Another day, another school massacre. This one happened in Florida, though it could have been any school, anywhere.
Before yesterday’s corpses assumed room temperature, Super-Smart Media Elites with Pleasing Baritones began rounding up the usual strawman suspects. Brows properly furrowed, reproachful tone adopted, The Great Strawman Conflagration of 2018 immediately followed. Sadly, punch and pie were not served.
Rather than torching strawmen of his own or beating dead horses (including, but not limited to, the media), ‘Puter decided to do something he rarely does: think.
Anecdotally, ‘Puter doesn’t recall school shootings being much of a thing when he was growing up. ‘Puter’s ancient, to be sure, having been born in 1969. So ‘Puter went to the most reliable of all possible sources, Wikipedia, to see if his recollection was correct. It was.
Including suicides, police shootings, and accidental shootings, ‘Puter discovered rampant school shootings are a recent development. In the decades ‘Puter’s been alive, the number of school shootings are: 1960s, 18; 1970s, 30; 1980s, 39; 1990s, 62; 2000s, 60; 2010s, 143. The numbers ramped up a bit between the 1980s and 1990s, then exploded after 2010. ‘Puter sat for a while, sipping on a nice, cold tumbler of club soda* and pondered.
Were guns more prevalent now than in the past? No. Guns were at least as available when ‘Puter was growing up. ‘Puter’s grandfather and great-uncle were WW2 veterans, and he had uncles and cousins who were veterans of Vietnam. Many of these relatives had firearms in their homes. ‘Puter’s family was not unusual for the time. Most families had WW2 and Vietnam veterans.
Was mental illness more prevalent now than in the past? Maybe. But maybe mental illness is just more diagnosed, and that’s a good thing. In theory, early recognition and treatment of mental disorders should prevent school shootings, not cause more. There were plenty of disturbed kids in ‘Puter’s day. ‘Puter’s pretty sure the native incidence of mental illness shouldn’t be changing this rapidly.
Was culture responsible? Yes, at least in part. Our culture now accepts mental disorders to the point of requiring us to pretend the mentally ill are not mentally ill. Have you hugged a trannie today? Gender dysphoria (transgenderism) is defined as a mental disorder in the DSM-IV, the bible of mental health workers. And yet we are required to pretend transgenderism is normal or face the wrath of Those Who Know Better.
Are laws responsible? Yes, but not as you might think. Guns are more tightly regulated now than at any point in the past, yet school shootings are spiraling upward. ‘Puter posits special education laws have unintentionally caused some of the increase in school shootings. Requiring schools to make every attempt to mainstream a child who is suspected to be dangerous to himself or others puts kids who can’t handle rejection without reacting violently in situations where they’re sure to be rejected. You can claim this isn’t so, that special education laws are super-awesome, but they’re not. In some, if not many, cases, these laws set up mentally fragile kids to fail. Worse, if teachers dare say anything about the mainstreaming of these kids, they’re pounded by their administrators for WrongThink. And administrators? If they refuse to code a kid, or give her special accommodations, or mainstream him, they’re going to get sued by overzealous parents who are convinced that it’s the school’s lack of proper attention that created the monster with whom they’re living.** Which brings ‘Puter to his next point.
Could parents be to blame? Sure. We always are. But this time, ‘Puter thinks there’s some merit to the claim. We laugh about snowflakes, but snowflakes don’t just appear. They’re created by parents who shelter them from every perceived harm, every potential negative consequence of their actions. We’ve created a generation of nominal adults ill-equipped to handle most adult responsibilities. We’ve also failed to adequately parent, pretending our kids are equipped to handle the fire hose of deviancy that comes from the internet without proper supervision and guidance.
What about technology? Could that be it? Again, yes, at least in part. The rapid rise in computers, the internet, and social media have radically changed America. Everyone today is plugged in at all times, and young people more than any other group. This allows people to compare themselves to others, leaving many anxious or saddened that they’re not keeping up with perceptions of how others live, most of which perceptions are skewed of false. It also allows disturbed people to access other people with similar pathologies, retreat into echo chambers, and reinforce their disorders. Technology seems to both exacerbate mental illness and enable the dangerously mentally ill.
Tech also creates nearly risk-free opportunities to bully others, whether over politics, appearance, race, gender, sexuality, whatever. Doesn’t matter. There’s a group of bullies just waiting to beat every one of us up online for something we’ve done or failed to do. No one is immune. Now think back to your high school experience. Were you insecure, even a little? Did you worry about how you looked? We all did. And we were all bullied to some extent. Now imagine if it weren’t just the kids at your school you had to worry about. Your school was *every* school. Not only that, but most of the kids at your school were now anonymous, free to pound on you daily without showing their faces. How do you think you’d fare? ‘Puter knows he’d not have fared well.
