Last week, students across the country walked out of school for 17 minutes to pay tribute to the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland, Florida and demand gun control legislation. Teenage survivors of the tragedy have stepped up, mounting an intense pressure campaign on public officials to take concrete steps to prevent similar mass shootings from happening again. Republicans can’t seem to take the heat.
During the massive student protests last week, a high school student named Noah Christiansen took the opportunity to call his representative, Republican Mark Amodei of Nevada, to demand gun control legislation. The junior at Robert McQueen High School in Reno, Nevada told one of Amodei’s staffers that legislators need to “get off their f–king a–es” and enact real gun control reforms. Christiansen told the Nevada Independent he was specifically asking for bans on bump stocks and raising the minimum age for gun purchases.
Someone from Amodei’s office then called Christiansen’s school, tattled on him, and got the student suspended for two days. He was also prevented from continuing to serve in his elected position as class secretary-treasurer.
Christiansen expressed regret over his comments, saying, “I’m smart enough to use better words than, of course, the f-word, but at the same time, even if I do want to use words, and use them over and over again, it’s my right to do so.”
The American Civil Liberties Union blasted Amodei and his office for their retaliation against the teen.
“The retaliation by Congressman Amodei’s office is a betrayal of the First Amendment and of the representative process,” ACLU of Nevada Executive Director Tod Story said in a press release. “Nothing this constituent did was illegal, and we hope Congressman Amodei would be as interested in the opinions of students as anyone who seeks to ‘petition the government.’”
But Amodei seems to be enjoying his feud with a high school student. “Welcome to the world where words have impact,” he told the Los Angeles Times.
Having worked in an office on Capitol Hill answering calls from angry constituents, I can say that foul language isn’t the norm, but it also isn’t anything unusual. I can’t recall if I was instructed to end conversations with people who cursed or if it was left up to my own judgment, but I definitely hung up on some people who popped off using foul language. I never tried to get them punished for swearing though, especially not a child.