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The Price of Being Different 543

Posted by JonKatz
from the the-rights-of-geeks dept.
Since Littleton, the cost of being different has gone up. Thousands of powerful e-mail messages have chronicled an educational system that glorifies the traditional and the normal, and brutalizes and alienates people who are or who are perceived as different under various names -- geeks, freaks, nerds, Goths and oddballs. One of the powerful messages coming out of Colorado is that so many of these "different" kids say they find school boring, oppressive, and utterly hostile, feelings echoed by educational survivors, many of whom are now parents. The hysteria over Littleton has only made things worse. It's time geeks defined and lobbied for some new rights. From their own messages, here are some places to start.

Joan McDonald has been a teacher in a New York State suburban public high school for nearly three decades. "While deeply saddened by the tragedy in Littleton," she wrote Tuesday, "I am appalled at the resulting backlash our students are forced to suffer" in the wake of the Littleton massacre.

The last thing we need in the 20th Century, she wrote, is another witchhunt.

But that's what we're getting. McDonald described what hundreds of other teachers, administrators and students have been reporting all week - an assault on speech, dress, behavior or values that the media, politicians and some educators deem uncomfortably different a/k/a geek, nerd, Goth, the usual labels.

In a Gallup poll this week, 82 per cent of Americans surveyed said the Internet was at least partly to blame for the Colorado killings. And schools across the country were banning trench coats, backpacks, black clothing, white make-up, Goth music, computer gaming shirts and symbols. They installed hotlines and "concern" boxes for anonymous "tips" about the behavior of non-mainstream students. Kids who talked openly about anger and alienation, or who confessed thoughts of revenge or fantasies of violence against people who'd been tormenting and excluding them, were hauled off to counselors.

Thus the students already at risk, already suffering, have become suspects, linked in various thoughtless ways to mass murder and - consequently - more alienated than before.

The number of incidents involving disaffected kids and schools is growing. In Canada, a 14-year-old boy shot two students at a high school in Alberta, killing one. In Brooklyn, five boys were charged with conspiracy after allegedly compiling a list of people to be killed in an attacked planned for their schools commencement on June 26. In Oak Lawn, Illinois, a 15-year-old boy was charged with assault and disorderly conduct after an ax, knives, a rifle, shotguns, and 150 rounds of ammunition were found in his home. In California, one student was arrested for threatening to burn down a middle school and another for threatening to blow up the high school. In the city of Chicago, a 15-year-old was caught with a .22 caliber gun taped to his ankle. Pennsylvania officials reported at least 52 bomb scares and other threats at schools in 22 counties. In Washington, more than 12,000 high school students were evacuated after a caller said hed placed a bomb in one of the citys 13 public schools. In Longwood, Florida, a 13-year-old student was arrested after allegedly threatening to place a bomb at the school and kill eighth graders who had tormented him. A note on a map hes supposedly drawn included the phrase "revenge will be sweet."

"I just came right now from the counselor's office," e-mailed DrgnD. "I scored a thousand. I had on a long coat, was wearing black and loudly told the jerk sitting next to me that I'd do my best to kill him if he ever called me a " trenchcoat freak" again. I am now officially on probation. He is not."

Among the many other consequences of the Columbine High School tragedy: the cost of being different just went up.

Take the Goths, one of the distinct sub-cultures singled out by the press and linked to the Littleton bloodbath. Gothwalker says he (Drew) wrote his principal after his school made plans to ban black clothing, trenchcoats and Marylyn Manson music.

Goths have been e-mailing me for months now.

One of the most individualistic, interesting, and yes, gloomy subcultures, Goth is a style - of music, dress, state of mind. In general, Goths wear black, hang out on the Net, experiment with androgynous styles, are sometimes drawn to piercings, tattoos and white makeup; and love Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy and the Cure. Among their cherished authors are Sartre, Burroughs, Shelley and Poe. Fascinated with death (a taboo in the media and certainly in schools, along with sex and the open discussion of religion), Goths see it as a part of life.

In general, though, Goths do not hurt people. They brood; they emote; but the idea that they are murderous is a cultural libel.

One of the educational system's pervasive responses to Littleton was to lecture oddballs and geeks about the importance of not slaughtering others. One thing geeks and nerds hardly need is patronizing, offensive lesssons about the importance of not committing massacres. They're probably one of the least likely cultures in American life to commit homicide; their weapons of choice are electronic flames, not machine guns.

Of the thousands of e-mail messages I got this week (4,000 between Friday and Wednesday is my best guess), not one advocated violence or supported assault, murder or revenge.

Although many expressed sympathy for the killers as well as the victims in Littleton (unlike, say Time Magazine, which accompanied cover photos of the killers with the headline "The Monsters Next Door"), no one threatened violence, supported it, or approved of it.

But the stories of physical, verbal, emotional and administrative abusive that came pouring in were stunning, a scandal for an educational system that makes much noise about wholesomeness and safety, but has turned a blind eye for years to the persecution of individualistic and vulnerable students.

The Voices from the Hellmouth series on Slashdot this week demonstrated the power of interactivity and connectivity. Kids passed it around to one another, to parents, friends, teachers and guidance counselors.

"My seventeen year-old son handed me a print -out of your Littleton article," wrote Bagatti. "No one seems to think that peer abuse is real or damaging. I would like to see any adult report for work and be taunted, humiliated, harassed, and degraded every single day without going stark, raving mad. Human beings are not wired for abuse."

One of the clear messages from all of the e-mail was that it's time for geeks and nerds and the assorted "others" of the world to assert themselves, to begin defining and asserting their long overdue rights, perhaps with the help of the communicative possibilities of the Net. And to begin the work of re-structuring American schools - barely changed in generations despite the ongoing Information Revolution - and their frequently warped procedures, infrastructure and value systems.


At the very top of the agenda: Freedom from abuse, humiliation and cruelty. Geeks, nerds, and oddballs have the right to attend school in safety. Teachers and administrators have an obligation to make dignity for everybody - not just the popular and the conventional -- an urgent educational concern, in the same way they've taken on racism and other forms of bigotry.

Geeks who are harassed and humiliated should report the assaults, and perhaps using the possibilities of the Internet, take their complaints farther if they are ignored or further victimized. Online, they can receive support, advice, even counseling if necessary. Judging from many of my e-mail messages, it is.


Each generation has the right to determine its own culture. Culture isn't just symphony orchestras, movies about dead British royalty and hard-bound books. For some, culture is now also gaming, websites, chat and messaging systems, TV shows, music and movies.

No generation has the right to dictate to another what its culture ought to be, or to degrade its choices as stupid and offensive. Yet geek and nerd culture is continuously denounced as isolating, addictive and, now, even murderous.

Games like Tribe, Unreal, Quake, even The Legend of Zelda, and yes, Doom, can be astoundingly creative, challenging and imaginative. They are often demanding, played in communal and interactive ways. Some people may be uncomfortable with some of their imagery.

But youth culture has frequently been offensive to adults - that's often the point - and culture has always evolved. Adults seem to have no memories of their own early lives. Early rock and roll was likened to medieval plagues by the clueless journalists and nervous educators of the time. Now, next to some extreme forms of hip-hop, Chuck Berry seems as dangerous as Beethoven.

Adolescence is a surreal world: kids who don helmets and practice banging into one another for hours each week are deemed healthy and wholesome, even heroic. Geeks are branded strange and anti-social for building and participating in one of the world's truly revolutionary new cultures - the Internet and the World Wide Web.

Or for being isolated or lacking school spirit. Or for listening to industrial music or wearing odd clothes. But perhaps geek kids are isolated partly because schools don't provide them with any means of connecting.

Educators need to radically expand their notions of what culture is, and to re-consider the messages of disdain they continuously send some of their potentially most creative and students.

Inhabitants of a new world, with a new culture, geeks often find that the old symbols don't work for them - pep rallies, proms, assemblies, etc. In fact, scholars like Janet Murray of MIT ("Hamlet On The Holodeck") are beginning to explore the ways in which interactivity and representational writing and thinking are changing the very neural systems of the young.

Instead of banning Doom and Quake, schools should be forming Doom and Quake clubs, presided over by teachers who actually know something about the online world ( my e-mail indicates that there's one frustrated geek on the faculty in most schools). Any school with a football team ought to have a computer gaming, web design or programming team as well. Geeks ought to see their interests represented in educational settings, to not simply feel pushed to the margins of everyone else's. When these new interests and values are recognized and institutionalized, geek kids may have more status, and feel less like aliens in their own schools.

Schools need to provide choices. Educators love to talk empowerment, but few seem to grasp what it means. Geek kids are not, in general, docile and obedient; their subculture is argumentative and outspoken. Online, each person makes his or her own rules, goes where he or she wants to go. Increasingly, it's a difficult transition between free-wheeling cyberspace and the oppressive, rule-bound Old Fartism that dominates American education.

"School sucks," e-mailed Jane from Florida. "It's run like a police state, and it's boring and clueless."

Kids raised in interactive environments - with zappers, Nintendos, computers, sophisticated games - complain that they sometimes struggle in environments where adults stand for hours droning at them about passive things. This doesn't mean they are dumb, just different. Their digital world is much more vital, colorful and engaging that their educational one.

Geeks are used to choice, a landmark cultural and political issue for them. It's the responsibility of schools to create more challenging and interactive environments for its students - a benefit for all younger people who need to learn how to analyze, how to question, how to reach decisions, not just how to take notes and then check the right boxes on the midterm.


And: freedom. Why does the First Amendment end at the school door, when many kids, especially geeks, have spent much of their lives in the freest part of American culture - the Internet? Online, people can speak about anything: dump on God, talk about sex, flame pundits, express themselves politically and rebelliously. In school, no one can.

Geeks, perhaps more accustomed to free expression than their non-wired peers, increasingly and disturbingly refer to schools as "fascistic" environments in which they are censored and oppressed. All kids can't have absolute freedom all the time but many kids, especially older ones raised in the Digital Age, need more than they're getting. Without it, they will become increasingly alienated.

A gaming website like PlanetQuake gets more than 70,000 visitors a day; Planet Halflife gets about 30,000. GameSpy, which helps gamers connect to local games, draws between 60,000 and 80,000. Estimates of online gamers in the United States alone run as high as 15 to 20 million people. The half-baked notion that this activity sparks kids to grab lethal weapons and murder their peers sends a particular kind of message to the millions of kids gaming on and off-line -- that the people responsible for educating and protecting them (politicians, therapists, journalists, educators - have no idea what they are talking about, and are posturing in the most ignorant and self-serving ways. It's hard to imagine a more alienating lesson for the young than that.

Finally: access to popular culture and to the Internet isn't a privilege. It's a right. For many kids, the Net isn't alienation, but its alternative; it's their intellectual, social, cultural and political wellspring. They need it to learn, to feel safe and connected, and to function economically, socially and politically in the next century. Obviously, no rights come without responsibilities - and those should be spelled out both in schools and in families. But access to the Net and to other facets of one's culture ought not be a toy that parents and teachers are willing to dispense to "good" and "normal" boys and girls. For many kids, it's their lifeblood, and it shouldn't be restricted, withdrawn or used manipulatively except under the most serious circumstances.


It already seems clear from the stories coming out of Colorado that the two young killers killers were severely disturbed, victims of mental illness about which we know, to date, very little. The media roadshow - increasingly our leading transmitter of national hysterias -- that quickly engulfs stories like these demands answers, and has an endless supply of experts happy to go on TV and supply them.

But Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, along with the completely innocent people that they slaughtered, are also victims deserving of compassion. Their illnesses may or may not have been exacerbated by social cruelty and alienation, they may or may not have been affected by access to violent imagery and/or lethal weaponry. We may never be able to answer the why's their act provoked. Human minds, for all we're learning about them, sometimes remain mysterious, human acts inexplicable.


Reading all these messages from the Hellmouth this week, I've been overwhelmed by the outpouring of suffering generated by the experience of going to school, and by the brutal price people have paid and are paying for being different. Few people commit violence in schools, but way too many have fantasized about it.

These messages were, in different ways, all saying the same thing. A humane society truly concerned about its children would worry less about oddballs, computer games and clothing, and more about creating the kind of schools kids would never dream of blowing up.

Postscript-just came in:
My life has been turned upside down over the last few days, all because I wear a trenchcoat to school. The vice principal called the local sheriff because of rumors that he herd. On Friday I had my home searched by 3 deputies when they didn't find any thing I thought that it was the end of my humiliation but it was only the start. When I got to school Friday I had to spend a entire hour talking to the vice principal and a guidance councilor. Today when I got to school I was called back to his office and this time had a nice chat with a detective from the local police. This time the person from the police was asking me about rumors that when the sheriff searched my home that they found weapons and bombs. I now have a police investigation going on about rumors of the sheriff's investigation. In the mean time I have been speeding more time out of class then in it. When will this witch hunt end? When can I get back to my life? And when will the nation learn that it is pointless to composite for long periods of inaction with extreme over reaction.

Mootar in central IL

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The Price of Being Different

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Katz,

    Where did you get the idea that cultures "evolve?" Certainly not from cultural anthropologists.

    "Evolve" implies that something is getting better or more sophisticated when in reality our culture simply becomes more complex and segmented. Goth culture is just an occurrance, it is no better, more evolved, or worse than any other dead end development in American Pop Culture. It would be more accurate to say that culture "changes."
  • Tell me who wasn't subjected to some form of abuse in high school. In general, teenagers are fairly cruel. Cliques have been around since high school was invented.

    Most of these kids pride themselves on being different, then cry when the crowd treats them differently. Sorry, but Goth is weird. If you can't stand the heat, then choose another style.

    There will always be mean people. How you react is your choice -- stew in a bucket of whiney self-pity, or react in an intelligent, rational manner. Violence doesn't answer anything. Neither does whining.

    I was treated as weird in H.S. I made it through knowing that I was going to graduate college and pull down good money, while the jocks all sold used cars.

    Quit whining and quit reading Katz' opportunistic crap.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you sort the factors on the gallup poll by only the "great deal to blame" numbers you get an interesting story:

    To blame:

    Availability of guns: 60%p? Parents: 51%

    TV Programs and music: 49%

    Social pressures on youth: 43%

    The internet: 34%

    Media coverage of similar incidents: 34%

    Schools: 11%

    The not-at-all to blame numbers were pretty low across the board, in fact the ONLY place where they were in the double digits at all were with the schools (22% not at all to blame) and the Internet (11% not at all to blame.)

    To see the Gallup Poll for yourself, the link is here. [gallup.com]

    I'm afraid I'm not going to have to accuse Jon Katz of milking this story for all it's worth, along with the rest of the media. I haven't heard any really useful suggestions for future prevention of this sort of thing from them either.

    Your Servant, A.C.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why the goths' presumed obsession with Burroughs along with authors such as Poe? WSB has always struck me as being too cynical and well adjusted to be truly appreciated by anyone dwelling in existential misery and laughable pseudo-intellectualism. Just wondering, really, please enlighten me if you can.

