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The Public & The Internet: Open Forum 898

brent_clements writes "With the recent shootings in colorado, and other recent shootings around the country, I have been seeing articles such as this one, touting that these kids used the "internet", played games such as DOOM or Duke Nukem and were general geeks who were picked on in school. The articles that I am reading give me the impression that by using the internet or playing these games the kids were somehow provoked by them. " I'm overstepping my usual bounds a bit, posting what's sort of an AskSlashdot, but given the constant coverage, here in the US of the Colorado Massacre, and the fact that the murderers are being styled as geeks and hardcore Internet people, I'm wondering what everyone thinks. Is the perception of this prevasive? Or, more honestly, does the Internet make things like this easier for people? What about socialization of people? Let 'er rip folks-because geeks are getting blasted out there right now.
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The Public & The Internet: Open Forum

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Not to rain on the parade, but there is little doubt in the mind of many behaviorists that the explosion (no pun intended) of media coverage of violence, and ever-increasing competition for the attention of consumers (TV, movies, video, e-games, etc.) using violent themes has resulted in a significant desensitization to violence, in particular pertaining to children.

    It has been demonstrated in numerous studies, especially with children, that repeated exposure to violent behavior (actual or simulated) can make an individual less able to distinguish between the consequences of simulated (i.e. viewed or played) violence and the consequences of violence in reality.

    The first report I read about this linkage was back in the late '60s, (studying children's behavior before and after being exposed to a graphic boxing film) but undoubtedly there have similar publications on the subject before that.

    We see repercussions of this evidence almost daily in statistics about perpetrators of domestic violence having been exposed to such violence on a routine basis as children much more frequently than would be expected by chance.

    Is Doom to blame? Indirectly, yes. Doom is merely a part of a massive media wave that washes over children. It implies to them that, after a night of murders, mayhems, bombs on TV, video, e-games etc. the sun will rise the next day and the world will be about the same as it was the night before.

    Our perception of reality develops as we age. It is well understood that children's understanding of spatial relationships, actions and consequences (what we call reality) evolves as they grow.

    Now, does this condemn Doom or Doom players? Of course not. But it should be made clear that many children are unable to sufficiently distinguish between the graphic violence onscreen (and its negligible consequences in the real world) and graphic violence in reality.

    The key word is sufficiently. Many children are grounded enough to understand, despite repeated exposures to violence in the media, the experiential consequences of actual violence (death, injury, etc.). But without sufficient guidance, at least some children are not.

    This accounts for the surreal descriptions of many of the recent school killers: they looked calm, and/or dazed, etc. In fact, they are unwilling, or unable, to realize that the consequences of their actions substantively differ from the consequences of the actions they see onscreen. Quite often this sinks in later, after arraignment or during trial, when the accused fully understands the consequences of his actions. But during the carnage, reality is not there.

    What can be done? As long as graphic violence sells, about all we can depend on is the abilities of parents, teachers, significant adults to:

    • instill in children the terrible consequences of senseless violence;

    • encourage children to explore alternatives to conflict resolution (God help me, this sounds like an ad for lawyers!);

    • promote tolerance, at least on a human/humane level, for alternative viewpoints/lifestyles. Too many ignorant extremists in the world equate tolerance with acceptance. No one deserves to die, or suffer violence, solely for his/her ethnicity, religion, sexual preference, view on abortion, etc. We may debate the roles that these qualities should play in society, but let us never forget the humanity of the individuals in the debate.

    Society must convey this to our children. Judging from some of the sotto-voce remarks I hear in the stands of my son's little league games, we've got a long way to go.

  • I've been thinking about this alot recently and have come to some personal observations and conclusions. If you discount the mentally disturbed and look only at those individuals who seemed to be normal, here are my thoughts.

    In order to do something as horrific as Littleton, or any of the other similar events you must:

    1) Have no (or an altered) concept of right and wrong
    2) Have no respect for human life

    The largest factor in creating someone who possesses those two qualities is environment. What positive or negative role models did you have growing up? Did your parents or others abuse you mentally, verbally, or physically? What kind of self image do you have? What sort of peer pressure influences are exerted?

    Even if the worst possible combination of these factors are combined, though you may produce a person capable of serious crime, you still have only a one in a million chance of producing a person capable of mass murder. It's a whole different league.

    The next thing you'll need is a trigger. Something has to happen that will make the person have no care whether he lives or dies. As they see it there life is over anyway.

    Only when you've gotten this far can the media, movies, books, the Internet, and games can have an influence. You've gotten to the point where you going to do something and everybody is going to pay, what you're going to do going to based on what you've seen or perceived. What is simply a form of harmless escapism to most people, coalesces into a plan to act out.

    Of the very few who get to this point, most will chicken out or simply realize that this is wrong. The remaining will need access to the means to act out their plan.

    Personally, I cannot even think of what it would take to get even started along this road. I am sure that movies, books, the internet, and games cannot cause this.

    When I was in high school over a decade ago, I went to school whose demographics were very much like Littleton. I wore a trench coat to school (army green and I left it in my locker), I played games like schoolyard slaughter and their ilk on my old Atari. I even participated in BB Gun Wars with a group of friends, and occasionally went with them to shooting ranges to use the real thing. I was a WaReZ dOOd who war-dialed MCI and Sprint access number so I could get access to pirate BBSs, and guess what, most of those BBS had detailed step-by-step plans how to make everything from homemade poisons, to pipe bombs, to atomic bombs. I even read alot of them. I saw a lot of gruesome movies including Faces of Death. I listened to the proto-goth music of Bauhaus, Joy Division, and The Cure (and still do). High school wasn't fun, but I survived. Hell, I had a math teacher who I hated so much as to draw a new picture of him dying some horrific way each day in class, but I never imagined or even considered acting those things out. Of course, I wasn't a nazi or a racist; I wasn't a jock or a nerd; I also had a somewhat supportive family.

    Everyone wants answers as to why this happened and it is a hell of a lot easier to find out what someone watched or listened to than it is to identify and determine the environmental effects that shaped a person. The media knows this is bogus and that's why whenever something like this happens the media does three sets of stories:

    1) What happed and what did the perpetrator wear, eat, watch, listen to. All media related aspects are then played-up.
    2) What was our effect? How did our coverage affect everyday people.
    3) We went to far. The media will then criticize the behavior of "the media" in general. Even though every news outlet lead with the story and all the network anchors flew out to CO, it isn't them, its "the Media" which has over-dramatized the situation, and used it to pat themselves on back.

    We should hit phase three later today or tomorrow.

    This AC. Dammit, you know who this is.
    uhm, A.C., oh! Anonymous Coward?
    Damn straight.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Whenever a tragic event of this sort occurs, you always read headlines in the paper such as, "if it could happen here, it oculd happen anywhere."

    Yet, has anyone noticed that these events do not happen everywhere, and in fact happen only in the U.S.

    I believe this is so, because of the simple fact that guns are readily available to people in the U.S.

    When previous ./ authors have said this, they received replies, such as, "In your country where the citizens weren't armed, dictators took over.", or, "then the U.S. had to save your ass when you got in trouble." I believe this answer comes from reading N.R.A. pamplets and is not original thinking. When the U.S. has protected citizens of such countries, it was the technically superior U.S. military that did the work not the armed citizenry.

    Furthermore, in South America, and Yuguslavia, the people being attacked actually do have guns, but they are being attacked by superior militaries.

    Yet in some ways I understand the people in the United States. It is easy for Western Europeans countries that don't have the crime and guns problems of the U.S. to point fingers. You can have gun control in these countries because of the history, but in the U.S., if you suddenly changed the law one day, it wouldn't do anything about all the guns already out there.

    Still I have to wonder if the arguments about protecting yourself, are also false, my argument being statistics and not emotional arguments. It seems the exception, not the rule that guns are used in self defense. It seems many people are killed when a child gets a hold of gun and uses it like a toy, or an angry husband or wife shoots without thinking, and of course gangs and crime. As much as you might feel that your gun is protecting you (and I can understand why someone would feel that way) the numbers plainly show that in countries where guns are available, people die from gun crime and gun accidents.

    So back to the topic on hand, which is why things like movies and the Internet are blamed. Since I plainly believe that the problem is the availablity of guns, I have a simple explanation for why the Internet receives the blame. People who believe in the right to bare arms simply cannot accept the fact that easy gun availablity might be to blame and will look at every possible scape goat they can come up with rather than admit to guns being the problem.

    Armed citizenries made sense in the days of muskets and British Kings, but are a tragic anacronism in the days of modern militaries, and simply result in innocent people getting killed.

    Once again, this phenomena of students going on rampages in schools, has only occured in the U.S.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    First, since my comments could easily be misinterpreted, let me cover my ass: What they did was wrong.

    Folks, how many high school students, (and even those younger), commit suicide in this country every year? How many teens take their own lives because they are picked-on, or social outcasts?
    From my own experience, high school was the most
    lonely period of my life. Most social interaction was in the form of being bullied. I survived, obviously.

    Look at how the media have portrayed the problem:
    "Social outcasts snap, and kill other students."
    Would the media have jumped on the story if it went something more like this:
    "Social outcasts snap, and kill themselves."
    They wouldn't. How do I know? Because it happens every day, and when's the last time you saw yet another teen suicide on the cover of a national newspaper, or on CNN?

    Teachers and administrators are afraid to punish the bullys, they could get sued for suspending them. Writing up a referal (the method used in my old High School) is ineffective (why should the bully care if he gets one more. He's already got 2 dozen).

    What's the propose solution? The media, school administrators, and even the president, are suggesting identifying troubled teens and sending them to counsuling. Are you kidding me!? Take social outcasts, and bullied students, and try to
    find out what THIER PROBLEM IS!?! How about diciplining bullies. How about encouraging students to be different and rewarding creativity?

    You can't solve a problem until you identfy the cause.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    A snippet from:

    Myth No. 1: Guns cause crime. A review of the academic literature shows
    that there is no relationship between the number of guns and the amount of
    crime in the United States. Criminologists Gary Kleck and E. Britt
    Patterson reported in 1993 their finding that gun ownership had no
    significant effect on the rates of murder, assault, robbery, or rape in
    the U.S. Between 1973 and 1992, the rate of gun ownership in the U.S.
    increased by 45 percent (from 610 guns per 1,000 people to 887). The
    homicide rate during that period fell by nearly 10 percent (from 9.4
    homicides per 100,000 people to 8.5).

    Myth No. 2: Gun control laws reduce crime. Firearms have been regulated
    with increasing stringency in the United States for most of the past
    thirty years. Nevertheless, the number of firearms in private hands has
    increased continuously by many millions per year; handguns have become an
    increasing proportion of privately owned firearms; and rates of crime,
    violent crime, and homicide have shown no relationship to the passage or
    enforcement of gun laws. In their 1993 research, Kleck and Patterson
    analyze the impact of 19 gun control measures on six categories of
    violence. In ninety of the resulting 102 relationships, they found no
    significant correlation between gun laws and violence.

    Myth No. 3: Gun control laws stop friends from killing friends. Most
    murderers and most victims of homicide have criminal records. They are
    likely to have other criminals as friends and acquaintances. So while it
    is true that in many cases of homicide the offender and victim are known
    to each other, it is not true that these "friends killing friends" are the
    plain ordinary folks often portrayed in anti-gun propaganda. "It is not a
    slander on the few truly innocent and highly sensationalized victims,"
    writes Dr. Edgar A. Suter and his colleagues, "to note that the
    overwhelming predominance of homicide victims' are as predatory and
    socially aberrant as the perpetrators of homicide." Indeed, according to
    City of Chicago data, the largest and fastest-growing category of
    relationship between killer and victim is "non-relative, non-friend

    Myth No. 4: Gun control laws keep criminals from obtaining guns. In
    surveys of prisoners, a majority report that they had owned a handgun
    prior to their imprisonment. But only 7 percent of criminals' handguns are
    obtained from legitimate retail sources. Three-fourths of felons surveyed
    report they would have no trouble obtaining a gun when they were released,
    despite legal prohibitions against firearms ownership by convicted felons.

    Myth No. 5: Required waiting periods would prevent some of the most
    vicious crimes. The Brady waiting period law imposes waiting periods on
    handguns--the least-deadly type of firearm--while imposing no such
    restriction on much more deadly, substitutable weapons such as rifles or
    shotguns. While handguns are preferred by criminals because of their
    portability and concealability, not every criminal who planned to use a
    handgun will abandon his criminal plans when confronted by a waiting
    period. Indeed, for reasons discussed in more detail below (see "Why
    Waiting Periods Fail"), it is entirely possible that waiting period laws
    could increase the number of both killings and nondeadly woundings.

    Myth No. 6: Guns don't work as self-protection against criminals. In fact,
    guns are about as valuable to civilians as they are to police officers,
    and for the same reason. According to criminologists Gary Kleck and Marc
    Gertz, every year adults use guns for protective purposes 2.5 million
    times. As many as 65 lives are protected by guns for every life lost to a
    gun. Each year, potential victims kill between 2,000 and 3,000 criminals;
    they wound an additional 9,000 to 17,000. Moreover, mishaps are rare.
    Private citizens mistakenly kill innocent people only thirty times a year,
    compared with about 330 mistaken killings by police. Criminals succeed in
    taking a gun away from an armed victim less than 1 percent of the time.
    The real utility of defensive firearms, moreover, must surely be far
    greater, and would be measured not by how many people were shot or even
    how often a gun was fired, but rather by the deterrent effects of a
    civilian being armed.

    Myth No. 7: Guns aren't needed as self-protection. About 83 percent of the
    population will be victims of violent crime at some point in their lives,
    and in any given year serious crime touches 25 percent of all households.
    The odds are not likely to improve; there is only one police officer on
    patrol for every 3,300 people. And the courts repeatedly have ruled that
    government has at most a limited duty to protect individual citizens from
    crime. An illustrative case is Warren v. District of Columbia, in which
    three rape victims sued the city under the following facts: Two of the
    victims were upstairs when they heard the other being attacked by men who
    had broken in downstairs. From an upstairs telephone, the two roommates
    made several calls to the police. Half an hour passed and their roommate's
    screams ceased; they assumed the police must have arrived. In fact,
    however, their calls had been lost in the shuffle while the roommate was
    being beaten into silent acquiescence. When her roommates went downstairs
    to see to her, as the court's opinion describes it, "For the next fourteen
    hours the women were held captive, raped, robbed, beaten, forced to commit
    sexual acts upon each other, and made to submit to the sexual demands" of
    their attackers.

    Having set out these facts, the District of Columbia's highest court
    nevertheless exonerated the District and its police, noting that it is a
    fundamental principle of American law that a government and its agents are
    under no general duty to provide public services, such as police
    protection, to any individual citizen.

