The debate over gun control has reached new heights following the shooting at a high school in Florida. Every mass shooting prompts debate over the Second Amendment and access to guns, but this one, led by students whose classmates were killed, has more momentum than most.
Youth is wasted on the young, people say, as they note the steady decline in voter participation in younger demographics. This seems to imply more students should be involved in social and political issues, but this particular participation has been met with lots of ridicule and anger. In other words, it’s been greeted with hypocrisy, which is pretty much what we expect in heated political debates.
Nothing is more heated than the gun control debate. And everyone with an opinion is wrong. But it’s the youth that are the wrongest, and those bemoaning youthful antipathy aren’t responding very well to this sudden display of activism. Gun control-related walkouts have occurred in schools all over the nation, and students expressing their displeasure with their representatives are finding out firsthand how thin-skinned their representatives are.
A student at a Nevada high school has been punished by his school for comments he made to a Congressman’s office during a personal phone call.
[Noah] Christiansen told the Washington Post that during the walkout, his classmates passed around pieces of paper with phone numbers of legislators to call. Christiansen called the office of Rep. Mark Amodei, a pro-gun Republican, to complain, and reached a staffer in his office.
He told the Post that he said, “I believe bump stocks should be banned, the minimum age should be raised, and Congress people not already asking should get off their fucking asses and do something about gun control.”
Heated topic. Heated words. We’re all adults here, except for the student being punished by adults. Rep. Amodei’s office called the student’s school to complain about his use of the F-word. That should have been the end of it, and the only punishment handed out should have been public mockery of Rep. Amodei and his overly-sensitive staffers.
Of course, that’s not what happened. Christensen’s school responded by suspending him for “disrespectful behavior/language.” That’s just stupid. This language didn’t target the school, its staff, or fellow students. It targeted Congress in general, which is not exactly known for getting off its fucking ass and checking things off its To Do list.
No one except Christiansen comes out of this situation looking good. Rep. Amodei certainly doesn’t. Despite the ACLU’s advocacy on behalf of the wronged student, Amodei is sticking to his unapologetic guns.
Amodei defended his staffer and said no apology is necessary. The congressman said the situation was not a matter of shutting down the student’s First Amendment rights.
“I’m not apologizing because my guy accurately described what happened in the phone call,” he said.
In other words, this isn’t on me or my staffers. This is on the school because it chose to react this way to a completely unnecessary, completely retaliatory phone call made by a staffer who felt he didn’t need to put up with angry, sweary teens. But Amodei’s non-apology gets even worse. He also claims his office is in the right because it didn’t request a small parade of horribles to be inflicted on the student.
“He related the guy was vulgar,” Amodei said in a brief interview Monday. “He didn’t ask [the school] for any specific thing or beat the kid up. He just said ‘I wanted you know that this guy was really vulgar. We had a lot of calls and nobody else was,’ and that was it.”
Well, Amodei likes to dish it out but he sure can’t take it. He used plenty of vulgar language to describe his interactions with the Bureau of Land Management, according to audio obtained by USA Today.
“While I think the world of Mr. Ruhs, I’m not going to try and get between him and your deputy guy, whatever is going on with those two,” Amodei said he told Zinke. “With all due respect, I’ve been to enough rodeos to sense an issue there and let’s just move on.
“Nevada has suffered through a decade of s— BLM leadership,” he continued. “To put a strong successful leader in there for a net 18 months and then, for any reason, ship him, or let him leave to a position in Boise, is absolutely tone deaf.”
Northern Nevada’s lone congressman went on to decry “bulls—” legal provisions he said were cited by a Zinke subordinate in explaining why Amodei wasn’t told of Ruhs’ departure. That explanation, he felt, amounted to Zinke’s office indirectly telling him to “eat s—” over the incident.
That is awful. And to hear it coming from a respected pillar of the political community? It’s almost too much to bear. Someone should probably inform his office that Amodei is running around being “really vulgar.” Staffers shouldn’t be asked to beat up Amodei, probably. That would just make complainants sound as stupid as the Congressman. But his frequent vulgarity, aimed at prominent people in positions of great responsibility, shouldn’t go unnoticed. Neither should he and his office’s hypocrisy on the subject of vulgarities and who’s allowed to use them.
Amodei claims his office’s retaliatory act was meant to show the student words have consequences. They do. And Amodei is hopefully learning quickly that those in power are not immune from the consequences.
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