Reality Checks for Parkland Students

The fever is high in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting. That fever is understandable and to be expected. The needless loss of young life is tragic, debilitating and horrific for far too many. The parents and students have been visited with an exceptionally harsh reality but that won’t be the only reality they face in the coming days an weeks.

The students appear to believe they are the vanguard of a movement in favor of gun control; good for them, involvement is a positive. Hopefully one of the realities they encounter and appreciate is that they are free to attempt to construct or support what they perceive as a movement. They are free to have a voice, hopefully they come to realize that America was the actual vanguard for that manner of freedom, and constitutional rights are not to be taken for granted or used as a cudgel to beat down the freedoms of others.

The reality, in the aftermath of the CNN show trial, is that students from Parkland and around the country should be realizing that they are the “props of the moment.” As victims they are, for the moment, protected from harsh criticism. The reality, however, is that the manner of behavior demonstrated at the CNN show trial may not result in harsh criticism for rude, confrontational, abhorrent behavior, but the degree of sympathy many of us had for the ‘students’ will erode. Show trial behavior as compared to the Oval Office meeting where passion was also on display but so was civil engagement and the intent to listen to what was said. Much of what was said was contributory in the effort to voice potential solutions, none of that was on display with CNN. Perhaps the students will face the reality that the show trial convinced no one of anything other than the students from Parkland are being played as dupes.

The students will discover another reality, they will discover demonstrations, vigils and all manner of political theater will satisfy the desires of the moment, and provide cannon fodder for the long standing anti-gun lobby but that politicians have their own agenda having little to do with the students’ passions of the moment. The cries to “do something, we have to do something” is sufficiently general as to allow for next to nothing. Democrats are all over the gun issue now but they also remember what happened in the 1994 mid-term elections when President Clinton’s assault rifle ban cost dozens of Democrats their seats in Congress.

The students will be faced with the reality of facts. With the reality of what can actually be done to secure schools having nothing to do with elimination of certain types of guns. The reality is that there is knowledge they should acquire, although that may be a long shot based.

Someday many of these students will face the reality that as they engaged in their political theater they were naive and uninformed; dependent on a media with its own agenda having nothing to do with them other than usury as props.

The students will discover that once the fever is broken and the media is on to the next ‘shiny object’ the politicians will do next to nothing of any importance to address the original fever. . Bump stocks? Sure let’s give them that, even the NRA is okay with that limitation. Of course, bump stocks had nothing to do with the Parkland shooting.

They may even face the reality that a pair of hand guns in the setting of Parkland could have done just as much damage.

The students may even come to the realization that no one will take on, seriously, the elimination of guns but they do want to speak passionately about the issue. The talk and the walk are almost never the same. The students and their supporters will come to realize that the people fanning the flames and their passions don’t want a solution; they want the issue to allow them to claim the rhetorical high ground.

The reality is that the imagined rhetorical high ground is all they’re going to get out of this.