Heads Buried in Sand

Daniel Denvir wrote an article in Salon recently about what he calls the “shocking, Orwellian rise of “school resource officers””, bemoaning his imagined rise of a “police state”. The article, predictably enough for Salon, does its level best to stoke the fires of racial strife, jumping to a series of conclusions without waiting for evidence or context in the heavily circulated video case of school resource officer Ben Fields in South Carolina forcibly removing a student from a chair she apparently refused to vacate when ordered to do so. This article, posing as a piece of journalism, is entirely an advocacy opinion piece of the type one would expect from Salon. If it were journalism, it would be highly irresponsible journalism, as a key element of any work of journalism would be the desire to flesh out any and all pertinent facts before coming to any particular conclusion.

The incident in question happened too recently for anyone in the public to be expected to have all the facts. The investigation, itself, is not complete, though that does not stop opinion “journalists” from using the incident as evidence to support their preconceived ideas; in fact, it serves as a convenient excuse to run such half-baked pieces, in an effort to capitalize on public attention. Further, and to avoid any mincing of words, the financial motivation for publishing these pieces is entirely based on the corporate sponsors’ desire to sell advertisements that surround the prose written by pundits, while the public still cares enough to read about the event, in an environment where the collective attention span is two to three days, maximum.

When you take this incident in the context of school security, you can expand the subject to include school shootings, as well as the significantly less published events wherein school authority figures have been attacked, physically, by students at said facilities. The reality of why there are an increasing number of “school resource officers” is because administrative organizations in charge of schools, and therefore school security, realize there is an increasing problem that they need to address, and that the best way to address these issues is to include the on-campus presence of personnel tasked with, and ideally properly trained for, handling these occurrences.

Denvir decries the response of this SRO as evidence of “racism”, implying that schools are creating a “school to prison pipeline” for certain members of the student body.

“For poor children of color, the mouth of the school-to-prison pipeline is manned by police officers who have in recent decades proliferated in districts nationwide. The mass deployment of schools cops, commonly referred to as “school resource officers,” has been made without careful thought or research. And it has produced horrible outcomes.”

He offers no proof that there has been no “careful thought or research”, nor that it “has produced horrible outcomes”, but he writes both things anyway, which then become claims that other half-assed journalists, or bloggers, will repeat, and if we know anything, we know that repeating half-truths results in lazy readers embracing these half-truths as truths.

Reality, of course, does not care what any number of “journalists” or bloggers believe. And reality is that a small portion of the student body today apparently feels emboldened enough to physically attack staff members of their institutions for whatever reasons they feel aggrieved by. Reality is that an even smaller number of students, for whatever reasons, have felt aggrieved enough to enter schools with weapons, intending to inflict as many casualties as possible, and they’ve gotten away with it far too often, largely because these schools have not had the means to stop them.

School Resource Officers are the actual solution to this problem. And yet, when one suggests that fact to the rabble that comprise the anti-gun movement, the immediate outcry is that this is a “disaster waiting to happen”. They fantasize that the mere presence of trained, armed individuals in a school will result in a non-stop “wild west” shootout. They claim that our schools don’t need armed individuals to defend the unarmed student body, or the unarmed staff of these schools, and they exclaim that they don’t want to live in a world where any of this is necessary.

But they do live in that world. We all live in that world. Their desire to “get rid of all the guns” is unrealistic. There are already 350,000,000 guns, legally owned, in this country. On top of that, there are an unknown number of illegally procured guns. And there are miscreants in this world whose sole purpose, usually in pursuit of notoriety via mass media coverage, is to inflict damage and pain in as large an amount as possible. You may not like the fact that this is your world, but it is your world, regardless.

The analogy that is most apropos is security as it is applied in Israel. Realizing that their schools were a target for miscreants with the intent to do harm, Israel addressed the problem, rather than wishing they didn’t have the problem in the first place. Schools are surrounded by layers of perimeter security, and staffed by trained, armed “school resource officers”. As a result, school shootings in Israel are minimal, in comparison to other nations of similar circumstances. One may argue that the threats faced in Israel are not directly comparable to the threats of maladjusted young adult shooters in the United States, but actually such a comparison is fairly accurate. While the motives behind attacks may differ slightly (eg: religious war vs. maladjusted desire for notoriety), the situations themselves are very similar.

The question, then, is whether we, as a people, are going to continue to deny we have a security issue, or refuse to act because it means accepting the world we live in is not the world we wish we lived in, or whether we will accept that in order to prevent tragedies, we are willing to take the obvious, efficient, and right courses of action in order to prevent them. Will we do what we need to do, or will we bury our heads in the sand, and hope the insanity stops?

What is entirely not useful, however, is posturing political advocacy pieces from the likes of people like Denvir, decrying “racism” or “police brutality” at every corner. Denvir has no solutions. I’m not going try to put myself inside his head to imagine what motivation he may have for wanting things to stay the same, but he has contributed nothing towards building a solution, and is but a roadblock in its path, and, as such, he should be embarrassed for writing what he has written. But I’m sure he won’t be. He works at Salon, after all, and no doubt received more than a few “atta-boys” for restating the Groupthink conclusions they hired him to write. After all, he submitted it on time, and before the Collective Attention Span had averted its eyes to the Next Approved Outrage, so Salon was able to garner plenty of social media traffic, increasing the marketed value of impressions for their brand of web propaganda.

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