Sunday, March 25, 2018

Tearing up the script

Jennifer Rubin remarks on how quickly the teens—not just from Parkland, but from all over—have engineered a shift in attitudes that adults have been trying and failing to accomplish for years. (H/T Jason Antrosio)

It hit me earlier today that while the teens pushing this are certainly savvy (and I mean that in a good way), they're not being coyly tactical about their core message itself.

They're not wondering if they're asking for too much.

They're not second-guessing whether they might be losing "moderates" by being too "radical."

They're not afraid of the NRA and they're not backing down when gun folks belittle them as Tide-pod-eating morons or even call them "crisis actors."

They’re clever, but their savvy has been in how to get their message out and bring people to their side by the force of their argument (and their lived experience), rather than in trimming their sails and trying to tweak their message to make it acceptable to existing opinion and avoid stepping on big, scary toes.

If the teens truly have shifted the conversation, maybe it’s because they haven’t fallen into the trap of being too clever by half.

When you say what you think, rather than what you think people are willing to hear, that makes you sincere. That won't help much with your convinced opponents, but perhaps it makes an impression on the undecided, and it energizes those who are already with you. Of course, another possibility is simply that enough of us were finally ready to hear what the kids were ready to say.

But something definitely feels different.

The gun lobby is used to its opponents being scared. They're used to their opponents negotiating with themselves before they ever get around to negotiating with the gun lobby, for fear that single-issue gun owners will call them unreasonable (think about that last one for a moment).

The teens have torn up that script.

The general public has noticed.

And the NRA hasn't yet figured out a plan B.

They still might—eventually, they probably will. But for now, I’m enjoying watching them flail while the teens stride on.

The evening-into-night of November 8th, 2016, was a horrific experience for me, and for most of the people I’m close to.

This is the most optimistic I've been since then.

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