The left has overreached on gun control — on using the Parkland, Florida, shooting horror as a crisis political tool — and the only way out is to walk back the tough talk and soften on anti-Second Amendment and anti-free speech rhetoric, or self-destruct.
Happily, it seems at least some on the left may finally be awakening to this fact.
While laying the groundwork for discussion of the David Hogg-driven boycotts of Laura Ingraham’s Fox News advertisers, CNN’s Brian Stelter asked this on Sunday, Mediate reported: “Are ad boycotts the right answer here? I’m personally pretty wary of this. I think it’s dangerous to see these ad boycott attempts happening more and more often in this country. My view is let’s not shut down anyone’s right to speak. Let’s meet their comments with more speech. Let’s try to respond that way.”
Good comments; great comments. Hopefully, more and more in the mainstream and left-tilting media will ask and prod and weigh in similarly.
But really, it’s too bad this air of fair play wasn’t part of the media’s Parkland-tied student interviews a month ago. Then, it was all about letting the gun control talk from these young teens’ mouths go forth without question, let the end result and look-see at the natural consequences be danged.
Stelter himself was part of this one-sided process — the same one-sided process that’s ushered in the era of the student-run boycott against Ingraham, the student-pressed public shaming of Sens. Marco Rubio and John McCain for accepting donations from the National Rifle Association, the student-pushed mantra that all NRA members are little more than murderers and kid-killers.
Just a few days ago, Stelter admitted on “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered” on HLN that he let Hogg tell less than truths during a televised CNN interview he conducted with the student that aired on Feb. 25. Why? No doubt, because he felt what many in the media have felt while speaking with Parkland kids — compassion.
But that compassion has over the weeks segued nicely into an all-out leftist pressing for tough political reforms of the Second Amendment. What began as a student campaign against violence has morphed into a major call for gun control and most recently, a kid-run movement to shut down open discussion and the give-and-take of lively and free speech.
And this is where the left has overshot.
Now, even those on the left — like Stelter — have begun to notice.
It’s one thing for Hogg, for example, to call for gun control. It’s another thing entirely to call for boycotts based on hurt feelings. Remember: Hogg’s whole “Boycott Ingraham” thing began after the Fox News host called him a whiner in a tweet, and he complained of feeling offended. That’s it — that was the precursor. From there, we’ve moved to a place where a woman’s career may be on the line. That’s just nuts.
There is indeed a time and place for boycotts in American free-market society. But a hurt feeling doesn’t make the cut. Nor should it. And we should all be able to agree on that.
Late to the game as he is, Stelter’s opened this important thread of discussion to the mainstream — the “what if” that’s been so missing from the student-run gun control campaign of the last weeks.
Now others in his media market need to take up where he’s left off and consider whether the benefit of short-term boycotts based on petty reasons outweigh the dangers of curbing speech in a free society.
A smart left will listen.
After all, freedom of speech and expression aren’t inherently Republican or Democratic in nature. They’re American. And preserving these freedoms should be top priority of those on both the left and right of the political spectrum. If the left won’t, if Democrats blink on this, the party’s fated to fall. There are enough liberty lovers of all political walks in America to fight the chill and stamp out the overreach and blot the speech police in order to keep the fires of freedom burning bright for all.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley.
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