I realize there might be a few people who aren't familiar with the concept of "swatting," so here's a basic definition:
Essentially, swatting is when a person calls emergency services to respond to a hoaxed emergency situation at a person's house when, in actuality, no crime or emergency has occurred. It's defined as a prank, but pranks are meant to be funny. Swatting is not funny.
The first story I ever heard about swatting related to an online gamer who was upset about another gamer killing his character in-game. He called emergency services in the opposing gamer's area to report a shooting, and emergency services responded, kicking down the door of this innocent man's house with guns drawn.
Not only are "pranks" like these a massive waste of emergency responders' time, as well as a waste of resources and tax dollars, they are incredibly dangerous.
In a notable swatting case, another gamer named Tyler Barriss was upset about a lost wager of $1.50 (Yep. One dollar and 50 cents.) in the video game, Call of Duty. He called into Wichita police, gave what he believed was his opponent's address, and claimed there was a homicide and hostage situation taking place. When police arrived, they surrounded the home of 28-year-old Andrew Finch (who, as it turns out, had nothing to do with the game and wasn't involved in any of this) and fatally shot him as he walked through his front door. A completely innocent man was killed because of a supposed prank. Over a disagreement about a video game.
The point of this is to say that there is no excuse, no matter how angry you are at someone, and no matter the reason for that anger, to make a fake call about a very serious crime just to waste authority's time and put someone else's life in danger. It's not funny. It's not a joke.
I bring this up because you probably have heard the news that David Hogg was swatted. Hogg, as you may know, is a survivor of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Since the shooting, Hogg and many of his classmates have become outspoken activists against gun violence.
Really think about that. Survivors--kids who witnessed their friends and classmates get brutally murdered by a psychopath with a gun--are being threatened by people who disagree with their cause.
I'm not writing this to change your mind about guns, gun safety, or the second amendment in general. That's not the point.
The point is that regardless of if you think these kids are uninformed and speaking out of emotion, or even if you just hate the way they talk and think they're too loud and pandering to a side you don't fall on, we should all be able to agree that no one's life should be put at risk for the sake of a dangerous "prank"--and especially not kids who have witnessed and survived one of the most horrifying things imaginable.
We should be able to think that way, but unfortunately that's not the world we live in.
After multiple news outlets reported on this swatting incident, the reactions were...disappointing, to put it lightly.
Just from my own local Fox affiliate, you can see from the Facebook post that some people apparently found this amusing (if emoji reactions can tell us anything), with some even "loving" the news.
More people found this amusing than anything.
I just can't wrap my head around this being the world we live in--a world where a kid who could easily have been killed by gun violence at school had the potential to be killed by a heartless swatting prank. Fortunately he wasn't home and fortunately the authorities quickly figured out they had a prank on their hands, but could you imagine? There are people out there that think this kid's life is expendable if it means they don't have to hear him speak anymore about gun reform.
And people find that funny.
I usually try to put a positive twist on the downtrodden topics I sometimes talk about, but this is just one where I'm not seeing a bright side.
We need to get our hearts back. We need to be able to civilly disagree with people without thinking a person with a different opinion deserves nothing less than death.
Come on, folks. Let's do better.