake the White House, then you can bet that the rallies and speaking engagements will dry up very quickly, as the newly minted elected leaders decide they have bigger fish to fry than risking their new ascendance in a costly political battle that could put them right back where they are now.

    The GOP and the NRA didn’t pull the trigger here, but they are being treated as though they did, because they make convenient and bigger targets for anger, and the students and those supporting them have made noise about “voting every member of the GOP out of office.” The Democratic Party hears that and they drool more than a golden retriever who’s just smelled grilled steaks. They would love nothing better than a totally blue America. The only thing is, once they are in power, they want to set the policy, not have it dictated to them by activists. That’s why Cindy Sheehan was discarded like yesterday’s news after Obama was elected and she failed to tone down the rhetoric. These kids can easily wind up on the same junk heap.

  5. Glenn Logan

    BUT it would be illogical and ignoring (for them, perhaps ignorance of) history if we did. Those of us who lived through the protests of the ‘60s recognize that responding by calling them immature is not an effective answer. Yes, they are immature. Yes, they are ignorant of the Constitution, the Second Amendment (including its background and its interpretation by the Supremes), and the logic of either the gun rights or the gun control advocates (which, based on Heller, I do not believe have to be mutually exclusive). The power of their emotional response can be ignored only at the risk of erosion of Constitutional principles based on emotional reaction to them and to the condescension dripping from some of the strongest advocates for unfettered gun rights ostensibly based on the Second Amendment. Now, my own emotional response is no doubt devoid of logic. [my emphasis]

    I’m sorry, Michael, but the highlighted sentence reads like Authentic Frontier Gibberish to me. How does ignoring their emotional reaction risk “erosion of Constitutional principles?” I can think of no such principles that would be risked by ignoring their emotional outburst, patting them on the head, and telling them the adults will handle this.

    By and large, these young people have no role in government, even to the extent of the franchise. The vast majority can’t even vote yet, let alone serve in the military or legally purchase alcohol and handguns. They clearly are the product of mostly leftist parents in one of the most liberal parts of Florida, and I’d bet good money that they are being coached and egged on by those parents.

    I’d be happy if you could explain to me what that sentence means, because it seems to be the crux of your argument, but I can’t decipher it. It could be my poor cognitive ability, I guess, but I don’t think so. Anyway, I’d love to understand what you meant.

    I agree their emotional reaction is both understandable and predictable, but I can’t see what we can learn from that other than the things we already know. For the most part, their suggestion to fix this has been “Something Must Be Done” without any additional elucidation, to attack pro-gun rights groups or people without any regard for who they are or what they believe, or demand that gun control be instituted soonest. The minority who oppose further gun control or agree with the idea of arming teachers or providing additional security have been roundly mocked when they haven’t been ignored outright.

    In my humble opinion, based on what I have seen and heard, there is absolutely nothing to be learned from these kids except that many of them have been raised without instruction in proper public decorum, and an appalling absence of even the least understanding of polite debate and discourse, leaving their disturbing ignorance of our country’s founding completely to the side. With the help of the biased media, we are teaching them it’s okay be be rude and obnoxious if the group to which your ire is directed is sufficiently disfavored or vilified by the right people. What we have learned is that nothing good comes of hyper-emotionalism combined with cheerleading for unethical actions and speech. Their actions, collectively at the recent CNN “town hall” is signature significance for this.

    I didn’t need to learn that — I knew it already. Seeing it made manifest merely depresses me.

    • Glenn,

      I too am confused by the sentence:

      “The power of their emotional response can be ignored only at the risk of erosion of Constitutional principles based on emotional reaction to them and to the condescension dripping from some of the strongest advocates for unfettered gun rights ostensibly based on the Second Amendment. Now, my own emotional response is no doubt devoid of logic.”

      I don’t necessarily think it HAS to be interpreted the way you interpret it, but it could be. I think the author should break this statement up into 2 or 3 separate sentence so maybe we can more easily parse his meaning.

