“Remember Jonesboro” is the latest rallying cry of the “If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere” crowd. In one sense, of course, they’re obviously correct: no town is immune to the evil influences that convince an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old to shoot and kill their fellow students. But the Jonesboro groupies are disingenuous: Why devote so much attention to an extraordinary event in a sleepy Southern town when every day far more children are killed by other children in America’s inner cities? It’s not hard to figure out the answer: the killers in Jonesboro were white, and their weapons were legally owned by the grandfather of one of the children. In other words, Jonesboro just proves what the gun-control lobby has argued all along: legal weapons guarantee violence, and Southern rednecks are the greatest threat to peace in America.

The gun-control lobby took up the rallying cry, and undoubtedly President Clinton’s decision to release an executive order banning the importation of a Chinese-made copy of the AK-47 was a response to Jonesboro, even though the kids used hunhng rifles (invariably described by the media as “high-powered semiautomatic assault weapons”). Mr. Clinton’s response was predictable. More disturbing was the rapidity with which “counselors” descended like vultures on Jonesboro. The day after the shootings, 50 grief counselors —some from as far away as Houston—arrived in town. By the time the slain students were buried, over 100 counselors had set up shop. (And once they’ve set up shop, don’t expect them to go away: one year after the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building, parents in Oklahoma City complained that counselors were still hounding their children at school.)

Granted, the good folks of Jonesboro had never experienced anything like this. But were 100 counselors—who did not live in Jonesboro, who had no real understanding of life there—really necessary? Perhaps it would have been better to let the people of Jonesboro struggle with their grief on their own, to let parents —rather than strangers—explain to their children that evil is part of the human condition.

At one time in America, most people would have agreed, and sent the meddlers packing. But today, the therapeutic mentality reigns supreme. Americans are afraid to engage in the most natural actions—cooking, rearing children, treating a cold—without consulting an “expert.” And increasingly, they turn their children over to strangers to provide them with sex education, drug and alcohol education, early childhood education. After all, the counselor knows best—but does he?

Last year, both U.S. News and World Report and the New Republic published stories critical of one of the most far-reaching school counseling organizations. Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE). DARE has come under fire for encouraging students to turn their parents in if they suspect them of using drugs, but studies have also shown that students who participate in the DARE program are more likely to use drugs than those who don’t. DARE, of course, claims that the solution is to implement its program at all grade levels, not just in elementary schools. But the real clue to the DARE-drug use connection lies in the philosophy of DARE itself, which was summed up nicely by Floyd Hall, Kmart chairman and CEO, when he announced the Kmart Kids Race Against Drugs Tour this spring: “It’s important for these kids to realize they can have fun without drugs.” Until Mr. Hall and DARE suggested otherwise, most children probably assumed that they could.

A high school student here in Rockford, making a presentation on alcohol abuse at a school board meeting, referred to herself as a “student leader and potential drug user.” The drug and alcohol “counselors” who put that thought into her mind both robbed her of her innocence and provided her with a convenient excuse for personal irresponsibility. We tell our children that they are potential drug users, and then when they live up to their potential, we shake our heads, hold out our hands, and ask for more money so that we can send the same message to more children more often.

Meanwhile, down in Jonesboro, a town grieving over an evil act can look forward to a trial that will provide them with no sense of closure, since the 13-year-old killer has realized that his rage and its consequences were not his fault. He has “recovered”—no doubt under the guidance of a counselor—a memory of sexual abuse while in daycare seven years ago. Now he is just as much a victim as the schoolmates he murdered.