They'll be going back to school on Monday at Franklin Regional High School. Well, most everyone. Not the ones who are still in intensive care. Not the ones who are still afraid to go there. Not the one who is locked up. Last Wednesday, when sixteen-year-old Alex Hribal went on a rampage before classes began, he changed that school forever. It now joins a long list of schools, big and small, connected to tragedy. Police have charged Hribal with four counts of attempted murder and twenty-one counts of aggravated assault.
Take some time, if you must, to try and distinguish between the experience of someone attempting to murder you versus that of being assaulted with aggravation. It's hard enough to imagine such a scene, but even harder to try to fathom how one might go about prosecuting such a crime.
The good news: No one is calling for "common sense legislation on kitchen knives." When this sort of thing happens, it breaks down that wall between the real and the surreal. If it had been yet another school shooting, we would have a place to put it in our talking points. We could all line up on our sides: those of us who want someone to pry our guns from our cold dead hands, and those of us who would rather have a few less cold dead hands. Hribal's attorney Patrick Thomassey described the alleged attacker as a good student who got along with others, and asked for a psychiatric examination. Not for himself. For his client.
Because that's what it seems our country really needs: a psychiatric examination. Sandy Hook, Columbine, Virginia Tech, and all those other schools in between, now we can add Franklin Regional. As with all those other stories, there were heroes, and there were questions. Lots of questions. But the worst thing may have been the horrible sameness of it all. The kid who kept to himself who nobody would have ever expected, and the way yet another community has to find a way to pull itself back together. We are asked to understand that such attacks are becoming more prevalent in China, of all places. As if there was some solace to be gained from this information.
It doesn't matter if it was a knife. Or if it was in China. It was a crazy, desperate act carried out by a child. It's never going to make any sense.