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Sign of our Times: A Culture of Fear

 

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 Education
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There are 37 comments.

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  1. Member

    I think those parents are bullies. 

    • #1
    • April 11, 2019 at 4:17 pm
    • 11 likes
  2. Member

    I wonder how much an anti-bullying specialist gig pays in the NJ public schools system.

    • #2
    • April 11, 2019 at 4:51 pm
    • 8 likes
  3. Member

    Petty Boozswha (View Comment):

    I wonder how much an anti-bullying specialist gig pays in the NJ public schools system.

    My wife works in the school system and she told me the anti-bullying specialist is just a regular teacher who took an extra bullying class. So it isn’t a separate job, but they get a little extra money for it ($3,000 or so)

    Not sure what any of this has to do with bullying though.

    • #3
    • April 11, 2019 at 5:44 pm
    • 8 likes
  4. Coolidge

    That’s interesting. Teachers are forbidden to stop bullying because of Obama era rules. And you’re right, the only people doing the bullying, in this case, are the overwrought parents and school administrators.

    • #4
    • April 11, 2019 at 6:34 pm
    • 6 likes
  5. Member

    Brian Wolf:

    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.

    I would have said stupidity, but “fear produced by ignorance” is probably more diplomatic.

    There are a couple of gun ranges near me that really cater to first-time shooters. I think getting more people to the range might help change some of the attitudes. I can imagine a lot of hysterics if you suggested a PTA fundraiser at a shooting range, but I think if you got some of these moms to give it a try they would really like it . . . my wife did.

    • #5
    • April 11, 2019 at 6:42 pm
    • 8 likes
  6. Member

    Compassion? Sue the district and the principal. Compassion after the settlement.

    • #6
    • April 11, 2019 at 7:53 pm
    • 8 likes
  7. Member

    Compassion. Maybe that should be what one feels. That compassion shouldn’t guide the response, though.

    First, sue the school on both 1A and 2A grounds. Add pain and suffering. Use the Constitution and Bill of Rights as the basis of the argument.

    “We brought our kids up to believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They have been dislocated and confused by the reaction of the school and parents. They don’t understand the problem. They can’t sleep. They can’t eat. Every day at school leaves them uncertain and afraid of how the other amendments will be interpreted in ways that mean exactly the opposite of how jurisprudence and the common citizenry have always thought they meant.”

    I’m no lawyer, so this strategery might be bunk. Which would be sad, for obvious reasons.

    I wouldn’t hit up the PTA for gun safety classes. If this happened in that school, that would be spitting into the wind.

    Instead, I’d find volunteers that would offer free gun safety/gun familiarity classes for free at a local range, and make sure that the flyers reach the kids via social media. Make attendance seem subversive. Know who will show up? The rebels and the non-conformists that want to have a shot at being rugged individualists. Feed the teen desire to act athwart the desires of the school and “the man.” Don’t try to “win” this battle. Try to identify, train, and inspire the next generation that will join the battle.

    • #7
    • April 11, 2019 at 8:03 pm
    • 20 likes
  8. Member

    Shauna Hunt (View Comment):

    That’s interesting. Teachers are forbidden to stop bullying because of Obama era rules.

    Obama really wanted teachers to be bullies, eh?

    • #8
    • April 11, 2019 at 8:24 pm
    • 1 like
  9. Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):
    Instead, I’d find volunteers that would offer free gun safety/gun familiarity classes for free at a local range, and make sure that the flyers reach the kids via social media. Make attendance seem subversive. Know who will show up? The rebels and the non-conformists that want to have a shot at being rugged individualists. Feed the teen desire to act athwart the desires of the school and “the man.” Don’t try to “win” this battle. Try to identify, train, and inspire the next generation that will join the battle.

    Yes, this really is the best potential solution. At the same time, it introduces an understanding of the historical foundations of the American militia tradition (sadly lost in our current culture.)

    • #9
    • April 11, 2019 at 8:47 pm
    • 10 likes
  10. Member

    Litigate. These people need to start being at least nearly as afraid of picking on conservatives as they are about offending the left. 

