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Why Kids Kill 1087

Nightmarish high school massacres like the one in Littleton are now an almost ritualistic part of American life. And increasingly when they occur, journalists and educators blame new media like the Internet, computer games like Doom or violent movies. Why kids kill this way is an urgent and complicated question. But teenaged crime isn't rising, it's falling. And there's no evidence that the Net or other new media are the reason for massacres.

The images were familiar, yet surreal.

Media reports of books about "Doom," animated clips from the computer game, TV shots of websites with ugly images, ominous reports of heavy metal bands and film clips of "Natural Born Killers."

"What is known," said a CNN correspondent Wednesday night, "is that the members of the Trench Coat Mafia spent a lot of time playing computer games on the Internet." They had become obsessed with online killing, reported another TV reporter. They had delved into militia and hate-group websites, some papers said.

The fallout was, as always, nearly instantaneous.

In Vancouver, Washington, e-mailed Enzo Falzon, high school students were pulled aside as they came through the front door and told they weren't allowed to wear trenchcoats. In a Philadelphia suburb, e-mailed Tim, (who asked that his last name remain anonymous), kids who play Doom were offered counseling. In Maine, e-mailed Vektor, who's 14, his parents made him open his private computer files so they could look through and make sure he wasn't doing anything "anti-social."

By now, this schoolyard nightmare is as ritualistic as it is horrific.

We see televised scenes of kids running and sobbing, of SWAT teams creeping through schools and bloodied bodies carted out - followed by dark reports about hate on the Net, violence on TV and in movies. Everyone seems bewildered, uncomprehending.

Almost always, we are as confused as we are horrified, since young killers take their own lives or offer no coherent explanation, leaving us with questions but not answers. Since there are rarely trials, there is rarely any resolution, any understanding.

In June of l988, writing for Hotwired, I wrote a column called "Why Kids Kill" after Kipland Kinkel of Springfield, Oregon, killed four people, including his parents, and wounded 22 more.

Not much has changed a year later, especially when it comes to knee-jerk, ignorant stereotypes from the media and from educators about kids, the Net, geeks and the violence allegedly inspired by the digital screen culture.

Federal agencies and academics studying this kind of episodic, uniquely American massacre, find little of any, connection between murders and media, digital or otherwise.

Kids being warned and counseled by fearful administrators and teachers ought to know that overall, teenage violence is way down in America, at its lowest levels since the Depression. In supposedly media-saturated, violent urban areas like New York City, Chicago and LA, schoolyard massacres are unknown. Nor has one ever occurred in Canada, even though Canadian kids watch almost the same media as American kids, and use the Net in even greater numbers.

What do we know about these horrible eruptions? Almost all of the killers have been white, teenaged males who are emotionally disturbed. Almost all lived in suburban or rural areas, the children of working or middle-class families. They've been generally described as well-parented.

And in almost single case, nobody really knows why they did what they did. They suffered various forms of social cruelty and exclusion, as so many of their peers also have, and they got their hands on especially lethal weaponry, particularly guns. Almost always, their friends and classmates and teachers are stunned and disbelieving. Some of the shooters have been avid media and computer users. Others weren't.

According to federal statistics, no school shootings occurred in l994; in l997, there were four incidents. In l998, apart from the Springfield killings, an 11-year-old-old boy and his 13-year-old friend were charged with killing four students and a teacher and wounding 10 others in Jonesboro, Arkansas. A high-school senior shot and killed a student in a parking lot in Fayetteville, Tennessee. In Edinboro, Pennsylvania, a 14-year-old boy was accused of killing a teacher and wounding two students and another teacher at an eighth grade graduation. Two days later, a 15-year-old girl was shot in the leg in suburban Houston high-school classroom. In Washington, a 15-year-old boy got off his school bus carrying a gun, then went home and shot himself in the head. Now there is Littleton, Colorado, 1999's first school massacre, with at least fifteen dead.

Although experts, therapists and sociologists have crammed TV talk shows to offer various theories about the contagion of teenage violence, it is clear that no one yet understands why these incidents occur. Sociologists like Elaine Showalter of Princeton have written about media hysterias, contagions transmitted by the speed and power of media imagery in stories about the killings themselves. Some psychologists believe that when disturbed kids see the massive amount of media attention these shootings get, they begin fantasizing about this kind of attention being focused on their own, often unhappy, lives.

Other experts blame the availability of guns. Obviously, the ready availability of lethal weapons is significant in this kind of violence, but crime among teenagers has been plummeting for years now, even as the number of guns in the United States has risen.

And persistent efforts by journalists to link the massacres to hate-sites on the Net or to games like "Doom" and, before that, to "Dungeons & Dragons" don't hold up either. There are no consistent patterns of media behavior to link these killers, no single trait of movie-going, gaming or Net use.

Tens of millions of kids all over the world play computer games. The biggest users of new media recreational technologies are middle-class kids, since they have the money to afford the technology. Yet violence among this group, never very high, again has been plummeting even as online use has mushroomed.

Yet despite the confusion about the cause of these killings, all across America, newspapers and TV stations are warning parents about computer games, suggesting that their sons and daughters might be secretly turning into potential mass murderers online.

This is willful ignorance. There's no mystery about the greatest dangers to children. Every day, writes Don Tapscott in Growing Up Digital, three children in the United States are murdered or die as a result of injuries inflicted by their parents or caretakers. Of the annual three million reported cases of child abuse, 127,000 cases involve child abandonment. Each year, and throughout the 90's, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports only a handful of child abuse cases related to the Internet. Of the 23 cases tracked from March 1996, to March, l997, 10 involved the transfer of pornography, an adult soliciting sexual favors from minors, or sexual contact initiated over the Net. Of the remaining 13 cases, two involved police officers posing as children, and in two others the girls had previous histories as runaways. Nine others involved children over age 16 running away from home, allegedly to meet online acquaintances.

What these statistics indicate, Tapscott says, is that "children are 300,000 times more likely to be abused by their own relatives than by someone they have met over the Internet."

As horrific as massacres like Littleton are, they are also extraordinarily rare. Statistically, children are more likely to have an airplane fall out of the sky and kill them than they are to be shot in school, despite the staggering amount of media coverage.

Sissella Bok of Harvard, whose book Mayhem examined the effects of violence in media, writes that young people's lives are saturated with graphic violence in a way that's different and more dangerous than in previous generations.

"We have movie role models showing violence as fun, and video games where you kill, and get rewarded for killing, for hours and hours." It is, she wrote, a "very combustible mix, enraged young people with access to semiautomatic weapons, exposed to violence as entertainment, violence shown as exciting and thrilling."

There's no question that violent imagery is ubiquitous in screen culture, from gaming to TV. But these comparisons seem facile and unknowing. Gaming is intensely creative, in some contexts - Quake 3, Unreal, Ultima - almost approaching a new art form. The animation is rich and multi-dimensional, and violence is stylized, often presented more as a strategic challenge like chess than anything truly brutal or graphically violent. If the stylization of violence is a problem, it doesn't show up anywhere in crime or violence statistics involving computer users.

If Bok is right, it would. Why would there be a decline in youth violence even as "violent imagery" in the media has indeed increased, along with Web use, cable's share of audience, rap and hip-hop (also supposed to be inducing the young to violence), and movie attendance?

More relevant questions might be: Why are so many of these killers male and middle-class, rather than the poor or the underclass? Why do these assaults occur almost exclusively in rural or suburban areas? Why are these kids able to hide even severe emotional disturbance from the people closest to them?

Perhaps the most shocking thing about massacres like Littleton is that, for all of the massive amounts of coverage brought to bear on them, there really isn't anything approaching a consensus about why they occur. Since educators and authorities don't know what to do, what they tend to do is dumb.

Since the kids they're supposed to be protecting know quite well that wearing trench coats, going online or watching movies isn't dangerous in and of itself, mostly what educators and journalists end up demonstrating to kids is that they're clueless.

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Why Kids Kill

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Perhaps the most shocking thing about massacres like Littleton is that, for all of the massive amounts of coverage brought to bear on them, there really isn't anything approaching a consensus about why they occur.

    This also sadly illustrates one of the hardest things about being a journalist during such an event: they HAVE to prepare a story, but there is no way any real information is going to come out after only 48 hours and the officials investigating can only give out so much information.

    What we get are "educated guesses" and "it's obvious that..." and other pseudo-authoritative bull -- not real news.

    Not to take the subject lightly, but if I recall correctly, in the 1980's we had post offices being shooting galleries by disgruntled employees, in the 1990's we are seeing schools becoming ground zero by disturbed students. In the 2000's, why not make it more convenient by having disgruntled news reporters turn their television studios into bloody war zones (look... we're LIVE!).

    Don't get me wrong; I feel bad for the friends and relatives of the victims of this recent event -- those that were shot, and those that were terrorized while it was happening, and as a parent, I would myself be traumatized if it happened to my children. But I do take offense to the media feeding frenzy that is going on in Colorado (interesting side light: less news about Jon Bonet).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    First off, I am appalled to hear that the one 14yr old parents forced their child to show them personal information. No wonder kids hide things so well from everyone if they are forced like this to show things.

    Second, gun control in the US *doesn't work*. Those kids having guns was *illegal* already. They were illegal guns, they didn't go and try to buy them at the local gun shop. Maybe if the government actually enforced a few of their laws these types of things would be problems. Why is drug use and gun violence so prevelant in the US? Because the goverment isn't doing anything about it. They simply aren't enforcing the laws.

    Third, I honestly don't believe that computers or TV or trenchcoats cause any of this. Maybe they contribute (all but the trenchcoats ;-) but they didn't cause. Those kids were obviously emotianlly disturbed and had psychological problems. While we're at it, since games are bad, and tv is bad, and the Internet is absolutely evil, why don't we ban some books again? A Catcher in the Rye. Get rid of that, oh wow, can't have kids reading this kind of stuff! Why don't we also get rid of most of the other high school cirruculum books too? Romeo and Juliet? Promotes suicide. This is such an old and pointless argument. The fact is, the US government, and so many people in power, evidentily, are too lazy to do anything about the real problems.

    Perhaps these kids were disturbed to begin with. Or perhaps, like so many other kids, they were routinely picked on, abused, and violated at school. Maybe the "jocks" were beating the hell out of them, stealing their things, and humiliating them on a daily basis. And just perhaps, the teachers/administrators, didn't do anything about it. Just like everywhere else. Can't have the star quarterback suspended, you know. Oh, he couldn't do anything wrong, you must have provoked him.

    Is it such a surprise that kids subjected to this snap? Emotional problems + physical and mental abuse = psychological instability?

    Eliminate the problem, stop the result. This was a terrible thing, but it will happen again if you don't get rid of the actual cause. (hHnt: it isn't the Internet or trenchcoats)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    > The biggest reason for this tragedy are the gun laws.

    I knew this would come up soon. Let's see... item number... three. That
    didn't take long.

    First let us dispel some myths.

    Even with higher-calibre handguns, mortality from gunshot wounds is
    surprisingly low. Last I looked, I believe the number is something like less
    than 25% of all shootings. *All* shootings. Including shootings by trained
    law-enforcement officers. A handgun is simply a very in-effective "assault
    weapon." Handguns are *defensive* weapons in nature.

    Next: those "children" shouldn't have had access to firearms of *any* kind
    without adult supervision. *Including* long guns. (Rifles, shotguns.) As a
    matter-of-fact, it is against the law in most (all?) states for minors to
    carry a handgun except for hunting or target shooting purposes. And then
    only under adult supervision. The law already covered them.

    You'd ban handguns (which are notoriously ineffective as assault weapons),
    but you'd allow the continued availability of rifles and shotguns, would
    you? Do you have any idea whatsoever of how easy it is to convert a rifle to
    a pistol-like form-factor? Got a hacksaw? Do you know that home-defense
    experts recommend that even those experienced with handguns are better-off
    with a shotgun for home defense than a handgun? Yep. And part of the reason
    is because they are so much more effective in a close-range, combat
    situation. Try this: find a friend that has both handguns and a shotgun,
    take some cardboard out someplace safe (and *legal*!) to do this, and shoot a
    large-bore handgun round through the cardboard, then a load of double-ought
    buck. (And let's not hear any arguments about "expanding" handgun rounds.
    Such expansion is quite unreliable.) After you've done the experiment, get
    back to us and let us know which weapon *you* would rather face.

    Then there's the fallacy underlying your "ban the handguns but long guns are
    okay" proposal. It's the same argument that the anti-gun types in the U.K.
    used. But once handguns were eliminated as a "threat", then rifles were "the
    problem." And once rifles were "taken care of", then the shotguns were
    likewise restricted. Our British cousins have neatly slid all the way down
    that "mythical" slippery slope to complete disarmament of the population.

    Imagine that.

    Even valued, and *valuable*, old collectors items were forced to be rendered
    inoperable. Never mind that doing so completely destroyed their value as
    collectors items. And never mind the loss in investment that their owners
    were forced to endure.

    Now on the the supposed effect of the availability of firearms, of any type,
    on a situation like Columbine.

    You didn't happen to notice, did you, that *bombs* were prominently mentioned
    in (nearly?) every news story about that tragedy, did you? You didn't happen
    to notice that preliminary reports indicated the likelihood that many of the
    injuries and deaths may have resulted from *shrapnel* wounds, did you? If
    not, now you know.

    And did you happen to catch those items about the *propane* bombs? Do you
    have any idea whatsoever the damage, both in terms of property and human
    misery, of which such a device is capable? Here's a hint: many years ago,
    while I was in Europe, a propane tanker exploded off the coast of Spain (as I
    recall). Quite some ways off the coast. I will never forget for the rest of
    my life the pictures in the papers of people burned beyond recognition,
    literally welded to the beach chairs they had been sitting in, with the ashen
    remains of books or whatever they might have been reading at the time still
    between what was left of their hands. It was a disaster of horrific
    proportions. They never knew what hit them.

    The amount of stored energy in even a small tank of propane is tremendous.

    This is why restrictions on firearms, ammunition, fertilizer, manure (yes,
    this has been discussed) are a complete waste of time. Are you going to also
    restrict the sale of, or register, gasoline? Propane? LNG? And the
    hundreds of other chemicals which, alone or in combination with others, are
    capable of inflicting horrendous damage?

    It's long past time that the American public became educated about these
    issues and the left-wing liberal gun-grabbers stopped lying to them. Then
    maybe we can open an honest dialog that may actually lead to a solution that
    has a chance of ending the carnage.

