The Parkland Students Should Fill All Adults with Pride and Shame

I fuckin' love these Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School kids from Parkland, Florida. The more outspoken, the more in-your-cruel-fuckin'-face-NRA they are, the better. They are reluctant warriors, thrust into a battle they never had any previous intention of fighting but were dragged into by an act of utter savagery directed at them, the shooting massacre at their school on February 14 that left 17 of their classmates and teachers dead. But now that they've joined in the fight against the gun lobby and the Republican whore-beasts who do its bidding, as well as against a resigned complacency on the part of the public, those bright-eyed motherfuckers are in it to win.

We keep hearing how the Parkland kids - well, many of them have turned or are turning 18, so "kid" isn't exactly accurate - have kept this current movement for gun control alive by their presence and their voices. We also know that a bunch of corporate pig fellaters at the NRA are not gonna beat teenagers at the social media game. We're talking about young people who got iPads before they got out of Huggies. Social media is their realm. It is their soda shop. It is their roller skating rink. It is their underneath the football field bleachers. It is where they gather to commiserate and conspire and explore. You cannot fuck with their Snapchat game. I don't say that to belittle them. These are the tools of activism now, and the people who know how to wield those tools will be the victors.

But a couple of other things are going on with this generation that do not bode well for conservatives, if they truly get activated as a political bloc. For one, most of them grew up with active shooter drills. I know teenagers who had them every year since kindergarten. FEMA even has a document for guiding schools in creating procedures for an active shooter. Students learn how to go into lockdown, how to crouch against the back walls in a darkened room, how to escape if necessary, how to distract a gunman long enough so that some can escape while others get blown away. They don't know a life where that doesn't happen. What they don't learn in school is how fucked up it is that they have to be prepared for it at all.

How they learn that is the other thing that fucks with the nutzoid right-wing narrative. See, it used to be a fuck of a lot easier to keep Americans away from finding out about how others live around the world. Oh, sure, you could watch movies or shows or read or, more recently, go to websites. But a whole lot of tweens and teenagers these days are constantly in communication with people all over the world, in Europe, in Asia, in Canada, fer fuck's sake. They are following them or being followed by them on Instagram. When they play games online, they go on missions with people in Japan and Sweden and Australia. In other words, in a very real, very current way, teenagers exist in the world, and what they learn about a lot of places around the world is just how fucked our gun culture is and just how free other societies are without the constant, endless threat of gun violence.

Every foreign country I've ever visited, one of the first things someone wants to know when they hear I'm from the United States is "Do you know Beyonce'?" The second thing is "What the fuck's up with the guns? What is wrong with your country?" That sense, that something is entirely wrong with how we live in the United States, permeates the online existence that so many American teens have. You have to deliberately avoid the rest of the world showing that it's okay to not have a fuckin' pseudo-machine gun to get by in life. And if you're living somewhere that you do need it? Then you're in a fuckin' war zone.

The cynical take on millennials and post-millennials is that they are glib and self-involved. Well, no shit. Every generation is self-involved. That's America: a bunch of assholes who have been told that it's better to be a selfish prick than to take care of your community. But experience teaches us that that doesn't hold when confronted with reality. It gets in the way of pursuing happiness. What happens is that you realize that if you're gonna have any peace to be blissfully self-involved, you gotta make the rest of your world better.

I am so fucking proud of the Parkland teens and of all the teens that have jumped into the fray in the wake of the latest school bloodbath. They have grown up with the Tea Party and hashtag activism and women's marches and more. I am thrilled that they are synthesizing all of this into a "suck deez nuts" attitude where they don't give a happy monkey fuck what some bloated bag of blogging bullshit like Erick "Erick" Erickson says about them. Man, these kids grew up getting slammed and dragged by vicious comments on their Snaps. You think you're gonna rattle them with your witty bon mots?

Yet every grown-up should be shamed by the way the Parkland teens have shifted the conversation. They didn't care if Fox "news" or Paul fuckin' Ryan told them it was too soon to talk about the politics of guns. They looked at us pathetic adults and knew that we were incapable of doing shit to change anything. We failed them. (Yeah, yeah, not you, you're great, pat yourself on your fuckin' back. Happy now?)

We failed them by refusing to throw out of office elected officials who wouldn't pass laws that over 90% of the nation wanted. We failed them by giving extremist gun owners a greater say over gun policy than the wide majority of people who own one or no guns at all. We failed them by making their childhoods about avoiding getting shot. We failed and we failed again and again. They shouldn't have to be lobbying and pleading for something to budge on our gun insanity, but they must because we let them down.

And, frankly, I'm glad to admit that failure and line up behind the people, however young, however new to this whole fucked up political landscape, and fight with them to overcome our failures.