EDITORIAL: Time to listen to young anti-violence activists
The right to express ourselves without fear of government reprisal is one of the guiding principles of this country, so important that it is enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Recently, students have began exercising their rights to speech, petition and assembly, following yet another school shooting that left dozens dead and wounded. (See the Daily Wildcat's coverage of local protests here.)
Even in other countries, activists are standing and marching in solidarity with students in this country who simply want to attend classes without the fear of violence.
Instead, many of the same people who have declared millenials and digital natives “lazy” or “keyboard warriors” who never do anything in the real world continue to criticize the youth who are now finding their voice.
Students asking lawmakers for help have been told that “adults make the laws” and that they should not let their “emotions” decide what legislation is considered.
The youth in this country have had enough of status quo politics. From the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential election up to now, many teens and twentysomethings have grown tired of monied interests controlling everything and are starting to look for other options besides “business as usual.”
The empowerment of young people, especially those who are organized and have set goals, has always worried those in power, and with good reason. People under 30 are a huge, if not the largest, demographic in the country, and if they are able to speak in a unified voice, their ability to make change is undeniable.
Those that don’t want change are resorting to dirty tactics to keep change from happening. Attacks against student organizers, calling them crisis actors or communist agents from Cuba, continue to spread online. Doctored images of activists tearing up the Constitution have served their purpose of turning people against the movement, even though they are obviously fake.
While most people would debate how much or little gun legislation is needed, few if any would say that children deserve to feel scared in their classrooms. To turn a blind eye to the gun violence in this country is tantamount to turning our backs on the future.
Tens of thousands of people, from all ages, religions and races, die from guns in the U.S. every year. Many of them are suicides and domestic violence incidents, not terrorism or mass shootings, but that doesn’t make these deaths any less tragic.
And now, a large segment of the population is saying #NeverAgain to these acts of violence and are doing whatever they can to make a difference. Whether we agree with everything they say or not, we must support their right to speak up and have their voices heard.
The protests are just getting started, with more school walkouts, marches and rallies planned nationwide in the coming weeks and months. This movement is not going away any time soon.
Yes, the First Amendment only protects people from reprisal from the government, but that does not give anyone the right to threaten, intimate or defame those whom they disagree with.
Instead, we must support the young people who are standing for what they believe in, and start to listen to what they are saying, not continue treating them like clueless children.
Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat Opinions Board and are written by its members. They are Editor-in-chief Courtney Talak, Opinions Editor Andrew Paxton, Content Editor Marissa Heffernan, Engagement Editor Saul Bookman and Arts & Life Editor Pascal Albright. Follow Daily Wildcat on Twitter.