    I Am,
    Jim Seymour
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "More relevant questions might be: Why are so many of these killers male and middle-class, rather than the poor or the underclass? Why do these assaults occur almost exclusively in rural or suburban areas? Why are these kids able to hide even severe emotional disturbance from the people closest to them? "

    I think those words should bring some insight to the problem. The media will make an obvious connection to Video Games and the Internet, but those reasons alone don't cause people to massacre their peers.

    There was genuine hate that ran through the minds of the gunmen. They intentionally targeted Jocks for what reason? Do we think it is because they were Jock-haters? If they were violence crazy, why didn't they go to a shopping mall where the killing would have been easier, or a grocery store, why their school?

    The truth is, there has to be a story behind it. From what I saw on CNN last night, the gunmen were abused mentally and physically while at school. They were outcasts, they were pushed around - and nobody stood to help them. These kids were pushed to far, and that is the bulk of the reason it happened.

    I pose one question - why do we not here about things like this in Asia or Europe, why here in the US? I contribute the rise of cliques and the concept of being "the most cool guy in school" as primary problem. To my knowledge, this does not happen in Europe. People are not picked on because they don't fit in (please stand and correct me if I am wrong anybody...I'm generalizing very large). You have to fit in, you have to become one of them. Its childish that we seperate ourselves onto those levels.

    When I was in high school (in a middle size town of middle class too), it was how nice a car you had. Its true, if you didn't have a SUV or a BMW, then you couldn't be in the "popular" clique. Though I didn't follow this concept, and perhaps a few people branded me as an outcast, little did I care what they thought.

    But that is my mentality. There is was so much pressure to be this popular hero, and that is most certainly what happened in Littleton - and the gunmen snapped. They didn't fit in, they were picked on, and they thought they were doing the only thing they could to extract revenge on their entire school.

    What they did was certainly wrong. But at the same time, those who provoked these students must carry some of burden of the massacre - it is their fault too. When you go as low as physically abusing somebody because they don't fit in - to me there are few things lower than that.

    Sadly, I don't see an end to the problem I have vaguely described. So what can we do about it? I don't have answers, just more questions.


  • This is without a doubt the best writing I
    have seen on the subject since it happened, although many of the /. posts on the subject a couple of days ago were great too. I disagree with Katz on one point, however. [Which is okay because one of the points of being American is that we usually find ways to disagree, although we usually lack the wit of the Irish or Brits in doing so.] Even disagreeing doesn't diminish how I felt in reading this article.

    Here's my critical disagreement which other posters have noted as well:

    1. "They've been generally described as well-parented." Excuse me, but I don't think so!
    While a certain amount of freedom is important during the teenage years, if parent's aren't involved in demonstrable understanding of their child's state of mind, then in my book, the child isn't "well parented."

    An example. In Jr. and Sr. high school (middle '70's) I saw severely emotionally disturbed kids, often with the same "kill all ..... {insert group of choice at the time anti-Negro, anti-Semitic, anti-jock}, anti-anybody different" mentality we're talking about here. Continuing the story, just about three years later, one of my sister (4 years younger, same school) had a classmate involved in the same type of group walk up and shoot a teacher and a student, killing both. I remember thinking at the time [in both situations involving my own maladjusted classmates, and my sisters]"how come the adults in these kids lives i.e. parents and teachers don't get involved enough to show them a better way?" Perhaps it was a misguided thought, but weren't the adults were supposed to be doing because it was not only the right thing, but because that's what they were being paid to do?

    It didn't occur to me until late in my 20s, that although I had relatively good parents, neither of them ever lifted a finger or said a word to me about how I was feeling, etc. A good deal of the time the answer would have been "absolutely horrible. I don't know how to connect and be involved with people." [Similar to thoughts Jon expressed in his "Running to the Mountain" book, by the way.] Secondarily, I might have asked them how I could have befriend these outcasts, because I knew exactly how they angry and alone they felt. Perhaps the one difference was that I just didn't want other people to have to feel the same way I did, so in my own awkward ways I reached out, and if nothing else, had friends because I worked so hard to be a friend.

    Now that I'm a parent, this kind of involvement has become my primary definition of "good parenting." My kids can think anything they want about their fuddy duddy daddy, but at least they know that I notice how they feel, and am willing to do something to help - even without the right answers all the time.

    Just being there willing to listen is 1/2 of the answer most kids need anyway, don't you think?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Do you honestly believe these kids
    would have killed *13* people without
    the use of guns?

    No. They would have likely eventually
    grown out of whatever adolescent "phase"
    they were going through, and carried on
    with their lives.

    They might have gotten into some trouble
    with whatever violent tendencies plaguing
    them, but they would simply not have killed
    13 people.

    Yes, people kill, not guns, but guns make
    it *very easy* to kill LOTS of people for
    those inclined.

    (just look at the NRA scaling back their
    little meeting coming up in Denver. *They*
    know what the story is...)
  • I am leaving South Africa. My home and my friends are here, but I am terrified. I know I shall be in trouble for saying so, because I am the widow of Alan Paton.

    Fifty years ago he wrote Cry, The Beloved Country. He was an unknown schoolmaster and it was his first book, but it became a bestseller overnight. It was eventually translated into more than 20 languages and became a set book in schools all over the world. It has sold more than 15 million copies and still sells 100,000 copies a year.

    As a result of the startling success of this book, my husband became famous for his impassioned speeches and writings, which brought to the notice of the world the suffering of the black man under apartheid.

    He campaigned for Nelson Mandela's release from prison and he worked all his life for black majority rule. He was incredibly hopeful about the new South Africa that would follow the end of apartheid, but he died in 1988, aged 85. I was so sorry he did not witness the euphoria and love at the time of the election in 1994.

    But I am glad he is not alive now. He would have been so distressed to see what has happened to his beloved country. I love this country with a passion, but I cannot live here any more. I can no longer live slung about with panic buttons and gear locks. I am tired of driving with my car windows closed and the doors locked, tired of being afraid of stopping at red lights. I am tired of being constantly on the alert, having that sudden frisson of fear at the sight of a shadow by the gate, of a group of youths approaching - although nine times out of 10 they are innocent of harmful intent. Such is the suspicion that dogs us all.

    Among my friends and the friends of my friends, I know of nine people who have been murdered in the past four years. An old friend, an elderly lady, was raped and murdered by someone who broke into her home for no reason at all; another was shot at a garage. We have a saying, "Don't fire the gardener", because of the belief that it is so often an inside job - the gardener who comes back and does you in.

    All this may sound like paranoia, but it is not without reason. I have been hijacked, mugged and terrorised. A few years ago my car was taken from me at gunpoint. I was forced into the passenger seat. I sat there frozen. But just as one man jumped into the back and the other fumbled with the starter I opened the door and ran away. To this day I do not know how I did this. But I got away, still clutching my handbag.

    On May 1 last year I was mugged in my home at three in the afternoon. I used to live in a community of big houses with big grounds in the countryside. It's still beautiful and green, but the big houses have been knocked down and people have moved into fenced complexes like the one in which I now live. Mine is in the suburbs of Durban, but they're springing up everywhere.

    That afternoon I came home and omitted to close the security door. I went upstairs to lie down. After a while I thought I'd heard a noise, perhaps a bird or something. Without a qualm I got up and went to the landing; outside was a man. I screamed and two other men appeared. I was seized by the throat and almost throttled; I could feel myself losing consciousness.

    My mouth was bound with Sellotape and I was threatened with my own knife (Girl Guide issue from long ago) and told: "If you make a sound, you die." My hands were tied tightly behind my back and I was thrown into the guest room and the door was shut.ß They took all the electronic equipment they could find, except the computer. They also, of course, took the car.

    A few weeks later my new car was locked up in my fenced carport when I was woken by its alarm in the early hours of the morning. The thieves had removed the radio, having cut through the padlocks in order to bypass the electric control on the gates. The last straw came a few weeks ago, shortly before my 71st birthday. I returned home in the middle of the afternoon and walked into my sitting room. Outside the window two men were breaking in. I retreated to the hall and pressed the panic alarm.

    This time I had shut the front door on entering. By now I had become more cautious. Yet one of the men ran around the house, jumped over the fence and tried to batter down the front door. Meanwhile, his accomplice was breaking my sitting- room window with a hammer.

    This took place while the sirens were shrieking, which was the frightening part. They kept coming, in broad daylight, while the alarm was going. They knew that there had to be a time lag of a few minutes before help arrived - enough time to dash off with the television and video recorder.

    In fact, the front-door assailant was caught and taken off to the cells.ß Recently I telephoned to ask the magistrate when I would be called as a witness. She told me she had let him off for lack of evidence. She said that banging on my door was not an offence, and how could I prove that his intent was hostile?

    I have been careless in the past - razor wire and electric gates give one a feeling of security. Or at least, they did. But I am careless no longer. No fence - be it electric or not no wall, no razor wire is really a deterrent to the determined intruder. Now my alarm is on all the time and my panic button hung round my neck. While some people say I have been unlucky, others say: "You are lucky not to have been raped or murdered." What kind of a society is this where one is considered "lucky" not to have been raped or murdered - yet?

    A character in Cry, The Beloved Country says: "I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving they will find we are turned to hating." And so it has come to pass. There is now more racial tension in this country than I have ever known. And it is black-on-white crime. The blacks are like rabid animals. So you see it an incurable problem and one that is not unique to America or South Africa, but to all places where blacks and whites are forced to mingle against their wills.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Newspapers, television, and other "news" outlets report on the growing need for increased security in schools, tougher gun control, and the banning of trench coats!

    Regardless of how "well parented" the shooters at Littleton were supposed to be, their parents should be brought up on charges of neglect and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. You can't tell me a "good" parent wouldn't notice antisocial behavior and lowered self image from constantly being picked on at school. And work to make home the haven from the brutes (even home school!).

    From Rob's polls, it's obvious that most readers of slashdot are students. Making the assumption that most students have yet to start a family - let me impart a piece of advice:

    If you have kids, make sure you have the ability for at least one parent to be at home with them while they grow up.

    Before you go off on a "he or she is a sexist" diatribe - I'm not advocating Mom stay home - I'm advocating either Mom or Dad stay home.

    Do us all a favor; if you and your spouse think your careers are important, and neither can give them up for kids - don't have any! Yeah, you may not be able to buy a new Lexus every year, but if that's your priority, you shouldn't be polluting the gene pool with you family tree, anyway.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The reason why "no one" seems to know why the kids kill is because the real reason is extremely politically incorrect. There are very good reasons why the killers have been white and middle-class. Here it is:

    We'll look first at these kids' parents. The kids appear to have been parented well, taught about right and wrong, and such. But these parents have a neurotic need to have a "normal whitebread family" like those 50's TV shows. These parents are your stereotypical "good parents". However, when their young child first go against their parents' neurosis, perhaps refusing to go along on a "family outing", the parent has to coerce the child into going along, because they can't bear to go against their neurosis. The parents beg and threaten, and the child goes along. After this happens several times, the child gets a quite distinct awareness of their parents' neurosis.

    Fast forward to the beginning of kindergarten. The child is now thoroughly anti-authoritarian, and often refuses to obey the teachers. They may be classified as "difficult". They also have a compelling need to "fit in", instilled by their parents. However, they will fail at becoming socialized, because their need to fit in is so great that they will take everything too seriously, as their parents do. After a year of this, become your stereotypical "misfit".

    Now fast forward to high school. Puberty has hit, and the parents now, consciously or unconsciously, stifle their child's sex drive. After all, sex is never discussed in a "normal family", right? The child is now old enough to talk rationally about philosophy and religion, which unnerves the parents to no end. It's not "normal", is it? If the parents are religious, the child would have rejected their religion by now. The child probably is chronically depressed, but the parents will not even consider that the child might be. "Normal" kids aren't depressed, are they?

    At school, they have stopped trying to fit in. Maybe they wear black clothes and listen to "anti-social" music. Maybe not. But the "popular" students tease them unmercifully. Virtually everyone teases them. They may get into fights.

    No human being can take that kind of stress for very long. They have to get rid of that stress somehow. They reason with their parents and with their classmates. They try everything else first. But remember, they are minors. They cannot go live on their own. They are coerced into going to school, and their parents refuse to homeschool them. So what happens when that stress, which has no means of release, gets high enough to override their prohibition against killing?

    After the shooting, the parents will never know what went wrong. Their illusion was total.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 23, 1999 @10:25AM (#1919392)
    Why is it that during the eighties the shootings occuring in Inner city schools was ignored, almost expected? Now, that violence is gaining momentem in Suburban communities we have a sudden convergence of media technology on it.

    Teen violence is not caused by games or media or artwork or books. The root of Teen violence is a deep seated need to lash out to defend themselves against what they feel is a personal assault. These kids don't have the self esteem to accept themselves as they are. Instead, they lash out.

    I've lived in the Atlanta area for the last 7 years, and year after year I see good middle and upper middle class kids getting hooked on drugs. Why? Their parents aren't engaged in their lives. They don't take the time to concern themselves with the need kids have to feel bonded to something permanent. They don't give kids the feelings of safety they crave so much.

    The result, we are raising a generation of children who are trying to escape the "prison" they live in. They want to have fun, because mom and dad are boring. Well guess what Mom & Dad, get off your butts and take the kids camping. Spend time with them every day. Take an interest in what they do. Demand their time. They'll get used to it, they'll eventually appreciate the time they get from you. Above all, realize that if you kid delves into drugs or hangs with a bad element, it's YOUR responsibility to do something about it. It's YOUR FAULT if you don't and something untoward happens.

    (This comment was written by a single parent of 5 years.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 23, 1999 @10:34AM (#1919393)
    Yes, a gun is just a tool. It is a tool that can be used to kill people. If there were no guns, there would be no shooting deaths.

    Look at car accidents. If we banned cars, no-one would be killed in a car accident.

    The reason that nobody suggests a ban on automobiles, is that they serve a useful purpose. Our society has come in many ways to depend on them, and though there is inherently some level of danger associated with them, society as a whole seems willing to accept that danger in return for the benefits we derive.

    The situation with guns is very different. Society does not gain very much by having guns in all its citizen's hands. Guns are something that we could remove from the posession of private citizens without losing too much (yes, we lose some freedom.. but even preventing wanton murder is curtailing someone's freedom. It's not a black and white issue.. grow up.)

