3 Problems Americans Are Ignoring in Politics

Americans have become very adept at ignoring problems, particularly when it comes to politics. Lately, the excuse du jour is the unending partisan spats that must be addressed by the denizens of the opposing political positions – blue versus red. But, if they would take a step back, set aside the partisanship for just a moment, there’s a chance that they might recognize the following three problems that are plaguing both sides of the aisle.

1. Lowering the bar doesn’t lead to greatness – Whether you’re talking about lowering standards to allow for “equality” or turning a blind eye on bad behavior, letting things slide because it makes you feel better doesn’t help anyone. Both sides of the aisle are guilty of this, so no finger-pointing allowed. It is wrong to suggest that schools or the military or anything else should reduce their standards to let in people who simply don’t have the ability to do what is required. On the other hand, it’s also wrong to keep electing people whose behavior is worse than our own.

We keep thinking that we’re helping “marginalized groups” when we give them a pass to get into programs or careers that they really aren’t equipped to do. How helpful is it to reduce standards and end up with less competent people in those positions? The hard truth is that not everyone is meant to be exactly what they want in society, and the best we can do is to prevent government from getting in the way of people doing the best that they can. That doesn’t mean make it easier to do anything – it just means remove unnecessary hurdles and road blocks.

As for our slippery slope with politicians, that has been happening since the beginning of our nation, not just during the past few decades. However, once we started talking about wanting a president who we could picture ourselves sharing a beer with on the porch, our standards did start dropping severely. Before anyone gets offended or starts saying that the president deserves respect, think about the characteristics of the current one. If your next door neighbor had a history of cheating on his wife, would you assume that he quit just because he hadn’t been caught recently? How long would a dinner guest last at your table if he monopolized the table discussion with talk about how he is an expert at everything? Finally, if you wouldn’t put up with that kind of behavior from someone you interact with as a friend, why would you defend it when you see it done by the president? If that is what “respecting the president” really has become, the bar is extremely low.

2. Minors and media aren’t good policy-makers – After the shooting in Parkland, the children have taken to the streets to demand changes in policy, and the media has been feeding their fervor. Unfortunately, too many people who should be acting as the adults in the room have been swept up by this. Particularly in this case, it is a terrible idea.

Any reliable source on dealing with loss and grief – from pamphlets to psychological professionals – will tell people that it is a terrible idea to make any major life decisions immediately after a loved one has died. This is why people are constantly encouraged to make wills, living wills, pre-plan funerals, etc. In all of those plans, people are always told to name responsible adults to carry out their wishes – not children.

If we can understand why children shouldn’t be involved in carrying out anything important in our personal lives when someone dies, why are we thinking that they should be highly involved in major decisions for our nation when they are dealing with losses themselves? The media is telling us that we should listen to them, because it fits their agenda. Depending on how cynical someone is, that agenda either just involves making money or goes far deeper. Either way, the public isn’t turning off the television, and they are showing up in droves at these protests that are driven by uncontrolled emotion. Following that to the logical conclusion, does that mean that we have reached the point where we think it’s a great idea to make governmental policies and laws based solely on uncontrolled emotions? Let’s hope not.

3. Apathy – It would be nice to be able to point back at a specific time in our history as a nation and say “that was when our populace as a whole really did care.” Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Early on, it is true that just about everyone who was granted the right to vote actually did cast a ballot regularly. During those times, there were many people excluded, notably blacks and women. Now, nowhere near the number of people who are eligible to vote actually register and vote. It’s true that the children who want to run our government lately are trying to get more people registered to vote, but even that effort won’t make a real dent in the number of people who simply choose not to involve themselves in their own governance.

True, in the worst cases those same people who don’t vote will be the first to complain, but it never seems to occur to them that they should make use of their right to vote. It’s taken for granted. People from other nations around the world look at us and cannot understand why so many of our citizens simply don’t vote.

Of course, the radicals on either side of the aisle are probably hoping that those masses don’t step up. Why? Because they know that the apathetic people are mostly sitting in the middle. There are some radicals among them, but most of them are just sitting in the middle. Maybe those vocal radicals wouldn’t have so much power if the apathetic moderates started caring – and voting.

