Tags: parkland | civility | gun reform

Civility Missing on Both Sides of Gun Debate After Parkland

Civility Missing on Both Sides of Gun Debate After Parkland
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By Friday, 06 April 2018 11:24 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Fox News Channel personality Laura Ingraham found out the hard way. Annoyed with a particular activist teenager who had been trolling a National Rifle Association (NRA) spokesperson and various Republican politicians, she lashed out with a mean tweet that mocked the youngster’s difficulty in gaining acceptance into the colleges of his choice.

Bad move on so many levels.

Her ill-advised, snarky tweet was craftily countered by the adolescent who immediately turned Ingraham’s miscue into an online call-to-arms boycott that saw advertisers abandon her weeknight program, “The Ingraham Angle,” in droves.

Fox News bravely stood by Ingraham, allowing that they wouldn’t accede to censorship demands or “agenda-driven intimidation efforts.”

And even worse, a Republican candidate for the Maine State House referred to one of the most prominent female student-activists as a “skinhead lesbian.”

But these disgraceful isolated incidents also provide a cautionary tale for honest critics of the handful of teenaged survivors of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School in Parkland, Florida, who currently own the public square, and are loudly demanding gun control.

Look, the issue of gun reform is a polarizing topic that has pitted good and decent Americans on both sides of the debate against one another in a winner-take-all quest to crush the opposition. To make your point, you must demonize your opponent. There’s no room for nuanced debate or consideration of others’ views. This is bifurcated America in 2018.

Now any sane person will agree that Ingraham’s taunt was out of bounds. But what of the polite, sober adults who have spoken out against the teenagers’ positions? Many have heard the sneers — "How dare you attack children!”

We get it. If you are for gun control, you view the outspoken young activists as bringing forth your message.

In other words, when a political ideology you favor is loudly espoused by children, you can sanctimoniously discredit opposing voices by likening them to bullies. So, we should take the children seriously on complex adult issues, but we are discouraged from criticizing their ideologies or pushing back on some who have been manipulating and exploiting them.

Um. Okay. Got it.

And speaking of bullies, it is fair to assert that the current president has more than just coarsened the debate. His personal attacks via Twitter and the bully pulpit are repugnant.

When Donald Trump and Joe Biden challenge each other to actual fisticuffs on Twitter, it’s no surprise that two of the Parkland teens engage in sophomoric Twitter-spats and debate challenges, aided by their surrogates and supplicants.

But Trump’s boorishness shouldn’t excuse the bad behavior of some of these young activists. I spent time in Parkland in my role as a CNN law enforcement analyst in the immediate aftermath of the mass shooting at MSD. To call the quiet, well-kept neighborhoods ringing the high school as “affluent” would be an understatement. But wealth and privileged status don’t always confer class.

I also spent years coaching and mentoring underprivileged youth in Newburgh, New York. Adverse socioeconomic conditions and single-parent households were never an excuse to be crude or disrespectful. I viewed it as a parent issue, a coach issue, and a community issue.

So when I happened upon the April 2, 2018, issue of Time Magazine with the provocative cover “Enough” at the newsstand, and took in the five Parkland students gracing the cover, I decided to conduct a deep-dive into their expressed political orthodoxies and opinions of these student-activists.

Let’s stipulate that the Time piece is sympathetic to the students’ cause. But the piece is also riddled with utterances from the students that made me shudder.

From a female activist when referring to NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch:

“…very hot but kind of scary.”

The Time reporter also allows that “privately” the students dubbed Florida Governor Rick Scott “Voldemort.”

Objectification of women is acceptable as long as you support gun reform and “bald shaming” is clearly acceptable, because, after all, Governor Scott is an old, white, Republican male.

The piece also points out that the students called Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) “names that are unprintable.”

The Parkland kids, according to the fawning Time article, have “painted the NRA and their allies as mortal enemies of the roughly 50 million schoolkids,” and “spent an afternoon making a video mocking NRA spokeswoman Loesch.”

Where are the adults?

How about some of the ugly tweets from these students? They are dreadful. When I was a child, my parents instilled in me respect for adults — no matter whether I cared much for them or not. At the United States Military Academy, I was taught respect for rank, title, and position — no matter my personal feelings about the man or woman adorned with the epaulets.

So when you call out “Rubio” from a stage lectern or on Twitter, I cringe. It says to me that respect hasn’t been taught to you. Either that, or you’ve emancipated yourself and pay your own cable and cellphone bills now.

He has a title that he’s earned. So, it’s “Senator Rubio” to you.

You have a right to your political or ideological positions. I commend you for becoming involved in the political process at such a precocious age. That, in and of itself, is a credit to your upbringing and those you’ve surrounded yourself with.

But the crass talk? Lose it. It hurts your cause.

I’d never allow one of my young athletes to speak to authority figures the way you have elected to.

We desperately need your generation to participate in the process. So ignore some of the tweets coming out of the White House. We need you to act like adults — even when some of us don’t.

James A. Gagliano is a 1987 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Following his service as an Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army, he entered the FBI, serving in a myriad of positions in the investigative, tactical resolution (SWAT), undercover, diplomatic and executive management realms. He was a member of the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) and has posted to assignments in Afghanistan, Mexico City, and parts of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. He retired in December of 2015 from the FBI’s New York City Office. He currently serves as a Law Enforcement Analyst for CNN, provides Leadership consultation for corporate clients of the Thayer Leader Development Group (TLDG) at his alma mater, and instructs undergraduates at St. John’s University in Queens, New York, where he earned an M.P.S. in Homeland Security and Criminal Justice Leadership in 2016. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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JamesAGagliano
Now any sane person will agree that Ingraham’s taunt was out of bounds. But what of the polite, sober adults who have spoken out against the teenagers’ positions? Many have heard the sneers — "How dare you attack children!”
parkland, civility, gun reform
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2018-24-06
Friday, 06 April 2018 11:24 AM
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