CHILDREN AREN’T OFF-LIMITS TO THE RIGHT…. A few years ago, Democrats invited 12-year-old Graeme Frost to deliver the party’s weekly address, as part of an effort to generate support for S-CHIP, a program that brings health coverage to children. The right responded by going after the kid and his family.

Last week, we saw something of a replay.

Conservative talk show hosts and columnists have ridiculed an 11-year-old Washington state boy’s account of his mother’s death as a “sob story” exploited by the White House and congressional Democrats like a “kiddie shield” to defend their health care legislation.

Marcelas Owens, whose mother got sick, lost her job, lost her health insurance and died, said Thursday he’s taking the attacks from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin in stride.

“My mother always taught me they can have their own opinion but that doesn’t mean they are right,” Owens, who lives in Seattle, said in an interview.

Owens’ grandmother, Gina, who watched her daughter die, isn’t quite so generous.

“These are adults, and he is an 11-year-old boy who lost his mother,” Gina Owens said. “They should be ashamed.”

It’s really an awful story. Tifanny Owens was an assistant manager at a fast-food restaurant, but her health deteriorated, and she needed time off. She was fired and left with no insurance. Three years ago, Tifanny Owens died at age 27 of pulmonary hypertension, leaving Marcelas and his two younger sisters to live with their grandmother.

The pain and tragedy surrounding Marcelas Owens was first identified by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who helped bring him to Washington to share his story at a touching event last week.

Limbaugh, Beck, and Malkin, showing the kind of restraint we’ve come to expect from leading right-wing voices, have gone after nearly everyone involved — including Tifanny Owens, who they say should have done more to find government programs that might have helped her (as if it’s the dead mother’s fault she died, after failing to find government programs that Limbaugh, Beck, and Malkin oppose anyway).

“I would say this to Marcelas Owens: ‘Well, your mom would still have died, because Obamacare doesn’t kick in until 2014,’” Limbaugh said.

It’s just the kind of decency and class today’s conservatives are known for.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.