Sunday, December 12, 2021

The School Shooting as Blowback from Authoritarianism

 It happens over and over again. Another day, another shooting. Another day, another nightmare. Another sleepy small-town community put on the map for all the most horrifying of reasons. Another school shattered by unspeakable violence. Another lonely pissed off kid who needed a gun just to be heard. Another four young lives extinguished, guilty of nothing but standing in his way. Another host of adults who couldn't be bothered to give a shit until blood stained their spotless floors. Another national tragedy for our vaunted tabloids in the Fourth Estate to shamelessly sensationalize and mine for ratings gold while simultaneously virtue signaling over the carnage. 

But the sickest thing about the latest school shooting to rock the nation is just how eerily normal it all feels. Four dead and seven wounded at a high school in tiny Oxford, Michigan, just feels like another Monday in 2021. But for the vultures of cable news, it's something far worse. It's just another juicy headline to gorge themselves on, and they've been circling with their cameras drawn to catch every traumatizing minute long before those bodies were even cold. Weeks later, and they're still circling. It happens over and over again, and it's just going to keep happening.

The anchors of cable news pout and put on a good show about how tragic this all is to them. They'll even bring up their own children in a crass attempt to humanize their craven scavenging, but those parasites live for this kind of thing. Exploiting dead (mostly)white kids is one of the few times when they get to plausibly pretend to be actual journalists anymore, covering something that actually fucking happened for a change. For them every tragedy is just another opportunity for spectacle, and it doesn't take them very long to turn that spectacle into their favorite game, the blame game. Sure, a bunch of innocent kids are dead but who gives a fuck about that when there are fingers to point. After all, the most important question to answer here is who do we have to blame?

Do we blame mental illness or the shooters shitbird parents? Boring! We can do better than that. Let's blame heavy metal music. Let's blame Quintin Tarantino. Let's blame violent video games. Let's blame antidepressants. Let's blame anything fun or anything that makes adolescence in this shell of a decaying empire even mildly tolerable. But most of all, let's blame guns. Let's blame the shit out of guns. That's every news creep opportunist's and Democratic presidential hopeful's favorite scapegoat, and in spite of all the sensationalist rhetoric and breathless hyperbole, it's actually not a target without merit for once. Even an unapologetic lefty gun nut like me can begrudgingly admit that the ready access to firearms in this country is certainly a factor in tragedies like these, but a closer look at the statistics adds up to a much more complicated narrative than guns-bad-guns-kill. 

Violent crime statistics in this country are notoriously subjective and inconclusive, especially considering that we rely mostly on the less than reputable word of local police and the federal government to track them. A couple things that we do know for sure however is that, with the exception of the last few years of COVID induced poverty and upheaval, violent crime of almost any kind, including gun violence, has been steadily declining for the last forty years, regardless of shifting gun laws. The only exception to this rule has been the uniquely American pastime of the mass shooting which just keeps on climbing. School shootings are particularly vexing considering that they increased exponentially during the Clinton era Assault Weapons Ban and exploded right around the time that the press turned Columbine into a three-ring circus, and that's the thing that the media blame game always seems to conveniently overlook.

The rise in school shootings shows very little correlation with gun control, but it's meteoric trajectory perfectly mirrors the rise of the 24/7 news cycle, where a once rare class of novel tragedies became transformed into a week of around the clock coverage that gave any lonely and ignored disaffected youth a platform to finally be heard, loud and clear. But this still fails to explain why these kids are so desperate for undivided attention that they're willing to destroy themselves and so many others just to get it. The real question that everyone should be asking isn't who do we blame but what are these children trying to tell us? I believe in order to understand this, the root cause of this violent and uniquely American phenomenon, we have to look no further than the actual target of these attacks, another culprit that always seems to escape the media's blame game, the schools themselves. 

The compulsory school system in this country, be it public or parochial, is not designed to educate. It is designed to subjugate and control through a strict regimen of fear, shame, repetition and competition. Children are forced to compete against their peers in a contest to obey orders. They are afforded the rights of prisoners at the mercy of poorly trained adult authority figures who are awarded complete control over every aspect of their charges 12-year sentence, from when they get to eat to whether they get to use the bathroom. Those who conform, excel to please. Individuals who cannot or simply will not follow orders are frequently labeled as disabled or mentally ill and are further isolated from their peers in remedial programs. And the system is getting worse.

With the rise of standardized testing and tightly scripted lesson plans, more and more kids are falling between the cracks while the few decent teachers who fail to fulfill their roles as dictators are being bullied themselves and run out of an increasingly militant system where critical thinking is discouraged and much needed free time is disappearing. This is what often separates America's educational prison camps from those in other countries with equal disdain for youth rights. By 2006, nearly 40% of schools in this country had either eliminated recess or considered doing so, a trend that experts have linked to increasing rates of anger, aggression and severe behavior. Even in school systems as martial and competitive as Japan's, children are given enough free time between morning and afternoon classes to walk home and have lunch with their families. In American schools there is no time to breath and nowhere to hide and those who crack beneath the pressure have to look no further than their own history books for lessons on constructive problem solving. 

Timothy McVeigh, another highly intelligent but ruthlessly bullied pupil, summed up the lessons learned from American history books when he excused his own act of terrorism by pointing to the common American narrative for our nation's terrorist bombing of Hiroshima. He was simply committing an act of heinous violence against the federal government in order to achieve a mythical greater peace. These are the lessons taught to our children in our history books, that constant warfare is a legitimate mode of problem solving. These same lessons are regurgitated verbatim by the blame game playing vultures of the mainstream media, who gush over how presidential their leaders are when they bomb first and ask questions later. 