    AC
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Until then outsiders human rights are being egregiously violated.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    And when you start doing ___ again, all the conformists who got used to thinking only Evil People do ___ will freak, and the witch hunt will begin again. It's *very important* for the authorities to see pleasant and well-adjusted people wearing black, playing Quake, and generally being unusual - it makes us much harder to demonize.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I didn't hate it either - but I certainly had my
    fair share of problems, especially in junior high.

    I was picked on daily by many other kids for the first half of seventh grade - because I never fought back. One day I just had enough and fought
    back - against one of the biggest kids on 7th
    grade - and that was the end of it.

    I only hit him once and he was way tougher than
    I was, but people only pick on you if they know
    you're not going to do anything about it.

    One of the nerds in our grade (who was short and
    gay btw) secretly took ju-jitsu lessons - and in
    8th grade he beat up one of the worst bullies in
    school. It was great.

    I suppose in a larger school (class of 450 or so)
    it isn't as much of a problem as it might be in
    smaller schools where "everyone knows everyone".
    If you don't have a chance to socialize and you
    keep all of your hatred inside, there is a greater
    chance that you'll end up like one of those two
    kids in Colorado.

    No excuse for that kind of behaviour but it can
    be prevented. Kids in their teens are the
    cruelest of any age.

    Mark
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ditto. The only problem I had was that one guy in
    my electronics class picked a fight with me for
    my liking chess. We exchanged licks in the hall
    outside the classroom, but that was it. And a two
    day suspension for both of us.

    I mostly never noticed all the supposed "trouble
    with the kids of today" during my day, but I
    suspect it was because I was too enthralled with
    all the cool nerd things I was interested in, such
    as who could hang the most expensive slide rule
    on his belt.

    I was visibly nerdy, so I was a visible target.
    It just never happened. I suppose the harassers
    had bigger fish to torment...

    Mark Edwards
    ------------
    Proof of Sanity Forged Upon Request
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Thank you. Oh THANK YOU! I agree to feeling in the minority. I was begining to feel weird for not having bad feelings about high school.

    I was a "Dungeons and Dragons" nerd, who loved model rockets and skeet shooting (yes, I actually used a gun RESPONSIBLY --oh shock of shocks!).

    I had my share of getting insulted and invited to fights, I made A's and B's, except for one class that I rebelled in (for a "D-"). But overall I liked high school. I still keep up with some friends from high school.

    Once again, I think the media has taken our desire to analyze a tragedy and overblown it into a ProblemFest.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There is this saying, and it's mostly true. The
    nerds do much better on the wide open oceans
    of the real world than the jocks ever do. The
    only reason the jocks win in high school is
    because there's nowhere to go - you're always
    cheek to jowl with everyone else, crammed in
    like the cattle the school bureaucrats see you
    as. Give you some room to maneuver, and you
    can always, always move faster than they can.

    I was just like you 10 years ago, and as much
    as I would like to forget, I can't. I understood
    Littleton in about 30 seconds. All too well.
    Unfortunate, for them and for us.

    Let me give all of you nerds in high school
    some advice. You're never going to win playing
    their game. So DON'T. It's time to think outside
    the box, folks. It's our strength and their
    weakness. Let's use our strength.

    The problem is public high school. It's an
    outdated institution, that will one day implode
    under it's own weight. But that's at least 30
    years away from now. You don't have that long.
    And before it happens, more chaos, like we've
    seen, is going to occur. No bureaucracy goes
    quietly into the night. They all rage, rage
    rage against the dying light.

    You need to somehow get the necessary credentials
    to get into college, so you can get that 4-year
    degree. And you need to do it without spending
    another day in high school. You must do it NOW.
    The persecution will only get worse.

    My proposal is junior college. Most junior colleges will take just about anyone. I
    remember being able to take classes and receive
    grades on college level calculus while I was
    in high school, by attending junior college.
    You may have to talk your way past the junior
    college admissions office, but I'm here to say
    that it IS possible.

    And once you've got a junior college degree,
    it's VERY VERY easy to transfer to a real
    4-year college. Then you get your real degree,
    and you're home free.

    Another available path is to somehow weasel
    your way in to a magnet school in your district.
    There you can be in communion with your own
    kind, and go directly into a real college.

    Another path is to get into a private school,
    if your parents have the dough. But take care,
    some private schools are just as full of jocks
    as the public schools.

    As a last resort, drop out, home school, and
    take your GED. You won't be able to get into
    a 4-year college, but if you take the junior
    college route, you should be able to attend
    a 4-year with a little work.

    There's no reason to put up with any of this.
    Use your creativity, find some room to maneuver,
    and watch those jock fade into time and distance.
  • The other attacks recently were not committed by Goths or geeks. They were simply kids that lashed out in anger. Whether it be teasing or physical abuse children need to learn how to resolve their conflicts without violence. The problem is that these kids are not being listened to. They are being pushed against the wall and react. There are two natural ways to do so, flee or fight. At some point even the most docile people can become violent in defense. This backlash against a certain group is not only alienating them further and causing more damage, but is also missing the point entirely. Video games and movies... why blame them when all a child has to do is watch the news. The lesson learned there is that if you don't get your way, bomb the hell out of them. How else are kids going to react? Goths, geeks, etc. aren't the only kids that have problems, everyone has their day to day obstacles. The kids that have reacted in a violent manner aren't Goths and geeks, they come from a variety of backgrounds, but none of them were taught a different way to deal with their anger. Conflict happens, all around each of us every day. Conflict can be good, it can bring discussions and controversy into the light. But when those involved lack the ability to deal with conflict in a nonviolent way... then you have the problems that are affecting us now. Both the teasers and the teased, the abusers and the abused do not seem able to think about the consequences of their actions. They don't even realize how they are really affecting the other person until it is too late. And the violence continues... kids need to be taught new ways of dealing with conflict, right now we just hold them accountable for their reactions, or ignore the situation completely, until something horrific happens.
  • Jon has created an insightful series of articles here, but misses an important point:

    The hierarchy, the "pecking order" endured by kids in school is largely invisible and unreachable by teachers and school administrators. Hazing, cruel remarks and physical torment take place in restrooms, in crowds, off-campus and other places out of view of adults.

    The result is that teachers think that clean-cut jock is just a fine human being. They never seem him twist the arm of the geek in the locker room, never see him jeer at the guys who drop the ball in the endless football/baseball/basketball tournaments that are "gym" class.

    Since this pecking order exists below the radar
    of the teachers and other adults, all the B.S.
    posters, lectures, "sensitivity training" and other sanctimonious blather that will begin to issue from the school establishment cannot even
    begin to have an effect.

    Another theme touched on in the series is culture
    and violence.

    As far as culture goes, it *is* appropriate for
    thinking people to be critical of some aspects of
    any culture. Most of us don't approve of murder, violence, robbery and so forth.

    Therefore, musical lyrics that advocate these things *should* be held up for criticism. Censorship ? No. But an open discussion of the values espoused in music, literature and games
    is crucial. It should be OK to say, "That
    sucks."

    My $0.02 worth...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Perhaps this is the Great Geek Awakening. Perhaps not. What I do know is that Katz is helping me by sharing the thoughts of others who are/were where I once was. It's nice to know I'm not alone.

    It's a tragedy that our best and brightest are often shunned, abused, and humiliated for no other reason than being what they are. I figured out long ago that it's best to just say "dude" a lot and be familiar with sports and pop music -- it saved me from a lot of knuckle sandwiches in high school.

    It wasn't so bad after I graduated, but now I'm just incognito and disconnected. The statistical odds against meeting and talking to someone who shares my level of understanding are so slim that I gave up long ago. Yes, there is wisdom to be had from fools, but that is no substitute for intellectual stimulation. Therefore I tread the solitary (and apparently increasingly dangerous) path of the closet geek.

    Individual people are often wonderful, but humanity sucks.
  • Here's a new one [go.com] on the dangers of "copycats". This scares me. To quote,

    Schools need to be on the lookout for "students who are angry or alienated," says Carroll, adding that special attention now needs to be paid to what children are doing on the Internet. Parents have to know what their kids are doing," Carroll says. "We felt that about alcohol, we felt that about drugs and we now feel that about the Internet."


    This man misses the point. Totally. The reason this HAPPENED is because people fear, shun, and harass those and that which they don't understand. If my high school was "on the lookout" when I was there, I'd have never been allowed to graduate. I'm guessing quite a few of the slashdot readers would be in the same situation. It's NOT the internet, it's NOT the lack of popularity, although they're certainly the most easy to blame, and were possibly secondary contributions. The real 'reason' this happened is a combination of bad parenting (not seeing your kids worship hitler and build bombs), ever-present hatred towards other people (man is not wired to deal with it - there's a big difference between being NOT POPULAR and CONSTANT PERSECUTION), and the fact that something deep inside those boys just plain snapped.

    The media needs to realize this, and STOP THE WITCHHUNT before it causes someone to get seriously hurt at the hands of "concerned classmates". That is, if it hasn't happened already.

    Heh... what the media needs to do is call me... I'll give 'em an earful.... ;-)

    --

  • Most of this article makes sense, and I agree with what Katz has to say. Video gaming clubs and programming clubs would be excellent things to do with the barrage of computers being sent by the Feds and not being used.

    I believe people should have the right to express themselves, but they must be able to voluntarily limit themselves. In school, I wanted to rebel, wear trenchcoats and such, but there's only so far you can go before you starting pissing people off. And that's not a good impression to make.

    By the way, about the trenchcoats and Goth clothing, the solution is simple. Uniforms. A dress code. Dress codes are used at work, so why not at schools?

    The main point I'm trying to make, though, is the fact that I have no pity for a kid that is bored. Being bored means you're -too- active, and you can never sit still and wait for anything. That's a really bad habit to have when entering the work environment. I guess video games, MTV, and our culture has to take some blame for today's short attention spans.

    I had to take many "boring" classes in high school, but I didn't complain. In fact, I found them to be an exercise for my brain. How long could I sit still and listen to something I already know without getting distracted? Now there's a quality I want to bring into a meeting with the CEO at work.
  • Even if it was as bad everywhere else (what isn't true), it still sucks in extreme. A lot of people can't tolerate my criticism of US because they assume that if I live in this country I have to like everything here. Sorry to disappoint them, it's wrong. When I lived in Russia I criticized Russia even more, and I honestly believe that valid criticism can help to make things better. Misplaced "patriotism" like in the previous message is one of the reasons that keep society from improvement.

  • You know, I'm kind of sick of everyone blaming schools for these kids going off when in reality it is poor parenting.

    On one side you have the bullies. They have always existed, but you don't hear about kids blowing up schools and going on killing rampages 20 years ago. Nothing has changed, they still mock and hurt in the same sadistic ways.

    On the other side you have parents. Parents which no longer spend a lot of time with their kids. Kids are coming into schools with low self-esteem and no social skills. This is becoming worse as computers are being put in every home and kids are spending less and less time with other people.

    So you have a ticking timebomb. Kids which don't know how to deal with social pressures and access to guns, plans for bombs, etc.

    What is the answer? Well it's really simple, the parenting needs to change. Every high school or college should have a mandatory parenting class of some sort which emphises the correct way to bring up a child so that they are well adjusted.

    I personally was not brought up under ideal conditions, but I spent a large portion of my early years in constant contact with friends. I practically lived at friends houses and I think that helped me adjust in school. We moved a lot so my computers were the only way I could keep in constant contact with a group of people. It was the stability I needed in my childhood.

    Remember, being a nerd doesn't mean you have to lack social skills. Children should be forced to develop them at an early age so, even if they get mocked in high scool... they know how to deal with it.

    --
  • GEEKS STAND UP!


    iv ehad enough of this, and i havent even had it as bad as those kids, im out of school thank bob, but i had to put up with this kind of suspicion when i was still in highschool.


    all the geeks can take a lesson from the punks and the skins, "if the kids were united they would never ever be devided", if you stand up for yourselves together, and support each other like ive seen here, but inthe real world, NO ONE, not the administration, not the clueless parents, not the police, not the man. (unfortunently for them) Unlike the punk all the geeks are pure, there is no such thing as a wanna be geek. We can all be the vanguard of a new world of enlightenment and growth intellectually, but not if remain a silent majority.

    Stand Up


    there are strength in both knowledge and numbers, you have both, use them, dont let them use meer physical strength work against you. Fight back with all you can, dont get yourself arrested or anything, but dont let yourself be oppressed at the same time.


    I wish all the subcultures would fianlly band together, a lot are so similar its scarry, after all, the only diffrence between a punk and a geek is a pit at shows, im afraid what a culture which doesnt take out its aggressions regularly might do when it 'snaps'..........

  • by Skyshadow (508) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @10:39AM (#1910319) Homepage
    I feel isolated and alone 'cause I *didn't* hate
    high school.

    Sure, I remember a lot of bad times; times when
    administrators and teachers picked on me and my
    friends for not falling into line, times when the
    jocks and rich kids got special treatment, times
    when I got made fun of...

    Overall, though, high school was fun. I remember
    laying out in the sun with my friends, water-gun
    fights (probably banned now, eh?), bowling,
    Denny's at all hours, parties, and just plain
    hanging out.

    I see all of this angst dripping around here, and
    I almost feel like I have to defend my experience
    because it didn't suck. And yeah, I was in the
    dweeb clique -- RPGs, first person shooter games,
    trench coats et. al....

    Someone back me up here....

    ----

  • Wholehearted agreement! I wish I had been homeschooled for much the same reason.

    I do have the horror stories to tell and was forced to leave school shortly before my 16th birthday and get my GED. Since then I have been trying to not stop learning since.

  • Posted by The [not so] Little Hacker:

    I'm sorry. I'm just sick and tired of hearing about people having their "rights violated" in schools. Yes, a witch-hunt such as this is such a violation. But when you begin to refer to the structure of schools as such, you generalize. I was in the same boat as many people until my sophomore year of high school. That's when I realized that much of the ridicule I received was not from being different (which I was...) but from being paranoid about being different and about everyone else being "out to get me."

    I soon realized that it was also partly my fault for my being ridiculed. The kids who fit in weren't making fun of me because I was a geek. They were making fun of me because I thought everyone did/wanted to.

    Jon, I don't know where you come in saying that goths are individualistic. They are the biggest cult following out there(not in a bad sense, just that there's a lot of you and all of you are rather unindividualistic).

    Everyone out there just has to remember that Geeks are not the minority. We're the majority. The majority is almost never in control. Stop thinking yourselves into being made fun of. Nobody will make fun of you if you don't expect them to.

  • Posted by The [not so] Little Hacker:

    What is morally true to one may not be morally true to another. What is ethically true must be followed by everyone. Ethics are what your actions are, morals are your justification for the pre-set ethics.
  • Posted by *kit:

    I have found the articles the last few days interesting, informative, and disturbing, but unfortunately not too surprising-it reminds me too much of my own highschool experience. It makes me glad to be out of high school and in college!
    I thought I'd share some good news actually on this topic...I live in Lincoln Nebraska and I read on the front page of the Lincoln JournalStar yesterday that students at one of the highschools decided to have a walkout to protest unfair treatment of individuals who wear trencoats, or are picked on because they are quiet and reserved, or seen as social outcasts, geeks or nerds. The principal actually came out with the students and they had a moment of silence around the flagpole for the victims in Littleton. He also allowed them to talk to the news media and actually sat down with the students and was willing to LISTEN to their concerns. I'm impressed. I don't know how much good it will do in the long run, but It's a step in the right direction. As a geek myself who knows the alienation that kids can face I fully support these highschoolers.
  • Posted by mootar:

    when your story with my mail was posted several students in a and issued a formal apology Desktop publishing class recognized the story (and the name) and handed printouts to the principal who called me into his office to tell me that the school had all investigations stopped and issued a formal apology to me.


