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School Shooting to Promote Hysteria

There’s been another school shooting, this time in Ohio, so you know what that means. Cue the hysterical overreaction, finger pointing and hand wringing. By now, I’m sure someone has already blame it on “removing God from our schools,” or on atheism in general, or on the teaching of evolution (“if we teach kids that they’re animals, they’ll act like animals”).

Soon we will be exposed to a seemingly endless series of experts and ideologues pushing their favorite policies. It’ll be blamed on rock music, or video games, or gun control, or the lack of gun control, or even immigration and the influence of Sharia law.

And we’ll be besieged by talk of how to handle the “crisis” of school shootings. The fact that there are nearly 100,000 public schools in the United States and another 33,000 private schools, and we average about one school shooting per year will be deemed irrelevant. Something must be done to address the crisis! We’ll put the TSA in charge of all school entrances and start frisking every student on the way in, because who cares about that pesky Bill of Rights anyway.

More schools will begin posting the Ten Commandments, because obviously the problem is that no one has bothered to tell kids that killing people is bad. As Jon Stewart once said, if you believe posting the Ten Commandments in schools is going to keep kids from doing bad things, then you also believe that putting up a sign saying “all employees must wash hands” in the bathroom is keeping the urine out of your happy meal.

I’m hardly the world’s biggest Michael Moore fan, but I thought the central point of Bowling for Columbine was spot on. Violent crime has been going down steadily in America for the last couple decades, yet we are more afraid of it than ever because of overwhelming media saturation. We are so bombarded with images and reports of spectacular crimes that we assume everyone we meet is going to try to kill us. And that fear is very convenient for politicians and corporations. It helps keep us perpetually afraid and docile.

Comments

  1. erichoug says

    I think there was a section on this in the book “The culture of fear.” they discuss it in detail. But, like everyone else, come up with no easy answers to school violence.

    They do point out, just as Ed does, that the country is much safer now, and yet we are much more afraid. A strange contradiction.

    I think what it really boils down to is that even statistically insignifigant events(like school shootins) affect a vanishingly small number of people, no-one wants their kids to be one of those people.

  2. dingojack says

    Damn, I wish they’d stop shooting guns* off in schools, it’s sending my womb** a-wandering just thinking about it!
    Dingo
    —-
    * unless they’re firing off cannons, mortars or the like, I’m guessing we’re talking handguns
    ** I have it in a jar under my bed, well that’s where I last saw of it anyway!

  3. eric says

    (“if we teach kids that they’re animals, they’ll act like animals”)

    If only. Most animals long ago found intraspecies ways to compete that minimize injury and death.

    I’ve got an idea. Let’s teach our kids that they’re related to Birds of Paradise. That way they’ll get up before dawn, meticulously clean their rooms, and then dance.

  4. unbound says

    We’ll put the TSA in charge of all school entrances and start frisking every student on the way in, because who cares about that pesky Bill of Rights anyway.

    Sheesh, most east coast schools have dedicated police presence whether there are actually issues or not. But there are plenty of schools that have pat-downs and metal detectors already. I’m thinking the next step is to just push our kids through high-dose xray machines.

    It’ll be blamed on rock music, or video games, or gun control, or the lack of gun control, or even immigration and the influence of Sharia law.

    Don’t forget dungeons & dragons…or has the ship sailed finally?

  5. raymoscow says

    How about, ‘If they teach children that it’s OK to be Republican, they’ll soon be shooting each other over profits or religion.’?

    Of course it’s too tragic to joke about, so never mind.

  6. eric says

    erichoug: They do point out, just as Ed does, that the country is much safer now, and yet we are much more afraid. A strange contradiction.

    No so strange if you think about the fact that starving people don’t worry about school shootings, they worry about starvation. Prosperous people worry about school shootings because they have little else to worry about – not the next meal, or finding shelter, or survival/other basic needs.

    So, it sort of stands to reason that as our societies get more properous* and we eliminate the bigger causes of death, the more we’re going to focus on the remaining causes, however low probability they might be.

    *I’m talking 100-year trends, not 10-year ones. I’m well aware that prosperity has not increased for most Americans over the past decade or two.

  7. The Lorax says

    @4 unbound,

    A few weeks ago, we got a new player to my Encounters D&D game. He was a friend of a regular player who’s quite good. He played for one or two encounters, and then he stopped showing up. When we asked why, his friend (our regular player) said that “his mom is very religious and doesn’t want him playing D&D.” So I am very sad to say that that ship has not yet sailed.