Image: Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

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3 Problems Americans Are Ignoring in Politics

Did Twitter Just Devalue Itself with Its New Policy?

Twitter has banned bulk tweeting, re-tweeting, and liking of tweets, which has left many third-party developers of social media management tools scrambling. This move was ostensibly to cut back on bots spreading hate speech and Russian propaganda, but like any other new rule it is likely to have at least one unintended consequence.

This new rule may reduce the value of Twitter as a marketing tool for many businesses and creative types.

To illustrate the potential problem, consider a large company like Coca-Cola, or a large traditional publishing house like Penguin Books. In both cases, the companies maintain multiple twitter accounts, and while they have staff members who are responsible for creating social content on Twitter for them, that probably isn’t the extent of their job descriptions. They make use of some level of automation, and for the sake of promoting their products across their various audiences on Twitter, they probably do end up with a fair number of bulk tweets across multiple accounts. They also may repeat tweets over time, which may or may not land an account in trouble.

True, it’s unlikely that Twitter will end up shutting down any large corporate accounts with this new policy, but scale things back in your mind now. Consider writers who may promote their work through multiple accounts, or people who work in website design, SEO, social media management, etc. Part of their job description is to promote the work and information of their clients, which can easily lead to violations of the Twitter policy against bulk tweets from multiple accounts.

While there is a fair degree of specialization in technology work these days, there are still many workers who wear many hats on a daily basis. If this Twitter policy is going to be automated (which one is safe to assume it must be), it’s fair to guess that there will be many accounts suspended for violations, meanwhile all they would be guilty of is promoting multiple clients or brands across multiple accounts – for work.

I admit that I am assuming sooner or later, my own accounts on Twitter will fall as a result of this policy. I’m guilty of making use of automation, repeat tweets, and arguably my Twitter account is mostly a bot. It’s not that I avoid interacting with people entirely. I just view Twitter as a time-sucking necessary evil most of the time. If I don’t spend time on social media, I can spend more time writing, editing, coding, increasing my skill set, and maintaining a work/life balance that keeps me sane.

Somehow I suspect that I’m not alone in thinking that Twitter is a tool for work that is best left to someone else or a reasonably priced automation client. Even though Twitter doubled its character limit, the platform still isn’t conducive to intelligent debate. (Ironically enough, some of the accounts that Twitter is trying to purge with this new rule are part of the reason why businesses and creators may list as other reasons for abandoning the platform.) I have no illusions about ROI of my time on Twitter – it’s near nil. Yes, I do get some clicks on links offered there, but I don’t have time to experiment with posts for most of my own content. When speaking with clients, I still say that social media driven traffic is “nice”, but search engine traffic is always better. It’s more reliable.

So, time will tell how this latest brain child will play out for Twitter. Personally, I doubt that I will bother leaping through any major hoops to restore an account on it if I lose the ability to use it over the fact that my accounts are largely automated and re-post old tweets regularly. Again, I suspect I’m not alone in that assertion.

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Did Twitter Just Devalue Itself with Its New Policy?

Presidential Pro-Tip – Do Not Lie to Allies

It’s no secret that Trump has a tendency of making things up as he goes along, so no one is surprised when he lies. However, when it gets beyond the typical lies to his base to keep them happy and lies to the rest of us to make our heads implode, there’s a problem.

It all started in a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and it was all about Trump’s favorite topic these days – trade inequity. Trump’s claim to Trudeau was that the U.S. has a trade deficit with Canada, which is untrue when one considers the sum total of trade between the two nations. Technically, the U.S. does import more raw materials from Canada, but we more than make up for it in consumer goods and services. (Yes, we do buy a lot of building materials from Canada, but without them we wouldn’t be enjoying one of the best years in construction in at least a decade. Albeit, that’s according to my husband who sells those materials in the U.S., and our household bank accounts.)

