Anthony Breznican: Stop saying that Parkland students are fakes, actors

Opinion - santa clarita news

In a March 23 column, “Talking about school safety,” writer Ron Bischof suggests a conspiracy theory: “Ask yourself: what’s the probability that teenage survivors, understandably distraught and traumatized, would be capable within a week of the attack to initiate the necessary media contacts and build out of an organization structure to orchestrate a national protest?

“Isn’t it rational to conclude they’re being orchestrated by media producers and other organizations with political objectives?”

This is a disgraceful effort to spread the falsehood that these students are fakes rather than intelligent, articulate young people who are speaking their own minds.

It’s nauseating to see an adult push this lie, and it reminds me of the “false flag” libel that Alex Jones and other online trolls created to make people believe the Newtown massacre never happened, and that parents grieving the violent deaths of their first-graders were “crisis actors.”

While Mr. Bischof doesn’t outright accuse the Parkland students of being “actors,” (it’s easy enough to prove they are real people, with documented histories) he instead claims they are puppets, which is just as grotesque.

The goal is to imply there is something false about them, and they should be ignored. (Nothing to see here!) But, the claim that these students are being manipulated as part of some grand media conspiracy is absurd and twisted.

It’s a weak assertion, intended only to undermine their bravery and resolve.

When I was a general news reporter for the Associated Press, I frequently had to go to the scene of tragic events to interview survivors and their families.

When those individuals don’t wish to be interviewed, it’s important and ethical to respect that. When they actually do want to talk, it’s vital to listen.

That’s what’s happening here.

These students have experienced a horror that could happen to any one of us at nearly any time. They have endured loss that no one, let alone a teenager, should have to suffer.

They have a right to speak. The media has a responsibility to cover that. And, we need to hear them.

The integrity, logic and innocence of the Parkland students makes them difficult to smear or dismiss—therefore, gun advocates are left only with the option of claiming they are fakes, just as they tried to do with the murdered children of Newtown and their families.

It’s a hideous lie, and anyone who pushes it shames himself and forfeits all other arguments.

This movement didn’t spring up suddenly. America has endured years of increasingly gruesome massacres, each time hoping and praying that there won’t be another.

There is always another. There always will be until we follow the lead of Japan, Australia and other nations who got their gun proliferation problem under control.

But even now, our political leadership refuses to stand up and do what’s right, what the majority of Americans want.

A March 23 poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, found that 69 percent of Americans want stricter gun control measures, including universal background checks on all gun sales. And a Feb. 20 Quinnipiac poll showed 67 percent want a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons.

In its landmark 2008 Heller ruling, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia affirmed that guns were a right, but not an unlimited one, and that outlawing objects like assault weapons would be constitutional.

We just need Congress and a president willing to stand their ground and make such a law.

The outspokenness of the Parkland students makes the rest of that, 67-69 percent realize that we also don’t need to be intimidated anymore.

Those students scare gun fetishists who would prefer we not look at one of the primary causes of these massacres: ridiculously easy access to assault weapons.

Yes, there were law enforcement failures that also should be examined (a “red flag” law in Florida, which the NRA has historically opposed, is one thing that could have helped disarm this shooter.)

The AR-15 didn’t make this killer snap; it just gave him the ability to slaughter as many people as possible when he finally did. No one should have access to any tool that, as in the Las Vegas concert shooting, can be used to kill 58 and wound 851 in a matter of minutes from 1,300 feet away.

Yes, believe it or not, even a kid can understand that.

Anthony Breznican is a Santa Clarita resident

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