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More Stories From The Hellmouth 563

More stories from the Hellmouth that is High School for many bright, individualistic American kids continued to pour in yesterday. They are jarring testimonials from kids, adults, men and women. In the past four days, I've gotten well over 2000. These stories, many of them painful and engraged, tell us more about what happened in Littleton, Colorado -- a lot more -- than the dumb, exaggerated, frightening alarms about video games, Goths and geek monsters pouring out of much of the mainstream media. Update: 04/27 07:44 by CT : Sharon Isaak from Dateline NBC wants to get in touch with folks to do a story on this subject for this show. She's specifically seeking Jay of the Southeast, Anika78 of suburban Chicago, ZBird of New Jersey, Dan in Boise, Idaho, but he'd also like anyone who's been targetted as a result of this thing to contact her. Wonder if they make ya wear pancake makeup...

The messages started coming in a trickle Friday afternoon, then a torrent by Monday. They were wrenching, sometimes astonishing, an electronic outpouring of anger and compassion.

These jarring testimonials explained more - a lot more - about Littleton than all the vapid media stories about video violence, Goths, game-crazed geeks.

For a writer, there? s nothing more humbling than to be at a loss for words. I can't do more justice to these stories than to let them speak for themselves.

By last night, I had received thousands of e-mails about life in junior and high school. Few remembered it fondly - none, in fact. Some had unbearable memories. Some are still recovering. Many more are still there, suffering every day.

Many of you wrote asking if you could help these kids. Others wondered if there was any way to get the message about their lives out beyond Slashdot, if these stories might reach the mainstream media in some form.

Don't worry about that. The column and the responses to it richocheted all over the world, via e-mail, mailing lists, links, even faxes. There were scores of requests to reprint. For any others, and on behalf of Slashdot, be my guest.

On the Net, ideas don't need to be pushed. They find their own audience and stand or fall of their own weight. Eventually, I will answer each e-mail, and am grateful for them.

In the wake of the killings in Littleton, Colorado, here are more stories from The Hellmouth, from its current and former children:

From Eric near Littleton, Colorado:

"?I live just a few miles north of the school between the same streets. I'm a geek under the skin. I was a state champ in the high jump, and the leading scorer on the track team, so I was not quite the outcast that some of the geeks are, but I understand what they are going through. I wasn't very popular despite being the big athlete on campus, but I at least had respect.

I am very happy to see you and Slashdot carrying coverage of "the other side" of the story; the side nobody else wants to look at. These outcast kids are now being swept under the rug at best, and prosecuted at worst."

From Josh, a Slashdot reader:

"I was much like those kids when I was in school - weird, cast out, not much liked, alienated, all that sort of thing'I used to imagine bringing weaponry to school and making the fuckers who made my life miserable beg for mercy. (I was never sure what to do then, though. Do I let them go? They won't have learned, and after that, I could never turn my back. Do I kill them? I really just wanted to be left alone'Remember the scene in "Ender's Game.") I think my parents and their support made a lot of difference to me."

From John of Austin:

"?you can probably imagine the emotional scars that I still tote around with me at age 26. I still have yet to go to college, I have shelves upon shelves of books that I have bought, read and committed to memory. From literature to computer programming, there is no one that I can't have a meaningful and informed conversation with.

But to this day, the thought of entering another educational institution to prove that I have the facilities to be a ?meaningful? member of society makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end and turns my stomach inside out.

"I am the father now, and as such I worry about the kind of life my son will lead, too much at times, I'm sure'A few weeks ago I was watching the TLC (The Learning Channel) or the Discovery channel, and there was a special on the social structure within the United States prison system on. While I was watching it, I was thinking to myself just how similar it was to the social structure we find in schools.."

From John, who's 37 years old:

"What this really means to all my fellow young geeks out there? Endure. It may take a year, or two or five, but we will win'All those preps, jocks, etc., etc., will have their Ms. degrees, 2.5 kids, a job at Circuit City as an assistant manager, will be wondering where their life went, when we are coming into full bloom and taking over the world."

From Dan:

"How dare you glorify these scum? They were Nazi thugs, nothing more, nothing less. They are brutal murderers. They planned this on Hitler's Birthday, for God's sake. What kind of creep are you? How dare you compare them to geeks? They deserved everything they had coming to them, and so do you. May they rot in Hell."

From Kevin, a parent:

"I am married, have two wonderful little kids, and am, by conventional measures, considered "successful." I'm also a computer geek, a nerd, and still have painful memories of the emotional and physical trauma I sustained in high school. I still attend counseling regularly. I still take anti-depressants every day and will probably continue to do so for the rest of my life.

"Did I feel hate and rage for my attackers? Oh, yes. But I could never do anything about it and couldn't get anyone to help me. The only advice I got from my parents was to just ignore the bullys and eventually they'd leave me alone. Fortunately, I don't seem to be pre-disposed to violence or was too much of a coward to consider it. I can, however, see how the wrong kid in the wrong situation could go over the edge."

From Peter in Boston:

"I am a geek, and very proud of it. I have been beaten, spit on, pushed, jeered at. Food is sometimes thrown at and on me while teachers pretend not to see, people trip me. Jocks knock me down in the hallway. They steal my notes, call me a geek and a fag and a freak, tear up my books, have pissed in my locker twice. They cut my shirt and rip it. They wait for me in the boy's room and beat me up. I have to wait an hour to leave school to make sure they're gone.

Mostly, I honestly think, this is because I'm smarter than they are, and they hate that.

The really amazing thing is, they are the most popular people in the school, while everybody thinks I'm a freak. The teachers slobber all over them. Mostly, the other kids laugh, or walk away and pretend not to see it. The whole school cheers when they play sports. Sometimes, I want very much to kill them. Sometimes, I picture how I'd do it. Wouldn't you? But unlike those guys in Littleton, I never will. I value my own life much more. When I read these messages, I would ask other geeks to try and remember that, no matter what. And get online and make contact."

From Rory in Chicago:

"Would you bring a kid abused by his family to counseling and call him the problem? If that kid expressed rage and anger toward the world, we would call it a product of his abuse, and try to help him with this rage, treating him as the victim. However when it is other kids abusing each other, we treat the abusees as the problem and ignore the abusers altogether. Hunting down and persecuting the abusees is only going to alienate them further - not only with their peers be persecuting them but so will their parents and teachers."

From Jason, a Slashdot reader:

"Jon, please take these e-mails'and take them to CNN, ABC, NBC, whoever, what ever. Make them heard, and stand up for all of us! Geeks = different, different = okay, if not better! Make my mother understand, sweeping problems under the rug, or simply not dealing with them, doesn't do jack shit! And there's a bigger problem, it's them!

The people who think being different is bad, being geek is bad, TV, Games, the Internet, all bad! It will be hard, a minority against a majority! But please do it!"

From Evan: "I am 24 years old, and a successful professional now, but the, fifteen years ago, I was in the Hellmouth. Just wanted to shout some small form of encouragement out to the kids fighting today. Take your fight for the right to be different to the people with power, and enlist your parents? help. Remember that if you can get your parents to understand your need to be creative, and non-conformist, because your brain is just plain bigger than the small world of middle and high school, your parents can make a fuss to school boards. But if they won't listen, go to the school boards yourself. Peacefully, but forcefully, assert your right to be different by speaking out against fear and oppression. Because that's what it is. It's all about the fear.

People fear what they don't understand, and let's face it, the world of a geek isn't something most people can understand, if only because it's a complicated world filled with smart folks. And most people aren't complicated smart folks. You have GOT to break them of the fear. You gotta explain that it's an outlet, like racquetball or bridge. You have to explain it's not violent, it's colorful. You want violent? Look at football, look at sports.

That's REAL ACTUAL violence, not the simulated, stylized, far from even looking-real violence of video games or D&D (Dungeons and Dragons). And for a real kicker, ask them how many geeks are arrested for violent crimes and misdemeanors when compared to popular athletes."

From Cory, a high school student:

"I go to a private high school and on Wednesday in religion class I told the class, because we were on the subject that I could understand what would drive them (the killers in Littleton, Colorado) to do it. They said that it couldn't happen at our school and I responded by saying that it could because back in my freshman year it was so bad (the jokes, abuse, etc.) that I wished I had had a gun at home. I am a Senior now and 9 days from graduation. News got to the administration and I was suspended until I received an evaluation by a psychologist and was deemed safe to return to school. I have not been back to school since."

From MishtaE: "I've been out of school for awhile (not very long) but I still physically shake, I feel adrenaline go through my system when I think about my own junior high experiences'The feeling of hopelessness, of knowing that you have no one to go to who can or will make it STOP is a very horrid feeling. It makes you consider irrational things, because the rational ones obviously don't apply.

"But make no mistake, the cruelty inflicted on kids doesn't magically go away when you graduate (or drop out and get your GED at 16 as I did). You live with it, you learn to deal with it, but it's still there, and it does change you."

From LHRunkle, a self-described geek Mom:

"?my six-year old wonders why he isn't popular on the block, but does not enjoy racing his bike, or playing soccer. (Soccer is becoming fun.) He also wonders why noone else is reading the books he is. The online community did not exist when I was in high school, but geek culture did. Dungeons & Dragons (the original three-booklet set) and science fiction saved me.

