Narratives dominate our culture until they don’t. When disgusted high school students walked out in protest of a dead peer’s vigil-turned-rally for gun control, it may have been a sign that Generation Z won’t be dominated so easily.
Imagine being constantly eager to ingratiate yourself with everyone around you, no matter what. Such a repulsive trait makes one shudder, perhaps after a flashback to an awkward moment during adolescence.
But to be subject to politically correct groveling was just too much for a group of students Wednesday night at an event marketed as a vigil for victims of Tuesday’s shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado.
Before getting into what the protesting students had to say, it’s important to acknowledge that the event was a gun control rally falsely advertised as a vigil. See the Facebook promotional post here and event page here. Put on by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence’s student arm Team ENOUGH, official speakers included a Democratic US congressman and senator, but no STEM students, until a protest forced the event into some semblance of a vigil.
Chants of “mental health” and “f*** the media” are heard in video clips shared on social media. Later in the night, the students who walked out returned, and the event more appropriately featured them as speakers.
Foremost among those honored was Kendrick Castillo, the heroic 18-year-old killed while trying to disarm one of the two shooters who wounded eight other STEM School Highlands Ranch students.
“We wanted Kendrick to be mourned,” one of the students who had walked out said. “We wanted all of you to join us in that mourning. But that was not allowed here.”
“What has happened at STEM is awful, but it is not a statistic. We can’t be used for a reason for gun control. We are a people, not a statement,” said another.
Stunningly, the gun controllers apologized. Of course, not expressly for politicizing tragedies, their modus operandi. But it does appear some lesson was learned.
“We are deeply sorry any part of this vigil did not provide the support, caring and sense of community we sought to foster and facilitate and which we know is so crucial to communities who suffer the trauma of gun violence,” the Brady Campaign statement to the media said.
That’s not the result gun control advocates expected, especially following last year’s high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, when 17 were killed and 17 injured. Out of that tragedy rose student activists like David Hogg, who still garners fawning media coverage, unlike his anti-gun control counterparts.
Generation Z, it appears, is set to challenge the elder Millennial generation.
This up and coming generation is garnering a loud voice on social media, though not on Facebook to the same extent the Millennials have. Witness the rise of Tik Tok. Or YouTube personalities like Soph, who recently summed up the cultural forces her generation is facing head-on in an expletive-laden video titled, “Be Not Afraid.”
“Sociological absolutists,” she says, referring to politically correct speech patrollers, are using a form of peer pressure that weaponizes “demotivation” and “makes you a slave” to likes, retweets, and social validation.
“Not only am I inoculated to that bulls***, most of Gen Z is too,” she says. And thanks to being raised with the internet and not cable TV, “we filter out the truth for ourselves, we’re not lazy.”
Not lazy, and not afraid either. The youth always offer some hope for the future, and boy does this generation need some.