The most fearsome label Not again. Five fatal shooting incidents in our schools last year, and now, only halfway through April, the worst of them all. As always, labels are attached to the tragedy, because labels organize things. Labels are rational and orderly; they line things up so they can be categorized, and thus understood. It's only been a couple days now, but already on Monday the labels were being assigned, some obvious, some not, and some just meaningless. Student. Loner. Korean. English major. Troubled.

Today the labels are more detailed. Writer of bizarre, troubling plays about murder and molestation. Stalker. Owner of accurate, expensive guns. Suicidal. Bomb threats. Green card. Mentally ill. And even really, really mean.

It isn't like no one noticed anything odd, or noticed but did nothing. Everyone noticed. He never spoke, and his signature was literally nothing more than a question mark. More than one of his professors actively attempted to do something; there were extreme warning signs, and alarms were sounded. Sadly, he hadn't yet acted, and little could be done.

So many labels, so many questions, and so much pain. To me, the most fearsome label of all is the one with the question mark on it, because that's the same label my daughter wears every day at her school. It's the label worn by every student—regardless of age, it seems—in every school in this country. Will my daughter survive her education? It's a question mark.


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