Last week’s anti-Second Amendment walkout has been touted as some great moment in American history, the moment a bunch of school kids stood up to the horrible NRA or something. It’s basically being treated like this momentous event that will change the course of history.
However, I’ve been saying that it’s not that clear from the start. Students took part in the walkout for various stated reasons, after all.
In most school districts, it seems the school provided some level of support for these walkouts. Few students faced any punishment for leaving class last Wednesday.
Meanwhile, it seems one student faced punishment for not walking out.
An Ohio high school student says he tried to remain nonpolitical during school walkouts over gun violence and was suspended for a day because he stayed in a classroom instead of joining protests or the alternative, a study hall.
Hilliard senior Jacob Shoemaker says school isn’t the place for politics, and he wasn’t taking sides Wednesday.
The district says it’s responsible for students’ safety and they can’t be unsupervised.
This leads me to wonder just how many students were pressured to walk out simply because the school figured the logistics would be easier. After all, if everyone walks out, no one has to keep an eye on the kids inside, right?
But this is the problem with the whole idea of schools supporting the walkout. They essentially pick a political position to support. Since these schools, the public ones at least, are taxpayer-funded, this creates a massive problem. Many of us found ourselves funding organizations that are now using part of those funds to campaign against our natural rights.
In other words, we’re paying people to help campaign against our own political positions.
Young Mr. Shoemaker, in contrast, wanted nothing but to stay seated. Yes, he probably should have gone to the study hall, but the walkout was only for 17 minutes, supposedly. One minute for each victim. Forcing all students to vacate the class and head to different points created far more upheaval than just letting kids stay in place, even if you have to merge a few classes for the short time the demonstration was involved.
And that was if the school supported it.
However, it’s also worth noting how little these kids gave up to protest. Once upon a time, a walkout came with punishment. After all, it was a classroom disruption. But that was the point, as was doing so in the face of punishment.
Civil disobedience requires actual disobedience. Otherwise, it loses much of its meaning. With schools onboard with the walkout, or even requiring some degree of participation like young Mr. Shoemaker’s school, it becomes an easy moment for kids to just go along with the crowd or to succumb to peer pressure or worse, teacher pressure. Others just wanted to get out of the classroom for a little while. And yes, some were true believers.
But we don’t know. It’s impossible to tell, and stories like this muddy the waters of the whole thing even more.
Which is why it’s probably not a good idea to make policy about a basic civil right based on one demonstration by people who, just a handful of weeks earlier, we all thought were chomping down on Tide Pods.