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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
Friday morning, I posted about the aggravating death of my new laptop… 
17th-Dec-2012 10:59 am
Elayna 2011
Friday morning, I posted about the aggravating death of my new laptop (in which I explained why I'm loathe to rely on any secondhand laptop and really did need to invest in a new one with a warranty and everything; you are all very sweet, but I do not want your laptops, thank you, the new one will be here tomorrow) and then I went out to run errands.

I mailed some packages; the line at the post office was long, but I had a book, and my fellow queuers were all in decent spirits, so that was fine. I caught a bus to Harvard Square, returned a jar of moisturizer I turned out to be allergic to, exchanged a shirt my mother had given me for store credit (and had a nice browse through Anthropologie), and walked home, because it was nice out.

And then I sat down and looked on Twitter and found out about the shootings in Newtown.

I will not recap my emotional process here because I'm sure all of you were feeling about the same. Unthinkable. Horrific.

My daughter wants to be an elementary school teacher.

My wonderful daughter finished editing her arts supplement video on Saturday, and yesterday we submitted all of her applications. All sent off to her top nine schools.

Intended major: Elementary education.

There is a special horror for me in this, a special dread when I see gun nuts screaming that our teachers should be armed and trained. When I see that, I see a refusal to strengthen gun control. I see the insistence that their right to hoard deadly weapons is so precious that twenty first-graders and six teachers/staff are acceptable losses.

That instead of taking guns out of the hands of mass murderers, they want to put a gun in my daughter's hands. Instead of making it harder to acquire assault weapons, instead of working to eliminate mass murder, they want my daughter to murder people.

Elayna has grown up in a post-Columbine world. School shootings have always been a possibility for her. Her school has regular "shelter in place" drills. I see people shocked that kids these days have these drills, and I don't understand that. We have assault weapons in the hands of monsters, and no one will act to limit their "rights" to murder people en masse. We have a school shooting every year, at least. We have had a public mass murder every month this year.

Every. Month.

And so yes. We have been training our children what to do if a gunman enters their school.

Instead of working to keep gunmen out of schools.

Despite all this, my daughter wants to be a teacher. Despite knowing on some level for her whole adolescence that nowadays a teacher isn't just a person who teaches, guides, nurtures - a teacher is the person who herds the kids into the closet or bathroom or storage room and keeps them quiet. A teacher is the person between a child and a murderer.

A teacher is the one who gets shot first.

My daughter is playing the odds. Even if we don't reform gun control, there may never be a shooting in her school. She's playing the odds like we all play the odds every day, like we go to the movies after Aurora, like we go to the mall after Clackamas, like we sent our children to school today. My daughter is playing the odds because she loves to teach. She loves working with children. She's a teacher's aide this year for a freshman algebra class, and she's so damn good at it that the teacher will be letting her develop curricula and exercises; she will be occasionally teaching the class herself next semester. Because her teacher knows she wants to be a teacher and is basically giving her a pre-college internship. She is gentle and clever and empathetic and brilliant and she will be a damn fine teacher.

In the days and weeks ahead, as we talk about gun control, as we talk about arming our teachers to the teeth, this is what I want you to know: this is not a hypothetical. This is a person you know. Some of you have known Elayna since infancy; some for just the ten years I've had an LJ; some of you are barely aware of her.

When we talk about teachers, we are talking about my daughter. You remember that.
17th-Dec-2012 04:23 pm (UTC)
I love you, 'song, and I empathize with your horror and fear. However, please reconsider the use of medical diagnoses like "psychopath" to describe mass murderers. There is no evidence yet that either of the shooter's in last week's murders had any kind of diagnosable disorder, much less actual psychosis. Some people are just evil, and ascribing evil deeds to mental illness just perpetuates the stigma that -makes people with mental illnesses four times more likely to be victims of violence than people without -makes it difficult for people to access mental health care -makes it acceptable for government service providers, teachers, medical care providers to deny civil liberties to people with mental illnesses. Conflating violence with mental illness only hurts us.
17th-Dec-2012 04:27 pm (UTC)

I respect what you're saying, while at the same time believing strongly that no one who is not a sociopath can murder people; it's part of the textbook definition.

At the same time, I am against people generally conflating "crazy" (e.g. people with depression, anxiety disorders, et cetera) with the behavior of mass murderers.

Do you have a suggestion for a word that relays what I mean but is less diagnostic? I'm willing to change it.
(Deleted comment)
17th-Dec-2012 09:49 pm (UTC)
It is part of the textbook definition of a sociopath; non-sociopaths are not able to commit murder.

Freezing this thread, as it has nothing to do with the topic of the post and has become unproductive and straw-man-y.
17th-Dec-2012 04:29 pm (UTC)
The vast majority of people with mental illnesses would never murder or harm anyone.

But surely, anyone who commits a mass murder must have something wrong with his brain?
17th-Dec-2012 04:57 pm (UTC)
Anders Behring Breivik, examined by several leading doctors and psychiatrists, and judged sane enough to stand trials and be held responsible for his actions.

Sane people can still do insane, or evil, things.

Edited at 2012-12-17 04:58 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
17th-Dec-2012 09:46 pm (UTC)
I didn't say the "therefore" part of that, nor do I agree with it.
17th-Dec-2012 09:48 pm (UTC)
No one said that, nor does anyone believe it. I'm freezing this thread, as it has nothing to do with the post.
17th-Dec-2012 04:29 pm (UTC)
Yes. Just as when we talk about elementary school children we talk about mine.
17th-Dec-2012 05:24 pm (UTC)
With thirty years of experience in the trenches as a teacher, people are talking about me when they talk about teachers.

I was still in Colorado when Columbine happened. That affected us as we played Columbine in sports. We knew them. Our boys' lacrosse team had played their boys' lacrosse team only the previous week. Some of us knew teachers there. Some of our students knew students there.

One of my colleagues, a history teacher, wrote a fantastic letter to the editor when a rather idiotic now-former member of the state legislature recommended arming teachers with guns. My colleague suggested, rather satirically going beyond that. Why stop with guns? Why not give teachers grenades? Etc. It was a great satirical letter. As I said, that state congressman withdrew his bill and wasn't re-elected.

But then we were in Boulder, known by some right-wing members of the state legislature as the People's Republic of Boulder.

And part of me finds it sad that teachers tend to receive negative press (they want more money -- they're greedy; they only work so many hours and days a year etc.) and get positive representation as heroes rarely. However, they are so lauded when they sacrifice their lives to save their students. It's sad that it takes such a horrifying incident to make people realise how much teachers care for their pupils. :(
17th-Dec-2012 05:37 pm (UTC) - *hugs*
Just *hugs*
17th-Dec-2012 06:49 pm (UTC)
I spoke this morning with a bunch of people who work for the public good. Firefighters, teachers, engineers, MBTA drivers, the whole spectrum. We're with you. It's our children, siblings, spouses, friends, fellow union members, loved ones. It's not hypothetical. It's REAL.

As a commenter said on Shakesville last Friday, some people have the gifts to become police, firefighters, SWAT team tactical officers. Some people have the gifts to become elementary and secondary school teachers, school psychologists, paraprofessionals. It takes years and years of specialized training to make the most of each set of gifts--don't expect one to be able to do the work of the other in a pinch, in a moment of extreme duress.

Heaven help us.
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