Wednesday, December 15, 2010

School board shooting

So, some person walked into a school board meeting in Panama City, shot at people, and was himself taken out by a security person. (Good on that security person. That's why I don't like the concept of "completely unarmed campuses." Our own security wears prominent sidearms, and I admit I feel safer for it)

Apparently the guy is blaming "the rich" - and claiming that "95% of the population is enslaved to them."

Two thoughts:

1. The guy was a nutter. Why go after a freakin' school board? (It is known he had a criminal record for, among other things, stalking)

2. He gave into a dangerous but sadly common tendency in our society, hat is, to blame others for our own failures.

Look, sure - it may be harder to get ahead in this country than it once was (but I, personally, would not blame "the rich" for that...). But it's still a land of opportunity, where people can still rise above where they started.

Success may not be guaranteed, but success is not guaranteed anywhere, unless you define "success" as being "I am a cog in the Government Machine working in a socialist world."

And yeah, I know: the guy had serious stuff wrong with him. He saw himself as some kind of "freedom fighter," apparently, and seemed to be obsessed with the movie "V for Vendetta."

It scares me a little because it kind of makes you wonder: how many more people with weird obsessions and dangerous grudges are out there nursing them, who might look at an innocent person or group of people and see them as somehow symbolic of "the system" that wronged them, and decide to take revenge?

I've had students with some odd behaviors or obsessive fixations on things, and I admit to giving them a bit of a wide berth, of kind of smiling and nodding and telling myself not to say anything that could upset them. I don't like the feeling of walking on eggshells but sometimes you do it.

I don't know how we, as a society, deal with this kind of thing. Make it harder for crazies and felons to get guns? Permit greater arming of responsible citizens, so they can defend themselves against dangerous people? Be more aggressive about dealing with people who seem to be a threat?

I don't know. I don't know the most humane answer. I do know when I lived in a major city, we had a number of de-institutionalized mental patients among the homeless population. And I hate to say it, but some of the people were scary. They were not able to function productively in society and it didn't seem all that humane to me that they seemed to be ignored, left to sleep out in the street (and urinate on buildings, and yell obscenities at co-eds who happened to be walking by. It's a horrible thing for me to say, but yes, I found some of the people very threatening and frightening and if I saw one of them hanging around I'd either go a a different way or not leave the place I was until they'd left).

I do think there are a certain number of people out there who need more care than they get - whether from family or friends or a charitable organization or whatever. And I wonder if some of these problems - up to and including someone going off and shooting at people - could be solved by more intervention when there are people who seem not to be fully connected with reality.

Then again, I don't know. I know I'd bristle if my campus required me to get psych evaluations every year to "prove" I was still OK to teach (even though I'm quite sure I'd pass every one).

But I don't like feeling like there are people who can just be left to nurse some giant misplaced hurt, and find some group to attach blame to, and then go and attack them, and apparently no one having seen it coming. (The campus nurse has alluded to, "You would really be scared if you saw some of the 'I'm OK to go off my medications' incidents I've dealt with here."

The video of the incident is chilling, and frankly, I'm amazed no one else was killed.

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