Editorial: No joke has bullets as a punchline

by Editorial Board

A threat is never a joke. 

In the downstairs Dobbins boys’ bathroom this morning, an as-yet-unidentified student graffitied two lines from a J. Cole song: “I’m counting my bullets / I’m loading my clips.” They added a third: “Don’t come to school tomorrow.” 

That threat led to the following actions: a call to the police, an on-campus police visit, a mandatory meeting at 2:45 p.m. to alert the community and afterward, our dazed student community coming to terms, often for the first times in our young lives, with our own mortality.

In the wake of such a threat, everyone needs to make their own choices about their safety. 

If you feel comfortable, come to school tomorrow. There will be more officers, more precautions and more security throughout the next week. 

But your safety must be your first priority. A gun threat — no matter its intention — should be taken seriously. Feeling safe, especially physically safe, takes precedence over any homework assignment, project, or obligation. If you feel uncomfortable coming to school, you should absolutely feel justified in making that decision.

An event like this reverberates throughout our school, and it’s important to recognize that our fellow students, teachers and community are all going through the same emotions — distress, anger, fear. So support each other. Talk to a friend, rant, vent. Check in, and show that you care. 

To whoever did this: if this was intended as a jest, it didn’t work. No one is laughing with you. This is not a game for anyone. 

If internal difficulties motivated you to do this, the upper school community is here for you. But inflicting damage upon anyone, whether psychological or physical, will not resolve anything. 

Instead, reach out. Whether it be your friends, or a counselor, or any adult you are comfortable with, reach out — with something other than the barrel of a gun.