Trump claimed that he corrected himself privately with Trudeau, but then there was this:

So, the lie continues on Twitter. But, that’s not enough to cover this one. The unusual circumstances surrounding what probably could have been written off as yet another Trump lie is the fact that Trump got caught on an audio recording saying that he knew he was lying. Yes, that was uncovered by the Washington Post and Politico, but to understand how bad this situation is, the story was even picked up by the online tabloid, Hello Giggles.

Yes, that means that Trump is making headlines as a liar to heads of state on a website that classifies a story about some Miley Cyrus song lyrics “News.” Talk about lowering the bar?

So, here it is:

Pro-tip for the President: Lying to world leaders is bad. It makes you look like a complete idiot, since most of the time, when you lie to leaders you are probably lying about something that you should know because you are the President. When in doubt, smile, shake hands with the leader, and talk about how much you like being friends with the other person in the room who undoubtedly knows more about being a world leader than you do. (Just skip that “friend” talk when you inevitably follow through with your stupid idea of meeting with Kim Jong Un.
He’s not your friend.)

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Presidential Pro-Tip – Do Not Lie to Allies

5 Issues Students Are Ignoring While Protesting Guns

Students across the country are taking their First Amendment rights out for a walk today, and are protesting against school violence – or guns. While it is a good thing to see them speaking out in general, the problem is that they are taking a media and politician provided shortcut on the issue. Instead of honestly exploring and discussing the problem of school violence in the classroom (or among themselves), they are choosing to blame guns. That is approximately the same as blaming cars for car accidents, as opposed to blaming the drivers. More importantly, it is ignoring an honest exploration of the real causes of school violence. They are students, so they may not be prepared to deal with the uncomfortable possibility that they bear some of the responsibility for the problem. Following are a handful of issues that are being ignored today, because it’s easier to just blame some inanimate objects.

1. Bullying – Like it or not, one common trait among the majority of people who commit mass attacks (with guns or other weapons) in schools is a history of being bullied. This is an age-old problem, and it’s unlikely that anyone will find a solution for it until human beings cease to have feelings of envy and hatred. We would also need to reach the point of living in a society that no longer has any kind of social classes. Since we can’t change nature, the best that we can do is to mitigate the problem.

Students should be demanding local laws that levy fines against the parents of bullies. They also should be demanding that schools be held harmless in court for acting in good faith to prevent bullying – or in common speak, they should request laws that prevent parents from being able to sue schools for reasonable disciplinary actions against their children when they are bullies. For those who would be concerned about how the schools would use the money from fines, demand that the funds be used for school programs and activities that have been suffering from budget cuts.

2. Zero Tolerance Policies – Most schools have zero tolerance policies on violence in schools, and on a very simplistic level that seems like a good idea. However, most schools also have security cameras just about everywhere, so the reason for having those policies no longer exists. The policies theoretically were adopted because teachers and administrators can’t be everywhere, so they can’t always tell who started a fight in school. In reality, the typical reason why these policies are adopted is to avoid litigation. Schools don’t want to be sued (usually by the parents of the aggressor in these fights), so it’s easier if everyone involved in a fight gets punished.

Students should demand the right to defend themselves in school. This issue is related to bullying, and it is no secret that many bullies tend to back down when they realize that their targets aren’t going to take a beating without fighting back. Obviously this issue becomes far more complex in many urban schools with gang problems, but punishing both aggressors and victims does not help students. It definitely doesn’t lead to safer schools either.

3. The Media Spotlight – The students from Parkland, Fla. have become the media darlings since tragedy hit their school, and eventually there will need to be a debate over how the spotlight affected their behavior. For now, it’s just necessary to point out that the media doubled-down on its negative role in mass attacks on schools by putting the spotlight on students who decided to speak up before they had time to process what had happened and grieve.

Part of the allure for people who end up engaging in this kind of violence is the desire for the spotlight, so students need to think about ways to remove the “instant celebrity” factor. The adults certainly are failing miserably in this area, since the media and politicians have been quite happy to use children for their own agendas lately.

Perhaps students should demand that their schools adopt “media blackout policies” particularly when any acts of violence occur on campus. Maybe state that the media can know that there has been an incident, but may not know the identity of the suspect. Law enforcement agencies should also be encouraged to adopt similar policies. Press freedom is involved in this, but because there is no shortage of experts in psychology and criminology who would freely state that media attention is often part of the motivation for these attackers, a case definitely can be made for preserving public safety.

