After the mass shooting that unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, leaving 17 killed in its wake, students from around the country have been showing their support and solidarity with those who experienced the tragic event first hand. From staging walkout protests during school hours, to becoming outspoken activists in support of more comprehensive gun control, it is clear that these young advocates are looking to take matters into their own hands in order to enforce change. However, although these students are simply embodying the true spirit of a democratic system, those who do not see eye to eye with them have criticized the activists, going as far as spreading conspiracy-ridden claims against them.
InfoWars published claims on YouTube that Parkland school shooting survivors were “crisis actors.”
YouTube community guidelines specify how accounts can be terminated. All YouTube accounts, including InfoWars', are subject to the guidelines, a source says https://t.co/ehFZMZF1qH
— CNN (@CNN) February 23, 2018
As more of these young advocates stand up for what they believe in and attempt to hold the federal government accountable for failing to implement more comprehensive gun laws, those on the other side of the issue have worked to undermine and delegitimize their efforts. Specifically, proponents of lax gun laws have begun to circulate theories that the kids who are speaking out are not doing so of their own accord, and are not speaking to their own truths. Rather, according to these conspiracy theories, the students have been coached on the things to say when speaking publicly, and given lines to recite in order to push an agenda forward. Despite the fact that these claims hold no inherent validity to them, gun advocates have leveraged them as a means of belittling the very real advocacy for gun reform.
On Wednesday, one of the survivors from the Parkland, FL high school shooting appeared on Fox News, providing an interview to Tucker Carlson and oddly, granting credence to the conspiracies. In doing so, Colton Haab, a junior at Stoneman Douglas high school, emerged on the conservative news show claiming that CNN rewrote a question he had prepared for the previous nights town hall meeting, reportedly telling Haab to stick to the script.
Although the allegations have no supporting evidence to back them up, President Trump could not pass up an opportunity to both validate his own beliefs, and further attack mainstream news outlets. The president published a tweet citing the segment on Fox News, using his infamous “fake news” monicker against CNN, and throwing in an unrelated jab at MSNBC as well.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 23, 2018
It cracks me up to see @FoxNews reporting on Colton Haab receiving a scripted question on gun control, when Fox News appears to get all of their scripted talking points directly from President Trump!
— Ed Krassenstein (@EdKrassen) February 22, 2018
CNN wasted no time in rebutting not only the president’s tweet, but also flat out denying the claims made that they were fixing a script. The news outlet stated that the story holds no truth to it, and that they never provided or wrote questions for individuals at the town hall. Rather, CNN claimed that Haab did not participate in the town hall due to his father withdrawing him from the event, not because they had rewritten any question for him.
As conspiracy theories continue to get lobbed around to discredit the many young activists looking to enforce reform on gun laws, it becomes crucial not to get caught up in the rhetoric. Thus far, the facts are that a mass shooting led to the deaths of numerous innocent children and faculty members, and that those who survived the tragedy are looking to do something about it. Any other statements, unless having concrete evidence behind them, should be dismissed immediately.
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