Robby Soave: “On Monday, the boys were forced to meet with an assistant principal and an anti-bullying specialist, who quickly decided to punish them for clearly constitutionally-protected speech.”
Truly a sign of our times. Two boys go to a shooting range, train with legal firearms. Post some pictures and innocuous comments about their training and are immediately punished by their school because of the complaints of one panicked parent.
This is the true battlefield of the Culture Wars, not our politics. No political victory will fix this and no legal regime of protection will last when under assault from people like this parent and the school officials at these boys’ school.
Let’s look at the chain of events that took place here. A parent discovers that boys at a school that his child attends went to a firing range and trained with guns. They joked that they would now be ready to kill zombies and they thought the firearms they used looked cool. This caused panic my friends, panic! How could this cause panic? Well, we know that the parent could not have possibly known anyone that owned or used firearms. Not only that but the parent did not know anything about using or owning firearms themselves. This total ignorance can be the only excuse for the knowledge that some students at a school your child goes to touched firearms causing panic.
Now in a nation of 330 million people, you can find people weirdly ignorant of all kinds of things so the parent’s panic, while deserving ridicule and scorn, can be at least understood. What makes this even worse is that he called the school and no one in authority at the school knew anything about firearms, knew no one who owned firearms, and seemed almost completely ignorant of the Constitution of the United States. One person was an anti-bullying specialist who knew nothing of how to handle this, nothing.
So in New Jersey we find that a huge number of people, their family, colleagues and their friends, a group of people most likely numbering in the hundreds, know so little about firearms that the mere sight of them cause a severe panic and cause two boys to be strongly punished in their school for doing nothing wrong.
What election fixes that? What kind of legal regime protects against such massive ignorance and fear? Elect Trump to a thousand-year reign and this kind of ignorance could continue. This problem is more systemic and deeply rooted then I would like to believe. We need to wonder how so much fear of normal activities has crept into American culture? How can our nation expect men and women so panicked by the idea of someone they know touching a gun to act in real adversity? Would they step up to meet a crisis with courage and compassion to help their fellow citizens or retreat to protect only their own interests?
Political victories can hold such fear at bay for a while perhaps but a longer-term solution has to be pursued. Political victories are not permanent, and we have to start the process of removing some of our most important rights out of the political sphere again so our rights can remain secure.
I am thinking that we need to react to stories like this not with insults, outrage, and anger but to meet it primarily with compassion. These people are scared and ignorant and that makes their life smaller and less joyful. Perhaps people at PTA meetings need to bring up gun ownership, talking about gun safety courses and suggesting NRA courses on gun safety and the like for the ignorant. When we respond to fear with compassion, instead of hatred we cause embarrassment and self-assessment, instead of resentment and a desire for revenge.
I am not saying that we don’t have to fight for our rights or for respect, certainly when we are dealing with people with real power we need to constrain them, however we can, but when our fellow citizens and public school employees act this way I think we need more compassion and less outrage. It is important to remember that often times we are not dealing with malice on this level but fear produced by ignorance. I think that calls for a different kind of response.
What do you all think?Published in