    Thank you so much

    Mootar High King OF The Cow Gods
  • Posted by stodge:

    Seems to me that people are using the shootings as an excuse to say "hey we're geeks/nerds/whatever and we have a tough life because of it". So is a jock different from a nerd? Is a bully different from a geek? Nope. We're all labelled by each other in some way. I have a friend who is very clever, and she laughs at Jocks and labels them as stupid idiots. Im sure they laugh back at her for liking maths. Maybe because I was between both worlds I don't quite see the point of this hysteria.

    Sounds like Katz is trying to create martyrs from geeks. You is what you is.

  • Posted by Dr_Pain:

    Du you realy think that the answer is "do what the mob whants you to do"?
    I dont think so. One have to stand up and fight for your right to be diffrent and to wear whatever you feel good in.
    I for myself let nobody tell me what I have to wear or what couler my nails should have.
  • Posted by GrafLir:

    I read with intereset the stories of victimisation of those who are different.

    People who show signs of thinking for themselves will always be feared because they threaten the status quo. They threaten to break apart people's comfortable little world by challenging their assumptions about it.

    Socrates, Plato, Gallileo, Luther, Darwin.....and so on and so on.....
  • by gavinhall (33) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @10:40AM (#1910328)
    Posted by Alf Alpha:

    I'm not sure if I have the quote correct, but in one of the SW trailers Yoda says something like this: "Fear leads to suffering, suffering leads to hate and hates leads to the Dark Side."

    One of the greatest tradgedies that has become apparent in these recent posts is how many people have given into the Dark Side. The decision whether to let hate dominate our own lives is our own choice, whether we are the oppresors or the ones being oppressed.

    And so with this latest backlash the cycles continues. However, the choice of response if ours, we can choose to forgive or to hate in return.

    May the Force be with you, always.
  • Don't get me wrong. I luv Katz, and he'll never be un-preferenced in my User Prefs. But this is getting ridiculous. This is more Genuflecting at the Altar of Geek. Apparently the only "otherness" worth championing is the otherness that has the means to e-mail jonkatz@slashdot.org in large numbers.

    Is this really a step up from your old gigs, sir? How is this any better than Phyllis George interviewing some "grief counsellor" in between laxative ads and a station break? It's better because we all get to genuflect interactively? Either way, it's just some more bourgeois dispensing of band-aids, a bunch of RN-cyclopses in the private hospitals of the kingdom of the blind. Old Media or New, it's still Garbage In, Garbage Out. Some things are timeless.

    --

  • ...as I've ranted before, we're obsessing here about a 3-4 year period of abuse, maybe more if you include junior high. I suspect minority or gay students have to deal with abuse, neglect, and a number of other things before and after high school, and deal with it even after the final bell rings. Plus to only mention geeks, goths, gays, and minorities just scratches the surface of the laundry list. After high school, a geek can lucratively escape his/her "other" status and go on to abuse whatever others he/she wishes to. Meanwhile, many other "others" remain troubled, oppressed, demonized, neglected, etc, for a lifetime -- they don't get much hype, and to even try to champion them gets you branded as a "do-gooder" or a "paternalist" or something, even by geeks. My complaint is that Katz and most of the posters here are committing the same sins as the mass media. Some suffering is, apparently, more important than others. CNN and MSNBC are reporting huge ratings boosts. There will, no doubt, be TV-movies and best-sellers that come from this. Katz will hype this stuff on his next book's book tour (not that there's anything wrong with that :). I prayed/grieved/mourned as the events in Littleton took place; the resultant commercial and political exploitation of what should have been a town's private grief has sickened me almost as much as the killings.

    --

  • by pingouin (783) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @03:17PM (#1910331)
    Sure, lots of people other than nerds are abused. Far worse things are happening out there. But that isn't on topic. If you don't think nerds are more important than the herded masses, I have to wonder why you're using our forum.

    I'm user #783, IIRC. I'm not some interloper here; I'd like to think it's my forum too -- /. is my browsers' start page. I'm as on-topic as anyone else. I love Ask Slashdot, the GPL, RMS, tarballs, OO, DSP, Java, a certain anti-trust case, and any number of "relevant" topics (turnoffs: sunlight, aspartame, bad hair days, and mean people). I have about seven toolkits installed on my box, and I'm wrestling with all of them in search of The Right One. Unfortunately, what we have here this week is a mania far removed from hardware, software, and licenses.

    You hit the nail on the head, surely by accident: "Far worse things are happening out there". That's why I'm on-topic. Geeks, being part of society, are often complicit (directly or, more often, indirectly) in those "far worse things"; that shows me that whatever they may have suffered in high school failed to register permanently on their brains -- it shows me that their radius of compassion is woefully small. (Yes, Eric, if you're reading this, you are one of many exceptions :)

    If you can't make the leap from feeling sorry for yourself (or a fellow "oppressed" geek) to feeling anger and remorse over a political prisoner or a sweatshop laborer's plight, then Katz's whole exercise is just shallow pimping. If you can't make the leap from jocks abusing geeks to being angry about the plight of the political footballs in the ghettos that your commute and your subdivision so deftly avoid, then Katz's shallow pimping is as obscene as the abuse of geek students.

    Do you get it now? If not, then please explain -- in 3000 words or more -- why you think "nerds are more important than the herded masses". Can any of you explain? It is the impression I get, just as I get the impression from Katz's peers in Big Media that the deaths of affluent suburban kids are more important than, say, deaths from malnutrition occurring in the very same country.

    Let me close with a quote from my favorite nerd, a bookish lawyer (and one-time journalist, IIRC), who never quite learned how to fight his way out of a paper bag, though he was often provoked.

    Poverty is the worst form of violence.
    We will learn far more about real solutions from reading the writings of that nerd (his name was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi) than we will from reading Katz and the often-hysterical "Geek Power Now!" threads from our peers here.

    --

  • I don't know if you'v had a job or just work in the wrong places. But I've found I get rewarded more/better because I am individualistic. Sure they would look at me funny if I came in with green hair tomorrow, but my bosses have recongized I think differently then most of the drones. I voice my opinions. I speek up in meetings. I do good work to back up my words. I question my bosses. I don't sit idlely by. And I have been rewarded for all that, not crushed as you seem to think I would be.

    Every where I have worked they seem to prefer people that think for themselves. The way the market is in our industry I don't think I can lose. If I don't agree with the company I am working for, and I can't change their minds, I can change jobs, just like that. They don't have power over me. They have to work to keep me.

  • Form a union?

    Yeah right, unions look out for the best interest of members. They are usually just as evil as the companies. They have become as much an establishment as companies. It is in their best interest to keep employees unhappy so the employees think they are getting their moneys-worth when the union negotiates for an extra role of TP in the john. Not all unions are bad, but they are not the great wonderful things they are in the history books. Even then I bet there was plenty of skimming of the dues.

    Fair distribution of profits? I don't want this myself. If I work my ass off why should some leach get as much money as me? I do negotiate my share of the companies profits. It's called my salary. And if I don't think I am getting my worth I can demand more or go somewhere else.

    The Companies profitabilty? I want them to make tons of money. If they are making tons of money and I had something to do with it I can justify why I deserve that huge ass raise. And as I said before the way the market is if they don't want to compensate me there are companies that will.

    No I may not get my way, but I have yet to feel any backlash for stating my opinion. I question when I don't get my way, but I realize I can't always win. You have to "Play nice with others" no matter what you do. You work for a company you have to get along with your co-workers and management. You own your own business you have to get along with employees and customers. You work with an Free/Open Software group you'll get more done if you work with other developers. Aguements are good and help groups come to the best solutions, but you have to be willing to compromise.

    Back to unions because I've had another thought. Do you really want to work for a company that you had to force to treat you as a useful part of the organization? Or a company that already realizes how important good employees are? Now this is just a guess, but I think most people would be happier working for the second organization.

  • The entire point of school should be academics. We send our children there to get an education, to learn how to deal with one another in a social setting and to learn about the world around them, to get a background in our history and culture and to learn the fundamental skills required to function in the world.

    If that's the case, then why do we select the biggest and strongest male students, get them to don body armor and run onto a field to smash one another around, whilst the most attractive female students jump around in skimpy outfits and wave pom-poms around? Why is it that every Friday, we glorify this violent exercise with several minutes of footage on the evening news?

    We send students a conflicting message. We tell them to succeed academically and conform. But at the same time we create a special class of people, the jocks, who have everything given to them, are allowed to amuse themselves at the expense of other students with little or no repercussions. The greatest academic achievements of most of the students get little or no mention, but the quarterback will always see his name in the paper.

    Look at the kids in the Trenchcoat Mafia, the kids who have committed the other well-publicized acts of school violence recently, and the kids who are now being persecuted as a result of these acts. What do they all have in common? Most of them are very intelligent, and all of them feel worthless and rejected by the system. Is it any wonder? The school system doesn't make any effort to accommodate them, to challenge them, to make them feel involved and interested. Instead it promotes a culture in which physical strength and attractiveness are valued above all else.

    The fix is simple. Get rid of the hero class, stop shining the spotlight on a group whose achievements, at least in the context of what is supposed to be an institute of learning, are completely irrelevant. Don't do away with all athletic programs, but stop elevating them to the point where they overshadow all else. The jocks will do fine without it, the smart kids will do better than they're doing now, and perhaps if more time is devoted to academics the freaks and the geeks will find something worthwhile in the system.
  • Have any of the people who've been investigated contacted a lawyer or some group like the ACLU? If any police department is so poorly educated and so grossly negligent in their duties to investigate people on the charges Katz has been listing, they deserve to be slapped down hard. School administrators also seem to need a reminder that they are not the KGB...
  • "I and my friends do this sometimes -- it's amazing how many people you meet that way. And it's been fairly obvious to us that we're having some effect on at least some of the people we run into as we cruise down the street in our black leather, spreading goodwill."

    I'd be more impressed if you could do that in a suit and tie, or a Taco Bell uniform, or a clown costume. Real personal power comes from within and doesn't rely on leather. Or from a baseball cap and a football team jacket, for that matter.

    If you really want to be different, change from within. So few do.

    Lao Tzu sez:

    "The ancient masters were subtle, mysterious, profound, responsive.

    The depth of their knowledge is unfathomable.

    Because it is unfathomable,
    all we can do is describe their appearance.

    Watchful, like men crossing a winter stream.

    Alert, like men aware of danger.

    Courteous, like visiting guests.

    Yielding, like ice about to melt.

    Simple, like uncarved blocks of wood.

    Hollow, like caves.

    Opaque, like muddy pools."

    Notice that he doesn't mention what they're wearing. :-)

    Groucho
  • "If we can show others that there's nothing horribly wrong with us black-leather-wearing, quake-playing non-conformists, then we've made a step towards mutual understanding."

    I didn't know nonconformists were so homogenous.

    Certain fashion statements are meant to say, "I'm dangerous and unpredictable". That's why teens wear them in the first place. If society didn't perceive black trenchcoats, tattoos, noserings and chains as threatening they wouldn't have such appeal in some quarters.

    If you wanna play at being threatening don't be surprised when you are taken seriously. Especially in light of recent events.

    Mutual understanding? Fine. Let's start with you understanding that some people are scared.

    Groucho
  • by Groucho (1038) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @10:49AM (#1910339)
    Yes, harassing people for wearing trenchcoats seems prima facie idiotic. At least it did yesterday.

    Last night I was walking along the street around midnight and I saw two young boys coming towards me. One was wearing a long black coat. I have to admit this thought crossed my mind: what if he's planning a copycat killing?

    And hey, I'm a freaky geek who was picked on in high school. Shouldn't I be sympathetic?

    The fact is, these cops and principals, who are so out of touch that they probably never noticed trenchcoats before, are suddenly struck dumb with fear at the sight of that particular piece of apparel. It's not a conspiracy to suppress individuality, it's just the honest terror of the clueless whitebread types.

    Will there be copycat killings, though? It seems there was one yesterday in Canada, with a trenchcoat-wearing gunman wounding one student and killing another.

    Try to understand that people are very afraid right now. Try to leave your trenchcoat, your Marilyn Manson t-shirts and your skull earrings at home for a few weeks. When the urge comes upon you to utter threats in a rage or say that you understand how the gunmen felt, bite your tongue and post about it later. If parents or teachers question your right to use the Internet, quietly and calmly argue that you use it for research, that you like to read the headline news, and that you need it to download antivirus updates (point to Melissa and CIH).

    This too shall pass.

    Groucho
  • Some of the things Katz says are wrong, aughably wrong. Internet Access is a "right"??? puh-leeeze! That is the most idiotic thing I've heard today. Internet access is no more a "right" than TV ownership. Sure, if you can afford it there's no reason why you shouldn't be allowed to have it -- but to speak of Internet access as a "right" is to trivialize the liberties uaranteed us by the Constitution in this country: rights to free speech, a free press, etc. It's not a "right". It's an economic good that ought to be as freely available (as distinguished from free) as any other economic good.

    Internet access is as much a right as any other form of freedom of assembly. Just because you can't get to a particular gathering doesn't jeopardize your right to attend other gatherings you can reach and afford.
  • Well said that Nerd.

    Whenever I have to fill in a form that wants to know my occupation I always put 'Professional Computer Nerd'. Sure it makes people laugh, but it does describe exactly what I am/do. I've not had my business cards printed up yet but that'll be one of the job titles on there.

    Seriously, stand up, take the stereotype and make it a positive one. Don't let yourself be insulted because someone thinks you're clever, so what if they meant it as an insult, that's their problem.

    Over here, (the UK) geeks and nerds, and nearly anyone who is interested in almost anything that's mentally demanding is labelled as 'sad'. I think not. If this is 'sad' then I'm Glad to be Sad. If this is what not having a life is then thanks, I'm not sure I need one, I'm having too much fun with the one I haven't got.

  • Um... Evolution is merely change over time. There's no value judgment on that change.

    Darwinian Evolution is gradual improvement over time (generations) through a process of natural selection or the survival of the fittest.

    Cultural Evolution is usually not Darwinian Evolution.
  • I'm reminded of a new emerging mantra: "Real men cry". The painful emotions of the events and those who have deluged Katz with stories from the trenches deserve at the very least our tears.

    But I have to confess that I went to a small private high school run by a church. I was sent there because the bullying in primary school fore-shadowed only worse in the local public high school (which didn't have a good reputation). I am lucky to have such caring parents.

    I am a computer geek. I enjoy a good game of Quake II deathmatch. I also enjoy fantasy novels, movies and TV. And I enjoy the very human aspects of shows such as Neon Genesis Evangelion (that's a major reason I watch them).

