Monday, May 13, 2019

Tough Crowd

Students walked out of their gymnasium, angry and upset. Frustrated by a bad call in the state basketball finals? Nope. Angry that the vigil for their fellow student, Kendrick Castillo, lapsed into a staged political event. What should have been contemplation of the loss of an eighteen year old's life and thanks for the other students who stood up to the shooters turned into an opportunity for politicians to hold the floor and speak out on the evils of gun violence. 
Not that I am against speaking out on the evils of gun violence. I do it all the time. I think it may be best described as a preoccupation of mine. Keeping track of the outrage expressed by those affected by gun violence could be a full-time job for me. Instead, I see it more as an avocation, connected directly to my career as a public school teacher. What set the teenagers off in that gymnasium was a congressman and a senator, who just happens to be one of dozens of 2020 presidential hopefuls, speaking in wide passionate strokes about gun control. "[Our kids] have a job to do when they come to school," Senator Bennet told the crowd. "Their job is not to fix American’s broken gun laws. Their job is not, as Kendrick so selflessly did yesterday, give up their own life to save their classmates' lives or their teachers' lives. That's not their job. They’re relying on the rest of us to do our job so they can do their job."
And the crowd did not eat this up. Not with a spoon. Not with a fork. Like green eggs and ham, they said, no thank you and walked out. Actually, they said much worse, and took a chant of "mental health" all on their own. They were upset because no one had bothered to ask any of the kids to speak. Instead, they were supplied with rhetoric that had little or nothing to do with Kendrick Castillo. 
I am as blue as the Caribbean and as passionate as most any lefty blogger when it comes to gun control, but there is something to be said for knowing your audience. It's not really a matter of timing as much as it is keeping purpose in mind. Apparently there is no rush in this country to change our gun laws. Allowing a high school a place to grieve for their classmate without making a position paper out of it seems like the right thing to do. 

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