"How many scared parents have taken the time to introduce their child to the items that kept them sane in high school? How many high school libraries are even allowed to stock Theodore Sturgeon, or all of Robert Heinlein? Before we go to Net culture, we need to face local culture. How many schools enforce a respect-for-all policy, and enforce it fairly? I know that I have a budding geek, and if I can get him sane through the next thirteen years, there will be another decent adult on this planet."

From Simon:

"The mainstream is missing the point. All over the world, "geeks" are standing up and saying "This is horrible and I know what cause it" and all over the world people are saying "Oh, my God! Another killer!" I'll spell it out: "The killers are a symptom of the alienation of an unrecognized minority - the geeks." No, that doesn't make it right. No, that doesn't mean a thousand more killers are lurking in the computer rooms of your schools.

"Failure to understand this severely limits your ability to correct it. I read with dismay that geeks are being cut off from the Internet and violent online games so that they "won't become killers."

Follow my logic here:

"Given: The killers were motivated in no small part by alienation. Reducing a persons contact with like-minded people increases their alienation. Reducing a person's sense of identify increases their sense of alienation. Geeks tend to communicate with each other via the Internet and online games.

"Conclusion: Cutting geeks off from each other (Internet access) and their identity (choice of clothing) will increase rather than decrease the likelihood of violence."

"I've been wracking my brain to figure out what stopped me (from hurting someone). I've been asking myself "what can I hand to people to fix this?" The answer is very simple. The faces are very clear in my memory of the few "popular people" who took the time to talk to me and find out about me. There are maybe a half a dozen. They showed me that they were people too.

I heard a report, it may not be true [it is] that one of the killers went and told one of his classmates before the killing, "I like you. Go home." If that happened if you are that person, you know that your attitude saved your life. If there were a few more like you, maybe it would have saved everyone."

From Armadillo:

" I thought I had put this behind me but I obviously haven't. This whole past week has really torn me up inside because 15 years ago, I was one of those kids. Because HS for me was sheer and utter Hell. I have no single memory that I can recall as being good.

I have no single person who I can recall as a friend. Hell, even the OTHER rejects kicked me around. I feel like I'm seeing this all through the eyes of a refugee from a war, who by some circumstance is rescued, taken off to a land far from the conflict, far from the danger and death and constant fear and destruction.

Years later, after having made some personal peace with the past, if not the people, they hear or see a report that their former home town or village has been bombed and the people they knew killed and it all comes flooding back.

"Why is it that we as geeks, freaks, nerds, dorks, dweebs'have to suffer while the clueless, bow-headed, tostosterone poisoned "normal" people are allowed to get away with murder'I wonder just how many outcasts have been driven to suicide because of just one too many tauntings or practical jokes on a particular afternoon?

"Why do we murder the spirits of our most gifted and talented young people? THEY are the ones that are our future. THEY are the ones that are best equipped to build the world to their hopes and dreams. The prom queens and cheerleaders will have their 15 minutes and then take their places among the teeming masses of consumers. They have already shown they want to be lead around and are more than happy to let society tell them where to go and what to do."

From Nick:

" I'm a junior in high school in a suburb of.... I felt that in light of what happened last Tuesday and your recent article on Slashdot, I should respond. Recently, one of my friends, Chris, was suspended for three days. He's an athlete (football and shotput), but is no means considered a "jock" as he plays computer games, reads fantasy novels, plays Warhammer 40K, etc. One person, Ryan, considered a "nerd" by his peers, mislabeled him [Chris} as a jock and decided to taunt him verbally. Chris is normally a nice guy who's never been in a fight before, as he gets along with most students. This verbal abuse continued for almost the entire school year so far.

Last Thursday, Chris slapped Ryan upside the head due to a particularly nasty thing that was said and Ryan picked up a chair, shouting death threats and swears. They were quickly broken up by the teacher and hall monitors, and were escorted to the dean's office.

Normally, each would only get a 1 day in-school suspension for what they did, but due to the incident in Colorado, each got three days and counseling by the school psychiatrist for the remainder of the year. The deans obviously overreacted, given the circumstances. What the main problem is here is that years of torment in people like Ryan's lives have led to such "classes" -- Goths, nerds, freaks, preps, etc. People form together in cliques where people are distinctly filed into the social pecking order. The high school situation could (and is) leading to a French Revolution-esque "class war" where social outcasts decide to say enough with the years of torment. Unfortunately, this is happening sooner than we think.

From Sally:

"The irony in the current coverage, at least to me, is that I remember my leather-jacketed, spiky-haired, combat-boot wearing friends as being for the most part peaceful, gentle, sensitive types - lots of vegetarians and anti-nuke people. Sure, there were a few who probably could have benefited from some therapy, but most of them were - and are - the nicest, kindest people I knew, despite their rather alarming appearance. After all, we had to be like that - we all knew what it felt like to be shoved in a locker, spit on, have stuff thrown at us, etc. I seem to remember the football players and other jocks as being a lot more violent and given to fits of rage and other displays of aggression.

... I certainly agree that the two shooters in Littleton were deranged boys filled with hate, But it's a fine line between a supposedly "well-adjusted" teenager [who bashes freaks] and a disturbed one."

From Matthew C in Wisconsin:

"I, like many of the Slashdot audience, was one of those those kids in high school, and junior high, and elementary school. I have suffered what those kids suffered, and continue to suffer. I made it through, but apparently not everyone does. The response to your article seems to suggest that there are many of us out there who want to help do something to curb the backlash to focus on the correct issue. I was wondering, in your surely large catalogue of responses to this column, have you found any hints of where we might send letters? Or who we might contact, to start telling people what the real problems are?

I want to help. I want to write, to talk, to help ensure that geeks of today and tomorrow aren't further persecuted for pursuing differences from the norm. We have to spread the word far and wide, teachers, parents and people who should know better than to ban trenchcoats, take away computers, and further drive their kids into depression and isolation. How can we organize something meaningful?"

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More Stories From The Hellmouth

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    While the stories are interesting, the problem with this post and your previous one, is that you are preaching to the converted. The people outside of our 'little' group are the ones that need to hear this stuff. We already know it
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by Nericus [mailto] (nericus@usa.net):

    I totally agree... I myself am a scarred geek, and I'm considering taking a VERY large chunk of bandwidth and distribute these messages to every teacher and school official I can get my paws on the e-mail addresses of....starting with my own hellhole Lamphere High School. The only thing that kept me from snapping was a female took interest in me as a human (a friend) and pulled me from the brink, I had gone to the extent that I was getting close to Littleton myself, except I'm much more creative. :) I've since mellowed now, comforted in the fact that Junior High & High School put enough emotional damage on me that I no longer feel pain, hurt and guilt. Usefull in this day and age, but the downside is that without guilt, there is no remorse...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm tired of people saying "nothing can be done" about the situation. Bullshit!!! There are a lot of things which can be done, starting with you. If you have a child, pay attention to your child. They need and want guidance from you, and if you don't provide it, they'll get it elsewhere.

    If you don't have children, volunteer! Help out at a youth camp (it was one of the best experiences I've ever had), the YMCA, Big Brother, etc. If your siblings have children, lend a hand! If your friends have children, lend a hand!

    Children practice what they are taught-- teach them respect and discipline, and they will be respectful and diciplined. Teach them fear, anger, and hatred, and they will be fearful, angry, and full of hate.

    Remember: no matter how well trained or well-mannered the dog, if you kick it enough times it WILL bite. But even a mean dog can be tamed, and taught peace.

    I challenge you now: make the world a better place, and earn your keep.

    Christian E Becker
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by Dante_Aliegri [mailto] (dantealiegri@dustpuppynospam.org):

    I've noticed several posts from the previous Katz article (only read a few hundred) and one from this article saying the poster 'hopes they rot in hell'. Which I find quite... interesting. They were probably already roting in the preverbial hell of High School.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    After almost ten years, I finally figured out my answer....(Although some people may think it cheesy)

    I went to high school in a little town on the northern fringes of New York. It was a dairy farming community. Like so many people at /., I was bright and well read when I entered Jr. High. That started it. Daily teasing, girls flirting with me only to quickly switch to insults. Etc.
    I didn't think it could get any worse.

    Then I started high school. I made a few friends, and things looked better. We played D&D, listened to "Alternative" Music (which really was in those days. :) ) And so on.

    One day I found a nasty, nabby old black oprea cloak in a closet, and I was dared to were it to school. And, of course I did....

    Then the real teasing started. Accusations of drug abuse/dealing (I didn'ts) abounded, also baby-killing, satanism. But, sadly I'm just a really stuborn person and I didn't give ground. I continued to wear the cloak, more because of their ridicule than in spite of it.

    Daily I was abused, used maxi-pads would be slapped on my back. People would walk behind me chanting "Babykiller" over and over and over.
    That daily chipping away can really wear on you.

    By the time I made it to graduation, it felt like I was crawling up to get my diploma. Not because I was defeated, but because I was tired, exhausted from constantly defending myself.

    Then college came(beautiful ole CMU), I continued to wear the cloak, but suddenly nobody noticed....
    I made friends, got into music, etc....

    I still remember college fondly, but that is not when I won.

    I won when after therapy, a new direction in my spiritual life, and a life threatening experience made me give up my anger.