    Myth No. 8: Gun control laws are especially needed to prevent the purchase
    of Saturday Night Specials and "assault weapons." Inexpensive handguns are
    involved in only 1 to 3 percent of violent crimes; criminals generally
    prefer larger caliber and more expensive handguns. Moreover, in the past
    fifty years no civilian has ever used a legally owned machine gun in a
    violent crime. And despite their repeated use by drug dealers on
    television and movies, no Uzi has ever been used to kill a police officer
    in the United States. Even some gun control advocates concede that
    so-called assault weapons play a minor role in violent crime. In 1991,
    1992, and 1993 combined, there were more than 2,500 criminal homicides in
    the City of Chicago--only three of which were perpetrated with a true,
    military-style, "assault weapon."

    Myth No. 9: Gun control laws are especially needed to prevent gun
    accidents in the home. "Gun-control advocates have sought to create the
    impression that firearm accidents involving children are a large and
    growing problem," writes the Independence Institute's David Kopel. "Many
    people mistakenly conclude that children die frequently in gun accidents
    and that sharp restrictions on gun ownership are necessary to address the
    problem." In fact, however, the number of gun accidents involving both
    children and adults has fallen dramatically.

    In 1970, 2,406 Americans died from firearms accidents. By 1991, that
    number had fallen to 1,441--even as the number of guns increased
    dramatically. Between 1970 and 1991, the annual rate of fatal gun
    accidents was cut in half, from 1.2 to 0.6 per 100,000 Americans. The
    death rate from firearms accidents is lower than that from accidental
    drowning (1.6 per 100,000 in 1991), inhalation and ingestion of foreign
    objects (1.3), and complications from medical procedures (1.0).

    Myth No. 10: Gun ownership is not a constitutional right. The Second
    Amendment reflects the founders' belief that an armed citizenry (called
    the general militia ) was a necessary precaution against tyranny by our
    own government and its army. The idea that government has a constitutional
    right to disarm the general citizenry is totally foreign to the intent of
    the Constitutional framers. Samuel Adams, for example, expressed in the
    Massachusetts convention his intention that "the said Constitution be
    never construed . . . to prevent the people of the United States who are
    peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms." David Kopel summarizes
    the legal scholarship on this issue:

    In the field of legal scholarship, the primary question has been
    answered: the Second Amendment was plainly intended to guarantee a right
    of individuals to possess arms. The essential purpose of this guarantee
    was not to protect sporting uses of guns, but to facilitate resistance to
    criminal governments, which were seen as simply a larger case of
    resistance to individual criminals.

  • Please explain precisely (with data to back up your wild conjectures) what is biased in the previous arguments?


    Advocates of gun prohibition point to the far lower violence
    rates prevailing in some countries where the laws discourage gun
    ownership. But closer examination reveals that, despite disparate
    gun policies, almost identical violence rates prevail alike in:
    a) England and Japan which discourage guns; b) Australia and
    Canada which have widespread sport gun ownership; and c) Israel
    and Switzerland which promote and even require it. [1] Moreover,
    if anti-gun laws explain Japan's low murder rate, why is the rate
    in Taiwan (where illegal gun possession can bring the death
    penalty) higher than the U.S.; and why is the South African (non-
    political) murder rate twice that of the U.S. despite the world's
    most harshly enforced anti-gun laws? [4]

    International comparisons are interesting, but seductive for
    they are most likely to "prove" to the reader the preconceptions
    with which he approaches them. Thus 19th Century comparisons of
    U.S. to English homicide were used to prove not the efficacy of
    gun laws but of capital punishment.> Such comparisons could not
    have been made by 19th Century gun control advocates because: a)
    English violence fell precipitously during that Century though
    England had no gun controls at all (excepting that the police
    were to be unarmed); while b) this was the period of the great
    increase in American violence -- which occured in states which
    were unsuccessfully pioneering the gun controls we now associate
    with Europe. In fact European crime rates were low (and falling)
    from at least the mid-19th Century, yet gun laws came in only
    after World War I, aimed not at crime but at the political unrest
    of that tumultuous era. [4]

    Ridiculing comparisons of the U.S. to England, the latter's
    premier gun control analyst, Colin Greenwood, asks: As the U.S.
    so greatly exceeds England not just in rates of gun crime but in
    crime with knives, may we assume that butcher knives are illegal
    in England? And if more guns explain the much higher U.S. gun
    crime rates, what explains the much higher rates of unarmed
    Americans robbing or beating each other to death: do Americans
    "have more hands and feet than" Britons? [5]

    Claiming that in any society the number of guns always
    suffices to arm the few who want to obtain and use them
    illegally, Greenwood feels the issue is simply one of the
    relative size of that group: Why is it that perhaps 1 in 300
    Americans is inclined toward violent crime while the comparable
    figure for Japanese and Europeans (including the well-armed
    Swiss) may be 1 in 30,000? He attributes American crime "not to
    the availability of any particular class of weapon" but to socio-
    economic and cultural factors which dictate
    that American criminals are more willing to use extreme
    violence[;quoting a report of the British Office of Health
    Economics:] "One reason often given for the high numbers of murders and manslaughters in the United States is the easy
    availability of firearms... But the strong correlation with
    racial and linked socioeconomic factors suggests that the
    underlying determinants of the homicide rate relate to
    particular cultural factors." [5]


    1. U.S. laws allow (but do not encourage) home possession of
    civilian-type arms and strongly discourage gun carrying. Contrast
    both Switzerland, where every military age male's home must have
    a military rifle or a handgun (for reserve officers) and Israel,
    where public policy encourages such guns being carried in cars
    and on the streets. In 1984 three terrorists armed with automatic
    weapons who tried to attack a crowded Jerusalem cafe were shot
    down by handgun-carrying Israeli civilians. THE ECONOMIST, Ap. 7,
    1984, p. 34.
    See generally Kates, "Handgun Prohibition and the Original
    Meaning of the Second Amendment", 82 MICH. L. REV. 204 (1983) at
    n. 193 and 264ff.; and "Swiss Army: A Privilege of Citizenship"
    and "Order by Israel Puts Even More Guns on the Street", LOS
    ANGELES TIMES p. 1, Oct. 1, 1980 and July 5, 1978 respectively.
    It should be noted that the formal texts of Swiss and Israeli gun
    control laws do not differ greatly from those in force in much
    more restrictive jurisdictions. In general it is not the laws
    themselves, but their administration and the spirit animating it
    that produces such profound differences. Thus under the laws in
    force in New York City, England, Switzerland and Israel alike a
    permit is required to own a handgun. But: permit issuance for the
    purpose of personal defense is routine in Switzerland and Israel,
    administratively discouraged by New York City and non-existent in
    Equally significant are differences in policy re civilian
    possession of automatic weapons. Either an ordinary rifle or an
    assault rifle or other fully automatic weapon requires a permit
    in England; since 1934 possession of a fully automatic weapon in
    the United 5tates has required registration and been subject to a
    prohibitive tax and as of 1986 purchasing new assault rifles or
    other fully automatic weapons is totally forbidden in the United
    States. But in Switzerland and Israel the government distributes
    hundreds of thousands of automatic weapons. I was once asked by a
    puzzled Israeli why Americans are so fixated on personally owning
    guns: "if they have to live or be in dangerous areas why don't
    they just check a handgun or submachine gun out of the police
    armory?" It was simply incomprehensible to him that American law
    would seek to prevent average citizens threatened by violence
    from arming in their own defense.

    2. B. Bruce-Briggs, "The Great American Gun War" Fall, 1976
    The Public Interest.

    3. Originally published as J. Wright, P. Rossi and K. Daly,
    Weapons, Crime and Violence in America (Washington, D.C., Gov't.
    Printing Office: 1981). Unless otherwise specified, references
    herein are to the commercially published version, J. Wright, P.
    Rossi and K. Daly, Under the Gun: WeaponS, Crime and Violence in
    America (N.Y., Aldine: 1983).

    4. See generally T. Gurr, "Historical Trends in Violent
    Crime: A Critical Review of the Evidence," in Annual Review ofCrime and Justice III (Chicago: U. of Chicago, 1981), C.
    Greenwood, Firearms Control: A Study of Armed Crime and Firearms
    Control in Enqland and Wales at 1-3 and Chs. 1-3 (London:
    Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1971), L. Kennett and J. L. Anderson,
    The Gun in America (Westport, Ct.: Greenwood, 1976) p. 213, NIJ
    Evaluation Note 3 above at 125, D. Kates (ed.) Firearms and
    Violence: IssueS of Public Policy (Cambridge, Ma.: Ballinger:
    1984) 5-6.

    5. C. Greenwood "Comparative Cross-Cultural statistics" in
    D. Kates (ed.) Restricting Handguns (Croton-on=Hudson, N.Y.:
    North River press, 1979) 37
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It still, somehow, amazes me that all the 'pundits' (oy) come up every imaginable wrong answer there is. I should know better by now.

    They encourage the 'good sport' and 'sportsmanship' which is the greatest load of crap to ever be foisted on folks. The jock-gang and their ilk do what for any better term I'll call charging the capacitor of hate. Were theses kids filled with hate? Yep. But they didn't get it from the media, at least not enough to be the main cause. The people right around them dumped the hate in by the bucketfull. (Yes, I've been there and I *do* know WTF I speak of, tyvm) The charge keeps building... and people now wonder why a spark jumped the gap? Clueless.

    This is a very unpopular view, I'm sure. I can hear the replies of "You're blaming the victims!"
    No, I'm recognizing what happened. Was it right?
    Certainly not. Was it understandable? Very.

    What happened was simple - two people were driven to the point where they felt they no longer had anything to lose and the spark jumped the gap, the hate that was built up, put there by the 'good sports', discharged.

    Folks will keep asking 'why?' and keep coming with wrong but comfortable answers and keep failing to realize that more than two of the wounds were self-inflicted, just not as obviously directly as the two always said.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 22, 1999 @08:46AM (#1921625)
    I spent 11 years as a professional military officer, and while I was so employed I was constantly researching and studying my trade.

    One of the books I picked up was called "On Killing", written by a Army Colonel with a PHd in Phsch, an absolutely facinating study into what it meant, on a personal level, to kill someone.

    One of the subjects in the book was on the training of soldiers to kill. Humans have a powerful, innate aversion to killing people and getting people to overcome this aversion is very difficult. It's also the prime purpose of any Army training cadre.

    In WWII, a study showed that a very small percentage of soldiers in a given battle actually fired their weapons, and an even smaller percentage of those soldiers fired aimed shots.

    One of the changes made was to replace the standard Army "bullseye" rifle practice target with a man-shaped target. Thus conditioned to shoot at man -shapes (rifle engagements take place between 400 and 100 metres, so you can't make out faces etc.) the percentage of men who shot went up dramatically - by Vietnam, most men were actually firing aimed shots.

    An interesting side note is that cases of post-tramatic stress syndrome increased at the same rate - those who would not normally have killed were now killing - and suffering the consequences after the fact.

    Now I certainly don't think that DOOM or Quake turned these kids into monsters, but it is entirely possible that the game helped to desensitise and condition them to be able to overcome the natural aversion to killing. DOOM didn't get them to bring all those guns and ammo to school, but once the shooting started DOOM _may_ have helped keep it going.

    Incidently, on the gun control issue, there's no issue that tears me (as a retired military professional) harder in two directions. On the one hand, I have lived around high-power firearms for most of my life, I have been in possible-live-shoot situations before, and I know when to shoot, and when not to. I trust myself with a firearm, because I'm highly trained, and I know that I won't use one except in the direst of situations. I would like to be able to carry a gun. Not some monster cannon, just a standard frame 9mm loaded with a "safty round" like a Glaser that does not shoot through people and is frangible (so no ricohets). Ammo capacity is not an issue - if I need more than 3 rounds, there's bigger trouble afoot than I should be involved in.

    However, I DON'T trust Joe Public. I have no assurances that anyone holding a gun really understands what it is he's holding. Cops do, soldiers do, but I don't think guys like ESR do - and that scares me.

    I'm not sure which is worse - people like me without a gun, or people not like me with one.

  • I think you somehow missed my point. Maybe the parents are excellent PEOPLE. They might be wonderful brothers/sisters/etc. But they did a poor job of raising children. These boys worshipped Hitler. They built bombs. In the GARAGE of the house the parents shared with them! Come on, how much clue does it take to say "hrm... maybe my son building lethal explosives isn't a good thing"? How about making videos for school saying they want to kill everyone? This isn't a cause for alarm? I'm sorry for the parents loss. I really am. I'm sorry the whole thing ever happened. But the fact is, they missed way, way too many warning signs, let these kids slip too far into the world inside their head, and if anyone should have been able to prevent this tragedy, they should have.


  • Look, it's a really simple thing to understand. If Duke Nukem, Marylin Manson, Black Sabbath, or the internet is the biggest influence in a child's life, the parents are obviously not doing their job. The idea that the internet is somehow responsible for this is as funamentally insane as the act itself. If one wishes to blame anyone for this, it seems that they should be pointing at the parents of these boys, who apparently didn't notice or care that their sons were hoarding weapons, building bombs, or developing into bitter, hating, racist adults. I'm sorry, I don't mean to be overly blunt, but this stuff DOES NOT happen overnight.

    Asking to government to ban this, that, or the other thing to prevent these acts of voilence won't solve the REAL problem: unbalanced kids with no parents or positive role models in their lives. Banning the guns might help, but there's still 1001 potential murder weapons in every kitchen in America. If children aren't raised to respect life, separate FICTION and ENTERTAINMENT from REALITY, and obey the laws of the land in which they live, the problem will never totally disappear, only keep changing shape. The only way kids will learn to do these things is if parents teach them to. The government just doesn't have the reach/power/ability/right to teach morals and such - it's got to start in the home.

    If parents would raise their children right, teach them the difference between "real life" and "lets pretend", take them to church, and be role models instead of babysitters, we'd all be much better off. It's easy - if you don't want your children looking at porn, teach them it's wrong and disrespectful to women. If you don't want them building bombs, teach them life is to be respected. If you want them to grow up to be mature responsible adults, TEACH THEM. Don't ask the government to do it, or the school system, or anyone else. Parents should be the biggest influence in a child's life. End of story.


  • Let's face it, we have such a long-standing
    legacy of violence in this country.

    When my dad was a kid, violence was sparked
    by 'adventure radio shows' like The Shadow.

    When I was growing up, it was television in
    general. Later, it was Rock and Roll, then
    Heavy Metal, followed by Dungeons and Dragons
    (or maybe it was D&D followed by metal).

    Now, we obviously can't handle our internet

    It's a sad, sad world when the media just do a
    quick 'latest big thing' story, blaming all
    the ills of society on whatever seems to have
    taken the fancy of our youth. I say that media
    sensationalism is the root cause of all of the
    violence (grin).


