There’s Nothing Else Worth Writing About, Really

Friday, December 14th, 2012, was like any other morning. I got up and got ready for work. I turned on the news and heard that there had been a mass shooting at an elementary school and I froze when I saw that six people were injured. I went to work. I work at NBCUniversal, so news was coming in pretty steadily by this time. I listened as the body count climbed from six to eighteen, and eighteen to twenty, and twenty to twenty-six. I fought back tears when I heard that twenty of the casualties were children. I fought back tears again when I sat in a conference call and heard “Why aren’t we promoting on social? Cause of those kids? Come on!”

There was a mass of misinformation that day. No one could figure out if the shooter’s mother was involved at the school, if there was a second shooter, if there was a motive, etc. It didn’t matter, though. Nothing really mattered. I went home and, for the first time, cried over an American tragedy. I tried to do anything that might take my mind off of that Friday’s events, but everything took such effort. I just wanted to stay in bed. Nothing mattered. When I did venture out and I saw people walking I couldn’t fathom how they were doing it. Did they not know? Maybe they just don’t watch the news, because that’s the only explanation, right?

By the time Sunday came, we had all the information we were probably going to get. It was a single shooter—he used a Bushmaster assault rifle, and he put anywhere from three to eleven holes in the bodies of six- and seven-year-olds. Teachers told their students that they loved them so it would be the last thing they heard—not gun shots. She told them to wait for the good guys, and that they would be coming. Teachers formed human shields around children, and they read them stories and gave them lollipops. “We thought it would be our last snack,” one seven year old told a reporter. A 27-year-old teacher hid her students in cupboards and a closet then told the gunman that her “students [were] in the gym” before she, herself, was gunned down. Children spoke of how they heard the shooter banging on the locked closet door, screaming “Let me in!” One sweet six year old girl hid under the bodies of her fifteen classmates. When the police arrived, she ran to her mom and said, “Mommy, I’m okay but all my friends are dead.” One student offered, “I know karate! I’ll lead the way out.” The Principal and School Psychologist even charged the shooter. They charged him, but the rapid-fire weapon won out over their bravery. Parents gathered at the firehouse, waiting to embrace their children. They matched up children ages, five to ten, with their parents. What was left was twenty parents without their babies and that’s how they began identifying the bodies.

This past Monday, the funerals began. The bodies were finally identified (by photographs, because no parent should remember their child with eleven military-grade bulletholes in them) and released. Stories came out about Jack Pinto, a six-year-old boy whose favorite football player was Victor Cruz of the NY Giants. That night, Cruz dedicated a game to Jack and wrote his name on his gloves and cleats before heading to Newtown to see his family. Jack was buried in a replica Cruz jersey. Jessica Rekos, another six-year-old, loved horses. Her parents promised her that on her tenth birthday she would get a pony. For Christmas, Jessica asked for cowgirl boots and a cowgirl hat. Seven-year-old Daniel Barton wanted to be a fireman. At his funeral on Wednesday morning, New York firefighters were there, standing clad in dress blue uniforms, many with white gloves to honor Daniel.

Emilie Parker, another victim, loved drawing and carried her markers everywhere. Her father spoke to the press over the weekend. He said, “I am so lucky to be your dad,” present tense, which psychologies will tell you means he hasn’t accepted she’s gone—or in his past. He also said to the Lanza family, the family of the shooter that took his six-year-old little girl from him, “I can’t imagine how hard this experience must be for you, and I want you to know that our family and our love and our support goes out to you as well.”

So far we know that Nancy Lanza, the mother of the shooter Adam Lanza, was a good, kind, generous woman that vowed to be her son’s caretaker for life. She was a gun enthusiast and kept them in a gun locker in her basement. She didn’t work so she could monitor Adam, who had difficulties. She was in the process of having Adam committed at the time and this is being looked at as a possible motive for what Adam did. I mention Nancy Lanza because she, too, was a victim. I think the gutting number of twenty children ages six and seven makes us forget that seven adults died as well.

Naturally, this has sparked gun debates, healthcare debates, cultural debates, and parenting debates. But I don’t care. I don’t care about these debates. I don’t care anymore. I know this has happened fifteen times this year. I know something has to be done but I don’t care to debate it anymore. I …

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Male Killers More Overt, But No Crueler Than Females

Scales with Men and Women

The recent movie theater massacre in Aurora shocked the country.  On some level, it did to movie-going what 9/11 did to flying—essentially, took away the innocence of what had hitherto been a common, everyday occurrence.

And, predictably, in the face of world-rocking disasters set into place by humans, the situation has been parsed on many levels.  Who was this James Holmes?  Why did he go with “The Joker”?  What could happen to cause a doctoral student to run amok?  What does this mean to the gun-control pissing contest?  Did Holmes’ psychiatrist have an obligation to alert authorities as to his profoundly violent tendencies?

I found myself most intrigued by a piece from Erika Christakis, an administrator at Harvard University, positing that mass murder has a tendency to be … well, a male-dominated club.  While Christakis admits that it’s not like women never kill (and there’s the odd female serial killer that’s floated through history), it’s an inarguable fact that the most shocking acts of violence, including but not limited to mass murder, have been “overwhelmingly perpetrated by men”.

In fact, Christakis goes so far as to say throw out there that “our silence about the huge gender disparity of such violence may be costing lives.”

Hmm …

From Time:

Imagine for a moment if a deadly disease disproportionately affected men. Not a disease like prostate cancer that can only affect men, but a condition prevalent in the general population that was vastly more likely to strike men. Violence is such a condition: men are nine to 10 times more likely to commit homicide and more likely to be its victims. The numbers are sobering when we look at young men. In the U.S., for example, young white males (between ages 14 and 24) represent only 6% of the population, yet commit almost 17% of the murders. For young black males, the numbers are even more alarming (1.2% of the population accounting for 27% of all homicides). Together, these two groups of young men make up just 7% of the population and 45% of the homicides. And, overall, 90% of all violent offenders are male, as are nearly 80% of the victims.

A lot of my teacher friends and colleagues and I have a theory on fighting that goes on in schools—basically, if girls get into a fight, it’s forever.  Oh, they may smile and “make up”, but both sides (and their legions of friends) will never forget the situation.  It gets dragged up repeatedly, often into adulthood.  Boys get pissed at each other, beat the shit out of each other, and have basically forgotten the whole thing within a month and often become friends.

As this has always been my attitude, I found those statistics troubling, to say …

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Rethinking Kids, Television, Violence … and Guns

Poster Against Gun Violence for Children

I was behind a truck plastered with NRA stickers at the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru today.  I remember thinking about how interesting it was that gun lovers feel compelled to advertise so passionately before telling myself that, really, anyone with a heavy agenda is going to be rather vehement with the bumper décor.

But then I got thinking about a recent story out of Logansport, Indiana about a 14-year-old girl shot in the head by her sister during a reenactment of CSI, and it got me contemplating many things, notably the ease with which children can get their hands on weapons and the glorification of guns …

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Wisconsin Teacher Valerie Burd Lauded for Cool Head During School Shooting

Photo Still of Fox News Coverage of Wisconsin School Hostage Situation

Teacher Valerie Burd is being hailed as a hero following her actions at Marinette High School, where she remained calm after one of her students, Samuel Hengel, held her and over 20 students hostage before ultimately taking his own life.

Hengel, who was considered a nice kid and a …

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