    The kicker was one morning (about a year after I graduated) I woke up with an uncontrolable shaking up and down my left hand side. The violent tremors continued non-stop day and night. My doctor told me it could be 1) cancer, 2) Lou Greighs(sp?), or 3) a viral infection of my nervous system. The first two would be fatal, the second temporary. For the next six weeks of no-work and medical testing I had nothing to do but think about how I might be dying.

    I came to several conculsions. 1) All in All I'd had a pretty good life. 2) Life is just simply too short. 3) I wanted to stop being angry at the people who had scarred me so badly.

    Somehow, when I made that realization. When I put 2 & 3 together and realized life is to short to stay angry, I realized I'd won.

    Now I can't wait till my 10 year high school re-union (next year). I genuinely want to see these people again. Not to show off my beautiful soon-to-be-wife, or talk about my "cushy" software develpment job...

    But to get to know them, for the first time.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by Dante_Aliegri [mailto] (dantealiegri@dustpuppynospam.org):

    Thats interesting that a teacher allowed that.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by Perkolater:

    ...is a better understanding of ourselves and each other. Administrators need to stop worrying about lawsuits and start worrying about kids. Kids need to stop harassing and bullying each other for being different and start talking to each other for a change.

    As I mentioned in my post in the previous Hellmouth post, I went to a "magnet" school in North Carolina, which bused all these "gifted" kids from the suburbs to a school in the ghetto. The "gifted" kids, predominantly white/asian, got the advanced courses, and the base students, predominantly black, never got that opportunity.

    During my first years in high school, I was singled out by some of these so-called "gifted & talented" kids as an easy target. I got harassed and verbally assaulted plenty. I contemplated suicide. I found myself identifying less with those GT kids (excluding a few fun geek circles) and more with the base students. So I hung out with them more often, and I developed an appreciation for rap music. (This was back when Run-DMC was just hitting the mainstream and Public Enemy was considered a menace.) This made me even more of a pariah to the GT kids, who couldn't figure out why this white boy preferred hanging out with all these black kids instead of them -- even though they were pushing me away in the first place.

    Of course, that was before I started using rap music in class projects. I turned Beowulf into the baddest B-boy on the block. I put Chaucerian meter to a Public Enemy beat. I used rap twice for Calculus class projects. And I made A's just about every time. The teachers loved it, the base students thought I was cool, and the GT kids, even though they still didn't get it, left me alone. A few of them even thought enough to start talking to me like a human being.

    It's okay to be different. If we were all the same, life would be bloody boring. Until kids and teachers and administrators stop singling out anything different for persecution, what happened in Littleton will happen again. Rome is burning. Put down your violins and do something.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by ChilledWillie:

    To everyone out there, this is the perfect time to stand up and say something! ...just make sure you are saying the right thing. I am what some in the 'caste would lable a "geek" but clinging in groups of geek/ non-geek will not solve anything. it just gets more involved in the problem, sets a line in the sand and dares the other group to cross (read the book "The Outsiders") I recomend the Library to any teen (who is having troubles, in school- or out) look for Miyamoto Musashi, "The Book of Five Rings" (or spheres, or scrolls)
    He was born, and lived in Ancient Japan and he knows what it is like to be a teen in strife. Winning duels from the young age of 13 up to his twenties. "flow like water" he teaches "flow to mold any vessel that contains you" this is not to say CONFORM! but to appear as one who has CONFORMED. Win by desception, fool your enemies. this isn't saying to take swords to school and carve your classmates up like a roast, but always use YOUR HEAD! never let them get to you. wear your scars proudly, for it is through the pain of youth that adulthood is made strong. I am going to run this into one paragraph as I am just laying ideas down as they come to me.

    I think I am partially right, but always partially wrong... prove it by giving me feedback! I'll hollah at you latah, my people!

  • Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangster Of Love [mailto] (relaxing@home.com):

    You're culture spawned SCTV, Allanis Moanasette, and Michael J. Fox. yet you have the audacity to riticize the US?

    If this were Canada or the UK we'd all be begging big daddy government to ban unauthorized sale of plumbing supplies.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Most countries in eastern Asia have this similar system. High schools and colleges as well.

    My parents thought this system was unfair, that's why I am living in the US now. It is not nice to be told, indirectly, when you are 12, that you are not smart enough. I think a child should be given as much encouragement as possible to do the best they can.

    I think the US system is a good one. I think the bigger problem is in the American culture. It is so anti-intellectual. Who the hell came up with names like "nerd" and "geek" anyway? We should be called "gods" since we are the ones creating new technologies and innovations so that people's lives are more comfortable.

    While I was in school in Taiwan, I see none of these problems. Smart students were admired and praised, and everyone will work their ass off so they can be the smartest. This creates a lot of competition (and stress for the students as well, but I am digressing here.)

    Just take a look at the disproportionatly large number of Asian students in America's universities. Most of these students are either immigrants, or have parents who are immigrants. Most Asian families have a strong commitment in getting their kids the best possible education.

    Video games, internet, and what not have nothing to do with the violence you see in the real world. Just where do you think the majority of the video games in this country came from? Now take a look at Japan's crime rate? Hmmmm....
    Most jocks are too dumb, and their fingers to big to be able to hold a game controller. And gee, I wonder who are the violent ones.

    Well, sorry for being unorganized, but I was just typing out my random thoughts on this topic.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangster Of Love [mailto] (relaxing@home.com):

    >>Would you rather that we learn nothing from the Littleton tragedy and that there be *no* reaction to violence, threats, or the poor taste of wearing a trenchcoat to school the day after a massacre?

    Poor taste? It wasn't the trench coats that killed the people. It was the crazed people who wore them.

    I wore a trench coat from the time I was 16 until years after I graduated. If I were still in school I wouldn't have hung mine up because some people I didn't know died. I didn't stop wearing my camo BDUs when the Oklahoma City Federal building was blown up either.

    We didn't do it, we should have to face punishment for the two who did.

    >>Teachers are scared by it and are afraid of their students.

    GOOD! Many teachers at my alma mater were apathetic jerks. they hated me & kids like me because we knew more than they did. If they now treat kids who are like I was with fear instead of disgust, I say all the better.

    >> I have no pity for anyone punished for saying something like this because they have no common sense, and no respect for the fears of others.

    Nobody has to respect your fears. They're yours, you deal with them, not the rest of us. If you're afraid of spiders, do you expect me to not wear a spiderman T-Shirt? If you're hydrophoic do you expect me to not walk in the rain? If your ophidophobic should I not wear my snakeskin boots?

    Wake up, and then grow up.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangster Of Love [mailto] (relaxing@home.com):

    Re check your facts. The bombs caused more damage than the guns did.

    Then again, we Americans are sticklers for details

  • by Anonymous Coward
    When I first heard about the Colorado High school shootings, I wondered how long it would take before the audience at /. would start in on the "woe is me, I too was a high school geek" spiel.

    Are the people posting these tales of woe actually angry because they had it bad in high school, or are you pissed because someone else had it good. Everyone from the top of the social strata to the bottom felt awkward, inadequate, yeh... even geeky in high school.

    Yes some people had more fun than others, and every where you go in life you will encounter people who will torment those different than themselves (see /. postings about Microsoft).

    Geeks have their cliques to, it seems you are all pissed because D&D and video games didn't seem to help you get laid in high school.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by SoapDish:

    I come from a total geek background. I got ridiculed in MS and some in HS. That was all 6 years ago. I had intentionally forgotten those experiences. Reading this article brought them back to the surface.

    I had to forward it to a friend and get their responce. Since they didn't come from a background of ridicule they responded as though it was completely bogus. I went on to explain my experiences in school and finally they came to understand.

    My point is. I don't think the "In crowd" will really come to understand or except this way of thinking just by reading it in a magazine. Why should they? It never left a scar in their minds, or their backs. How can we truly get them to except this blatent problem?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by khaziel:

    I'm a senior in high school, and a major geek. The wierd thing about my school, and partly the area I'm from, is geeks are respected by many students. We're not "wierd" or "freaks" or any other misleading classes; we're just the "smart kids." Oddly enough, the dumb, conforming, non-thinking jocks are the ones looked down upon. Granted, they're not beat up, or taunted, because thay could literally beat us to a bloody pulp if a geek messed with them. -nota bene- I *hate* high school, and can't wait to get out of it, not because I was beat up, or taunted, but because I was outcast for not needing to apply myself to pass thru school. The four years of hell I have endured (not without mental breakdowns from the isolation, etc) will be well worth what my future will bring. I just hope that everyone can turn out happier, more adjusted, and more successful people in the future.

    One word of advice to anyone out there who is not like us geeks: Make friends with anyone you suspect is a geek, or might be having a hard time through school. I know from experience, being friends with just one nice, popular person can make a huge difference in the life of an outcast. Don't try to make them be like you, just make them feel welcome around the so-called "norm"

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by Perkolater:

    I don't buy this argument. Sports in and of themselves are not inherently evil. It's only when major sports become too important that they hinder education.

    Your example of the football team getting more money than the school itself is a good example. The problem is that the football team makes so much money, and because of that, it gets more support. This sort of materialism has ruined football and basketball from the top down, and the importance placed on those kids as money-makers permits them to believe they don't have to live up to the standards of society. We all know that Darryl Strawberry is a sad joke, but we put up with him because he like watching someone do something we can't -- in this case, hit a 90 MPH fastball 420 feet.

