Sharp: America’s Parenting Problem is Currently on Full Display

by | Apr 8, 2024 | Opinion

Scrolling social media over the weekend I ran into a familiar name making headlines again. I stumbled across a post on X from Gen Z activist Jack Petocz complaining that he had been expelled from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Per multiple online reports, Petocz along with several others were arrested after staging a sit in at the University’s chancellor’s office in support of Palestine. The University alleges that some of these student protestors shoved campus security while making their way into the closed building. For this reason, the students were expelled from the school.   

Petocz has a long history of activism. Petocz also has a long history of exaggeration and complaining about the results of his activism.  Petocz first made news in Flagler County Florida. Petocz organized a student protest over Florida’s HB 1557, often inappropriately named the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The bill which merely disallowed teachers from grades K-4 from discussing sexuality related topics passed the Florida legislature in 2022.

Petocz requested permission from school administrators at Flagler Palm Coast High School to stage a protest. He was granted permission to conduct this activity during a break period on the school’s track with the stipulation that no political material be distributed. Petocz then defied the rules given to him by handing out pride flags and refusing to stop activities once the break concluded. For this he was suspended and given a permanent mark on his disciplinary record. Much of the local liberal media ran cover for Petocz arguing that he was simply exercising his rights.

Petocz’s latest foray into political activism seems to be a near carbon copy of his first. Petocz broke the rules of an institution and the organization reacted within their rights.  Petocz then promptly played the victim. 

There are a few arguments here that could be genuinely made.  

Argument #1 – no one cares about Petocz’s sexual orientation.  He isn’t being discriminated against.  He is simply ill informed and allows himself to be used as fodder in a liberal culture war.  

Argument #2 – Petocz was obviously not taught very well by his parents that every action has a consequence.  I do not hold his activism against him.  In fact, it is commendable to see someone at his age so engaged in the process of activism.  I simply worry that he has never learned that there are consequences when rules are broken.  

Jack Petocz himself is not newsworthy.  Jack is a privileged member of Gen Z who feels that he has the right to throw a tantrum when things don’t go his own way.  When he receives consequences for his actions he cries “discrimination”.  Jack Petocz is a referendum on Gen Z, and more appropriately a referendum on Gen X who raised them.  

As a proud member of Gen X, we are the only generation to experience youth both with and without technology.  We were in our teenage years when the internet came to life.  Most of us spent our childhoods riding bikes, playing sports, and generally roaming our neighborhoods until the sun went down.  My generation has also proven that we weren’t capable of raising children who understand the world the same way that we did.  Gen Z simply lives to exist in a digital bubble rather than the grass and concrete of reality. 

Jack Petocz is the poster child for the fantasy world of Gen Z.  This is a world where social media clout trades with more value than real life results.  In the meantime Petocz has thrown away his opportunity to receive a world class education at Vanderbilt University simply because his parents failed to teach him how the real world works.   

Petocz will undoubtably reappear at another university and become entrenched in another controversy in the future.  He will do this with the enabling of his family.  Until then we should hope Petocz learns that actions have consequences, and this line of thought must be passed to our children. 

You can follow Tim Sharp on X at @realtimsharp.

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