    Proof of sanity forged upon request
  • I think this thing with parents sueing game makers, etc. is a result of the parents unable to face flaws or shortcomings in the way their children were raised, so they look for the simplest excuse to blame. Games are being used as a scapegoat for a much larger problem, and that is the problem with the upbringing of children in America. You see, what these parents are advocting is th shelter children from the raw nature of real life. Those people responsible for the upbringing fo a child feel that every little thing will influence children this way oe that way. Problem is, that's not the way it works. Children are not machines as adults seem to precieve them as. They have the their own perception of reality. and they have their own abilities to proccess information. Parents, etc. have treated kids for so long in a sheltering manner that many of them raise their kids to be extremely receptive to persuasion because they do not try to nurture their critical thinking skills as they grow up. The problem isn't the voilence in games or on telivision. It's that kids haven't been prepared to deal with it. Look at all of the billboards and ads you see now days that say things like "A lot of people are talking to your kids about sex, shouldn't you be one of them.", You see these things because after years of blaming the media, etc. for promiscuity amongst kids, people realised that some kids were doing it and others weren't. This led them to realise that it's the way the kids are taught to deal with things, not the fact they they are exposed to it. This is the solution to so many problems chilren have these days, effective upbringing, parents can't expect the television or the computer to raise their childern, or protect them. As I child, I often got picked on by the more "socially elite", and often I was angry and saddened by it; And I easilly could have brought a gun to school and killed a bunch of people, probably even thought about it from time to time on an impulse. But, I could never have done it, because I couldn't cope with the thought of committing such violence against others, because it was wrong. It's a classic question that has been around for ages. There is a fine line between sheltering and nurturing your child, and many parents can't tell the difference. People might not think it could be so simple of a solution (and it's not easy to do), but it really is. Why do some kids on the net grow up to be script kiddies with seemingly no moral value, and why do others grow up to be brilliant programmers and leaders?
    Upbringing, it's all in the upbringing.
  • +Secondly, the death penalty doesn't work, has never worked, and will never work.

    You think? The last I checked, the repeat offense level for people who are put to death is Zero.

    The last time I checked, inherent in the execution of the penalty, is the creation of a new murderer (the executioner).
    If the state itself is a murderer, placing the stain of the blood of it's victims on the hands of all of it's citizens through our implicit approval, are we not all is some small way, guilty of murder?
    Even if you spread the blood around, it does not decrease the amount.
  • Every time some kid kills somebody (be it his parents, his girlfriend, his classmates, whoever), and it makes it into the media, they always blame it on that kids recreational activities (music, movies, tv, internet, games(doom, dungeons and dragons)). Granted its very possible that there is some kid that has never thought about going and killing person/people. And its also possible that listening to some lyric, or watching some movie, playing some game, gives them that idea. But what the media never says is that something has to be fundamentally wrong to actually entertain the idea for more than a second. Nobody mentions the m(b)illions of people that watch/read/listen to/use all the same resources that this fucked up little kid does, but never have this problem.

    end rant.

  • Right-o, and while we're at it, we should ban pipe bombs. Oops, they're already illegal. The prisons can't keep prisoners from smuggling or building guns, what makes you think "gun control" can actually have any positive effect?

    Our state has had concealed carry permits for several years now. There have been no shoot outs in the streets, no crimes committed by concealed carry permit holders.

  • Geeks: "Oh we're just an outcast minority that the media likes to pick on!!!"

    Goths: "Oh we're just an outcast minority that the media likes to pick on!!!"

    Gun Owners: "Oh we're just an outcast minority that the media likes to pick on!!!"

    whatever. who fucking cares how you are portrayed in the media anyway? The great part is, none of those groups are outcasts or minorities, but they all think they are. Everyone wants to join an outcast minority clique.

    Makes me long for the 80's when everyone wanted to be "cool" and there was a set standard for what cool was.

    heh, just kidding that last part was dumb.
  • I mostly agree with you, but I'd go even further to say that there's definitely something else (and more important) wrong even given the availability of guns. I think if you want to really 'fix' the problem of teenagers shooting up lots of people, it's worth the effort to get at the root cause of the problem--which I don't think is the availability of guns. There's something very wrong psychologically with a person who does this, and it goes deeper than simply being able to acquire weaponry. If it were more difficult to get guns, these types of incident would most likely occur less often, but that doesn't address the (more important, IMO) problem that there seems to be an unusual excess of people who like to do these things. I'm not saying it's an easy 'problem' to 'solve,' but I think it's certainly worth looking at.
  • by drwiii ( 434 )
    Or, more honestly, does the Internet make things like this easier for people?

    Possibly, but you can probably get the same stuff (only more accurate) at your local library.

  • I tend to agree with you on everything except point 3. It's not that I'm against the death penalty, but when you bring up 'genetic inferiority' I become a bit angry.

    We should punish people for doing wrong, but we shouldn't just kill them on a basis that they may not be as 'pure bred' as a normal person.
  • I, personally, don't see why anyone at the school would need a gun to take on the shooters.

    Just about any item in the world can be turned into a weapon. The only real problem is being afraid to die.

  • This is being blamed on every fear-of-the-"new"-and/or-"different" target known: geeks, the Internet, Dungeons&Dragons, goth, etc., etc. ad nauseam. Anything that came into existence after the "reporter" fossilized is grounds for suspicion and a potential "cause" of every possible evil.

    Sanity check: there's a quote from Socrates indicating that the Greeks believed the very same thing. Insularity and fear of change haven't changed at all; we're still cavemen afraid of the thunder, and for some strange reason we're *proud* of it.

    (Keep in mind, however, that the media are a business; they're selling a product, and the best way to sell that product is to cause as much trouble as possible. I've ranted about that before; the media will manufacture riots, if necessary, to sell themselves. The danger is that they will indeed inflame that caveman fear and cause problems for us, whose only crime is not being 100% identical to those that are afraid.)
  • Despite the claims that the Internet is the CAUSE of all this madness, I would say instead that it is in fact the best tool to change the system and hopefully never again see kids driven to this sort of extreme.

    Yes, I was one of those ridiculed at school and it only got worse as I got older. I am legally blind, which made me an easy target, but worse than that I was the one with the 95% test scores and decent grades, even though most everyone knew I seldom bothered with homework.. I was pushed down flights of stairs. I had the sunglasses I MUST wear if I go outside destroyed on a number of occasions. I've come home with bruises, cuts, scrapes, and torn clothing. I've had books stolen from outside of my book bag. I've had threatening notes and worse show up in my locker. I had the laptop lent to me for schoolwork "moved" (read: stolen and hidden away such that a teacher and I spent two hours looking for it) And I had computers and violent games then. You know what, I never shot or stabbed anyone, but I almost have to say that I can see what these kids are going through---I've been there. Of course that doesn't excuse what they do about it---not for a second! There is something seriously wrong with these kids and they need either to be in a mental ward or in prison for what they've done.

    Now I promised a possible solution, so here it is: Home schooling. I'm serious. People tell me all the time that it's hard to teach their kids at home, but it's not really. They also tell me that kids need to be around other kids---to that I ask do they REALLY? And besides, supervised Internet access for children is a great way for them to interact with other kids in their area. The Internet also provides a place for kids and their parents to go for help when they need it. Many parents who homeschool their kids now will agree that the Interent definitely makes it easier and does allow the kids to interact with others, usually with better results than any interaction in school.

    Not to mention that this way you don't have to eat school cafeteria food. And that lunch hour is supposedly your interactivity time at school anyway past the 6th grade. And your kids will learn at their pace, rather than the pace of the entire class. This invariably leads to the ability to learn more. It also leads to less busy-work, which at least 2/3 of the homework schools give kids is anyway. And you take away the need to compete to be the best student in the class or to lash out at those who did better on the homework or the last test than you did. All in all it's a better environment for learning.

    It is harder for a family with two working parents or a single parent, but believe it or not I have seen a group of people in an area work together in cases like this.. It ends up being a small classroom in those cases, but the students are usually different ages and at different levels so it does still help to solve the problem.

    I cannot stress enough that the Internet does NOT replace a teacher anymore than a TV should replace a babysitter. It's merely a tool to be used and works best when used properly.

  • There are quite a few legitimate concerns raised about the pervasiveness of violence in American society, especially the media and entertainment industry. However, what people need to be able to do is to find a way to address the issues without resorting to lawsuits and legislative remedies, and without censorship.

    Sure, you can go say Doom is evil, and causes people to kill each other. I disagree, since if only two people killed somebody after playing the game, in the eight-plus years it's been out, that's hardly any more of an influence to kill people than listening to Mozart is (several serial killers are Mozart fans). Nonetheless, even if you think it's evil, you cannot ban it. I personally like the game, and I do not kill people. My right to play a game I enjoy should not be infringed upon because somebody else cannot control their actions. The same goes for music, movies, etc. Hell, I listen to KMFDM and Marilyn Manson, play Doom, and use the Internet. Even with all these evil influences combined, I have still not killed anybody. I should be allowed to continue enjoying these forms of entertainment.
  • Well, the Matrix does have somewhat of a connection, as the main character in the movie enters the military facility dressed in a black trenchcoat that has weapons inside.
  • Well, one kid who did treat them decently (who wasn't a member of the group, but who nonetheless did not treat them like shit) was warned by one of the soon-to-be shooters ahead of time, so he left.

    He's alive now. I suppose that's his reward for treating fellow humans decently.
  • Uh I think you just proved yourself wrong, in that making ungs harder to acquire does not solve such problems. The UK has among the strictest firearm laws in the world now and if that happens, I dont think prohibition of such weapons helps.
  • Posted by MC BoB:

    I believe the core issue is responsibility.

    Most find it much easier to blame the Internet, The Media (whoever that is), Movies, Drugs, Trenchcoats, Guns, etc. Than to face the hard facts.

    These kids did not just see a movie, listen to a song, hit a website and decide to kill a few people. They spent weeks planning how they were going to murder thier classmates. Where were there parents?
    If your kid is walking around with painted nails and a beret with the iron cross, how could you possibly ignore it?
    I'm not saying that automatically makes them a psyco, but certainly someone, a parent, counselor, pastor, or relative relized this kid needed some guidance.

    How could you possibly construct 30 explosive devices without someone finding out or suspecting?

    I'd like to see the parents placed on trial for not being responsible for thier children. And none of this "You can't control them" crap. When I was thier age, I posted on BBS's, Played Castle Wolfenstien (remember that one?) and knew how to make a pipe bomb, but you didn't see me killing a 15 classmates because I felt different.

    These kids needed help, and thier parents should be held responsible. No gun law, metal detector, or tax credit is going to change the fact that 15 kids are dead due to irresponsibility.
  • Posted by MC BoB:

    Now it's the Police's Fault?
    Wrong, The buck stops with the parents, period.
    They decided to bring the kids into this world and are responsible for raising them.

    It doesn't take a village, it takes responsible parents.

    I do believe that someone at the school should have been trying to help them, how do we know they were not?

    I can't blame a principal when the kids built 30 bombs in thier parents home. Where where the parents? How could you not know the kids had a problem?

    Take responsibity for your actions and those around you, and quit blaming the Internet, Music, Guns and Media. If parents do their JOB, these other areas are of MUCH LESS concern.

  • Posted by MurphAndTheMagicTones:

    I really think you should look at the facts, rather that relying on some half-baked idea of what you think reallity should be. According to statistics by law enforcement agencies, in every state that has concealed carry laws, violent crime has dropped *dramatically*. The number of incidents of people using concealed carry weapons illegally is almost nil.

    I can't see two high school students killing a bunch of people with only the use of steak knives.

    No, I can't either. It would be a lot easier to use all of those pipe bombs they had. Why does no one propose banning pipe?
  • Posted by monkey13:

    One common theme I've noticed in some of the responses is the acknowledgement that this isn't a simple (we're going BLAME this for their actions) answer or cause.

    I grew up in a little "Historic District" town north of Seattle as a nerd in a pre-dominantly football/WWF/Monster truck loving town. I made explosives and homemade weapons with no intentions of using them on anything but inanimate objects (stumps, rocks and GI Joes). Like the majority of those posting to this forum, I like and play violent video games, watch violent movies... etc.

    The factors that everyone has ignored is the social structure for kids growing up today. High school hasn't been about learning for f*cking years. IT was a social game when I went (90'- 92') and it's even more of one now. And sure mid-American home lifes can suck. Anything "could" be a factor but that's not going to be the solution. We have caste systems in society at all levels that are getting farther and farther apart (not to sound depressing). Naturally shit like this is going to happen.

    It's not like an equation with one definitive answer and 'wholla' everything's solved.

    How about Op Ivy's "Take Warning"?

  • Posted by Siozie:

    The media is looking for firepower, anything they can get their hands on. The most blame I have seen placed, or rather misplaced, has been on the Gothic community. In nearly every single atricle I have read, there has been more than a passing mention that these kids Wore Black and Listened to KMFDM. Neo-Nazi Goths, as it were.

    What it really comes down to is that the media will play up what is going to get them the most readers/viewers/listeners. In most cases. In others you will see some real information, and in rare cases it will be the refutation of the misinformation perpetuated by other sources.

    "These kids had websites, and they sent email. Must be the work of the devil, yessir! They killed, that means anyone else using the Internet MUST be a psychotic black-clad loose cannon! Round 'em up!"

    The reality is, this will likely NOT adversely affect either the Net or Goth communities as a whole. Except in its perpetuation of our own paranoia of getting persecuted. Yes, there will be some cases where individuals will feel the backlash of these lies and misinformation. However, I predict that it will not be on a grand scale, nor will it change the face of these communities as we know them.

    Had these kids flaunted their Net and Gothic ties, both of which have yet to be proven on a more than passing acquaintance level, we might be in a different situation. That did not happen. So here we are, jumping at shadows, and some are forgetting to save a thought for the folks that are mired in the midst of this.
  • The main blame goes to the ones who did the killing, but as I watched President Clinton do his usual touchy-feely public statements (and said something about how we need to resolve our disputes without resorting to violence), I had to wonder: could we also attribute these killings to a nation that uses cruise missiles and Lite Nukes as instruments of diplomacy? Hmmm?


  • I'm sorry, but I don't understand what the ability to kill or threaten to kill other people has to do with democracy. IMO the right to live and free speech are the two most fundamental rights of a democracy, and guns can take away both of these.

