Today is the last day of school. I woke up today to the news of a shooting at Reynold’s high school. I grew up around the corner from that high school, and used to hang out with some kids from Reynold’s all the time. It really hits home. It is sickening.
Why does this keep happening? How many high school kids and teachers must be terrorized before a solution is found? Here is a simple one: blur out the faces of all mass shooters and call them John Doe. These shootings happen because very alienated people see it as a way to make their voice heard. And, well it is. You shoot up a school, or whatever and they put your face all over the news and if you had a “message” like “I am mad at girls for not sleeping with me” then that faithfully gets air time. People shoot people because it works, it gets them what they want:
1. minor media celebrity
2. a platform: people hear what they have to say.
That is what these killers want more than anything else. To be noticed. To be seen. They are after all the outcast, the alienated.
My girlfriend is a high school teacher, and she often tells me that one thing that is different about kids nowadays is that they want to be celebrities. Kids say stuff like “I just want to be famous, so bad!” Which is a weird statement. Partially because just wanting to be famous is very different from saying “I want to be famous for painting” or “I want to be a famous boxer” or whatever. There is now, a desire for fame just for the sake of fame. An idea that would have been incomprehensible in the 90’s before the advent of reality TV.
I believe that we are created by the stories we tell. That is, we humans, we Americans, are the way we are because we make ourselves via movies, music, the internet, books, commercials, billboards: story telling. What are the virtues of the modern hero? More often than not: an iconoclast, a rebel, someone who fights the man. Our movies have spent so long being about kids who stick it to the man, who fight the system. That is seen as heroic. When you are 16 the biggest system you know is your high school.
So, simply blur out the faces of the shooters. Make that a crime that isn’t rewarded by making the murderer into the headline photo of the week. And I bet they would fade away.
I think this strategy is more viable than fighting the gun-nuts, who I admit have a point. The right to bear arms is a fundamental American right, is it not? The fantasy being that one day all good Americans with guns will be called upon to take on the man, to over-throw King George again. Of course, if you really want to be able to foment a rebellion you are going to need tanks as well, to topple the governement. Perhaps we should add a clause to the Second Amendment, one that gives us the right to drive tanks . . .
Jane and John Doe had a bunch of guns and a plan to start on antigovernment revolution in Las Vegas last Sunday. Which they did by shooting two police officers and a bystander. Then they killed themselves. Their revolution did not get very far, but it was a use of guns for precisely the reason the the second amendment is so often defended. They were protesting what they saw as a tyrannical government. Likewise, the kids who shoot up high schools are enacting our cultural stories of rebellion. Strangely gun-rights enthusiasts have not been holding up the Las Vegas anti-goverment killers as exemplary reasons why every one should have the right to carry guns everywhere.
I’m not going to post their photos here.