    So the conclusion? Guns kill people. Cars kill people. Airplanes and lawnmowers and knives kill people. Guns we can do without. These other things we cannot without losing a lot. So get rid of guns..
  • You obviously stepped on this guys sensibilities -- I can kind or relate to your point of view though. My parents intrusion into my personal life incensed me; Never to physical violence, but deffinitely harsh words. Our relationship really improved when I moved out and started going to college.
  • Nor has one ever occurred in Canada, even though Canadian kids watch almost the same media as American kids, and use the Net in even greater numbers.
    A schoolyard massacre did happen in Canada: the "Montreal Massacre" took the lives of 14 students, all women (though there was no references at the time to the Internet). Here's a link [].
  • the only two things (according to the news) that makes kids killall are KMFDM and Doom. But in seriousness, its not the kids fault. It is the fault of the United States of America. what a hate filled coutry... and a damn stupid horny president who will bomb what ever the hell he feels like. thats not right.. People should not have the right to carry guns for reasons other than hunting or sport or collections.

    The United States of America will blow its self up

    something like this would never happen in Canada, which is a much more sane country

  • Why the heck is everyone mentioning "DOOM"? The least they could do is go up the notch to Quake or Duke Nukem 3D.

    Anyway, my opinion is that these guys were basically bored. They had some "spare cycles" in their heads, and ended up filling them with ideas about guns, bombs, and death. It's really not all that uncommon -- I know a lot of people that like guns, fire and explosions (dunno about death, tho). Guns are exciting. So is fire. So is destruction. That is why Quake sells.

    The thing is that these guys crossed the line from mere idea to pure reality. It would be very difficult to know exactly what caused them to do that. Maybe drugs, maybe something else..
  • Wasn't it about two years ago when a man walked into an elementary school and killed several teachers?

    Besides, when people don't have access to guns, they come up with different ways of killing. There have been plenty of bombs set off by the IRA in the UK..
  • I totally disagree. Parents should be there for their kids, yes, but that does not mean that the parents must give up their lives to their children. Both of my parents work, and I never felt like they didn't have enough time for me. I know plenty of much worse-adjusted children with stay-at-home parents who feel trapped by their parent's constant supervision.

    More to the point, it is totally self-rightous to claim that parents that work are doing it only to "buy a new Lexus every year." Maybe the parents both work so that they can give their kids braces when their teeth are crooked, and health care when they get sick, or to put them through college at a good school. Maybe the parent is just doing it because they like the challenge of having a job. I really don't see why working and having children must be mutually exclusive, and I'm so sick of hearing it, because it is obviously not true. Parents have responsibilities to their children, but having children does not mean that one person in the household must give up everything for them.
    As for the parents of these kids, I feel sympathy for them. I kinda doubt that they were the ones that drove these kids to doing what they did, and I'm sure that this has been a devastating event in their lives. Perhaps they DIDN'T do anything wrong. We certainly don't know that they did. Until I hear otherwise I am going to sympathize with, not blame, the parents, for I'm sure that they are having a terrible time of all of this mess.

  • However, the guns are what killed the people. The bombs produced a significant number of the injuries (shrapnel wounds mostly), but nearly all (all?) the fatalities were from gunshot wounds.

    Disclaimer: I'm not necessarily in favor of banning guns - just clarifying things.
  • In the overall scheme of things, why are we spending so much time and effort trying to understand and/or do something about school shootings? I have a better chance of being killed on the road driving to school than of being killed at school, yet the media never has prime-time in-depth coverage when kids are killed while driving to school.

    What about 2 million+ people that died in Rwanda? There was relatively little (compared to this) media coverage of that incident. Is this media racism (Rwandans are not white), or is it apathy towards anything that doesn't happen in the United States?

    What about the hundreds of kids killed in inner-cities? Is it racism again, since most of them are black, that nobody cares about them? Or is it because they live in poverty, while this was in a wealthy suburb, that makes it more important?

    Basically, I want to know why these 15 deaths are given proportionally so much more attention than any other group of 15 deaths in the United States or anywhere else in the world.

    Disclaimer: I am not trying to be callous saying "i don't care that these 15 kids died," I'm just wondering why we care that these 15 kids died but we don't care that hundreds of thousands of kids die in other places?
  • Ok, I'll rephrase then:
    The fact that the kids were in possession of firearms directly led to the killings.

    I suppose I should've said the bullets are what actually killed them, since the gun merely fired the bullets.
  • That's the distinction I don't get. I can see its interest for psychologists, but why does it really matter to the rest of us? The people are still dead, regarless of whether it was a fellow student or an outsider who killed them.

    The hundreds of kids killed while driving to/from school every year are also dead, but nobody pays nearly as much attention to them.
  • Sounds like a good idea to me. Much better than banning trenchcoats or Marilyn Manson anyway.

    However, can it continue past the media spotlight? Will the school continue doing these things? More importantly, will these cliques continue trying to understand each other after the initial shock of the event has faded, or will they go back to being intolerant of each other?
  • Well, several gun manufacturers are being sued by some cities claiming their weapons are responsible for the cities' murders. That's somewhat like weapons being put on trial.
  • Posted by MurphAndTheMagicTones:

    Fully automatic weapons were outlawed back in 1986 or 1988

    Maybe where you live, but not in the U.S. The BATF requires a background check, fingerprinting and a huge amount of cash. You then have a class III permit to own a full auto.

    You can pick up a MAC-10, or an old full auto Uzi no problem.

    I take you are speaking from experience. Please recount your story of how you were able to get one (and keep it without getting snagged by the cops).
  • Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangster Of Love:

    >>Are you part of a well-regulated militia?

    If he's between the ages of 18 and 45, and is a law abiding citizen, then yes. We are all the militia here. Not only is it our right, but is our duty.

    Here in the US every male is REQUIRED to register with the government so that we can be drafted into the military. Why? Because as the militia it's our duty.

  • Posted by Stephen "The Carp" Carpenter:

    you mean like "A gun in the home is X times
    more likelyto be used on a fammily member than
    on an intruder"

    Where "used" only counts shootings...and
    suicides are counted (while they do fit the
    profile of "on a fammily member"...they
    scew the results...afterall suicide rates
    do not drop in places with less guns...
    just more self hangings and building jumps)
  • Posted by EntilZah:

    Those of us in the U.S. seem to make a recreation out of finding someone or something to blame for everything bad that happens (yes, it's a generalization, but it's true). Occassionally, we find the right person or thing to blame, but such incidents rarely find their place on international news. People in other countries seem to make a recreation out of pointing out what is wrong with the U.S. when those later incidents occur.

    The media now provides an instant look into events as they occur or immediately after. Our first reaction to tragedy is "Why?" and in this world of instant feedback, we get a lot of answers. Unfortunately, you combine this with the previous point I mentioned, and you get a lot of blame really quickly where it doesn't belong.

    I think there are probably a lot of us in this forum on /. that have had to put up with their fair share of put-downs or outcasting as a result of our interests at some point or another during our high school lives. I think it's safe to say that at least most of us didn't react in the way that has recently received so much attention. Is this because of the parenting we received? Is it because we just didn't want to? Is it because we have a higher regard for life? Is it because we vented our frustrations blowing up aliens and monsters? I don't know. I just know I made it through and a lot of others have too.

    Regardless of parenting (but let me express I feel that is the most important factor in a child's development), there are large influences on a developing psyche from all over the place; including media, friends, peers, etc. These things all work together to provide a backdrop to the development of people. We can't look at just the parents' role, although I agree it seems to be somewhat lacking and that it must have played a significant part. We can't look at just the games they played, although the fact that they played those games may be an indicator that there're some emotions that need to be dealt with (but, maybe not). It's impossible to say.

    A couple of posters on this forum have used the term "gun nuts" to, as far as I can tell, describe anyone in the U.S. who supports the second amendment and/or owns guns. So, apparently, I'm a gun nut now. But I haven't killed anyone. And if I did, I wouldn't use a gun. There's no creativity or challenge in it. Guns are tools. Like any tool, they can be misused. Just think, drunk drivers misuse their cars to kill people, but no one's calling for the banning of all cars.

    Anyway, we as humans naturally tend to gather in groups of like-minded people. That's the whole basis for community. When something bad happens, we want to blame someone else for it. And because we can't find fault with our own beliefs, it must be something that someone from another group (game players, gun owners, trenchcoat wearers, etc.) that is to blame. Their thinking is wrong. And in order to protect themselves, those groups retaliate by finding someone else to blame and so on.

    So, I ask you. Since I'm a gun owner who dresses in dark clothes often that enjoys playing violent video games AND that plays AD&D from time to time, whether or not I'm wearing my duster or trenchcoat, who do I get to blame when things go wrong? Which one is it? It's got to be someone else, because I've been taught by the media and the reaction of the people to bad things that people never do bad things just because they want to.
  • by gavinhall ( 33 )
    Posted by Stephen "The Carp" Carpenter:

    No black market in the UK...remember...
    Laws only affect those who respect the law.

    I would bet that anyone in the UK could get their hands on guns like that if they have the money
    and the connections (much like drugs)

    Besides...if noone has guns...then the criminals
    don't ned them either...they are perfectly
    happy to stabb your unarmed ass to death
  • Posted by mudmonkey:

    I own a house just a few minutes from Columbine high school, I play golf
    and shop right by there so this has affected me (all of us here) quite
    differently than the other incidents around the country. It is quite a
    surrealistic site to see almost 3 million people go about their day in a
    numbed daze (on April 21). When you see it on TV, you know it is real, you
    know there are victims, but, it is on TV, it is sterile (much like you were
    discussing with the electronic weapons we watch in Yugoslavia). When it is
    a couple of miles away, all of a sudden, you feel the focus of the
    television turned upon you. It is eery.

    Back to your point regarding demonification of the suspect's interests. On
    local television here, they quickly went into researching what they had
    posted to the Internet and came up with a paragraph from Eric which
    basically said he wanted everyone dead. It was disturbing in light of
    what had happened, but, nothing that an immature, upset person wouldn't
    spout out of anger. The television commentary was basically, "posting that
    to the Internet is legal!?! How can that be!?!" They then went into great
    discourse about how he had books about Doom. They were unaware that it was
    a computer game and wondered how someone could write and publish a book
    about Doom.

    We see this in every event, we look for a cause, we blame the topic with
    most interest or emotion, and then we shift our focus. Oklahoma City: I
    recall the "anti-terrorist" laws that were passed which allowed agencies
    previously disallowed to operate in the US (namely the CIA) access to
    American soil. Why? In the name of protection they said. I fear we may
    start seeing CDA III directed toward anything deemed terrorist in nature.

    Lastly, why do we call these suspects kids? I realize they really are
    kids, I think of 18 year olds as kids; however, when we stop and think
    about it, they were 18. These are the same kids we may send into
    Yugoslavia and ask to perform the same function (throwing bombs and
    shooting). They are 18 year old kids in school, but 18 year old men on a

  • Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangster Of Love:

    >> How come the armed guard in Colorado didn't stop the killings...Stating that guns prevent crime really misunderstands the nature of most gun deaths, dramitic example like this aside.

    He didn't stop it because he wasn't a good enough shot.

    Guns DO prevent crime. Gary Kleck's research has shown that Americans thwart 2.5 million crimes with guns each year.

    >>To continue that logic to today we should all own anti-tank weapons and SAMs, simply put there is no way for a civilian to be even near on par with a government troop in the era of modern warfare, how effective have the armed militia groups been when they get in to conflicts with the government, regardless of your opinion of them, I can't think of a single government agent being killed...

    Then you are woefully underinformed in this area. In Waco Texas 4 government agents were killed by the Branch Davidians. On Ruby Ridge in Idaho, Kevin Harris killed agent William Degan with one shot. Even if he'd been wearing a kevlar vest, he still would have died.

    He was shot with a 30-06 rifle from a few dozen yards away.

    >> I know of few that are arguing that the right to bear arms should be repealed....I know many who think that it should be more regulated. It is currently easier to get a gun than it is a drivers license....gee, that makes sense.

    When the US constitution is amended to include a right to "keep and drive cars" then maybe it should be eaier to get a driver's license. Gun ownership is a RIGHT, don't you get it? It's not a privelege that exists at the whim of our politicians. Constitutional, nay basic human rights can not be denied just because a majority of you choose that they be.

    If the CDA had not been struck down, how many of us would have taken part in the effort to work around it? How many of us would have written better scripts for our web pages to serve files which are kept on servers in Europe?

    Laws are written for peaceable people. Those who are determined to hurt others will do so. Over in the UK I remember a stabbing incident which actually made some people take part in a knife turn in event.

    In 1979 my father was murdered by a criminal with a gun. What was the solution? Ban Guns? Ban Bars?(because outside of a bar is where this happened) Ban Divorce?(because my parents were separated and the guy was dating my mother) No. They put the SOB in jail. Why is it now that when a bunch of rich white people face what my family faced do we have calls for sweeping new limits on our freedom?

  • Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangster Of Love:

    >>King George has been dead a long, long, long time, dude. Americans no longer have British soldiers knocking on their doors.

    No, instead of Red Coats, it's blue helmets that we must be worried about.

    >>The first 10 amendments were named 'The Bill of Rights' out of literary flamboyance on the part of Thomas Jefferson, not out of some perceived ethical universality. In truth they're simply the first 10 (of dozens to follow) amendments.

    Either you misunderstand the men and the times of which you speak or you lie. The bill of rights was the putting to paper the inalienable rights that were mentioned in the declaration of independance.

    >>Counterquery: Why are there no weekly massacres in my home where there have never been any firearms?

    Countercounterquery: Why are there no weekly massacres in my home where there are guns.

  • Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangster Of Love:

    >>King George has been dead a long, long, long time, dude. Americans no longer have British soldiers knocking on their doors.

    No, instead of Red Coats, it's blue helmets that we must be worried about.

    >>The first 10 amendments were named 'The Bill of Rights' out of literary flamboyance on the part of Thomas Jefferson, not out of some perceived ethical universality. In truth they're simply the first 10 (of dozens to follow) amendments.

    Either you misunderstand the men and the times of which you speak or you lie. The bill of rights was the putting to paper the inalienable rights that were mentioned in the declaration of independance.

    >>Counterquery: Why are there no weekly massacres in my home where there have never been any firearms?

    Countercounterquery: Why are there no weekly massacres in my home where there are guns?

  • by gavinhall ( 33 )
    Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangster Of Love:

    >>The biggest reason for this tragedy are the gun laws. Guns need more restrictions, no one should be allowed to own a hand gun. Hand guns serve no other purpose then to kill people. Rifles and shotguns on the other hand are used for hunting. You never see something like this happen in Canada or the UK, where they actually have some descent gun laws.

    Dunblane Scotland, dickhead.

  • Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangster Of Love:

    >>I don't think anything used in this spree was illegal in Canada and not in the USA. (I.E. Everthing was illegal.) Assuming the handgun was a 9mm as reported and not fully automatic, even it would have been legal in Canada after about two weeks of paper work. However it would have been illegal for anyone under eighteen to possess it and doublely illegal to take it onto school property.

    Thank you for reminding me. In the US, it's not legal in most circumstances for a person under 21 to own a handgun. I'd estimate that of the 170+ million legal gun owners in the US that less than 500 fall into the catagory of being able to posess a handgun while under 21. I am the only person whom I know who wasn't a cop who fell into that position.

    We NEED TO BAN PLUMBING AND BARBECUE SUPPLIES. More injuries in this case were caused by pipe bombs.

  • Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangster Of Love:

    >>Anyway, a sensible gun control law to my mind might be to allow weapon ownership, concealment, and the like, but to force registeration of all weapons in the same way we force registeration of all cars and drivers.

    This is the most reasonable Canadian idea I've seen all day. However I must add a wrinkle. Instead of registering the gun, register the person. For example, in the US you have the right to own a firearm UNLESS you've committed some type of crime that prohibits you from doing so.

    If we keep a list of all the people who can't own guns (probably about 2 million people in the US) and whenever someone wants to buy a gun, check to see if they're on the list. If they're not prohibited, they get the gun.

    Gun registration is merely a tool for future confiscation. The Nazis did it in europe, they did it in New York, and they'll do it where ever we let them.

  • Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangster Of Love:

    >>Why, if I remember correctly, back in the ole days, wasn't it illegal for anyone not of noble birth (ie. a peasant, not knighted) to carry a sword or wear armor, or even own a horse?

    Before the threat of the Normans existed they weren't even allowed to own bows.

    "Say there peasant man. For what needeth thou that long bow? Dost thee intend to hunt the king's deer? Off with his head!"

  • Posted by Nick Carraway:

    Remember that the revolutionary Americans had the Atlantic Ocean to separate them from the English, and that the English army was equipped with similar (although somewhat superior) weaponry than the Americans. Both sides were fighting with black powder rifles, fixed bayonets, and slow-firing, hard-to-maneuver cannon. High explosives and repeating arms had not yet been invented. How effective do you think an army of goofy militia types would be against a single Apache helicopter? How about against a squadron of high-flying, carpet-bombing B-52s?
  • Posted by Nick Carraway:

    You're correct, most of our fighting men wouldn't take too kindly to attacking their home towns. However, what if they were being told that their home towns were full of subsersive terrorists who hated America? This happens in other countries around the world, and I sincerely hope that it would never happen here. My point was simply that you can't do battle with the government with a rifle or a handgun. Just ask the Branch Davidians for their opinion on the matter -- Whoops, I forgot, they're all dead. The anti-gun-control camp likes to preach that we need guns to protect us from the government, and that's just so much hokum.
  • Posted by Nick Carraway:

    I wholeheartedly agree with you. Of course Koresh was a freak and a criminal, I didn't mean to imply otherwise. My point was simply that all of his illegal automatic weapons (and he had a lot!) did little to help defend him and his followers against the government. The original point is still that people with guns are no match for people with tanks/helicopters/etc., so the gun lobby's argument about an armed populace keeping the government in check are patently ludicrous.
  • Posted by Assmodeus:

    reality check. i live in and went to high school in the ritzy suburbs of philadelphia. 80 percent of the parents here both work daily...leaving kids to come home to an empty house. to make it worse, our school district has refused to teach "right" and "wrong" to the students, for fear that someone would be offended. well pardon my french but i would be a little more offended if someone walked into my classroom with a fucking gun than if they told us the difference between good and bad. and to see the media try to blame it on everything but themselves really pisses me off too. ive been playing "violent" games since the doom and wolfenstein and all the while since. i havent shot anyone, i havent flipped. neither have any of my friends, and we deathmatch for hours on end. the difference here is that our parents picked up where our schools failed...

  • Posted by lithiticus:

    Being picked on is NO EXCUSE for killing anyone, especially attempting to wipe out an entire school in a bloody rampage. This represents failure at the most fundamental level of society. What hope is there for civilization if we can't teach our children basic respect for human life?

    The behavior of the two assassins is not inherently unique; people kill people every day with no better reasons than these two had. What makes this case special is that this wasn't done by adults who were completely responsible for their own actions, but by children still technically under their parents control. We've become so desensitized to the horrors that go on around us that we only notice the most extreme examples and even then only until they are out of the headlines.

    It is overly simplistic to say that the kids just need to be nicer to each other. In the end, we are the root of the problem. The hatred and bigotry that goes on in schools is only a parody of what goes on out in the grown up world. Until we begin to take life death seriously, how can we expect our kids to?
  • Posted by TRF:

    I've noticed a lot of journalists (but not all) are still fixated on the Trenchcoat, Doom, Marilyn Manson thing. Let's face it people (journalists,) it takes a lot more than that to create a killer. Stop looking for easy answers by blaming what you don't understand.

    I saw an interview with Littleton student Alex Marsh on the news. She was confused about her feelings (her friends killed her friends) but she was NOT confused about why it happened. Emotional abuse and alienation caused them to snap. She also mentioned the video games and paintball seemed to help them to deal with their anger. I think she might be right about that. Kinda like taking out your agressions on a punching bag.

    I saw another female student interviewed as well. She also talked about the way the kids were treated and offered that as an explaination for why they snapped. She described one of the killers as someone that she "thought highly of." She also described him as a nice person that liked to make people feel better. This does not sound like someone who is going to be pushed over the edge by video games and listening to Marilyn Manson.

    I then saw a rather good example of one part of the problem. I believe it was after the vidoeconference between the people of Littleton and Jonesboro. A young male student from Littleton clearly explained that it never would have happened if the killers hadn't been persecuted at school. Immediately after him one of the administrators from the school sitting only a couple feet away from him was given the microphone. The guy said they looked through their records for any reason the kids would have done such a thing. He basically said he had no idea what would have caused "retaliation." It was as if he hadn't heard a word that the student had just said.

    Larry King mentioned a psychologist that said harassers at the school have to take part of the blame. I'm sure they didn't intend this to happen, but they created the monster(s) that killed their friends.

    In the world of the killers, they were at the bottom of the food chain. They had nothing to lose. They were treated far worse than they deserved to be, and when they retaliated, they treated the other students far worse than they should have been.

    Every 45 seconds, another arrest for Linux. 695000 last year. It's time for a change.
  • Posted by Assmodeus:

    well i didnt really elaborate on what right and wrong they should teach, but we were all told that our actions have no consequences in the end. that we should do what makes us feel good, and be our own person. i mean this is really serious shit for a 15-18 year old to be hearing because it goes against what most peoples parents have been teaching them all their life... im sorry but i feel no pity for that school district, i feel pity for the families of the people who had to lose their lives, but now maybe someone will realise that "oh yeah, maybe we should have taught them that doing their own thing isnt always right" . also, rammstein is VERY tame compared to some of the music i listen to, im still a stable person because i know that what they are singing/screaming/groaning about is not something to try at home. a fully capable person is able to tell the difference between right and wrong, are you saying that you should penalize 99.99 percent of the population of things they enjoy harmlessly because .01 percent might make a bad decision because of them? ok now this has turned into a rant and i probably lost all continuity there...

  • Posted by kenmcneil:

    Very interesting, and well thought out, but I disagree. I will use my favorite analogy: the Internet and the printing press. As far as I know (I'm not too big on history) what happened when the printing was invented was that instead of only the "rich" having access to books, newspapers, etc. the masses did as well. Of course the "rich" objected to this and tried to restrict the proliferation of knowledge. And as we know they were not successful.

    My prediction is that like any other revolution everyone will be forced to adapt to the Internet. This is already surfacing, I can count on one hand the number of times that I have been in a book store since I discovered Amazon. As for open-source software (and the like), this means that companies like M$ will be forced to find a niche in thier market (what is their "market" anyway -- anything that makes a profit?).

    Note: This post is really late, so I may just be talking to myself :^)

  • Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangster Of Love:

    >>I think a bit more thoughful consideration of the issues by both camps would not be out-of-order. By the same token, I rather suspect that more gun control is unlikely to have much effect.

    If the pro-gun people could trust the anti-gun people I'd agree with you. 6 years ago we were told that "All we want is a 5 day cooling off period." The next year it was "Ha ha ha, the NRA is impotent. I hear their death knell. We're now going to ban all scarry looking firearms.(we're just going to keep quiet that the guns we ban are used in less than 1/10 of 1% of all crime)" And at the same time Brady II was introduced. Which would have europeanized our firearms laws.

    >>In my opinion: more consistent, and more stringent enforcement of the laws already on the books, with *serious*, no-nonsense penalties for firearms abuse would be more effective.

    I too agree that the answer is enforcement of existing laws. We've got enough laws on the books to keep most of the dangerous people off of the streets. All we need to do is enforce them.

  • Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangster Of Love:

    >>What we can still see is that in countries where guns are banned, crime is lower.

    Except for the crime of government sanctioned (or performed) murder.

  • Posted by Bombay:

    God, I know this sounds cliched, but I sympathise with you. I never had such problems so may be I don't know what it really feels like, but this shouldn't happen to anyone...
  • Posted by Bombay:

    Though you may be right about what you said, you've got to realise that different situations have different solutions.

    The problem with the US is that there are far too many people ready to object even to a good cause. Hopefully more kids wont die for such stupidity...

  • Posted by Krag:

    To Matt Nalty - a Columbine High student and non-jock - that was on Sally Jesse Raphael-

    Here's the deal:

    You guys are the sane ones. I was really bummed when SJR put you on
    the defensive about your appearance - and one response was "it's
    comfortable" - don't let them force you into that corner.

    In reality, and for good cause, whether you are fully conscious of it
    or not, you
    appear as you do (partly) because it makes THEM UNcomfortable.

    Your native instinct is to reject corporate yuppie culture - and I'm so
    glad you're doing it. It is my cause in life. The same shallow, stupid
    jocks that sneered at me in high school are out there right now, 25
    years later, still sneering, still clueless.
    (And I still dress wierd, and love to goof on them.)

    Unfortunately, they run society. (Better to say: The corporations are
    running society, and the jocks are just mindless cannon fodder).

    Offered the choice between a "Broncos" shirt and a "Rancid" shirt,
    anyone with half a brain avoids the corporate football and takes the
    struggling small entrepruneur. It's not about "getting attention-" as in
    "please pay attention to me" - its about getting attention as in: "Wake
    up you stupid L.L.Bean yuppie!"

    SJR's packaged bullshit didn't even scratch the surface. Kids (and
    adults with a clue) are ALL smoldering, enraged at the stupid way
    white-trash consumerism is spoiling Colorado, the rest of the country,
    and the rest of the world.

    It's enough to make ANYONE want to kill.

    Check out my webspace:
  • Posted by PROUD2CARE:

    On the one hand you are saying that the parents should have known he was building bombs in the bedroom,on the other you say a minor's computer files are private(AND THE BEDROOM ISN'T?)
    You can't have it both ways. My 2 yr. old feels she is old enough to make her own decisions a 14 yr. old knows that isn't true. A 14 yr. old thinks they are old enough to make their own decisions, a 30 year old knows that's not true. I say"if the parents paid for it and you live in their house, they have a responsibility to know how it is used!"!PERIOD!
  • Posted by D_I_G:

    These kids who have been killing have given us the reason, but evidentally, no one is listening. It is revenge. Now, we need to look at what they need revenge for. They have been picked on, beaten up, and tormented by the popular kids, jocks, etc. Granted, it is no excuse to run around killing people; it is the reason they are doing it. We need to pay more attention to the "normal" kids and make sure that they know that their actions can have deadly repercussions and that only loser torment people.
  • I watched a special on the news. these guys were
    wearing DUSTERS. They showed one of the living trench coat mafia guys, and he showed off his duster and explained that they all wore them.

    I've noticed lately that people are getting flack
    for what the general public assumes is a 'trenchcoat'. this is pretty stupid, so i thought i'd clarify a bit.

    trench coat: lapels. think ww1 style.
    rain coat: no lapels. closes in front. usually made out of thin canvas.
    overcoat: usually double breasted wool or cashmere. worn with suits.
    duster: coated with waterproofing. mostly for outdoor use / riding horses

  • Wow. That description was almost like a walk down memory lane for me. My younger youth (I'm still pretty young here!) was an awful lot like that -- the overwhelming need to "fit in" for a long time followed by the resigning thought that I would never "fit in". And all the other stuff.

    I'll admit, I've even had thoughts of killing the people who picked on me and of killing myself. Thankfully, I didn't do either but I'm frightened at how close I came at times.

    Fortunately for me, I've developed this sort of mental defect: I realized that if all those people didn't care about me, what was I doing worrying about them? I'll just return the favor. Consequently, I'm a very cynical and sarcastic person, but I'm a lot happier and actually enjoy my life. I don't hate anybody, I just don't care about them. (Excepting, of course, those few people whom I am proud to call my friends.)

    So, I think I understand how those kids were feeling. I don't agree with what they did; I wish the outcome of their situation could have been -- well -- more like mine. And it's hard to place blame because in thinking about my own past, there are things that other people did and there are things that I did to myself to exacerbate the way I was feeling. It's hard to tell what did more damage.

    So I've given up on placing blame. It doesn't do any good anyway; it just wastes time and energy. I just try to fix the problems. That's all I can really do in this world anyway...


  • They grew up feeling like a minority, but seeing another minority get breaks and special treatment.

    Minorities rule the roost, don't they? All that "special treatment" worked like a charm. Wiped out all the dysfunction of slavery, Jim Crow, "wetback"-bashing, no voting rights, unequal pay, lynchings, beatings...

    There isn't a White History month, is there?

    No, but that's because there's twelve such months.

    It's little wonder, from this perspective, to blame these kids for turing to neo-Nazism, racism and seclusion. These were the only niches of our demented culture that actually offered these misfits a sense of belonging to a community.

    A community that's little different from the mainstream, a venue of coded race-baiting (neo-Nazis, at least, don't bother sugarcoating it), cocooning, gated communities, and NIMBY; they were part of the melting pot of Merkin high schools, in the not-unusual market segment of Angry White Males (an anger stemming from their imagined disenfranchisement in the high school venue, as well as the FUD/crap I cite in your above paragraph). Yes, they took it slightly to an extreme, but the very fact that the media (and its consumers) are grasping at silly-straws to find a scapegoat might be an indication that the motivating factors hit a little closer to home than Merkins would like. The US is a country that refuses to come to grips with its own history of supporting terrorism and murder (e.g. Chile and Central America, not to mention within its own borders; support for past and present enemies like Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, and Osama bin Laden) -- why should I harbor any hope of honest introspection resulting from this week's events?

