Legislating At Seventeen

The Parkland students went back to school yesterday. Thank heavens, could this mean that their 15 minutes of fame are over? No such luck, David Hogg, recently minted media star, has declared that he’s not going back to school until a law is passed. He doesn’t say which law; just any law will do for the moment. Because, you know, “we have to do SOMETHING!” That rhetoric is rarely specific and almost always vacuous so our friend David is right in the middle of the Progressive mainstream; we have to do something even if we don’t know what it is we should do; anything will do.

We’re supposed to be led on the gun issue by 17 year olds like David Hogg. I recall being 17 (well most of it) and being a high school senior. Although my grades did not justify it, a lot of my friends were the “smart kids.” They thought I was pretty smart too, but only when it suited my interests.

My 17 was a fairly busy time: Vietnam, Cultural Revolution, the rise of feminism, civil rights movement, LBJ, a radicalized left and the silent majority. Demonstrations on the Boston Common, Moratorium Day, Bob Dylan, burning draft cards; yea, I remember.

What I know now is that my opinions on the issues of the day when I was 17, what I saw as the truth was just about as misguided as could be; sincere but absent the intellectual heft required to actually understand issues and the history associated with those issues.

At 17 I was unaware of the fact that my brain was not fully developed and would not be until age 25 effecting, primarily, those thought processes involved with decision making, problem solving, and logic, reasoning and non-reactionary intent. At 17 I “knew” I had easy answers based on two critical factors: peer pressure and the pursuit of the opposite sex.

So now, well into maturity (or so I would have you believe) the very idea that 16 and 17 year olds have the answer to complex social and political challenges and should be setting the agenda is laughable in a pathetic sense as is the self-absorbed melodrama surrounding the initial tragedy. You have to wonder if some of the adults involved in this melodrama have achieved that 25 year old brain development standard themselves?

Returning to the 17 year old Mr. Hogg; despite the numerous failures by social service agencies, the Broward Sheriff’s Department, the Deputies on the scene and the FBI, Mr. Hogg claims that the guilty party for the shooting beyond the NRA is … wait for it … Florida Governor Rick Scott. I’m having trouble remembering when the pundits actually blamed the shooter or the reported bullying he was subjected to by, we might assume, these same self-important high school students who we believe should be setting the agenda and leading a ‘movement’.

I predicted in prior posts that these students would be used as tools. Hate to be right but the predictability of reaction makes it hard to be wrong. The lyrics change but the melody never does. This time however the push back seems to be stronger and more vociferous, no more hiding under the bed for, at least some, Conservatives and Republicans.

My prediction is that soon the NRA will announce record breaking membership gains. I don’t own a gun but I signed up because I’m a Constitutionalist. There is anecdotal evidence that I am far from alone.

Finally, if you haven’t listened to Janis Ian’s ‘At Seventeen‘ for a while, take a trip to YouTube. It’s a great song and a fitting metaphor for the time.