    To make things worse, a friend of mine recently told me about Dragon Raid, a Christian version of D&D where you quote Bible passages to kill dragons. If all the faces in all the towns in all the world met with palms, there would still not be enough facepalm to suffice.

  8. David C Brayton says

    @eric, #3–that’s a long way to go for a joke, but it was well worth it. BTW, that was the first joke I ever heard regarding the odd behavior of the rare Birds of Pardise. And I’m sure it will be the last.

  9. doktorzoom says

    I’m also reasonably sure that, as Moore also pointed out, it will be a fund-raising bonanza for the NRA.

    As Tom Tomorrow pointed out after the Tucson shootings last year, there is no longer a gun control debate in this country.

  10. Zugswang says

    To make things worse, a friend of mine recently told me about Dragon Raid, a Christian version of D&D where you quote Bible passages to kill dragons. If all the faces in all the towns in all the world met with palms, there would still not be enough facepalm to suffice.

    I’m not surprised. I’ve yet to see one thing that fundamentalists label as “evil” or “immoral” that they think cannot be fixed simply by adding Jesus, in the same way state fairs think any food can be improved simply by deep-frying it.

  11. says

    People are monstrously schizophrenic about safety. I really wish I could believe otherwise, but Americans voluntarily chose to introduce some danger into their daily for the sake of convenience by driving to work. They eat high-calorie foods that, statistically speaking, probably will give them heart disease and maybe even diabetes. That’s fine if that really reflects their preferences. But then the same people freak out over highly unlikely events like school shootings. They even vote for politicians who enact monstrosities like the TSA.

  12. says

    I also must confess that after Columbine, the authorities at my high school kept a close eye on me. I even submitted a poem satirizing that to the school paper, and they wouldn’t let them print it. *grrr*

  13. doktorzoom says

    I’m sure there’s some fundamentalist who’s got a website worrying that Dragon Raid is actually a Satanic plot to infiltrate Christian homes with demonic D&D roleplaying. After all, there are plenty who condemn Christian Rock as a gateway to the devil (rather than opposing it for being just plain terrible music…)

  14. dingojack says

    BTW – Over the last ten years say (2001-11), how many people have been killed during ‘school shootings’ in the US?
    More or less than 500-700 do you think?

    Curiously Dingo

  15. says

    No one has mentioned the standard NRA answer to problems like this: arm everyone, from the youngest preschooler to the old teacher who went around the bend 20 years ago and is still teaching. This would solve everything. Because four-year-olds know exactly what to do in a crisis.

  16. erichoug says

    @ Dingojack,

    Just off the top of my head, I would say the total number of school shooting victims didn’t top 100 all told.

    Ooh, I actually looked and found this

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_shooting

    Looks like since 2000 it’s around 147. The 90’s seem to have been worse at around 240. But that follows a larger trend of reduction in violent crimes in the country. Oddly enough, these appear to go back to the 1700’s.

  17. erichoug says

    @ Billdaniels

    Actually the Wikipedia article I mention above discusses that, though not in detail. Frankly I think it is 6 of one half a dozen of the others. I think the last one where somebody stopped one of these idiots they weren’t armed. And frankly, remembering Ms. Sparks from 8’th grade, I don’t think arming teachers is a good idea.

    Woman threw a desk at Wayne Rutledge once, a frickin desk!

    Then on the other hand, there is the old yarn about bringing a desk to a gunfight.

  18. Trebuchet says

    According to Andy Schlafley, the shooting happened because the kid was on Facebook. A fact which is being covered up by the lamestream media. Which he proves by linking to a CNN page saying the kid was on Facebook.

  19. erichoug says

    Trebuchet Says:

    According to Andy Schlafley…

    I actually read Conservapaedia some days at lunch, when I need a laugh. I have rarely seen someone so ignorant, un-aware, hate filled and moronic as Andy. Why anyone would care what he says is beyond me.

    Oh, and school shootings have actually gone down since the rise of Facebook. So, he is even dumber than he looks.

  20. Aquaria says

    I seem to remember one of the things that indicated more fear in people was how much television they watched. There was a direct correlation between increased TV viewing, and increased terror of crime.

    I usually don’t lock my house doors, and no, I don’t live in a gated community, but an ordinary one that anyone can get into. When I do lock my doors, it’s usually during the day and not because I’m worried about criminals (I’m not), but to prevent my mother from barging in whenever she pleases. Yes, she will barge into my house without knocking or even calling ahead. I’m more terrified of that than I am of burglars.

  21. Who Knows? says

    I’m hardly the world’s biggest Michael Moore fan, but I thought the central point of Bowling for Columbine was spot on.