While not quite to the level of shouting fire in a crowded theater, the media definitely has been glorifying mass attackers simply by putting their photos out as quickly as possible. The public is curious, but that doesn’t mean that the public is entitled to know the identity of these people, particularly when they are minors. Unfortunately, many of these attackers end up dead, so we can’t question them to find out exactly how important media attention is, but based on writings they’ve left behind, it’s not unreasonable to think that many of them wanted that moment of fame when they died.

4. There’s (Almost) No App for That – Some regions and schools in the country have smartphone apps for students to report questionable behavior of classmates. There are also some programs that teach students how to recognize risk factors for suicide and violent behavior in their peers. Schools that have continual and comprehensive education about safe and respectful social interaction are a rarity, since this kind of education typically falls under the umbrella of sexual education.

Students should be demanding local apps that they can use on their devices to report questionable behavior before it reaches the boiling point. Of course, that means they’ll also need to demand comprehensive education on psycho-social skills and best habits, which probably will open debates on sex education, since that’s where that kind of curriculum currently exists. If parents don’t like that, the schools might want to consider online courses, so students can “home-school” those classes. But, the fact that many schools do not offer this kind of education from day one of kindergarten or preschool through high school graduation contributes to the problem of all kinds of school violence – not just mass attacks.

5. Social Media Mayhem – Social media is a cesspool, and there is no shortage of violent content there in spite of the attempts of the platform developers to prevent it. It’s also the place where students put up photos and writing that can be highly disturbing. They do it there because it tends to fall under the radar of parents and teachers.

Students should be learning to police themselves, and report content to school officials when they see it. They shouldn’t stop there. Their parents should know about it. Their local police department should get a report. When students see their peers post content on social media that implies that the peers in question intend to harm themselves or others, students should report it to every adult they can think of until someone actually does something about it. They should report it repeatedly, if necessary. This is not being a tattle-tale or a “narc”, or whatever other negative term a student wants to call it. It is the responsible act that must be done, period.

Note that there is no talk about guns in any of this, and there is a very good reason for that. Once someone reaches the point where he has decided to commit a mass attack in school, acquiring the weapon is the last act. If we are going to be serious about stopping this kind of violence in schools, we need to intercede long before someone reaches that point. If we don’t, then we will never see an end to these attacks. At best, we will see fewer attacks with guns, but more attacks with knives, bombs, or any other weapons that are easier to acquire. Everything we do will be useless until we recognize that fact, and act on it.

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5 Issues Students Are Ignoring While Protesting Guns

Texas School Administrator Proves Why We Need Civics Classes

A Texas School Administrator sent a message to students on social media informing them that they would be suspended from school if they chose to engage in on-campus protests of any kind in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Needville Independent School District Superintendent Curtis Rhodes stated that his reasoning for this decision is to maintain order and discipline in the classroom. As laudable as this may be, Rhodes is also sending another message to students: our school district does not approve of or encourage political literacy or peaceful activism.

Rhodes stated that school is a place to learn and grow “educationally, emotionally, and morally,” so apparently he is of the belief that school is not a place to be educated about becoming politically literate adults. Any protests were described as “disruptions” which is generally true, but if Needville students would be like others across the nation, a protest probably would have been peaceful.

Beyond purely political motives, students across the nation probably are participating in these protests out of fear that their own schools may be next. Because most of the students are too young to vote, they undoubtedly feel that their voices haven’t been heard by adultsin office. Even if the adults disagree with the solutions students are saying they want, this is not the time to silence them.

Young people have long been accused of being uninterested in civic affairs and politics, and now that there are many students showing an interest, there are school administrators telling them that they will be punished for it? There is nothing wrong with wanting school to remain calm without disruptions, but instead of threatening suspensions if students chose to participate in a peaceful demonstration, perhaps the better option would have been to provide the students with a specific time to demonstrate. There is plenty of research that suggests short breaks for physical activity to enhance academic performance. A short walk out the doors of the school to the parking lot, and maybe a short period of quiet time outdoors wouldn’t have been a huge disruption for Needville students. It certainly would make their Civics teachers happy – if they have them.

