An Open Letter To Charlotte Allen, Who Thinks Men Would Have Stopped The Newtown Massacre

Dear Charlotte Allen,

By the time this open letter posts on The Frisky, half the internet will have already ripped you a new asshole for your offensive, error-riddled article published in The National Review, in which you shared your “observations” about what went wrong at last Friday’s Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. But I don’t care. I’m going to tear you a new one too.

In your piece, you say that Sandy Hook Elementary School (“a K-6 school”) is a “feminized setting” with no male staff members and in such an environment, “passivity is the norm.” Schools like Sandy Hook are, in your view, lacking in “male aggression.”

“Male aggression can be a good thing, as in protecting the weak,” you write, skirting around the fact that a male aggressor, Adam Lanza, was who the weak needed protecting from. “But it has been forced out of the culture of elementary schools and the education schools that train their personnel.” (Why do I suspect, though, that you are actually just the type of person who thinks teaching is for girls?)

While you begrudgingly admit that Sandy Hook’s female staff members — six of whom were killed by Lanza — “seemed” to have acted heroically, you are quite clear in your suggestion that lives would have been saved if only there’d been more men — even “a male janitor to heave his bucket at Adam Lanza’s knees” — around.

“Think of what Sandy Hook might have been like if a couple of male teachers who had played high-school football, or even some of the huskier 12-year-old boys, had converged on Lanza,” you write.

Hold up. Before we proceed any further, fact check time.

FACT: Sandy Hook is a K-4 school, not K-6, so no 12-year-old boys, husky or otherwise, around to charge at 20-year-old men brandishing firearms. And let’s be clear: that you’re suggesting 12-year-old children would, could or should “converge” on anyone firing at them with a gun is insane.

FACT: There are at least two men on staff at Sandy Hook Elementary — a 4th grade teacher and a janitor, though no word on whether he carries a magical bullet-deflecting bucket.

Got that? Let’s continue. You write that unarmed people still need to fight back against criminals, “because no one else will.” Sure, you pish-posh, police advise unarmed victims not to fight back, but they’re wrong and you know better. When under attack, you must use whatever you have available to strike back! Throw things, dammit! You use United Flight 93 as a primary example of such methods being effective. Passengers — “a bunch of guys,” you emphasize — on that aircraft are believed to have successfully fought back against the terrorists who had taking control of the plane on September 11, causing it to crash in Pennsylvania instead of into the White House or the Capitol. They did so by “doing what they could with what they had.”

Here’s the thing, Charlotte, and this is not to diminish the heroism of those passengers on Flight 93 — they were fighting back against men with box cutters, not a dude holding a semi-automatic assault weapon. And, as Slate points out, they also “has a long time to plan their counterattack, ducking behind seats and whispering.” You can hardly compare the two scenarios.

Tragically, however, there are plenty of other mass shootings against which we can compare what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary so, really, we don’t have to imagine what effect having more men around would have had that day. Let’s see…

Columbine High School, which is co-ed, surely had quite a few husky teenagers and football players, not to mention a number of male staff members, on April 20, 1999, when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold used four guns to kill 13 students (and injure 21 more) before killing themselves.

Fort Hood is the United States’ most populous military installation, so you know there were a heck of a lot of men — soldiers! — around when Nidal Malik Hasan shot and killed 13 people (mostly men!) and injured 29 others on November 5, 2009.

Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007. Virginia Tech, just FYI, is a large university with one of the highest male-to-female student ratios.

And that movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, where James Holmes shot and killed 12 people and injured 58? Plenty of men there too.

In short, when a lunatic with an assault weapon is intent on committing murder, it doesn’t matter how many fucking people with XY chromosomes you have around.

Here’s the thing you really need to get through your head, Charlotte Allen: The women who make up the so-called “feminized setting” at Sandy Hook Elementary School did do what they could with what they had on December 14, 2012. Some of them lived, some of them died, but they all saved lives.

Principal Dawn Hochsprung reportedly lunged at Lanza in attempt to disarm him before he shot her to death.

Mary Sherlach, the school psychologist, also rushed at Lanza and was shot dead.

Teacher Victoria Soto hid her students inside a closet and blocked them inside with her body, shielding them from Lanza’s bullets. She died and so did many of her students — but some of them survived because of her.

Other teachers, like Maryrose Kristopik and Kaitlin Roig, acted quickly and were able to hide their students in bathrooms and storage spaces where Lanza couldn’t find them, and occupied frightened youngsters by quietly playing games and singing songs. What you call “feminized passivity” I call level-headed and brave.

You should be, but I doubt you are, deeply ashamed for writing this offensive, factually incorrect pile of drivel. It is an insult to men, women and children, not to mention the very notion of what it means to be brave.

In conclusion, to summarize basically every single one of the hundreds and hundreds of comments on your article:

Fuck you, Charlotte Allen.

Amelia McDonell-Parry