    Katz and Slashdot have enabled me to see a side of the situation that the popular media has a great deal of trouble portraying. More to the point, I have been able to share it with others. Never have I valued Katz articles so much.

    Wade.

  • You are very right about HS having a caste system... the only reason this has not totally gone crazy is because the caste system in HS totally reverses when you get out of it...
  • "witch-hunt" issues aside, we can at least say it's a good thing that all these other bombing plots and things HAVE been uncovered. These were other kids planning to do the same exact thing - so at least some lives were saved.

    but this tells us two other things -
    The rage that Harris and Klebold felt, is not unique, there are other kids being put through at least as bad a situation.

    We were lucky in uncovering some of these other plots. How many more spring flowers of death are out there ready to blossom? They can't catch them all. It's going to be a bloody, bloody spring.

    SO-
    I AM seeing some small shift in attitudes in the press about this. In large part, they're still focussed on the video games and the music, and guns. But there is a faction out there that is at least talking about this other issue. Main stream. Some good will come of it, but I think that probably it's going to take a much higher stack of corpses to get America to fully wake up.

    Sad, because there are many many kids out there who seem to be willing sacrifice everything to get their revenge, and prove this point.
  • beer party: double-secret probation
  • NO NO NO NO NO!

    That's the whole point of the posts from former geeks.

    Yes, when I was a teen, I felt a rage for how I was treated. I took martial arts (Hapkido), I fought back on a couple of occasions. I had a gun and tried to make bombs. I fantasized, felt superior, and hated hated hated normal people, their way of life, their way of thinking, everything.

    Looking back on that, I can say, yeah, I know how all you kids are feeling right now. We can bitch and moan all we want about how the system screws us up - but bottom line is, you gotta not let the hate carjack your mind and run away with you. Unless you feel that Harris and Klebold accomplished something worthwhile. I personally don't - because all they accomplished was this national pogrom against People Who Are Different(TM) (not to be confused with True Soldier-Sniffing, Ray-Tracing, Wave-Function-Collapsing, Kernal-Compiling Linux Geeks (TM)).

    The message is: It does get better after High School - and it has to be said, again and again, until people "get it".
    We can lobby for social change, etc. May be successful, may be not. But in the end there will always be outcasts from the pack, and a social pecking-order, and abuse, and people who hurt extrodinarily from it, and the only piece of real comfort you can give these people (I wish I had had this simple bit of knowlege) is that it just doesn't matter, and it will get better after High School. It's small comfort, but it's a bit better than nothing, and a hell of a lot better than killing yourself and others to get revenge. If nothing else is learned from all of this, let it PLEASE be that.
  • by Frater 219 (1455) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @11:40AM (#1910361) Journal
    It seems to me that one of the things that the Net community is good at is spontaneously organizing to point out harmful bullshit. For instance, consider the exposure of the original Pentium division bug -- leaked all over USENET while Intel was still denying its existence. If it hadn't been for USENET, it probably never would have gotten any press: bullshit ("There is no bug, and besides, it's not a very big one") would have won. More recently, the Mindcraft scam, as with countless other Microsoft crimes, might not have been exposed if it weren't for the Net in general, and Slashdot (and similar forums) in particular.

    So ... can we mobilize this ability in defense of our geek (and goth, and punk) brethren (and sistren) in America's high schools? I think we can. All we need to do is mobilize something like the Slashdot Effect -- and target it on offending schools.

    More than a few high schools now have their own Web pages. Lots of high school teachers and administrators have their own email addresses. (They're probably all on AOL, but that's no matter.) And every high school principal or headmaster, I'm sure, has a telephone.

    So perhaps what we need is for geeks, goths, and other HS outsiders to tell their stories of harassment and abuse -- but to tell them with the names and email addresses of the offending administrators. When Mr. Jones says that "it's just part of growing up" to be beaten by classmates, or Ms. Brown suspends a student for wearing black, or Dr. Smith encourages students to mock and harass those who don't attend pep rallies -- Mr. Jones, Ms. Brown, and Dr. Smith should get mailboxes full of polite condemnation from educated, intelligent, and successful geeks.

    It's just an idea ... but it just might help. Sites like High School Underground [hsunderground.com], and forums like these on Slashdot, are a start -- but in order to actually change the world, we need to meet the offenders on their own ground, and get them the message that their behavior is intolerable.
  • "this is in really bad taste, regardless of your perspective on the issue..."

    Bad taste is removing (or scoring down) a comment that you feel is in bad taste.

    I thought it was pretty damn funny.

    Death is funny. Accept what you cannot change, or something.

  • Your taste has nothing to do with anyone else's taste. People found it funny, thus it contributes to the article. It's more interesting than commants that repeat the same thing that someone's already written several times, and those tend to stay at 1. So this should be at least 2. Remember, "focus on moderating up, not down"...
  • I checked slashdot twice within a few minutes, and this one just popped up. I read the article and reloaded and your comment was here. Yeah you could have read it but i doubt it. Anyways, change what you cannot accept? We cannot accept this. Accept what you cannot change? This can be changed, don't expect it to happen the week after the media finally tells people the real reason (if they even tell them, since we know they wont get it on thier own). You just seem to negative about this...oh well.
  • I think that the messages here need to be presented with a louder voice. This needs to be shouted from the streetcorner, from the roofs, and mountain tops. From our front yards, in our places of work, study, and worship. I am pleased that some have taken the initiative to collect stories of wrongdoing. These need to be collected, tallied, reproduced, printed and bound in volume after volume as a testiment to the legacy of torture we have endured, to serve as a symbol of our survival and determination to end the madness.

    Our collective voices must rise to become a deafening roar that can not be silenced by the earplugs of indifference. We have an opportinity here.

    Carpe Diem.

    "Sieze The Day"

    The message is clear: so long as we are tortured, some of us will kill as sure as the caged animal might killl it's keeper. This is not a theory, a threat, or a speculation. It is a fact.

    End the torture, and you will end the death.

  • Evolution does not imply that something gets "better" or "more sphoisticated." It implies only a change with a purpose behind it which differentiates it from the original. For example, let's go to evolution for a second: whales, dolphins, and the like evolved from land-dwelling mammals who took to the water for food. Under your definition of evolution this should not have happened.

    Cultures do evolve, but the purpose is nothing more than the whims of the general populace. Think about it: American culture wasn't always the way it is now. There was in fact once a kinder, gentler time; geeks were still looked down upon but it was nothing like it is today. What we've seen is a backlash. Whyit was caused isn't something I claim to know; it could be blamed on the media, the mass abandonment by parents of their young, or any number of other things (but not the Net; this evolution was well under way long before 95% of the population even knew what the Net was).

    What did goth culture evolve out of? Frankly, I haven't got a clue. Sure; it's no better or worse than any other subculture, but is is more evolved (it started from some mainstream ideal, and it has since become more and more different from the mainstream; that makes it evolved).
  • by Will Sargent (2751) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @10:30AM (#1910384) Homepage
    Reading these missives makes me hurt so badly I have trouble reading through them. It really amazes me that people can do that to children, and then keep doing it even when the consequences of abuse are so, so clear.

    I understand the problem. They don't know. They have no idea there is a problem; their behaviour is exactly what causes kids to snap and even kill.

    Ironically, the very thing which they think might be responsible could actually help them. It's a simple solution -- it's worked for Amnesty International for decades. E-mail the schools. Don't let them act without letting them know you know what they're doing, and you don't approve. Tell them about the Hellmouth. Tell them why what they're doing is wrong.

    I would love to see the Geek community united to the point where it is a force for social change as well as just the technical. This seems like an excellent place to start.

    Will.
  • by Nathaniel (2984) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @12:23PM (#1910389) Homepage
    Last night I was walking along the street around midnight and I saw two young boys coming towards me. One was wearing a long black coat. I have to admit this thought crossed my mind: what if he's planning a copycat killing?

    Wimp. Instead of assuming they were friendly and saying 'Hello.' you reacted out of fear.

    If we all continue to react fearfully instead of treating each other in a civil manner, we will continue to isolate each other.

    I've been wearing a black trenchcoat for months, and I will continue to do so. I believe it would be tacky for someone to rush out and buy a trenchcoat in response to Littleton, but I also believe that it would be tacky to react by discarding a trenchcoat I already wear.

    My point here is that I will continue to wear my trenchcoat because I had already decided it is what I wanted to wear. I am refusing to become more normal simply so that other people can live in a more comfortable world while clinging to labels and reacting instead of thinking.

    We all need to learn to judge people as individuals or not at all. If you don't know enough about someone to make an informed, personal judgement about them you should simply treat them in a civil manner and assume that they are a decent person. You will be right more often than not.

  • From Milt Priggee [mailto] at www.priggee.com [priggee.com]: From Kevin Siers [mailto] at The Charlotte Observer [charlotte.com]

    I found these going thru the political cartoons at Cagle [cagle.com]. Of course the vast majority of them blame the parents, the movies, the music, etc.

    I've e-mailed them BOTH [mailto] to express my appreciation.

  • by Dr. Evil (3501) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @10:50AM (#1910396)

    The mainstream media is likely to distort any story to be as controversial and poigiant as possible while squeezing it into 22 minutes of dramatic 911 calls, crying kids and choice quotes from dime-store sociologists.

    How about snail-mailing every principal, vice principal and guidance councellor in North America?

    Perhaps a standardized letter?

    Some of them did some good things, like promoting geeky clubs in schools and not forcing people to eat in their cafeterias. Others it seems like to degrade students as much as possible.

    Or perhaps at the very least, we could create a website where the outpouring of email could have identifying markings stripped off, and focus on what seems to be the problem... parents, teachers, police officers and principals who are critical or neglegant --- along with another area where success stories could be posted. Things which saved people from bitter isolation and torment.

    There has to be a better way to handle this than to have bullies and jerks all over the country laugh at heart-felt testamonies from tortured schoolkids on NBC, while sociologists tell these kids to talk to their parents, teachers or guidance councellors.

  • by jht (5006) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @11:13AM (#1910401) Homepage Journal
    I disagree. The way for to fix things is to become the mangers, the leaders, the bosses. Play the game as much as you have to. Get ahead - we're smarter, more capable, more creative, and more understanding than the majority. Get to the top, and then do things your way.

    I was miserable in high school, and I drifted through (eventually dropping out) college, but once I was working for a living I realized the best way to have a good boss and to help other people was to be the boss myself. Nowadays I run a department of techs, and I have worked my butt off to give them a better environment and more dignity than they had before. I also do everything I can IRL for the same purpose.

    We shouldn't complain about it - we should take over. There's no reason we can't play the game too, and better than they do. The majority doesn't know we have our own rules and our own culture, and they don't care. We, on the other hand, know their game, understand their rules, and lord knows we're smart enough to dominate them on the field of play... So why don't we?

  • Sorry John, you are getting carried away again and making some clueless statements.

    It starts with:

    Each generation has the right to determine its own culture.

    No it doesn't. You are confusing "rights" and "freedoms". A right is a specific type of political entity granted (in the case of the US) in the US Constitution. It is true that kids usually define their own culture, but it is not a "right". People generally tend to use the term "rights" because of the weighty connotations and implicit demand for acceptance it carries with it.

    No generation has the right to dictate to another what its culture ought to be, or to degrade its choices as stupid and offensive.

    This is nonsense! A cultures choices can be stupid and offensive and should be honestly labled as such. It could be said that "gang culture" accepts violence and death as acceptable. This should rightfully be labled as evil. You seem to imply that all cultures are equal. I don't agree. No culture has the "right" to exist.

    And: freedom. Why does the First Amendment end at the school door, when many kids, especially geeks, have spent much of their lives in the freest part of American culture - the Internet? Online, people can speak about anything: dump on God, talk about sex, flame pundits, express themselves politically and rebelliously. In school, no one can.
    The First Amendment doesn't end at the school door. First, you don't understand what the First Amendment means (and you aren't the only one). The First Amendment gives you the freedom to criticize and speak out about the government without fearing to be thrown in jail. It does not give you the freedom to say anything you want.
    Finally: access to popular culture and to the Internet isn't a privilege. It's a right.

    Total and utter nonsense. This type of statement may win fans from the high school crowd, but that doesn't make it true.

    I do agree that there is some over-reacting, but it will fade as the hysteria fades. Life isn't perfect, get over it.

    Your whole article seems to shout "I want to do what I want and the mean old people won't let me! Waaaaaaaah!!!!!!"

    You can look different if you want, it is a freedom, but not a right. Learning is not always "fun" and just because you are learning math by a book and lecture, and not by pointing-and-clicking, this doesn't mean that books and teachers are useless or an invalid way of learning. Don't be so immature as to demand that everyone cater to your whims and make everything "fun and exciting" just for you.

    I think your reasoning on these issues is very immature and worded to score points with high school kids. It doesn't really fly once you think about it past the surface. I'm 26 now, but I did think in similar selfish immature ways when I was in high school.

    Here is a quote to ponder:

    When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
    1 Corinthians 13:11
  • I think part of the current problem with the backlash is that millions of geeks everywhere stood up and said "I know what it's like, but I wouldn't in a million years kill someone.". Those in power only hear what they want to hear. They heard "I know what it's like", but the "I wouldn't in a million years kill someone." just flew right past them.

    We know what the abuse is like, but we're healthy. 99.999% of us survive the abuse and move on with our lives. We are not the shooters in Colorado. We may dress like they did, we may listen to the same music, watch the same movies, but we don't kill people. That's the main difference. The very fact that we can have compassion for the shooters as well as the victims is what makes us different from the kids that kill.

    We now have two goals. We need to point out as obvious the fact that there is a difference from the kids that are out there and not trying to kill everyone from those that have. That's a short term goal. Eventually the pendulum will swing the other way, and the backlash will subside. At that point we move on to the next agenda.

    The long term goal is to raise awareness of peer abuse and the damage it causes. Those who don't go through it don't realize what it's like. They think that it's just a fact of life, and that everyone experiences it. That is not correct. It should be taken just as seriously, and dealt with the in the same manner, as racial or sexual harrasment.

    I'm not sure if peer abuse prevention would have stoped the shootings in Littleton from happening, but it is clear that those events have brought to the surface the need to do something about it. Perhaps for the geeks out there, this can be something good that comes from the high price of this tragedy.
  • I don't understand. Almost 50 years ago reports were pouring out of our colleges and education institutions saying that our public education wasn't fit for some people. Alternative "learning styles" is one. Fifty years ago, they discovered that some people learn differently.. some are auditory learners, others visual, others hands-on. In the article, it basically laid out the fact that public schools only suit a minority of students. It is ineffectual on those who don't prefer wrote memorization and auditory learning.

    Fifty years later, schools are just *starting* to implement these ideas. Why must it take so long for schools to adapt? Will we need to wait fifty more years for schools to become wired? When will civil rights be an issue? When will people in school be treated like human beings?

    Standarized education.. has failed.

    --
  • by Demona (7994) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @10:58AM (#1910415) Homepage
    Yes, culture has evolved in the sense that violence is not increasing; rather, our tolerance for violence as an acceptable means of social interaction is decreasing.

