Most of us don’t like to think much about violence. Those lucky enough to live relatively comfortable, secure lives in modern cities tend either to act as if it does not exist or, when reminded that it does, to write off the larger world “out there” as a terrible, brutal place, with not much that can be done to help it. Either instinct allows us not to have to think about the degree to which even our own daily existence is defined by violence or at least the threat of violence (as I’ve often noted, think about what would happen if you were to insist on your right to enter a university library without a properly validated ID), and to overstate the importance—or at least the frequency—of things like war, terrorism, and violent crime.
It’s true. Everyone who works in libraries is told to call security if a problem escalates, and trying to do something against the rules is a problem.