I need to step out of any pretense of character, but it is most important to stress that this is not supposed to be about me.
If you have five minutes to spare, I would ask that you take a bit over four and a half of them to watch Rachel Maddow’s report and commentary about the shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. There is a bit to take in, but the segment includes a point about readiness, and regardless of what you think about how Maddow makes the point—I’m aware many just flat don’t like what she has to say, or how she says it, and so on—the key word is readiness.
Geographic proximity is always a bit rattling when these atrocities occur. And this time it was really close; my daughter does not attend Marysville schools, but that is beside the point. The only reason the two-town hop to Marysville seems like a long drive is because traffic through Everett is often plain obnoxious.
But this is not about fear. This is just the horror and revulsion, and yes, it seems a fairly reliable human behavior that proximity increases the magnitude of those sickening sensations. Let that say what it will.
But this is where it gets weird.
There are a handful of people in this area for whom this was the second jolt in a week.
Nobody died, but this was Wednesday for anyone who reads The Stranger, a weekly newspaper in Seattle:
Who the fuck calls in a bomb threat at GeekGirlCon?
And then one might wonder, “I’m sorry, what? How is it only now that I’m hearing about this?”
For BoingBoing readers, the news came a day earlier:
I didn’t feel safe going into GeekGirlCon. Hours earlier, Game developer Brianna Wu had tweeted about the threats she’d received, about calling the police, about sleeping somewhere else.
Just thinking about it made it hard to sleep. The next day, I was almost late to game critic Anita Sarkeesian’s opening panel, and was one of the last to be let in. There had been a bomb threat, of course, though we wouldn’t know about it until afterwards. They searched our bags.
Either way, there are a few people who experienced a very strange silence in their chests: My daughter was there, damn it!
And it is possible to skip denial, fleeing desperately into rationalization. It is not mine to suggest the threat was treated lightly. True, #GamerGate and its merry miscreant tagalongsα have yet to actually muster the will to follow through on their threats, but that really is not a fate worth tempting. It is enough to know the issue was handled well by conference personnel and local law enforcement. Something about readiness probably goes here.
In the end, it is tempting to skip anger according to the principle of whether it is really worth it to waste the energy of being angry.
Which in turn would seem to leave but a few basic questions that one might dare hope would have some useful purpose:
• What, exactly, is going on here?
• Why is this happening?
• How is this happening?
• What needs to happen in order to change what is happening?
The worst thing that could happen now is that we don’t learn anything.
This is going to keep happening. What are we going to do about that?
α The dust that followed the dog that followed the horse they rode in on.
Broom, Jack. “Wounded girls identified in Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting”. The Seattle Times. 25 October 2014.
Maddow, Rachel. “Gun-wielding student shocks Washington school”. The Rachel maddow Show. 24 October 2014.
Anonymous. “You Can’t Keep a GeekGirl Down”. The Stranger. 22 October 2014.
Dieker, Nicole. “GeekGirlCon is an oasis of acceptance”. BoingBoing. 21 October 2014.