      I generally understand the gist of what this Michael is saying, though I can’t agree with all of it. I do like his closing paragraph:

      “Bless them for getting engaged in the shadow of another tragedy. Try to educate them on the applicable law and principles so that their own approach can mature. Listen to them. Maybe there is one or more prodigy who will then teach us something.”

      Though, “try to educate them…” only goes so far when entire news networks are pandering to their youthful egos about how “right they are”.

      • Glenn Logan

        I agree, his closing paragraph is fine.

        The thing is, the networks are providing a forum only to students on one side of the issue, both validating them and, either directly or not, invalidating the opinions of others who don’t agree with students like David Hogg.

        Hogg, by the way, said governor Rick Scott should be held accountable for the failure of three sheriff’s deputies to intervene in the shooting.

        Apparently, nobody has yet informed Hogg that the sheriff’s office doesn’t work for the governor, and that the county sheriff, as an elected official, is directly accountable to the voters. The only thing Scott can do is what he is doing – asking the Attorney General (also an elected official who doesn’t work for Scott) to investigate their actions to see if state laws or ethics were violated.

        This is why the stuff coming from these children should frankly be ignored. They don’t have the first damned clue what they’re talking about, and it shows every time they open their mouths.

  6. I never accepted the logic of this, even when my peers and classmates were closing down my campus, taking over buildings and dictating national policy in Southeast Asia using chants that would have been at home on any grade-school play ground. Their moral authority arose from the fact that they were facing the draft. So did much of their interest in stopping the Vietnam war. So yes, I am conditioned to view the latest edition of self-righteous, articulate, indignant and angry minors with all the answers with skepticism, and I confess, the urge to roll my eyes.

    My understanding is that it is excruciatingly difficult to arrive at a position from which to form and then present some sort of full-spectrum, accurate, political analysis when one attempts to decypher what I will call ‘postwar radicalism’.

    Yet such questions and problems are very relevant to the present, to present events, to the political and social decisions we make, and to the positions we hold.

    Is it fair and ‘appropriate’ (I dislike that word) to compare anti-Vietnam War activism, argued morally, philosophically, and constitutionally, to a group of high school kids adopted into sophisticated political machinations and understood as sponsored and protected by systemic interests? I admit to being somewhat at a loss as to how to describe the collusion between a) poltical donors, b) state interests, c) collusion by the largest media outfit in the land, and d) popular sentiment.

    These are two very different poles of political and social activity and if a comparison is possible it is only in an aspect of emotionalism.

    But by any measure and by anyone in my view who can see reasonably clearly the opposition to the Vietnam War arose very organically and directly out of historical opposition to the projects of neo-imperial interests. I use the term ‘neo-imperial’ in a neutral and descriptive sense. I definitely realize that the opposition to the Vietnam War became a general opposition to aspects of state power, and then certainly become ‘infected’ with revolutionary motives.

    But the origins among the population to being forced to serve the machinations and objects of the industrial and capital elites is thoroughly organic to America.

    The curious thing is that though this is completely true, it is Power itself that undermines the popular will, which is to say acts para-democratically to undermine and defeat popular will and to manipulate society to that it can achieve its will. And when it controles, more or less, the media of communications and these are linked to the industrial, governmental and corporate structures, should not the constitutional conservatives have more to say against it?

    This is really the baffling point and I frankly do not get it. Who do you serve? How does one determine what one serves, what is just and proper to serve, and what to choose not to serve and to oppose?

    • Should have written: But the origins among the population of opposition to being forced to serve the machinations and objects of the industrial and capital elites is thoroughly organic to America.

  7. Other Bill

    A poem I wrote about my early summer of 1970:

    What did you do in the war, Daddy?

    Three twenty-seven.

    The displacement in cubic inches
    of a Chevy Corvette V-8, right
    there, in the afternoon paper,
    right next to my birthday.

    I’d never be drafted. Never
    swelter in a jungle infested with
    insects and land mines. Never
    fly in a helicopter being shot at.
    Never wear soaking, Army green
    canvas boots. Not have to exile
    myself to Canada. Not have to
    convince myself I was morally
    opposed to war, or a Quaker,
    like, of all people, Richard Nixon.

