A School Shooting: Pull Out the Old Scripts
February 15, 2018
By Mencken's Ghost
Last night I went to bed after watching a couple of hours of coverage on various networks about the horrific school massacre in Florida. This morning I got up at 4:45 and began watching more coverage.
When retiring last night, I mentioned to my wife that it was curious that no mention had been made in the news about the killer's family situation, and, specifically, whether he grew up with his dad in the house or was he from a broken or blended family without his natural father. I also wondered if he had been on a psychotropic drug.
This morning the news said that the shooter's "adoptive" mother had recently passed away and he was living in a trailer park. True to form, it didn't immediately cross the minds or lips of the news commentators and reporters to wonder where his dad was, as if a father is about as important in a boy's life as a chest of drawers. Only later did it come out that his father had died when he was a child.
All of the talking heads also mentioned in passing that about 4,000 students attend the school were the shootings took place. Then they segued into a discussion about the need for more security in schools and more analyses of early-warning signs. This was followed by a parade of so-called experts who said the same thing, which is the same thing they say after every school shooting.
Strangely, not one of them questioned why a school would have 4,000 students or wondered how a school of that size could ever be anything but a big bureaucracy that follows the rules but misses important nuances, variables, signs, and clues. They probably don't question this because they attended a school of similar size.
A school of that size boggles my mind, not because my mind is exceptional, but because I attended a Catholic high school that had 400 students. It was virtually impossible for a student to get lost in such a school or for school administrators and teachers to be out of touch with parents.
It also boggles my mind that public schools have full-time "resource officers" (aka cops) on campus, with a police car usually parked near the front door. To me, this is sure sign that something is amiss inside the school—and in our larger culture.
Public schools have become this large due to economies of scale. It is more efficient and less costly to have thousands of students instead of hundreds at one school. But here is what is overlooked in this bean-counter calculation: School costs have ballooned tremendously over the last half-century, due to the red tape inflicted on schools by the federal government and state governments. The more red tape, the more administrators; the more administrators, the more overhead; the more overhead, the more students that are needed to cover the overhead; and the more students, the more impersonal the school culture.
At the same time, parents have demanded a full offering of extracurricular activities, especially sports. They want winning teams that attract college scouts, which usually requires expensive athletic facilities and a large school body. By contrast, there is a small school near my house in Tucson that ranks nationally in the top five for academics but will never rank nationally in sports.
Of course, the news coverage on the shooting pulled out the old scripts about how the killer was able to buy a semi-automatic rifle. Of course, politicians on the left pulled out their old scripts about the need for better gun control. Of course, politicians on the right pulled out their old scripts about the Second Amendment. Of course, nothing will change.
Nothing will change because neither the media, academia, nor politicians want to talk about obvious sicknesses in the American culture—sicknesses that they themselves have embraced and perpetuated. This isn't the place to go into details, but let me give one example, an example that most people will dismiss as insignificant and the ranting of a prude. The example has nothing to do with the school massacre but is representative of how people accept the popular culture or are afraid to go against the grain for fear of being politically incorrect.
As my wife and I watched the national and local news last night and this morning, we were struck, as we always are, by the unprofessional dress and demeanor of the female newscasters. In our corporate lives, we would have told employees not to come to work dressed like that—that being extremely tight outfits, cleavage oftentimes showing, long hair carefully and seductively placed, and skirts hiked up to the nether region so that horny guys can get a peep show when the women sit down in front of the camera.
Fox News is the worse, and judging by the preponderance of commercials for male enhancement snake oil on the network (and on talk radio), its audience includes a lot of horny guys.
What's wrong with women dressing this way? Well, in addition to being unprofessional, it's a double standard. One doesn't see male anchors and newscasters dressed in muscle shirts and tight leather pants with bulges showing in a certain spot. They would be ridiculed if they did and wouldn't be treated seriously. But if someone has the temerity to ridicule women for their seductive dress, the person is seen as an unenlightened throwback who wants to dress women in corsets and high-neck collars and keep them confined to the kitchen.
And to go back to the school massacre, it's inappropriate and insensitive for female newscasters to be dressed flamboyantly and seductively while covering the deaths of high school students. It smacks of showing up for a funeral wearing a cocktail dress.
The point is, if we can't be honest about this, we sure can't be honest about sicknesses in our culture that might be major contributing factors to the high incidence of school shootings.