Mind the children

Age of the Geek Column: It can be strange sometimes, most of the time really, to be a fan of Sonic the Hedgehog.

It is a weird fan-base of very passionate people with a wide range of opinions and experiences.

As one of the more senior members of the Sonic fandom. I'm occasionally confronted by the harsh reality that there are fans of video game series that have never played the original Genesis titles because they weren't even born yet when those games reached their popular heights.

To them, it's the 3-D games that represent the standard of the franchise, with "Sonic Adventure 2" frequently cited by these youth as being the best that Sonic has to offer.

These kids are, obviously, objectively wrong.

But, as an adult, one must have patience, give the next generation room to grow, and be ready to teach when opportunity presents itself. So, on the rare occasion where it's appropriate to offer my input on the qualities of "Sonic Adventure 2," here's what I do. I explain how its design flaws negatively impact the gameplay, how its story is nonsensical even by Sonic standards, and how its sound design is an affront to all the ears of humanity.

What I don't do is call out people that like "Sonic Adventure 2" and lash out with personal insults in front of a large audience.

That's because I'm the grown-up and I'm too old for that kind of behavior.

It's been a month and half since 17 people were shot to death at Stoneman Douglas High School. It was far from the first mass shooting in a school and it probably won't be the last.

That morbid acceptance hasn't gelled well with the surviving students. After waiting literally their entire lives for somebody to do something about it, several of them have decided to stop waiting.

Instead, they're doing exactly what every teenager has been told to do at every graduation ceremony for generations. They're trying to change the world and make it their own.

In this case, that change is coming in the form of advocating for stronger gun control measures. Last week they organized a nationwide series of protests in support of policies they believe would help curb these kinds of shootings. Five policies specifically; universal background checks, allowing the ATF to modernize their database, allowing the CDC to research gun violence, and bans on high-capacity magazines and "assault weapons."

That last one needs some better definition, but the rest all seem pretty reasonable to me at least.

Naturally not everybody agrees.

Several political leaders and media personalities have weighed with their own viewpoints.

Recognizing the sensitivity of the situation, these adults have addressed the teenagers' concerns while calmly explaining their own take on the matter in a way that ensures both sides understand where the other is coming from.

I'm kidding, of course.

Leslie Gibson, a now former candidate for Maine's House of Representatives, called Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez a "skinhead lesbian."

That's right. Gibson's contribution to the ongoing gun control conversation apparently couldn't be completed without insulting a teenager's sexuality and haircut.

Not that state level politicians hold a monopoly on bullying mass shooting survivors. On the national stage, our very own Representative Steve King decided to get in on the harassment of teenagers saying things he doesn't like. Instead of explaining what exactly is disagreeable about the ATF having an efficient database, King, or at least the person in charge of his Facebook page, went after Gonzalez's heritage. Because of course that's what would happen.

Gonzalez's father is from Cuba and she wears a jacket with a patch of the Cuban flag on it. This is apparently not okay with King because Cuba is a communist dictatorship with really strong gun control. In a totally-not-racist way, he criticized Gonzalez for not speaking Spanish and pointed out the irony in wearing the flag of a currently communist country while calling for gun control.

And King is right. That is, in the strictest definition of the word, ironic. Almost as ironic as an Iowa native displaying on his desk the battle standard of an army that Iowa went to war against.

Meanwhile, David Hogg, another Parkland student, came under fire for talking about rejection letters from college. I suppose this criticism is valid. After all, nobody has ever asked to hear about a 17 year-old's college plans before.

This grave social faux pas from Hogg caught the attention of Laura Ingraham, who decided the appropriate response that a 54 year-old television personality should make about a teenager talking about his future plans was to publicly mock his grade point average to two million Twitter followers.

Ingraham is taking a vacation, as are several of her advertisers.

Then there's Ted Nugent. Surely a 69 year-old adult would have the wisdom and life experience to make a rational and measured response to the March For Our Lives campaign. As a longtime gun advocate and board member on the NRA, he is in a particularly well placed position to explain why the CDC shouldn't be studying gun violence or why stronger universal background checks are not the objectives these kids should be aiming for to reach their goals.

Obviously that didn't happen. No, he called them soulless liars and mushy-brained children.

The longer these kids stay in the spotlight, the worse it seems to get. Bad enough these kids have to deal with conspiracy nuts and anonymous trolls. Do they really need so-called respectable adults piling on too?

Certainly one could argue that these kids have entered an adult stage and shouldn't be treated with kid gloves, and that's fair enough. But while we're treating teenagers like adults, we have adults acting like children.

Are people in positions of power and influence taking cheap shots on social media what adult discourse is supposed to look like now?

Grow up.

Travis Fischer is a news writer for Mid-America Publishing and really dislikes the "Sonic Adventure 2" soundtrack.