Enough already: Parkland kids' fifteen minutes of fame is over

It's time for a time-out.

The student survivors of the Parkland, Fla. shooting have overdrawn their influence credit, and it's time to cut them off.  The cherubic faces of David Hogg, Emma González, Cameron Kasky, and others have filled our TV screens for long enough.

It's more than fair to claim they've had their say, and then some.  They've spearheaded a new national push for gun control; they've organized large marches across the country; they've gone on live TV numerous times, articulating the need for better, more comprehensive legislation on firearms.

Now, as teenagers are wont to do, they've taken their passion too far.  Their idealism, which was shaped and spurred by a tragic event, has turned into vitriolic animosity.  Hogg and his peers are no longer asking for gun control legislation – they want to eradicate the reputation of anyone who offers disagreement, creating a new caste of opinionated untouchables.

The line crossed was Laura Ingraham.  Following a cheap tweet mocking Hogg for not being accepted to a handful of colleges he applied to, Ingraham was met with the only recourse possible for a petulant teen still taking algebra: a social media call for boycott.

The Parkland students' cause is no longer about gun control.  This is an adolescent's cry for attention.  Worse, no adult among our conceited media gatekeepers is willing to invoke his age-earned authority to challenge them.

The Ingraham tiff was enough justification to pull back on Hogg's overreach.  Yet it was entertained, even encouraged.  Now Hogg is challenging, of all people, Senator John McCain, a decorated veteran beaten half to death in a Vietcong POW camp.  Whatever horrors Hogg witnessed in his high school pale in comparison to the Vietnam War.

Then there's the use of puerile language.  The F-word is nearly its own dialect to Hogg, the way he winds it into his speech.  It's the same with his continual refrain that the National Rifle Association is led by murderers who delight in slaughtering children.

Hogg's foul-mouthed vituperation shows that we truly live in what George Weigel calls the age of "survival of the shrillest."

Why are the media so hesitant to cross these kids, to call them out for their lies and dirty language?  CNN's Brian Stelter admitted to letting Hogg lie on his show about basic facts like who heads the NRA.  He justified the slip, explaining, "I think we have to recognize where David Hogg and Emma González are coming from.  There has been an increase in the lethality of mass shootings in recent years in this country[.] ... I do think they are trying to raise awareness of that."

This is a betrayal of not just journalistic integrity, but also adult responsibility.  But then, adult authority is anathema to our enlightened sense of flattened hierarchy.  Our institutions have been bled dry of their clout.  Why should the family, with its sharp hierarchical delineation between parents and children, be at all different?

Think of how many TV shows portray hapless parents trying to impose rules on their intellectually superior children.  Try to remember the last time you watched a movie with a stalwart hero, a man with unflagging courage in the face of evil, and not a melodramatic anti-hero with "layers."  Even consider the out-of-wedlock birth rate, the rise of fatherless homes, spaces of character formation without an authoritative ballast.

Why should the wisdom of older generations be respected when all authority, we're told, is socially constructed for the benefit of the powerful?

The Parkland activists have happily filled the void vacated by the loss of confidence in our ability to speak assuredly of what's right and wrong.  No doubt some of this is being prompted by those who, seeking to exploit impressionable teens, are egging them on for their own ends.

Hogg's shaming efforts are a type of guerrilla warfare waged by people who don't have to worry about making a living.  Hogg justifies his tactics by claiming, "Our parents don't know how to use a f------ democracy."  But whipping his unthinking fans into a boycott-ready frenzy isn't democracy.  Like Willie Stark verbally flagellating his followers by calling them hicks and know-nothings, Hogg reaches deep into the vast reservoir of his peers' ignorance to draw out raw pathos.

If this is truly the face of our future republic, we have more to worry about than the next bullied kid bringing his parents' Glock to school to show the jocks just who's the boss.  Adults have a duty to correct the misguided notions of the young.  We should uphold it without qualification.