OPINION: Progressives, leave Barron Trump alone, he's 10

President Donald Trump, right, smiles with his son Barron as they view the 58th Presidential Inauguration parade for President Donald Trump in Washington. Friday, Jan. 20, 2017
President Donald Trump, right, smiles with his son Barron as they view the 58th Presidential Inauguration parade for President Donald Trump in Washington. Friday, Jan. 20, 2017 AP Photo - Pablo Martinez Monsivais

OVER THE weekend, Saturday Night Live writer Katie Rich was widely condemned for joking that the President's youngest son would become a school shooter.

"Barron will be this country's first homeschool shooter," wrote Rich, in a now-deleted tweet.

The message was left up for about three hours before she deleted it.

Facing heavy criticism, she then made her Twitter account private, blocking public viewing of it.

Other social media users slammed Rich for targeting the child, with some calling her a "piece of trash" and others calling for a boycott of NBC, which airs SNL.

Twitter, of course, is a free-for-all. It's a bloodbath filled with oft-nameless trolls, and let's face it, Donald Trump has mastered the art of trolling.

As his father's campaign gained prominence, Barron increasingly became a target of abuse - mostly, oddly enough, by people you'd assume were against President Trump due to his bullying politics.

The coverage of Barron has at times been light and innocuous. The footage of him struggling to stay awake during his father's victory speech, for example, was referenced by many media outlets in an endearing manner, including our own.

But you've got to draw a line somewhere.

Following Donald Trump's rise, his opponents have criticised his youngest son on everything from his haircut to his clothing, inspiring an onslaught of memes and routine comparisons to Joffrey Baratheon, the cruel and entitled heir of King Robert in Game of Thrones.

Sure, it's not about Barron directly. How could it be? He's barely said a word in public, let alone anything worthy of criticism.

But disdain for the President is no reason to troll him - after all, isn't that largely why progressives dislike Trump?

Because they see him as a bully who picks on those that are weaker than him?

We don't know much about Barron, other than that he speaks Slovene and is the only child of the President and First Lady.

Speaking to George Stephanopoulos in October last year, Melania said she wants to keep him out of the spotlight to ensure his childhood is as "balanced" and "normal" as it can be - and good on her for that.

But his lack of presence didn't stop Rich from throwing him into the mix with her ill-conceived tweet.

Or hundreds of other so-called progressives who have made him the butt of their public jokes for retweets.

Come on. None of that was acceptable when Malia and Sasha Obama were in the White House - why is it okay now?

Late last year, Rosie O'Donnell caused controversy after she tweeted out a video suggesting the 10-year-old was autistic.

She tweeted: "Barron Trump autistic? If so - what an amazing opportunity to bring attention to the AUTISM epidemic."

The video, originally posted by YouTube user James Hunter, speculates that Barron could be autistic because he was making "strange movements in his seat" and showed signs of "anti-social" behaviour during Election Night.

While she didn't mean for it to be antagonistic - O'Donnell later explained her own daughter is on the autism spectrum - the prominence she lent to the unverified claims prompted a furious backlash.

Melania responded by taking legal action, with her lawyer arguing O'Donnell's sharing of the video made the bullying of the young Trump even worse.

The move forced O'Donnell to issue an immediate apology.

"I apologize to @MELANIATRUMP - i was insensitive in my RT - i am sorry for the pain i caused - it was not my intent - i am truly sorry," wrote O'Donnell, before setting her account to private.

Melania Trump made a conscious decision to keep her son out of the spotlight during Donald Trump’s campaign.
Melania Trump made a conscious decision to keep her son out of the spotlight during Donald Trump’s campaign. News Corp Australia

You don't need to be a hardcore Trump supporter to see throwing a kid into the sh*tstorm that is the internet - whose parents rightfully made the choice to keep him out of the spotlight - is just scraping-the-barrel low.

Hillary Clinton's daughter Chelsea - who is no doubt just as familiar with being bullied by political opponents of her parent - has come out defending him in the wake of the Katie Rich controversy.

During the inauguration, this heartwarming video of Barron playing peek-a-boo with his nephew went viral.
It was an impromptu, unstaged moment the cameras happened to pick up in the background as the President was signing his cabinet nominations.

The footage is endearing, but more importantly reminds us that Barron's just a kid. Resenting his father is one thing, but give the child a break.
Twitter: @GavinDFernando

Topics:  abuse donald trump opinion social media twitter

News Corp Australia

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