    What we should worry about are that other, less popular sports (tennis, swimming, cross country & track, gymnastics, etc.) don't get shafted in favor of major sports that get all the press. A lot of kids whom you and I wouldn't consider athletes participate in lesser-known, lesser-funded sports for a variety of reasons. Building self-esteem is a biggie here. I tried out for the baseball team my junior year in high school. I didn't make it, of course, but the other guys on that team looked at me a little differently after that, just for giving it a shot.

    Getting rid of all sports in schools isn't the answer, but a few changes could and should be made. For starters, football and basketball ought to be given over to the Amateur Athletic Union (an oxymoron if there ever were one) entirely. Those sports have become inherently corrupt -- everybody wants to be like Mike for all the wrong reasons -- so there's no point in that sort of corruption interfering with our schools.

    De-emphasis on athletics would help, but elimination takes it to much too far an extreme. Too many fathers and sons bond over sports for them to become outlaw activities. Besides, sitting in front of a computer all day isn't all that healthy, either. I have to loosen up my back doing *something*.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Only you Americans can concoct such paranoid scenarios...

    What do you think the government is? Are they some big magical force waiting to take everything away from you at a given instant? The government is there to ensure public health, safety and well-being... and it's every citizen's responsibility to ensure open, democratic dialogue between the state and the public to work towards a sustainable future... they're people with families too...

    Civilized nations have no need for widespread firearm ownership. The ominpresence of guns only feeds mutual fear, which in turn feeds the violence you see.

    Toronto (a city of 3 million people) had 50 murders last year. 50 out of 3 million. How many tens of thousands of people were murdered in NY or LA last year alone? When you Americans achieve that kind of ratio, then you can criticize Canadian gun control...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by joybutton:

    Since I changed schools a lot (moving from country to country) I didn't belong to any particular social group and was never popular. I saw things i liked in all groups, such as the comradeship of jocks, the joyous rebelry of the trouble-makers, the intelligence of the overachievers, and the computer-savvyness of the geeks.

    On the other hand, I didn't like the superficiality and narrow-mindedness displayed by the people who locked themselves into the roles of those groups. Jocks played sports and partied, scoffing at those who didn't. Overachievers had few interests other than pleasing those who graded them. Trouble-makers were rebels without cause or honor. And geeks sat around talking about geek stuff and ridiculing people whom they considered to be inferior.

    I never felt part of any of these groups, but when I would associate with them, the geeks in particular hurt me the most. Every so often I think back and wish I had done something to crush their egos, to show them how wrong they were to treat me like a joke. What did I do to be treated as such? I used Macintosh. Something as simple and insignificant as preference for a particular operating system made me the laughing stock of the outcasts. I cannot begin to describe how unjust I felt this was, and letting go was not an option. A little respect was all I wanted; probably all that the Tenchcoat Mafia wanted. It's a sad statement on human nature when it's so hard to find.

    No matter how fringe, every social group is a microcosm of traditional social structures, and each has leaders, followers, and assholes.

    Unbeknownst to his friends, Bob was just a pile of rotting flesh.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Read my plight:
    I am now 19 years old, not much of a geek anymore (i'm an econ
    major now), but my life in high school was horrible. I'll tell you a
    couple stories --

    I was in boarding school, which I guess made things worse (it most
    certainly didnt help) -- every morning everyone not a senior -- and one
    member from the 12th grade -- had to come downstairs for a couple pushups
    (it was a silly practice really). One day, sleepy eyed, I called down the
    wrong person. As a result I was taken to a room and hit several times...
    this didn't happen to other people who weren't "nerds".

    Our computer admin was pretty wierd -- he didn't believe in "soap"
    because of some ecological reason. As a result he never bathed,
    unfortunetly giving strength to the concept that computer "stink". As a
    "friend", I was also labeled smelly. It hurt a lot to have
    people say "hey you've been with him up in the labs, you stink".

    The greatest pain came from the girls though. I didn't have a
    problem getting them -- that was always a natural talent for me, you just
    have to know what buttons to push (no pun intended) -- the pain was in the
    aftermath. I would often have a great night with some girl -- a night in
    each others arms -- but then the next day, complete and total denial of
    any past relationship with me. Then that night: "can I come over?" It was
    the public rejection of attention and acknoledgement that hurt me the

    The students were not the only ones. In another high school, the
    library teacher went through a file in my directory called mbox (obviously
    mailbox). I knew she was looking only through mine cause I was a computer
    geek and she was afriad I might (as she later said) "Let loose an internet
    worm into our servers" (I's my name Robert???)
    I decided a little playing might be fun, so I sent myself an email saying
    "Mrs. XXXXXX, you are very stupid in thinking I don't know what your
    doing. Quick! Lets go get (another teacher)".
    She said the "lets go get" suggested a physical threat and denied that
    mbox was in fact my personal mail. I had my account revoked and was
    *banned* from ENTERING the same room as her for a month.

    Did I ever wonder what it would be like to give some of these
    people their own medicine? Sure I did, but I didn't kill them. I got each
    one back in their own way -- the girl who slept with me 10,000 times then
    denied it now has her reputation destroyed at her current college as a
    slut. I had a friend give the library teacher plenty computer problems to

    Do I understand why these kids did what they did ? Sure I do. Do I condone
    it? No not really, but I'm sure some of them had something coming to them.
    Was my revenge wrong and just as mean? Sure, but sometimes you have to
    fight fire with fire.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by CPaulT:

    I say it isn't guns. It's the attitude,people.

    Look at one of the worst acts of murder in recent history-Oklahoma City. Know-how and some fertilizer,and *BOOM*.

    People hate enough,and they get their point across by mass murder as it's the only thing that penetrates against the flow of popular culture.

    America builds it's children in a womb that stifles expression and makes the education system a popularity contest. When I was in school,people literally would not work with me on class projects because I wasn't popular. I proceeded to outscore the entire class on the exam afterwards for the course. But the worst thing was,I HATED high school. It was a source of torment,save for the few precious human beings that maintained some level of individuality. College was an echo of that,and the worst depression I have ever felt in my life.

    America is a place where "teaching the children" is done in an environment of "conform or persecute". I,too feel nothing but disgust for the killings,but it comes from the simple fact that the true reason so much death came of it was that "normal life" produced a pair of teenagers that were willing to obliterate everything around them because their peers considered them nothing already.

    Unfortunately,the people running the system can't see that. They already bow to the system,and it's blinded them to the true reasoning behind this massacre. It wasn't guns. Or Doom. Or Marilyn Manson. I've never fired a real gun in my life. I'm a gamer geek,a LARPer,and f**k the Mundanes. Hold the mirror up to their noses,and let them see what reality is. If they smash it,we've got plenty more where that came from. When they can look at it like the "geeks and freaks" do,maybe then you'll see a change.

    Until then,the only safety is finding your own. A poor substitute for what should be,but fish don't live well outside of water and I don't live well "outside" either.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by Lord Daelin:

    Respondents from the Hellmouth (however the
    Hell that is pronounced.. I will pronounce
    it as "hell mouth") have wondered why on
    Earth it would be desireable to break those
    who are intelligent. After all, how are we
    supposed to become the leaders of tomorrow
    if they drive us insane and poison our
    brains with Ritalin?

    Those who ask this have no understanding of
    how the System thinks. You see, the System
    only needs a small number of intelligent people.
    These people are taken from the top of the
    upper class.

    The System needs the rest of the people to
    be obedient, programmable mechanical people.

    The expected behaviour of a system that thinks
    this way would be to try to dumb down surplus
    intelligent people, which is exactly what our
    System does.

    You see, the System doesn't concern itself
    with "freedom" or "rights". A system that
    concerned itself with those things would
    not promote consumerism, and it would not
    persecute us.

    In reality you can already see a government
    that doesn't want encryption algorithms to
    be available, that wants to be able to tap
    everybody's phone lines, that wants to shut
    down this Network, that wants to disarm the
    public, and that is willing to unleash its
    murderous agencies such as the BATF against young
    children (as they did in Waco years ago.. In
    that case the little kids were poisoned with
    CS gas that reacted with the air to become
    hydrogen cyanide) in order to acheive those
    goals (most of the worst things they do never
    get Media attention). You could see this
    starting to happen even before outcasts started
    going to school and getting the revenge that geeks
    of previous generations had only dreamed about.

    The persecution, abuse, and drugging of
    intelligent people until they either kill
    themselves or kill someone else fits in
    with my theory that there is a System that is
    trying to acheive total control. It is this
    System, composed of those who control it,
    and the mechanical people who do its will,
    that wants us dead or made irrelevant. It
    is the whole System that persecutes us,
    not just ignorant teachers and preps, and
    the persecution is not happening by chance,
    it is happening due to a deliberate, calculated
    decision made by those who control the System.