    Your argumentation is totally irrational. You both claim that guns are evil, and that everyone should have the right to carry one. I think we both agree that a society without guns would be the best. Unfortunately, guns exist and there will always be criminals who carry guns. So what do we do? If we allow everyone to get a gun this mean it will be easier for criminals to get guns. So, common people will get guns out of fear for the armed criminals, which means more guns, and more fear. This leads to a very frightening spiral. The alternative is to make guns illegal. Criminals will still have guns, but it will be harder for them to get guns. Common citizens wont be able to defend themselves, so we'll need a well functioning and non-currupt police force to protect us.

    I think a society with less guns is a more pleasant one to live in (I now live in Sweden where guns are very uncommon, but I've also lived in the US), and banning guns is the only way to get rid of guns. A society filled with armed citizens fearing each other is not a good foundation for a democracy.

  • ...another massacre in a US school.

    I'm not going to judge (I can't) especially as I live in Scotland where a "madman" walked into a school in Dunblane and killed 19 kids...but. What is going to change in the US? In the UK we looked at what had happened and didn't just sit there and say "isn't that bad" we collectively, as a nation, and said "Guns are bad...handguns are really bad - lets just ban them"

    Yes. It was a knee-jerk reaction...but I think that it has probably done a lot to make things *potentially* safe here. You cannot ever legislate against psycopaths...but you can send a clear message that "violence is bad".

    Given that... it's pretty easy to then disconnect fantasy games like Quake from reality. I hope.
  • True... It does reduce the likelyhood that McJoe public goes shooting people. You can't stop anyone who is determined...unless you know they are.

    What I found scary about Dunblane (and other similar events) was that many people knew the guy was a nutcase...but nobody did anything.

    Look after your fellow man...that way they can't sneek up on you and stab you in the back ;)
  • Well, you see, they've been trying to sell that particular bill of goods for some time, and it's getting a bit old. So, they move on to blaming something else.

    It's not the game's fault; it's not the gun's fault; it's not the Internet's fault; it's not society's fault. It's the kids' fault.

    Get your fresh, hot kernels right here []!

  • How many read the Wired article [] about people in the Marine Corps. modifying Doom for training purposes? I think they made a good case for the limited way in which it could be useful to them. If these guys in Littleton were really playing like this, they took the idea a little far, regardless of the ultimate real-life actions.
  • The sheep of America wouldn't try and stop someone attacking them with toe nail clippers.

    The media has shown that its best to lie down and take it, then cry to mommmy because you were picked on. Take for example the New York Subway murders of last year. They laid there while he was reloading, I'm sure after all the violent movies they've seen, they could recognize that sound, and the sound of clip dropping to the floor. Instead of rising to stop, they laid there and waited for him to continue the executions.

    To me and many people I know, its very obvious how over 1500 students can disarm two highly armed students with much less than 15 casualities. Maybe its due to military trainging (their part, not mine.) Maybe its due to most of us spending a major part of our lives in countries with terorists and you are shown how to handle terorists.

    The 2 students attacking that school, were terrorists. Just more effective than most. They brought more terror to a nation than a hundred car bombs in Israel.

    Mordac -- Littleton, Co (didn't go to Columbine High School, just the Library across the street)
  • This is not a story of geekdom, this is a story of a country that is set up so that its easy to blow the fuck out of people at the drop of a hat :-)

    I'm not sure how much humor was intended. But a couple of minors who cannot legally buy any guns. Walk into a school (gun free zone) with ILLEGAL guns (as in you can't go to the sporting goods section to pick one up) and pipe bombs (build them on your own.. get your plans on the net)

    Lets see, while atleast the school felt safe enough not to have any security guards. Hey the teachers can't even have knife over 2 inches.

    I don't own a gun, but after attending some classes I know how to use one. I feel safe with one (won't shoot my foot and stuff a hot barrel in my pants afterwards.)

    I think I'm going to do a larger post elsewhere on just weapons bans and why people look at me funny carrying a claymoure (not the explosive type.) We have the right to defend ourselves, from theives, crooked cops, Clinton, etc... (LOL when thinking about defending myself Clinton... he has armed gaurds for his protection, hopefully he also has Trojans :)

  • Jimmy ;) I'm having fun with this.

    the Knee Jerk reaction will NEVER help. The weapons restrictions were already tight enough then in Scotland. You had to keep you gun at a gun club and couldn't take it out of the clb unless you were taking it to another (permits...)

    So next year someone will come in and kill a dozen people with potato guns (a backpack full of them, each potato with spikes instead of eyes.)

    Outlawing a weapon doesn't git rid of that weapon, it introduces another. If I can't get a blackmarket weapon (which most could, like the Scottish idiot did) then you use a weaker legal weapon.

    I am a trained sword fighter (not wussy Olympic fencing.) I could go into a school with a homemade blade and kill ten people before they realize what is going on. I won't, I'm sane, I think.... :) But if I do go mad and do this, please blame it on the 1930's Flynn flicks... They made me do it, it wasn't me...
  • by Mordac ( 1009 )
    Jefferson, Madison, and the rest of the founders never dreamed of the kind of ordinance at the disposal of even the most deranged individual today.

    Boy are you right. They were thinking of blackpowder pistols that only scratched someone and never ripped a hole through their body. Oh.. yes they did. Well they never though about weapons that can take at a whole room of people. Oh... yes they did, they wanted people to own cannons if they wanted (and many did).

    BUT THEY EXPECTED YOU TO KNOW HOW TO USE ONE PROPERLY. Your prents raised you with a gun so you would only shoot the bad guys (which were my family, drat.)

    Weapons have always been able to kill people, mass quanities of people. Just some require less strength to use (and less sanity.) In another 50 years when we start to vaporize people with modern weaponary, again we will fawn over the days of safer weapons that did less demage (oh a grenade, we have a nuke in the closet.)

  • Bravo to you. We have terrorists in America, our kids. With some real parenting, this may go away. Kosovo's terrorist is another culture that wants to cleanse them selves. Unfortunately TOO FEW people in KLA have access to weapons. They didn;t get them from the Serbs legally, they killed people to get the few guns they have. TO STOP THE KILLING OF THEIR FAMILY. If Canada ever invades the US, I will be ready and waiting while our government will be peacekeeping (in some other country of course.)
  • I say 5 days. First we sue the schools, then the parents, teachers, broadcasters. I already heard the comparison to "Basketball Diaries" again, so Leo will be personally sued for staring in that movie. We follow up with game companies, Al Gore (he invented the internet afterall), and heck the makers of the linoleum in the school (with out that, the murderers couldn't have walked around without getting dirty shoes.)

  • Gun control is the first step in getting these weapons off the streets. Gun control is not a system that would cure the problem over night. Rather, I believe that it would inflate the problem for several years and then begin to have a positive effect.

    I'm glad to here that. So the gun control laws put in place in the 60's and 70's to combat California's high rates should just be kicking in now. Or did you mean several decades, California keeps adding more restrictions and violence keeps jumping further and further up with each one.

    I am thankful there are states where we can still carry concelaed weapons, they have the lowest crime rates.

    I don't carry a gun, I prefer to Draw and Quarter the criminals who come for me, they just never come.

  • If we allow everyone to get a gun this mean it will be easier for criminals to get guns

    You mean it isn't already easy to get guns? I can't think of anyplace on the planet where if you have the money you can get a gun and in countries where they are illegal it may be cheaper (no taxes, no permits, no wait.)

  • While we're at it lets get rid of the first ammendment. Our forefathers never saw how wide spread and evil communication could be, it must be stamped out before more people are educated.

    We do that and the Internet fiasco is gone, no more bomb making, no more whining and complaing from out voters. But make sure to get rid of the third ammendment first, otherwise the voters could rebel and stop us.
  • I must second the approval of this rant. Most excellent.
  • For all of you ready to stop having children, go to the great website for Voluntary Human Extinction []. Its the ultimate solution.
  • I don't laugh at this and I don't think you should either. My point is more on not letting them actually cause the terror they have brought to us. There are a lot of people afraid out there, and they shouldn't be. Instead they should learn how to stand up and fight.

    You are not the type of person who would lay down and wait for a bullet to go into your head. We do we teach our children to do that. I personally would have voluntered to die to save just one child there. Get up and take a bullet for another, or two.

    I know the areas you are talking about, most of them know about honor and teach there children not die cowering on the floor begging for their lives.

    You pulling the quote out of context there is really good. I wish I could answer that, but all I can say is don't be afraid. There is no cure, but my family in Israel are not afraid of the much more common terrorists. us Americans should not fear our children, who are now OUR terrorists.

    If you are still serving, I thank you for your continuing work. Otherwise, thank you, without you the world would be a worse place. I respect the military more than most non-military. I just don't respect the way we teach our children.

    What would you teach your child to do in one of these instances?

    Mine would not be taught to die crying, not to be a do first, think later hero (and most likely die as well.) My child should know how to take control of that situation and get people out if possible, or get the gun away if a viable alternative appears.

    Which I might add, 200 hundred kids in a cafeteria who do not lie down and wait, but instead get up and run towards the shooter would have stopped him quite quickly. he may fire a few times, but not aiming a single shot, partly panicked, he would most likely shoot the ceiling above the children. If he is lucky, he might hit a few people, but most likely not fatally. Though yes, he might have excellent aim and kill a few, but this is not likely.

    Unfortunately, we are trained to lie and die, not to fight. I am done here.

    What I said is not perfect, and most likely not even close (everyone wants a perfect situation with no one hurt, you know thats impossible), but its what I say, and thats it.
  • Your right. It is a lot easier to say and do. Its just because we are raised to run. This isn't a simple solution. I know of only a hand few people who would follow, the rest wouldn't. BUT maybe if the world starts showing how you can help, people will start realizing how much a difference they can make.
  • First of all, a nuke is a bomb. Besides that, his point was that there is always a way to kill people. Guns are a quick and powerful way to kill someone, but bombs, knives, bats, gasoline, etc., will all get the job done. If you have read anything about the incident, then you would know that the kids made their own bombs. They didn't run down to the local BombMart and buy them. Maybe we should abolish chemistry classes. Ban all chemistry books as well. People shouldn't have access to information that could potentially be used to harm someone.

    Gimme a break. Guns didn't cause the problem. The social environment and lack of decent parenting caused the problem. The people involved need to quit trying to blame anyone and everyone but themselves. I'm sure that's quite difficult for them to deal with, but if they want to live in their own delusional world, then they shouldn't begrudge the two killers for living in theirs.

  • You can't use a TV to babysit kids and then expect them to grow into civilized human beings.

    Bingo. You got this right. But why are you blaming the TV for not being a good parent? Isn't that the responsibility of the child's parents? The TV shows are there for entertainment and information. They are not there to raise children.

    I was listening to NPR yesterday and they had a school district psychologist, the lawyer for the parents of the children who were killed in Kentucky, and another person (don't remember who she was) talking about the causes of the incident. I wanted to strangle all of them. It was some of the most irresponsible and irrational commentary I've ever heard. I was actually yelling back at the radio (yeah, I know, look who's talking about irrational commentary.. irony noted :).

    The Kentucky lawyer went on and on about how the game manufacturers were irresponsible for putting out games with violent content and about how it taught kids the skills they needed to kill (such as ammo conservation). He said that a person's normal reaction would be to empty a gun into the target until it falls, but that the kids didn't do that because the games taught them to fire conservatively and take out as many targets as possible with as little ammo as possible.

    Is this guy for real?? Has he ever played these games? You run around firing a rocket launcher most of the time! Not to mention the fact that this wasn't an instinctual thing that happened. The whole incident was premeditated. They were there to kill as many of the people who had tormented them, or that represented the groups that had tormented them, as they possibly could. They didn't empty a gun into someone because they didn't need to. They weren't fighting for their lives. They were going to die and they knew it. They were there to kill those who had bullied and harrassed and alienated them before they killed themselves. After reading some of the background of the group, they seem to be rather racist and not at all right in the head. I don't know whether that was caused by their alienation or was the reason for it. Either way, the kids weren't alright.

    The lawyers and psychologists and pundits should all wake up to reality. DOOM didn't cause this. I don't think it even contributed to it in any significant way. Killing pixilated aliens hardly prepares you to kill someone that you've gone to school with for years. Aiming with a mouse hardly teaches you any gun skills. The fact is that they were shooting people at point blank range. They couldn't miss and it only takes one shot. If they really must blame someone for the tragedy, then let them put the blame where it belongs: on those who harrassed and alienated the teens and the parents who did not take responsibility for raising them with a sense of right and wrong and reality versus fantasy. Any other blame is misdirected.

  • Somewhere along the way, the perpetrators in Littleton stopped believing that murder is wrong and learned to see it as a viable solution to their problems.

    I think you are confused here. They didn't see murder as a solution to their problem. Their solution to their problem was suicide. The murder was done as a kind of pre-avenging of their own immenent deaths. They were going to die and take as many of the people whom they hated with them as possible. Perhaps they thought they were doing some small deed to make the world a better place for others like themselves. Perhaps they did. I don't know and I'd rather not even go off in that direction. The point is that they didn't see things the way we see them. They weren't rational. You can't, as a rational person, make any sense out of what happened. It's a tragedy, but Quake and Doom are far from being the cause.

  • The "right of the people to keep and bear arms" was justified by the need for a "well regulated militia". In this day and age, with the technology available to us and the size of our "well regulated" armed forces, the 2nd amendment is hopelessly out of date.

    Hmm.. where to start? First of all, I think it should be the right of any law-abiding citizen to own a gun for their own protection. They should obviously have a license for the weapon and receive proper training in its use.

    Second, the old saying, "If guns are outlawed, then only outlaws will have guns" definitely rings true. Drugs are outlawed, but will that stop me from buying them if I really want to? It's not even difficult to buy them. Whether guns are legal or not, I know that those who want them will be able to get them. I'd just as soon keep them legal so that those of us who are not criminals will have some means of protection available to us. Maybe it's not much, but you can't really rely on the police to protect you. They get there later and put what's left of you into little baggies.

    The problem is not the availability of weapons, but the desire of people to kill others for whatever reason. I can own a gun and never fire it for any reason other than practice. Does that make me a dangerous person? I don't think so. A dangerous person is dangerous whether they have a gun or not. If they want to kill someone, then they will most likely do it, gun or no. Would I stand any better chance against a burglar with a knife than one with a gun? Would it matter at all if he had a hunting rifle or an assault rifle? I'd be just as dead either way. If I had a gun of my own, then perhaps I would have some chance of saving myself. I think I should at least be given that chance at staying alive.

  • Wake up. Outlawing guns isn't going to solve anything. Liquor was outlawed. Did that prevent people from getting it? Nope. It just turned it into a lucrative business. Drugs are outlawed. Does that mean I can't get any within a mile of my house? Nope. It's also a lucrative business. I could buy drugs any time I want. What does that tell you about what will likely happen if guns are outlawed. Then only those people who want a gun in order to kill someone will be able to get a gun. The person who is the target will probably have no defense whatsoever. Sounds like a great way to live.