    For the record, I generally do not like to recommend lawsuits, but this actually seems pretty clear cut. 

    • #10
    • April 11, 2019 at 9:09 pm
    • 6 likes
  11. Member

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Shauna Hunt (View Comment):

    That’s interesting. Teachers are forbidden to stop bullying because of Obama era rules.

    Obama really wanted teachers to be bullies, eh?

    I think he’d call them freedom fighters.

    • #11
    • April 11, 2019 at 9:12 pm
    • 3 likes
  12. Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):
    First, sue the school on both 1A and 2A grounds. Add pain and suffering. Use the Constitution and Bill of Rights as the basis of the argumen

    That is happening and because it involves free speech even the ACLU is on the right side of this one.

    • #12
    • April 12, 2019 at 5:14 am
    • 5 likes
  13. Thatcher

    Brian Wolf: 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.

    I suggest meeting it with ridicule. “Are you people idiots? Do you cower when a policeman walks by? Snowflakes raise snowflakes, so grow up!”

    • #13
    • April 12, 2019 at 6:52 am
    • 4 likes
  14. Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    Brian Wolf: 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.

    I suggest meeting it with ridicule. “Are you people idiots? Do you cower when a policeman walks by? Snowflakes raise snowflakes, so grow up!”

    I think their fears are fake of the kind we saw during the Russia Hoax or the Salem Witch Trials. I am in favor of compassion in a lot of cases where conservatives tend to react with outrage and opposition, but not in these cases. 

    • #14
    • April 12, 2019 at 6:58 am
    • 5 likes
  15. Thatcher

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Brian Wolf: 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.

    I suggest meeting it with ridicule. “Are you people idiots? Do you cower when a policeman walks by? Snowflakes raise snowflakes, so grow up!”

    I think their fears are fake of the kind we saw during the Russia Hoax or the Salem Witch Trials. I am in favor of compassion in a lot of cases where conservatives tend to react with outrage and opposition, but not in these cases.

    I guess it depends on the situation. For the parents in the post, I’d stick with ridicule.

    In fact, the parents of the target-shooting boys should double down and take their kids to one of those places where you can drive a tank. Post that!

    • #15
    • April 12, 2019 at 7:02 am
    • 2 likes
  16. Coolidge
    Brian Wolf Post author

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Compassion. Maybe that should be what one feels. That compassion shouldn’t guide the response, though.

    First, sue the school on both 1A and 2A grounds. Add pain and suffering. Use the Constitution and Bill of Rights as the basis of the argument.

    This is also for @lockeon. I may not have been clear I was talking about the wider Conservative community. The boys that were victimized by this ignorant fear have every right to sue. In fact not that long ago in history the boys families would probably have been justified to use violence to expel such injustice and ignorant authority figures from the public school for the protection of the other students. We don’t do that any more instead we sue. Their lawsuit is righteous and I wish it every success.

    You Boss Mongo, Locke On and I have no right to sue them. We were not directly harmed. Our response should be more than just wishing the lawsuit well. I think compassion is the right response to someone’s unreasoning fear. For one compassion will heighten the irrational nature of the fear and the irrational actions that fear leads too. That will lead others to reflect that they do not want to be so irrational themselves. Which would lead to less of this kind of behavior.

    If we just cheer the lawsuit and mock the fearful authorities and parents that lead to this crazy outcome we are likely to one stoke their fear, two make them feel oppressed by a corrupt judicial regime and then to look for alternative ways to lash out at the people who cause them to be afraid.

    I am talking about steps we might take to prevent these kind of injustices from taking place at all, making such actions unthinkable. You will always find ignorant, panicky people around the hope is they know at least a couple of rational people that can say to the, “Hey slow down there you are going to make a fool of yourself.” Vast stretches or our country are losing access to normal, rational people. We need to help turn the tide on this crisis. 