So where does this leave America? What should be done? Well, ‘Puter doesn’t have all the answers, but he’s going to offer a few suggestions anyway.
Perhaps we are overly concerned with the tool used by school shooters and too little concerned with why the school shooter kills. ‘Puter’s betting many times it’s a combination of mental illness and being bullied, emotionally or physically. These shooters are almost always students or recent attendees of the school or school district which they attack. The shooters are looking to hurt those they perceive as having hurt them.
Perhaps parents need to start parenting. Be involved with your kids. Don’t be afraid to make your kids mad by setting rules or punishing them appropriately. Limit their screen time. Go with your gut. If you think something’s up with your kid, something’s up with your kid. Don’t pretend your kid’s messed up primarily or only because of the schools. In all likelihood, schools didn’t cause your kid’s issues, nor can schools solve your kid’s issues.
Perhaps tech companies should consider limiting access to sites and forums for minors. Mind you, ‘Puter’s not calling on *government* to require this, ‘Puter’s asking tech companies to look at the damage they do even as they rightly promote all the good technological improvements have brought us. There’s gray in every technological advance, sometimes more dark than light, and pretending there’s not doesn’t do anyone any good. And, as a businessdude, ‘Puter would simply say it’s better to diagnose and attack a business issue on your own rather than have government “help” you do so. Be proactive.
And if Congress wants to do something, how about reforming education laws that prevent schools from removing kids from general population until the damage is done? By all accounts, it appears that the most recent school shooter had serious mental health issues and was well known as a potential threat by fellow students and likely school staff. ‘Puter’s bet is the school had to exhaust every potential accommodation before kicking him out, which probably just gave him additional time to build grudges. If you want to help, make schools err on the side of excluding the potentially dangerous, or at least don’t harshly penalize them for doing so.
‘Puter’s done. He’s had about all he can stomach of thinking about another school shooting. He’s finished with media trotting out the same old complaints about how the government trots out the same old arguments.
It’s time to come at solving the problem of school shooting from a different perspective because our traditional responses have had no impact.
Let’s get started.
* Yes, club soda. It’s Lent, and ‘Puter always stops boozing in Lent. So, (1) suck it and (2) stay away from ‘Puter until the shakes and hallucinations wear off, usually by Easter.
** ‘Puter could go on for days about how special education laws have normalized deviant behavior by mainstreaming the aberrant. Before you lose your ever-loving mind, ‘Puter’s not talking about Down’s kids, the cognitively disabled, or the profoundly physically disabled. ‘Puter’s not talking about kids with learning disabilities. He’s talking about the behaviorally disordered population, which overlaps with some of the foregoing.
Always right, unless he isn’t, the infallible Ghettoputer F. X. Gormogons claims to be an in-law of the Volgi, although no one really believes this.
’Puter carefully follows economic and financial trends, legal affairs, and serves as the Gormogons’ financial and legal advisor. He successfully defended us against a lawsuit from a liquor distributor worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid deliveries of bootleg shandies.
The Geep has an IQ so high it is untestable and attempts to measure it have resulted in dangerously unstable results as well as injuries to researchers. Coincidentally, he publishes intelligence tests as a side gig.
His sarcasm is so highly developed it borders on the psychic, and he is often able to insult a person even before meeting them. ’Puter enjoys hunting small game with 000 slugs and punt guns, correcting homilies in real time at Mass, and undermining unions. ’Puter likes to wear a hockey mask and carry an axe into public campgrounds, where he bursts into people’s tents and screams. As you might expect, he has been shot several times but remains completely undeterred.
He assures us that his obsessive fawning over news stories involving women teachers sleeping with young students is not Freudian in any way, although he admits something similar once happened to him. Uniquely, ’Puter is unable to speak, read, or write Russian, but he is able to sing it fluently.
Geep joined the order in the mid-1980s. He arrived at the Castle door with dozens of steamer trunks and an inarticulate hissing creature of astonishingly low intelligence he calls “Sleestak.” Ghettoputer appears to make his wishes known to Sleestak, although no one is sure whether this is the result of complex sign language, expert body posture reading, or simply beating Sleestak with a rubber mallet.
‘Puter suggests the Czar suck it.