    Those kids were murderers. They weren't crazy, or strange, or all that different from the mainstream. They just looked different, and their actions (especially on Hitler's birthday) were different. The very fact that few politicians/pundits/voters challenge statements like the one I quoted enables people to commit themselves to neo-Nazi solutions; politicians just talk about solving those "problems" (but only because they're pimping for votes), while extremists propose action. It doesn't matter that those "problems" are half-truths at best, it only matters that a majority of people believe they're real.

    Aside from a wee piece of thoughtlessness on your part -- views that I hope you don't take seriously -- it was a cool post.


  • The white-male-middle class is the fulcrum of society, we get no breaks, no quota, no glass ceiling to blame for our shortcomings. We are not discriminated against in ways the media is willing to make known. We are expected to be the hard working providers, to suck it up and deliver on the expectation of having had all the advantages while growing up.

    There's another part of the problem -- a whole egomaniacal mass of people thinking they're "the fulcrum of society", and that they're being "discriminated against" despite being having been the demographic sweet-spot of society for centuries. I seem to have missed the meeting when White Middle-Class Males joined the Unlucky Sperm Club. The vast majority of elected officials are white males; the vast majority of CEOs, for companies large and small, are white males. For decades (including this one) success for white middle-class males was as simple as showing up and getting with the program ("I got in 'cause my parents are alumni..."; "I'm joining the family business..."; "Dad's golfing buddy got me an interview..."); certainly there's umpteen-zillion exceptions, but to whine about discrimination is just childish. Save that for when blacks and Latinos have had a national majority for a generation or two or three, or at least wait until they dominate the PGA Tour and the corporate boardrooms and the state legislatures.

    Better yet, leave this sort of whining to the neo-Nazis.


  • I sent an e-mail to Katz expressing slightly similar sentiments; I was dismayed at the absence of posts like yours, as I rummaged through the 2000 or so on /. this past week.

    If you hold any of the traditional, altruistically or reciprocally based moral philosophies, it is incumbent on you to see the profound evil on which everything about current mass-capitalist society is based. Shootings in schools are an effect. The wars in Yugoslavia are an effect: the arms manufacturers have to field-test their products somehow. The media oligopoly which concentrates your attention on the previous two phenomena is an effect. The prison system which you are encouraged to forget about is an effect.

    I'm a Christian, one of those Christians who gets really pissed when politicians who profess to Christian values -- or, worse, proclaim that the US is a "Christian nation" -- lock themselves into perpetuating this very un-Christian status quo; their real gods seem to be Money and Power.

    I've given up trying to save the world. Even knowing a little of what goes on, and a little of how thoroughly penetrated and programmed I am, a worm of cynical, elitist doubt remains, that most people aren't really worth saving anyway and will fight me if I try. I just try not to go crazy today, today, and leave not going crazy tomorrow for tomorrow. But please, look around you, and look inside yourself. Try to see the ways in which both you and your surroundings have been modified to serve the power structure. Understanding begins with the realization that anything like a shooting in a school, no matter how shattering to its victims, is irrelevant.

    From my particular religious discipline, it's not my job to save anybody -- that's JC's job :) -- but I'm supposed to live and serve as best I can, given His model and His Spirit. But the old punk in me comes to the fore on weeks like this; the killings and the disgustingly saccharine media circus remind me of Malcolm X's "chickens coming home to roost" line about JFK's assassination. As long as contemporary capitalism insists on its dysfunctional and malevolent course, led by leaders as corrupt as the worst Pharisee, the chickens will come home to roost again and again. And the old punk in me will just laugh, either nervously or uproariously, depending on whether I'm inside or outside the borders of the Evil Empire on that day.

    People like you are reminiscent of some of the Old Testament prophets, who received nothing but scorn and ridicule and marginalization when they pointed out the grave flaws in Israelite society. Israel would end up ravaged either by its internal corruption or its external enemies (or both), and then -- finally -- it would awaken from its cloud of FUD and start to realize that the "crazy" prophet might have had a valid point or two.

    Oh well...


  • Most of the Angry Whites[tm] have gotten nothing but screwed from being white. Everyone else gets all the quotas and sympathy, just because of a few rich old fscks who look like us yet don't give a damn about us.

    Maybe if you would realize that nobody gets "quotas and sympathy", you'd be better able to focus your anger constructively. "Rich old fscks" don't give a damn about anything but the preservation of their privilege -- everybody else is just a tool, a means to an end.

    This FUD about "quotas and sympathy" was spread by a bunch of "rich old fscks" called the Republican Party; it was so wildly successful that many Democrats have now bought into it. At the very same time, the latter-day careers of J C Watts, Gary Franks, and Clarence Thomas are due to Republicans practicing the very thing they preach against. If you're going to let a bunch of hypocrites define reality for you, you'll get no sympathy from me. You've fallen for a game that has been played since the era of indentured servitude. Do your homework.


  • Pull your head out of the sand. Not every black or Latino is poor and uneducated; nor is every white male affluent or handed opportunity on a silver platter.

    You missed the "certainly there's umpteen-zillion exceptions" line; there is no head-in-the-sand here. I've quoted examples from reality, including mine. You also seemed to miss the point of my post; whites, affluent or not, enjoy the privilege of "normalcy" in US society -- while a white punk or goth can look threatening to J Random Merkin, one of those Jenny Jones makeovers can remove the visual threat. Minorities don't have the ability to simply remove the visual characteristics that produce a kneejerk aversion in many segments of the populace.

    And of course not every black and Latino is poor and uneducated -- I never said that; in fact, I come from a city (NYC) where I grew up around affluent blacks, whites, Puerto Ricans, Asians, etc. I merely spoke of numbers: the vast majority of pols and CEOs in this country, dating back to the leadership in colonial days, have been white males. For white males to whine about discrimination is no better than neo-Nazi nonsense; why not focus more on relevant topics like: being a male in a male-dominated power structure, and the assumptions and demands that are foist upon you to be the "breadwinner"? Or focus on why those pols and CEOs have completely destroyed the notion of a "breadwinner" by exporting jobs overseas, thus putting the hourly wage on a slippery slide? I have no problems with the whining of Angry White Males. but I do have a problem with people who have fallen for the trap of making it some sort of tribal issue instead of a political and economic issue.


  • I really don't understand how a fully armed society is preferrable to an unarmed society.

    What about all the victims who were shot *only* because the criminal feared that they had a gun?

    BTW, statistics about lives saved due to guns don't make any sense when you simply do *not* *know* what would have happened if a gun had not be involved.

    Is an instant death penalty fair for a punk kid who just wants to steal a few extra bucks?

    Is a society really 'free' when you have to sleep with a gun under your pillow? do you really want to live in a society where that is neccessary?

    If someone reallys wants kill you they will just do it. Do you really think that they will give a sporting chance and let you reach for your gun? or will they just empty your skull as soon as they see you? what do you think is more likely?
  • Sure you can. However, such legislation will not produce the desired results. They'll legislate something anyway just to make themselves feel better.

  • In blaming guns for the action of nutcases, aren't you scapegoating, just like the people you're complaining about?

    Those kids also had *bombs* for crying out loud. The stuff they had was *already* illegal.

    You can't legislate against insanity.

    Get your fresh, hot kernels right here []!

  • I rather doubt that collecting over 100 million guns from law-abiding Americans is a realistic idea.

    It was already illegal for the kids to possess those guns and *bombs*. How would additional laws have helped?

    Get your fresh, hot kernels right here []!

  • How would more gun control have stopped them from possessing bombs?

    If people are intent on killing, they will find a way to do so. The most lethal weapon of mass killing in American history was a gas can and a match: remember that.

    Get your fresh, hot kernels right here []!

  • by Eccles ( 932 )
    >The most lethal weapon of mass killing in American history was a gas can and a match: remember that.

    Actually, it's second to fertilizer (Oklahoma City).
  • If we don't stop people like Jerry Falwell, who said that Role Playing Games made kids do this, or Bill Maher, who is convinced that all Children are the spawn of satan anyway, the internet will simply be destroyed by the hurricane of ignorance and stupidity sweeping our country due to stories like this from media Trolls like Wolf Blitzer, Katie Couric, Ted Brokaw, Sam Donaldson, And the like. We need to take a stand against stupidity, and if we don't, we are going to lose big time. Maybe CmdrTaco can start a /. feature of a petition against media trolls.

  • JonKatz says that the crime rate for teenagers is falling (from the high in the Eighties). I think part of the reason the total number of crimes committed by teens and also crime rates in general is because the size of that demographic group is decreasing. Men in the late-teens and twenties make up a huge proportion of the people committing crimes. If there are fewer people of that age, there will be fewer crimes committed. Obviously that doesn't explain it all but it's an important part to consider when politicians and law enforcement folks take credit for decreasing murder rates and other statistics.
  • You make some good points. It never ceases to amaze me that the kinds of people that hear about a tragedy like this one and focus on stupid little details to the exclusion of the real problem are the people who are running our schools. As Jon pointed out, trech coats are being banned. Doom player outreach programs are being started, and God only knows what other crap they'll come up with.

    Maybe if these same school administrators wouldn't turn a blind eye to the harrassment and grief that some kids go through, they'd be able to help them before things get to this point. These kids didn't connect in any way with the other students at their school. They didn't seem to see the other students as people. They saw them as their tormentors and lashed out at them as such. If the teachers, administrators, and other students couldn't see that these kids were having problems fitting in and were being persecuted by some of their peers, then they must have been completely unconcerned and/or unwilling to help. I'm not trying to shift the blame off of the killers. I'm simply trying to say that if people had cared at all, then this tragedy might have been avoided and none of those kids would have had to die.

    If they had taken note of what was going on and made the effort to try to talk to these kids and get them some help, they might have averted this disaster. During my time in high school, I realized that for the most part, teachers and administrators don't really care if you are treated well by others or not. They don't care that you don't interact at all with other students, or with only a couple specific students. As long as you don't break their rules, they don't care what you do, how you feel, or how others feel about you. By the time these kids decided to break the rules, it was way too late.

    Apparently the police have found numerous backpacks full of explosives, as well as a very large bomb in the cafeteria. They are now saying they are quite certain that the two shooters had help. Another student said that he was friends with one of the shooters and that he had been told by him to leave school that day, so he did. Why didn't he realize something bad was going to happen and tell someone? Why didn't the other students who realized something was going on tell anyone? There are many people who could have done something to stop this. None of them did a thing though. I think they are almost as criminal as the killers themselves.

  • Actually it's necessary in the house AND at the store. That's why you have to fill out a bunch of stuff when you buy a gun. Somehow I don't think these kids got the weapons from Wal-Mart though. Either way, what matters is that nothing was done before it was too late. The parents didn't do anything. The teachers didn't do anything. The other students didn't do anything. Nobody did anything to head off this disaster.

  • by Danse ( 1026 )

    Didn't the Brady bill ban assault rifles? I think it did. I think people are confused about the term "semi-automatic." Most handguns today are either revolvers or semi-automatic pistols. The police use them. The military uses them. They are the standard weapons now. I believe they are only allowed to have a 10 round magazine though. So apparently all of the previous poster's suggestions are already law. They just didn't matter in this case. Criminals don't have alot of respect for the law anyway.

  • Do you know how many bombs they found in that school? It was over thirty I believe. There was one rather large one in the cafeteria. A big propane tank with pipe bombs strapped to it. Maybe if the kids hadn't spent their time shooting people, they would have just set off all the bombs and killed a whole lot more people. If they want to kill, they will kill. Guns are a more direct way of killing people. You have to physically pull the trigger on each person you shoot. With bombs, you plant them and watch the whole place and everyone in it go up in flames. Don't blame the guns. Blame the killers. They were going to kill, no matter what method they had to use. Be thankful they weren't able to set off the bombs. It could have been much worse.

  • These numbers are incredibly high. I'm not sure whether that supports or detracts from your argument. It's hard to believe that there were over 927 incidents in schools where 12 or more people were killed at all, let alone by methods other than guns. Since 54% were drive-by incidents, that means that a fair number of the school incidents were drive-bys in which 12 or more people were killed? Is there someplace we can find these numbers?

  • You couldn't enforce the ban effectively anyway, anymore than the ban on drugs has been effective. You would disarm the population, thereby leaving them to be the prey of those who are bigger, stronger, or criminally in posession of a gun. Perhaps killers will start to use knives or clubs or some other weapon. Am I going to feel safer knowing that someone who breaks into my house will have to beat or stab me and my family to death rather than shoot us? Heck no. People thwart criminals like this with guns all the time. If they didn't have guns, then they become the victims and their lives are put in the hands of the criminal. The police only respond if you are able to call them and even then it takes them a while. They can arrive on the scene in time to pick up the pieces and clean up the mess. That's about it.

    We have the right to defend ourselves and our property. We have the right to own a gun. The only thing that should be changed in my opinion is the procedure for getting a gun. You see, the real problem is that any idiot can own a gun right now. You have these morons accidentally killing themselves or someone else, or letting children get ahold of the weapon. This is just plain stupid. You should be required to pass some rigorous tests to prove your competency in using the weapon, as well as your intelligence as to when and how to use the weapon and how to keep it safely away from children or anyone else who shouldn't have access to it. These tests should be very tough and not pushover tests like we have in order to get a driver's license. If this is done, then perhaps we would have fewer people able to buy a gun, and those who are will be informed and competent in its use.

  • Everyone wants to place blame on someone else for the killings. Blame the parents, blame the media, the video game creators, the musicians, the Internet.


    I blame the other kids who tortured these two unstable children to the breaking point.

    We (In the US anyway), have a tendency to alienate anything or anyone that we consider "different". As adults, if we were subjected to the treatment that these kids were, I'm sure many of us would crack under the strain fairly quickly. Let's not forget that this kind of thing happens to adults too. How many of you have made "postal worker" jokes in the past?

    No one wants to blame themselves, and everyone rushes to tell the other children "It's not your fault, they were bad kids." Well, I think they should be told that If they were one of the kids that teased them or made fun of them, this is partly their fault. The other children contributed to it as much if not more than any other influence. You should be careful about how you handle another person's emotions, you have no idea what you're doing to them inside, or what they're capable of.

    It's a terrible thing. I wish it hadn't happened. But it'll happen more frequently until we teach our young people how to be more tolerant of others. The only way we can do that is by setting a good example.