  • I don't think that the possibility of someone at the school being armed (security guards or whatever) would have made a difference in this case. They knew they were going to die, but they were angry too. They wanted to kill as many of the people who had caused them pain as they could. It was a sort of pre-avenging of their deaths. Perhaps someone would have shot them, but that wasn't a concern to them since they were going to kill themselves anyway. At least they could take a few people with them.

  • by xpurple ( 1227 )
    Only problem with this, is that if you take the guns away from everybody (legigimate people), then thier will still be guns avaliable...just iligaly... And, it probably wouldn't be much harder to get ahold of one if you realy wanted to than buying a pould of dope.

    IMHO, every amarican should carry a firearm, it keeps those who would use them for evil reasons from acting out, or, if they do, something can be done about it quickly.
  • by Amphigory ( 2375 ) on Thursday April 22, 1999 @10:09AM (#1921726) Homepage
    You've got two kids... Who are in what boils down to a gang.

    You've got a society with no moral standards -- that has, in essence, told these kids to find themselves as the ultimate morality.

    You've got parents who are absent enough not to notice that their kids are making dozens of pipe bombs. ("Wow johnny... We're so glad to see your interest in gardening! Could you put some of that fertilizer on the petunias? And plumbing too!")

    You've got a total demise of common courtesy, to the point that these kids are mercilessly harassed without anyone in authority making any attempt to protect them.

    Finally, they are presented, daily, in every media, with graphic violence, sexual depravity, and moral degeneracy.

    And we blame the Internet? Or guns?

    The problem is that:

    1) Parents are pursuing self-fulfillment instead of raising their kids. I know it makes people happy to have a job -- great. Have one. But don't neglect your kids. If you can't have self esteem without a job, then don't have kids!
    2) Society has trashed all moral standards in favor of a bunch of feel-good psycho-babble.
    3) Children are taught that truth is relative.
    4) The schools neither teach nor discipline.
    5) Moral degeneracy has taken over everything people see and here. We are continually being assaulted with sex and violence -- in the bassest possible form.

    Get a clue people. And don't do this to /your/ kids.

    This is only the start people -- our schools are going to be war-zones until we turn around. And all the gun control or warning labels in the world won't change that.

  • I was thinking about this last night after listening to a couple of discussions and maybe catching some commentary about the massacre on TV. I'm not going to comment on why they did what they did because I honestly don't have any insight into it. It was horrid and brutish and senseless, but thats just a description of the act, not commentary on why. I think I do understand a bit about why all of the perpetrators of these various acts of violence are being stereotyped as nerds and geeks though.

    People have always felt the need to segregate those who do horrible things from themselves. In the publicized cases over the last couple of years there have been a few common characteristics of the people behind the murders:
    • Young
    • Male
    • An outsider to the normal society
    • An unusual amount of interest in computer gaming
    • An unusual amount of time spent with computers

    This to the public is the definition of a geek. It lets society get off the hook of delving into the real problems. Instead the symptoms get labeled as the problems. What does this mean? Rather than looking at why they preferred gaming so much, gaming is seen as the problem. "Censor computer games!" cries the public. "While you're at it, ban death metal!" shouts the clergy. This is much easier than having "What caused these people to be ostricized by their 'peers' in the first place?" as your battle cry. That would require real work and real thought.

    There are very few journalists left in media, be it television, print or radio. For the most part they've all become socially acceptable versions of Geraldo Rivera and will carefully repeat what the public wants to hear. Nobody does interviews with youths seen as outsiders to let society see why they've become outsiders, instead they interview friends of the victims who just label them as outsiders. So they reinforce the myth or misdiagnosis.

    Chances are a large section of the slashdot readership at one time or another has been labeled as an outsider. A better editorial interjection on the part of Hemos would have been "were you ever seen as an outsider, and if so why?"
  • Haven't these absolute idiots in the media ever heard of kids playing Cowboys & Indians? Cops & Robbers? Since when have little boys not had toy guns growing up?

    As someone who writes computer games, I find this extremely scary.
  • Or, more honestly, does the Internet make things like this easier for people? What about socialization of people?

    IMO, the biggest impact the internet has in terms of socialisation is that it strongly reduces the influcence your physical location (e.g. the country you grow up in) on your culture. It allows you to communicate with kindred spirits all over the globe.

    But this isn't the global village where we're all in the same vanilla culture. It's a bazaar in which just about everyone can find the cultural niches they belong to (SF fandom, taoism, wicca, Linux, cartoons, bikers, classical philosophy etc. etc.)

    This can be a great thing, but it can also be very bad, as a means of spreading memes like racism, self-destructive religious cultism etc.

    The internet is a technology that is changing communication. It is not inherently good, nor inherently evil. It is not "the medium is the message". It is the medium in which all messages can be found.

    It is our individual responsibility to learn and to teach how to use this technology for good.

  • I think we need to spend some time figuring out why these school shootings keep happening. It's important that we gain an understanding. I'm just gonna give my thoughts and then come what may:

    As a little background, I'm a 30 year old software engineer (a programmer who thinks about it first), I'm married, and I do plan to have children. My wife is a school teacher in a school district on the edge of Philadelphia. Her district has a very wide range of income levels, so I hear about the whole range of wierd student and parent behaviours that teachers have to deal with.

    When I refer to 'our parents' I'm refering to those folks in their 50's and 60's like my parents. When I refer to 'kids' I'm talking about anyone under 18.

    Speed of change: These kids are growing up in a world that's changing on an almost daily basis. If you are a little slow learning how to fit in, then by the time you get a clue, the rules have changed.

    Over-stimulation: The way kids play today is a LOT different from when our parents grew up. TV provides a rapidly changing series of loud, attention-grabbing scenes. The stories behind much of what's on TV revolve around someone beating someone else up for some reason. Games for dedicated game machines and computers are mostly about violence in one way or another, and like TV they provide rapid, loud stimulation, and everything is resolved by violence.

    Parental over-work - The TV and Game machines probably wouldn't be so bad, but many parents are working longer and longer days. They don't get home until late, so the kids watch TV till mom and dad come home, and when they do come home, they don't want to yell at the kids, so they let the kids do whatever they want (I've seen this with my cousin's children). Alternately, they don't want to be bothered with the kids, so they plop them down in front of the TV. Either way, the kid is getting more TV time than parent time, so where do you think they are going to pick up their outlook on life? And if a parent is over-worked, how are they going to notice that little Bobby seems depressed?

    Responsibility - Many parents simply don't want to be responsible for raising their children. They don't discipline the children at home, so by the time the kids get to school, they have no respect for authority of any kind. Or they put so much pressure on the kids to do well and get into honors programs that the kids break down when they don't make it. Or when the kid gets a bad grade, instead of working on making sure Johnny does his homework, they call and yell at the teacher!

    I'm not saying that any of these things have to do with the latest shooting (I don't know that much about the families involved). But I will say that NONE of these things ALONE would be enough to send someone over the deep edge. But taken in combination with a hundred different things I haven't mentioned...

    Thanks for reading.
  • "...the jocks get away with doing worse.". Wow. I think you are over generalizing here a bit.

    I too was a geek in High School. I too got beat up, made fun of, etc. But I don't recall that it was just jocks, and certainly not all jocks, to the contrary. In fact I don't recall any jocks being involved.

    The solution?

    Well, sounds rather coy starts with you and me. First I have to let go, forgive, what others did to me in my past. Throw it all into the "sea of forgetfullness". Second I have to learn to put others before myself. I have to hold the rights of others above my own. I have to care for others more than for myself.

    Now I have to teach that to my children and their children. I have to live it out before them EVERY SINGLE day. I have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

    Is that going to solve the worlds problems? No. But it will help those around me. And in the process make me a better person, even though the goal is to make others better persons.

    So we can continue to argue who is at fault. We can continue to lobby for gun laws, shut down the internet. But until we love or fellow person and respect their rights more than our own it will be a fruitless struggle against an evil we continue to be entagled in ourselves.

    A child is walking along the beach at low tide. The beach is covered with thousands of star fish stuck up on the sand as the tide moved out. The child walks along, picking up one star fish at a time and tossing it out into the ocean. An old man comes along and says. "What are you doing, you can't possibly save them all. You are wasting your time. What you are doing doesn't matter". The child with joy in his face picks up another star fish, throws it into the ocean and says, "It matters to that one."
    Don't know where that parable comes from. But it seems to fit...somehow.
  • ....Sociopaths and Psychopaths will be sociopaths and psychopaths, no matter if they are geeks, farmers, politicians, terrorists, Ordinary Joe Bloggs, that "nice quiet man a few doors down", yer uncle/aunt, or whoever.

    How can you _possibly_ blame Doom for these two characters doing what they did? I play Doom etc. but I'm not going around spraying bullets.

    No. There are too many factors involved with what these people did, ranging from America's "achievement culture" - whereby if you're not good at sports/science/anyhting else, you're no good at all, to America's Gun culture - "It's in the Constitution, Son!", to lack of parental care/education, and a WHOLE lot more. Pinning this one on the fact someone may be a geek, play Doom or whatever is just Plain Nuts.

    Silly Media!
  • by itp ( 6424 ) on Thursday April 22, 1999 @06:46AM (#1921791)
    Sorry, I accidentally hit submit prematurely.

    To continue with my rant, I think that violence in media is something that needs to be looked at, but not in isolation. In combination with other factors, children are being left to their own devices, with very little guidance from responsible adults. When they are faced with messages like the one I mentioned above, well, I don't think it causes them to become killers, but I don't think it's healthy, either. Certainly it's easy to just claim that portrayed violence is the sole cause, which isn't fair, but isn't it slightly ludicrous to claim that it has no effect whatsoever?

    Regarding the `Goth' scene -- I'll be the first to admit that I know relatively little of what is actually entailed in being a Goth. However, from what I have seen, it seems to focus or dwell on death, depression, pain ... I'm struggling for a point here. While I don't think it's fair to claim that this is bad out of hand, I do think that parents should be worried if their children are growing up in an environment like this. In combination with other factors, I think that this can certainly be detrimental to their well being.

    Hmm. It's early, and I didn't sleep last night, so this is coming out a lot more ranty than I'd like. I guess my main point is this -- yes, the media is being narrow minded to try to blame this tragedy on one cause, but we would be equally narrow minded not to consider the effects of portrayed violence on our youth.

    Ian Peters
  • by itp ( 6424 ) on Thursday April 22, 1999 @06:38AM (#1921792)
    I realize this probably won't be the most popular opinion you'll read attached to this article, but I'm going to step out on a limb. There seems to be a knee-jerk reaction going on here, on two counts. First, the media, for seizing on violent computer games and the internet as a possible `cause' of this tragic event, but also, the slashdot community for dismissing this possibility out of hand.

    Several of the (few) posts at this point make the following argument -- "I play violent video games, and I've never killed anyone, so that theory must be wrong!" This is a fundamental logical flaw. If the statement were "violent video games turn everyone into killers", then a simple counter example would be sufficient. However, merely stating that violent video games have no effect on you doesn't disprove a relationship. I'm not necessarily claiming that there is one; just that this argument is flawed.

    Now, to claim that there is a relationship. Several people have pointed out that violence predates the internet and computer games by a large margin. This is certainly true. I could sit here and make the argument that violence has never been this realistic, but I don't think that's the point. I do think that mindless violence, which is being portrayed more and more, in many different forums, is problematic. I was recently playing Quake Team Fortress the other day. As I entered the game, I was greeted with the message "Kill, Kill, Kill!"

    Ian Peters
  • But the problem is that most kids now *don't* have good parenting....most kids now are brought up in daycare centers either private or state-owned. Beause of the nature of my job and location, I'm able to keep my children at home and educate them myself. There is a big difference between their behavior and that of my friends' kids who attend public schools or daycare centers. BTW, I live in an Asian country where guns are completely illegal (always have been here) and the murder rate is actually slightly higher than that of the US. The difference is that here they use poison, baseball bats, gasoline, knives, acid, etc.
  • by Ethan Butterfield ( 7481 ) on Thursday April 22, 1999 @06:26AM (#1921814)
    Society sees a couple of its members doing something really, really, REALLY bad.

    Society doesn't like this. It gives Society a bad name.

    Society tries to do whatever possible to convince itself that these Bad People(tm) were never a part of Society to begin with.

    The first step is to find "obvious differences" between Society and the Bad People. Well, violent computer games and the goth subculture are in the limelight these days...let's use that!

    (cue all those media shots of the items with the Doom logo in evidence bags)

  • Maybe this will make the "ins" realize the "outs" are human beings, and have breaking points. I'm sure these boys did what they did because they were sick and tired of being treated like shit. It's sad and terrible and tragic that peoples' sons and daughters are dead. But how many of them that died ever bothered for one second to treat the boys that did this like real human beings? I'd bet none. So be warned. If you don't treat your fellow human beings as equal, it could happen to you. And if you treat others like shit, whose to say you didn't deserve it? Maybe the jocks SHOULD be the ones afraid of the geeks, instead of the way it is now. Food for thought. If you don't like my opinion, get your own.
  • The above posting clearly illustrates the exact though process that led to the Colorado murders. You can't pretend it doesn't feel bad when people loathe you--the issue is clearly that geeks/nerds do have negative feelings because the "cool people" don't like them.

    As much as you want to deny it, we are all programmed (by advertising, peer opinion, even parental opinion) that cool is good. But being cool and being smart both require a major investment of time and attention; so much so, in fact, that it is difficult or impossible to do both at once.

    So every student makes a choice; perhaps by temperament and capability; perhaps by chance; rarely, if ever, by conscious desire. This choice perpetuates itself: Having spent a lot of time becoming either smart or cool, it is much easier to remain what you are than to switch to the other side.

    From the point of view of cool people, it must be true that uncool==bad. If investment in coolness is to pay dividends in social currency, then it is at least as important to make sure that uncool people don't get social reward as to make sure that cool people do. So the cool people (again, not necessarily consciously) loathe the smart people, and the smart people feel bad because nobody likes to be loathed.

    The smart people have no such inherent need to loathe the cool people. The expected reward of an investment in coolness is social promotion; in order to receive it, it is necessary to force everyone into the "correct" social attitudes. But the reward that smart people expect to gain from their investment is intellectual accomplishment, eventual future money-making, and perhaps a sense of superiority. But this is all internal and does not really require anyone else to be forced to fit any particular pigeonhole.

    The problem is, we all want social recognition. Even smart people. The environment is set up so that smart people don't get it because they can no longer afford to make the investment in being cool (ie, spending their time knowing what fashions are current, who's dating who this week, going to parties, never being seen near a computer, etc). So smart people are made to feel bad; in some cases, very bad indeed.

