While the poise, stoicism and activism of outspoken teens in Parkland, Fla., inspire many Americans, a counter-narrative emerges less than a week after the Valentine's Day shooting massacre at their high school.
A National Review Online contributor, New York lawyer Dan McLaughlin, tweets Monday about "adults hiding behind kids to advance political arguments" for firearm regulations. An editor at that publication, Ben Shapiro, writes Tuesday:
Seemingly every major media outlet has featured commentary from children ranging from 14 to 17 years old who attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. . . .
What, pray tell, did these students do to earn their claim to expertise? They were present during a mass shooting, and they have the right point of view, according to the Left.
Both men's views are retweeted by a Michigan college senior who shares her own take in a provocatively headlined magazine commentary: "Shooting Survivors’ Feelings Don’t Legitimize Their Ideas About Politics."
In her post at The Federalist, a four-year old publication popular among conservative and libertarians, Chandler Lasch of Hillsdale College accuses journalists of "using victims' quotes to politicize a tragedy and sneak calls for gun control into news articles." She writes:
Media tends to treat survivors like [David] Hogg as if they are policy experts, rather than ordinary people who have witnessed something most of us will never understand. Reporters often ask questions that politicize shootings and ask for a survivor’s take on legislation. . . .
Hogg certainly has a powerful story to share, but why is he speaking on anything other than his experience?
That view from a 22-year-old history major draws more than 200 comments at The Federalist, national social media attention and, unsurprisingly, criticism.
One anonymous tweet accuses her of "taking sides against mass shooting survivors," while Andrew Kornblatt of San Francisco tweets: "Your entire article is garbage."
An internationally known pollster also jumps in:
"Parkland students aren't credentialed to talk about the gun debate" is one of the worst takes of all time, especially when it comes from people who don't have very much relevant life experience themselves. pic.twitter.com/JVjckmoSLs— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) February 20, 2018
Silver, a former New York Times staffer who's now editor-in-chief of a site called FiveThirtyEight, adds in a follow-up: "I don't usually link to articles that I don't think are worth reading, but here is the argument in its full glory if you're curious."
In her opinion essay, the western Michigan student from Long Beach, Calif., says an ABC News spreads "a purely emotional response to gun violence" in an interview with a survivor who reversed her gun control stance.
Those who witness tragedies are not necessarily in a place to make rational conclusions about legislation, especially immediately after the trauma of the shooting. . . .
Enduring tragedy does not make anyone a source of wisdom on legislation. Some of the survivors of the Parkland shooting reacted emotionally, as most anyone would to an unfathomable display of evil. Instead of using victims’ quotes to politicize a tragedy and sneak calls for gun control into news articles, let's leave the policy analysis to the experts and laws to those elected to represent all Americans’ interests, and let survivors simply tell their stories.
At Hillsdale, a conservative, nonprofit school, Lasch is web editor of the student newspaper. Her work at The Collegian includes another hot-button commentary three months ago with this headline: "Conservatives must fight media’s censorship of pro-life content." The target then was Twitter and Apple:
Censorship of conservative ideas has increased recently across social media platforms, and even the iTunes App Store, and conservatives are right to fight back.
Even people who don’t agree with their ideas should be concerned about this restriction in discourse. Conservatives deserve a chance to have their ideas heard.
Now the student journalist engages more visibly and fires back against critics taking shots -- particularly Nate Silver, the New Yorker who fans the backlash with his tweet visible to nearly 3 million followers and shared more than 2,300 times in the first six hours:
If you’re going to take issue with something I said, use a real quote. Not the headline, not your interpretation. A real quote. https://t.co/I96xuHtE7B— Chandler Lasch (@ChandlerLasch) February 20, 2018