    To celebrate, we drank gin and
    tonics on our college’s deserted
    summer campus while the leafy
    trees grew darker and the sky
    grew translucent. We listened to
    a Detroit Tigers baseball game
    in which Denny McLain, then and
    still, the last thirty game winner
    in years, pitched his first game
    back from an injury, or a suspension,
    or something. In any event, it
    was a fairly momentous occasion
    for my friend, a Tigers fan.

    We drank, and got bombed.
    Likewise, Denny McLain got
    shelled and was gone after
    two and a third innings. And
    the color drained from the sky
    until we could no longer have
    seen the trees even if we’d
    been able to, or cared to.

  8. Chris

    Great job, Michael. I have to say you’ve quickly become one of my favorite commenters here.

  9. ”BUT it would be illogical and ignoring (for them, perhaps ignorance of) history if we did. Those of us who lived through the protests of the ‘60s recognize that responding by calling them immature is not an effective answer. Yes, they are immature. Yes, they are ignorant of the Constitution, the Second Amendment (including its background and its interpretation by the Supremes), and the logic of either the gun rights or the gun control advocates (which, based on Heller, I do not believe have to be mutually exclusive). The power of their emotional response can be ignored only at the risk of erosion of Constitutional principles based on emotional reaction to them and to the condescension dripping from some of the strongest advocates for unfettered gun rights ostensibly based on the Second Amendment. Now, my own emotional response is no doubt devoid of logic.

    [This exposition is opportunistic in a definite sense. I do not want to refer to chidishness in our present only, but to far more significant processes that have unfolded over many decades in American culture. I am implying a great deal here but cannot, in a short essay, explain everything. I am relying on the intelligent reader to make connections that are implicit, not overt. This involves a midrashic mind if I can use such a word].

    One could enter the conversation about ‘children who chime forth opinion’ at almost any point where they are discussed and offer ‘meta-political commentary’. The meta-political angle, in my opinion, will offer more understanding than the dissection of the incident itself. Because the incident reveal a far larger social and cultural trend and profound problem. But in order to establish a platform or position from which to view the incident one has to make certain choices. Or it could be said that if one has a meta-political perspective one has it because one has already made such choices.

    When we mention ‘children’ we often mean varying things. But in this particular instance ‘children’ mean, taken at a superficial level, ‘youthful citizens unprepared to offer intelligent commentary’. But we also mean that these children speak from their emotions and from their ‘emotional center’. To be a child in this context is to reason emotionally. But we seem to be saying here that we recognize that the unprepared child, not enough familiar with the intellectual arguments, will a) flounder and b) mislead.

    Here I suggest that the ‘meta-political angle’ can be useful and is useful. But you must bear with me as some exposition is required.

    Not only do we see a specific problem here, which is children rushing forth to offer emotional opinion, but we also notice that they are grabbed or sucked up by ‘media’ into pre-exiting ulterior purposes that stand behind media as their directors. To mention this, to put this out on the table for conversation, opens up the discussion to a very wide and demanding area. What is that area? To speak about this philosophically requires elements of philosophical description: organizing concepts. I will attempt this through using a sort of ‘Thomism lite’.

    If I have begun to lose you, Gentle Reader, I beg for you to stay with me a bit more. We have to bring forward certain ideas that revolve around a specific anthropology. How to begin, how to begin? Let’s do it by radical plunge:

    Our media-systems, and our PR/Propaganda systems, are elaborated industries with an operative ideology. The base of that ideology is limited and specific: it is to ‘convince’ the subject. To move the subject, to stimulate the subject, to change the opinion of the subject. If we are truthful with ourselves and our seeing, we will say that advertising and PR are not concerned with what is true, nor what is necessary, nor even with what is ‘good’, but only in succeeding to persuade or to influence toward some defined object. The object of a PR effort might coincide with what some might call ‘the good’ but it also might not.