    "the murdered should not be held unaccountable for being murdered, and the robbed are not completely blameless for being robbed. For it is the cornerstone of the temple that is no higher than the lowest stone in it's foundation."

    -Rev. Randy.
  • by Christopher Cashell ( 2517 ) on Friday April 23, 1999 @10:43AM (#1919545) Homepage Journal
    The problem with our society today is that no one is willing to take responsibility for their own actions. It's become the accepted thing to shift all blame to something or someone else for anything that we do wrong.

    "I just spilled hot coffee on my lap. But, wait, it's not my fault that I was driving around with hot coffee in my crotch and it spilled, it's the place who sold it to me, because they sold it hot."

    "Well, yes, I went out and laid down in the middle of the street, and for some amazingly unbelievable reason, I didn't realise I was going to get run over by a car. It wasn't my fault, it was because I saw it in a movie."

    "Yes, I went out and shot 10 people, but it wasn't my fault. It was because when I was 6 years old, my daddy looked at me wrong and made me feel uncomfortable. You might even say he sexually abused me. It's his fault."

    "My kid committed suicide, and it's all the fault of that music. My kid was a happy, intelligent, nice boy, and would never do something like this on his own. It's all because of that music he was listening to. That rock music should all be banned."

    "Yeah, I killed some people, but it's because of the TV, movies, and video games that I watch. Sure, 100 million Americans and millions more people around the world are able to watch these same TV shows, movies, and video games for hours and hours more than I have, and they are able to live in society without killing people just fine, but it's not my fault. It was the violent imagery I've been subjected to all my life."

    It's kind of interesting, isn't it? A little bit of a central theme running through there? Instead of people just standing up and saying, "Okay, yes, I screwed up. I'm sorry." They all have to have an excuse, a reason, a childhood event, or an influence that somehow has managed to cause all of their problems, and drive them into doing what they do.

    And along with this basic and simple societal defect, we have the media. The media who is always after the sensational story, and who greatly aids in people's desire to not take responsibility for their actions. Thanks to them, we have schools banning Doom, trench coats, and all kinds of other things.

    This is just stupid. I've worn a large long black duster, very similar to a trench coat, for years now. Does this mean that all of a sudden I'm going to freak and kill a bunch of people? Hell no, it doesn't. You see, it's not the coat, the music, the movies, the TV, or anything else like that that causes these types of things. It's simply the people who do it that are the problem.

    You see, a normal person can play doom, wear trench coats, watch violent TV and movies, and do.....nothing. Because they're normal well adjusted kids who realise that killing people is, um, wrong? The people who do this kind of thing are people with severe emotional and psychological problems. Otherwise, no matter what music, movies, games, or coats they enjoy, they would know better.

    "Man's stupidity is eclipsed only by his ability to deny his own stupidity."
  • What do the following individuals have in common:
    -Robert B Laughlin
    -Horst L. Stormer
    -Daniel C. Tsui
    -Walter Kohn
    -John A Pople
    -Jose Saramago

    Answer: Won 1998 Nobel prize

    What do the following individuals have in common:(sp)
    -Tim McVeigh
    -Ted Bundy
    -John Wilkes Booth
    -Jeff Dahmer
    -Lizzie Borden
    -Lee Harvey Oswald

    Answer: They KILLED people(or are known to)

    For those of you who could more easily identify the second group, you're not alone. In fact I have never head of any of these Nobel Prize winners before writing this post which further illustrates my point. The quality of an individuals achievment has no definate relation to their name recognition. Now in these situations, name recognition was probably not a factor in the their achievments, nor in any worthwile task should it be (IMHO) It is a shame that most people don't view it this way. Success is often judged not on actions but recognition of your actions. Hence the timeless tradition of philanthopic practices in return for naming priviledges. (Best, and most ironic, example is the Gates building at MIT- a college building named after a college dropout which may house the HQ of GNU)

    What does this roughly translate to:

    Success == Fame == name recognition == getting credit for your actions which gain public attention.

    Now how do you gain this public attention. You could cure cancer, be elected to public office, play pro basketball, write an excellent operating system. But each of these requires skill, patience, luck and/or time. There of course is the simple shortcut of trying to kill your entire school. This takes little planning, some supplies (guns, propane tanks and nails for shrapnel) and an extreme desire to be noticed. Within 48 hours of the killing, the entire world will know who you are, all about your life and (for people like me) have your face etched in the minds of thousands. For an individual desperate to be known, this is a pretty appealing notion. To hell with the consiquences, I want to be (in)famous.

    The next question usually asks "where do they get the inspiration to do this?" The answers include movies, TV, video games, the Internet. My answer is who cares! As long as actions such as this are relentlessly covered by the media, the possibilty of instant fame will still inspire people to commit such attrocities.

    What is the solution... there is none. The media will continue to add fuel to the fire as long as they cover the story, others will be inspired, more people will die. We will then try and point fingers at everything but our own hearts, because we can't accept that humans are capable of doing this alone. But we are...

  • by Tomster ( 5075 )
    Tell the million+ people who use guns for self defense each year that they shouldn't have the right to protect themselves and their families.

    Yes, guns can and are used by criminals; we all know that. What most people don't know -- because the media doesn't report it -- is guns are used at least as often for self defense, by normal people. Take away that, and only the criminals will have guns.

    BTW, by "use" I don't mean fire. Most criminal and nearly all self-defense use of guns involves just showing the gun or aiming it at someone. (Which is nasty enough if you've ever been on the receiving end; but a whole lot different than being shot at.)

    Finally, the vast majority of scientific research that's been done finds no significant value in gun control; indeed, there is considerable evidence to show that *higher* rates of gun ownership result in less crime.

  • Katz wrote an article on Wired a while ago before this incident which dealt with gun control. I am usually very careful about saying that things are "irrefutably true" (it is so embarressing if you are proven wrong and it comes back to haunt you) but in general the article sums up quite well my views on gun control.

    "The media habits of these teenage suspects aren't yet clear. The common denominator linking them, to date, is quite clear: They can easily find guns. Why haven't journalists and politicians focused on this as the most pressing issue connecting these tragedies, a far more convincing common denominator than violence on TV?

    We all know the answer. Because the gun lobby is too powerful, and because journalists can hide behind the comfortable ethos of objectivity, which makes avoiding the truth not only excusable but virtuous. All they have to do is make sure to quote everybody else's stalemating opinions.

    When it comes to the sale and distribution of rapid-fire assault weapons, the gun lobby is our modern equivalent of Murder Inc., responsible for vast tragedy and suffering. That this is so obviously, irrefutably true, even when it comes to stopping the slaughter of helpless children, is a bloody indictment of both journalism and politics, two of our most cowardly and morally bankrupt contemporary public institutions." 2749.html

    Also read:
  • by Laxitive ( 10360 ) on Friday April 23, 1999 @10:54AM (#1919673) Journal
    Overall, very nice article katz.. I have to say your social commentary is tenfold better than your analysis of the so-called "linux/geek community"

    I have read a lot of the comments here, and have to say that the biggest thing I see going is a synchronized "passing of the buck" to somebody else.. or at least, rejecting one particular factor.

    The gun enthusiasts say that it wasnt guns which did this. "Guns dont kill people, people kill people," and other inane phrases can be heard. No, it wasnt the guns which "caused" this incident, but then, there was no one thing that "caused" this incident - it was an unfortunate situation caused by a number of circumstances. One of those circumstances was the easy availability of guns. It plays a role, and a significant role at that.. two kids are not going to be able to kill 15 people in a school with a butter knife - at least, it would be a lot harder.

    The "internet pundits" ( who are usually the gun pundits also ), say that it wasnt the internet which did this. The Internet too was a factor. The availability of easy communications channels helped these kids. For me however, the internet is quite a different case from guns because the internet's sole purpose is not to kill - unlike guns.

    The gaming enthusiasts say that it is not the horrific and completely ghastly needless violence and lack of imagination present in modern 3d shooters which caused this incident. The games too played a role. One can argue wether the kids were psychotic because they played doom, or played doom because they were psychotic, but I dont think the cause-effect distinction is very meaningful here. The point is, these games reinforce generally violent tendencies in children. Some times it spills over, most of the time it doesnt.

    People also blame the parents - and it's true that the parents did have a lot to do with it. So did the community. These kids are smart. Reading their website, I find it witty, in a very rabid, violent and extreme manner. They knew what they were doing and they knew what it would accomplish. They didnt give a shit about the people they killed because they beleived that the community around them didnt really give a shit about them. They just didnt care. If they were in heaven (or hell) now, they'd be laughing at our wonderful psychoanalysis of them, saying to each other "we really showed those fucks, didnt we?"

    Anyway - all the above-mentioned items went into this tragedy. If we take the advice of most of the posts here, we'd just leave all of them, and incinerate the parents for what their children did (that's the impression I get anyway). Something should be done for ALL the above-mentioned subjects.. The availability of guns should be dealt with, the prescense of web-sites should be noticed, the ubiquitousness of needlessly violent 3d-shooters should be curbed, parents should be made to care, and the community should be educated.

    Dont pass the buck.

  • I am amused at some of the media attention I have witnessed regarding this incident. One foolish journalist called it the "worst massacre in American history...". Now, I am a) not a historian, b) not a Native American, but if I were of Native American descent, I would have to take umbrage at that statement. There are horrible massacres occurring on a daily basis, around the world. The media's attention to specific events can cause public opinion/sympathy to flow in different directions, depending on the cricumstances surrounding the incident. For instance, look at the horrific mass murders perpetrated by the khmer rouge (sp?) in Cambodia. The media (for the most part) didn't seek to bring the problem to light, mostly due to America's feelings at the time about Southeast Asia. Contrast that with the attention paid to the Milosivec issue. Let's not even talk about what has happened in Africa with some of the warlords there. I am not trying to wave off the fact of the deaths in Colorado. Nor am I trying to blame the media for it happening. I am just saying that we should keep perspective and understand that just because the media highlights an issue, doesn't mean that there are not even more horrible things happening in other places. Not a very nice thing to think about, but the world we live in is not a very nice place.
  • by jabber ( 13196 ) on Friday April 23, 1999 @11:01AM (#1919730) Homepage
    Katz claims that the instance count of violent crime perpetrated by teens is in decline. This may well be the case - though the stats he provides are inadequate to make the point stick.

    What is significant, and contrary to Katz, is that the grandiosity of the crimes is on the upswing, as is the relative count of incidents of that scope. The number of kids going on a shooting rampage is at an all time high - even if gang warfare is in a recession.

    The white-male-middle class is the fulcrum of society, we get no breaks, no quota, no glass ceiling to blame for our shortcomings. We are not discriminated against in ways the media is willing to make known. We are expected to be the hard working providers, to suck it up and deliver on the expectation of having had all the advantages while growing up.

    This is where the problem lies. We are underprivileged and discriminated against as much as the next demographic, but we are branded as sissies if we voice that claim.

    How many intelligent, non-sporting, geeks out there have had the proverbial sand kicked in their face? How many have gone on to become Charles Atlas? How many have gone on to become Charles Manson?

    What the media is missing is not that these kids had a screw loose - it takes that to go berzerk. It isn't that they were desensitized to violence, I'll admit that I am... How many of you are dismayed that there is no UNDO button in your life? I am.

    It is not NOT the fault of the parents, but a teen CAN hide things from a parent - even a pipe bomb and a gun. It's easy. If you can hide pot, you can hide ammo. This is not the issue. It isn't even the issue that parents are too busy to care - for the most part they're not, and it's more than a full time job to be completely aware.

    Your kid needs some space from you - else you raise someone incapable of living their own life. Parental involvement, or lack thereof is not the issue either.

    What is at issue is pure animal reactionism. Colorado was a suicide mission. So was the Kip incident. They just took their sources of pain with them when they died.

    Consider: If you chain up a dog in your back yard, and beat it, and kick it, and underfeed it, and leave it in bad weather, and yell and alienate and hurt - will you dare wonder why it bites?

    These kids were beaten and humiliated for at least their four years of highschool. They were abused by jocks, embarassed by the popular girls and looked down upon by the teachers that were there to help them into the 'real world'. Why was it a gym teacher that was killed? This was the only class they were failing, probably. It takes little thought to run laps, and you have to use the same locker room as the jocks that constantly give you wedgies. If you go to the teacher, you're labeled a panzie.

    They grew up feeling like a minority, but seeing another minority get breaks and special treatment. There isn't a White History month, is there? There isn't a Geeky, Smart Male support group.

    These kids saw the world as inherently unfair, hurtful and not worth living in. Their suicide was not an escape from responsibility or a resignation from the challenge of living - it was a singular assertion of control over their own destiny. They could not change the way the world treated them, so they took away the world's means to hurt them - they took their lives.

    And, in the process of asserting their control over their lives, they chose to stick it to the world, just once. They got back at the people that had hurt them in a way that will forever be remembered. All the people that ignored them, saw through them and dismissed them as white thrash will remember them forever.

    It's little wonder, from this perspective, to blame these kids for turing to neo-Nazism, racism and seclusion. These were the only niches of our demented culture that actually offered these misfits a sense of belonging to a community.

    There's a whole treatise to be written on how a community of hate alters it's members mindset to serve it's own goals, but the point here is this: These kids were driven out of society proper by their inability to fit in. They were at the bottom of the pecking order, and they chose to separate themselves. They chose to associate themselves with a hateful mindset, and who can blame them? The mindset pushed their already well greased resentment buttons, and as life became more hopeless, they chose to go out in a blaze of glory - in their miswired frame of mind at least.

    These kids were the children of our society, we let them down and they bit the hand that should have fed and nurtured them - but failed to do so.
  • by Magneto ( 15277 ) on Friday April 23, 1999 @10:18AM (#1919755)
    I think the best explanation that I've heard for "why?" this happens came from President Clinton hours after the shooting. These kids build up massive grievances, and no one's reaching them.

    I have to admit, I've been glued to the TV when the news of these killings came on. I knew the kids at my HS who wore trench coats and were on the rifle team. They were the science fiction club. I know it's probably a generalization or a stereotype, but every high school has those kids. Does that mean that they'll snap?

    I've yet to see anyone to take on the bigger problems in this case. How easy was it for these kids to get automatic weapons? How could they build a massive arsenal of guns and bombs with no one (parents, friends, teachers) noticing? Why did their classmates insist on tormenting and teasing them?

    Blaming "society" and our exposure to violence is too easy an answer, and not a good enough one. The U.S. never had this problem when we were involved in Vietnam, in Korea, or World War II.
  • I don't think that he IS blaming the gun. The real culprits here are the two extremely disturbed children who decided to kill people they didn't like. The guns ENABLED them to kill the people that they didn't like.

