Wednesday, June 11, 2014

When Will Enough Be Enough?

It is a rare day that I use this blog as a soap box for my own political agenda. Mostly, that is because I don't often have a strong political agenda. I believe myself to think fairly liberally, and I know that I support and agree with certain things, and that I am appalled by certain other things. I know that I am pro-choice and that I support gay marriage, but I don't delve too deep into politics. Since I don't do a lot of research, and I don't watch much news, I generally feel like I don't know enough about even my own agenda, to argue much about it either way. So generally, I don't.

That said, I feel very, very strongly about one thing in particular, and today seems like an appropriate day to say it: STOP GLORIFYING SCHOOL SHOOTERS. Stop it. Stop releasing their names, their pictures, their plans, their agendas, the stories of their parents, or what they liked to do for fun before they went out on a tirade, shot up a school, and then shot themselves, leaving us all in awe of what the fuck just happened.

Who the killer is, does not matter. Who his victims are, matter. It seems so fucking black and white, but our local and national news stations, along with our own social media obsessions, have it backwards. Instead of hearing the facts - kid on crazy rampage kills his classmates - we hear all about how the shooter grew up, who raised him, how his parents were divorced, what his mom did for a living, who babysat him, and how he "was just such a nice, quiet, troubled soul." It does not matter! No one cares - or, no one should care! What matters is, this person walked into a grade school full of babies, or a high school full of promising young adults, or a mall full of innocent shoppers, and fucking started shooting people. For no reason at all. What matters is that teachers are having to use their bodies as shields for the babies they are teaching, that college campus monitors are having to pin down armed gunmen, that high school gym teachers are having to put their students in lock down. That is what matters, not the name of some "tortured" teenager just trying to go down in history with the seventy-something other school shooters in the United States in the past 18 months.

Just this weekend, my dad and I were talking about the shooting last week in Seattle, and he made a comment that really resonated with me. He said, "the thing is, this isn't even a unique thing anymore - it happens every week, so what do these guys even hope to get out of it now?" And that is so true. You know whose name we remember? Kip Kinkel, who killed his parents and then shot up his high school. You know why we remember him? Because when he did it, he was the exception, not the rule. The sad truth is, though, that now, it isn't the exception. It is now the rule - go to school prepared, install a metal detector, arm your security guards, practice lock down drills. The question isn't if a mass shooting will happen in a school, the question is when a mass shooting will happen in a school.

So to that I say, fuck you, dude who fired bullets at your classmate and your gym teacher yesterday at Reynolds High School. I don't care where you grew up or how many people are "sharing" your selfie on Facebook - I am embarrassed to even be associated with any of those people on a social media site. I choose to not acknowledge you. And guess what. No one is going to remember you as some trail blazer out to seek revenge on the world that treated you so badly. Nobody is going to remember your name. You are not going to be in anyone's history book in 20 years when they learn about all the school shootings that happened way back in the 2000's. Because you are just as nameless as you were yesterday, you just happen to be floating around the internet today dressed in a wife beater tank top looking like a punk kid with an attitude. You're just "that one guy who ruined the last week of school for everyone, and who ruined the lives of Emilio's family."

We live in a reality where mass shootings are the norm, and that's incredibly sad - and scary, to be honest. We live in a place where my mom, who works in a school, has to say things like "if I die at work, know that I was doing what I really loved," and in a place where her children have to hear her say that. We live in a place where these things happen, and happen far too often, and where the news of another tragic shooting is a regular thing. And we may not be able to change that reality. But what we can change is our reaction. We can change the way that we obsess over the life of the killer. We can stop caring who they are. We can stop publicizing them, stop talking about them on the news and on Facebook and Twitter, stop building them up for the possibility of being remembered.

Someone who walks into a school with a bunch of assault weapons, starts firing, and then shoots himself at the end of his rampage, wants to be on the news, wants to be noticed, wants to be remembered. So here's a staggering idea: STOP REMEMBERING THEM.

This is not an argument about gun control or the lack thereof - I don't really even have an opinion on gun control. This is not a political rant about how this is the fault of the government, or how it's not. I am leaving out the portion of my opinion involving the rampant need for better mental health care in America because I don't want to fight about politics. I just want people to stop shooting babies. I just want to see this stop. And it won't, as long as any disturbed young person sees any hope that by killing a classroom of people, they too, like Kip Kinkel, will be remembered - and feared - forever. So stop the glorification; a mass shooting is not something to be proud of; it is not a way to commit suicide in a loud, proud fury. It's sick. And sad. And it needs to stop, now.