Nothing Brightens The Day Like A Good Old School Shooting

The news about the school shooting in Ohio was horrible to hear about, but one bit of information stood out:

The name of the gunman, who is now in police custody, has not been released because he is a juvenile, said Tim McKenna, the Chardon police chief. Until adjudicated to the adult court, authorities will not identify him.

McKenna asked for patience and said that the investigation will be painstaking, as authorities have to conduct hundreds of interviews and listen to hours of 911 calls regarding the shootings.

The gunman was described by one student as a bullied outcast, while another spoke of him as being quiet but a "good kid."

Students who witnessed the shooting described how the gunman approached a group of friends who were sitting at a cafeteria table. One student said the shooter seemed to have targeted them.

. . .

FBI officials would not comment on a motive. But one of the students who witnessed the shooting said the gunman was known as someone who had apparently been bullied.

It stood out because one of the biggest lessons of Dave Cullen's excellent book Columbine was that so much bad information was floating around in the reporting immediately afterward. The biggest piece of bad information was that the two Columbine shooters were responding to school bullying.

Why does this matter? (Don't you love the rhetorical trope of asking the question for you?) (You know where I noticed this a lot — on walking tours in foreign countries; it seems that tour guides always say that.) The reason this matters is that in the aftermath of Columbine the kneejerk reaction was to think that schools had to "do more" to get through to kids to show them right and wrong. Let's be clear: Schools can only do so much to teach kids right and wrong and sometimes there's not a lot any one school can do to save its students from a psychopathic child.

(I was going to call this the "Jeremy" premise but then I thought to make sure I remembered that song correctly, and Wikipediaed it — it's actually about a kid who kills himself at school but the MTV censors wouldn't show that so the video unintentionally makes it seem that the protagonist of the video kills his classmates.) (I don't have the energy right now to talk about Pearl Jam, but oh, let me assure you, if I felt like spending another 600 words on it, you'd get an earful on that topic.) (I will say this, though — the lyrics are definitely oblique and specific enough to make you believe that it was about the kind of school shooter you read about in the papers.)

(Here's an unnecessarily provocative connection, though: It's not dissimilar to a big topic like global warming, where the way we conceive of the issue of global warming necessarily assumes that humans can do something to "fix" the problem.)

So it was interesting to see the first reports from the Ohio shooting state that some said the suspect "felt bullied." I want to hear what Dave Cullen has to say but his blog is stuck on January 4 (something about John McCain it appears) . . . he is writing on his Twitter, however . . .

Posted: February 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: FW: Link | Tags: , , , , ,