    As an Englishman living in the USA, the whole gun debate worries and amazes me. I can understand how guns were integrated into the American culture. However, don't you think that progress should be made on the issue for the sake of our society and our childrens safety? At the very least, don't you think that people who own guns should be made to own them RESPONSIBLY i.e. by keeping them locked up at all times? Legislation making gun owners responsible (at least in part) for tragedies enacted with their weapons may well reduce the number of legally owned weapons available to these types of disturbed individuals.

    As far as your comment about '...who should have them? The government alone?', are you expecting the US people to have to rise up in an armed militia against the government any time soon?
  • by lee ( 17524 )
    Well, as far as help, I don't need it now. I made it. Soon after I graduated, I left home never to return. Now, I am 30. I have been married 10 years, have a good job in IT, a couple of degrees, and many good friends. I am happy now. I don't know how my tormenters fared, because I live far from where I went to high school. I was very lucky to make it through at all though.

    Actually for me larger schools were easier because I seemed to be able to find more friends at larger schools. Different stuck out more at smaller schools. I know because I moved around. As far as uniforms, well i have no experience so i will not comment.

    As someone else here has stated, we need to reach out to young people who have been marginalized and let them know that life gets better, especially for nerds and geeks. Any one who tells a teenager "these are the best years of your life" should be corrected, firmly. They deserve a good kick in the teeth for saying that, but one thing we need to show young people is that violence is unacceptable even when richly deserved.

    I have reached out to a few teens since then, both online and in real life, and have gained some good friends. In this way, by serving as a away to connect people who are otherwise alone, the internet can serve to make these tragedies less likely. This is not some selfless good deed on my part. I have found real friends. I don't pose as a mentor or counselor; I am just me. I get back too. Some of these disgruntled teens can really write :-)
  • by lee ( 17524 ) <> on Friday April 23, 1999 @10:57AM (#1919775) Homepage
    High schools are places where different, unathletic kids are marginalized to the point that any opinions they express are dismissed. High school did a very good job of telling me that I did not matter at all. It did not matter that I had wonderful grades. It did not even matter that I did have a small but close group of friends.

    I was humiliated repeatedly by those that were athletic and popular. I am sure each school has different little indignities that are visited upon unpopular kids. In my school, they denied simple dignities to me such as a place to sit and eat my lunch. If I tried to sit down and eat at a table first I was ridiculed and if I did not get up then I was literally pushed onto the floor. It did not matter which table either as there was a shortage at our school. They also set up pranks with me as the butt and used me as a punch line for jokes. They often stole my homework to copy it so that they could get better grades. If I complained to authorities, I was told to work on my social skills and not to be a tattletale. I fought back however I could,which amused them greatly. They made fun of my complete impotence to affect them.

    But I was female. Society punishes males more for being powerless, impotent. As a female, I was trained and pressured to be less out spoken, nicer--especially because I was not pretty. I was told time and again just to take it, not make waves. I was told that I could not afford those qualities because I was already not attractive and unpopular--being outspoken as well was just antagonizing people.

    I don't think that we encourage young white males just to accept impotence. I think we instill in them the American feeling that "you too can be president" and "you can make a difference" and "you matter--speak and be heard." Must be quite a shock for these boys to find out in high school that they have suddenly been marginalized as well. It is quite the double bind for them.

    I don't know what triggers the violence. I do know that when you place people in double bind situations you get irrational behavior.
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Friday April 23, 1999 @10:25AM (#1919811)
    It was pretty scary hearing the chief investigator tell Jim Lehrer that the internet was an "underregulated resource". But maybe not too much cause for worry, because most public officials seem to think that all resources available to the public are underregulated.

    But the biggest threat to the internet probably doesn't come from public prosecutors and the anti-erotica crowd: the biggest threat comes from Linux and MP3. Why? Because these are stepping on the toes of some wealthy and very well entrenched economic special-interest groups, and wouldn't be nearly so big a threat to them without the internet. Furthermore, it's likely that other such innovations will follow. So I expect that said interest groups will soon jump in bed with the hand-wringers and moralizers to form a large, powerful coalition calling for extreme regulation of content.

    If this happens, and if they get their way, the internet will end up becoming just another TV-style medium for force-feeding commercials to the masses; there won't be any allowance for individuals who want to use it for creative/constructive purposes.

    That's my fear, but not it's not a done deal yet. Educate your friends, relatives, and public officials.

  • by brad.hill ( 21936 ) on Friday April 23, 1999 @11:36AM (#1919832)
    The fact that these killings only occurr in "perfect" suburban and rural communities shouldn't be one of the mysteries of these killings, it is rather a glaring indicator of why they happen.

    I think the recent killings are different than those prior. I'd especially draw a line between incidents where the kids kill their parents and where they only kill peers. Kids from middle class, "good" families kill their peers in "perfect" suburbia because this environment is a pressure cooker for adolescents.

    In "perfect" suburbia, there is no escape from the fact that you don't fit in. There is no escape from ridicule, abuse, threats and the daily victimization that goes on for years in the lives of many many kids around the country. In a big city there are places to escape, other things to do. In suburbia, you can't even go to a movie or the arcade without all the kids from your school being right there, without all the ridicule being right there. Computers and fantasy games are common passtimes among these kids because it's their only escape.

    These killers came from middle class families in a middle class community where they'd been told all their life that they should be smart, do well in school, be polite and respectful of girls and they'd get ahead. They found themselves doing all the right things, and getting shat on for it. In that position, at that age, without the perspective of adulthood, the whole world begins to feel like a lie and a sham. There's no such thing as "kids stuff" at this age, because there's no big picture yet. School is your life, and in the emotional confusion of adolescence it's easy to lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel, and just how close that end is.

    These kids weren't noticed as problems because they weren't violent or maladjusted to begin with. They were the daily victims of violent and maladjusted kids, and they were just expected to take it and push on through. Nearly everybody else does, but these kids didn't have the steam valves in their life and they burst under the strain instead.

    Nobody would've noticed, or even been surprised, if these kids had just quietly killed themselves. All the reasons were there. What they decided to do instead was inexcusable, absolutely unforgivable, but sadly understandable. It seems more a testament to the success of our society so far that this doesn't happen on a monthly basis.

    More than anything, what these kids needed was some perspective. They needed somebody to take them aside and tell them that in a year or two they'll be in college. They'll hit puberty, their intelligence will be valued, and high school will seem like a distant dream. The jocks will be pumping gas or in jail, and college girls will want somebody who can help them with calculus. When they get out of school, they'll be making big $$ at a respected job while those other kids are selling shoes. Tell them that, yes, high school sucks, it's a huge sham and a lie, but that your life hasn't even started yet, and these jerks you have to deal with are going to spend the rest of their lives wishing they were back in high school while you leave them in the dirt on the way to new frontiers with experiences and people so vivid and exciting that they make h.s. look like a puppet show.

    We need a Slashdot young professional "You're drinking milk!" outreach program to reach young nerds before they crack.

  • This is something I sent to some friends last night, but it applies here as well:

    I was in the scapegoat role for 2 1/2 years at a certain Seattle elementary school (before that I went to a school where I was reasonably average in the popularity standings, and after that in junior high things were ok -- it was just those 2 1/2 years that were hell).

    I was kicked, punched, and verbally abused on a daily basis during my years at that school, for no particular crime other than being the new poor kid who showed up in mid-semester (and the reason I transferred in midyear was because of an abuse situation at my previous school -- a fourth grade
    teacher who basically went off the deep end but couldn't be fired for his abusive behavior because of his seniority (!). 4 of us ended up being
    transferred to other schools because the situation was so serious. Let's just say I was a little traumatized by the whole thing). All the
    neighborhood kids at my new school (this was pre-busing) were either blond and went to the Lutheran church or they were Irish and went to Our Lady of The Lake. I was all and none of the above and I didn't live in the neighborhood. Maybe that was all it took to become the punching bag.

    When I ended up in the principal's office after being beat up, I was told "You must be doing something to egg them on." Apparently walking down the hall trying not to make eye contact makes you deserve to get kicked and hit and have your schoolwork strewn about the rainy playground. I learned pretty damn quickly that I would not be getting any support from the school: not from the principal, not from the teachers, not from the
    counselors. All I could do was wait for it to end.

    Sometimes I think that the school administration *encouraged* the cliques in the school; perhaps they thought the clearly-defined hierarchy of students made their jobs easier. I don't know. I certainly didn't see much sympathy from them and I was going through a lot of pain. They seemed to buy into the whole hierarchy as if it was *right.* This includes most of the teachers, too.

    I wish that people would maybe try to emphasize that so-called typical childhood cruelty is something that shouldn't be tolerated. So what if
    "kids are just that way"? Why not try to teach them a little empathy?

    Some of the reactions I've seen to the Littleton thing seem to imply that being different is wrong and that perhaps these kids should have tried harder not to be outsiders. Why don't people look at it the other way -- maybe the insiders should try harder not to *create* outsiders?
  • by Skynyrd ( 25155 ) on Friday April 23, 1999 @11:22AM (#1919853) Homepage
    I live next to Springfield, and am employed by the school district where the shooting was last year. Obviously, I'm not speaking for them. I got my fill of the media, and haven't been glued to the current shooting. I've had enough, and don't know the details of Littletown, but I'd like to address a few of your points.

    >> How easy was it for these kids to get
    >> automatic weapons?

    Did they have automatic weapons? Uzi's? M-16's? BAR's? or did they have SEMI-automatics? (some people call them - "self-reloading")

    There is a HUGE difference between an automatic and a semi-automatic weapon. Most new semi-automatic pistols hold 6 to 8 rounds, but the maximum, by law, is 10. In reality, there isn't much capacity difference between new revolvers and new semi-autos. A good shooter can empty and reload a revolver in about the same time as a semi-auto.

    Getting rid of guns in the US will be impossible. Besides that, people who want to kill will find a way to do it. Take away the guns & they'll use pipe bombs or drive through a crowd in mom's Suburban.

    I grew up in an area where everybody was armed, and I was shooting by the time I was 6 and have owned a gun since I was 8. I still shoot, yet I've never aimed a gun at a person or an animal. A gun is just another tool that can be used for good or bad - just like a car, knife, hammer or 2x4.

    In my opinion, is is society problem. There are other countries that are armed - Israel and Switzerland for example. If it isn't an American society problem, why aren't Israeli kids shooting each other? Why aren't Swiss kids getting dad's rifle out of the closet and shooting each other? It's an American problem, not a gun problem.

    Captain Skynyrd

  • There has been so much conversation about how easy it is for kids to get guns, for how easy their "access" is. But no one is asking the proper followup question, which is 'Why do they have such easy access to guns? What are the channels to that access?'

    The access that kids have to guns is generally through two channels: 1) they get them from home or, 2) they buy them on the black market. The solution to the first channel is for gun owning parents to be responsible and secure their weapons. The bigger problem, however, is the second channel, the black market.

    By definition, anyone obtaining anything from a black market is breaking the law, so more laws will not eliminate the market, they will only expand its scope.

    Why is there such a thriving black market for guns? It certainly didn't arise as a response to the overwhelming demand of children for guns. The black market is getting guns into the hands of children, but their demand didn't create the black market. Whose demand did feed the growth of the illegal arms trade? The criminal elements associated with the drug trade. The demands of the drug trade for weapons to protect/defend/acquire markets has led to the huge amount of guns that are available on the black market, unregulated by any gun law or legal authority. There are so many illegal guns out there that the spillover is resulting in children being able to purchase guns cheaply and easily.

    My thesis is that the rise of the gun culture, and therefore the rise in gun use by children, is one of the many unintended consequences of our nation's illogical obsession with the never-ending drug war. The drug war has led to the prolific rise in the number of unregulated weapons in this country, weapons that find their way into the hands of drug dealers and high school freshmen alike. When we, as a society, come to our senses about our irrational reaction to the use of euphoriants and treat their abuse as a medical issue rather than a criminal issue, then we will see a reduction in the violent crime related to the drug trade as well as a reduction in the amount of guns that are available on the black market, a market that our children are using to arm themselves against the diffuculties of childhood.

    my .02

    BTW, I do not own a gun, I do not frequently use illegal drugs (though I've occassionally used them in the past). I say this to illustrate that I am not an NRA gun nut, and I'm not a stoner looking for a way to make my habit easier. I'm just thoroughly convinced that the drug war has extremely detrimental effects on society, and the spread of guns and violence is one of the more obvious examples. When is the cure worse than the disease?

    O.K., I guess that's my .04

  • Latest news reports that the kids involved in the shooting apparently made a film for a class several months ago in which they were shown going through school killing athletes. For a class. Meaning people other than themselves obstensibly watched it. People like teachers. And, oddly enough, nobody apparently thought anything of it or perceived it as a possible warning that these kids could seriously snap and actually do such damage.

    And the media is quick to blame video games for this? I already saw one story where it was revealed the two kids were .WAD makers for DOOM as well, and claimed one level they made was "a good killing level". This of course was jumped upon by the hysterical reporters.

    Granted, there's no single explanation for what happened in Colorado. However, some contributing factors would appear to weigh more than others, and I think it appropriate to rank the inattentiveness and inactivity on the parents' part and the teachers' part higher than video game violence. But I guess as the aftermath of the Arkansas shooting shows, it's much easier to sue manufacturers of video games (those game designers sure do have deep pockets) rather than take a long look at one's own faults.

    I'm really really getting fed up with the sensationalistic American media. Sigh.

  • My dad called last night and left a message on my voice mail to watch keep a special eye out for the people I hang around. The guys in colorado do fit in closely with anything that would resemble my subculture. But I figure the bottom line is that these kids are forced to deal with a substandard system. They have to go to school and waste their time learning things they already know. It's frustrating, and it's not right. But for myself and my close freinds, our way of dealing with it is to fight it by getting inside and changing it, not by destroying its participants. When I need to kill a group of people, I'll go play quake. I seek refuge in being able to blow people up over the internet, and knowing that it's just a game. The realities of the school system are more horrid than anything I could ever hope to achieve, but I do my part to change it. I feel that the incident in colorado was a great loss for us. It sends the wrong message about where the problems really lie. But on the otherhand, hopefully it will wake america to the real problems.