    The most obvious way to deal with these bad feelings is to demonize those who cause them. How do you reconcile the cognitive dissonance between the belief that you are a good, worthwhile, useful person, and that they all think you are valueless? Well, they must be wrong. See the previous poster's choice of words: stupid, scared, mindless. People you don't even want to be involved with. People who don't like you and aren't liked by you. People who are so worthless that you don't even care if they think you're worthless. People so useless that 'subjecting yourself' to their company is a trial to be endured rather than an enjoyable experience.

    And if they take such strong, destructive actions as loathing you based on what you see as a wrong-headed belief (ie, cool is better than smart), they must be bad people. And if they're bad people, why not kill them? You're doing the world a favor: Improving the collective IQ, as it were.

    Needless to say, this is the wrong answer. For healing to occur, you must accept that these people loathe you, that it matters to you, try to understand their reasons, try to find ways to cope. This is very difficult and it would be a better world if it didn't have to happen. However, given the unpleasant choice as it has come to exist, better to grow up understanding that shallow people exist and posessing a few tools to deal with them succesfully, than to grow up with a kernel of hatred buried in your psyche and a twisted view that includes the [do I dare say it: evil] concept that permits you to value human beings as worthless.

    The real tragedy is that these issues could easily, almost trivially, be addressed by the teachers, but the functional structure of the schools prevents it. By high school, courses are taught by subject, and the subjects are academic: history, science, math. There isn't a class in how to get along with people. Unlike elementary school, there isn't anyone specifically tasked to get to know the kids and oversee their cognitive and social development. It's easy to say that it's the parent's responsibility, but the parents rarely have any clear knowledge of what goes on in the school.

    Home schooling is not the answer, because most parents can't stay home all day, aren't qualified as teachers anyway, and can't provide opportunities for social interaction; so all that happens is that their kids' social development pains are delayed until college instead of high school.

    The real answer is to have a mandatory and participatory ethics/morals curriculum in the high schools, but of course it's very difficult to teach morals in a way that doesn't offend one or another fundamentalist religion. We've actually gotten to the point where you can't say "It is wrong to kill" in a classroom because it might be interpreted as religious in nature (not to mention then having to explain away the barbarity of state-sponsored execution). Now I'm not particularly religious myself, and I'd be generally against teaching specific dogmas in the schools, but I think high school is where moral grounding needs to be learned--and I think if the recent tragedy shows us anything, it's that we have to address this problem NOW.
  • and you are condoning it. If a co-worker laid into you with a baseball bat, he would probably be fired, and you could press criminal charges. However, when high school kids are subjected to constant physical and emotional abuse, and humiliation, everyone says "yeah, but it's only high school". Assault is assault is assault, and abuse is abuse is abuse. And the fact that it takes place in a high school setting does not make it any less severe or any less worthy of severe disciplinary action. If someone at my university beats the living sh*t out of me or subjects me to 1% of the sh*t I took in high school, I have due recourse to internal authorities as well as the law enforcement agencies. In contrast, the "internal discipline" in most high schools primarily firewalls the bullies from the police, rather than protecting the abused.


  • >My take on the firearms issue? Both positions
    >have flaws: but on the whole I like the idea of
    >banning public access to lethal weapons. People
    >(in whatever groupings you choose) are just too
    >irrational and, all too often, just plain stupid.
    I have to disagree. There are millions of gun owning americans who've never shot anyone. And there are also many americans (say, thousands) who've been able to stop a crime because they own a gun.

    Some people are irrational, yes. People drink themselves to death every year, people fall asleep at the wheel and kill minivan's full of kids, some people abuse there children, some people run with sharp things. Just because stupid people do stupid things, should we outlaw booze, cars, procreation, and sharp things? Lots of stupid people do stupid things, yes, but we can't let a few bad apples ruin the pie.
  • by Fakir ( 9668 ) on Thursday April 22, 1999 @09:33AM (#1921844)
    I think that in some ways you make a descent argument here but I don't think you really go far enough with it. The fundamental flaw here was not that these kids played Doom, or listened to Marilyn Manson, or dressed in black trenchcoats. The fundamental issue was that these kids were left alone with these things and never really connected to anything outside of that. The parents probly did the best they knew how but were they really there from the tiem their kids were born with the love and support that they needed? Or did they go about their daily business and ignore the various signs that were there saying that their kid was screaming out for help? I seriously doubt that these parents were attachemnt oriented and thought their kids love and connection on a daily basis. I don't want to sound like I'm blaming it all on the parents, because there were definately more factors that that.

    Lets through in the video games and the internet and Marilyn Manson though and look at the role they could have played. Violent Music, while a definate form of expression (and one that even I connect with, being a fan of MM) does not in and ov itself motivate one to kill. Nor does violent thought in and of itself. The videogames could very well have been active in breaking down the barriers between reality and fantasy, but why would that be possible. If all a person has to connect with is a violent video game, then perhaps that's all they will know. If all a person knows is a violent fantasy of killing before being killed, you can see that there is a potential problem without me pointing it out. And the internet... As we know the internet is a tool for communicating and gathering ideas and spreading them. But it is a tool moer than a media. It is what we make of it. I can go on the internet and for months at a tiem never have contact with another human being on it, it is my decision about how I use the tool that allows me to communicate with other people or shut them out completely. In my case I choose to share my thoughts but that does not mean that most of the flames I will recieve from posting this will have any bearing on my life. Because I choose to ingnore the input and seek my own agenda which is to not bother reading or writing to people who don't like my ideas or my input. Who's to say these kids were part of an internet propigated "gang," I'm not saying they weren't, but I think that the impact was way less than is being emphasised. In the end, I believe that it is too difficult to pidgeon hole someone into a course of behavior that is dictated by music and video games and the internet by themselves. No, there was more to it... I think that these kids were let down by their families first off, probly because the parents didn't know how to effectivly divy up thie time between work and family and still make ends meet without feeling very drained themselves. This is a feeling that is growing in America and will probly continue. Secondly I believe that the school let these kids down, because they had no outlet for these intelligent children that they wanted to take part in, and because they failed to make them feel comfortable in any social type setting. The community and other kids let these kids down for not breaking through and not connecting with these boys early on and giving them status in the social ranking of the community. It is important for children to feel a part of something even if it is something small. Other kids and other parents should have reached out to include these kids in something other than what they could devise on their own. Alienation doesn't go aware just because you ignore it, often times it comes back to bite you.

    This is what is happening today, more and more parents are having children that they can't devote the time to because they are too worried about the lives they want to lead than the ones they do lead. They don't take the time on a daily basis from the childs earliest years to make them feel loved, to bring them in and make them a part of the family unit. They send them to school where the only thing that they can find to connect to are drugs, music, and games. The other kids make fun of them, only driving them farther away. Teachers and priciples look at them as troubled children and pidgeon hole them that way, driving them further into a hole. They go home and play quake and have fun, and listen to loud crunchy music and have fun, and escape their depression for a while, breaking down what's real for a while. And we're suprised when they start fantasizing about all those monsters in doom being the monsters that are keeping them in that hole. Go figure that we've created a ticking time bomb, look at how many times these kids have been labeled and criticised and let down before they ever got to that point. And when they fell so low and have they're boundaries torn down to such a point, and still people ridicule or even worse, ignore them. It makes perfect sense that as an eighteen year old with hormones pumping and real life closer than ever, they just wanted to explode.

    Unfortunately I believe that this is only the beginning. It's not going to go away until on the most fundamental family layer, we start to deal with our children as what they are, human. Full of all the good that we are, and the bad. We need a social structure that allows us to spend time with our kids, a work environment that is more focused on family, and healthy workers than profit. And more schools that have less children, more teachers, and lots of active learning rather than lectures that bore and build discontent. And most importantly room for all children to learn to grow and connect with eachother, not to learn to create outcasts. This is the only way we can start to change this in a healthy and constructive manner.
    Taking into account for human behavior, it's not possible to have a hippy dippy land that everyone is going to be idealic parents and we're going to have idealic schools where all the kids are nice to eachother and all the teachers are great at motivating their students to do something other than fantasize about something other than today's lecture. But it is definately time that we as a community (as all communitys that make up the US, and the world) start taking a real hard introspective look at what we do to perpetuate the current behaviors and start working on real ways to move closer to that ideal that we seek. Until then, acts like this will continue.
  • As much as I hate to admit it, you are somehwhat right.

    However, you fail to address the heart of the problem.

    Do video games (of the violent flavor) affect children? The answer is they ***can***. If parents choose not to raise their children, more than likely they *will* (this is not always true, I've known children that were sit down in front of the TV all of their young lives and turned out fine, even after playing lots of Doom).

    It isn't the TV or the Quake that hurts children. It is the replacement of a parent with these. That is what does it. It has nothing to do with lack of religion (or a "strange" religion), violence in a game, or anything like that. It has to do with the lack of a caring parent.

    But that is just me.
  • by K. ( 10774 ) on Thursday April 22, 1999 @06:38AM (#1921853) Homepage Journal
    What drove HAL crazy? Being programmed to tell
    the truth and being told to lie.

    Society on the Internet is *in general* a meritocracy. You're judged by your ability to communicate, by your intelligence. But then when you go to school, those attributes become irrelevant, or worse, are turned against you. You're ostracised for the very same things that are an advantage on the Internet. This does not lead to a stable mentality.

    I didn't have too much trouble in my school, mostly because I was a sarcastic little bastard who'd verbally rip anyone to shreds who tried to mess with me - and I had biker friends :) (and a high threshold for pain :(). But I accepted quite a bit of the grief that came my way because that was the way things were. If it had been pointed out to me that there were other ways for things to be, I wouldn't have been so quick to accept the hassle.


    To the extent that I wear skirts and cheap nylon slips, I've gone native.
  • I think it is actually rather encouraging that the media point to FPS games as a reason for the Columbine killing. It shows that they are becoming mainstream and there is nothing anyone can do against it anymore. Just look at the past for more examples of this: the supposedly 'bad` influence of comics, the 'corrupting` influence of agressive action movies, even TV shows have been 'credited` as cause for rampant behaviour.

    Ofcourse, no journalist would *dare* put the blame were it rightfully belongs: with the person responsible. Somehow it seems unacceptable to them that an 18-year-old can truly be a criminal.

    On a last note: why do people think that ready availability of information on bomb-making (or drug-making for that matter) is all that's required for people to actually go out and make bombs (or drugs)? There *is* such a thing as availability of the physical means to do so, and it need not exist. Knowledge doesn't kill. Knowledge *cannot* even kill.
  • by pspeed ( 12169 ) on Thursday April 22, 1999 @08:30AM (#1921883)
    You've touched upon a whole different topic. The school system in the US is degrading. And I'm of the opinion that nothing will stop it although I do have several opinions on the reasons.

    First, children today often don't have any sort of support system. Mom and dad both work if they are even both still around. They don't have much time to be a part of their child's life. Some try really hard, even fewer actually succeed. The unfortunate part is that even a little bit of listening can avert a tragedy like this one.

    Second, school is a privilege. This may sound good on the surface but what this means is that each successive generation takes this a little more for granted. Even worse, kids that genuinely want to be in school are stuck in classes full of kids that don't want to be there. That statement contains so many problems that need to be fixed that it is a topic for another entire dicussion.

    Third, society tends to view money as the answer. When confronted with this opinion I often hold up a dollar bill and ask if it's teaching anyone. When everyone says that it isn't, I then hold up two then three, etc.. The point is that money may be required to implement a solution, but it is not a solution in and of itself. In fact, in more densely populated areas an equal allotment of money is almost insignificant.

    Add these three together and what you get is a downward spiral. Each successive generation of kids will be required to be and learn to be more independent. Schools will get more money and not know what to do with it. Each generation of kids will be more likely to take school for granted and not understand the future benefits. Schools will spend the increase in money on making sure that the students can't sneak away. As the reaction becomes more militant the gulf between the few students that really want to be there and the students that don't want to be there will widen.

    Because the kids are more independent, they know the basics about how to function in society earlier. This means that they know how to find or purchase guns, explosives, knives, etc.. The internet and violent games only give them the extra experience needed to make the task easier.

    The last nail in the coffin that is my downward spiral theory is that all of this adds up to mean that parents need to become even more involved than they already are. Parents that are barely able to tackle the problem now will become overwhelmed.

    I fully expect to send my future children to a school where they aren't required to spell correctly until the 6th grade. I only hope that I'm in a position where I can keep my son or daughter out of public schools. I'd hate to have to send them somewhere they are expected to be medianly stupid just because classes are tailored around keeping a disgruntled group a little more interested.

    Grrr! Few topics are as frustrating as this one.
    -Paul (
  • by A Big Gnu Thrush ( 12795 ) on Thursday April 22, 1999 @07:03AM (#1921892)
    I agree with this. Here in Atlanta, one of our local radio idiots was talking about the influence of Marilyn Manson on these devil worshippers, and how we would hear a lot more about the music and how it was to blame before this was all over. Keep in mind, he was saying this at a time when the exact identity of the shooters was not known. The police had not even secured the building. When I got home that night, CNN was showing the cover art to Rammstein and playing up the fact that these two spoke German to each other.

    Then came the video of Doom. I noticed the player in Doom had the shotgun (may favorite weopon in Doom) and had not yet got the chain gun.

    Of the 1800 students at Calumbine (sp?) High School, how many do you think have played Doom? How many have listened to Rammstein?

    Certainly any male old enough to hold a joystick has played Doom. No mention is made of the total prevalence of Doom on personal computers. It's an immensely popular game.

    The media looks for some trait in the personality of these kids that will help mark them as members of a counter culture, but the traits they come up with are mainstream.

    Marilyn Manson, Rammstein, Doom. Not all teenagers listen to these bands or play first person shoot-em-up video games, but they are not counter culture.

    The fascination with Hitler is disturbing, but not uncommon in confused teenagers. Most grow out of it. The strange posts to AOL (if true) are disturbing, but AOL is a very mainstream outlet for kids to express their uninhibited thoughts in anonymous chat rooms. There is nothing unusual about doing this.

    These two were disturbed, they needed help, but the media looks at normal, everyday trappings of teenage culture and places them on a stage as oddities. They are not oddities.

    Questions that should be asked: How did these guys manufacture pipe bombs in their garage without their parents noticing? What legitimate warning signs were missed? (e.g. did they threaten someone verbally, had they tortured animals in the past, was there a history of non-lethal violence leading up to this.) But the media plays clips from "Du Hast" and shows 640x400 screens of monsters getting blown away with a shotgun.

    There's no easy answer to this one, but it's difficult for me to believe that these kids were instilled with any morality or belief system.