    But really what is being talked about here is something ulterior. We are speaking about ‘seduction’. The word originates in Medieval Latin and, as could be guessed, means ‘to lead astray’. Sub + ducere, and ducere means ‘to lead’.

    Leading, guiding, directing, channeling, moving (sentimentally) all touch on extremely important aspects of human activity but in this sense specifically in relation to the ‘education of youths’. But in order to educate one must have, at some level or other, a philosophical definition of what education is, and what it means to educate youth.

    But here is an interesting linguistic connection: educare, in Latin, is derived from the same word that is part of the word seduce: ducere = to lead. To educate implies and involves leading. And all this points to the essential division between a ‘child’ and an ‘adult’.

    But this exposition get infinitely more difficult when one remembers that in our traditions, in our history, in the history of our civilization, in the very best that we have been able to think and conceive, we have honored and we have understood the notion of ‘the higher dimensions of the human soul’. It is not else but absolutely fundamental’ to our categories of meaning value and purpose.

    How to proceed to the connecting lines that will bring these references into relation to the topic being discussed? Ah, but what is the topic? Ie what is the purpose of education? To lead to what precisely? But again, allow me to proceed brusquely and starkly:

    Advertising is effectively a seduction of the soul if you will accept a simple PlatonisimThe purpose of advertising is to send images and ideas into the imagination with the purpose of influencing it. Advertising has shown itself seductive because, as everyone knows who has studied Freud or Eduard Bernays, it by-passes the reasoning and the intellectual center and works on the centers of emotional and sensual appetite. Fact. Known fact.

    Now, today, we wonder why we live in what is essentially an ‘infantile culture’, a childish, near-sighted, brattish, willful climate. We see this, we note it, but we do not grasp the causal chain. And we do not (or we do not enough) consider the spiritual and the metaphysical and also the supernatural implications that hinge on these important issues and questions which are, as I suggest, anthropological (related to a specific anthroplogical understanding of man). (We also should recognize there are definite battles going on that only have to do with definitions).

    I will push forward with this general analysis to what it strongly suggests: we have lost the capacity to define what is good and necessary for our youth. We cannot, in fact, be said to be ‘adult’ in respect to them. We have alowed and we are allowing their formation and their guidance to be directed by forces that should be seen as devious if not bordering into the diabolic. Yet we permit them and we even celebrate them. In my view we must see that this ‘seduction’ has led and is leading to a thorough breakdown within the individual of a resiliant boundary between ‘guiding intellect’ and ‘concupiscent appetite’. These terms are axial and they must be understood. It hinges in ‘the desire body’ in competition with the ‘intellectual body’.

    The most illustrative element relates to sexuality and sexual image, in America, pervades. But it is really more complex than the mere ‘surface’ observation suggests.

    The ‘seduction’ therefor leads to a condition of general disorder within the body-mind. The seduced individual has become so because he has been trained to surrender himself or herself to appetite. The motive of industry and culture is to both inculcate this breaking down of restraining dams within the individual and then to further flood him with seducing content. In order to get to such a point there has to have been a looooonnngggg causal chain.

    But it gets worse. That ‘child’, that unreasoing unreasonable over-emotional demanding impatient brat is not someone else over there. To really bring the meaning home we have to see that we are describing ourselves. We are the ‘broken dam’, we are the ones that have allowed the perversion of the soul to take place, we are those who have no effective argument against this process; and we are they who observe, in minute detail, what is going on, but yet we have nothing to say, no discourse, that can be useful in a) accurately seeing what is going on and b) reversing the processes. We cannot say and do anything because we have lost sight of the descriptive language and the lexicon of meaning to see the problem and describe it.

    Basically, we wind up with a demonic child, but the demonic child is a hisorical creation, an historical outcome, with which we are initimately complicit.

    There are so many fruitful angles to pursue when one succeeds in defining a ‘proper anthropological platform’. I recognize that these ideas are not simple, and take a good deal of pre-exposition, but I also suggest that they are perhaps the only ideas that can lead to ‘cure’.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s