Virginia Tech, Columbine and ZT
Such it is with the timing of world events: As you probably know, I write True on Sundays. I'm on the road this week and had already finished writing this week's stories -- with the lead story about a guy who shot himself in the head. Today I went to lunch with Leo Notenboom (who is also speaking at the conference where I am). It's one of those places that has TVs everywhere, and I finally looked up at the one over my head and see "22 Dead in Shooting" at Virginia Tech. Lovely. By this evening the count was up to 33, including the gunman.
Weekly Weird News
Naturally, as the CNN anchors were desperately trying to fill airtime, showing the same photos and video snippets again and again and again, there were comparisons to the Columbine school shooting. When that happened, I lived about a half-hour away from Columbine. And when that happened, I got a crank from a reader saying hey, aren't I sorry NOW for my "cavalier attitude" against zero tolerance?
Yes, some people actually think that ZT is a solution to such things, completely missing that it's part of the problem that generates these situations. It's part of what creates rage against the arbitrary, unfair punishments for non-transgressions -- if pointing a finger is the same as pointing a real gun, then why not use that real gun? Why not "do something" to avenge those punishments? Columbine, after all, was really about powerless little boys raging against bullies at school.
I have no idea if that's part of what went on in Virginia, but it wouldn't surprise me one bit if that turns out to be a factor.
20 April Update
Today, longtime reader David in Colorado sent me an item about a security consultant who appeared on the Today show. He wanted to make the point, the story said, that "cowering under a desk and waiting for help to come is no longer an option. American schools must teach their students to respond aggressively to attacks by people bent on mayhem." Yet obviously that's not what we teach kids. Allen Hill, the founder of the company Response Options, went on to say that society needs to "Get past this paralysis of fear over liability issues. Our country is so litigious and concerned about doing the wrong thing and about doing the politically correct thing that we don't do anything."
Sounds reasonable, except for two things: when you read my True Stella Awards book, you realize that indeed our country is litigious. Common sense very often doesn't cut it in lawsuit defense. And, secondly, what are schools teaching kids? Very simply that whatever they do is wrong. They cannot act. A bully threatens you, steals your lunch, trips you, pushes you, even fights with you -- and the school quickly suspends ...you. You shouldn't have fought back, they say. The message is clear: lie down and take it. Yeah, you'll probably still be suspended, but that's what they teach anyway. And we're shocked when 32 innocents are killed at a school? Sadly, I'm not shocked. Nor am I shocked that the comments on this story so far from readers are almost unanimous: not only is it OK that many of the students and teachers fought back, but that they should be allowed the tools to defend themselves.
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