    School shootings are a uniquely American phenomenon and in a uniquely American way, pop culture will blame pop culture for the evils of our pop culture.
  • It seems everytime an unthinkable tragedy occures, the "I have a special agenda" people come out in full force to explain to us (in our shocked and upset state) that this whole tragedy could have been avoided if only their viewpoint was adopted and acted upon. See, video games really ARE bad, this proves it. There really IS too much violence on TV, see where it leads? This is all because of that evil music, etc.
    I even saw one of the congressional representatives of Colorado on TV yesterday lamenting that the state never adopted a more strict weapons policy for the schools!!! I can see it now, two deranged teens prepare to enter the school and start executing people when the notice a "Gun Free School Zone" sign, and turn back, defeated.
    Please, policies weren't going to prevent this. This was a result of kids ever growing lack of repsect for life, both their's and other's. When you feel your life is so meaningless that you plan to kill yourself anyway, it's probably not difficult to take other's lives. I for one would like to know why kids (not all, but more than ever before) no longer seem to respect life at all.

    My $0.02
  • First of all, it is NOT every American's right to own a gun, only non-felons who are over 18 (or 21 for handguns and semi-automatics). I happen to own a gun and I don't plan to go on a shooting rampage anytime soon. I own a gun because there have been robberies, shootings and other crimes very near where I live and I would like to be able to protect my family and property if necessary. Anyone who tells me I shouldn't be able to do so can go live in DC where there is a gun ban. And of course, because of this, DC is the safest place to live because there are no guns right? funny...
    I believe in gun control. You need limits on who can own what, and waiting periods are a good idea as well. However, you will NEVER remove guns from this country. There are simply too many in circulation. Cut off the supply lines and march around (as Hitler did) and attempt to disarm the public as much as you want. Then only the criminals will have and continue to get them. Plus they now have the added bonus of knowing that their victoms will probably be defenceless.
    Oh, but wait, we have the honest and not-at-all corrupt police to protect us, right?

  • I am a senior at Arapahoe High School, in Littleton just 5 miles east of Columbine. They aren't our main rival, but I've watched two back-to-back state championship soccer games from the Arapahoe side of the field when it was down to us and the Columbine Rebels. As a result, there's been some real animosity between our two schools. Needless to say, that has been thankfully tossed aside as many of us went down there to offer help and support.

    Also, I am a varsity wrestler (hence the handle i use) and i just recently competed in the regional championship which was held in the Columbine gym.

    And as soon as I heard about the shootings, the first thing that came to mind was the time I was sitting in a bathroom stall in the Columbine boy's bathroom during the tournament. All 3 walls were covered with hate messages, swastikas, references to satan, and especially things to the effect of "All jocks must die!" And, like all those Columbine students, I thought that was kind of strange and then promptly dismissed it as I left the stall.

    I don't personally know any of the victims, but it's been a hard last couple of days when I didn't know that fact. The coordinator of the gifted/talented program at Arapahoe (a good friend of mine) is the next door neighbor of a fatally wounded victim and has also known Dylan, one of the killers, since preschool. A fellow member of my track team is a friend of that kid everyone saw hanging out the window on the news. So its been a surreal week, and I don't think it's quite hit me yet.

    When I first found out about the incident, it had only just started 15 minutes earlier, and for the next several hours I was under the impression that it was a minor shooting, with perhaps a few injuries. Then, I got home after practice and got the updated story, and couldn't believe it.

    You've all probably seen on the news what they've been saying about Littleton, CO. Well its true. Practically every school here is a blue ribbon school, no gang activity, long honor roll lists with the bumper stickers to proove it, and plenty of soccer moms. Oh, and despite the name, its not little - thats just the name of the founder. It's a suburb of Denver, and nothing separates the two except a thin invisible line.

    So I believe them when they say "If it can happen in Littleton, it can happen anywhere." -cross community upbringing off the list. And the more you read about the kids' parents, the more you will realize they were not "brought up wrong" or "mistreated". No, they both come from 2 parent households, and the neighbors feel strongly enough that the parents were good caring people (one mom works as a counselor for disabled people) that they wrote a note, signed by 19(?) of them expressing their support for the parents (although i admit that them not knowing about all that bomb building has me stumped) so I don't thing is parental upbringing. These two guys did little league sports and cub scouts, and the like, and Dylan attended a youth group with a friend of mine only last year. By his account, Dylan was normal.

    Oh, and this "trenchcoat mafia" thing has also been blown out of proportion. This group (which was not a gang at all, and had no affiliates outside the school) was a geek type group that dressed different but had fun in their own way, and didn't harbout much more resentment than your average high schooler. They did, however, have a facination with guns. This is a description of that group as it stood last year, and they even took out a yearbook ad that show the group of geeks all smiles.

    Things turned sour with the group late last year, from what I heard, when the jocks started picking on them. Then the hate started. They resented how the jocks seemed to run the school, and they were always picked on. A fight was arranged at a local baseball field after a big confrontation at the school. The trenchcoats showed up with brass knuckles and swords, so the jocks left.

    I don't know for sure, but I believe that Eric and Dylan were drawn into the group through their interest in computers and weapons, and turned sour with the rest of the group from the run-ins with jocks. Their real flaw, I believe, was a combination of not knowing how to play the high school game and no effective method of dealing with hate. They channeled it into a long range plan, set in motion near the begining of this school year, to get revenge on the jocks and have the final say, so to speak.

    In every way, they thought of the whole matter as a war. They developed a fascination for war (WWII and in particular) and Hitler, and went around annoying people by marching around the school with precise 90 degree turns like soldiers.

    Here is where the part about DOOM comes in. They were so consumed by their big plan, that they played DOOM head to head over their modems for hours upon hours. This was not for fun or relaxation or to try to beat each other or any of the normal reasons a person would play DOOM. They took it seriously and considered it training. They also played paintball a lot, and for the same reason. The important thing to stress here is, that while those 1st person shooters may or may not contribute to this kind of thing, in this case the plan came first and the "training" second.

    All of this is kind of overwhelming when you are so close to it. Its kind of funny that, even after I knew that it had made world news and forced "Littleton, CO" into the same breath as the likes of "Jonesburo, AK", the thing that really drove it home for me was logging onto /. and user friendly for a bit of escape, and then seeing Iliad's message there and then later this (huge) thread on slashdot.

    If you've gotten this far, thanks for reading my thoughts and impressions on the matter, and I wish only the best of health and peace to all of you.
  • The traditional news media's market share is being clobbered by the personal computer and the internet. They are desperate to hold on to their ratings to keep the advertisers happy, so they are using their still considerable reach to go after all the things they feel threatened by. They are, in one fell swoop, going after all the weirdos: Goths, computer geeks, net nerds, and other assorted outcasts who don't fit profiles compiled by the ad men.

    I wouldn't be surprised if they next went after Apple for promoting non-conformity with their "Think Different" Campaign ("Here's to the crazy ones...the misfits; the rebels; the troublemakers; the round pegs in the square holes...").

  • You know I was at my library the other day. I cant belive we allow our children in that place! Books about guns, war, The Catcher in the Rye, Mein Kampf, even The Communist Manifesto!!

    As Americans we cant let our youth be corrupted by this kind of evil. Get out the matches it's book-burning time!

    (For the sarcasm impaired, It's important to note that the Internet is not the only source of information on the planet, just the most hyped. For every web site these killers visited I'm sure there's many more paper related publications in the Littleton Public Library)
  • by warwick ( 16544 ) on Thursday April 22, 1999 @06:29AM (#1921966) Homepage
    I was cynical at first. I read the stories in the paper, on the web, and watched on TV. I wondered aloud if the parents were a factor. Then I remember a link from Slashdot: an article about kids in Idaho written for Rolling Stone. I realized that people of all ages make decisions on their own. Sometimes these decisions are well reasoned and sometimes not, as evidenced by this week's tragedy.

    I talked to a friend of mine at lunch yesterday about Colorado and the killings. He and I agreed that the problem was communication. The kids (the shooters) had something to say and, they thought, no one to listen. How many times have you been hurt emotionally and felt "too whipped" to say anything to anyone. A friend or loved one says, "Hey, how are you doin'?"; is your standard reply "Fine" or are you willing to open up when you need to.

    The shooters expressed themselves in a way which they believed everyone would (finally) understand. Don't blame the internet or parents. Let's let them take some of the blame themselves. Ozzy Ozbourne, DOOM, computers, and Bill Clinton aren't to blame for your behavior. You are.
  • by kmj9907 ( 20499 )
    IMHO most americans aren't responsible enough to own cars, much less guns. If everyone in america had guns then every thursday two-thirds of the country would be in the hospital for shooting themselves (and family members) in the foot or worse.

    But guns are only part of the issue. Culture is the issue being discussed. I think culture is to blame, but not the "Goth, D&D, internet" culture. American culture. A culture which allows the popular to spit on the unpopular. Which creates outcasts. Which makes kids feel like they have no reason to care about the world around them. The internet, D&D, and Goth allow people to have friends who support them. Quite the opposite of what most articles are implying, this is healthy. It is healthy to know someone is there for you. But in a society where popular kids are encouraged to exclude others and make them feel like they don't belong or are worthless, it is inevitable that some will revolt against this in violent ways. Years of torture can twist your mind, and while you may have been a good kid 8 yrs ago, you can be perfectly evil now.


  • Great response. Knee jerk defences just don't have a place in dicussions of events like this.

    It is interesting that you bring up the goth element. In my younger years I certainly considered myself a goth and although aged almost 30 now, I still hang out in 'goth' clubs. There is a strong thread linking most people who are into the goth thing and you would be surprised at how many parallels there are to the video / fantasy / wargaming community.

    My experience of the goth scene is that ther are many people who are attracted to it through their day to day troubles and in finding people who share a slightly 'bleaker' outlook on life. When I was 16, I was surprised at how many of my friends were people who were victimised at school.

    However (and here's the kicker!) we were also all pretty well adjusted kids overall. Sure, there was a predisposal to listen to dark music, wear dark clothes, play Dungeons and Dragons and read 2000AD - but that was pretty much it. Personally, I do much the same today, except you can swap D&D for 'fiddle with Linux' and reading 2000AD for reading Slashdot.

    So, is there a point I'm making? Yup, I guess there is. Those kids grew up in a society bounded by community values on the one side and surrounded by death and criminal behaviour on the other. There have been maladjusted people at almost every point in our history as far as I can work out, nowadays though, the maladjusted have an extreme range of different views of the world they can choose from, plus access to some startling amounts of firepower. To put the blame on any one aspect of our society is useless. I could blame those kid's parents, or the jocks who bullied them in school, or the laws of America which made guns available to them, or their teachers for not noticing how marginalised these kids were. But I'm not a journalist :-)

    I would say that all these aspects, pushed the kids to rebel. Once you begin to rebel against your parents, teachers etc, then you tend to gravitate towards certain things - I'm sure that I would be playing Quake a hell of a lot if I were that age right now. What is missed though is that these kids took their rebelliousness to an extreme new level - but one that has precedents. When I was a kid in the 70's I remember the girl who when asked why she had come into school with a shotgun and gunned down her class replied "I don't like Mondays", inspiring The Boomtown Rats song. I bet you anything that she too felt ostracised, was bullied and felt like the world was not somewhere she belonged.

    OK, I'm gonna wrap this up, as typing something so long into a little textarea box is making me lose the thread of my argument.

    Basically I feel that Goth music, dark clothing, a predisposition towards guns and violence, extreme political viewpoints, obsessively playing Quake - these things are symptoms of deeper problems. In our society, we are all looking for a panacea, a quick explanation for the irrational. Unfortunately, there just isn't one. These kids were complicated machines and somewhere along the line, they got their programming mixed up.

  • ...Because it couldn't be that high school inherently alienates teenagers when they need the most nurturing, and it certainly couldn't be that maybe they had a lousy homelife and that's why they didn't know that mass murder is not the way to solve problems.

    I totally agree with your comment about school. I was verbally abused by my classmates for about two and a half years at school, for various reasons. My experiences of school lead me to believe that the only way to avoid such treatment is:

    • Be good at sport;
    • Follow the crowd like some kind of sheep;
    • Never, ever behave differently in any way from the popular kids.

    I heard news reports in which the reporters were saying things like "no-one has any idea why these kids did what they did". I have a suggestion. I suspect it's because they were psychologically unstable - for whatever reason - and years of verbal abuse at school pushed them over the edge.

  • by Zarniwoop ( 25791 ) on Thursday April 22, 1999 @12:32PM (#1922059)
    I guess I'm kinda at the epicenter of all of this. Last year I graduated from Chatfield, a school thats about ten miles away from Columbine- we were the school that was built after Columbine got too crowded back in '85. I go to church locally there. There were forty people in the youth group that went to Columbine. Today, we're short one. The girl that was praying in the library was my friend- they came in, held up a gun to her head and asked her if she believed in God. She said yes, and was shot. Murdered for her beliefs. One of the nicest people I've ever met.

    So people are throwing fingers in every which way, trying to find out what caused this. I don't know exactly what it was caused by, but I know that many of the things they point at are simply symptoms, not the problem itself. So the kids liked to dress darkly and write death poetry. Was this the cause? I doubt it. And to pointing at the jocks as the reason? Heh. I got teased as much as anyone while I was in school. That may have been a contributing factor, something that pushed them over the edge, but again I don't think it was the overlying cause.

    There are many factors to this. Everyone seems to be trying to find something to point the finger at. That ain't the way. This is much too complex to have just one single cause. I wish people would stop trying to classify people by group and start looking at them as people. Listen to 'Unity' by Op Ivy sometime. Thats what I'm talkin about. We are all different, but we are all the same.
  • by Quack1701 ( 26159 ) on Thursday April 22, 1999 @08:08AM (#1922063) Homepage
    Once again something bad has happened and the press is trying to blame everyone/everything except the killers themselves.

    At first I heard the attack was racially motivated. Give me a break, only one of their victims was a minority. That is unless you think student atheletes are a minority?

    Then they want to blame the internet, guns, porn, gothic clothing. It sounds to me like they are grasping at straws and attacking all the standard media scapegoats. Why can't they just report the kids where crazy. It was the kids fault. Maybe it was the parents fault. The police found bomb making supplies at the house of one of the kids. Either the kids were doing a good job of hiding this, or the parents where turning a blind eye to what was going on.

    I say it is finally time for us to accept there are bad apples out there. And when we find them we should punish/eraticate them. Sure, some (but by all means not most) of them may have turned bad because of the internet, or porn, or Doom, or something. However, these are activities that 99.999 percent of the people in the country can enjoy without going crazy so why punish the majority of the public for fear of "saving" one?