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Texas School Administrator Proves Why We Need Civics Classes

#TwitterLockOut and the War on Bots

#TwitterLockOut is trending on Twitter because many conservative users of the social media platform noticed that they were losing followers, or that their accounts were essentially shut down. Even the coveted “blue check mark” didn’t seem to protect some people:

While many may be saying that this is a Twitter conspiracy to get rid of conservatives on the platform, there are legitimate reasons why the engineers would go after accounts offering a certain kind of content. Russian bots on Twitter have been pushing conservative views for some time now, according to breadcrumbs being offered from the Mueller investigation. Because Twitter can be totally anonymous, it’s entirely possible that at least some U.S. conservatives on Twitter have been interacting with Russians without even knowing it. These activities have been continuing, and include posts on the shooting in Parkland, Fla., and gun control.

It’s true that Twitter employees probably aren’t crying any tears over the idea of sweeping up piles of conservative accounts:

However, it is important to remember that Twitter is a private business, and is not required to guarantee use of its product to everyone. They are quite within their rights to censor content. In spite of the latest cries about that practice now, it’s not likely that Twitter will ever completely silence anyone ever. It simply isn’t worth the gamble for a company that just managed to start turning a profit. Its focus will be on bots and abusive accounts, because the goal will remain focused on their bottom line. Bots from foreign nations are likely to cause problems in the future for Twitter, since sooner or later the government may decide to levy penalties of some kind against social media companies that fail to even attempt to shut down these accounts. Twitter also wants to shut down abusive accounts because they won’t be able to turn around their sluggish user sign-up rates if they don’t lose the reputation for being the haven of anonymous trolls. One thing that has helped the company is a significant increase in active users, and whether they like it or not, that included an influx of active conservative users who were fired up by the Trump campaign and presidency.

So, Twitter needs to weed out foreign bots who are hiding among conservatives who already think that they are being targeted on the platform. Their employees are generally politically opposed to those conservatives, so they’re enjoying the job. However, their accountants know that the conservatives are an integral part of the company’s current successes. Sooner or later, there will be a time when the accountants will have a real conversation with the management and employees at Twitter, and it will go something like this – “We know you really don’t like all those conservatives, but we also know you like to get paid. Either stop targeting users who are putting cash in your pocket and are keeping this company afloat, or shut it down and call it a day.”

Maybe conservatives need to remember that, and realize that while the Twitter workers might hate them completely, there’s no way those people would have their jobs without the “evil conservatives.”

Image: Photo by James Sutton on Unsplash

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#TwitterLockOut and the War on Bots

Idaho State Senator Shows How Not to Do Constituent Relations

Idaho State Senator Dan Foreman apparently needs a remedial course in constituent relations, if the following outburst is any indication:

Good political consultants and campaign managers usually take at least a little time with a candidate, and explain that once someone is sworn into office that person needs to know how to deal with people he disagrees with completely. That lesson should include at least a few statements warning against having emotional outbursts in front of anyone while at work. State Senator Foreman must have missed that talk.

If the verbal altercation in the hallway wasn’t enough, Foreman apparently doubled down with his best impression of Donald Trump on Twitter, according to HuffPost. There, he further clarified his opinion that abortion is murder, and even pulled the name of one of his colleagues in the State Senate. All of the above have earned Foreman an ethics inquiry, and rightly so.

Perhaps the worst part of the entire situation is that the college students Foreman treated so atrociously wanted to speak with him about legislation that objectively would help stop women from wanting or needing abortions. It’s true that the students were from an organization affiliated with Planned Parenthood, but their specific purpose for being in the building that day was to promote two pieces of legislation related to birth control prescriptions and updating sex-ed standards in schools. But, Foreman was blinded by his hatred for Planned Parenthood, and failed to do his job – represent and listen to his constituents even if he doesn’t completely agree with them.

