The needs of the many

The issue of safety and guns in schools continues to keep Denver in turmoil. Various administrators vs. students vs. teachers vs. city officials vs. law enforcement. What should be done? How to keep kids safe in school?

For starters, a bit of wisdom from a movie comes to mind:

In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, there’s a scene where Spock is dying after exposing himself to a lethal dose of radiation in order to save the rest of the Enterprise crew:

Spock: “It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh … “

Kirk: … the needs of the few.”

Spock: “Or the one.”

There is wisdom there. Practicality. Fairness. And it can be applied in many situations on many levels. Let’s start with safety in Denver schools.

Don’t put teenagers known to be dangerous back into the general population, back into schools where the existing student body is focused on getting an education, not killing someone. Students have a right — a need — to feel safe at school

But wait, some would say, we don’t want to ruin a kid’s chance to be treated normally and get an education. We don’t want to deprive them of an education just because they made a “mistake” like possessing a ghost gun and high capacity magazine or attempting murder.

I flatly reject that thinking. As Spock and Kirk opined: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.

The rights and needs of serious, law-abiding students absolutely outweigh the needs of the few, or the one, who have knowingly thrown away the right to be a part of a normal student body.

Don’t just send those dangerous individuals down the road to another school, another faculty, another student body, where they can be someone else’s problem. Don’t endanger hundreds of other unsuspecting students in a misguided effort to save one. These days it’s no longer just a matter of fairness; it’s often a matter of life and death. Send those few or that one to a facility designed just for them. There they can get their educations, if they so choose, while not posing a danger to others.

It doesn’t help to pat them down every day before they enter school. The most recent Denver school shooter actually shot the two administrators charged with searching him. And the Virginia 6-year-old who shot his teacher had been searched several times after warnings that he had a gun.

Seems to me the logic is irrefutable: The needs of the many should — must — outweigh the needs of the few or the one.

10 thoughts on “The needs of the many

  1. I understand the logic (ahem) here, but I worry that excluding the guilty and the dangerous could easily get out of hand. I have a grandchild who was perplexed in the study of fractions. At first she simply could not get the concept through her head and was showing signs of hating all math. Fortunately, her father was able to work with her patiently and she achieved an A on a subsequent test. Fractions being a fundamental concept the situation might easily have had ramifications not only for subsequent math learning but for learning in general. This was a child in a safe and supportive environment. Imagine a child beset by poverty or being an unwanted child. It’s a wonder that we don’t have more school drop-outs and criminals. I don’t mean to oversimplify this, your concern is valid. I just saying that there’s a fine line between a bad apple and an apple with potential. I’m glad I don’t have to make that judgement.

    1. If the apple has been found guilty of carrying a gun, attempting murder, etc., I’d say they’ve sacrificed their right to be in a normal classroom. Even that 6-year-old was old enough to know right from wrong. And the older kids knew that breaking the law would have consequences.

  2. I recognised the quote when I saw your post. I appreciated it more when I read your post.
    I loved that movie, and I love the wisdom I so often see in your posts, Susan.

    1. I’d never thought much about that quote beyond the movie … until suddenly it struck me as particularly apropos in this situation. And after a long conversation with my son last night, I began to see it as broadly applicable to so much in our society.

      Imagine the hours of conversation we could have if you and I lived in the same town …

... and that's my two cents