Saturday, February 24, 2018

No, We'll Talk Now

(By American Zen’s Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
If Dana Loesch, who once had the wisdom to block me on Twitter, didn't get her tires slashed after the NRA Town Hall last week, then it was a miracle. As it was, it was a minor miracle the spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association even had the guts to show her face and answer pointed questions from the same high school students who'd survived the massacre at their school.
     The virtually non-existent gun control lobby finally had a face and a name in Emma Gonzalez and during the testy exchange at the Town Hall, Loesch looked as if she wanted to bite that face right off Gonzalez's skull. The sentiment was apparently shared.
     From his laughably diminished perch, Bill O'Reilly, of all people, asked if the media should be giving emotionally overwrought teenagers air time. Gun nuts and other conspiracy theorists are so desperate not to lose their firearms they've even yeasted up a fantastic story that the Parkland students were nothing more than paid crisis actors. The pro gun lobby has even taken to hating on the students who, unlike most of the NRA's 5,000,000 members, actually stared down the barrel of a semi automatic rifle and lived to tell the harrowing tale.
     Donald Trump, predictably, had the most bottomlessly despicable line when on Twitter, of course, he started by talking about the Parkland shooting then, within the space of 280 characters, somehow managed to turn the true subject of his tweet back to himself and Russia. (Check out his latest tweet from 1:54 this afternoon, which calls for armed teachers in a tweet that reads like a Craigslist ad written by a brain-damaged chimp).
     Yes, Donald fucking Trump, the Tangerine Shitgibbon, metaphorically stomped on the dead bodies of those 17 students while ragging on the FBI again. For added measure, after the obligatory photo ops were over, he also played golf at the Trump International Golf Club while the families began laying their children to rest just miles away.
     The conclusion that all sane American adults have reached is these kids are smarter, classier and more mature than the psychopaths we elect. By their very poise, maturity and presence, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students made their own case as to why we need to protect these children, our very future. It ought to be remembered that the high school that had been sullied and put in national headlines on Valentine's Day was named after a progressive activist.  Douglas, who passed away nearly 20 years ago at the remarkable age of 108, would've been so proud to hear these students who attend the school named after her.

Shut the Fuck Up and Listen
Not to downplay the horror of what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, but it's amazing that more horrendous school shootings hadn't had the catalytic effect that Parkland has had. 33 were killed at Virginia Tech over a decade ago. Sandy Hook saw 26 fatalities, including 20 first graders. Yet for some reason, Parkland was the tipping point where people, and the media, have had enough. This time, television networks such as CNN were smart enough to stick microphones in front of kids' faces and let them talk.
     And they did. Passionately. Eloquently. They were media darlings, good for ratings and great for shareholders, sure, but their message was finally getting out. And the kids were smart enough to keep the momentum going and not be content with their 15 minutes. And the more the kids talked, the more the adults listened. Impromptu interviews turned into a rally and a protest at the Florida state house in Tallahassee, also heavily televised, which in turn was rapidly succeeded by a nationally televised Town Hall that saw Dana Loesch and Marco Rubio have their feet put to the fire.
     And the more the adults listened, the more they closed their wallets or threatened to and then corporations began to listen and rapidly distanced themselves from contracts with the NRA. Again, as with the students and their newly minted status as ratings gold, these corporations are just protecting their bottom lines and that of their shareholders. But, at the end of the day, these companies are nonetheless doing the right thing.
     At this time, the exodus began with the First National Bank of Omaha, the largest privately-owned bank in the US, pulling their NRA Visa cards. Then followed Delta and United Airlines, then the Hertz, Avis and Enterprise car rental companies, Then insurance giant Chubb, Symantec, Wyndam and Best Western Hotels also backed out.
     Like Harvey Weinstein, it's a classic Domino Effect. Just as the Weinstein accusations multiplied and eventually claimed countless careers, reputations and businesses in the entertainment industry, so the Parkland shooting survivors are having a Domino Effect on a massive gun lobby that buys and sells Republicans as easily as guns at a Dallas gun show. As with Weinstein, who'd had his toxic way with women for decades with impunity, so the NRA's time has come and gone. Their only solution will be to roll with the punches and begin evolving.
     But if Wayne LaPierre's appearance at the toxic clown shit show known as CPAC and Dana Loesch's shocking performance at the Town Hall were any indications, it's safe to conclude that day, to say the least, will be very long in coming.


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