    If I am right, then addressing the issue
    will only result in the persecution becoming
    more subtle, subtle enough so that even some
    geeks will think that the problem has gone
    away. In the long run, the coming changes in the
    System will only solve _their_ problems, not

    As long as they still give kids Ritalin,
    our persecution has not stopped. In fact,
    as long as the school system bases student's
    grades mostly on homework, the problem is
    still there because many geeks won't get good
    grades, which will result in their being
    put in the special class, and psychiatrists
    will continue to diagnose them with fake
    diseases and giving them brain-damaging
    drugs to make them as stupid as everybody
  • Posted by LadyBird:


    Perhaps this is unique to the USA-- but at least someone has to be behind the gun 99% of the time to pull the trigger. I look to London with sadness and see that they had another bomb go off in a neighbourhood-- why don't the Brits outlaw cars in UK since they can't seem to keep from planting bombs in them? There was also a celebrity who was (gasp!) shot in London with a gun that was banned over there!

    Can you explain bombs in German bars a few years ago?

    I live in Alaska. I have known how to shoot a gun since I was 7 years old. Between learning to shoot and growing up, I went to junior high where I was a geek. It never crossed my mind to use my gun, even though I knew where they were and some of the kids who teased me made me think of other ways to bump them off. I would have never used a gun-- that would have gotten me caught!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by LadyBird:

    I think your lederhosen are too tight, Lars. Gunmen are behind their guns and pull the triggers. Yes, they shoot, but in all honesty, I'd rather be shot at by a mad gunman than be greeted by a bomb-laden car in front of say, Harods in London. Or in a German bar! Why don't we get NATO to get rid of cars in London, bars in Deutschland, anything the Irish can get their hands on, and whatever else is out there that people could get hurt on?

    We have a sick society over here and it is perpetuated by a film industry that accepts no responsibility for it's actions. I laughed at our president's comments after the bombing that Americans must protect their children from violence-- he'd better watch himself as the people who padded his defense budget are the same ones making the violent films!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by LadyBird:

    I homeschool my children. Last year a teacher made one of my kids sit next to the class bully and in spite of my requests to move her, the teacher would not. My daughter could get nothing done and she was in fear on the playground. The teacher talked like Minnie Mouse and would curl up her lip at me as she talked, then run off.

    Another teacher bent over backwards for one of my other kids. This child had no interest in doing her work and bucked us both.

    I withdrew them from school. This year I homeschooled them. They are 9 & 10 years old, are learning a foreign language, play an instrument, and are on track for their learning. They associate with the kids that I want them to associate with who are just as smart. For one child I leave to her books and she has me check her work once a day, the other I have to breath down her neck to do her work. But it works!

    Homeschooling is great, and you can avoid the hassles of teachers and their control issues, and you can also know what your kids are doing!

    Right on Kent-O!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by Ministry:

    As I watch countless news episode, every so-called 'expert' giving their narrow perspective and the out and out sensationalism this has spurred, I ask, is this being taken seriously or is it just to put points up for the tv network execs.

    Having been out of high school for the past 8 years I can still recall the oh so memorable days that were supposed to be the best years of persons life. This is obviously not the case to a majority of teens today as well as when I attended high school. I'd like to relate my high school experiences and my own perspective on this very troubling topic.

    My initial year of high school was at a technical-vocational slanted school. Mostly everyone got along with each other and there were no separate 'classes' or distinct groups. Obviously each person had there own group of friends that they would associate with more than others. I grew up with most of the people in this school and even though not having much in common with some I still found myself and others like myself associating with these people and vice-versa. I thought, hell this is the way school should be, and shouldnt it? This is where my illusion of a normal society ended. I then transferred to another high school to complete my education at a different school known for higher academic standards. This is where the fantasy ended. From the start of the new school year I was quick to find that the school's social make-up was completely different. Having several friends that attended this school I found myself at no loss for human contact whatsoever. But, I as I was also soon to discover was that this school was entirely divided by groups or 'classes' of students. The apparent ranking of social acceptance was as follows:

    1. Student Association people (and friends of)
    2. 'Jocks' and wannabe athletes (duh futbol)
    3. Alternatives (those who didnt see not belonging to the upper 2 levels as being a social plight)
    4. Under-wannabes (wished to be in SA or a Jock)
    5. Not-so-popular people (Geeks,Nerds or whatever 'label' society saw fit to bestow on them)

    Having several friends 'belonging' to the first two groups I initially saw myself being amalgamated. But seriously I didnt like these people whose sole purpose in life seemed to one of status and the like. I then began developing other friendships amongst the supposed 'lessers'. Not long after I started associating with the more alternative groups as I felt having much more in common with and having like perspectives in life. This was not good according to 'jocks' and others of whom I knew. I got comments like "Why do you want hang out with queers like them" and such. Dont get me wrong me and my friends were not make-up wearing or 'freekish', just a little less narrow headed and into music and the like in the day when alternative music and such was definitely not the norm. While others listened to and followed trends dictated by radio charts and other mass media outlets, we chose our own individual likings. I am very glad from a hindsight view that I chose this path as I feel it strengthened my inner being and made me the individual I am today. I am now a rather highly educated person in the computer technical industry.

    My life in high school was indeed tame compared to my fellow classmate that by no fault of there own found themselves in the so-called lower social groups. Some may refer to them as losers, geeks, nerds, and any other name you wish to throw out. High school life for the majority of these people probably was not 'the best days of their lives'. I recall several instances in which persons of 'lower' social standing were abused both physically and mentally. From incidents of people getting physically beaten to physically humiliated by 'jocks' and the popular cool students. Verbal abuse was rampant and sickening towards many. Let's just say it most likely 'really sucked' to be them.

    Why are high schools like this? I am not in a position to professionally say. I can speculate however. Parental upbringing? Physical inadequacies (and you know who are jock boys)? The grand society we live in? I would dare to say a mixture of some of these or all as well as others not mentioned.

    I was brought up to view all people as one, despite a persons own background. Be it, racial, economic, religious etc etc.Are we not all the same beings at the core? This is why I am very dismayed at what is happening primarily in American high schools although I am not totally shocked. I am Canadian and I see the parallels that can exist with our U.S. equivalents.

    As a personal message to those who decide this caveman ethic for social status is cool, WHERE ARE YOU NOW? I am very pleased to see many 'geeks' of whom I attended school with are now successful or on their way to being. And in many instances, I kinda like having my gas pumped by you socialites of yesteryear. Congrats to those popular persons who saw fit to finally mature and the world for what it really is or what it can be.

    I convey any spiritual strength I can to those less fortunate in life having to deal with crappy high school life and say to you all to look to your future and be what you want to be. After all personal happiness and satisfaction is worth more than any social clique.

    Keep that chin up!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by Perkolater:

    By going against what i'm saying, you are basically saying that you are supporting the product of ignorance.

    Clearly, you misunderstood me. I don't support ignorance, and I agree with you that supporting athletics at the price of academics is wrong. Follow me here for a minute...

    My school was thinking about cutting the fine arts departments out, like Drama, even though I was not a fan of drama myself, that still was a big part of our school and it taught you have to express your feeling though acting.

    This is a good point. You can also argue that athletics is a big part of school that can teach the concepts of fair play, teamwork, and better physical health, which a lot of Slashdot readers could use, myself included. NON-REVENUE sports still teach this, because for them, championships don't necessarily translate solely into money. Contrary to popular belief, sportsmanship still exists in many of those sports.

    You're being blinded by the fact that football was clearly more important at your school than the computer lab. In contrast, my school probably spent the least on athletics than any high school in the area, and a lot of very bright, straight-A students ran cross-country, played tennis, and won the state gymnastics championship my senior year. By contrast, our football team was 12-29 while I was a student, and our drama program was one of the best in the state. Our computer labs sucked, too, though.

    Non-revenue sports are an entirely different animal from football and basketball, and I agree with you that football and basketball money should be funneled into academics. On the other hand, a few people ARE setting this example. Bobby Knight may be the most reviled coach in college basketball, but he also helped to fund one of the most complete college libraries in the country at Indiana University, my alma mater. Nobody knows this because his library fund isn't promoted anywhere outside of Bloomington, and everyone else is distracted by his chair-throwing, whip-snapping hijinks. Maybe there's a reason for that. The prestige factor shouldn't be ignored, either -- would any student consider Weber State, Gonzaga, or College of Charleston as viable options without their recent NCAA Tournament wins?

    My point is that I agree with you that it's gone too far for a lot of schools -- for every Bobby Knight, there are five dozen Jerry Tarkanians and Bobby Fords that don't understand that school should be about education and not just money. What you're suggesting is going to the other extreme and eliminating athletics entirely, and I don't buy that. There should be change, yes, and some of that change should be drastic, but if we ignore the body for the sake of the mind, we're cutting ourselves off from a large part of our humanity.

    So you are saying it's ok to allow this wonderful 'EDUCATION' money that is taken from the citizens and used to support sports in any way shape of form.

    No, I'm not. I'm saying that athletics money should be funneled more to academics, and with sports like football and basketball, it isn't, and that's very wrong. However, I'm also saying that your belief -- getting rid of athletics entirely would help -- is also wrong.

    Clearly, football was also more important at your school than reading comprehension.

    -David, hoping you'll stop being so bitter and start seeing my argument.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by Perkolater:

    And how do people get to be this sort of sad joke? Might it be that one of the real-world lessons they absorbed in school was "if you're popular enough, you can get away with anything"?

    You make it sound like I don't think this is a problem. Of course, it's a problem, and changes need to be made, primarily in the value system that exists in high schools.

    But eliminating athletics programs entirely is far too extreme and clearly not the proper answer here. Mental fitness and physical fitness are not mutually exclusive, Stephen Hawking notwithstanding, and we as human beings can't afford to become more out of shape. Christ, I'd like to see Tacoman run a poll asking /.ers how much exercise they get during the week.

