People in live in terror of a school massacre, near enough to plan for yet far enough away that no one need act in panic or haste. Barely do paramilitary drills such as that Monday in Monteagle ease their fears.
An “active shooter drill,” as David Carroll reports it, quietly rolled along among three police agencies at Monteagle Elementary School, with classroom doors at the Marion County school being quietly locked and children apparently unaware the drill was taking place. “The drill only lasted a matter of minutes, but school officials know the real thing could go on for hours, even days,” Mr. Carroll says. “Worst-case scenarios like hostage situations or gunfire can’t be dismissed” in what a headline on his story calls “a sign of the times.”
Schooling adheres to a formula whose idea of mass seating is largely unchanged from the time of the ancient Greeks. With knowledge rare and costly and with telecommunication a thing of the future, as it were, the system remains centralized and institutional. To avoid having to alter the machinery, Tennessee cities and counties have devised the calling of school resource officer. One in every three schools has one.
Signal Mountain town fathers Monday spent time debating who pays for a school officer. Moms and dads want a deputy on hand to thwart what they hope remains in the realm of the unthinkable. "We're leaving our kids high and dry,” Chip Baker, a schooling client, says. “As a parent, that's how I feel."
While a school resource officer enables mom and dad to thwart one feared danger, his presence secures another most families accept. The idea of the police state with the smiley face, the surveillance state with its friendly officer who knows one’s children by name and background and thus knows your family business without a warrant ever being brought up. Community policing, where no line exists between the innocent and the police. The SRO counters the fears of the public about private lawlessness; the power he represents knows its customers, has its eyes on disturbers of the peace and potential disruptors of all kinds, both the innocent and the guilty.
The SRO “is not a classroom or administrative disciplinarian,” but is a “sworn, state-certified law enforcement officer governed by constitutional, federal and state laws,” the Hamilton County sheriff’s department says.
The ever-present police officer is part of students’ education. He is part of the norm. The school officer is called to give talks on DUI laws. He talks on fingerprint evidence, dating violence, bullying and searches and seizures. It is hardly to be doubted that any talk yields much to constitutional rights. A lecture on searches is likely to pile up blandishments in favor of cooperation, compliance and submission; the officer has every interest that his hearers not be aggressive defenders of constitutional rights. He doesn’t want anyone to graduate who tells street cops, “No, I refuse to make any statements” or “Show me a warrant” or “State your probable cause in stopping me.”
A civilized man certainly will be cordial with any officer of the law. But a free man, as distinct from a polite one, will recognize that the state is fundamentally hostile to liberty that is a constraint upon its activities and those of its agents. The SRO may wear what the county calls a “soft” uniform; he may not bristle with webbing, weapon and radio. He familiarizes children with police in their surveillance capacity and trains them to submit.
From whence shooters?
He exists, as it were, like something indigestible in the cafeteria menu. The school accomplishes its goals — but is sickened by them, just as a revolution eats its own. Thus the SRO sentinel.
The Hamilton County school system has a payroll of 4,480 people full time and is the city’s largest employer. But school is about national economy, not local. School serves the national interest best when it separates the inmate from himself. Thanks to schooling, imported from Germany, the American people have created a society of institution and mass system, with family and community lost. In a nation in which we are six times as likely to rot in a prison than is a person in China, school has dehumanized us.
School is a walled compound for teaching. If we believe the histories of dissenters such as John Taylor Gatto, it is intended to teach consumption over saving, immediate gratification over delayed, sense pleasure over those of soul or concept, state control vs. self-government, honor in submission vs. courage in entrepreneurship, employment versus ownership, debt over liquidity. School teaches your son and daughter to patiently become a human resource to be spent by businessmen and politicians, as Mr. Gatto puts it in Weapons of Mass Instruction, 2010. School creates an “indwelling curiosity cutoff” in the soul, a de-individuation.
School teaches subordination, as Frederick Taylor outlines in his 1911 Principles of Scientific Management, a handbook for industrialism and human resource management. School exists because modern consumer society and its machinery of manipulation do not allow for people of free will, people who enjoy self-determination, personal sovereignty, their own genius, people who enjoy exercising their quirks and eccentricities (except, perhaps, as consumers). School helps people find their place in the pyramid, to be observers, participants in other people’s plans, but not writers of their own narrative. Self-management is not part of the curriculum in school. Self-management is a rogue element.
By terror the school shooter has turned the school into a fortress. Lockdowns are part the routine, as principals await his arrival. In his hatred and desire to destroy people within schools, the intruder lashes out at a machine that humiliates him. He attacks classrooms of innocents and aims his 9mm at those individuals against whom his blind vitriol are directed, victims just as he.
This state of affairs is described by sociologist Pitirim Sorokin in The Crisis of our Age, 1941, which sees a sensate age reaching its bottom in the hand of the welfare state and commercial government. Alienation and rootlessness, a denial of local economy, are inked in the script for both the embittered predator and the system he would destroy along with himself.
In school, feedback is forbidden and not accounted for. The system runs on rules and laws, not principles of the marketplace. It cannot be reformed by responding to the ostensible client (the family) because its true client (the state) remains in charge and envisions no loss of its control. School is the vacuous context for the massacre the SRO intends to forestall. School intensifies the malice by which it is viewed because it resists an overdue dissolution.
— David Tulis hosts Nooganomics.com at Hot News Talk Radio 1240 1910 and 1190 AM 1 to 3 p.m. weekdays, covering local economy and free markets in Chattanooga and beyond.