The moment I heard about the school shooting in Ohio, I was anxiously awaiting the first wingnut to tell the world that if only we forced students to say government-written prayers every morning, this sort of thing wouldn’t happen. Jerry Newcombe of Truth in Action Ministries, come on down. Amusingly, he actually starts by hinting at the real reason why it likely happened:
Apparently, the 17-year old shooter at Chardon High School in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio was picked on by some fellow students. He was described by classmates as a “bullied outcast.”
In a recent Facebook entry, he posted his rage: “Die, all of you.”
On Monday, February 27, he sought revenge on some fellow students. And now, as of this writing, three are dead, and others were left wounded.
I remember after Columbine I did some television interviews in Littleton, Colorado (in the greater Denver area) with some of the surviving family members of those shot and killed in the worst school shooting in our history.
One young man who was familiar with the school and its environment before the 1999 shootings told me something I have never forgotten. He said that one of the killers — long before he and his comrade took revenge into their own hands — had been humiliated in the cafeteria, in front of scores of his classmates by a fellow student (a jock) who poured a milk shake all over him (the shooter-to-be). You will recall that shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold sought out to kill jocks, among other victims.
See, that actually makes sense. It’s not hard to imagine how sadistic bullying by one’s classmates could push a sensitive and troubled kid into either suicide or homicide. But having admitted all of that, Newcombe then opts for a more ridiculous explanation:
There were never school shootings when prayer was in school. Nothing even remotely like it. But now, for the most part, God has been thrown out of our public schools, and they have had to install the metal detector instead. Even that is not fail-proof.
Virtue guru Bill Bennett once told me: “Does anybody really have a worry that the United States is becoming overly pious? That our young people are dedicating too much of their lives to prayer and to reflection? That teenagers in this country are preoccupied with thoughts of eternity and their own readiness for eternity?”
I find it ironic that yesterday’s shooting would occur in the shadow of the 50th anniversary of the infamous school prayer decision. In June 1962, in Engel v. Vitale, the Supreme Court ruled that schools could not officially participate in prayer…
Our schools today don’t have a prayer, yet the Bible tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. To me, this is like a baseball player who supposedly hits a home run but is called out because when he ran around the bases, he did not in fact touch first base.
As long as our schools don’t have a prayer, I suppose some of them need to have a sign installed out in front: Enter at your own risk.
I suppose that when one lacks all ability to use actual reason, post hoc reasoning is the closest they’ll ever get to it. Funny, though, that the Supreme Court’s ruling on prayer covers all 98,000 public schools in the country, yet school shootings happen in maybe one school a year. Not a very strong causal link, to say the least.