In a society that discourages free thinking and individuality and valorizes the sanctity of state violence, it's really a miracle that more children aren't arming themselves with AR-15's and coming to school dressed like soldiers to settle the score with their tax funded abuse. It's this authoritarian combination of institutionalized bullying and pro-war propaganda that makes children desperate enough to even pick up their parent's firearms in the first place. The biggest tragedy of school shootings is that they are essentially blowback from a system that simply doesn't value children as individuals. It's really little wonder that those who don't murder their classmates often grow up to become successful adults who ignore their own children and vote for leaders who simply bomb schools instead.

I learned these lessons firsthand as an outcast born between genders who had trouble standing in a straight line and following orders. They called me disabled because their books didn't challenge me enough to want to finish them. They called me crazy for preferring my own imaginative dream world to the structured games the other children were encouraged to play on the playground. I grew up feeling stupid and ugly, but I never once considered violence until my teachers began to accuse me of being a monster like Harris and Klebold for failing to fit in. It was only then that my fantasies became consumed with vengeance and violent retribution. I had vivid extended fantasies about being the little girl they wouldn't let me be and skipping off to school in pigtails to burn it to the fucking ground. But after discovering the ideas of wild free thinkers like Mikhail Bakunin, Che Guevara and Edward Abbey, I decided that revenge was letting these bullies off too easy. So, I committed myself to revolution instead. After all, why burn down one school when you can burn down them all?

And this is what we need to save our children from the institutionalized isolation that leads to senseless bloodshed. We need a revolution. We need to start looking at schools the same way the far left looks at other authoritarian institutions like the police and the prison system. We need to encourage our children to rebel and challenge authority. We need to emancipate childhood from the state through unschooling and the creation of mutual aid funded free schools in which students are treated as equals and encouraged to create their own curriculum in an environment where there exists no authority other than that granted by the consent of the governed. If we really want to save our kids, we need to set them free from adult tyranny, and gun control will never achieve that outcome.

Peace, Love & Empathy- Nicky/CH 

Soundtrack: songs that influenced this post

*  The Day After Tomorrow by Phoebe Bridgers

*  Hate My Way by Throwing Muses

*  Zombie by the Cranberries

*  School by Nirvana

*  Get Your Gunn by Marilyn Manson

*  Teenage Whore by Hole

*  Kerosene by Big Black

*  I Found a Reason by the Velvet Underground 


  1. The history of the nation, as with most other nations, has always been driven by financial power and instruments of death. Although the USA is somewhat exceptional in these areas, humanity in general has been dominated to an overwhelming degree by these two energies. The modern culmination of these qualities is the destruction of life on this planet and even this sad fate seems unlikely to revise basic motivations. I would very much prefer to be proved wrong but see no indications of that.


  2. "The compulsory school system in this country, be it public or parochial, is not designed to educate. It is designed to subjugate and control through a strict regimen of fear, shame, repetition and competition."

    By the time we enter school our guardians through some effort have house broken us but then as six hours a day, five days a week, ten months of the year prisoners we have to raise our hands and hopefully obtain permission from a total stranger to go to the john so we don't soil ourselves.

    Tax Funded Abuse & Deceit
    On a Friday in 1963 we had a high school double period of history and geography by the same teacher. The teacher during the 1st period instructed us word for word the exact same lesson he had delivered two days before on the Wednesday.
    After the school alarm signaled the end and beginning of the next period the teacher switched from history to geography and again was delivering the exact same sermon as two days before.

    I needed a break from this boring guy to avoid falling asleep I raised my hand to obtain permission to go to the toilet. Permission denied. As I stood up I said to the teacher:
    "When ya' gotta go ya' gotta go."
    He responded with:
    "Okay that's fine, go, but you'll need an admit slip to get back into the class."

    At the door with my books I turned and faced the two inspectors auditing this fraudster and told them:
    "It's okay because I wont be missing anything because he is teaching word for word the exact same lessons he taught us just two days ago."
    Almost one third of the students nodded their heads in silent agreement and at being exposed the teacher exploded into a rage at me.
    My three day suspension was even turned into a permanent expulsion.

    "As every would-be ruler throughout history has realized, society has to be transformed from the ground up. Americans in the 19th century still prized education and intellectual pursuits, with the 1840 census finding unsurprisingly that the United States — a nation that had been mobilized by tracts like Thomas Paine's remarkably popular Common Sense — was a nation of readers, with a remarkable 93% to 100% literacy rate.

    "But a nation of individuals who could think for themselves was anathema to the monopolists. The oiligarchs needed a mass of obedient workers, an entire class of people whose intellect was developed just enough to prepare them for lives of drudgery in a factory. Into the midst stepped John D. Rockefeller with his first great act of public charity: the establishment of the University of Chicago."
    — James Corbett

    The authorities task to turn me into the 70% who are mindlessly obedient to authority such as the two thirds of my classmates who silently accept what ever nonsense is dished up to them did not succeed, but instead of labelling this as their failure, it was I who was stigmatized as the failure. Later I found out they had stigmatized me not only as a "failure" but also as "...a highly dangerous element."

    1. From its beginning the USA profited immensely from genocide and slavery and the industrial revolution only strengthened this relationship. Once open slavery was made illegal, the threat of exclusion from the ability to earn a living outside of the absolute power of an employer enforced by law and the police system and repressive labor legislation provided enough capitalist domination to make open slavery unnecessary. The prison system currently also preserves a good deal of enforced slavery to satisfy rebellious people that makes prisoners more obviously actual slaves.