When Derick Dillard tweets, there is often a strong response, but Dillard’s tweet on Wednesday netted more backlash than most. Though Derick’s tweet is most directly pointed at the “liberal media,” the implicit insult to the survivors of the recent school shooting has many social media users responding to tell Dillard he’s wrong on several levels. Primarily, people believe Derick Dillard is denying the students’ autonomy by suggesting the agenda isn’t their own, and that it’s hypocritical for him to say this, because, they assert, Dillard uses children and fetuses to support his own political agendas, and his extended family owes their reality stardom and income to showcasing their own kids.
On February 14, a former student entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and opened fire, killing 17 students and staff members. Since that day, survivors of the mass murder have appeared on news programs to share their feelings about the shooting, and the legislation or other actions they believe could have protected their classmates.
Dillard is far from the first to weigh in. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, suggesting the shooting might have been prevented if the FBI hadn’t been investigating Russian interference into the 2016 election, and conspiracy theorists have floated the usual claim that the shooting was a “false flag” and that survivors are actors. Newsweek reports that this claim has earned Alex Jones, for instance, a two-week Twitter ban.
As for Derick Dillard, the former reality star held back his opinions on the shooting for the first two weeks, aside from retweeting Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s call to support first responders and families and a video advising pastors on preaching about school shootings.
Neither of these tweets, however, advised what Derick Dillard tweeted two weeks after the mass murder: asserting that the survivors are being used.
This has gotten a little ridiculous; at least 2 networks are now using kids to push their liberal agendas. It’s obviously not all about the kids when voices like @KyleKashuv aren’t as elevated. Liberal Media... at least be consistent so you can hide your biased tactics better. https://t.co/u5ycvO2ygX— Derick Dillard (@derickmdillard) February 28, 2018
Though some students have appeared on news media more than others, Derick’s assertion ignores other reasons some may not choose publicity. Dillard isn’t the only viewer to accuse CNN of selecting students to support only a gun-control-centric method for preventing further school shootings. Glenn Haab, the father of one student, pulled his son out of a discussion with Marco Rubio, NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch, and Sheriff Scott Israel, saying that the network tried to force his son to use a scripted question. After CNN released copies of the email exchange, The Hill reports that Haab admitted to altering copies of the documents to bolster his claim — which, like Derick’s, was that CNN only wanted to show one side of student viewpoints.
In fact, the copies of the email released publicly make it clear that CNN was welcoming Colton Haab to use the question he selected, in which he would suggest that Coach Aaron Feiss could have protected students if he had his own firearm in school that day.
The family of a Parkland shooting survivor appears to have provided doctored emails to Fox and HuffPost in an attempt to support their claim that CNN "scripted" its Wednesday town hall. https://t.co/AdiXw2lmRz pic.twitter.com/3O5EneClcK— Eliza Relman (@eliza_relman) February 24, 2018
This contradicts Derick Dillard’s suggestion that conservative views have been silenced by these networks.
Twitter users pushed back hard, telling Derick Dillard that the agenda belongs to the students, calling him hateful and declaring him a hypocrite.
The kids are pushing the agenda. Deal with it. This isn’t about conservative or liberal, it’s about trying to stop our kids from getting slaughtered in school.— Amber Goodin (@amber2bill) February 28, 2018
Derick, I feel sorry for you that your world view is so warped you can't see the reality right in front of you. These kids are bravely standing up for each other and for other children. You're condescending to them when you say they're being "used."— Kim Ladin (@riotbrrd) February 28, 2018
You and your in laws use your children to make money AND push your agenda. Interesting that you can’t see or won’t admit 19Kids and Counting & Counting On exploited children to push a Evangelical agenda. What made it okay for you and your in laws?— WileECoyote (@WileECoyote1977) February 28, 2018
Really?? In your Christian heart you can’t find room for love for these kids? Some of the best people I know don’t go to church and some of the worst people I know go to a service at least every week.. How about praying for them? How about ‘thou shall not judge’?— shannonnolanbrigante (@lbinolan) February 28, 2018
How dare you, you hypocritical, lying, pitiful excuse for a Christian. You need to get back in your lane and stay there. These brave, wellspoken, thoughtful young folks are speaking up and out, about a horror they experienced and are trying to actually do something positive.— Roe Hughes (@RoeHughes1) February 28, 2018
Dude, what's gotten ridiculous is that you and jimbob/in laws exploit your kids to push an agenda. You aren't an expert at being consistent so you can hide your biased tactics. ????♀️— eunace click (@eunace333) February 28, 2018
While Derick Dillard expresses distaste for children promoting liberal political views, he has expressed no opinion on his in-laws’ political activity, such as a video they released in 2012, with their children and grandchildren giving reasons to vote for Rick Santorum — even Derick’s nephew Michael, not yet a year old, is given a speech bubble!
If you’re wondering, yes — one of Dillard’s young brothers-in-law (age 13 at the time) has a line in the video suggesting that viewers should support Santorum for his position on gun rights.
Derick also had no problem using Jill Dillard’s miscarried sibling to promote his own political views in 2016, tweeting a story about the loss with a political commentary on abortion laws.
“The Dillards will always be #prolife…from womb to tomb.”
Dillard’s post reflects the Duggar family’s longtime practice of promoting their beliefs on abortion through their large family. The kids are often photographed wearing messages that promote anti-abortion legislation — below, see a photo of four of Derick’s teenaged sibings-in-law wearing shirts that read “I am the generation that will abolish abortion.”
Derick Dillard has received hefty criticism for several of his posts and views — such as when he called transgender people a myth (Dillard later said he was talking about TLC, despite Jazz Jennings’s image being included in his tweet) and inviting LGBTQ+ people to his church the same week the church hosted a pray-the-gay-away program.
However, the way Derick Dillard addressed the survivors of the Parkland shooting is netting him some of the strongest criticism yet. The nation is already on the defense for these kids, who are being accused of being actors, too emotional to weigh in, and political pawns, and Derick Dillard’s input was clearly not welcomed by his public following.