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.