“If mass school shootings were the only form of gun violence in the United States, the case for treating the regulation of firearms as a pressing policy issue would actually be fairly weak.” That’s the brain trust at New York magazine explaining to us why we need more gun control even though violence in schools has “collapsed” over the past decade. The article also parrots a talking point that is getting a lot of traction lately: we shouldn’t have cops in schools, because cops in schools tend to arrest children for crimes and those children are overwhelmingly nonwhite. Naturally, this current iteration of The Narrative conveniently ignores the fact that nonwhite children are also disproportionately victimized by criminals in their schools — so when you take cops out of those schools, you are encouraging the child predators who make life miserable and even dangerous for the kids in the school who want to learn.
The New York piece makes the unpleasant but accurate point that school shootings, tragic as they are, do not rise to the level of statistical significance in a country with 325 million residents. Still, as Rahm Emanuel once said, you should never let a serious crisis go to waste. That’s why the “March For Our Lives” had no trouble obtaining eight figures’ worth of funding, including two million bucks from the Clooneys, Spielberg, and Jeffrey Epstein. It’s also why only about ten percent of the people marching were actually kids; the rest of the marchers were simply the usual progressive slacktivists who turn out for everything from gay marriage to Trump protests. Since this march was supposed to be about the kids, however, some children were compelled to attend. Which is where I start to have a genuine issue with this manufactured event and the people behind it.
We live in an era where the innocence of children is under attack from all sides. We expose our children to video games, tablets, and other Internet-connected devices from the age of two forward, even though there is no effective way to prevent them from being exposed to inappropriate or frightening content. There is an entire subculture on YouTube devoted to tricking children into watching disturbing or frightening material, often of a sexual nature. Very few people have any scruples nowadays about letting their children come into contact with all sorts of adult-oriented media. Last but not least, of course, as the American middle class falls into poverty more and more children will be put at risk as a result.
Yet all of those threats are external. We may fail as parents to prevent them, but we are not creating them. On the other hand, when we create obscene, combative signs and force our children to hold them at public rallies, or when we convince our children to act in a political cause that gratifies our own biases — that is tantamount to child abuse. Children are not political creatures. They are not politically aware. Even as teenagers, they are insufficiently mature to make political determinations. They do what they are told. They naturally trust adults to protect them, not to put them on the firing line. When we force our children to espouse our own political philosophies and then to march in the service of those philosophies, we are abusing them.
My son is eight years old, going on nine. He has no political opinions. He has never spontaneously said “Fuck the NRA” or “Fuck Trump” or “Fuck (INSERT NAME OR ORGANZIATION HERE).” He is not a Democrat, a Republican, a libertarian, a patriot, or a progressive. He is a child, and he will be a child for many years to come. If I went to a march or a protest, I would leave him at home. He is not simply an extension of my ego, my self-identity, my personal brand. He is his own person.
Some time ago I realized that I would eventually have to give John retroactive veto power on the things I’ve written about our relationship. When he is sixteen, he may not want his friends to be able to go back and read about him racing go-karts or riding motorcycles. That decision has to be his. Otherwise I’m no better than A.A. Milne, whose son was permanently traumatized by Winnie The Pooh and his father’s failure to connect with him in real life. Children have boundaries that need to be respected, ranging from the physical to the editorial. When we turn them into footsoldiers of our political protests — when we tell them that obscenity and confrontation are perfectly acceptable in the service of the “right” cause — when we rob them of their own self-determination — we are little better than the people who looked the other way as thousands of British children were molested by “grooming gangs”.
This guy, on the other hand… hey, he’s out there speaking his own mind without reservations. I might not agree with him, but I can’t say that he is using children to further his agenda. In fact, I’m kind of looking forward to the day he puts his plan into action. If you’re feeling froggy, friend-o, you should jump. Leave your high-visibility jacket on, why dontcha.
Brother Bark wrote about the New York show’s greatest misses.
Do we have time for a song with a few caustic notes on “protest culture”? Yes we do! See you next time!