Speak My Piece

Luke Campbell Responds to Speak Your Piece Callers


Kayla Velasquez

It is evident from your statements that you haven’t really spent a lot of time on [the Second Amendment].”

— Bill Tallen

Recently, I was on Speak Your Piece on KODI with CHS seniors Trisha Tamblyn and Lucille Sax. On the show, we spoke in support of student led protests and student activism. Through the course of the hour-long interview, Bob Berry, Steve Torrey, Vincent Vanata, and Bill Tallen called in to join the discussion. Darian Dudrick did a great job of moderating the conversation. However, all four callers were condescending and harassing, and we weren’t able to respond as fully as we would have liked to their complaints, insinuations, attacks, and attempts to discredit us.

First, Bob Berry said one of his main problems with the student walkout was that it took place during school hours “on the taxpayer’s dime.” After trying to establish common ground with Trisha through “musicality” interests, he claimed Vietnam protests he was involved with were “ethical” because they “did it on [their] own time.” He disagreed “with the way the protests were done” because he thought an intercom announcement was made “to take students out of school without their parents’ permission.”

Respectfully, Mr. Berry, no intercom announcement was ever made, and how did a few students walking out of classes for 17 minutes cost the taxpayers anything? Teachers still taught, and the students walked out on their own – they weren’t “taken out.” Even if Vietnam protesters “did it on [their] own time,” the 1967 Los Angeles protests and the 1968 Democratic Convention protests, to name only two, cost just a little more than a few students walking out of CHS to honor 17 fellow students who were murdered in cold blood. The latter involved police, National Guard, reconstruction of entire neighborhoods, and attorneys to prosecute or defend protesters over the course of a decade. Our walkout involved about 80 peaceful students quietly leaving class for a few minutes.  

The next caller allowed to talk was Steve Torrey who opened with, “Quiz time for the kids.” After asking Trisha if she knew what the Bill of Rights is, Lucille what the Declaration of Independence is, and me, what year the Constitution was ratified, he hung up. To Trisha’s and Lucille’s credit, they passed Professor Torrey’s quiz with an A+. I, however, was eleven years off, but I have a pop quiz for you, Mr. Torrey: What year was Tinker v Des Moines decided by the Supreme Court, and what was the majority opinion? That is relevant to our conversation, while the year the Constitution was ratified is not.

Vincent Vanata called to identify himself as the author of the Bighorn Basin Tea Party e-mails that were sent to Trisha and Lucille. He apologized for sending them without using his name and claimed they were “FYI” on an “article from NPR saying that school shootings were actually on the decline.” I read this article, and Vanata misrepresented it: it does not claim that school shootings are on the decline in the U.S., but that although “multiple-victim shootings in general are on the rise, that’s not the case in schools. There’s an average of about one a year — in a country with more than 100,000 schools.”

School shootings, Mr. Vanata, have occurred at an average rate of 10 per year, with a high of 15 in 2014. This is a BIG difference, and I suggest you exercise more care when paraphrasing news organizations.

The final individual who joined the discussion was Bill Tallen, who said, “You have made it very very clear that you are all three pro gun control, so that is something we should walk away with an understanding of” and that “it is evident from your statements that you haven’t really spent a lot of time on [the Second Amendment].”

When the words “gun control” are brought up in a conversation, people tend to have a knee jerk reaction, and I believe Mr. Tallen’s statement was meant to discredit us. Many people believe gun control means taking away every gun from every citizen. Contrary to his insinuation, I believe Americans should have the option to own a gun, and that guns are an important part of many citizens’ definitions of self. I also believe there should be background checks before a person is allowed to own a gun, and that is gun control, just not in the way that Tallen implied.

Mr. Tallen also said, “I’d suggest more research so you have a deeper understanding of what the Second Amendment entails.” I think Trisha responded to that quite eloquently, so I see no need to reiterate, but here is a bit of research for you, Mr. Tallen, so you have a deeper understanding of the real issue: 138 people have died in American school shootings since the Sandy Hook massacre. 438 people have been injured, and countless more have been scarred for life due to the violence committed in American schools. Any life lost in a school is too many lives lost. So far, just in 2018, there have been 107 people killed in 86 separate mass shootings. According to the concurrent listings on gunviolencearchive.org, I calculated there is an average of one mass shooting in America every 34.8 hours.

Perhaps I shouldn’t respond to these men. As Cyrus Stuart Ching said: “What’s the sense of wrestling with a pig? You both get all over muddy . . . and the pig likes it.” However, to remain silent in the face of this opposition would be a disservice to those who have devoted time, energy, and money to student voice.

For the full “Speak Your Piece” episode referred to, go to: