School Shooter Jokes Are Insensitive and Distasteful

Gabriella Pinos/Opinion Director

I shouldn’t have to tell you that school shooter jokes aren’t funny.

If you’re in college and think it’s okay to point at someone and say, “that guy looks like he could shoot up a school,” kindly go back to middle school. I’m sure the 12-year-olds will appreciate your brand of humor.

Aside from being low-brow comedy, joking about a complex national crisis that is plaguing our youth is ignorant and distasteful, to say the least. As of Sep. 1, there have been 283 mass shootings in America in 2019. Fear of mass shootings has permeated every area of our lives, from our schools to our jobs to our neighborhoods. School shooter drills are now a part of elementary, middle and high school routines. There is not a moment when we aren’t reminded of the awful tragedies that have transpired in the past few years.

Some of those tragedies occurred here in South Florida, impacting dozens, if not hundreds, of FIU students. This past August, a student threatened to bring an assault rifle to the Graham Center in a WhatsApp group chat. And in February 2018, gunman Nicholas Cruz shot and killed 17 people in Parkland, a city less than an hour’s drive from FIU. 

And yet the internet is rife with Parkland jokes and underhanded jabs at white kids. I get that Millennials and Gen Zers are no strangers to edgy humor, but it doesn’t take a college degree to know that it’s not the best idea to joke about the deaths of innocent lives.

To say that there’s a stereotype surrounding school shooters is an understatement. Most of the mass shootings in 2019 have been at the hands of young, white guys; social media thus decided to characterize all young, white guys as angry or reactionary due to their peers’ actions. 

The hatred for the “straight white male” didn’t start because of the increase in mass shootings in the U.S., but these tragedies have exacerbated that sentiment. The trend has largely been a cultural reaction to the atrocities white men have committed in the past, including unwarranted mass killings.

But that doesn’t mean all white men are murderers, nor should you call all white men murderers just because they fit the stereotype. Doing so is, by its very nature, discriminatory, even if Twitter doesn’t want to admit it.

More importantly, comparing someone to a school shooter only perpetuates the harmful narrative we’ve formed toward this group of people. A similar thing happened back in the early 2000s, when the Sep. 11, 2001, attacks were fresh in the minds of Americans. The fear and hatred people felt toward the attackers translated to a fear and hatred for Muslims altogether, eventually evolving into racial and ethnic prejudice and xenophobia.

In the case of white men, this pushes groups such as incels to incite violence on others as a “punishment” for shunning them. Even those who aren’t part of these groups may feel rejected by their peers because of their appearance, causing them to band together and associate with the “school shooter” stereotype.

News flash: if you anger a group of people over and over again, some of them are going to snap.

Just as some paranoid Americans lumped all Muslims as terrorists after 9/11, lumping all shy white guys as school shooters is wrong. Lumping any group of people into one category, no matter how funny the internet thinks it is, is wrong. It should be obvious, but with the rise of “white guilt” and edgy humor, people still aren’t getting the memo.

It’s one thing to make a joke, and it’s a completely different thing to make someone feel ashamed for who they are.



The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

Featured photo from Flickr.

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