I don’t have much personal experience with bullying. When I was somewhere around three years old, my mom and I were living in a duplex in a tiny Missouri town, having just moved there from a still small, but less tiny, town in Illinois. I would go out into the front yard to ride my tricycle, and the little boy who sometimes stayed with his adult brother next door would come out, slap me, and take my tricycle away.
My mom got tired of it.
One day, when I came in crying to her about the neighbor boy taking my tricycle, she told me that the next time he did that, if I didn’t “whoop” him, she would “whoop” me.
Sure enough, it happened again.
But this time, when he hit me, I hit him back.
He never hit me again. He never again took my tricycle away from me. Because my fear of my mother’s disapproval was stronger than my fear of being hit by the boy next door, my mom had successfully taught me to stand up for myself, and to stand up to bullies.
I’m a believer in teaching kids—and, sometimes, adults—both of those things.
No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, no matter how you interpret Amendment II of the United States Constitution, no matter how much the right to bear arms—or restrictions on that right—matters to you personally, and no matter what you see as a solution for stopping school shootings in the United States, surely you can appreciate that the kids from Parkland, Florida, speaking up about gun control, are just kids standing up to bullies.
Those bullies are formed of metals and codification, tradition and liberty, compulsory education and lethal force. But they’re bullies, nonetheless.
And it’s a complex problem.
What’s less complex, however, is the way some adults have chosen to treat these kids.
If you’re an adult who feels compelled to disagree with what any of the Parkland kids have to say regarding gun control (or anything else, for that matter), you should do just that. Formulate your arguments. Explain your rationale.
Tell them why they’re wrong.
But if you’re an adult, and your reaction to these kids expressing ideas that you disagree with is to publicly mock them, call them “snowflakes”, post doctored images of them, and spread lies about them, then—whether you choose to recognize it or not—you’re a bully.
You’re as much a bully as that kid slapping me in my own front yard, but on a much larger and more important scale.
You need to clean your inner mirror.
And, as an adult, you should be ashamed.