    The responsibility of "who shall protect the children" rests where it always has -- with the legal guardians of the child. Every child develops the capacity to make moral judgments at a different pace. Being a parent should mean helping your child become an adult, not become a clone of yourself, and certainly not to remain a child. I see increasing numbers of people every day my age (30ish) and older who can only, as William Gibson put it in Idoru, only express their twin desires of murderous rage and infantile desire by pressing the buttons on a television remote and voting in presidential elections. Just a symptom of all the ways we teach children that Thinking Is Bad.

    It does children no service to be anything less than scrupulously honest. While four-year olds may not need to know how to use condoms, feeding them BS that says, for instance, all substances are equally morally and physically Bad, only encourages harmful patterns of abuse, not responsible use or voluntary abstention.

    Who decides what is education, and what is brainwashing and indoctrination? Only someone who believes that one size truly fits all, and has the gall to believe that they have the right to force the rest of the world into line, would dare. Try to please everyone, and you end up pleasing noone.

    And to tie this back to the beginning: The ancient Greek children who witnessed incredible violence and cruelty on a daily basis did not all grow up to become despots and tyrants. Of course, most Americans seem concerned only with themselves or the current fads-or-politically-approved-oppressed-classes.

    When Bill Clinton deplores the "culture of violence" while sending troops to shoot and bomb people in Kosovo who aren't even in his legal or political jurisdiction; when those who supposedly protect and serve us gas and burn men, women and children without a properly served warrant or any evidence of wrong doing, shoot an unarmed woman holding an infant and then taunt and mock her family through megaphones for days while their bodies rot in the sun; when a Japanese newspaper deplores "the warped strains of 'an advanced society'" when their leaders have only recently started acknowledging the Rape of Nanking and the so-called "noble class" systematically disarmed the poor for centuries by making it illegal to own swords and other weapons (thus prompting the development of many of the martial arts)....

    Then, folks, there is some serious hypocrisy and denial going on.

  • First off -- lest anyone think I'm blind -- let's be clear that the abuse that some kids suffer in school is inexcusable, and it needs to be stopped.

    Some of the things Katz says are wrong, laughably wrong. Internet Access is a "right"??? Puh-leeeze! That is the most idiotic thing I've heard today. Internet access is no more a "right" than TV ownership. Sure, if you can afford it there's no reason why you shouldn't be allowed to have it -- but to speak of Internet access as a "right" is to trivialize the liberties guaranteed us by the Constitution in this country: rights to free speech, a free press, etc. It's not a "right". It's an economic good that ought to be as freely available (as distinguished from free) as any other economic good.

    Lastly and more seriously: Katz seems to think all cultures are created equal. I'm sure he'd still think so if we dropped him into a cannibalistic culture or into Incan human sacrifice culture as a victim. "Don't complain, Katz; after all, as you said, 'Each generation has the right to determine its own culture', right? Nice knowing you..."

    This is pathetic nonsense. Not all cultures are morally legitimate. They're certainly not all equal.

    No generation has the right to dictate to another what its culture ought to be.

    Really? Is that what you're dictating to MY culture? How "culturally tolerant" of you to dictate what my culture is allowed to do.

    I've rarely read anything that is a more transparent recipe for societal collapse. After we get past the high-sounding words and the libertarian sound bites, what Katz argues for is nothing less than complete anarchy and consequent chaos. It is absurdity itself.

    It is pomposity on a papal or imperial scale for Katz to arrogate to himself the authority to declare which cultures are legitimate (i.e., "all of them"). It's also absurdly lame.

    A death-obsessed culture is ethically illegitimate.

  • This is ridiculous. A "death-obsessed" culture is no less ethically legitimate than our current "money-obsessed" culture that we are currently stuck in. Being obsessed with death, or the occult, or cannibalism, or chopping up people into little bitty bits is OK. DOING many of these things is illegal and unethical. I can THINK about whatever the hell I want to.

    Sorry, but NO. I'm not about to defend our present culture at all, but there's no way that a death-obsessed one is on an ethical par with it. And while there is of course a difference between thinking and doing, and while there surely should not be laws which pretend to dictate what we may think about (though so-called "hate-crime" laws and political-correctness policies are egregious examples of it), this doesn't mean that ethics doesn't apply to our thinking. It simply means that we have a personal responsibility to monitor what we think about ourselves. While it may be legal for me to do it, is it really ethical for me to spend my free time imagining new ways to make my enemies suffer (so long as I don't actually do it)? I submit that it is not ethical in any way. We shouldn't be prosecuted for it, but that doesn't mean it's okay.

    Ethics isn't just interpersonal. It's an internal thing as well. Self-control is an ethical thing. It is determining that you will/will not do X, because it is unethical. The first step on the road to doing unethical things is to give up that ethic of self-control.

    So the answer is no: I cannot accept your notion. I don't have the right to think whatever I want. I have an obligation to think ethically. You can't enforce it legally, but it's no less important for all that.

  • I'm stunned that no one pointed out that in my last two paragraphs I am explicitly self-contradictory :-(

    So let me clarify, if possible. I retract the following:

    It is pomposity on a papal or imperial scale for Katz to arrogate to himself the authority to declare which cultures are legitimate (i.e., "all of them"). It's also absurdly lame.

    This paragraph contradicts almost everything else I said, so I apologize to Katz for that.

    There's nothing wrong with criticizing other cultures -- unless you have first made a point of saying that all cultures are basically equal. That would be hypocrisy. It is this that I find Katz guilty of, in that he condemns the culture of previous generations but then says in the same breath that all cultures are basically equal, that (to use his words) "No generation has the right to dictate to another what its culture ought to be." He is guilty of the very thing he condemns, and he is also flatly wrong when he says that we shouldn't judge other cultures.

    I hope that clears things up a bit.

  • I think we're in sufficient agreement :-)

    My single main argument in my second point is that all cultures are not created equal, and that we have the right and even the obligation to judge between them (including being critical of our own). The fact that you would condemn racist culture demonstrates that you agree with me, even if I did a bad job of communicating.

    As to Katz: I don't think I can be charitable. It's he who said "No generation has the right to dictate to another what its culture ought to be." I disagree with this. Teenagers are not adults; they do not possess the wisdom nor experience of adults (granted, not all adults do either, but that's another problem). It is absurd to suggest that children's (or anyone's) cultural choices are somehow above criticism.

    I certainly did not intend to suggest that everyone Katz discussed was death-obsessed. A segment of them were, however. My apologies if I did not communicate clearly.

    Certainly there is no problem with being part of more than one culture, as you say. I don't mean to challenge that. But we still have an obligation to critically evaluate the cultures of which we are a part -- along with any other culture.

    Good Post, BTW.

  • There is an awful lot of you. Sometimes more then the oppressors. Be strong. Organize. Do something to stop what is happening to you, because no one else will.

    Suggestions:

    pettition, write to local media, start local newspapers, approach the principle (board of ed., PTA), start/join a club whose goal is to address these grivances, walkout, if there is enough of you confront the people abusing you, just something to help your situation.
    --
    Four years in jail
    No Trial, No Bail
    *** FREE KEVIN *** [kevinmitnick.com]
  • A police state ... that's what one of the Kids says in Katz' article. Wow.

    I'm originally from Panama (Central America, kids), and came during the Noriega fiasco to finish high school (10-12th), so I was in high school not too long ago and I know a little about "police states" (or military juntas)

    Here are some observations;

    No school uniforms.
    This bothered me at first, I didn't have enough clothes, I loved using uniforms since nobody had to "compete" clothes wise. So, I had to spend more money in what I consired a waste, clothes. Also , I had many friends working just to buy clothes, instead of studying. Ridiculous.

    You can take whatever classes you want.
    Just like college, this could be good or bad. I tought it was mainly bad since many kids tried to take the easier classes. In Panama, you took whatever everybody else took until 10th grade. By then you had to decide between Science, Arts, Letters(Law), and others. If you choose science you had to take the same courses as everybody else in science. If you didn't like some of the classes, too bad !

    It's cool to fail and get bad grades.
    Kids bragged about doing bad ,failing and going to summer school !!! In Panama, getting bad grades (like a D or F) was a cause for shame. Plus, if you wore a school uniform during summer, it was obvious you failed. There was great peer pressure to do ok in school.

    High school is too easy !
    I had average grades in my school, when I came to the US I had a 4.0 average, and I didn't have to study !!!

    And those are just some of the negative comparisons from the dozens I can make. Other more positive differences are here you have free food, free books, lots of clubs (french, art, computer, chess, acting, etc), and lots of "extra" goodies. Surely you can see that the system here is less represive than my native land , which I'm sure Panamanian schools are very similar to the rest of Latin America and probably Europe.

    So, I like universities (went to USF) in the US, but high school is a joke. However, it's far from a "police state". Kids in this country are way too spoiled, and many are lazy. When I hear about kids being repressed because they can't wear a hat, trenchcoat, or dress like a vampire to school I feel little sympathy. School is a place to learn, and like a workplace it has rules you must follow.


  • It would be worthwhile to distinguish between two classes of complaints here:
    • Kids with genuine grievances, for example the one whose home was searched gratuitously -- can you say "probably cause"? Yes, and so can his attorneys. The courts just love to say "probable cause".
    • Kids who just hate school for the usual reasons -- namely, that a lot of kids would rather hang out at that age.

    We're angry, and rightly so, because the media, the police, and school administrators are galloping off in all directions without thinking first. Must we do the same?

    Very few generalizations about people are reliably valid, even when the people in question are school administrators and police.


    Oh, yeah, one more thing: How do we all feel about the recent flap in New Jersey, about the state police "profiling" drivers? They've been stopping a higher percentage of black drivers than white. Of the drivers who are stopped, it seems that they search the cars of a dramatically higher percentage of black drivers. So how do Slashdotters feel about that, and the fact that it's happening in close proximity to Camden, Trenton, North Philadelphia, Newark, etc.?


    "Once a solution is found, a compatibility problem becomes indescribably boring because it has only... practical importance"
  • "...which I don't remember precisely, but the gist was that in childhood we tend to be very idealistic, pure, and good."

    not entirely...it's close, but it misses the point of Nietzsche's philosophy...he disliked the word "good" (read Beyond Good and Evil) and, for him, a child is innocent...a child is the only true creator left, one who is a blank slate...one who has the ability to create for him/her-self a unique identity, untainted by the invasive efforts of other people to change us to be more like them.

    Nietzsche's "Overman" (Ubermensch is _not_ translated as "superman" dammit), his idea of the final step in the evolution of man, was a child. (you can find this in "Also Sprach Zarathustra" in the aphorism about the three stages of man: camel, lion, and finally child)

    "But say, my brothers, what can the child do that even the lion could not do? Why must the preying lion still become a child? The child is innocence and forgetting, a new beginning, a game, a self-propelled wheel, a first movement, a sacred 'Yes.' For the game of creation, my brothers, a sacred 'Yes' is needed: the spirit now wills his own will, and he who had been lost to the world now conquers his own world." --Friedrich Nietzsche


    the boys in littleton were lions, they had thrown off the placid beast-of-burden attitude of the camel and found that they had the capacity to destroy so they lashed out at what had been trying to hold them down. but they never learned to create, they never quite made it to the last stage...they learned well how to say "no" but could not bring themselves to wrap their mouths around a sacred "yes" and that, for me, is the true tragedy...rarely does the camel become a lion, but more rare is the transiton from lion to child...from destroyer to creator, from anger to happiness (_not_ contentment...that is the provice of the camel).

  • Everything you've said probly typifies the life , current or prior, of an average slashdotter. Maybe I'm a little heavy on darwinism, in whatever context, but there are precious few people with golden lives.

    Yes, many people are afraid of difference. Yes, it is terrible to spend a youth oppressed. But, there's more to it than just 'I'm being abused!'

    Life is not rosey. The market is not rosey. When these kids move on to jobs, they will be competition with their peers and betters. No one will make fun of them for what they wear, but pressure of some sort will always exist.

    I guess, to nutshell it, yes, it sucks to different and laughed at. It also sucks to be shot in the chest.

    Take life's lessons, and grow from them. Don't abuse others, but don't expect to be treated well or fairly. I'm a complete introvert; I could never just jump in someone's face when I was younger. But, we grow and we learn. Those kids being oppressed and picked on will either get stronger, or they'll snap and shoot everyone. Some people will react to it the right way, and some the wrong. Glorifying or glamorizing _either_ viewpoint is equally wrong.

  • I am reminded by something I read in one of the posts in the original Hellmouth article. I think a key point here is that kids in high school are treated too much like children. They are held down to such a point that some of them start to feel oppressed. Dismissing this recent act of violence and condoning it, even slightly, by saying that they were children who didn't know any better is a cop-out. Those two definitely knew what they were doing. The problem is that they lacked a basic respect for human life, their own and others.

    I'm sure years of humiliation had a lot to do with this. Does that make it right or acceptable? Of course not, but it does somewhat explain it.

    Like a lot of other people, I was somewhat of a loner/outcast in junior high and high school. Another thing that made life hard for me was that ours was a military family, which meant we moved around a lot. Imagine not fitting in very well, and then imagine getting uprooted every four years or so and dumped into a new environment. Believe me, it doesn't make anything any easier.

    I haven't seen it widely publicized, but Eric Harris was a military child, too.

    A good way to start fixing this situation is to make school officials more accountable to the emotional health of their students. I tried to go to guidance counselors in junior high, too, and while they wanted to help, they weren't willing to hand out punishments to any of the popular people who assaulted me. I'm not sure what they were scared of. Maybe it was a backlash from other parents, disciplining their kids when all other signs showed them to be "okay" (good grades, lots of friends, played sports, whatever).

    Somehow, the perception that teenagers being cruel is okay or just a fact of growing up needs to change. I expect immaturity, but by age 14, kids understand their actions. Most of the time they just don't care about the ramifications. They know the worst thing likely to happen is a slap on the wrist.
  • This is a complex and manifold problem, with multiple approach paths.

    Parents and role models cannot be ignored in the development of children. However, they help to form the behavior of the bullies and the popular conformist crowd as well as the geek crowd, so any solution that targets parents will need to deal with the 'problem' children as well.

    We can't say it's okay; it isn't because it is hurting our children. Do you have children? Are they tormented? Is it okay to torment them, as long as you are there in order to comfort and guide them afterwards? That sounds like the attitude you are espousing.

    It's something I think we can and should be dealing with, and not just passing off. You talk about freedom of expression, but fail to see that many children and people seem to think that the school system itself is tyrannical and facsist, denying the children the rights and freedoms we as adults take for granted, online and outside in real life.

    No one deserves persecution or abuse.
    AS
  • by Anonymous Shepherd (17338) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @11:08AM (#1910495) Homepage
    It's really tough having to live through all the persecution, and I can really relate and I feel sympathy for every one else who had to suffer the same. It's easy to blame the schools, because they turned their backs, looked the other way, were understaffed, and were too jaded to care. It's not that they didn't care, actually, but that there were too many issues, too many problems, and no real solutions for them to do anything but give up.