    I really liked Marilyn Manson’s appearence in the film. I never really got Marilyn Manson, probably still don’t understand much of him, but my respect for the guy went up quite a bit after hearing what he had to say.

  22. erk12 says

    I live in an apartment building in a decent area, and I make sure to lock my apartment door because of an incident shortly after I moved in. Some woman tried to open the door and walk in unannounced (luckily it was locked). She was carrying balloons; she was trying to surprise her daughter for her bday and had the wrong floor.

  23. says

    “if we teach kids that they’re animals, they’ll act like animals”

    That’s one thing that really irritates me. They teach that to act like an animal is to not act like a human. When we label ourselves as animals, we are not discarding the human label. We’re adding humans as a subgroup of animals, and with it, human behavior is included as a subgroup of animal behavior.

    If anyone’s teaching people to stop acting like humans and start “acting like animals” it’s the people who promote the false dichotomy and try to suppress the idea that humans are still humans, even if we are animals.

  24. erichoug says

    I once went out of town for two days and came home to find my front door wide open. Nothing was missing and nothing was disturbed.

  25. Azkyroth says

    (“if we teach kids that they’re animals, they’ll act like animals”).

    Animals use complicated mechanical tools?

  26. Ben P says

    Looks like since 2000 it’s around 147. The 90′s seem to have been worse at around 240. But that follows a larger trend of reduction in violent crimes in the country. Oddly enough, these appear to go back to the 1700′s.

    This is really crass and probably a little bit racist, but here’s your mistake….thinking the media cares about what happens in the ghetto.

    The wiki lists about 147 homicides in schools since 2000 and 275 in the 90’s, moreover about 3500 students were expelled for bringing a gun to school.

    Yet, the wiki, immidiately below that lists “notable school shootings” with 15 incidents involving 43 homicides (14 of those from just once incident, Columbine) 29 homcides not including columbine.

    So where did the other 232 homicides come from? It’s a good bet that the phrase “inner city schools” might be applicable, as might “gangs.”

    Yet somehow it’s emotionally disturbed white kids in suburban schools that cause mass media paranoia.

  27. says

    There was a direct correlation between increased TV viewing, and increased terror of crime.

    That’s because countless TV shows teach that the serial killer is always the least-obvious member of the cast, and that the people who are sexually active, drug-users, or socially awkward (except the ubergeeks or Bruce Campbell) are the first to be killed. And, oh, yeah, whenever you get in your car you’d better check the back seat for a brain-eating zombie who’ll feed you Brawndo.

  28. DaveL says

    Columbine is now nearly 13 years behind us. If I may make a prediction, I’d say that if you give it another seven years there’ll be another school shooting and everyone will be commenting about how this never happened 20 years ago.

    I’ve already seen one person make that exact claim, and therefore would have us believe 1992 was the golden age of school safety.

  29. Erp says

    And then there was the Bath School bombing in 1927 but that was done by a member of the school board not a student.

  30. kyoseki says

    I think Dara O’Briain puts it exceptionally well;
    “Zombies are at an all time low level, but the fear of zombies could be incredibly high”

  31. Pieter B, FCD says

    HL Mencken:

    The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

  32. wscott says

    Violent crime has been going down steadily in America for the last couple decades, yet we are more afraid of it than ever because of overwhelming media saturation.

    Steven Pinker’s new book “The Better Angels Of Our Nature” goes into this in a great deal of detail. (A great GREAT deal of detail…) I’m only a few chapters in, but I highly recommend it.

    This is really crass and probably a little bit racist, but here’s your mistake….thinking the media cares about what happens in the ghetto.

    I wish I could say you’re wrong. The media’s record of providing saturation coverage whenever white kids are abducted, compared to children of color, is documented beyond dispute.

  33. kyoseki says

    I wish I could say you’re wrong. The media’s record of providing saturation coverage whenever white kids are abducted, compared to children of color, is documented beyond dispute.
    A friend’s father used to be a high school teacher in one of the more rundown areas of Detroit and said that school shootings happened pretty frequently, but the media never bothered covering it.

  34. kyoseki says

    I wish I could say you’re wrong. The media’s record of providing saturation coverage whenever white kids are abducted, compared to children of color, is documented beyond dispute.

    A friend’s father used to be a high school teacher in one of the more rundown areas of Detroit and said that school shootings happened pretty frequently, but the media never bothered covering it.

    (fixed quote this time, sorry)

  35. Azkyroth says

    It’ll be blamed on rock music, or video games, or gun control, or the lack of gun control, or even immigration and the influence of Sharia law.

    One of these things is not like the others.

  36. laurentweppe says

    One of these things is not like the others.

