Parkland parents respond to Marjorie Taylor Greene's mass shooting conspiracy theories

The thought of losing a child is too much for most parents to think about. The thought of watching your child being killed on camera is unfathomable.

Linda Beigel Schulman and her husband Michael watched security camera footage of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018. They witnessed their 35-year-old son Scott Beigel, a teacher at the school, usher students into a classroom, away from the gunman. Then they saw the gunman fire at their son six times, saw the blood, saw him collapse to the ground.

Two other teachers and 14 students were shot and killed by the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, that day. Scores of students and teachers survived the terror and horror of fleeing for their lives and watching their friends and colleagues get murdered in front of them. The trauma for survivors and their loved ones was—and is—real.

So what kind of person would spread lies about what happened, criticize survivors for their response, pour salt in those wounds?

Apparently, a sitting member of Congress.


Marjorie Taylor Greene, a freshman GOP representative from Georgia, has a history of touting conspiracy theories, especially surrounding mass shootings. She's on video suggesting that the Las Vegas shooting was a planned event to strip Second Amendment rights:

And Media Matters for America has reported on since-deleted Facebook posts that show Greene supporting the conspiracy theory that Sandy Hook and Parkland school shootings were "false flags"—a term conspiracy theorists use when they think the government or some other powerful group stages an event like a mass shooting with crisis actors as means of control.

The Schulmans have something to say about that. Speaking to Olivia Nuzzi at New York magazine, Linda Schulman said:

"Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, the shooting where my son was murdered protecting his students was not a 'false flag.' It was not staged. It really happened. Do not trivialize my son Scott's sacrifice to save his students for your own political gain. As Joseph Welch said to Sen. Joseph McCarthy Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in 1954: 'Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Have you no sense of decency?' Congresswoman Greene, I ask you the same question. Are you that cruel? HAVE YOU NO SENSE OF DECENCY??"

Schulman asked Nuzzi, "What do we need to do? Show her the video? Do I need to take her over to Scott's mausoleum? Does she need to see how he was shot six times from three feet away?"

Another Parkland parent, Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was killed in the shooting, told Politico, "She is going to confront her lies. She is a fraud. She has no place being the halls of Congress. I do intend to bring her evidence of my daughter's murder." Guttenberg has called for Greene's removal from Congress.

Greene is also shown in newly resurfaced video harassing Parkland survivor David Hogg, who has been a vocal activist for gun reform since the shooting and is a co-founder of March for our Lives. This is a grown woman following a teenager who had survived a school shooting, telling him she carries a firearm, peppering him with questions and comments that could easily trigger trauma, and then calling him a coward who is being paid off. Absolutely ridiculous.

Yet another video has surfaced of Greene doing the same thing another time to another group of young gun sense advocates, also including David Hogg, who end up chanting "Enough is enough" to drown out her incessant yammering.

What's perhaps most chilling about these videos is that she appears to have zero empathy and zero acknowledgment of what these kids went through. It's all about the guns. Debating gun laws with people who haven't been through the trauma of a mass shooting is one thing, but following and harassing kids who watched or heard their friends and teachers get shot in front of them at school? That's some next-level inhumanity on display.

Speaking of which, Greene has also indicated support for executing prominent Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, Presidet Obama, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on social media. So that's neat.

How has Greene responded to all of this? A combo of silence and with claiming that the media is out to get her. She explained away the Facebook posts by saying that she's had lots of different people run her social media accounts, which frankly is a cop-out. She did not offer comment on New York magazine piece. At a town hall in her district this week, she refused to hear questions from the press, and in fact, had reporters escorted from the meeting by the sheriff simply for trying to ask a question about it. (She had told the press ahead of time that they were not allowed to ask questions or talk to anyone at the town hall, which is, of course, not how any of this works. It's called the First Amendment.)

And what of the response in Congress? One member, Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) has introduced a resolution to have her removed, as she poses "a clear and present danger to Congress and our democray."

Meanwhile, the GOP has seated her on the House Education and Labor Committee.

Our country has a decision to make. Are we going to accept conspiracy theorists who harass traumatized teens and families and advocate killing other members of our government in the halls of Congress? Is there really no line that can't be crossed by people we put in power?

Since his first hit single "Keep Your Head Up" in 2011, award-winning multi-platinum recording artist Andy Grammer has made a name for himself as the king of the feel-good anthem. From "Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah)" to "Honey, I'm Good" to "Back Home" and more, his positive, upbeat songs have blared on beaches and at backyard barbecues every summer.

So what does a singer who loves to perform in front of live audiences and is known for uplifting music do during an unexpectedly challenging year of global pandemic lockdown?

He goes inward.

Grammer told Upworthy that losing the ability to perform during the pandemic forced him to look at where his self-worth came from. "I thought I would have scored better, to be honest," he says. "Like, 'Oh, I get it from all the important, right places!' And then it's taken all away in one moment, and you're like, 'Oh, nope, I was getting a lot from that.'

"It's kind of cool to break all the way down and then hopefully put myself back together in a way that's a little more solid," he says.

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Since his first hit single "Keep Your Head Up" in 2011, award-winning multi-platinum recording artist Andy Grammer has made a name for himself as the king of the feel-good anthem. From "Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah)" to "Honey, I'm Good" to "Back Home" and more, his positive, upbeat songs have blared on beaches and at backyard barbecues every summer.

So what does a singer who loves to perform in front of live audiences and is known for uplifting music do during an unexpectedly challenging year of global pandemic lockdown?

He goes inward.

Grammer told Upworthy that losing the ability to perform during the pandemic forced him to look at where his self-worth came from. "I thought I would have scored better, to be honest," he says. "Like, 'Oh, I get it from all the important, right places!' And then it's taken all away in one moment, and you're like, 'Oh, nope, I was getting a lot from that.'

"It's kind of cool to break all the way down and then hopefully put myself back together in a way that's a little more solid," he says.

Keep Reading Show less
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Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."