School Shooters and Privilege


by Keith Doubt

It is noted that in the United States school shooters are mostly young white boys. It is asked what does this mean. This observation is not just a categorical variable. There is a significance to the observation. There is a cultural, social and moral significance to the observation.

It then is asked what if in the United States the school shooters were non-white. If school shooters were mostly young black boys, how would numerous people in the United States react to the wanton murders of defenceless, precious, young children while in their schools. There would be scapegoating and vengeance, even more than there is now.

What then does it mean that school shooters are mostly young white boys? Subconsciously and consciously for some, school shooters exemplify white privilege.

What is white privilege? School shooters exemplify the idea and practice of absolute freedom to themselves, to others, and to society. The privilege of absolute freedom results in the construction and perpetuation of nihilism. The more nihilistic the act, the more free it is.  The more violent the act, the more free it is.

Absolute freedom, of course, is what Hobbes called natural right. “The right of nature is the liberty each man hath to use his own power as he will himself.” Within the framework of the right of nature, the best social contract is, in fact, no social contact. The people in the United States and their government need to recognize how school shooters swallow this lure of natural right hook, line, and sinker, dragging their society, with the help of an enabling news media, toward absolute terror.

Photograph by _oblique_

About the Author:

Keith Doubt is Professor of Sociology at Wittenburg University. He is the author of Towards a Sociology of Schizophrenia: Humanistic Reflections (University of Toronto Press), Sociology after Bosnia and Kosovo: Recovering Justice (Rowman & Littlefield), Sociologija nakon Bosne (Buybook, Sarajevo) and Understanding Evil: Lessons from Bosnia (Fordham University Press). With Omer Hadziselimovic he is the co-editor of the interdisciplinary, bilingual journal, Duh Bosne / Spirit of Bosnia. His most recent book, Through the Window: Kinship and Elopement in Bosnia-Herzegovina was published in 2014 by Central European University Press.