In America, the right to bear arms delivered a phenomenon called the “gun culture”. The title was founded by historian, Richard Hofstadter in which he describes America’s heritage and affection for weapons. Gun culture has not only become an inseparable part of American democracy but also considered to be equivalent to independence and freedom, which are important values for the society in America. Although this so-called gun culture plays an important role in today’s politics, schools in the country has become perilous places in the 20th century. Mass shootings have been taking place all over America and these incidents are leading to one or more deaths.
Many of us as individuals when we think of school shootings, our minds would immediately go back to the Columbine high school shooting. Why? According to encyclopaedia, the occurrence was one of the deadliest mass shootings in United States history. 13 people were killed and more than 20 were wounded until the Parkland shooting occurred and is now known to be the deadliest high school shooting in which 17 people were killed. In the article published by The Atlantic on 2017, “The Righteous Anger of the Parkland Shooting’s Teen Survivors” written by Robinson Meyer, we see how juveniles in today’s society are becoming more knowledgeable of the real issues in USA and explores political activism in response to gun control issues.
Robinson Meyer is the writer of the article “The Righteous Anger of the Parkland Shooting’s Teen Survivors”, whom is a part of the staff at the American magazine, The Atlantic, we can assure that the main readers of the magazine are Americans. However, the text is also available online and that makes it accessible for all English-speaking readers international. The piece is not a news article as it does not report on the shooting that took place, still, Meyer follows the typical structure of a modern feature article to which he analyses survivor’s reactions towards the school shooting. The tone used in the article is serious and sad, which can be seen in some of the chosen words used in the article that tends to be dramatic and negative, this will be discussed later on.
In the article, the writer points out how young people are becoming activists for gun control and uses the recent deadliest school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “Those students understand that they live in a country that they have very little power to change – a country where, several times a year, a school for children becomes a charnel house.” Throughout the whole article, it investigates topics such as political activism among adolescents in the context of school shootings and gun control issues in America including how juveniles participate in political activism using social media in subject to cruel events. “Something was different about this mass shooting this week in Parkland, Florida…” Robinson Meyer begins his text by arguing that the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High was different and unique from others not only because it was the deadliest high school shooting but also because it was widely spread on social media by student survivors. “Tweets that were widely reported as coming from the students expressed grief for the victims, pushed against false reports, and demanded accountability.” His article also consists of survivor’s reaction towards the traumatic experience through social media such as Twitter where they argue that lack of gun control leads to higher death rate caused by mass shootings, hence advocating for stricter gun control law in the country. But unlike the style of language used by Meyer, most of the Tweets are informal and some are typically written with slangs. For instance, the first Tweet contains a single sentence in which the person who has tweeted it expresses grief and regret without actually mentioning the incident. “OMG, teen from #MarjoryStonemanDouglas on @npr just now…” Some of the following Tweets were written with slangs such as “OMG” and includes some hashtags. One of the Tweets is a respond to POTUS, Donald Trump tweeting his condolences to the victims, “I don’t want your condolences you fucking price of shit…” The language used here expresses aggressiveness. The person who tweeted this calls Trump a ‘fucking price of shit’, misspelling the word ‘piece’, but even though she is responding to the president, she takes advantage of her freedom of speech and expresses her emotions.
“The Righteous Anger of the Parkland Shooting’s Teen Survivors” shows perfect examples of how high school students used and are using social medias as a tool for political activism by expressing their outrage and frustration. “High-school students – the survivors of the calamity themselves – became the voice of the tragedy…” This illustrates how media can be a powerful tool for everyone specially for the students in this case and use it to be heard by the people in power. In spite of the dilemma whether students have enough knowledge and information to become political activists, Meyer advocates that they do, “… adolescents, who can discuss and understand the tragedy as adults but who are as blameless for it as children.” He claims that American juveniles have enough political awareness because they grew up in the media age, and proposes that in the case of gun control and mass shooting, students were well informed and prepared for becoming political activists. “…And they will not be the last victims to face a loaded assault rifle and think: This is preventable. I must politicize this.” Although teenagers use social media in form of debate, not all of them will be heard specially the ones who comes from an underprivilege family or ethnic minorities, they might be overlooked by the public and media even if they participate in any form of activism.
To give an example on how students have chosen to make changes in society, three of the Parkland survivors talk with Ellen DeGeneres about the March on Washington they have helped organised, which is later called “March for Our Lives” and will include nationwide demonstrations. These teenagers argue that this march is a respond to people who have told them now is not the time to talk about gun control. They believe that this march will be a good time to finally talk and advocate about gun control. The video shows how coherently spoken these teenagers are in regard to gun control, showing maturity but at the same time emotionally affected and traumatized by the incident. On top of that, the video presents having endorsement from the media can help students promote the cause.
Throughout the article, the writer’s tone is serious and concerned. Meyer’s style of writing is formal and some of his chosen words helps us understand his expressions towards the shooting: for instance, the article’s title, “The Righteous Anger of the Parkland Shooting’s Teen Survivors”. ‘Righteous anger’ is a term to describe anger that is not sinful, and in this case, we can see Meyer takes on the survivor’s side. In addition to this, some of the chosen words such as “deadliest high-school shooting” , “tragedy” , “violence” , “an inexplicable catastrophe, not as an unforeseeable tragedy” also shows us that the writer himself sees the shooting as a terrible event and decries the people in power for failing to solve this issue earlier, which could have prevented it. “These assorted Florida teenagers knew the contours of the gun debate so well that they were rebutting NRA…” Meyer also works with pathos and ethos to show empathy for the survivors, and when combining the two, not only does it illustrates the teenagers as honest and trustworthy young people but also shows the writer’s opinion and support of them. “This is what astonished and confronted me while watching the Stoneman Douglas High’s speakers for the dead…” In these specific lines, Meyer’s usage of the first person-statement is clear and is directly expressing his feelings and thoughts towards the whole situation.
When all is said and done, after the school shooting at Parkland, young people have become the new voice of the American society today. Many has put a label on them as teen activists but how about, people who has simply had enough? Robinson Meyer’s article promotes the cause and illustrates perfect examples of how young people have taken action to this matter. These young people have started to lead a movement to stamp out of horrific massacres that has taken thousands of children’s lives in the country using social media to draw the world’s focus on what has been ignored for far too long. We had a choice where to put our efforts, whether into peace or war when we felt the fear of others. So, guns were made and called them piece when it was anything but. But did that give us our peace of removing a piece of someone else’s? How many more massacres before the people in power decides to take action?