    I don't want to justify their behavior in creating this kind of situation, but I would like to explain some of the their reasoning in all this.

    At least in my schools, there were overcrowded classrooms, aged and retiring teachers who just didn't have the energy or youth to deal with us, and and not enough funds to do anything they would have liked. In order to handle and deal with a class, conformity was stressed over performance, individuality, or creativeness. How could a teacher handle 20 wildly independent, unique, creative, inquisitive students? Whether intentional or not, they managed to convey to us the idea of conforming, of not rocking the boat. They were happy and excited whenever one of us showed initiative or intelligence, but they did not actively try to push us towards that goal.

    Kids picked up really quick; they became the enforcers of the norm, and if you were different of race, of behavior, of attitude, of anything, they'd target you for this.

    This was a school system which actively recruited for GATE students, but didn't have the resources to actually do anything with/for us once we were identified. They actually used us to gain more funding for stuff such as books, repairs, maintanence, etc. They didn't have the training or resources to manage a handful of gifted students, so we were left to our own devices, and then resented for it by all the other children.

    This goes on all the way up to high school, in which I finally figured out how to look cool, how to act cool, how to be cool. I also happened to gain a foot in height and 40 pounds of bulk, so I guess people didn't figure I was such an easy target either.

    Something does need to be done to change the system. We live in a society that does reward innovative unique and creative people, but the system we use to train and manage the kids tries to destroy and contain these things because they cause too much trouble.

    I was talking to my dad about this, and he mentioned that even private schools have this fascist need to maintain conformity, except that they raise the bar and expectations much higher than in our public school. Are there any real solutions available?

    AS
  • >Try to understand that people are very afraid right now.

    >Try to leave your trenchcoat, your Marilyn Manson
    >t-shirts and your skull earrings at home for a few weeks.
    >When the urge comes upon you to utter threats in a rage
    >or say that you understand how the gunmen felt,
    >bite your tongue and post about it later.

    Another option: use this as an opportunity to change people's minds. People tend to sort of believe what they see on the nightly news, but they really have a gut reaction to the things they actually encounter on the street.

    So wear that trenchcoat, the skull earrings, the black lipstick and all that jazz... and be friendly to everyone you meet. Yes, even the assholes (at least, don't be hostile to them). Hold doors for people, smile, and generally make it clear that even freaky-looking weirdoes are nice people.

    I and my friends do this sometimes -- it's amazing how many people you meet that way. And it's been fairly obvious to us that we're having some effect on at least some of the people we run into as we cruise down the street in our black leather, spreading goodwill.

    Try it.

  • Just to clarify: I do not argue that because they were children they didn't know it is wrong to kill. They knew full well that killing is wrong (I suspect). What they lacked (again, I suspect) was a full appreciation of what happens to people when death steals a loved one. It was not something I even remotely understood at 18; and until my wife lost her father to cancer when he was only 48 and I lost my father to cancer at 62 that death became a palpable material thing. It was only then that I knew the real emptiness of loss, as opposed to what I thought I knew of emptiness as a teenager. I did not mean to be patronizing at all.
  • by evilpenguin (18720) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @10:52AM (#1910499)
    I'm 31 years old. I was a misfit in school; so much so that I never joined a distinct subculture. I just wore clothes that weren't trendy, listened to music that wasn't trendy, thought what I wanted and said what I thought. I was isolated, alienated, and generally unimpressed with my peers. My overwhelming feeling was one of pain. Pain at the casual, random cruelty that people inflicted on one another. I'm not religious at all, but I have a favorite verse of the Bible. It is the shortest. "Jesus wept." Do you know what it is like for an overweight male computer geek who cries at the pain of others?

    Now I am 31. I'm very mainstream. I've reached equilibrium between my continuing concern for my fellow living things and my relative powerlessness. I'm actually happy. All of this personal revelation is just to lay thr groundwork for what I have to say.


    Even now I am forgetting (as I think most adults have forgotten) how powerful adolescent emotions are. I wept, I raged, I suffered. In retrospect, it was a lot of wasted energy, but at the same time I miss the passion I had then.


    When I heard the news of Littleton, I heard the demonization of the children who perpetrated this crime. Adults do this so we don't have to own up to our own painful responsibility for this event and others like it. Adolescents need the involvement of caring adults in their lives, not the intrusion of fearful or mistrustful adults. These were not monsters, they were CHILDREN. What they did was monsterous, but there were not adult enough to be monsters. They were not "gunmen" as I hear in the press all the time. If anything, they were "gunboys." Until you have lived through some adult pain (like the death of a parent, etc.) until you know the emptiness of unconsolable loss you don't REALLY know what death means. To these "gunboys" death became a game. Not because they played Doom, but because they hadn't learned through loss the value that life has. They held life cheaply.


    I do actually think violent games and movies are a problem, but I do not think they are to blame. I think each of us, parent and child, game maker and movie producer, employer and worker (the economically induced absence of parents plays a part I do not hear enough about), jock and nerd, each of us needs to take a look at how we treat ourselves and one another. We need to ask ourselves if our lives should be this way. The world is not immutably a place of cruelty. We have the power to make this world what we want it to be. We just have to decide within us what has value. Money and power, or compassion and love. It is our choice. It is my choice. It is your choice. Choose.
  • by BenZoate (19607) <`brshelton' `at' `fadedsky.com'> on Thursday April 29, 1999 @11:00AM (#1910502)
    I have to agree with your statement that the US is has become everything that it has fought against this century, the US was jsut as bad as the Nazis and with their asian relocation camps, and now some of the brightest thinkers and the people who have the most potential to do well in the future arre now being persicuted (sp?). sounds very similar to Nazi Germany. Now the police and other people who "enforce" the laws don't need probable cause to search anymore? So because I think, and I don't fit into the social norms, the "man" can now obtain a warrent and bust into my home and do what they please? I can't believe what is going on these days.

    Just the other day in Lincoln , NE a guy i know, who is a Goth, walks into my former High School and a teacher says, "It's because of people like that things like this happen." the teacher was of course refering to the Colorado events. What kind of society do we live in that this is tolerated? The kids mother called a lawyer and it looks like something is going to happen in the courts, but it will not be enough. I am going back to my high school to talk with the Administration, but I know it will be futile, they just cater to the jocks and the popular kids. But I feel obligated to try. This is something that we all should do, let the schools know what we think, they don't use the 'net, they know it's nothing but porn and sites that promote viloent behavior. And having never used the 'net themselves they are completely justified in their beliefs.

    no.

    High school was no picnic for me, but I found out the other night, while getting drunk with some people from high school, that I was aclutally looked up to, people liked me, and they respected my views. That blew my mind. The guy said it was because I was dtudent council president, and people thought that made me good people. When do I find out though? two years after I graduate. WTF? So to all you people still in the schools, life does get better, just hold on, we are with you.
    to the rest of us do something about the current issues, visit schools, there will be at least one group who will listen to you, start a community group, but get out and make a difference.

    just my thoughts. I am also going to move to Canada, the US is not the place I thought it was.
  • Yes, great job on this article, Jon! Those kids getting harassed in the schools are the next generation of *us*. The intelligent/net/geek culture has now evolved to the point where there are enough of us outside the schools to make a difference. Especially for kids in urban and near-urban or depressed suburban areas, they need our help. Kudos to those who have suggested taking this to the media, the politicians, and the school administrators. Public schools are very reactive to the public-- they need the local public to vote to approve their budgets. Local campaigns to change schools can actually have effects, especially in places where 100 votes is the swing difference between a passed and failed budget. I try to contribute by volunteer teaching in high schools. Often, meeting, encouraging and befriending the kids who remind you of yourself can be a really positive experience in both of your lives. And you can help guide them to a good college. Littletown has really lit a spark at /. Hey, maybe those kids were nothing like us. But the backlash is definitely directed at American culture cracking down on still emerging net culture, and is really hurting the first truly on-line generation. -m
  • by chris.dag (22141) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @10:31AM (#1910521) Homepage
    We need to get this stuff into the mainstream media instead of preaching to the converted on this and other sites. It looks like this may start to happen.

    Katz mentioned previously that reporters were trawling this site looking for people and stories. A nice followup article would be to analyze any resulting press to see how well they grasped the issues. Might let us know how well we do at communicating our views 'out there'.
  • by Flow (22148) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @10:50AM (#1910522) Homepage
    I think that we have determined that many of us have gone through similar torment and hurtful teasing that the kids in Littleton went through.

    What I personally fear more than that the torment of "geeks" will continue is schools and society will make it nearly impossibel to interact with others without fear of words being taken as harassment or torment.

    Most of us who had to suffer at the hands of bullies, and the "popular" crowd did not go and blow 12, or even 1 person away. We learned to deal with. I think the most succesful of us who dealt with it had good support from our families.

    With the ever declining strength of the family unit, and lack of almost anyone in the US taking responsibility for their own actions, kids have no place to turn for support and positive reinforcement.

    I think these are the issues that need to be addressed, not the teasing that goes on, has gone and on, and probably will go on for years to come. Freedom of expression has a price, and I'd rather pay that price, and help my children pay that price, than see those freedom's restricted.

  • This is ridiculous. A "death-obsessed" culture is no less ethically legitimate than our current "money-obsessed" culture that we are currently stuck in. Being obsessed with death, or the occult, or cannibalism, or chopping up people into little bitty bits is OK. DOING many of these things is illegal and unethical. I can THINK about whatever the hell I want to. I can take an academic interest in LITERALLY ANYTHING, and that is ethically and morally just fine. Puritanical notions about forbidden knowledge are simply ridiculous. One culture being better or worse than another can only be determined by history, and it's a notoriously dog-eat-dog progression. Doesn't get much more Darwinian than that.

    Having said that, I agree with you that the notion of the "right" to Internet access is absolutely absurd. We are FREE to use the Internet, but we do not have any RIGHT to do so.
  • (gee how original)
    i remember waiting with the rest of the seniors at the beginning of our last semester in high school for our class picture. me and a friend of mine who were "troublemakers" (i had been called to the office all of one time during my 3 years at this school, for smoking. outside. after school was out.) were pulled out by the vice-principal. we'd done nothing wrong, but because of our attitude and how we were dressed, she asked us our names (nope, she knew we were troublemakers, but not what our names were) and proceeded to look us up in her book to see if we indeed had enough credits to be able to graduate that year. imagine her surprise when she saw all the AP/Honor classes we were enroled in. her non-existent apology was great, i'm glad i'm out of school, and even though it's been four years already, i still harbor anger and resentment to the people who had nothing better to do than to check up on me for no reason other than for who i hung around with.
  • by Utoxin (26011) <utoxin@gmail.com> on Thursday April 29, 1999 @10:29AM (#1910532) Homepage Journal
    I'm one of the people who fit the nerd/geek/wierdo category. This article is very thoughtful, and extremely well worded. I can say as a person who spent every year of school until my junior year of highschool being tormented, that it is worse than a lot of people can imagine. What saved me?

    One day, I stopped myself from snapping back at somone, and thought about it for a second. What exactly did 'nerd' mean to me? It meant someone who did well in school, who liked learning, who loved science, computers, and being their own person. At that moment, it stopped bothering me, and within a month of that, they stopped bothering me. They started to respect me, because I respected myself, and realized that I could be proud of myself.

    So, to all you nerds out there, I have a few words of encouragement. Stand up for yourselves. Stand tall, be proud. We are the people who really make society run.
    --
    Matthew Walker
    My DNA is Y2K compliant
  • I'm somewhat with you here.
    High school sucked for me somewhat, but really it was doings in my personal life, not due to bullies or anything. Because of problems at the time, I did dream of putting the smack down on those who bothered me, but it was never serious. Not everyone on slashdot had sucky times in high school, or sucky times due to peers, but I think the majority did. We're not wrong, but lets face it, alot of people w/ the same interests as us have gone through hell. -jeff

  • Moving on won't help anything. Don't forget about it just because it's not entertaining you anymore.
  • I want to say up front that I agree completely with your original first point. The idea of internet access as a positive right (or any kind of right) is preposterous at present. It is particularly foolish from a libertarian point of view, if that is in fact the camp that Katz is in. It might be a different story if the internet were a publicly provided infrastructure service like the interstates, or if he were talking about selectively restricting access to individuals in an educational context (which he wasn't).

    On your second assertion, I disagree completely. There are two salient points here that I want to address: the relative validity of cultures in general and the meaning of the term culture in this context.

    You would be right about Katz being arrogant if he were somehow excluding "your culture" by affirming another, but that's not what he is doing. He only says that "your culture" doesn't need to affirm itself by denying and denigrating other cultures. That's a sign of insecurity, not superiority. Your examples of "other bad cultures" are similarly telling. (I use the quoted phrase "your culture" to indicate mainstream American culture, with which you seem to associate yourself. I apologize if this isn't your feeling.)

    In the context of this article, "culture" doesn't mean a national or even regional culture, it refers to a clique or "sub-culture" within a larger framework. The existence of such a sub-culture does not invalidate or impugn the values of the larger culture, nor does it in any way restrict of the larger culture's right to ignore this clique. This is true irrespective of the tenets of that sub-culture, as long as the actions of the sub-culture do not violate laws of the larger culture. Thus "a death-obsessed culture" for example is not "ethically illegitimate" unless you think that blindly ignoring that death exists is fundamental to the wider American culture. Which isn't to say that you can't criticize it, just don't dismiss it out of hand without actually experiencing it, or at least getting to know someone who is a part of it.

    You also show yourself as a promulgator of a problem "sub-culture" when you categorize anyone mentioned in Katz's article as "death-obsessed". In my experience, goths and Doom players alike are no more obsessed with death than cheerleaders or basketball players.

    It has been my experience that some "mainstream" Americans are overly dismissive of all things unfamiliar. The "sub-cultures" (from jocks to teachers to parents) criticized in this article are an ugly instance of this kind of behavior. Your implicit assertion is yet another example. An example of a similar sub-culture that is "ethically illegitimate" would be the KKK. Obviously that is an extreme case, the criteria for which neither jocks nor goths nor geeks can fulfill.

    Yow, that's really too many words. Hopefully I got my ideas across to you. I think that my most salient point is the one implicit in my argument: that all people are members of more than one "culture", and that's okay. I feel that this underscores the entire problem of this whole witch-hunt mentality in the aftermath of the horrible events in Littleton.

  • From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

    evolve
    Pronunciation: i-'välv, -'volv, E- also -'väv or -'vov
    Function: verb
    Inflected Form(s): evolved; evolving
    Etymology: Latin evolvere to unroll, from e- + volvere to roll -- more at VOLUBLE
    Date: 1641
    transitive senses
    1 : EMIT
    2 a : DERIVE, EDUCE b : to produce by natural evolutionary processes c : DEVELOP, WORK OUT evolve social,
    political, and literary philosophies -- L. W. Doob>
    intransitive senses : to undergo evolutionary change
    - evolvable /-'väl-v&-b&l, -'vol- also -'vä-v&- or -'vo-v&-/ adjective
    - evolvement /-'välv-m&nt, -'volv- also -'väv- or -'vov-/ noun

    No where in there do I see anything about evolve implying a better or more sophisticated change. While that is certainly true much of the time, you will find that not all are for the best (reptiles evolutionary adaptation to heat gave them a serious disadvantage in the cold). Segmentation also occurs along the pathways of evolution; just look at the varieties of bird of any single species; the number of subspecies for, say, finches will undoubtedly astound you.

