Charlotte Allen Again

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 21 2012 2:34 PM

Charlotte Allen Again

Charlotte Allen responds at length to her critics, taking the care to place me, Alex Pareene and Jessica Valenti into a liberal Holy Trinity. This seems to be equal parts incorrect and sacreligious, but 'tis the season. More importantly, Allen acknowledges my point that two men were on Sandy Hook's staff, and not, as she wrote, zero.

He’s right, and I stand corrected. This does help prove my point, though: just two adult men in a building containing 500 people — and it’s not clear that both of them were at work that day. Indeed, a visit to Sandy Hook’s staff website is a depressing experience, the sea of women’s names. Why aren’t there more men? Perhaps not enough want the job? But why? Because they are tacitly discouraged from careers in elementary education? It’s certainly not the money, because union rules typically require kindergarten teachers and high-school chemistry teachers to be paid on exactly the same salary scale. Another depressing page on the Sandy Hook website is the “Safe Schools Climate” page. It’s a page of links to “anti-bullying” resources. Yes, the Sandy Hook staff’s idea of a “safe school” was a school where kids didn’t say mean things about each other on Facebook!

I sincerely appreciate the correction. Here's why I asked for it: Allen's argument assumed facts to coordinate with her gut feeling. She assumed that there were no men at the school, because a total lack of XY chromosomes fit snugly into her thesis. For her purposes, now, even a small number of men allow her to make her point: The school didn't employ enough men who could overpower a deranged shooter. And my point was that similiar situations, with men on hand, ended the same way. The guy with the most bullets, and the element of surprise, managed to kill a lot of people.

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There are pundits arguing that the "one guard per school" idea is de facto crazy. I'm not convinced, and think you need to approach this holistically. Why are "guards in schools" and "limits on assault weapons/magazines" mutually exclusive propositions? If it's easier to buy extended magazines legally, the guard at the school will remain at a disadvantage unless, he, too, has an extended magazine. If it's harder for the killer to obtain the most dangerous weapons, then his potential victims have more chances to stop him. There are, sadly, dozens of cases to draw from. So let's start with the facts of those cases, then come back with the theories.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.