Sunday, August 04, 2019

"Rituals of Childhood," by Kieran Healy

Many thanks to Larry Lennhoff for his Facebook link to this shocking and depressing blog post.  The fact that he thought it was necessary, given what happened in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio over the course of just two days, is tragic.

"The United States has institutionalized the mass shooting in a way that [sociologist Émile] Durkheim would immediately recognize. As I discovered to my shock when my own children started school in North Carolina some years ago, preparation for a shooting is a part of our children’s lives as soon as they enter kindergarten. The ritual of a Killing Day is known to all adults. It is taught to children first in outline only, and then gradually in more detail as they get older. The lockdown drill is its Mass. The language of “Active shooters”, “Safe corners”, and “Shelter in place” is its liturgy. “Run, Hide, Fight” is its creed. Security consultants and credential-dispensing experts are its clergy. My son and daughter have been institutionally readied to be shot dead as surely as I, at their age, was readied by my school to receive my first communion. They practice their movements. They are taught how to hold themselves; who to defer to; what to say to their parents; how to hold their hands. The only real difference is that there is a lottery for participation. Most will only prepare. But each week, a chosen few will fully consummate the process, and be killed.

. . .

. . . not every society has successfully institutionalized the mass shooting. Only one place has done that, deliberately and effectively. The United States has chosen, and continues to choose, to enact ritual compliance to an ideal of freedom in a way that results in a steady flow of blood sacrifice. This ritual of childhood is not a betrayal of “who we are” as a country. It is what America has made of itself, how it worships itself, and how it makes itself real."


Blogger Richardf8 said...

Thanks for this. It really works surprisingly well. One thing I would add to it is that this ritual she describes is performed in order to keep its participants safe. If one is killed, it is, of course, because of a defect in their performance of the ritual.

Mon Aug 05, 12:59:00 AM 2019  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Would that it were only " . . . a defect in their performance of the ritual" that was causing people to be killed. The problem is that we've ritualized mass murder instead of taking precautions to try to prevent it.

Mon Aug 05, 10:18:00 PM 2019  

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