    • #16
    • April 12, 2019 at 8:44 am
    • 3 likes
  17. Coolidge
    Brian Wolf Post author

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):
    Instead, I’d find volunteers that would offer free gun safety/gun familiarity classes for free at a local range, and make sure that the flyers reach the kids via social media. Make attendance seem subversive. Know who will show up? The rebels and the non-conformists that want to have a shot at being rugged individualists. Feed the teen desire to act athwart the desires of the school and “the man.” Don’t try to “win” this battle. Try to identify, train, and inspire the next generation that will join the battle.

    This is a very good idea, but we need to spend some time on at least getting the non-rebels and the conformists some basic knowledge to limit their freakouts.

    • #17
    • April 12, 2019 at 8:46 am
    • 2 likes
  18. Coolidge
    Brian Wolf Post author

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Litigate. These people need to start being at least nearly as afraid of picking on conservatives as they are about offending the left.

    For the record, I generally do not like to recommend lawsuits, but this actually seems pretty clear cut.

    I would like to refer you to comment 16 as well. But the response of the victims and the response of the wider movement should be different. The victims absolutely should and did sue, good on them may them win swiftly and comprehensively. 

    Our wider movement is looking at a lot of scared, ignorant Americans who are enemies for no good reasons. Our response should not be just to sue them but to educate and reach out to them. Our rights are not secure by any legal regime when so many people in one state can freak out over such a benign exercise of our fundamental rights.

    • #18
    • April 12, 2019 at 8:52 am
    • 2 likes
  19. Coolidge
    Brian Wolf Post author

    I weird duplicate post. I did a better job in comment 20 then I did here anyway, just move along there…

    • #19
    • April 12, 2019 at 8:55 am
    • 1 like
  20. Coolidge
    Brian Wolf Post author

    Stad (View Comment):

    Brian Wolf: 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.

    I suggest meeting it with ridicule. “Are you people idiots? Do you cower when a policeman walks by? Snowflakes raise snowflakes, so grow up!”

    I don’t think that will work here. There are enough of them that our ridicule forces them to band together and makes it harder for them to see their fear as irrational. This works when there are a minority of activists attacking a majority favored right. It does not work when the fear of fundamental rights are so pervasive. 

    • #20
    • April 12, 2019 at 8:58 am
    • 1 like
  21. Thatcher

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Brian Wolf: 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.

    I suggest meeting it with ridicule. “Are you people idiots? Do you cower when a policeman walks by? Snowflakes raise snowflakes, so grow up!”

    I don’t think that will work, the ignorant fear is wide spread enough that they will close ranks against and use your ridicule as a justification for their irrational fear. I think we need a different approach.

    Fair enough, but if we close ranks against these people and declare with one voice, “You people are silly!”? It’s less insulting, but it gets the idea across to those who haven’t made up their minds on who’s right.

    • #21
    • April 12, 2019 at 8:59 am
    • Like
  22. Coolidge
    Brian Wolf Post author

    Stad (View Comment):

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Brian Wolf: 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.

    I suggest meeting it with ridicule. “Are you people idiots? Do you cower when a policeman walks by? Snowflakes raise snowflakes, so grow up!”

    I don’t think that will work, the ignorant fear is wide spread enough that they will close ranks against and use your ridicule as a justification for their irrational fear. I think we need a different approach.

    Fair enough, but if we close ranks against these people and declare with one voice, “You people are silly!”? It’s less insulting, but it gets the idea across to those who haven’t made up their minds on who’s right.

    There is something too that but in New Jersey are gun rights supporters in a large enough group to do that successfully. I know a lot of people from New Jersey and my impression is that if a bunch of Texans say they are all silly they will wear that badge with a kind of honor.

    • #22
    • April 12, 2019 at 9:02 am
    • 1 like
  23. Member

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

     

    Our wider movement is looking at a lot of scared, ignorant Americans who are enemies for no good reasons. Our response should not be just to sue them but to educate and reach out to them. Our rights are not secure by any legal regime when so many people in one state can freak out over such a benign exercise of our fundamental rights.

