+
upworthy
More

Florida school shooting survivors boldly challenge Rubio on gun control.

A week after the Stoneman Douglas shooting, thousands of people showed up for a town hall on gun violence in Florida.

The Feb. 21 town hall, which was aired live by CNN, featured survivors and family members of those killed in the deadly high school shooting. A spokeswoman for the NRA also showed up.

It was an emotional event, during which Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) took the bulk of criticism over his financial contributions from the National Rifle Association and his dismissive comments about passing gun control measures.


Rubio was the lone Republican on stage fielding challenges from parents and students of Stoneman Douglas.

The first person to challenge him was Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie was killed in the shooting. "I want to like you," Guttenberg told Rubio. "[But] your comments this week and those of our president have been pathetically weak."

One by one, students took the stage and confronted Rubio, who often seemed at a loss for words when pressed on whether or not he would support new gun safety measures.

Stoneman Douglas senior Ryan Deitsch asked Rubio directly: "Why do we have to be the ones to do this? Why do we have to march on Washington just to save innocent lives?"

Simply put, it was not a great night for Rubio, who was once considered a rising star of Republican politics.

Both on the stage and online, people were eager to point out his failure to hold gun advocates accountable.

While Rubio expressed an openness to some gun safety changes, he refused to say he'd stop taking money from the NRA.

Rubio said he would support a bill in the Senate raising the minimum age for buying a rifle to 21, up from the current age of 18. (Federal law already prohibits anyone under 21 from buying a handgun.)

He also said he would support banning "bump stocks," which allow semi-automatic weapons to be easily converted to fully automatic weapons. And he generally backed expanding background checks on individuals purchasing weapons.

However, after Stoneman Douglas junior Cameron Kasky asked Rubio plainly, "Can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA?" the crowd loudly booed Rubio as he avoided giving a direct answer.

Rubio has accepted more than $3 million in campaign contributions from the group, the sixth most of any currently sitting senator. But Rubio tried arguing that his support from the NRA wasn't about money, responding to Kasky by saying, "People buy into my agenda. ... The influence of these groups comes not from money; the influence comes from the millions of people that agree with the agenda."

The CNN town hall was clearly an unpleasant experience for Rubio. But more politicians need to hold them.

Some of the students praised Rubio just for showing up, as did his Democratic colleague Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida), who noted that both Gov. Rick Scott and President Donald Trump had declined invitations to appear at the event. But a willingness to actually speak to the people one represents shouldn't be praised as outstanding — it should be the norm.

The fact that congresspeople may be met with anger and frustration at public-forum events doesn't mean they should be avoided. It means that they should show up, listen to that anger, and then do something about it. Elected officials serve at the behest of the public, not just those who give them campaign cash. If more lawmakers follow Rubio's lead and show a willingness to engage with "the other side," the chances for meaningful change can only improve.

This could be the guest house.


Inequality has gotten worse than you think.

An investigation by former "Daily Show" correspondent Hasan Minhaj is still perfectly apt and shows that the problem isn't just your classic case of "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."

Keep ReadingShow less
Kevin Parry / Twitter

Toronto-based animator and video wizard Kevin Parry has gone mega-viral for his mind-boggling collection of videos where he turns himself into random objects.

In a series of quick clips he changes into everything from a pumpkin to a bright yellow banana and in most of the videos, he appears to suffer a ridiculous death. The videos combine studio trickery with a magician's flair.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

A brave fan asks Patrick Stewart a question he doesn't usually get and is given a beautiful answer

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through.

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through. However, how he answered this vulnerable and brave fan's question is one of the most eloquent, passionate responses about domestic violence I've ever seen.

Keep ReadingShow less

A map of the United States post land-ice melt.


Land ice: We got a lot of it.

Considering the two largest ice sheets on earth — the one on Antarctica and the one on Greenland — extend more than 6 million square miles combined ... yeah, we're talkin' a lot of ice.

But what if it was all just ... gone? Not like gone gone, but melted?

Keep ReadingShow less
OriginalAll photos belong to Red Méthot, who gave me permission to share them here.

Chloé was born at 32 weeks.


Every single day, babies across the world are born prematurely, which means that they're born before 37 weeks of gestation.

In Canada, about 29,000 infants are born prematurely each year, roughly 1 in every 13. But in the United States, around 400,000 to 500,000 are born early. That's about 1 in every 8 to 10 babies born in the U.S.!

Red Méthot, a Canadian photographer and student, decided to capture the resilience of many of these kids for a school photography project.

Keep ReadingShow less
Democracy

Teacher tries to simulate a dictatorship in her classroom, but the students crushed her

"I’ve done this experiment numerous times, and each year I have similar results. This year, however, was different."

Each year that I teach the book "1984" I turn my classroom into a totalitarian regime under the guise of the "common good."

I run a simulation in which I become a dictator. I tell my students that in order to battle "Senioritis," the teachers and admin have adapted an evidence-based strategy, a strategy that has "been implemented in many schools throughout the country and has had immense success." I hang posters with motivational quotes and falsified statistics, and provide a false narrative for the problem that is "Senioritis."

Keep ReadingShow less