Image: Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

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Idaho State Senator Shows How Not to Do Constituent Relations

Facebook Doesn’t Know Jack About Politics

If you are among the millions of Americans who make use of Facebook, you probably have seen at least a little political content in your newsfeed. This is why the Mueller investigation into Russian propaganda about our political process is the daily fixation of news networks. Social media in general, and Facebook specifically is the wild west of political media since it is not governed like broadcast and print media in the U.S.

Over the weekend, Facebook executive Rob Goldman took to Twitter to talk about the Russian ad purchases on Facebook – and then he was forced to apologize. Goldman inadvertently implied that the Russians probably didn’t have a significant influence on the U.S. elections by pointing out that they purchased ads after the election. If that was the only mistake he made, perhaps that would be alright.

It wasn’t.

The simple fact that Goldman decided to weigh in on a subject that should have been forbidden by Facebook management is the real problem. By extension, Goldman has openly suggested to the public that he and his co-workers might have a clue about the political implications of the content their employer puts out on the web. He is an ad executive, and his co-workers are in marketing, IT, and programming. None of their job descriptions involve objective analysis of political impacts of the content they publish. On the contrary, their founder has repeatedly denied claims that Facebook is a media entity (which might engage in real analysis), and still insists that Facebook is a communication platform.

Facebook deals in information without analysis. The only analysis they are competent at completing is limited to user experience on their website, and if you ask many of their users they might say Facebook can’t even get that right. “Fake news” is a phrase that is bandied about by people who are upset about the substance of a given news report, but on Facebook it should be used to describe the billions of poorly sourced words that float through their systems unchecked. Just from the sheer volume, it is impossible for Facebook to police their content properly, so the only real solution is for people to view the site in the same way most teachers view Wikipedia. It’s a fine place to start, but it is not a reliable source for accurate information. That places it at least a step below “trust but verify” level information.

Goldman should serve as an object lesson for Facebook policy. Maybe it’s time to end the “open posting on Twitter” rule for management, and start requiring that their executives get their tweets about Facebook cleared before they go live. No matter what, it’s time for Facebook to tell their people to stop posting about things they know nothing about on social media – like politics.

Image: Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash

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Facebook Doesn’t Know Jack About Politics

Congressional District Chaos in Pennsylvania

The Congressional District map has been re-drawn in Pennsylvania, and the Supreme Court followed through on its threat to do it for the legislature and governor if they failed to do it. As maps go, the new one does appear to be fairly organized, but it’s still going to cause a fair amount of chaos particularly in western Pennsylvania.

The above map offered by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania will have a profound effect on the current 18th Congressional District that voters will be more aware of than any other in the Commonwealth. In March, there is a special election to fill the seat vacated by Tim Murphy, but in May, voters in that election may find themselves in a new district with all new candidates for office. The current candidates for the 18th District reside in other districts on the new map, so it’s possible that they both could be running for different seats just a couple months after the special election.

Before anyone gets annoyed with inaction by the Pennsylvania lawmakers and governor, it is important to consider this district. No matter what, the people would have faced shifting district lines in this region, and it will undoubtedly be the topic of many conversations about government waste. Pennsylvania is going through the added expense of a special election for a district that won’t exist in the same way after this year, and it’s fair to assume that whoever caused that will be blamed. The governor and lawmakers all will face re-election, so it’s not surprising that they left the map drawing to the court – better to avoid backlash from voters at the ballot box.

Of course, Republicans have stated that they are going to petition for a hearing with the U.S. Supreme Court on this entire situation, since drawing the Congressional map is supposed to be handled by Pennsylvania’s legislators, not the court. Time will tell how this new map will change the balance of power going to Washington, since both sides are claiming that it will help them at least a little.