    Our problem as humans is that we like to see people do things that we ourselves can't do, and that just naturally leads to a culture of celebrity that skews our values. This phenomenon transcends athletics. What is it that really separates John Elway from Thresh? Think about it.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by Perkolater:

    2 letters, P & E.

    I fail to see what Chuck D and Flavor Flav have to do with this argument.

    -David, who earn his master's degree in rhyming skills years ago.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by teep:

    Damn, this stuff brings back memories of high school that I had hoped I'd buried. Not deeply enough, I guess. I despised school, hated most of the people there, and suffered torment from some (most notably in seventh and eighth grade). I was different enough. I didn't do hair/clothes/makeup like the rest of the girls did. Didn't giggle. Didn't pretend to be dumb. Read a lot. The curriculum wasn't particularly challenging, but at least in the classrooms, the teacher had control and the abuse level was lower. It was in the halls and at lunch that it was worst. I used to take a book to lunch and read it, not eating anything, because nobody would sit with me and if I had a book, I didn't have to stand there without anything to do. And still, with me off by myself, reading quietly and harming nobody, they would come and torment me because they could, because nobody would stop it.

    One incident in particular stands out in my mind, I was reading Watership Down (in seventh grade, nice book not-exactly-about-rabbits) and our class president and her cronies came over and asked me if 'the book was about bunnies' and if I was 'so smart' why was I reading a bunny book, maybe I wasn't really that smart after all. She slapped the book out of my hands, and it fell to the floor
    (paperback school library book) so that I'd have to look at her while she abused me. Her cronies laughed, and I sort of lost it. I looked up at her (I still had a fifth-grade body in eighth grade when EVERYONE ELSE had an eighth-grade body) and attacked.

    "You look really nice today, (Name). You always look nice. It's rather surprising, seeing as how your mom works as a waitress at (resteraunt). You live in a trailer, so you don't have any money. I wonder how you can afford all those nice clothes? Money like that doesn't come from tips. Is waitressing ALL your mom does? Maybe you get the money from your dad in (state far away), since he never comes to see you, he probably sends money because it's easier and he doesn't have to see you to do it. If he *really* loved you, he'd come see you, but he doesn't, does he?"

    She started crying at this point, teacher came over and escorted me to the office. I hadn't laid a hand on her, and everything I said as an informative statement was the god's own truth (In small towns, you know that much stuff about other people, just nobody usually says it out loud). The only possibly not-true things I had said were phrased as questions. So how come I got in trouble? I didn't even use any swear words. I wasn't yelling. I wasn't in her face. Heck, I was the one with the back to the wall, surrounded by her and her cronies. But it was my fault, apparently because I 'made her cry'. Just because I didn't bawl my eyes out when she came after me didn't mean that it didn't hurt me just as badly, every day for months.

    The only words of succor and advice I have for those still in the trenches is that the wheels grind exceeding slow, but they grind exceeding fine. Be patient.

    The class president got pregnant at sixteen, currently has three children, been divorced twice (one of the husbands beat her up), lives in a trailer, and works as a waitress. She never finished high school. I have two college degrees and a phi beta kappa key. I own my own home and my own business (I'm an ISP). I make more money than she does. I have a more interesting job. I have no children and my time is my own. I have the leisure time and money for a horse. No man has ever laid a hand on me in anger, and no man shall ever do so more than once. I guess I've won. My life is better than her life. So how come I'm still keeping score? Why do I still remember, clear as it was yesterday, something that happened sixteen years ago?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by Domlit:

    HSchool athletic programs devour ed funding. Player and game equipment, coach and referree wages, and transportation and maintenance costs add up to a huge, draining detriment to the quality of academics in many schools, including mine (I'm a HS Junior). And it's a crock.

    The glamorization of sports figures in our society is evidence of misplaced values and misguided ideals; the continued cashflow towards public school sports programs is our subscription to the backward, nonsensical notion that physical skill, or the capacity of the body, is of more worth ($$$) than the function and development of the mind.

    Additionally, sports like football and wrestling facilitate violence by putting a mat underneath, or a ball between two packs of animals, and calling the ensuing battle and bloodshed a "game". I don't buy that, and I sure as hell don't want to pay for it, with the materials that are being stolen out of my classrooms, or the deficit in intelligent culture which my society is suffering.

    Athletes and actresses get all the glamour; Hollywood and Superbowl, sex and violence, cheerleaders and jocks. Ed funds are spilled onto the football field like so much worship of steroid-heroes and anorexic pinups, while the biggest revolutions of the century are birthed in outcast minds, at work in computer-lab garages.

    Imagine what the counter-culture might produce, if provided the means, the funds, the credit! Klebold and Harris might have belonged to a culture that they wouldn't have felt compelled to reject, and ultimately destroy. If their intelligence had been valued at school, they might not have outcast themselves from school society, or purposely sought out to worship destructive ideas.

    I think I quite despise about the mainstream the same things that drove Harris and Klebold away initially. But unlike them, I detoured not unto the path of of renegade self-education in weapons-construction and arsenals of hate, but in a search for ways to repair, not destroy.

    So far, it would seem that we could give smart kids a little more credit, and have so much more a chance of retaining a positive influence. Start with money, change the culture. And the counter-culture will eventually become the brainless and harmless.

    -Domlit in Sonoma County, California
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by PROUD2CARE:

    I was thrown down stairs, had books thrown at me etc. in school but I never started hating and always have hope for tomorrow. I was picked on because of the clothes I wore; b/c I talked too much and I was a "good girl". I related most to the girl who was killed because she believed in God. When I was in college I was friends with some people who were outcasts b/c they were "bad girls" what a freaky world. I was also friends with the president of our class and some cheerleaders. But I NEVER GAVE UP HOPE ALTHOUGH SOMETIMES I WANTED TO BLOW MY BRAINS OUT.
    To parents I say "Play with your children no matter what their age, be their friend; Lay down some rules so they know you care and if your son/daughter is being harrassed for THEIR sake make some noise!!!! One of the other kid's parents did! Instead of taking them off the net
    play their favorite games with them and if you bought the computer and the House its in,you have the right to block what you think will harm your progeny, but be prepared to entertain them with YOUR time and attention. You can't get something for nothing and that includes loving caring teens. Instead of worrying what they're doing in the garage, build something with them in the garage. Hurting people play hard to get!!! We can't afford not to reach out.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by 30something Indievidual:

    On the next network news magazine broadcast:
    A workplace environment where certain employees were verbally and sometimes physically abused on a daily basis by co-workers. Where they were attacked for their physical appearance, taste in music, sexuality or perceived sexuality, way of dress, just for being more intelligent, or any number of reasons. Where supervisors witnessed or were made aware of this harassment, and did little or nothing to change the situation. Where certain victims have committed suicide or even homicide because of this abuse.
    If a program were to broadcast a segment on such a place, there would be outrage. How dare a company let their employees suffer so. There would also probably be class action lawsuits and maybe criminal charges brought. Certainly heads would roll.
    However, if you transfer the setting to a school and the workers to students, nothing is done about it. It's dismissed as kids being kids. Why is it allright for a teenager to suffer so in highschool and not for an adult in the workplace?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by Puressence:

    This(the original I have little sympathy post) is coming from someone whose experience of school is around 20 years old.I looked at your website.Wow,you really like living in the past don't you?I remember growing up in the 70's as well and I see that the world and people's attitudes have changed.I also remember that most people who were 'hippies' still believe themselves to be the only true radicals left in the world,people that think Pink Floyd still have a valid message to put across.Let me explain something;Geeks in the 70's were the computer users,the kids who would rather study than play footabl.Now things have changed a great.Geek seems to be a catch-all term to describe someone who does not conform to the mainstream consumer society(which you seem to obviously do ,I apologise profusely if I am wrong).I seem to reme,ber it was the hippies who sold out.Money was waved in their faces and they sold out.Today's generation of youth culture does generally not sell-out.You are 20 years behind the world,don't think you have any right to comment on it when all you yearn for are flares,flower power and yesterday's values.

    I thank you.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is all so wierd; I wasn't just a Geek in high school, I was the Alpha Geek. The nerdiest of the nerds in most repects.

    But yet I was happy. Sure, a couple of times in Grade 8 someone tried picking on me for who or what I was, but I fought back - hard - and they soon learned to leave me alone.

    In fact, I went out of my way to try and get to know as many different people as I could; to have a foot in as many different groups as possible. To make as many friends as possible.

    It takes courage to try and make friends, but it works. I could hang with anybody, and I had a BLAST. I'd happily go back to being in high school if I could.

    And as I think back, I don't remember any truely unhappy Geeks. I remember one guy who had a particular religeous agenda to push (he was B'hai) who occasionally caught some verbal flak for his incessant expousing of his views, but he was respected for his courage to speak his mind, and certainly never beaten up. He may have been a little lonely, but I wouldn't say _abused_.

    You know, it's cool to be happy. Surely I'm not the only one who was (and is!)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangster Of Love [mailto] (relaxing@home.com):

    When I was in Kindergarten through first grade out bus driver actually PAID two kids something like $2 per week to keep the other kids in line. I was shoved, and screamed at by second graders when I was only 5 years old. I was not allowed to sit in the same seat as my best friend because we were too rowdy.

