Yes, John Oliver is back.
After several months off, the irascible Brit returned to the desk of Last Week Tonight for its fifth season premiere. He began by addressing the “heartbreaking events” of Parkland, Florida, wherein a MAGA hat-wearing 19-year-old armed with a legally purchased AR-15 assault rifle targeted the students and faculty of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, taking 17 lives in a hail of gunfire.
“These events are now so familiar, we basically automatically know how each side will play out: ‘thoughts and prayers,’ ‘fuck your thoughts and prayers,’ ‘it’s a mental health problem,’ ‘yeah, but it’s also a gun problem,’ and then someone says ‘now’s not the time to talk about gun control,’ and then everybody moves on until it inevitably happens again,” said Oliver.
He added: “But this time felt slightly different because when the ‘now’s not the time’ argument came out, the kids from that school said, ‘You know what? Yes it fucking is.’”
In the wake of the massacre, the teen survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been calling out the empty rhetoric of obfuscating talking-head charlatans like Tomi Lahren and gun lobby flunkies like President Trump, who somehow managed to make the tragedy all about himself. This is a generation of kids who were born after Columbine, who will no longer accept mass shootings as their new reality, and who are outraged by the governmental apathy and indifference.
“They say that no laws could’ve been able to prevent the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS!” screamed MSD High student Emma Gonzalez at a recent rally.
“We call BS,” echoed Oliver. “It is a little ironic that the people who are acting with the most maturity in this horrifying situation aren’t even old enough to say the word ‘bullshit’ in front of their parents. Those kids have already announced a march next month, and in doing so they’re challenging adults to participate in a real conversation about gun violence.”
Whether or not President Trump—who partied at a Mar-a-Lago disco bash mere hours after visiting wounded survivors of the Parkland shooting—will participate in that dialogue is anybody’s guess.