    As far as cultural evolution, well, I have heard about it; our anthropologists at the university discuss it, not a change for the better in the culture, but a change that results in a more complex environment (i.e., more rituals, differing religions are introduced, living to an older age, etc.). Events like these force a culture to change, because all culture are defined by a set of "rules" (for lack of a better word) that allows an outsider with knowledge of them to gain an idea of the structure a particular culture. Segmentation has and will often occur; just look at the differences in the Oriental and Native American cultures... a few similarities, many differences, and a common root. So, yes, Katz was correct with using "evolve" in context with changing cultures, although, for a nit-picking point, perhaps the use of "adaptation" would have been better (since, biologically, you must adapt before you can evolve). Either way, evolution does have a place in cultural anthropology.

    -G.
  • >- A. Coward said:
    "As a last resort, drop out, home school, and take your GED. You won't be able to get into a 4-year college, but if you take the junior college route, you should be able to attend a 4-year with a little work."

    I REALLY have to disagree with this; homeschooling and always has been a viable option to public indoctrination. Four year colleges actually embrace homeschooled applicants; ask the admission directors at the Ivy League schools, Stanford, U. of Chicago, Duke, Washing and Lee, and they will all tell you that a homeschooled student is more disciplined in their studies, does better in college, and rarely drops out. Most homeschool students that go to college thoroughly enjoy the experience; they are treated no differently; in fact, some of my friends said that when they told the people where they went to college that they were homeschooled, the vast majority of students and professors were interested in it, with some students coming right out and stating they had wished they were homeschooled. There are no increased admission requirements (which are disallowed by law, anyways), and the GED is only required for public universities (but it is a matter of a formality only). I would seriously suggest to any that feel out of place in high school, and have a willing and capable family, to investigate homeschooling. Take you education into your own hands, and you will actually *gasp* learn more and enjoy it.

    As for those with working parents, well, its real simple; class in the evening, work during the day, and you get to sleep late. You'll find with the one-on-one instruction, especially in high school, you will only really need 2-3 hours of it a day, if that; my brother last year did calculus, physics, and C/Python programming himself, with my mother only instructing him on history and english literature/composition. He was, when he applied for college this year, accepted at Princeton, U. of Virginia (we live in TN), Berry College in GA, College of Charleston, Transylvania U. in KY, and U. of Tennessee, which were all the schools he applied to. Not only that, he was granted full academic scholarship everywhere except Princeton, were he obtained a measly $20,000 in aid (they do not give merit scholarships). Gee, not bad for a homeschool student.

    And what about me, you ask? I insisted on staying public school. I enjoyed one year (my junior year), was critically ill my freshman year, and despised the other two years. Junior year, things clicked with a few people, but they graduated and moved on. I never did fit in (although I really don't have any horror stories). And now, a junior in college, I regret my decision to not homeschool with my little brother.

    I believe that this is part of the answer; you can go through and try to change it, damaging you children in the process through the ridicule and mockery that is almost guaranteed to fall on them if you do so, or can pull them out and educate them yourself, and then try to change it. If you are still in high school and are reading this, I do seriously suggest you talk to your parents about this. And parents, talk to your high school children. Just think: a better education, far less boredom, and no need to worry about the Kevlar vest...

    -G.
  • There is too much misguided talk in the media about the culpability of the internet, movies, games, trenchcoats, guns, etc. This is resulting in proposals to counter these specific objects (be they guns, trenchcoats, or computers).

    There just isn't enough talk about the actual problem: the unchecked hatred that was brewing in these kids heads. The hatred did not come from the internet, from guns, or from trenchcoats. It came from:

    1. a steady stream of noxious stimuli from other kids (kids are very cruel to eachother)
    2. a lack of conflict resolution and anger management skills.

    Kids at school must be better protected from eachother's cruel comments and deeds. If Johnny slugs Kevin or calls him a "freak", then Johnny should have to stand up in front of the class and teachers and explain himself.

    It's time for the kids who are dishing out abuse at school to be held accountable. Instead of metal detectors, we need hate detectors. For this to happen, teachers and administration have to stop turning a deaf ear.

    Kids should be assigned to work in pairs on month-long assignments with people who are not in their subculture. This will not only teach them teamwork, which is an important skill, but also let them see eachother more as human beings rather than stereotyped enemies.

    Once the seeds of hatred have been planted and allowed to grow, then the ready availability of guns and other weapons will lead to disasterous results. No matter how much we try to limit access to weapons or information, or how tight the school fortress is made, inmates - uh, I mean kids, bent on killing will find a way. Just look at prisons - a place where there is no internet access (AFAIK), no pipe bombs or guns for sale, and no trenchcoats. Just plain old hatred.

  • and mandating penalties for students, teachers, administrators.

    Examples:

    Knocking books out of someone's arms: 5 double dententions

    Making a public comment that in any way impugns another student's integrity: 5 double dententions
    For a teacher, dock 2 weeks pay.

    A threat of physical violence: 2 weeks suspension

    Actual physical violence: 1 quarter suspension

    Threat of retaliation for report of infraction:
    1 year suspension

    Death threat, however casual: Permanent Expulsion

    Teacher or administration shown on 3 occasions to have ignored abuse: 1 quarter suspension without pay

    Fuck the teacher's union. They either sign on or take a walk.

  • by black.flag (34580) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @10:34AM (#1910604) Homepage
    The mandatory hell referred to as high school will always be one of the most detrimental experiences an individual can go through until some fundamental changes take place.

    What we need to understand is that the jocks, preps, and wacko administration kiss-asses do not go away once high school is over. They become the new generation of teachers, cops, judges, businessmen, etc. They do well in life because they already have the advantage of being well-to-do, accepted by the rest of the mundane society, and "on the right track." In case anyone hasn't figured it out, high school is a training ground for the workforce. All the necessary skills of obedience, blind acceptance, kissing butt, the willingness to sacrifice 66% of your day to mind-numbing and pointless work or sleep --- these are the "job skills" that need to be learned by the innately free-willed human being to fit into our mechanical capitalist hell.

    Of course, nothing of this has to do with the fact that our society has been running on an authoritarian structure that places a small group of people as an elite over other groups and, ultimately, all of the "masses."

    Black, poor, gay, freak, geek --- your individualism is useless to the machinery of global profit-making.

    But there is more to it than that. Your individualism is more importantly dangerous to the button-pushers and their servile middle-men (the managers -- cops, teachers, landlords, corporate scum). They will always do whatever they can to appease you. And they will try to appease you over Colorado. They will become more "open" -- at least on the record. But in the end, when push comes to shove, they are "they" for a reason: they have the power and they will do anything to keep it.

    Our generation has the cynicism from watching the extended hippie revolution joke, the anger from being further polarized and born into a violent, oppressive culture, and the numbers to make a difference.

    So what are we doing whining about it on this message board? Let's overthrow the music industry with MP3's, overthrow the tech industry with free software, and overthrow the corporation-state's power monopoly through plain old internet anarchy!

    -----------
    open source everything
  • What is staggering to me is how anyone could be this far off! The quote I give you here is an example which is nothing short of outright bigotry. Which is what's causing all the pain and agony to begin with! We need to break the cycle. We don't need greater enforcement of uniformity in our society and we certainly don't need it in our schools. Instead, we all need to learn tolerance. Especially people like the author of this quote! (posted on CNN.com, and I might add as the *first* opinion of several)

    "To all Decent Americans,

    The students, and their associates, that were involved in the shootings in Littleton, Colorado were members of an anti-culture clique... you know the type: Disillusioned, disaffected, jaded, neo-gothic types, that relish the role of being the "outsiders". By their own admission, they were influenced by the death-rock of Marilyn Manson and the violence and hype of Hollywood.

    Our community (Littleton) is asking the whole country not to allow their children, or their families access to this kind of music and boycott all television and radio stations that glamorize death and violence. We are also asking all not to patronize video, retail, businesses, magazines, and all other forms of media that peddle this poison. If the words of peace are falling on deaf ears, then we would like Hollywood to listen to our pocketbooks. It is time for the media to take responsibility for their actions and stop hiding behind the First Amendment.

    Mark Kinchen"

  • my .02

    reporter: "Mr. Gandhi, what do you think of Western Civilization?"
    Gandhi: "I think it would be a good idea."

    ggregg
  • Im 18, male trench coat, quake playing, gun loving, internet using, webpage making fool who cant spell, sorry.

    ok now here i go! my firsat post on /.!
    Im soo happy that my hard work, and study have gotten me out of high school early. I couldent stand it, i wore a trench coat, i was constantly called dity, and was told to "Take a shower". People asked me where my shot gun was, i would tell them, i left it at home. In New York where i live, the wiggers are the majority party. The afluent white italians who strive to be covered in Fubu and Tommy clothing, they would torment my friends, and anyone who did not fit into there molds. They constantly started fights with us for doing things like playing frisbe, and even for splahing in puddles in the rain. Its been nearly 6th months since i have been to school, word from my friend is that now they are serching any "suspicious" looking kids, taking away trenchcoats, and suspending kids for there feelings on the incident. I would not stand for this modern day witch hunt if i were still a student. I asked them if they planed to do anything, some started petitions, but documents on torn paper and crayon have little effect. Now im going to return to the school, not to visit, but to fight the opressive system that we are forced into. I wasnt tormented much (becaue 6' 180lbs, and i look like i can handle most fights) but the smaller, and weaker have sustained enough.

    As geeks united we should all take a stand against the school system in america, if it wasnt for some self control, and my family i could have been a school shooter. Its time to stick it to "The MAN" and make a change. How many more geeks have to go insane, or suicidal before we notice the problem is not our music and games, but our schools, and social system.

    Tolerance is the best thing we can learn. With it we can all enjoy what we belive in, and other can enjoy what they belive in. But for now, im just going to wait for the day i drive through Taco Bell and see the best Football player form high school pass me my grande meal and realize, i was the kid he taunted in school, as a burn away in my wicked sports car.
  • by Laygo (43732) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @12:52PM (#1910631) Homepage
    . . . is a great source of the problem. Ignoring things will not change it. Forgetting about it will not change it. These very issues need to be addressed!

    I would hate to be in school as a teenager now. I lived thru years of torment/alienation from ignorant people like you. Take the time to understand the people that are picked on. Those 'jocks' & 'preps' that took the time to get to know me, the 'freak', knew I was someone worth liking. Kids needs to understand that. Befriend those in your class because it is they that have to deal with you. Once they know you, understand you, they may even stand up for you. I had a 'jock' friend that was willing to fight my fights with the 'jock' bully who was picking on me, calling me a fag, threatening me. Take the time . . . it works . . .

    This tragedy(s), & the ones gauranteed to follow from more copycats like Taber Canada, touch me deeply because I lived it. I feel that the persecution from the 'jocks'/'preps' is only being justified by the school administration when the schools themselves persecute. What kind of message does it send to a developing mind when the school administration isolates/persecutes/alienates/traumatizes people that so happen to dress the same as Eric or Dylan? There has to be a place for the kids being 'attacked' by the school systems to log their complaints! It has been labeled before, but this WITCH HUNT needs to stop before they pust another kid over the edge!

    I have created a place for everyone to discuss these issues. Where to get help, where to take your complaints, what to do, why, when, & who . . . stop by!
    LITTLETON TRAGEDY DISCUSSION [t10.net]
    £ Ä ¥ G Ö
    ~=~=~=~=~
    I get knocked down, but I get up again;
    You're never gonna keep me down
    ~=~=~=~=~
  • We've seen an outpouring of experiences, feelings, and commiseration over the past few days, and that's a good thing. This is surfacing in many places, and that's a good thing, too. It's good to talk. It's more effective to take the talk and actually develop it to the point where we can actually do something to make a difference for today's and tomorrow's kids...

    I've made a start. Have you?

    I wrote a letter that I entitled, "An Open Letter to My Child's School District". It was a three page piece calling attention to the things being posted here, and how it relates to ALL schools EVERYWHERE. I voiced my concerns calmly and with as much logic as I could muster. I appealed to the readers to remove the gloss from their own memories of their school years. I urged that the letter be made available to every member of staff in the District.

    I attached Jon's articles, as well as several of the responses they generated. Made a pretty long attachment, I must say!

    I hand delivered a copy to each principal in the school district, as well as one to the District Superintendent.

    Then, just so the whole thing would be less likely to be met with a "Thank you" and shelved, I delivered a copy to the editor of the local newspaper (the only media outlet here), who expressed an interest in helping keep their feet to the fire.

    I'm moving on to our Congresspersons, the Secretarial levels of state and federal government, the Governor, and the President.

    In order for this sort of thing to be effective, though, many more have to play the game. It's far more enduring than a flash in the media pan is going to be, even though it takes a bit more effort. However, since there is a lot of hand-wringing going on, with a lot of people saying, "Somebody's got to DO SOMETHING about this!", I would suggest that we be the ones to start doing the doing.

    The letters need to be signed and accompanied by the information necessary to contact you. You might wish to offer to sit on a committee that works on policy recommendations. ...Or, you might not...

    Since students who say these things are targeted for even greater levels of scrutiny (and even abuse), it would seem advisable that the letters come from concerned parents and other adults. There are also some things that you might like to consider in the process...

    While we might be offering a wake-up call, we should also be offering solutions and suggestions. Emphasis needs to be placed on identifying problem areas, defining needs, and devising age-appropriate solutions. This is a pervasive problem that begins in early childhood education and continues on, with ever-increasing cruelty, through entire school careers. Geeks, etc. are not the only ones who are being tormented. Anyone who is classified as "different" by ANY school caste group is going to be abused in some fashion by the members of at least one of the many other caste groups, unless education and intervention are inculcated from the earliest ages possible.

    Since education begins at home, community awareness needs to be significantly heightened. There are instinctual elements at work here that are going to take a lot of work to counteract. If there is a pecking order amongst chickens, one of the least intelligent critters available, you can bet your boots that every higher animal is going to have individuals singled out for torment. That's not to say, however, that the most intelligent of the animals can't overcome this.

    It's just going to take some work, is all...

    This is NOT just an "American thing". It happens EVERYWHERE in the world. You can change the names of the authority levels to meet your own situation. Remember, civilisation began to happen because an individual found a better, easier way to do something important!

    There are several things that need to be brought to the attention of officialdom, and I think we can all appreciate that the wheels of authority don't turn in the direction we want them to unless enough of us begin hollering loudly enough in a reasoned way to merit serious consideration. Things to bring to the table in your letters would include:

    Littleton didn't happen beacause:

    -- of the Internet

    -- of violent computer games

    -- of violent movies

    -- of easy availability of weapons

    -- of adopting an "outsider" culture

    -- of drugs

    -- of a lack of anger control

    -- of lack of parental supervision

    -- of the general decline of society

    While some or all of these may have played contributing roles to a varrying degree, we need to get the nation...and the world..to understand that Littleton, along with similar incidents, happened, and WILL HAPPEN AGAIN, largely because of the severe emotional stress placed on people too young to handle it by the incredibly rigid and cruel caste systems imposed by young people in the school and neighbourhood social systems of the young.