    "Black man, white man, rip the system!"
  • by morrigan ( 32728 ) on Friday April 23, 1999 @10:30AM (#1919927)
    Misifts are not inherently violent, but misfits with bad parents can be. Where have the parents been during this whole mess? I have heard
    all about how Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold played violent games and watched violent movies, how they were outcasts, how they wore black clothes and trenchcoats--thank goodness they didn't play Dungeons and Dragons, or we'd have to sit through that old song and dance again--but I haven't heard a single thing about their home lives or their families.

    Sure, John Katz can say that these kids were "generally well-parented" but I think the empirical evidence shows otherwise. Unfortunately, I don't think Eric and Dylan are going to be volunteering information about their upbringing anytime soon.

    So, the news never said: are their parents divorced, or still together? Did their mothers and fathers love them? If so, how did they show it? Surely any concerned parent would notice their child storming around in black boots and a trenchcoat, talking about Hitler and playing violent video games all the time, and regardless of what anyone says, it's kind of hard to overlook a bomb-building operation in a kid's bedroom. Did their parents take any action, or just call it a phase that they were going through and ignore them?

    When I was growing up, I wore a lot of black, I studied explosives and bomb-making, I learned how to shoot, and I memorized complete copies of _Jane's Infantry Weapons_ and various army and special forces survival manuals. It was a funky hobby that never really went anywhere. I've worn a black trenchcoat almost every day for ten years, I've played DOOM-like games since they first appeared, and I'm a big fan of John Woo films. To the best of my knowledge, I never went nuts and killed anyone.

    I also graduated at the top of my high school class and graduated with honors from an ivy-league college, and I'm now happily married and managing the support team for a successful tech startup. I give credit for all of my success to my parents, who took an active interest in what I was doing and why, without trying to control my life.

    So what if you play QUAKE a lot and you know how to turn Mr. Clean and Clorox into mustard gas? You shouldn't be asking where these kids found out how to do all of this stuff, or what violent acts sparked their imaginations. You should be asking what motivated them to use their knowledge, and where their parents were when they were planning and preparing.

    Banning trenchcoats and restricting access to "dangerous" knowledge isn't going to solve the problem. Forcing parents to wake up, smell the gunsmoke, and start RAISING THEIR CHILDREN is going to solve the problem.

  • by eyepeepackets ( 33477 ) on Friday April 23, 1999 @10:18AM (#1919936)
    Why would individuals want to do this? Media and authority types will not grok the answer because they are culpable, hence all the scape-goating of the net, games, etc.

    In a society such as ours which is saturated with advertising-related media, the major effect--and end result--will always be homogenization of culture. The end result of homogenization of a culture is intolerance towards those who either aren't or refuse to be homogenized and who are thus cast out of the system or otherwise marginalized. Once marginalized, they are targeted by those who are willingly homogenized: Think peer-pressure as condoned and encouraged by those in authority at various levels of society (those who run schools, businesses, governments, etc.)

    The primary culpret in this tragedy, even if indirectly, is the U.S. media/advertising monstrosity. The secondary culpret is the schools themselves, which are far more oriented towards socialization than towards education, where those who run the schools actively encourage young people to either become homogenized or marginalized. The whole push towards school uniforms for everyone is a push towards homogenization and will result in even more marginalization and acting out by those who don't and won't agree that life is like a Gap commercial.

    In summation: Any school in this country where individuals or groups of individuals are exposed to ridicule, ostracism and other forms of punishment for expressing individuality or difference is a breeding ground for just this type of incident. Specifically, I've gleaned that this school in Colorado is typical in that the jock/cheerleader crowd are the "favorites" (very predictable) and ridicule and harrasement of other groups of students is common.

  • Wash ington Post:Killers Fused Violent Fantasy, Reality []


    Harris and Dylan Klebold were bright young men who became social outcasts at their suburban Denver high school, and then built their own internal society by plucking strands from the pop whirlwind of cyberspace and fantasy games, the soundtrack of American youth, and a netherworld that glamorizes Nazi symbols and terrorist violence... Klebold, who attended the senior prom Saturday night, spent a lot of time playing Internet war games like Doom, but serious fans of Doom in the Denver suburbs say they had never heard of either of the Littleton shooters... Similarly, although many students describe Harris and Klebold as "Goths," and report that the boys considered themselves part of the Gothic subculture, local Gothic groups knew nothing of the pair... Harris and Klebold were dabblers, skimming through the fringes of the culture, searching, tasting, shouting and, in the end, finding nothing that could make them whole.
  • by cje ( 33931 ) on Friday April 23, 1999 @10:55AM (#1919952) Homepage
    Katz, you doof. :-) You know perfectly well that this is going to turn into yet another thousand-comment debacle with the "authoritarian liberals" at the throats of the "loony gun nuts." Such is the nature of this debate.

    Anyway ..

    Whenever something like this happens, the same group of usual suspects is always lined up and paraded in front of the public for analysis. In this case, this motley crew of usual suspects are

    • lax gun laws and American gun culture
    • rock music ("shock rock" nowadays)
    • violent movies/television programs
    • bloody video games
    • more recently, the Internet

    However, in the absence of any damning, concrete evidences that actually conclusively faults any of the above-listed suspects, it is perhaps useful to step back and look at the problem from a more fundamental viewpoint.

    The crux of the problem is that for whatever reason, people in general (and Americans in particular) are growing less and less tolerant of each other. Respect for and cooperation with others is becoming rarer and rarer. This is not a phenomenon that is observationally limited to kids and high schools. There are signs of this in almost every facet of ordinary, daily life.

    Take, for example, the buzzword de jure: "road rage." A careless driver cuts off another driver, who becomes so enraged that he follows the poor bastard to his home, and proceeds to break his jaw. When did we hear about things like this happening, say, ten years ago? What about five? What is it that is promoting this sort of dangerous mindset in what should be a nonthreatening situation?

    I don't pretend to know the answer to this question, and similarily, I don't pretend to have a solution. However, in my opinion, trying to identify and fix what's wrong with American's high schools is like irradiating only a small portion of a much larger tumor. People are losing their sense of community. Maybe one day we'll know why.
  • Oh give me a break. I'm sat here in england and where doing just fine with the un-realistic situation of not letting the general public have firearms. Sure people get shot, but at least because having a firearm is harder to do leagaly someone is more likely to get arrested for having the gun than using it.
    People will find other ways of killing people, but I'd far rather someone came at me with a kinfe than a gun.
    We do have bombers but there's always going to be people who are screwed up and make life as difficult as possible for them is the least we can do.
    If your worried about the goverment having guns. Why give them an excuse to fire on you. If you don't have guns they'll a lot less inclinded to shot at you.
  • by Jamm!n ( 39007 ) on Friday April 23, 1999 @10:10AM (#1919985)
    Something has to take the blame, because otherwise America would have to face up to some pretty nasty truths: namely that some people are just psychopathic, whether it be genetic or a mental illness, some people have an inbuilt desire to hurt and to kill.

    A failure to face up to these facts leads to the sort of pathetic response that we've seen from Charlton Heston. We'll blame their trenchcoats, we'll blame the internet, we'll blame Marilyn Manson, we'll blame *anything* as long as we don't have to confront the reality that this sort of person will always be around, and if you give them access to guns they will kill, and they'll kill you before you've even reached for your gun.

    The plain truth is that there will always be would-be killers. The only way to reduce the number of people they actually kill is to take away the means of mass slaughter - ie guns. It's so simple. As a friend of mine put it, "if i feel like killing people and i have access to guns, it's easy. if i only have access to bananas, i might still be able to kill someone, but it's a lot more difficult".
  • ==================

    While the tragedy in Denver has (yet again) forced America to focus a critical eye on the activities of children, what will the long-term outcome be?

    Zip. Zilch. Zero. The nada enchilada.

    The rigmarole that always follows these atrocities is useless at best. At worst, it further desensitizes an already cold public.

    I do sympathize with the people in Littleton, but do they really give a damn? Should they? They don't know I exist. They shouldn't care how I nor anyone else feels aside from themselves.

    Their children are dead. They aren't coming back. But there goes the American public sending flowers and "I'm so sorry your entire life was annihilated" cards. The poor parents of those children will be inundated by worthless condolences in a matter of days.

    I assure you they would cheerfully trade every flower bouquet on Earth for just 1 more second with their child. One smile, one laugh, one more breath would justify any barter.

    For the public to even halfway entertain the notion that a paper card and wilting vegetation will somehow offset the misery that belongs to those parents is absurd. But it won't stop them. It never does.

    The stock reaction to tragedy seems to be the sending of flowers. Remember Diana. They needed a bulldozer and a dump truck to clean up the resulting mess. And did the senders ever bother to think who they were sending the flowers to? Was it Diana?!?

    When people commit such acts it is generally to make themselves feel better. There is NO WAY that a handful of flowers will make the victims, direct nor residual, feel better. The only thing that will return those parents/relatives/friends to a normal state-of-mind is the return of their loved one and that isn't going to happen.

    But I'll bet my wallet that they feel as if it is.

    Every day that passes, the parents wait for the familar clicks of a key turning in the front door lock, knowing it won't happen but feeling as if it should.

    Girlfriends wait for their nightly phone calls that will never beckon them again.

    Little brothers eagerly wait for their sisters so they can show them their new muscles, new toys, new pet. They will wait for eternity.

    Therein lies the tragedy, the people that are left behind. Regardless of your religious beliefs or absence thereof, death isn't so awful. You either go to Heaven, are stuck in limbo, get reincarnated or simply go to sleep forever. We'll leave out the Hell option since, after all, these were kids.

    The real Hell is reserved for the living victims. The ones closest to those slain have been permanently altered mentally and emotionally. How many times will a father imagine the final moments of his daughter's life? How many times will he see her on her knees, begging her to-be killer to spare her life only to have the zombie coldly pump lead into her beating heart?

    And the mothers. My God, the mothers. Can a mother deal with this? Is it possible? Everytime she undresses and sees the stretch marks on her breast from the son that once suckled her body, the very body that intimately carried him for months, she will remember that he is gone forever. No more hugs in the morning. No more letting him borrow the family car. No more admiring the years of hard work it took to mold him into a young man. That is all over.

    The pathos of this tragedy and those like it is that it can never be rectified. It can never be fixed. Out of necessity, the relatives and friends will harden the parts of their soul that need it so they can go on, but they won't heal. That doesn't happen. You scab over, you calous, you don't heal. You can't return to normal after something like this. It isn't an option.

    When faced with the consequence of an irreparable situation, the only defense you have is prevention. But instead of making real changes to alter society, here is exactly what America will do:

    We will argue.
    We will blame.
    We will sue.
    We will cry.
    We will send flowers.

    But we will DO nothing. The next time it happens, and it WILL happen again, we'll repeat the same steps.

    The tragedy is with the living as much as it is the dead.

    All I ask is that if this ever happens to me or my family, please, don't send flowers.


  • I'm a HS senior. I had a semi-normal early childhood. People stopped talking to me around the third grade, I came home from school crying a lot. Middle school was awful. Nobody talked to me, this fat kid beat me up, and the only girl I could work up the courage to talk to treated me like I had ebola.

    First two years of high school: I sat at a table alone (well, first half of freshman year there was a geek table, but all the geeks vanished for parts unknown) until I started to talk to people again towards the end of my junior year.

    I have a place at a lunch table, but I still don't talk much. I sometimes ask myself why I bother. But I sit there, every day. I _should_ be at that table -- the valedictorian is there, the people who don't do drugs and try to succeed are there, but I don't belong. The other end of the cafeteria houses the delinquents, who listen to some of the same music, don't pull a shocked expression when I tell them that I got sloshed over the weekend, and won't slap me for swearing. (Figuratively. Physical violence is _so_ proletarian.) But I don't belong with them either.

    I have a reputation for being clever, mostly because I do well on standardized testing. But I have weakness. Oh, the weakness. I'm meek as can be, but I pissed off the wrong people in March of my sophomore year. Luckily, they were a grade ahead of me, but a year and a half of constantly looking over my shoulder was enough to probably scar me for the forseeable future. I still get nervous when I'm on foot and hear a car approaching from behind. That time, a year and a half, was my personal darkest hour. The hick behind me in one class offered to buy me an assassin. (He's a habitual liar, of course, but that kind of thinking didn't enter into my mind.) I told him I wanted it. And that was my moment of weakness, my absolute lowest point.

    If I had refrained from violence, it was from fear. Those two boys had no fear. They sensed their own doom and made the most of it.

    I thought I sensed my own doom. But the troublemakers were shipped off to delinquent school. I have a girlfriend (I didn't see the point in it before, but it's the greatest damn thing in the world.) I have self-confidence. (Sort of. My people skills still aren't entirely up to snuff -- when I'm outgoing, it's forced. But at least I _want_ to be sociable.)

    I can understand the hopelessness and abject pain those boys were in. And there were times when the only thing stopping me from violence was my own weakness.

    I see an unspoken thread in the posts, and I say it here, aloud. I am not so different from those two boys. Insanity? A word to say 'hey, that's not me, never me.'

    And the racism? There's not nice way to put this. Ethnic people (if you don't check 'white' on the survey card, you're ethnic) in my town are recvent immigrants. The vast majority live in the projects. And are poor. And have no future. And become bullies. It's a small leap to associate dark skin with that behavior when it's constantly reinforced.

    And the slaying of people who were debatably innocent of the whole abuse-thing? Not to say that bully-murder should be legal, it just doesn't make any _sense_ to kill random people. Or does it? If the pain is so great that the entire world seems to be arrayed against you, is it that hard to understand?

    It seems ridiculous to say this. I read the bios of the slain, I feel a pit in my stomach. But then I remember diving behind a hedge in terror two years ago, and I understand. If you haven't been there, you can't.

    Whew. Personal. Yowch. I'm gonna go to sleep now. Mail if I seemed insightful.

    -grendel drago

    we sow the seeds of our own destruction.

    be like me, read stupidmovies. []
  • Does that mean that my parents should have looked through all of my books? I read quite a bit of Tolkien when I was younger and those books deal very graphically with war in a fantasy land. Did I not have the right to read that? Should my parents have become suspicious whan I became fascinated with Rennaisance warfare? Maybe we should legislate weekly Child Checks, where parents go through everything in a kid's room and computer and remove everything 'objectionable'.

    #Asbestos suit ON

    To a point, I have to blame the killers themselves. I'm really sorry they were 'persecuted'. So was I. I was discriminated against, spit on, beat up, ignored, taunted, made fun of, and generally in a much worse (IMO) situation then these two. Yet I have killed no one. Hell, I've never even been in a fist-fight (yet). And now our fine country is going to blame everyone and everything _but_ these two. That is the sick and twisted part.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell