Another day, another story in the news about how horrible homeschoolers are. This latest story has me stirred up and angry. Because it’s so illogical, among other things.
If you haven’t followed the news, the police finally caught the Austin bomber responsible for killing 2 people and injuring 4 more. Almost as soon as they identified him, we began hearing that he was homeschooled.
Let me be clear – I do NOT condone anything this man did. I do not support any of his opinions or motives for what appears to be a hate crime. I am livid that, of everything to focus on, the media is focusing on homeschooling. We are not the problem.
The bomber, Mark Conditt, was 23 years old. An adult. He attended college. He lived on his own with room mates, and moved out of the family home years ago. He’s not a current homeschooler, and hasn’t been a homeschooler for 5 years. So what does homeschooling have to do with the story?
Here we go again
We homeschoolers are bracing for yet another backlash. Homeschoolers in the Austin suburbs have commented that reporters are cold calling them and being a general nuisance. The media are hounding people who have nothing to do with the bomber except that they educate their kids the way he was educated years ago.
That’s wrong. Worse, it’s poor reporting practices. Go talk to the roommates. The family. The neighbors. You know, the people who actually knew the guy, and who might be able to give you better picture of the guy who changed from a cute kid to a serial murderer.
Human issues, not homeschool
It’s one thing after another: homeschoolers are abusers, homeschooler neglect their kids, homeschoolers are mass murderers. Add that to the already existing stereotypes about homeschoolers and you get fear mongering, anger, and calls for homeschooling reform. Fix the problem of homeschooling!
The problem homeschoolers have is that we are people. We are human. And like every other human out there, we have strengths and weaknesses, we have struggles, we have issues. Humans are abusers, neglectful, murderers: overall horrible people. We also happen to be caring, giving, thoughtful, unselfish, compassionate people. We are human.
Making a better choice
I think the thing that angers me the most about the coverage – and other coverage of horrible events – is that there is no mention of personal responsibility. We’re straining so hard to understand why this event happened that we seek anything to blame it on. Mental health issues, radicalization, homeschooling, prior abuse, neglected childhood, bullying ….. the list goes on and on.
I’m not going to say that these things don’t have an impact, because they do. They can shape the direction of a person’s life in major ways. But at the end of the day, we each have the ability to say “no, I chose to be better. I chose to not blindly follow the path I was set on, I chose to change.” My past does not define me. It does not control me. I chose to be better than that.
Personal responsibility for our actions
The people who chose to do horrible things like shoot students at a school or plant bombs to kill others – they made that choice. We may never know why they made that choice, but it’s their responsibility. Not their parents.’ Not their friends.’ It’s not the school’s responsibility. Not the kids who chose to let them sit alone at lunch. It’s not even the responsibility of those who may have bullied them.
It’s not homeschoolers’ fault that an abuser hid behind the cloak of homeschooling. It’s not homeschoolers’ fault that a former homeschooler decided to build bombs and kill people. It’s the individual’s fault – it’s their guilt – it’s their responsibility.
So stop trying to make us all feel guilty for what another person did. Stop putting survivors guilt on the parents and friends “who should have known something” about it. It’s not their fault. It’s their responsibility to report it if they knew, but it’s not their fault. The individual who made the choice to hurt others has the final responsibility.
Homeschooling is not the problem. Hate is.
Note: a reader pointed out that my “personal responsibility” point ignores mitigating factors like racism, lack of access to mental health facilities, etc. It’s not my intent to ignore these factors, but to point out that many people experience them and only a few go on to commit violent acts against others. So personal responsibility becomes the bottom line – the final barrier against hurting others for things that we experience.
I’m not sure I saw anything blaming homeschooling… I saw it more as reporting on his school location, just as they would say “the Connolly grad” had he gone there.
The media did the same style of reporting on the Turpin case, and homeschoolers are now facing invasive bills designed to strictly regulate homeschooling in California and Wisconsin. Maryland’s bill never made it out of committee. The media doesn’t have to overtly blame homeschooling, they simply have to keep linking homeschooling/bomber, just like they linked homeschooling/abuse.
If the bomber had graduated from public school, no one would mention that. It’s not pertinent to the story unless they interviewed former classmates.