American News

The Daily Devil’s Dictionary: School “Security” After Florida Shooting


February 15, 2018 11:02 EDT

There’s no need for emotion in Parkland, Florida. They were only assets.

Following the events in Parkland, Florida, pundits at Fox News were so upset about the 18th school shooting of 2018 and the 25th school massacre since 1999 that Sean Hannity felt obliged to propose a solution: school security. Having armed staff in every school would solve the real problem that is troubling America. Not the shootings, but the annoying wish of certain naive Americans to engage the “same, predictable, frankly insane, and intellectually lightweight debates” about gun control.

Here is today’s 3D definition:


A state of personal safety achieved by being surrounded by heavily armed soldiers or police, while counting on the fact that none of them will be unstable enough to create a new drama

Contextual note

Hannity is absolutely right to point out that the call to debate is “predictable.” It won’t happen because such debates are “insane” and “intellectually lightweight,” or rather because one side in the debate, which has the power to end all debate, has already decided to do so. As the old zen kōan goes, what is the sound of one hand clapping?

Hannity’s does have a “middle ground” solution and his program is simple, which can be summarized by the American “can do” kōan — “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Hannity lays it on the line: “We can secure anything we choose to secure … We have the mindset, we have the manpower and we have the people to do it.” The one thing we don’t have the will to do is to talk about guns. “This is not a gun debate,” he tells us.

Rhetorical notes

Hannity invited three regular Fox News commentators: Geraldo Rivera, Larry Elder (a black right-winger) and Sheriff David Clarke (also a black right-winger). Having two blacks and a Latino on air demonstrates Hannity’s commitment to including minorities supporting a position that often correlates with the culture of white supremacy.

Objecting to Rivera’s suggestion that military weapons such as AR-15s be banned, Elder asks, “What common sense gun control measure can we pass that can really minimize the carnage?” Elder’s rhetorical question has the effect of shutting Rivera up, but we suspect that this was scripted. Rivera is playing the role of token debater.

Elder’s first ploy is to evoke the formula “common sense gun control,” which is meant to be meaningless. “Common” suggests everyone involved in the debate will agree, which obviously will not happen. And the rhetorical question calls for a rhetorical answer, which he delivers by saying, “If there was some sort of common sense gun legislation … that didn’t violate the second amendment, I’m down with it.” He thus appears to agree, but follows up immediately with, “Tell me what it is.” This enables him to create the utterly false impression that there have been no proposals. Which of course works because Rivera has given up a debate he didn’t support in the first place.

More telling is the phrase, “that can really minimize the carnage.” Elder speaks like a manager here engaged in mathematical risk analysis, which leads to Sheriff Clarke playing the perfect rationalist as he warns, “you can’t let emotion drive public policy” as well as echoing Elder’s managerial approach as he talks about protecting “these valuable assets, our children.” There’s no need for emotion, because children are assets to be managed like any other asset.

And how will those assets be efficiently managed? By posting armed guards in schools.

Many critics have pointed out that the school system today already has many things in common with prisons. Parkland is in a region of Florida with an extremely high proportion of gated communities, luxury prisons for the well-off, which really means that they see the outside world as the increasing violent and ungovernable prison for the poor.

US culture is in a state of deep crisis. What better indicator of the depth of that crisis than the popularity of Fox News! Hannity is right to insist that “we have the mindset.” It’s a mindset of militarizing every solution of social conflict. And, as he insists, talking about it won’t help: “I don’t think anybody’s mind is going to be changed.”

Bring on the armed guards.

*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Photo Credit: 80’s Child /

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