It’s too soon to make any assumptions because Pennsylvania already did shift unexpectedly in 2016 for Trump. While it’s possible that is an indication of a real political trend toward the right, it’s important to recognize the fact that Congressional candidates in Pennsylvania often campaign in the middle of the road. The current campaign for the 18th District is offering a pro-gun Democrat, and a pro-safety-net Republican according to recent ads offered by the respective candidates. The more polarizing ads are from out-of-state political groups from both sides of the aisle. While there are some voters on the fringes in Pennsylvania like in any other state, the fringes simply don’t tend to sway the rank-and-file voters toward the middle anywhere near as much as people outside the Commonwealth may think. Honestly, the largest issue this year will be over the new district lines, and there aren’t any obvious targets for anger over that on any ballots. The people and the candidates are all going to be able to claim problems with what the court has done, and the justices will be out of reach of everyone on election day.

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Congressional District Chaos in Pennsylvania

Parkland – It Is Too Soon to Talk Activism

Parents and students from Parkland are constantly appearing on television screens across America, and there are members of the media who are quite happy to place them there. True, they are doing this because the news cycle is ridiculously fast sometimes, but that doesn’t change the fact that these people are human beings who have just dealt with tragic losses. I am only hoping that this doesn’t do irreparable damage to these people, but I won’t say that I hope they don’t end up angry and annoyed with the media personalities who pushed them in front of the cameras, like this one:

While I have no doubt in my mind that the people of Parkland are absolutely fed up with lip-service from the government on mass shootings, this is not the time for them to be pushed into the spotlight to speak on the issue. This is the time for them to grieve, and process what has happened to them. Those are human issues that cannot be rushed to appease the media’s desire to fit them into their production schedules before the rest of America loses interest.

If it wasn’t too soon, then instead of impassioned speeches about gun laws, there would have been at least a little talk about what America has lost in the past few decades. Someone would have been saying “when did we stop watching over our neighbors?” Teens might have looked at each other, and asked, “who saw the social media posts by this kid, and why didn’t we insist on the adults doing something about it?” That didn’t happen in Parkland, Fla., but it did happen in Uniontown, Pa.:

Time.com offered that story to the nation in late January, and if not for the actions of one teen and his parents, Uniontown would have been in the headlines because of a mass shooting. But they weren’t, and I’m guessing that in spite of Time.com carrying that story, very few people outside of western Pennsylvania knew about the shooting that didn’t happen. Based on the information that we’ve seen so far, the only reason why Parkland didn’t end up like Uniontown with a small crime headline about a thwarted attack is because the law enforcement system broke down. The FBI failed to follow up on a tip about the shooter.

But, the grieving teens and parents from Parkland are taking cues from the media now, so their message is about the evil of guns. It’s really not that simple. The real problem is the fact that as a society we have become isolated. We avoid involving ourselves in situations with our neighbors, presumably because it is none of our business. Someone else can intervene, tell the authorities when a troubled teen starts posting about killing people on social media. He might be just trying to show off, right? Or maybe the family will try to start trouble for me. Rationalize as much as you like, but the problem isn’t the guns – it’s us.

We have failed as a society because we have reached the point where we can give ourselves a pass for neglecting to act when we see people in trouble. It’s easier to blame guns than it is to own up to the fact that we can see women and children abused – physically or verbally – on a daily basis without saying a word to anyone who could help them. Parents find it easy to tell their children not to associate with kids who don’t “fit in” or “get in too much trouble.” That’s not as bothersome as picking up the phone, calling the school, and reporting questionable behavior to guidance counselors or school psychologists.

It’s none of our business, until that failure to act turns into yet another mass shooting. Then it’s definitely our business, but not our own fault. It’s the guns, or the politicians who fail to write laws. If we’re honestly looking for a law to prevent these tragedies, we all might end up in trouble. Such a law would need to require that citizens do not remain silent when they see warning signs of violent behavior in teens. We would need to teach our children how to see those signs in themselves and their classmates. But, the people of Parkland won’t realize that until long after the media has moved on from them. They may never reach that point, because it’s a truth that we simply don’t talk about. Of course, if we did talk about it and admit it was the truth, then we would have to admit that our society has created these monsters – they are simply the logical result of our own indifference toward each other as human beings.

The post Parkland – It Is Too Soon to Talk Activism appeared first on Liz Harrison – Writer – Editor – Consultant.


Source: Liz Harrison

Parkland – It Is Too Soon to Talk Activism