Slurs, Support On Social Media Mark Gun-Control Movement

By Fortesa Latifi 

PHOENIX – The Parkland shooting sparked the student-led national gun-control movement, but Phoenix leaders say reactions on social media toggle between support and opposition, with some gun advocates hurling profanities, insults and even threats at high schoolers.

One person faxed a threat to an activist’s high school, but most people post their comments on the March for Our Lives Phoenix protests on Facebook or tweet them to activists’ personal or organization accounts.

Some make them smile. You just take my breath away, young friends.

Some make them cringe. you children are brain dead. you are all fakes, liars, glory seekers.

Some make them shake their heads. it’s shameful how the Left uses kids as props to push their agendas.

Some make it difficult for their parents to sleep at night. these morons don’t realize they aren’t safe anywhere.

The students say most comments, messages and tweets support the rallies and school walkouts, voter registration drives and sit-ins. Others express thoughtful opposition. And some are ugly, attacking their looks, their ability to think for themselves or their entire generation.

Social media experts say trolling is routine for this digital-native generation but negative comments can put their developing self-esteem at risk. And the Phoenix activists, who joined the national youth movement that arose from the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, haven’t had prominent, powerful people attack them, compared to the Parkland survivors. Still, they’re putting a protest born of social media into action, with the latest move a Friday rally at the state Capitol that is expected to include some of the Parkland survivors.

Combating ugliness with kindness

Jordan Harb, 17, one of the local organizers, said the online vitriol just doesn’t make sense.

“People call me scrawny, that I need to go back to school, that I’m dumb,” Harb said. “They claim that we’re here coming from an emotional standpoint … yet they’re in the comment section calling me names.”

It’s harder for his parents, Harb said. Comments aimed at their son unsettle them. He said he sees a threat as an intimidation tactic. They take them seriously. Someone faxed a threat to his high school threatening Harb. He never read it; he said his mother thought it would be best if he didn’t.

“When you attack me, you’re not hurting me, you’re hurting my parents,” Harb said.

Jacob Martinez, 17, the former chairman of the Arizona Teenage Republicans, became a target of his former supporters when he released a Facebook video supporting gun control in the days after Parkland.

He was called a sellout, accused of being a pawn for the Democratic Party and his U.S. citizenship was questioned. One comment compared him to Nikolas Cruz, who’s accused of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

“Online, people don’t hold back,” Martinez said. “That’s very clear.”

Alexander Halavais, a social technologies professor at Arizona State University, said teenagers who are digital natives are used to online bullying.

“Young people have grown up, in many cases, developing thick skins for online personas,” Halavais said. “They are probably more capable of defending themselves than adults would be when attacked in this kind of personal way.”

Martinez’s preferred response is silence.

“They’re just there to stir a reaction and cause trouble,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’re not going to sway their opinion.”

Two weeks after Martinez posted his video, he responded to critics on Facebook: “I know many of you are unhappy with me. Instead of bottling up your anger with me, talk to me. Instead of unleashing profane tirades, let’s create a dialogue… Despite what you may think, the mental toll constant attacks take on a sixteen year old is quite immense, and i’d love to work with everyone again. – Jacob.”

Scraping at teens’ self-image

Halavais worries the negativity could affect the teens’ self-esteem at a time when it’s fragile.

“Kids develop their self-image in the mirror … in the way they see society seeing them,” he said. “So when a large portion of that society is distorting the view of who they are … it can be fairly damaging.”

Some of the commenters say they’re fat or scrawny, ugly or stupid. They hurl the word “gay” as if it’s an insult. They ask whether the Latino activists are “illegal.”

It’s good to keep in mind, Halavais said, that most people trolling on social media treat it like a game.

“This is their bowling league,” Halavais said. “Their community is being a horrible person online.”

The student organizers said they have learned to separate internet noise from their real lives.
Lindsay Schawelson, 18, said that when she first started reading negative comments, they seared her. Now they embolden her.

“Loudmouth kids” seize power


The Parkland survivors have become adept at social media. One sent a pained tweet to President Donald Trump in the hours after Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 students and staff.

On a national scale, Parkland survivor David Hogg has successfully leveraged his social influence to urge his followers to boycott companies with ties to the National Rifle Association.

