Saturday, February 24, 2018

When it comes to the gun debate, the Never Again kids show more moral clarity and vision than do all adult Americans combined

Florida Senator Marco Rubio is a poster adult and an example of how we adults have betrayed our young. We have betrayed them by our practices and policies that enable school shootings and thus betray the survivors as well as those murdered.

Michael Schulman, writing in the New Yorker, takes a theatrical perspective on the Never Again movement in The Spring Awakening of the Stoneman Douglas Theatre Kids. He argues that “Many of the leaders of the Never Again movement are indeed actors, thrust into roles that no teen-ager should have to play.”

Snippets, condensed, follow.

Cameron Kasky, the seventeen-year-old firebrand … started the Never Again movement with his classmates …

For former high-school-theatre kids, it’s a point of pride to see one of our own elevated to civic hero. “All these kids are drama kids, and I’m a dramatic kid, so it really meshes well,” Emma Gonz├ílez, one of Kasky’s compatriots, told Emily Witt. (Kasky had just left drama class when the shooting began.) On Thursday, the morning after Kasky asked Senator Marco Rubio if he would promise not to take any more donations from the N.R.A. (he wouldn’t), Kasky tweeted, “Using my in flight chat to learn my Spring Awakening lines.” He was referring to the Tony Award-winning rock musical from 2006, by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater. From the lines he posted (“can we at least consider the fitness of the conjecture?”), it seems he’s playing the lead, Melchior Gabor.

… I watched Kasky, Gonz├ílez, and their classmates show more moral clarity and vision than we’ve seen in the gun debate for a long time

… Kasky and his classmates have vowed to remake a world that failed them—a role that no teen-ager should have to play, especially in the wake of tragedy and trauma. … Kasky gave Rubio [s look] on Wednesday night—one that says that the world no longer belongs to the grownups, because the kids have seen through the B.S. and know that their lives are on the line. (As for the kids in the town-hall audience, I half-expected them to respond to Rubio with a lyric from the Act II showstopper “Totally Fucked”: “Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.”)

I am certain what my dog Max hears is “Blah blah blah MAX blah blah blah.” In the same vein, I would not blame those kids in the Never Again movement if they tune out most of what we adults have to say when it comes to their safety and welfare. Because we have failed them and they know it.

The kids need to demand that every would-be leader say how many dead kids are worth free access to assault weapons. They might as well learn sooner than later what is the de facto policy of America when it comes to the value of their lives.

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