Dr. Seuss and School Shootings: Because These Two Things Go Together


Dear Blue,


According to the current news cycle, I am light years behind a recent shooting that has been reported on, analyzed, dissected and argued over all over the internet. By the time you read this in the next few decades, it will be old history, and I hope, irrelevant old history. But I doubt that.


This time, the shooting takes on a different meaning for me. It’s the first one that’s happened since you were born, and while I always felt saddened by shootings prior to your birth, they never had that gut-wrenching, ijustwanttorunhomeandhugmychild effect on me. This is obviously because you are my first child, and now that you exist, I can’t imagine a world without you. But now, because you exist, I can imagine the grief the parents of the victims in these shootings feel.


So there’s that. There are some other interesting quirks that make me keep thinking of this incident. 1) It happened in Santa Barbara, about 2 hours away from our house. 2) The kid’s father was white. I’m white. 3) The kid’s mother was Chinese-Malaysian. Your mother is Chinese-Malaysian.


I think about these things, and even though I think that’s it silly to ever think that you and him could have a thing in common with Eliot Rodger, I think about it anyway.


What I think about is what most people think about. How do we stop these sorts of things from ever happening again?


And because people have questions, everyone tries to come up with the answer. It’s like trying to catch a tiger by the tail, except by the time you catch it, it’s already mauled a dozen people. But hey! You now have it by the tail! Which means precisely nothing because tigers don’t maul things with their tails. Pretty stupid, and even more stupid when you consider that there is more than one tiger in the world.


Some people say we need more gun control.

Some people say we need less gun control.

Some people say we need no guns.

Some people say…


You get the point. The world is too complex for simple fixes.


Everybody is wasting their time debating about guns. We live in America, and a lot of people take the 2nd amendment very seriously. Guns aren’t going anywhere. Our nation has been invaded exactly one time, just after it’s birth, and guns figure prominently in the repelling of that invasion. So I feel confident that my statement is true. Need further proof: we are the country that made the movie Red Dawn. Twice.


If it’s not guns, then it’s video games. Or lack of good parenting. Or lack of proper mental health screening. Or the internet. Just about anything is blamed and said to be the root cause of the problem. We do this, or better yet, try to do this, because having something to blame makes things make sense in the world. People need to know what they can do.


So now we get to you, Blue, and what you can do. Let’s talk about Dr. Seuss.


Your nearly 4-month-old self loves him some Dr. Seuss. You squeal and laugh and smile at every page, and without a doubt, your favorite book is Horton Hears A Who! It’s a wonderful story with wonderful stories and a great message. However, if you stop to think about what is going on in the story, it’s dark, man. Real dark.


Here you have an elephant who hears a tiny voice on a flower and discovers a whole world of people he never knew existed. This kangaroo doesn’t believe him, but instead of just letting gentle Horton live his fantasy, this bastard decides to launch a diabolical plot involving bastard monkeys and a bastard eagle to steal the flower from Horton and boil it in stew. Genocide, Blue. It’s right there in Dr. Seuss.


I digress. Back to my point. There’s a wonderful line repeated throughout the book and it goes like this:


A person’s a person, no matter how small.


Horton gets it, Blue. He spends the entire book trying to convince everyone of this simple truth. People matter. I like very much that every time I read this line to you, you smile real big.


I notice a common trend about almost every, if not every, school shooter. Even though their acts of violence were big, big, big, they were small, small, small. Every time this happens, you can bank on news outlet interviewing someone vaguely close to the killer and saying something like, “He was always so quiet. He seemed like a nice boy.” Clearly what seemed to be true and what was true were not exactly the same thing. These people had a lot to say, they weren’t heard, and so in response they acted out in the most violent way possible.


Perhaps that’s oversimplifying things, and perhaps its pie in the sky thinking to wonder if maybe someone had just listened, had just acknowledged their hurt and pain, that disaster might have been averted. I don’t know. I’m not in a place to know all that was done to help these individuals. Maybe nothing could have been done for them. Sometimes crazy is crazy.


Sometimes it’s not. I’d like to think that even if these tragedies occurred because nobody listened, there are countless other tragedies that were avoided because someone did.








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