    In common with the caste system we see operating even today on the Indian sub-continent, once assigned to a group, you are hard pressed to ever rise above it. In common with what happens in chicken society, those at the bottom of the pecking order become incredibly abused and left out of all opportunity to remain healthy.

    Most of those so abused in our education systems make it out alive. However, far too many kill themselves out of despair. Some use alcohol or drugs to ease the pain. A precious few snap in another direction and seek active revenge. A small minority of these actually succeed in killing those who they perceive to be tormenting them. In cases where the targets appear random, chances are that is because the killers perceive that EVERYBODY hates them.

    I would like to make certain that the President comes to rise above political gun control rhetoric to understand that his proposals will not help reduce the chances of this happening again, because they won't. That won't happen unless enough people step forward with calm, reasoned words that counter the present knee-jerk reactions we are seeing all around us.

    I want every Congressperson and Senator to understand that there are problems that need to be addressed, and that it's going to take some resources to bring about change for our children.

    I would like people to make enough well-reasoned fuss that we see Congressional Hearings on the issue of caste system abuse in American schools (along with schools in all nations). I would like to see students of all ages and from all school and neighbourhood castes to be among those testifying. I would like to see adult survivors of this abuse testifying, and I would like to see our educators and developmental and emotional health experts testifying, too.

    It won't happen without a lot of serious noise from the crowd...we, The People.

    The world needs to hear from those who snapped, telling why they snapped, as well as from those who endured, and why they didn't snap. We need to learn a WHOLE LOT more from those who are going through this now, from sides of both the oppressed and their oppressors.

    We can't get there, though, unless enough of us speak up ON PAPER. Phone calls, faxes, and e-mail are not going to be enough to do the trick, although they can all help move things forward. We can talk amongst ourselves until we are blue in the face, and we can talk to talk to all of the reporters we want to, but it won't do any good for our kids until we can get the people in charge of their educations to address the problem in an effective manner.

    At the same time, we are ALL going to have to address our responsibilities as adults in the process of raising the next generation of leaders and followers. It doesn't matter whether we have children of our own or not, we all have a part to play in the process. We can either be silent and let things go on as they have before, or we can get up and make a difference. Each of us has the choice.

    For those of us who are parents, we have to pick up on our responsibilities to our own children. Some of us have children who are being tormented in school. Some of us have children who are tormentors. Some of us have children who have feet in both camps. We have the responsibility to know where they stand in this, and we have the responsibilty to work with them to help them prevent being part of the problem where that is indicated, and we have the responsibility to advocate for them where that is appropriate.

    Nobody is going to be neutral in this one. You are either going to be an advocate for change or an enabler for the status quo. That's a choice that each person is going to make, whether he or she reads this or not.

    Norman MacLeod

  • by gaelwolf (44364) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @11:47AM (#1910642) Homepage
    We've seen an outpouring of experiences, feelings, and commiseration over the past few days, and that's a good thing. This is surfacing in many places, and that's a good thing, too. It's good to talk. It's more effective to take the talk and actually develop it to the point where we can actually do something to make a difference for today's and tomorrow's kids...

    I've made a start. Have you?

    I wrote a letter that I entitled, "An Open Letter to My Child's School District". It was a three page piece calling attention to the things being posted here, and how it relates to ALL schools EVERYWHERE. I voiced my concerns calmly and with as much logic as I could muster. I appealed to the readers to remove the gloss from their own memories of their school years. I urged that the letter be made available to every member of staff in the District.

    I attached Jon's articles, as well as several of the responses they generated. Made a pretty long attachment, I must say!

    I hand delivered a copy to each principal in the school district, as well as one to the District Superintendent.

    Then, just so the whole thing would be less likely to be met with a "Thank you" and shelved, I delivered a copy to the editor of the local newspaper (the only media outlet here), who expressed an interest in helping keep their feet to the fire.

    I'm moving on to our Congresspersons, the Secretarial levels of state and federal government, the Governor, and the President.

    In order for this sort of thing to be effective, though, many more have to play the game. It's far more enduring than a flash in the media pan is going to be, even though it takes a bit more effort. However, since there is a lot of hand-wringing going on, with a lot of people saying, "Somebody's got to DO SOMETHING about this!", I would that we be the ones to start doing the doing.

    The letters need to be signed and accompanied by the information necessary to contact you. You might wish to offer to sit on a committee that works on policy recommendations. ...Or, you might not...

    Since students who say these things are targeted for even greater levels of scrutiny (and even abuse), it would seem advisable that the letters come from concerned parents and other adults. There are also some things that you might like to consider in the process...

    While we might be offering a wake-up call, we should also be offering solutions and suggestions. Emphasis needs to be placed on identifying problem areas, defining needs, and devising age-appropriate solutions. This is a pervasive problem that begins in early childhood education and continues on, with ever-increasing cruelty, through entire school careers. Geeks, etc. are not the only ones who are being tormented. Anyone who is classified as "different" by ANY school caste group is going to be abused in some fashion by the members of at least one of the many other caste groups, unless education and intervention are inculcated from the earliest ages possible.

    Since education begins at home, community awareness needs to be significantly heightened. There are instinctual elements at work here that are going to take a lot of work to counteract. If there is a pecking order amongst chickens, one of the least intelligent critters available, you can bet your boots that every higher animal is going to have individuals singled out for torment. That's not to say, however, that the most intelligent of the animals can't overcome this.

    It's just going to take some work, is all...

    This is NOT just an "American thing". It happens EVERYWHERE in the world. You can change the names of the authority levels to meet your own situation. Remember, civilisation began to happen because an individual found a better, easier way to do something important!

    There are several things that need to be brought to the attention of officialdom, and I think we can all appreciate that the wheels of authority don't turn in the direction we want them to unless enough of us begin hollering loudly enough in a reasoned way to merit serious consideration. Things to bring to the table in your letters would include:

    Littleton didn't happen beacause:

    -- of the Internet

    -- of violent computer games

    -- of violent movies

    -- of easy availability of weapons

    -- of adopting an "outsider" culture

    -- of drugs

    -- of a lack of anger control

    -- of lack of parental supervision

    -- of the general decline of society

    While some or all of these may have played contributing roles to a varrying degree, we need to get the nation...and the world..to understand that Littleton, along with similar incidents, happened, and WILL HAPPEN AGAIN, largely because of the severe emotional stress placed on people too young to handle it by the incredibly rigid and cruel caste systems imposed by young people in the sxhool and neighbourhood social systems of the young.

    In common with the caste system we see operating even today on the Indian sub-continent, once assigned to a group, you are hard pressed to ever rise above it. In common with what happens in chicken society, those at the bottom of the pecking order become incredibly abused and left out of all opportunity to remain healthy.

    Most of those so abused in our education systems make it out alive. However, far too many kill themselves out of despair. Some use alcohol or drugs to ease the pain. A precious few snap in another direction and seek active revenge. A small minority of these actually succeed in killing those who they perceive to be tormenting them. In cases where the targets appear random, chances are that is because the killers perceive that EVERYBODY hates them.

    I would like to make certain that the President comes to rise above political gun control rhetoric to understand that his proposals will not help reduce the chances of this happening again, because they won't. That won't happen unless enough people step forward with calm, reasoned words that counter the present knee-jerk reations we are seein all around us.

    I want every Congressperson and Senator to understand that there are problems that need to be addressed, and that it's going to take some resources to bring about change for our children.

    I would like people to make enough well-reasoned fuss that we see Congressional Hearings on the issue of caste system abuse in American schools (along with schools in all nations). I would like to see students of all ages and from all school and neighbourhood castes to be among those testifying. I would like to see adult survivors of this abuse testifying, and I would like to see our educators and developmental and emotional health experts testifying, too.

    It won't happen without a lot of serious noise from the crowd.

    The world needs to hear from those who snapped, telling why they snapped, as well as from those who endured, and why they didn't snap. We need to learn a WHOLE LOT more from those who are going through this now, from sides of both the oppressed and their oppressors.

    We can't get there, though, unless enough of us speak up ON PAPER. We can talk amongst ourselves until we are blue in the face, and we can talk to talk to all of the reporters we want to, but it won't do any good for our kids until we can get the people in charge of their educations to address the problem in an effective manner.

    At the same time, we are ALL going to have to address our responsibilities as adults in the process of raising the next generation of leaders and followers. It doesn't matter whether we have children of our own or not, we all have a part to play in the process. We can either be silent and let things go on as they have before, or we can get up and make a difference. Each of us has the choice.

    For those of us who are parents, we have to pick up on our responsibilities to our own children. Some of us have children who are being tormented in school. Some of us have children who are tormentors. Some of us have children who have feet in both camps. We have the responsibility to know where they stand in this, and we have the responsibilty to work with them to help them prevent being part of the problem where that is indicated, and we have the responsibility to advocate for them where that is appropriate.

    Nobody is going to be neutral in this one. You are either going to be an advocate for change or an enabler for the status quo. That's a choice that each person is going to make, whether he or she reads this or not.

    Norman MacLeod

  • I know how you feel. I had a similar experience the other day. There I was, standing quietly by myself, (clad in long black coat, of course,) when I saw him. It was terrifying. The thought ran through my mind, "What if he's like the others? What if he's got a gun!?!" Then he simply delivered the mail, and walked off down the street. I suppose it's silly to fear the postman, but there is a history of postal employees shooting people.

    Perhaps I'm being facetious, and perhaps I'm just being a sarcastic bastard. But someone I know was arrested last night, for the crime of wearing a trenchcoat, and having significant numbers of "goth-industrial" bumper stickers on his car. Admittedly, they just took him downtown, took his picture, and let him go, but the point is, if the authorities are going to fear all people who dress a certain way because a statistically insignificant number of them, *ahem*, "Go postal", as it were, then it seems like we should fear postal employees. And cops. (Since it seems like they shoot an awful lot of people, and they all dress the same.) The military. Then again, I'm probably expecting rational behaviour from those it should not be expected from, again.
  • I have been watching the events since the Littleton incident, I have seen the US 60 Minutes show - and am about to see it again on the Australian equivalent ... I have read all the slashdot articles, and have even spoken to some friends whoe were involved in the incident ... I have sat back and watched a country's reaction and wondered ... is there *any* sense left in the "greatest country on earth"

    The thing that scares me? Is that the same ppl who are currently creating these geek profiles, are the same ppl who are creating the rules, creating the laws and ... in all honest effect ... hold the key to the big red button ...

    Now, I'm sure that the average American Joe Blow is intelligent, has some form of common sense, and is generally a decent human being ... but then again with the US media turning the bone onto the geeks and nerds and the generally excluded, twisting stories and facts to fit into their FUD campaigns, I don't believe that they will have full use of their facilities during the bombardment.

    I would like to know, if these two kids had been observed to be addicted to coca-cola, McD's, Melrose Place and loved reading Patriot magazine - would schools ban these as well? No? Why not? Simple, only a whacko would use these items as a source of inspiration to plan out a mass murder and suicide.

    In all reality tho, is it not the reality that these two were just plain class-A fscking whackos?!?!?!?! And no matter what their hobbies and the like were, they were not in their right minds?

    Oh, don't misunderstand me, I believe that if someone has been pushed to that degree they can snap - I did it at high school - nearly 15 years ago, mid way through the 2nd year I was "ganged" by a bunch of Jocks - I did my best to avoid them, after all, I had put up with it so far ... and I really deplored violence coming from both an abusive household and a racist, violent neibourhood - but they pushed, the poked, they started burning my books and kicking me - and I snapped ... I lost all control and I ended up fighting back punching, kicking and scratching and finally I jumped onto the "leader"

    May the karma be reversed before I am re-born as RMS - I broke his arm and his jaw, and punched him with such ferocity and hate and anger that it took three teachers to remove me from him ... but he already was unconcious by this time. I was charged with GBH and suspended from my school. None of the other members of the "gang" were punished in any way

    If Australia had the same laxity in gun laws, perhaps I too would have pulled out a gun and shot them ... after all in my mind at the time - it would have been justifiable self-defense.

    I DO NOT for a moment condone the behaviour of the two boys at Colorado ... and only the creator knows better than I do that I deplore the actions I commited those many years ago ... but the solution is so simple - change the schooling system, open the eyes of those "in charge" and allow students to have counselling without being sent into further seclusion ... the many geeks, parents, teachers and other /. readers who have posted replies to the string of articles here have all said the same thing - in different ways ... you all have the power to affect change ... as some ppl have said - write to the schools, petition them, strike! Do a massive nation-wide walkout! show them you mean business! show them you will not lie down and take it any longer! However, DO IT PEACEFULLY - DO IT WISELY

    In a country where violence is a way of life, in a race where our breed is instinctively violent, we should not blindly attack all "obvious" targets as the cause - if this was a reasonable, sensible method of finding a solution, George Orwell would have been proven right many years ago ... Rock and Roll would never have moved past the 1950's, TV would not be here today, science would not be allowed to practice, darwin would have been burnt at the stake and ... well you get the drift ...

    We look from across the globe to a land of such might and power - and all we see is a land being run by a bunch of scared, insecure, fanatical children hidden behind a veil of misconceptions, contradictions and dis-information ... if the same effort and focus was put into the anti-abortion killers as is being placed into "geek profiling" and the harrasment that some of these poor children are experiencing, religion would be banned ... all fanatical christians would be offered the counselling and fired from their jobs if they did not attend - and if they showed any sign of free-thought, rebellion or common-sense - they'd be deported!

    Sounds insane does it not? But it is no more insane than what is going on now ...

    I need you all to start helping resolve this ... why? becouse it does not only affect those living in the USofA - but it will treacle down across the globe ... even our unthinking, spineless goverment will take on the new policies that the US goverment will make up ... and in the end the whole planet becomes prime lamb in the great universal slaughter

    I would like to finish up my long rant by expressing to you all the most heartfelt support and believe that many of us across the globe will and are standing behind you, the last strands of sanity that seem to be standing against a tide of pure ignorance-induced insanity

  • I was always told that I could go and talk to the school, and one day I did. I was getting kicked out of the cafe before my next class started, becsue there was going to be study hall, though I should say that I just sat down, for I had a class and was given 15 minutes to eat. I like to take more time then that. And I did...

    So they sent me to the pricable's office. We had a little talk, and basicaly he said that he was not going to change anything, for it was something that had been working for the past 10 years. He asked what class I had. It was gym. And then he would talk to me no longer, saying "Oh dear, You can NOT miss gym..."

    A few months latter when I was changed schools, I had yet another meeting with this man, a teacher, and my father, and he just sat there lieing about how if I had a problem with the school, or anything at all, I should just come and talk to him, and he will do his best to fix it. You might say that this is just one bad school some place, but it was said to be the best public school in our area...

    My question is how do you think that a school like that will really change, and really listen to anything that any one else says?
    Amalthea

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