Last Friday, it happened again; and a nation where school shootings have become terrifyingly commonplace struggled once more to rouse ourselves out of our cynical numbness to muster the same level of horror, outrage and self-reflection that characterized the early responses to Columbine. But, with news of mass school shootings seemingly a permanent fixture in today’s headlines, it seems increasingly difficult for America to recognize that this “new normal” is anything but.
Yet, we need to find the energy to remain outraged and horrified. We need to keep questioning not only why these shootings are happening, but how pervasive and pathological our ideas of “normal” really might be.
Last Friday, 14-year-old Jaylen Fryberg brought a legally purchased gun to the cafeteria of Marysville-Pilchuck High School and opened fire on a table of classmates including two male cousins and three female friends — none of them older than 15. All five sustained gunshot wounds — most to the head — and as of this morning, two students are dead along with Fryberg (of a self-inflicted gunshot). Although Fryberg’s motives remain largely unknown, early coverage from Fryberg’s classmates reveal hints of a story all-too-familiar: yet again, a young man was so angered and devastated by having his romantic advances rejected that he turned to violent retribution, and yet again, it is young women and men alike who pay the price.