America has had to deal with too much tragedy, and a shocking amount of that tragedy has been in the form of school shootings.
There's something wrong with mental health and mental health treatment. Access to weapons, maybe? Bullying. The media's reporting on school shootings. Preparedness and response. How children are raised. The decline of local communities. Not taking early warning signs seriously.
It feels, sometimes, like maybe it's too much. That's why I'm saying this now, when this topic has been out of the news and it's clear I'm not talking about specific incidents.
But a neglected aspect, one I think is important, relies on an unconventional lens through which I see these attacks.
Why aren't there more bank shootings? Or gym shootings, or Wal-Mart shootings, or pharmacy shootings? Bowling alleys? Theme parks?
There are tragic incidents, occasionally, at night clubs or post offices or farmers markets. But they are dwarfed in frequency and public attention by school shootings. Why is there so much destructive rage directed at schools?
Some of this is, undoubtedly, because these are copycat crimes, the trend reinforcing itself through media coverage.
But some of it is because schools are obligatory. When the government puts you in a box and makes seemingly random and capricious demands of you, some percentage of people will react violently. Violence in schools is a dark reflection of the extremely sad state of violence in prisons.
As a child, I felt that school was a prison for me. I was not bullied particularly badly, as much as I stood out. I never felt violently towards anyone, obviously – that's beyond the pale, even for someone as frustrated as I was.
But I can't help but think, would school choice help, some tiny, tiny bit, at the margin? I quite simply do not know. There are many reasons to pursue and defend autonomy and dignity, and the violence of those who feel trapped inside of civilization's cage is not one of the more compelling ones. But it is a consideration. If we are considering changing laws, limiting and proscribing certain rights and privileges, surely it is also an option, in our quest, to give people more rights, and more privileges, even if that would otherwise be politically untenable.