    Two: both Sharia law and gun-control are non-existant in the US

  37. kyoseki says

    You wouldn’t need gun control if people weren’t colossally fucking retarded.

    Kids should not have access to guns.

    .. and if I’m completely honest, a significant portion of adults probably shouldn’t have have access to guns.

  38. Pinkamena, Panic Pony says

    kyoseki @#41: Rather than point out what you said in your first sentence that you shouldn’t have said, I’m going to be nice and let you figure it out for yourself.

    (To make it easier: The general thrust of your post is correct)

  39. kyoseki says

    Oh I do so love being told that I’m right in a particularly condescending fashion.

    Please, continue, if it’ll make you feel better about yourself.

  40. dingojack says

    kyoseki – I think Pinkamena means you should have typed handguns*
    ;) Dingo
    ——–
    * artillery pieces are kinda hard to sneak into schools without raising suspicions.

  41. says

    Hysteria is bad and many reactions to school shootings have that 9/11 effect of calls to “increase security” in ways that ultimately ratchet us closer to that police state so many seem to adore as a concept. One tangible reaction is the whole “lock down” thing; lockdowns are pretty common in schools, and while they may be a good idea at some level, they do teach our kids certain lessons that are probably not helpful in a free society. It is the modern day “duck and cover.”

    Having said that, a school shooting like this one does remind us to ask certain valid questions. An older study (I refer to it here – http://goo.gl/Wcgoi -) looked at where guns come from that are used in this sort of thing. The study is old, but I doubt this has changed much. It seems that many of these school shootings are similar in this regard to the thousands of teen and young adult suicides that happen every year: The guns are lifted from daddy’s night stand or some other insecure location, where they are not locked up.

    Firearms are dangerous and they need to be unloaded and locked up, usually separately from the ammo, which should also be locked up. Not only are laws and regulations weak in this area, but recent legislation to abrogate local laws that link responsibility of gun ownership to practical sense has been proposed (i.e., in Pennsylvania, currently).

    The way I see it, school shootings are the tip of a larger, lumbering ice berg which is Venn diagram of kids who are depressed or having other psychological problems X guns essentially laying around in the house. This–a school shooting–is just the more spectacular version of that.

    On a different point but related to the issue you raise here, Ed, is something I saw on the news yesterday. A former FBI agent was being interviewed about the Chardon shooting, and he told the viewing audience about how his FBI unit had stopped a lot of school shootings from happening by getting reports of kids showing the signs of something like this happening. Apparently, from what he said (and it may be wrong, I don’t know) it is fairly routine for the FBI to investigate these things, which involves showing up at the child’s home and doing their FBI thing there.

    Is that a good thing? When we look back at a shooting and see the signs it was going to happen, we may say “someone should have done something” and apparently they sometimes, maybe even often, do. Or is it a bad thing? Is it just one more case of the Federali’s using profiling as an excuse to push their weight around and ratchet us one step closer to that Police State? I suppose the answer to that would require a lot more information than I happen to have on my fingertips, so I’m not going to make any assumptions, but it may be worth looking into.

  42. savagemutt says

    People are monstrously schizophrenic about safety. I really wish I could believe otherwise, but Americans voluntarily chose to introduce some danger into their daily for the sake of convenience by driving to work. They eat high-calorie foods that, statistically speaking, probably will give them heart disease and maybe even diabetes. That’s fine if that really reflects their preferences. But then the same people freak out over highly unlikely events like school shootings.

    I caught a little of National Geographic’s new “Doomsday Preppers” show or whatever its called. I didn’t watch the whole segment but there was this guy preparing for some sort of EMP attack (or maybe it was a solar storm) which he thought would bring down civilization. He had stockpiled food and supplies and “trained” with his guns.

    The guy had to be pushing 400 pounds. He looked like he could barely walk. Yet he was much more concerned about this incredibly unrealistic EMP scenario than with the morbid obesity which is very likely to kill him much sooner than any disaster.

  43. uncephalized says

    Whenever something like this happens, the instant response is usually “more security”. “Make schools safer”. “Lock down the schools”. Does no one ever stop to think that treating school-age young people like criminals for their entire youth, constantly controlling their schedules, rigidly monitoring their behavior, and locking them in confined spaces for most of their waking hours, never giving them any free rein or privacy, might be the cause (or a contributing cause) of school violence?

    Oh no, the answer is even more Orwellian thought control and surveillance. It’s worked so well before!

  44. kyoseki says

    @dingojack

    If that’s the case, I’m sure they’re the kind of person who feels bound to correct people who refer to magazines as clips, in which case I still have no great desire for their approval ;)

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