On Twitter on Tuesday night, conservative author Dinesh D'Souza mocked Parkland, Florida shooting survivors after a motion to consider a bill banning assault rifles in the state failed to pass the legislature. It started when D'Souza commented on an Associated Press photo depicting shooting survivors watching in the gallery as the legislature voted down the motion. Those depicted in the photograph were visibly upset, with one student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Sheryl Acquarola, appearing to cry. D'Souza shared the photo and tweeted, "Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs."
Many on Twitter were appalled by D'Souza's comments, with one user saying:
That REALLY is some of the #Parkland shooting survivors. He is LITERALLY TROLLING kids that left one of their classmates funerals just hours before this picture was taken. Can't even make this sh*t up, you can verify it easily. It's so shameful.
Another user plainly laid out their thoughts, tweeting to D'Souza: "What a horrible, horrible person you are. Shame on you."
Following his tweet commenting on the photo of the survivors, D'Souza also accused the media and politicians of orchestrating the teenagers' grief.
Genuine grief I can empathize with. But grief organized for the cameras — politically orchestrated grief — strikes me as phony & inauthentic ... While the media exploits the Parkland shooting, my heart goes out to the parents & family members who are grieving the loss of loved ones.
Those on Twitter also took D'Souza to task for these comments as well. Indeed, user Kierán Suckling, executive director of conservation organization the Center for Biological Diversity, did so by pointing out the bravery of the survivors who are taking a stand — noting that they are doing so to fight for those they have lost, not to make a so-called political statement.
Soldiers in battle don't curl up in a ball when their compatriats [sic] are killed, they fight. They do it in a coordination. These kids are not curling up either, they are fighitng [sic] back. They are coordinated. They are organized.. God love them. American needs them right now.
Following D'Souza's comments, a variety of public figures also condemned the conservative author and activist. Indeed, journalist Johnathen M. Katz wrote on Twitter, "Let it never be said that Dinesh does not actively root for the death of children." Writer and comedian Nick Jack Pappas also did not mince words when criticizing D'Souza, tweeting, "Allow me to be the first to welcome to our club all the people who didn't already know Dinesh D'Souza is a heartless a**hole."
The Conservative Political Action Conference also openly condemned D'Souza on Twitter. When replying to a user who believed that D'Souza would be speaking at the conservative conference and who wanted CPAC to remove him from its program, CPAC replied, "[T]his is #FakeNews. @DineshDSouza is not a speaker at #CPAC2018. You are seeing an archived speaker profile and we are taking down his archived picture. His comments are indefensible."
D'Souza's comments likely caused further upset on an already very frustrating day for the survivors of the Parkland shooting. Many had traveled to Tallahassee, Florida's state capital, to encourage lawmakers to take up legislation on gun control. The aforementioned motion to take up the assault rifle ban bill failed along party lines, with 36 legislators in favor and 71 against. The New York Times interviewed student Anthony Lopez, who was on his way to the capital when he heard the news about the motion failing. Lopez was appalled by the decision.
"That's infuriating," Lopez said. "They're acting inhuman. ... The one fear we have is that nothing will change."
However, even in the face of such adversity, students are continuing to fight to stop gun violence. Many around the country are participating in the #NeverAgain campaign to end school shootings — and participating in a "March for Out Lives" in Washington, D.C. on March 24 to push for gun control to ensure that students' lives are protected and respected.