Saturday, April 20, 2013

Against lockdowns

I've never liked lockdown drills, especially in schools.  They strike me as unnecessarily scary, making millions of children consider the possibility of a "shooter" (the term that was used in Leafstrewn when lockdowns were introduced a few years ago) roaming their school with intent to slaughter them, and I'm skeptical about their effectiveness.  And now it looks like the city-wide lockdown yesterday wasn't really necessary or effective.

From what the Boston Globe reported this morning, after the suspect eluded the police, he never left the neighborhood, but despite a complete lockdown of the area and a somewhat looser city-wide lockdown (my kids and I managed to slip out to a neighboring town to go to a park), the police weren't able to find him.  Only after the lockdown was lifted, and ordinary people were able to leave their houses, did a local guy go out to his yard, notice blood on his boat and a hole in his tarp, and find the fugitive.

It is of course possible that lockdowns are sometimes useful, but I remain very doubtful that they're worth the effort and the fear.  They mainly, I think, serve to heighten our general climate of paranoia and terror.  Incidents of terrorism are generally trending down in the US over the past many decades, but because our culture is much more terrified, the effectiveness of each incident is much increased, and lockdowns are a part of that trend.  We should think about stopping them.


  1. Lockdowns of limited areas when an "active shooter" is actually rampaging may be defensible in rare cases, but the lockdown of an entire city due to one rogue suspect seemed insane, and lockdown drills in schools seem totally disproportionate to the actual risk. As far as I can tell, they serve as "cover your ass" exercises for administrators, and lessons in fear and compliance for impressionable youths. As someone said, "School lockdowns are used to teach kids the world is terrifying, so they'll submit to the Homeland Security state as adults."

    1. If the kids aren't impressionable, it's still a bad idea: they'll just develop contempt for the adults and institutions they have to live with very day.

      That said, I am keenly aware that this is a minority opinion. Most people seem to accept lockdowns as reasonable and prudent, and seem to see critics of lockdowns as a little bit unhinged, kind of like people who rant and rave about seatbelt laws or smoking bans. So I'm trying not to rant and rave, and I'll stop there.