Good storytelling has a universal structure that appeals to something fundamental in our humanity. It’s pretty basic: beginning, middle, end. Or as Steven Pressfield calls it in Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit: Hook, Build-Up, Payoff. Put the characters in jeopardy! Raise the stakes! Make a hero, make a villain! Etc.
Every time there’s a mass shooting in the states, it’s big juice for the media cartels. It appeals to american sentiments because it’s the Reality TV(tm) version of an action movie. Somebody shows up somewhere, with a load of those most holy of american artifacts—guns and ammunition—and commences to blowing the shit out of as many people as possible. Oh, the excitement! How many people killed? How many injured? Who did it? Why did they do it? Etc.
The collective response, particularly in social media, is so predictable that I sometimes wonder if there are actual people commenting on it, or if it’s a gang of androids that have been programmed to release the same responses to a given stimuli. Or if there’s a difference. In the era of memes and soundbites, often times the posts on social media are identical to the ones from the last mass shooting—recycling is good for the social environment, it seems.
Mass Shooting Bingo, play by yourself or with friends!
- Criticize the NRA
- Support the NRA
- Bring up the problem of “mental illness”
- We need more gun control, cuz guns are the problem
- We need less gun control, so armed citizens of justice can defeat the evil shooter
- Black folks point out the hypocrisy of mass shooters being treated tenderly by the police, when we are in danger for our lives even in a traffic stop (duh)
- Social Justice Warriors point out that the “real terrorists” are not scary muslims, but crazy white men (duh)
- Politicians exercise career-building by proposing to effect new laws
- Politicians exercise career-building by proposing to eliminate laws
- “thoughts and prayers,” or its variant, “hearts go out”
If I were willing to scour my social media feed, I’m sure I could find more. Those are just the ones that spring to mind first. You get the idea.
If one is either foolish or masochistic enough to tune in to TV news “coverage” of such events, one gets to experience the identical “dialogue” about mass shootings every time one happens. They may as well play the same footage from the last time. It can’t be too hard to find in the files, because at any given time, the last shooting wasn’t that long ago.
Discussions (scripts?) about mass school shootings have their own special flavor of bullshit because of what’s left out of the discussion: the institution of schooling itself. A mass shooting at a club or a festival is bad enough, but is distinguished from school shootings by one important factor: students are REQUIRED BY LAW to be in school. They are coerced; they have to be there. It’s like going on safari at the zoo; the rhinos don’t have a chance.
No matter how many kids are bullied, no matter how many kids’ spirits are crushed, no matter how much violence, assault, rape, molestation, suicide, homicide, abuse, humiliation, and no matter how many mass school shootings there are, nobody ever criticizes the institution of compulsory schooling itself. Like maybe, just maybe, school is not the best place for kids to be.
The schooling system we have in this country—and that, so far as I know, most other countries have as well—is compulsory. That means you have to go. It’s the law. The law means that it is enforced by the THREAT AND APPLICATION OF VIOLENCE. Parents and guardians are on the line; if you don’t go to school, people with guns will come and take your family members to jail, or take you away from your family. To escape that model, you have to jump through all kinds of hoops; feel free to do a little research around the laws concerning homeschooling to discover just how difficult it is to take your children out of the system.
I’ve taught dozens of workshops in schools, if not hundreds. Whenever I get the chance, I introduce this concept to students as a matter of seeing a different perspective. We’re required by law to attend school from K-12; thirteen years. Have any of you, during any of that time, ever learned anything about the origins of the school system? Of course not. Interesting; thirteen years of our lives stolen by the state, and they don’t even pretend to tell us where the system of schooling comes from.
They can’t. One, because most people simply don’t know, including teachers, grad students, social workers, college professors, counselors, mentors, and any of the other legions of “experts” who are fed by the school system. Two, because the real story of the origin of the schooling system is terrifying, and knowledge of it would undermine the very fabric of consensus reality. Social engineering. The machining of consciousness. Scientific management. Industrialization, massification, homogenization. A system planned, openly, from its inception, to turn a population of individuals into obedient, emotionally insecure, ignorant and easily manipulated drones.
And it works.
It works so well that it’s invisible. School, like “tech” and mass media, is a completely unquestioned and uncriticized institution of our society. Sure, there are always a few cranks and crackpots who believe that their children should be free of state & corporate programming; they are a distinct minority, rare as a coyote or a healthy romantic relationship.
Those of us who were fortunate enough, for whatever mysterious combination of nature and nurture, to escape being completely indoctrinated, and who have learned something of the history of this country and of civilization generally, are never surprised by the latest mass shooting. How could you be? It would be like being surprised when there’s a car accident, or a rape, or a president. This country, like every other civilization, was founded on conquest, mass murder, mass rape, and slavery. You’re not going to get oranges from an apple tree.
I would be surprised if there weren’t mass shootings. In fact, I would be terrified; it would be a sure sign that the full mechanization of human consciousness was complete. Everyone perfectly controlled, perfectly homogenous, perfectly predictable, perfectly “happy,” perfectly “safe.”
Mass shootings are “good for the economy” in at least one sense; there is now an entire industry of professionals whose job is to train staff members at schools, hospitals, venues, and other places where people gather en masse what to do in an “active shooter” scenario. My cousin is a nurse, and is currently seeking out this training with the goal of making an abundance of extra money as a consultant. Be your own boss! If only the poor souls at Columbine circa early ’99 had access to such training…
…or Virginia Tech…
…or Wounded Knee…