Amish School Shooting

It seems I am a day or two behind in the news most of the time. This evening I finally took the time to read the account of the Amish school shooting in Pennsylvania. As a teacher, each time I read of a school shooting I am rattled. Schools depend upon being able to trust the community in which they are a part of. Schools should be open for all, not locked and guarded. But incidents like this make me feel like schools are becoming the venue of choice for the deranged.

Also, I wonder why it is more “news-worthy” when it happens in an Amish school than in any other type of school. I understand the contrast is stunning: peace-loving, simple school children vs. deranged armed murderer. But aren’t school shootings always (so far) the innocents vs. the malevolent?

What do you think? How do you react to this story? Do you think it would have been as much in the news if it would have happened to any other religious sect? I’d like to here what the Mennonites, the former-Mennonites, and the never-been-Mennonites who read this blog think.


8 responses to “Amish School Shooting

  1. My take: It probably didn’t get more coverage than your average run-of-the-mill school shooting, but that focusing on the Amish angle made sense for any reporter interested in pulling people into the story.


  2. This story is a little different from your “typical” school shooting in that it’s not a student whose doing the shooting in his or her own school. Here’s an adult who decides to drop in on an amish school and start shooting young girls. My initial thought was that it must be some mad man who lives in a shack up in the hills. Nope, married guy with three kids whose wife at the time he called her “was attending a meeting of a prayer group she led that prayed for the community’s schoolchildren.” Wow, that part only adds to the ridiculousness of the whole thing.

  3. I don’t think think this story is getting more air time because of its Amish connections. I would link it more to circumstances.

    If the third shooting in less than a week had happened anywhere, it would get more press than the first two. Also, if any other one room schoolhouse had experienced an attack, it would have received attention.

    The combination of events cause the extra coverage, and the Amish connection just make it stick out more in people’s minds.

    I’m interested in the positive (and generally quite accurate) portrayals of the Amish that have been attached to this story. Prior to this, national stories about Amish have generally been about inbreeding or drug smuggling or some other negative.

  4. i agree, i don’t think it’s gotten extra coverage. the Amish side-story is just a convenience for the reporters. they’ll always want more to milk out of a story (no Amish pun intended). and it gives them easy headlines … the words “Amish” and “shootings” in the same headline are good hooks.

    what is pathetic is that it hardly feels like new news these days. it’s just the next story. horrible. when did my senses start getting numbed?

  5. Hmmm… maybe I was the one paying more attention to it because of the Amish angle.

    Thanks JAM for pointing out that the Amish are really being presented in a mostly accurate and positive way. I’ve seen a few prominent Mennos being interviewed for the story and even an Amish teacher (??? are the Amish getting less strict about “graven images”?).

  6. RE: Amish interviewees

    I would guess this is less a result of relaxing of traditions and more a result of obnoxiously prying reporters. It sounds like journalists swarmed in like flies on fresh Scheisse.

    Amish folk have never been well-equipped to deal with pushy fast-talkers. That explains why northern Indiana Amish country has long been prime territory for scheister salesmen. There’s a built in politeness that’s easy to manipulate. I think that’s where the “quotes” and “interviews” come from.

    There was one humorous anecdote of the last week in which a young Amishman on a horse drawn implement swerved at a group of journalists beside the road and told them he’d be happy if they’d all pack up and go home. I doubt if he expected to be quoted in the New York Times on that point.

  7. hey deb

    can’t find your email, so hopefully you’ll find this comment. it would be great to see you when you come to Seattle…and let us know if you need a place to stay.

  8. i was in DC this weekend at a conference, and one of the convention center employees was telling me how sorry he was about the shooting. it really struck me as odd too … especially considering the number of innocent people who are hurt or killed each week in a large city like DC.

    other than that i don’t know what to think other than — that sucks ass.

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