When Polimom smarted off as a kid, or thought I should have something because my friend Janey (or Johnny) had it, my father would threaten to send me to stay with my cousins.
I didn’t know these cousins, but I’d heard lots about them: they didn’t drive cars, or use electricity. They didn’t watch television, wore different clothes, and went around on horseback or in buggies. I loved the part about the horses, but I wasn’t too sure about the rest of it.
My cousins were (are) Mennonite, and they live very near here (CNN):
Monday began like any other school day in Paradise, Pennsylvania, a community in the heavily Amish Lancaster County.
At a small Amish-run school, 26 students — 11 of them girls — began their lessons. They ranged in age from 6 to 13, with slightly older girls serving as teacher’s aides.
Roberts was not Amish, and he chose his victims not because of their beliefs but because they were convenient, Miller said. There was no security at the schoolhouse — there is little need for it in Amish communities.
Earlier this year, Polimom wrote about being rootless in America, and I even spent a month this summer trying to find a place I could settle in — to belong. What you don’t know is that Pennsylvania Dutch country was one of the places I went. It’s rooted in my memories as a place out of time, untouched by the madness elsewhere in the country.
Or rather, it was.
Polimom could hardly be more appalled by the actions of this madman. He lined these eleven girls up against the blackboard, tied their feet, and then shot them each in the head. His death by his own hand is a mere afterthought to the wider implication: there is no innocent place left in our nation.
Since Columbine, we’ve seen more and more of this type of violence in our schools. The insanity has played out in widely disparate locales, from enormous urban settings to small rural communities… and now, it’s hit the most vulnerable and innocent population America has.
Some folks will, as they always do, blame it on the availability of guns. Polimom thinks that’s hogwash. Even if the space aliens zapped Earth tomorrow and eliminated every weapon on the planet, these sick monsters would find a way to kill, even if they had to sharpen sticks.
Other folks will, as they always do, blame it on the bullies. Had these poor benighted souls just been treated better by other kids, they wouldn’t have been compelled to slaughter in some bizarre search for justice. Polimom thinks that cart is at least half-full of manure, too, and I’ve written about it before:
Columbine was terrible, and it was indeed a wake-up call – but we have only partly awakened. In our need to “understand” so that we can protect our children, we’ve created an excuse for the behavior… and while we’re not saying “It’s okay to mow down your tormentors, Johnny”, we’re saying “Johnny mowed down his tormentors because they were mean to him. Poor Johnny.”
The killer in Pennsylvania yesterday left messages indicating he was retaliating for events from two decades ago. He would have been about AC’s age then, and I have no problem imaging that he was the butt of jokes and teasing someplace.
It happens to all of us… but all of us do not internalize it, and then use it to justify or explain murderous abominations. So why do some decide that the only salve for their warped souls is wholesale slaughter of innocence? We desperately need to find out, because it’s happening nearly all the time now. And what can we do about it? (IHT)
The Bush administration will host a conference next week to discuss the recent string of school violence across the United States, the White House said Monday.
Presidential spokeswoman Dana Perino said the conference will bring together education and law enforcement officials to talk about the nature of the problem and federal action that can help communities prevent violence and deal with its aftermath.
This is a national epidemic that absolutely must be understood, and addressed. Unfortunately, law enforcement and education experts have been talking about it for quite a while… to no avail. This time, I hope they do a whole lot more than “discuss”.
Because the answer isn’t to bar and secure our schools. There’s a common psychological thread to all these attacks, and we need to find it, or there will be no safe place — for any of us.