Musician and National Rifle Association (NRA) board member Ted Nugent refused to issue an apology this weekend, after calling the survivors of a deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida “soulless.”
“I was told, coming out of a firestorm — a firestorm of guitar solo magic, that I was trending on Facebook because somehow, some dishonest, lying idiots claimed that my identifying — accurately and honestly — those in the gun control marches who call people who don’t agree with them child murderers,” Nugent, a far-right activist, said in a Facebook Live video on March 31, which was captured by Media Matters. “Now, if I called you a child murderer without having any evidence, that would be hate speech. So they are guilty of hate speech.”
He continued, “I merely identified that you have to have mush for brains to accept, blindly accept, the propaganda from the gun-hating, freedom-hating, America-hating, liberal Democrat left media… They claimed that it’s hate speech to identify the hate of people that call us child murderers, because we don’t believe in banning guns, which won’t save any lives. They’re so blinded by their hate, and their mushy brains have so robotically accepted the propaganda ministry’s lies and deceit, that [they believe their] hate isn’t hate. My identifying their hate, is hate. What the hell? So I stand by my words.”
— Leanne Naramore (@LeanneNaramore) April 2, 2018
Nugent’s comments came one day after the singer-songwriter gave an interview to a nationally syndicated conservative talk show, The Joe Pags Show, and complained about the survivors of the February 14 Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, which left 17 people dead. Since that shooting, many of the young survivors have become activists, using their platform to call for tighter gun control measures, calling out the NRA for preventing meaningful gun reform on Capitol Hill, and organizing the historic March For Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C. on March 24, which drew an estimated crowd of between 200,00 and 800,000 people, and inspired at least 800 sister marches worldwide.
Several of the students have subsequently drawn heavy criticism and threats for speaking out against the gun lobby, and some have found themselves at the center of unfounded “crisis actor” conspiracy theories.
“All you have to do now is not only feel sorry for the liars, but you have to go against them and pray to God that the lies can be crushed and the liars can be silenced so that real measures can be put into place to actually save children’s lives,” Nugent said on Friday. “To attack the good, law-abiding families of America when well-known, predictable murderers commit these horrors is deep in the category of soulless. These poor children — I’m afraid to say and it hurts me to say this, but the evidence is irrefutable — they have no soul.”
Nugent has previously been criticized for his extreme response to the Parkland shooting, much of which has focused on the young survivors themselves. In February, one week after the shooting, Nugent shared an unfounded conspiracy theory article from Natural News that claimed shooting survivor David Hogg was a paid “crisis actor” and not a real Marjory Stoneman Douglas student. “It’s all THEATER,” the article’s headline read. “Florida high school shooting survivor caught on video rehearsing scripted lines, coached by camera man.”
Beneath the article, Nugent “liked” a comment from a Facebook follower, which claimed, “He is NOT a student! He is 26 years old and is a paid crisis actor. News organizations hire him to be a scripted witness or survivor. He has been at multiple shootings as a ‘survivor’. He is also a meth user recently arrested in South Carolina.”
Nugent also appeared to “like” several other similar comments, including one that claimed “something fishy” was going on.
In the wake of the Parkland shooting, criticism of the student survivors has been rampant, with celebrities and right-wing figures coming out in full force against their anti-gun violence stances. In February, former Republican Rep. Jack Kingston (GA) stated in an interview with CNN that the young activists were being manipulated by “left-wing groups who have an agenda.”
“[The students] probably do not have the logistical ability to plan a nationwide rally without it being hijacked by groups that already had a preexisting anti-gun agenda,” he said. “… I just have a hard time believing [otherwise.]”
Over on Fox News this month, controversial right-wing host Tucker Carlson also slammed the students’ efforts, calling them “extremist[s].”
“If you honestly don’t care what the people who disagree with you think, if you believe they want to ‘murder more children’ who are you?” he asked. “You’re definitely not fit to be making policy for the rest of us. You are by definition an extremist.”