Magic Shield Redux

| April 27, 2007 | 2 Replies

Marc Danziger has a very good article that echoes a point I made last week.

Washington Post carried a story citing students who had been in the classrooms that were attacked. “I quickly dove under a desk,” Clay Violand, a Virginia Tech junior, told the Post. “That was the desk I chose to die under.”

Violand listened as the gunman began “methodically and calmly” shooting people. “It sounded rhythmic-like. He took his time between each shot and kept up the pace, moving from person to person.” After every shot, Violand said he thought to himself, “Okay, the next one is me.” But shot after shot, and he felt nothing. He played dead.

“The room was silent except for the haunting sound of moans, some quiet crying, and someone muttering: ‘It’s OK. It’s going to be OK. They will be here soon,’ ” he recalled. “The gunman circled again and seemed to be unloading a second round into the wounded. Violand thought he heard the gunman reload three times.”

The students didn’t fail to act correctly by not attacking their attacker. The doctrine they were operating under — the one we have trained them in all their lives — failed them.

I think he’s right on the money here. I called this doctrine the “Magic Shield”. It’s the belief we’ve drummed into nearly everyone, that if they are threatened, they should try to run and hide because the Magic Shield will protect them. I put it this way:

We invoke the police as a Magic Shield: capable of keeping us all safe, taking the bad guys off the street before they hurt us or our property, and never once infringing on anyone’s civil rights.

What I did not say as precisely as Danziger is that we invoke the Magic Shield to replace the need for each of us to be responsible for our own defense and the defense of those around us. That, I’m sure, is why he’s a professional writer and I’m writing a blog way out on the tail of readership.

His point is, I think, very important. I sincerely hope that we revisit this terribly failed doctrine before we lose more people to the fallacy.

Category: The Good Old US of A

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