    The only good thing about this attack was the killers killed themselves. Sure, now we will never know why they did this. Who cares. We don't have to "protect" them for the next 20 years while we "enslave" them. We don't have to hear the arguments in 20 years that they have reformed and should be let go. We don't have to follow their media-frenzied trial for the next year. We don't have to pay for all this. Its over. The bad apples are gone. We can all go back to our glutenious lives of playing on the internet, watching porn, playing Doom, and cleaning our guns.

  • those wepaons listed aren't strange I wasn't raised in a large town here in the US so they never used guns either. I did see more than one 'beat down' by people with knives, baseball bats (spiked ones are nasty), & various other 'low tech' solutions to try to hurt/kill someone. It's just those types of crimes don't get the attention ones involving guns do.
  • I'd be far more worried about trained thugs with guns coming and shooting me in the head for my convictions than I'll ever be about nutcases who occasionally go off. Guns are evil, their sole use is the causation of death. But there is no way to un-invent the gun. It is here to stay and there will always be those who understand its power and who would seek to use it to enslave others. An armed citizen is the ultimate protection against tyrrany because as long as the common man can defend himself and his country, no domestic enemy can easily sieze power. We live in a very fragile democracy, one which is has decayed in many ways from the image envisioned by those who founded this country. The political process is mostly a sham. It matters little who you vote for because all of them to a greater or lesser degree are owned by those who paid to have them elected. But if the worst should ever happen and the government were to become an enemy of the people it was meant to serve, armed citizens will fight to protect their freedom and many will die for it. Political power doesn't come from the ballot box, it comes from the end of a gun.
  • While reading (skimming) this discussion, I was disappointed to find no references about the key issue here: morality. I assume that most people would agree with me: killing anybody in this way, no matter who you are or what cause you represent, is wrong. Even in our postmodern American society where violence is glorified in all forms (movies, television, games like Doom, etc.) there are laws which forbid murder with very few exceptions. However, our laws seem increasingly to be in direct conflict with those violent influences. Somewhere along the way, the perpetrators in Littleton stopped believing that murder is wrong and learned to see it as a viable solution to their problems.

    I have watched my brothers, my friends, and my husband play games like Quake and Doom for years now and while I dislike the games, I don't worry about violent repercussions in their lives because it hasn't seemed to jeopardize their moral character; their moral sense of right and wrong has remained stable. However, were they different men without a good sense of morality, I would be concerned.

    I grieve for the deaths of these children, as I do for children in Kosovo or Uganda or anywhere else in the world, and the only comfort I have is that each person will have to answer to God for what he or she has done. Without my belief in divine justice, the world would seem to be a hopeless place to live.
  • by superboy ( 32995 ) on Thursday April 22, 1999 @06:28AM (#1922133) Homepage

    While I don't doubt the ability of mass media to oversimplify any bad situation, I have noticed that many groups who feel they have been mentioned -- at least in passing -- after this tragedy are taking it as if they're the targets of some kind of blamefest.

    Example: Just last night I was mystified by someone very wound up about this subject. It turned out that, to my amazement, he felt that as a gay man who wears a trenchcoat a lot (bear with me here, this is a real example), the world was accusing him and his social group of this crime.

    Frankly, I haven't noticed any particular pattern to media descriptions except that they're flailing about trying to get a handle on these guys. Matt Drudge, of all people, had an article where he pointed out some dozen or so different attempts to categorize them (Marilyn Manson fans, Hitler enthusiasts, vampire game players, fingernail polish wearers, the works) and made a little light of the actual journalistic depth of these attempts. If internet chatheads (and I'm one, believe me) are one of these categorizations, I guess it's natural for us to jump a little when our turn comes up on the big random attempt-to-explain-it-all wheel, but my point is that being loudly offended and raising a new stink isn't going to help, and I hope we think twice before going down that road.

    In short (too late), no, I don't think that the Internet made these guys do this. Neither do you, I expect. Anyone who sits and thinks about it will realize that the major players here are someone who didn't bother or didn't succeed to instill a sense of morality -- or at least respect for life -- in these guys, and ultimately, beyond even that, responsibility falls on the shooters themselves. We all know it. I hope we all realize it. I suspect strongly that, like usual, after a couple of weeks we'll all get past the attempts to find some element of their lifestyles onto which to shift the blame.

  • Be careful what you swollow when dealing with news media of any sort -- they make their living by convincing folks to consume their product and thus reply on all the same bs tactics used by business in general. In short, they'll say and do just about anything to get you to consume their product and have very little regard for truth, honesty or any sort of ethics.

    Two wackos in Colorado go on a bang-binge and kill a bunch of people they don't like but, because they like to play Quake and they have web pages on AOL, the "internet" and violent computer games are a "contributing factor" in their decision to do shoot up their school.

    I'm convinced that reporters and commentators for news businesses are hired only after they've been verified as being logic-free morons who are quite ready to voice opinions in the absence of knowledge and facts so deadlines can be met, ratings can be acquired and advertising can be sold.

  • Computer games are not the problem.
    The problem is the social setting of high school. When I went to school, I was a nerd. I was, of course, tormented and teased, as no doubt all nerds are. I survived.
    I've been watching. In the decade or so since I graduated from high school, it seems that he division betweenthe nerds and the jocks, the ins and the outs, has gotten worse. A lot worse.
    More, since teachers tend to be afraid to interfere, the jocks get away with doing worse.
    "He was such a quiet kid..." goes the common refrain.
    Of course he was. That was how he survived in the jungle of high school. Maybe no one would notice he was intelligent if he kept his mouth shut.
    These kids, it seems, banded together to defend themselves. I suspect this only got them ostracized further -- after all, they were a 'gang'. As if high school football teams are often less than a gang...
    Folks, we've got a problem. We are driving our intelligent children out of society. Look at what we say -- "Intelligence is good!" -- and look at what we reward -- physical strength. Is it really any wonder that we hve kids going nuts when they have what we claim to value, and we punish them for it?
    We have a problem.
    I don't have a workable solution.
    Does anyone?
  • Come on guys, the internet has nothing to do with this. These are things (murder, sex, pornography, satanism, etc.) that have existed before the internet. The only thing that changes with the advent of the internet, is that these things are more accessible since you can search with the click of a button.

    If being exposed to these things can turn you into a violent axe- (or in this case gun-)murderer, there's something wrong with you in the first place. If you have been drowned in such excessive doses of violent TV/Internet images that you actually feel the urge to act these things out in real life, there's something wrong with your social surroundings ...

    I realize that our US friends (I live in Europe) treasure their right to carry arms, but the simple availablilty of these guns makes things like this much more easier to happen. I have always found the prevalence of guns in US society somewhat puzzeling (yes, I lived in the US for a few years and know what I'm talking about). Maybe if guns were not so easlily available, these things wouldn't happen so often ... then again, maybe these kids would have used knives or razor blades instead ...
  • We are genetically programmed and chemically driven to feed and to breed, beyond that the question arises as to why a mad, upright ape, living outside the laws of nature has gained to the position of representing the universe having become aware of it's existence. The miracle is that we don't kill ourselves off in greater numbers.

    No more than a thousand years ago, (the flicker of an eye lid in terms of the evolution of our species), the viking who would go on to to be the first european to land on North America impressed his gathered clan and made his attendant parents proud, when at the age of six, or thereabouts, he buried a war axe in the head of one of his playmates, killing the other child instantly. It seems the other child had beat him at a game and he didn't like that. This violent act by a child was noted in the Norse sagas and was said to presage great things for the boy. My point is that we are violent creatures by nature and the herculean effort we have made to lift ourselves free of gratuitous violence needs to be noted. Geeks, like me, consider how far we have come, how far we have to go, and how to get to where we're going. Don't let the bad press get you down, one of the reactions of all people when such things happen is to find someone or something convenient to blame and in doing so to distance themselves from having to ask what in their lives propagates such violenc.
  • This is what happens when you treat humans like animals. The cause of this is not video games, or guns, or the internet. The problem is sticking developing young in a cage together and encouraging them to abuse each other.

    This is not a crime perpetrated by abnormal people. These were very rational individuals who simply felt like they had nothing to live for. When people abuse you to the point where you hate yourself almost as much as you hate the abusers, the cultural values of kindness and care that we rely on to organize our society fail.

    The thing about them being geeks, is that they were successful. They committed themselves to a violent course of action, carefully prepared it, and flawlessly executed it.

    The only solution to this problem is to create a society where all people are accepted and diversity is encouraged. But of course the media and the government won't realize this. They're having a fun time blaming it on Hitler.
  • It's been interesting watching the media try to link this to the Internet. Even when there's no information, they seem to think these kids must have been "on the Internet". It has become a mandatory angle on every story about every delinquent in our society, even if it isn't relevant.

    These kids sound like they had relatively little to do with the 'net, yet everybody is looking for the connection. Matt Drudge fell for AOL hoaxes. CNN reported how you can learn to make a bomb on the 'net (then later explained how pipe bombs are made).

    After two days, all they've found is one personal web page of dubious origin. "How could this have been overlooked?" they ask. Well, pretty easily, as anybody who has ever published a personal page will tell you. It's the modern equivalent of putting posters on your dorm room door, except fewer people are likely to see it.

    That said, the 'net is a wonderful complement to real life, not a substitute for it. People whose social interactions consist primarily of online chats with strangers can easily lose touch with reality. Friendships that exist entirely on-line rarely have any depth. So, there's some value to keeping an eye on this angle, as more and more people fall off the edge of reality. But the lesson is not that the 'net is bad, it's that real-life human interaction is good.
  • Apology in advance: This is a) long, b) I can't spell worht a damn, so forgive me, and c) I am basing some items on being in the USA, so forgive me if I make certain assumptions on laws and customs that you might not be familiar with. Thanks!

    Well, now that we've debated up one end over the other about media, games, parents, cheerleaders who lead them on, teasing, and everything else, I'm going to make a try to see if I can figure out why, and what the solution is.

    You see, this is very important to me. My daughter was born April 1. I want to see her graduate from High School, go to college, and be happy and successful some day. I want to sit down at the table each night and hear about her day when she's going to school.

    I don't want to hear about how little Bobby shot up little Stevie because they didn't like each other.

    So, here's my own opinion:

    Why they did it:

    1. No emotional connection to other students
    I watched the news the morning after on the Today show, as they interviewed different teenagers about the killings. Almost all of them said "No, I really didn't know them. Well, I knew their name and face, but that was it." Only one student said "I was friends with one guy- and he told me to leave that morning. I left."

    These two teenagers had no reference to the other students. Forget the Neo-Nazi stuff or whatever- it wouldn't have mattered. They had no emotional connection to these kids.

    2. Parents didn't get a clue
    The day after, their was a web page viewed on the news that was suppose to have been made by one of the students. Now, maybe that's been debunked by now- if it has, let me know. But the web page was basically "We hate them all, we wish they would die."

    How the hell didn't the parents notice this? Or the pipe bombs in the basement, or at least the supplies to make them, or all of the ammo?

    3. Not just disconnected, but disliked
    An interview with a local student who had just moved from that area talked about how these two teenagers were into computers and, while he never used the word "geek", let's face it, they probably were. They lived in a culture that society rewards with money later in life, but punishes because they dare to be different in high school. Day after day, they probably heard the comments from other people, or perhaps just ignored.

    4. Faulty wiring.
    Something inside their heads just didn't connect right, and they decided that killing people was OK.

    All right. Now, the solutions. Again, these are just my opinions, so work with me here. If you have a better idea, let me know- I've got to find out before my daughter get's too old.

    1. Parental involvement.
    Above all else, I believe in my heart that this is the most important thing. I know, people say "Teenagers hide stuff, they don't tell parents anything". I know this- I was a teen, I certainly didn't tell my parents everything I did. But my mother at least made the effort. There always had to be a parent or adult at someplace I was going to- and let me tell you, it's hard to try and put the moves on a girl when Dad's in the other room. I had a curfew- perhaps too strict of one, but it was there. I plan on having one for my daughter, but I'll give her slack as long as she calls to tell me first.

    My father used to read my journal and my mail- jerk action for sure. I've sworn that I'll never do this to my child, and I mean it. But I will know what's she's doing. Who she hangs out with. If this means that I have to give up some of my time to come home some afternoon, make cookies or bring in video games for them to play (yes, those evil video games.) Check out where they go on the Internet, or their web page. Sure, they can make up something on geocities where you'll never find it. But make some sort of effort- odds are, you'll find out something before it gets to be a problem.

    2. Some gun control for teens.
    Before you get your panties in a not, just finish reading. Personally, I don't like guns. Too loud. But I have no problem with people who own them- I have a former co-worker who had a concealed weapons permit, and kept one in her purse. Great- I'm happy for her.

    But there's no need for teenagers to have a gun except for the a) firing range and b) hunting range. A fellow at my last job was taught by his father when he turned 11 how to handle a gun. The number one lesson? How to put it away, lock it up, and never ever use it except for where it is supposed to be used. He was told over and over again, no guns on people. Don't shoot the birds. Respect this- or else your privilage to use the gun will be taken away for a long time. He was taught to respect the power and responsibility that comes with it- and when to use it, and when not too.

    A law out in my place in the world came up about restricting concealed weapons in schools and churches, and was shot down. Seems that would infringe on little Johnny's rights to carry a rifle into school.

    Teens don't needs guns- if you can't drink alcohol until you're 21, smoke until you're 19, and drive until you're 16, there's no way I want to give you the power to kill somebody just because you're big enough to wrap your finger around the trigger.

    3. Death penalty for teens.
    Yes, I'm saying death penalty- or at least hard laws. I don't give a flying leap if you're just 16, 14, or even 11. You kill somebody, I want it plain and simple that you are going to the chair, and nobody can save you. I admit, this won't stop some kids, especially these two who committed suicide after their rampage. But you know what- I bet that if every teen knew that if they shot somebody and killed them, they would be guarenteed a trip down death row, shootings would slow down. If they knew that Amy would be in jail until she was 70 for shooting Carla, she might think twice about it. As it is, some laws have them until they turn 21, or even 18, clear their record, and send them back out. I'll be honest- kill them. First felony, some jail time and therapy. Second felony, some more jail time, better therapy, job training, and then move them far away from where they commit crimes so they don't keep going back to the "bad crowd". Third felony- kill them. They obviously can't learn, and are therefore genetically defective, and must be culled from the herd. And those who think that I would spare my own child- think twice. Looking into my heart, and honestly feel that if my daughter did these things, I would cry, I would wonder what I did wrong- and then I would tell the DA to send her to the chair, and then spend the rest of my life feeling terrible about it. But I'd do it for the rest of society.

    So, there's my rant, my opinions, and my views. Help me out- let's find a solution, write to our congresspeople, and fix these students. I figure I've got about 11 years to have this fixed before my daughter is old enough to worry about it, and want to get started now.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel