Politics is a dirty business, but there’s a level of filthiness with regard to the Parkland shooting survivors that I’m having trouble getting over.

Like all of you, I’ve been watching the story of the Parkland students unfold before our eyes in the huge media spotlight they now occupy. It’s not the ideal place for teenagers, but the media and the left have made it clear it is theirs. These students – well a certain selected few of them, anyway – are at the forefront of the left’s gun control movement. That was a decision out of our hands.

In watching it, I’ve become increasingly angered by the behavior of David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, and others among the  Parkland student activists. In fact, I’m pretty disgusted. And that disgust is only made worse by the fact that this process and media bonanza began before the blood had even been cleaned from the high school where the horror took place.

David Hogg, who has been the most visible of the group, has in particular been an unfit representative for students of tragedy. He plays the part of angry liberal activist well, the part of mourning, sorrowful victim of tragedy much less so.

Hogg brags about hanging up on the President when he reaches out to the students to talk while claiming to support unity and togetherness. The media finds no contradiction.

Hogg offers overtures of loving thy neighbor while he and his fellow activists hurl insults at innocent Americans, many parents and teens themselves, and blame them for the death of his classmates.

He accuses Senators of complicity in murder and mothers of callous disregard for their own children from a nationally televised stage. He ignorantly spreads falsehoods about the law, the Constitution, the function of government, the institutions of society, and the people who are within it, while rapt and worshipful television anchors genuflect and refuse to correct.

Hogg refuses to accept apologies from those who feel they’ve gone too far in their reactions to him and unapologetically strikes at anyone who disagrees with him, including fellow student victims of the same tragedy.

As disgusted as I am with Hogg’s behavior, and that of his fellow students, I can’t fully blame them. Behind their gross actions are the adults who have told them that everything they do is righteous, and that every bit of nastiness they display is done in the name of good, and that the hate they show their opponents is a justifiable fury that will lead others into a better tomorrow.

This is, of course, utter nonsense. Hogg and his peers may have been the centerpiece of an internationally-covered march, but they haven’t changed much in the bigger debate. Multiple polls have shown that American youth actually view guns favorably, and the march was primarily populated with people just under the age of 50.

I sincerely doubt the truth of their impact is given to the students. I doubt they are told of, or seek out, public opinion polls or even the unvarnished opinions of everyday Americans. Their handlers, the adults who use them, are feeding them half-truths and lies about what they’re accomplishing, all while stoking their anger against those who are defending themselves from what the students are being led to do.

And so the students lash out, insult, blame, and accuse with the blessing and instigation of those guiding them, all for the purpose of securing a talking point and generating headlines and fundraising dollars.

If all of that weren’t disgusting enough, the handlers behind the students wait for the inevitable reaction from the people the students are sicced after. Naturally, people respond angrily toward the students. Some attack their attitude, or their actions. Some just argue the points, others attack them personally. This happens when in the public eye.

But no matter what angle you approach the Parkland student activists from, or how you conduct yourself in response, your actions are inevitably characterized as personal attacks.

Questioning Hogg and the others is attacking children who have suffered greatly, and for that is offered no context or excuse. As CNN’s Don Lemon declared, you’re a bad guy if you criticize the students in any way. This is a common thought in the mainstream media. CNN’s Brian Stelter admitted that he let Hogg spread misinformation uncontested on his program because they were victims.

So those who feel threatened by the mainstream media attention or the rapid canonization of the students, who are threatened by the sudden infallibility conferred on them, and who wish to defend their positions and civil rights are labeled as monsters, heartless, and cowardly for “attacking” children. Or worse, as sympathetic to murder.

Let us correct the record here, though.

Hiding behind teenagers in order to push some godawful agenda that will more than likely not come to fruition in our lifetime, then using them as a shield in order to deal with the inevitable backlash of facts, arguments, and reason put forward in response isn’t just gutless, it’s overtly vile and disgusting. This is crass opportunism at the expense of teens who were part of something too big for them to understand.

Let’s be clear. We who are defending our rights didn’t put the students behind microphoned podiums with every camera pointed at them almost the moment the shooting occurred. We didn’t wheel them out to spread falsehoods every other day. We didn’t stoke the fires of their anger and hate so that the atrocity would be turned into a political fight.

And we sure as hell didn’t put them square in the middle of an ideological battle those in charge KNEW was a hot-button topic. Don’t feed me lies about how this was all the idea of the students. The amount of mainstream media coaching and activist support they had has been astounding. The very march itself was a creation of groups like Everytown and Planned Parenthood, not a handful of high school students.

Moreover, they KNEW that the national stage comes with nastiness aimed squarely at those standing on it. It was not those wishing to keep their rights who knowingly put them on it.

No, I don’t think these kids should have personal attacks launched against them, but calling them out when they’re wrong or being unfairly nasty is absolutely something we should do. Using their status of “child victim” as a sword and shield against those who would argue against these points is a kind of gross spinelessness I’ve never seen in my years of working in politics.

If any of you have any decency, you’ll come out from behind these children and face the American people with your own talking points and arguments. You’ll stop playing the part of Wormtongue, and face your opponents on the battlefield of ideas instead of turning kids into ideological child soldiers and acting outraged when people show disgust at their actions and seek to correct their misinformation. You’ll stop allowing these kids to destroy their own future with the foolish rage you fomented.

Until then, you are, all of you, cowards of the highest order.