    I agree. I’m a convert from an extremely progressive family, and you’re right, the movement needs to make more effort to reach out. But, the compassion you correctly advise has its limits. The reason we’ve become enemies is that we don’t trust each other. Its not a good reason and it is probably due mostly to misunderstanding, but it is a mutually held sentiment that the Right ought to learn how communicate effectively.

    The opposition needs to be warned that its playing with fire…. because it is.

     

    • #23
    • April 12, 2019 at 9:42 am
    • 4 likes
  24. Coolidge
    Brian Wolf Post author

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Its not a good reason and it is probably due mostly to misunderstanding, but it is a mutually held sentiment that the Right ought to learn how communicate effectively.

    The opposition needs to be warned that its playing with fire…. because it is.

    The fire comes from the boys’ highly justified lawsuit. That is a fire that is needed. The rest us might try a little persuasion….

    • #24
    • April 12, 2019 at 10:30 am
    • 2 likes
  25. Coolidge

    Funny how all of progressive policies work…

    Anti-bullying policies lead to more bullies.

    States with stricter gun laws receive more gun violence.

    Anti-monopoly laws lead to more monopolies.

    More welfare leads to less faring well.

    And so on….

    • #25
    • April 12, 2019 at 12:23 pm
    • 5 likes
  26. Member

    I’m suspicious of this story. They must have known that any number of legal nonprofits would take up a case like this. Is this the whole story? Or maybe they really were that stupid.

    • #26
    • April 12, 2019 at 1:04 pm
    • 2 likes
  27. Member

    Defund public schooling since it seems to have less and less to due with Education now days. The money which politicians control is what corrupts it. That is the only real way to destroy the liberals and win the culture war. We are paying for them to brainwash our kids and fundamentally change America. Public education is just welfare for parents. Its free baby sitting with some education but a lot of indoctrination mostly from their uncivilized peers. Parents need to take personally responsible for everything related to their kids Educatuon. Need to stop letting government workers and burricates raise your kids half the time. A compromises would be universal vochers via education saving plans. However its still welfare.

    • #27
    • April 12, 2019 at 2:35 pm
    • Like
  28. Coolidge

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Shauna Hunt (View Comment):

    That’s interesting. Teachers are forbidden to stop bullying because of Obama era rules.

    Obama really wanted teachers to be bullies, eh?

    I think he’d call them freedom fighters.

    No. The Obama era rules are that a teacher can’t touch a kid (like moving them out of harm’s way) to avoid bullies.

    The teachers are expected to do nothing while a student disrupts an entire class, hits or kicks other kids, or hurts the teacher.

    Teachers lose their jobs if they’re trying to stop a fight. 

    • #28
    • April 12, 2019 at 3:29 pm
    • 1 like
  29. Coolidge
    Brian Wolf Post author

    Joseph Eagar (View Comment):

    I’m suspicious of this story. They must have known that any number of legal nonprofits would take up a case like this. Is this the whole story? Or maybe they really were that stupid.

    It is good to skeptical and if the story is wrong then it is wrong but I find it quite possible that they were this stupid. Would the ACLU take a gun rights case like if the school behavior was not really beyond the pale?

    • #29
    • April 12, 2019 at 3:59 pm
    • 1 like
  30. Coolidge
    Brian Wolf Post author

    Shauna Hunt (View Comment):

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Shauna Hunt (View Comment):

    That’s interesting. Teachers are forbidden to stop bullying because of Obama era rules.

    Obama really wanted teachers to be bullies, eh?

    I think he’d call them freedom fighters.

    No. The Obama era rules are that a teacher can’t touch a kid (like moving them out of harm’s way) to avoid bullies.

    The teachers are expected to do nothing while a student disrupts an entire class, hits or kicks other kids, or hurts the teacher.

    Teachers lose their jobs if they’re trying to stop a fight.

    Good Lord that is horrible!

    • #30
    • April 12, 2019 at 4:00 pm
    • 2 likes
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