Remember the phrase “going postal?”
It may have faded from widespread use in recent years, but back in the eighties and nineties, it meant “someone who’d been driven over the edge to insane, explosive violence”. The term came from a series of massacres at post offices,n in the eighties and early nineties, including one in Edmond, Oklahoma that killed fifteen (including the shooter). In a series of incidents fro 1983 to 1995, 43 were killed and 23 were wounded in fifteen separate instances at post offices.
The US Postal Service spent years, and millions, trying to figure out what the problem was, and endeavoring to make working for the Post Office less…psychotic-break-y. The violence has subsided below “public punch line” levels – the phrase “going postal” has largely receded as a common idiom – although it hasn’t exactly stopped.
Anyway – the nation is currently focused on school school shootings…
…well, no. The nation is focused on school shootings that happen in middle-class suburbs, with victims who look like the children of NPR executives. Black and brown kids being mowed down on the streets of Detroit and their living rooms in Chicago and New Orleans, shot by mundane common criminals in episodes that illustrate the utter failure of Democrat center-left socialism, not so much.
But I digress.
Many of these episodes have one thing in common. No, it’s not guns; it’s a kid – usually a boy, usually a boy who looks like the child of an NPR executive – who was picked on, bullied, rejected, ostracized, mellow-harshed, or otherwise tormented by someone, something, or some part or parts of the whole system. Whatever the impetus, they get in their heads the need to take…it out on their school (as at Columbine and Parkland) or someone’s school anyway. The profile has become borderline cliche; a not-entirely mentally stable boy (like there’s such a thing as a stable teenager), bullied or shunned or otherwise marginalized, by others or even themselves, hatches a plan to get revenge on their tormentors – which often as not means “everyone at school”.
And while it’s not always big suburban public schools – Erik Weise killed nine in and around the Red Lake Reservation school in a shooting whose 13th anniversary passed yesterday – it’d be hard to miss a correlation with shootings at schools in the ‘burbs, like Columbine and Parkland (and Sandy Hook, although Adam Lanza was just plain insane across the board), and even big amalgamated rural schools (John Jason McLaughlin, who killed two at Cold Spring/Rocori, one of the big schools created by amalgamating several rural town schools together).
It’d also be hard to miss what it’s not: parochial schools, charter schools, schools tightly rooted in communities (civic, faith, educational or any other) big or small.
So – what is it about American middle-class schools that creates spree killers?
Doesn’t our education system have at least the same obligation to analyze itself as the Postal Service did?