After Fox News host Laura Ingraham tweeted about Hogg being rejected by four colleges and “whining” about it, he called for advertisers to drop her. And more than a dozen did.

And although the Phoenix March for Our Lives teenagers don’t have that kind of pull, they still use social media to call their followers to action, announce their next steps and make their views clear to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, who has so far refused to meet with them.

Martinez said their presence on social media platforms helped them organize a 15,000-person march last month, conduct voter registration drives and coordinate a “die-in” planned for Friday at the Capitol.

“Particularly in this movement, you see young people getting a voice,” Halavais said.

He said young people have changed the public conversation in other grassroots movements but never “this quickly and with this much skill.”

March For Our Lives PHX@PHXMarch4Lives

It is clear @dougducey has turned his back to the students who started this movement. His school safety plan is endorsed the NRA itself and was created without input from students.

Therefore, we are giving the governor an ultimatum this Friday.


  1. One more poor little me article by Cronkite. These kids are so stupid that they don’t realize that they really are being used by the far left to further their own goals and that is to totally disarm our society. Threats and intimidation, the left has that down pat. How about antifa, how about all the lies and slurs against the right? Forgot about that didn’t you. This country is quickly sinking into a morass that I don’t think that we can work our way out of any time soon if ever. I have never seen a country as divided as it is today. Glad I won’t live to see the day she crumbles.

  2. This the result of the “selfie-I-Me-Mine!” culture. Take these brats’ social media away and they cannot function.

  3. See my post on the article prior in the lineup. These kids are the BIGGER part of the problem. They cause the social outcasts to react and then dont want to assume any responsibility when the shit hits the fan. How many of these little activist darlings associate with the ones that finally do act out? How many read their social network postings yet DO NOTHING to bring it to someones attention. Just like pincess gabby, they read and ignore and let it become a rallying point for whatever cause they are pushing. In this case the destruction of the country we live in. I guess they need to have their cars taken away from then as they too are potential WEAPONS along with KNIVES and other sharp instruments.

    PARENTS where have you been? Sleeping in you own little cave?

    • Hank, there are no parents anymore, only enablers. Lord forbid that they might have to explain the truth to their kids when they don’t even know what that word means themselves. What a pathetic lost and used generation these Millennials have become thanks to the one world society led by George Soros and his band of leftist radicals.

  4. A big article about gun grabbers taking heat on social media from “evil gun nuts.” Not a word about how responsible gun owners and the NRA are taking way more heat on social media and the MSM. I for one am sick of being vilified as a responsible law abiding citizen for something I had nothing to do with. So I really don’t want to hear about how a few gun grabbers take a little push back for their efforts to deprive me of my rights. I neither advocate or condone violence nor threats thereof from either side, but if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

  5. It should always be noted that ANYTHING written by Cronkite News, is not news or even news worthy.
    It’s Nazi style propaganda cleverly packaged and disguised as news.

    How dare should your constitutionally protected 2nd amendment rights hamper and impose upon some snow flakes by placing their, “developing self-esteem at risk”.
    Lol, Nothing that joining the Marine Corps and 13 weeks in basic training wouldn’t cure at Parris Island.

    The Oracle

    • True any basic training would do wonders, but most of these kids fall into the NOT QUALIFIED grouping as living on a couch and playing video games does not lead to a healthy body which could do push ups, pull ups, squat thrusts etc.

      No they can only sit back and cry about the real world and follow the directions of their left leaning masters. Cant think for themselves. Guess they are the real dreamers after all?

    • Oracle, the little dumbasses couldn’t name the 5 branches of service let alone know where Paris Island is located.

        • Yes Albert, Paris is the city of lights, while Parris Island is an institution of higher learning of self worth through self sacrifice for the greater good.
          As a life long functioning illiterate myself, I really try to resist correcting the spelling errors of others, especially in a time when spell check often overrides what you wrote into what it thinks you wanted to write.
          Sadly “Parris” is no exception to this technological wonder since auto spell defaults back to Paris when attempting to write Parris.

          On a more personal note Albert, I hope your good days still outnumber your bad days. Growing old isn’t for sissies.

          The Oracle

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