    One of the two was a female, who when she got older was actually kind of cute. I got back at her four years later. Every time she got on the school bus I squeezed her butt. Hard. She would get on the bus and see me and sit down in the nearest available seat. She tried to enlist other people to protect her hind quarters from the biting grasp of my hand, but the most people would do is stand between us. I had long arms, I reached around them. She finall told the art teacher, who pulled me aside and takled me into leaving her alone. He was a fair man and I've got no problem with what he did, but the incompetent principal who did NOTHING to stop my abuse was later promoted to superintendant of the FSCKING DISTRICT. The guy bully moved away, and I never got to get back at him.

    I hadn't thought about this in years, but now it really pisses me off to think about it. I just hope nobody cuts me off on the drive home from work.

    I haven't been this mad since I was 17.

    When I was young I reached my breaking point and lashed out violently against several of my peers. That got me a reputation as a kid who people didn't fsck with, at least not as much as the other so called nerds.

    Having a high pain threshhold didn't hurt either. One time a guy split my lip, and loosened one of my teeth. He climed on top of me and proceeded to punch me in the face. He got one or two shots in and I was able to block 3 or 4 punches. He climed off of me and ran down the hall before he could make it the length of of a classroom I was on my feet again calling him on again.(I probabaly would have lost teeth if he came back) My tenacity impressed people, that day a bunch of kids from school came to see how I was, one of the "cool" kids came along. When I told them my side of the story he said and I'll never forget this "You're one tough son of a bitch." If felt good to have the respect of my peers, and even though I had stitches in my face for two weeks, even though I lost, people didn't really pick on me after that.

    That was during my 7th grade year. We were the youngest, and smallest people in the school. Many of my friends only ran or hid from being picked on, I faced it. I got mad, and I fought. In that year I got into four fights, and I only lost one.

    That set the pace for the rest of my high school career. I didn't fight much after that year, because I didn't have to. There were even a couple of times I was able to intervene to stop strong people from picking on weak people.

    To drop out is to let them win, or at least to let them think that they've won. This is unacceptable. Don't take a gun or a knife to school, but keep a tightly packed roll of nickels or two in mind.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 27, 1999 @08:24AM (#1914162)
    While I understand the outcries against unfair treatment that are being expressed, I think it's also scary that many of these e-mails seem to express disdain and even hatred for ALL non-geeks. What these e-mails seem to ask for is acceptance and the control of their lives, yet they don't seem to recognize that not everyone else out there is against them or insensitive to them.

    I come from a fairly unique position in this debate, having been on both sides. My experience through the 9th grade was that of the outcast. I was the guy that didn't really get much attention, was passed over in sports, ridiculed by other kids, and hit, tripped, etc in the halls and outside of school. Then, in about the 8th grade, I discovered that I could run. By my junior year I was captain of the track team, and everyone knew who I was. I still vividly remember the day in 9th grade where someone started to poke fun at me and one of the guys they were with said "Leave him alone, man, he's that runner."

    Throughout high school I still had friends who were geeks, but I also had a lot of friends who were jocks, and I found that for most of them they weren't any different. Granted, there were those who were real jerks, but there were just as many geeks as jocks that fit the jerk category. I guess my purpose in writing this is to ask that all the geeks that hate jocks, do you really hate ALL jocks? It can be just as dangerous to stereotype one's enemies as it can be to be stereotyped yourself.
  • I guess people in high school are too immature to accept diversity. And the teachers/administrators who work there are probably the very people who enjoyed high school in the first place (You know, the people who spout the line: "The best years of my life"). That isn't true about all teachers. I know I can name some who actually cared about teaching students.

    From what I can tell, it's not until the college years that most people realize that diversity is what makes the world go round. Conformity and uniformity are the enemies of creativity, and so on.
  • However the engineering faculty in particular was very conservative and "cliquey".

    So don't hang around with them. Take classes on other subjects, meet new people, and hang around with those people.


  • I read them, and while some of them hit it right on the head, others were just so far out of there that it made me angry. Really, Really angry. The above quoted one about taking an inventory test (I assume this means have your locker/clothes searched or something) seems to be written by someone who is way *WAY* out of reality. A knee jerk reaction it looks like.

    People how make threats should get searched, period.

    What a joke.

    I'd agree with the tone of the letters that katz got, the people makeing the threats are being taunted into it by the jocks and cheerleaders and the other groups that feel the need to taunt and pick on those that are not as "cool" or as "in" as them.
  • by drwiii ( 434 )
    Some schools these days are far more tough than people imagine. I was beaten up on a regular basis in high school. Not only because I am a computer nerd, but because I also happened to be the one of the only white people out of 1,500+ in the school. This school was where all the other schools sent their misbehaving students. It also happened to be the zoned public school for my area, meaning I'm basically stuck going there.

    The only friends I hung out with there were (surprise) computer nerds and the other white guys. One of my friends had to drop out in his Junior year because he got beat senseless in a downstairs hallway. I've lost count of how many times I was beaten up. I've been robbed at gunpoint twice. I reported this to school administrators, teachers, Baltimore city police(!), and it did absolutely no good. "We'll look into it and let you know if we need anything," was the general response I got.

    The hardest part was having to return to school the next day. Being in crowded hallways with hundreds of people. Not knowing if that person, or maybe that one, or that one over there was the one that robbed you or beat you up yesterday.. Thoughts like "oh no, I think that group of guys is staring at me, i wonder if it could be them?!" become commonplace.

    So what I ended up doing was cutting class and going home. I cut most of my Sophomore year (ending up passing by a thread) and Junior year (failing miserably). To my surprise, I was later informed by the guidance department that I was being promoted to the Senior Class next year not because of my grades, but because of "computer error").

    I guess my breaking point was when I was taking a biology exam near the end of my Junior year. I was seated near the classroom door. Right when I was finishing my exam, someone from the hallway screamed "hey, whitey!" and winged a biology textbook at my head. The spine of the hardcover book made contact. The coward in the hall took off, and everyone in the class was staring at me. The room went dead silent.

    At that point, it was hard to decide what hurt more, the book hitting my forehead, or being called "whitey". How are you supposed to respond when something like that happens? I could've snapped, ran after the guy, and beat the living shit out of him, but a part of me felt sorry for someone who would do something like that. I'm not really a violent person.

    I came to a decision. I packed my books, stood up, tore up my exam, trashcanned it, thanked the teacher for being willing to educate in an environment like this, and walked out of the class and out the school's front doors to safety.

    I haven't returned there since.

    Today, thanks to the computing skills I learned at home while cutting class, I own part of an Internet services company. I guess my point is that forced education can, on the surface, appear to be beneficial, but for some people it can be their absolute worst nightmare.

  • I had a 4.0 GPA through high school. I wasn't an athlete, and I engaged in many geek-like things such as reading science fiction and playing on the computer. I was not made fun of though. Actually I had it pretty easy. I wasn't part of the ultra-popular group, but I was well liked. Partially it was because I made up for my good grades with lots of hell raising. I drank like a fish. (I used to chug half-pints of Kessler, for example). I was not above throwing eggs at teachers' houses or other bits of minor mischief. (Nothing serious though). But I was also liked because I helped the other kids out academically. Let's just say that with my assistance it was almost magical how the test answers appeared in some people's heads. Also, I attended a small, rural high school, with people who had mostly gone to school together for all 12 years. This made everybody pretty much get along.

    But there were people who were mistreated severely, and I must shamefully admit that I took part in it. One day in my early 20's I reflected back on some of the ways I'd treated other people and recoiled in horror. That was the day that I truly realized I was an adult. When I understood that treating people so horribly was simply not acceptable. (Those who know me know I never tire of giving people a hard time, but it is always good natured - or behind their backs).

    In sixth grade we had to transfer buses at one school to go to another. We all waited for the bus to empty before getting in. From time to time someone would yell out, "First one in the bus loves Tanya". Now Tanya was an extremely poor girl. She was also extremely thin. In retospect it is probable that she suffered from malnutrition. She always wore a random collection of worn out hand me downs. One particular outfit was an old green McDonald's uniform, that she was teased mercilously for wearing. While she wasn't terribly ugly by my recollection, for some reason she was considered the ultimate worst girl to be with. Nobody would ever admit they were in love with Tanya. So nobody would get on the bus. We would stand there for five minutes or longer while the school bus driver screamed as us to get on. Finally, Tanya herself (who was standing there the whole time) would get on, at which point someone would scream out "Last one on the bus loves Tanya" and everybody would rush the door, pushing and shoving to avoid being the last one on. Tanya was also subjected to numerous other forms of ridicule and I can only imagine how much this affected her. (I wish I could have just one more school dance so I could ask her on a date).

    In high school there was a real classic nerdy guy named Wilbert. With a name like Wilbert, you know you're in trouble right off. He wore glasses. He read science fiction. His hair frizzed out all over the place. He was totally into computers. In retrospect, this guy should have been my best friend! But instead I was one of the ringleaders in making fun of him. (I even recall once getting a specific talking to from a teacher about this). I saw him at the 10 year reunion last summer. He was still a geek - and a successful one at that. He didn't appear to harbor any ill will - at least none that he cared to share with us.

    Of course there were more. Mostly it was the girls who got mistreated. Particularly the fat ones. If you were a guy you could always make up for any deficiency in natural popularity by doubling up on the alcohol consumption. That's a sure fire route to respect.

    I don't regret much in life. Well, I mean I regret things, but there are few things I would go back and change if I could. Who I am today depends as much on the bad decisions I made as the good. But if I could I would go back and treat certain people a lot better than I did. I'm not proud of the way I was as a kid, and I hope that I do a much better job of avoiding gratuitous cruelty to others today.
  • Actually, I'd like to clarify one thing. I was never interested in this girl. The reason I'd want to ask her to the dance is to thumb my nose at all the assholes like I used to be. Plus, I'm sure she would be just as good a date as anyone else. I can have a good time with almost anybody.
  • It is shocking to see the way the principal'a and teachers treated students, especially in the aftermath of the Colorado killings. It reminds me almost exactly of the treatment Balint Vazsonyi received when he was a student in Hungary under both the Nazis and the communists. Think the wrong thoughts and you get "counseling" or kicked out or worse. (He describes this experience in his book "America's Thirty Year's War").

    But while it offends, it is not surprising. Years of Supreme Court rulings have basically stripped students of anything resembling rights. It is legal for the school to force them to go through metal detectors to enter the building. Or to randomly search their lockers without cause. Or to censor their articles in the school newspaper. Or to install camers to monitor their every move. Or to force them to submit to drug tests if they want to participate in any extracirricular activity. For someone who spends 12 years in a school with armed police guards, cameras everywhere, random searches of their possession, metal detectors, and administrators with dictatorial powers, how will they every grow up into adults who behave as though they have freedom and rights? If you spend years with school guards who can search your locker at will, why would not think the police can search your car or home at will when you get older? It is very scary what is going on. (My description is accurate for many urban schools. Soon to be more suburban schools if I read things right).

    And of course that one letter sent home by the principal encouraging students to rat on friends they think are acting "suspicious". That's also a tactic straight out of the Soviet Union, where children were invited to inform on their peers and their parents. Witness the DARE program as well (a program that is proven not to reduce drug abuse at all, BTW) where in some schools the students are told to inform the cops on their parents if they see drugs. (Included are lies about how the parent will simply get help - no mention of arrest) What kind of a message is that? The government is putting itself up as the ultimate authority figure in children's lives, supplanting the primary role of the parents in shaping their children's values.

    There there are the "zero tolerance" policies. This is shorthand for zero intelligence in my opinion. Teachers can simply say bring a steak knife to school to cut the chicken breast your Mom packed for lunch, you're expelled (this happened in Indianapolis). It's so much easier than using judgement. You see, judgement requires intelligence, which is something far too few teachers and adminstrators have. With rare exceptions I was both smarter and more knowledgable than the teachers in my high school. Look at the average SAT scores of education students. I rest my case.

    Of course teachers also value conformity to their way of thinking. It's makes their life so much simpler when they don't have to deal with the unexpected.

    I am genuinely afraid for the future. I cannot even imagine sending my children to public schools.
  • What we should do is build a moral society, a society where violence is not condoned with a blink and a nod by the "authorities". I am maddened every time I see one of these "child rearing experts" say that the parent should not intervene when his/her child is physically assaulted by other children because "children must learn to get along with one another". Assault is a crime, not a lesson. It does not matter whether you are three years old or thirty years old, it is not to be condoned or accepted. (Although obviously the punishment must be different!).

    Toleration, non-violence, charity, and duty towards others needs to be taught from the beginning, rather than having kids allowed to run wild because they "must learn how to get along with one another". One thing I learned from teaching "behavior disordered" students was that kids aren't born as civilized beings -- those behaviors are learned behaviors, they can and should be taught, and we should be demanding that they be taught. I think we can do without "esteem enhancement" courses and "drug education" courses if our kids are taught how to be tolerant, thoughtful, helpful people from the beginning. Some kids are taught that by their parents. But it is obvious that too many are not, and that too many teachers and administrators have relinquished their duty to civilize their charges in favor of dubious theories of child rearing (said dubious theories incidentally making their life easier, since they now have an excuse to ignore the fact that some students are making life hell for the "weird kid" minority).

    -- Eric
  • I graduated high school in 1982. I was the self-professed "weird kid" of the class, yet I don't remember any of the torture that others here talk about. Sure there was occasional picking by some of the more insecure types, I got in a couple of fights with kids who picked on me (which sounds ludicrous, considering that I must have weighed a whole 98 pounds at the time, but it was more for effect than anything else -- I was careful to do it within sight of a teacher, and those were the days when teachers actually broke up fights and when administrators assigned appropriate punishments rather than calling the cops), but other than that people pretty much left me alone. In fact, if I'd allowed it, there's quite a few people who would have become close friends rather than aquaintances, and I'm talking about from all sorts of people, from the chess club intelligensia to some of the athletes. My mother tells me now, over 15 years later, that she had one of my classmates, one of the popular ones, in the hospital (she is a nurse) and he told her that he respected the way I followed my own drummer rather than allowing other people to tell me how to think. I remember the kid. Great kid. Thought so at the time too. A real person, a caring person, and a jock who took time to say hello and include me in conversations from time to time. And his variety was the majority.

    My thought is that society as a whole has become more intolerant since then. Ronny Raygun came into power teaching that selfishness was good, the Moral Majority and Christian Coalition came around preaching their message of intolerance and hate (the Christ that I follow would have reacted in anger at the way these people take his name in vain), and "loners" have been painted by the media as dangerous and unbalanced. And the teaching corps has declined in quality dramatically -- I got the last of the 60's generation teachers when I was in high school (i.e., they entered teaching in the 1950's and 1960's, when opportunities for smart women were pretty limited). My teachers would have never tolerated the wanton brutality that I have seen on this board, and the administrators back then backed up the teacher.

    One last thing: I am a nerdy white guy, and I spent a couple of years as a nerdy white guy teacher before leaving the profession because the stress was giving me ulcers. I would NEVER have tolerated any of the abuse that has been tossed around on this board. I was a lousy disciplinarian, but the students knew my beliefs, and knew that beyond that boundary boojums lay, and knew that I would not be intimidated when it came to those core beliefs. It saddens me that there are teachers with no backbone out there who allow such evil to happen in today's day and age.

  • So geeks are "the ultimate in conformists"? So it doesn't "bother you that US economic and political life is built on the backs of these people"?

    Speak for yourself.

    The rant on apartheid in America (on my web page) is clear enough, as is the fact that I co-founded a group to bring a park to my economically-depressed hometown (spent a ton of my own money to do it too), spent a couple of years teaching in economically depressed areas, and otherwise have done my part to try to make this world a better place. Yes, I get nervous about dealing with people (and I have discovered the hard way to NEVER give television interviews, they make me look really REALLY dorky, to only give written press interviews), but so it goes.

    Sure, there are geeks out there who don't care about anything except whether they can get a dual PIII system with their next paycheck, but don't paint all geeks with the same brush.

  • by maelstrom ( 638 ) on Tuesday April 27, 1999 @09:35AM (#1914174) Homepage Journal
    I've made it through the hell we call Middle and High School. I had some unique experiences because my father was in the Army and I got to go to another new school every other year.

    I learned early on that you had to respond with violence in order to gain any respect. Not only was I the "new kid", but I was also a geek and I was in fist fights constantly starting in elementary school. I'm really quite a non-violent person, but if someone pushes me too far then I will fight back, and I suspect thats what happened with these latest school shootings.

    I can well remember sitting in Middle School science class quite peacefully while a little bully gave me a "red neck" which is a term describing how the giver slaps the back of the givee's neck multiple times causing it to become quite red. He did this once and I sat there and did nothing. The sound of the skin being slapped went through the whole class room and the teacher sat there and didn't say a word. The bully did it again. My friend next to me says that I mumbled one more time and I'm gonna kill him or something to that effect, but I don't remember saying anything. The next time he did it I stood up threw him against the wall and proceeded to beat the tar out of him. Of course, THEN the teacher noticed and we were broken up and sent to the office. Now due to the zero tolerence rules we were both suspended even though I had never been in the office for any kind of trouble and my attacker was well known there. So, for standing up for myself in self defense, I received the same punishment as my attacker. In fact, we sat near each other during our 3 days in In School Suspension.

    However, I could never think of doing anything like the TCM did because I had been raised with firearms. I was given a .22 rifle for my 13th birthday, I had hunter safety training and I joined the High School Rifle team (Varsity Letter no less). There's no way I could point an unloaded weapon at another human being much less a loaded one.

    I think what saved me more than anything in my High Schools (I went to 4 different ones) was that I was a member of the JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps). It seems weird for me to say so, because it seems like such a non geek thing to be a part of. But I was a part of a large group of people that were jocks, geeks, freaks, and every other subgroup, and for the most part we all got along and had a bit of esprit d'corps to boot.

    I suspect that if I were in High School right now I would be dragged into counseling. I've always had a fascination with Military History, Military tactics, equipment and everything else. When I was in the 5th grade I had a bizzare fascination with the European theatre of WW2 (well I WAS in Germany at the time). I read every book on WW2 in the library including LOTS on Nazis and Hitler. I spent much of my free time in front of a computer often connected to BBS' (where I first downloaded Wolf-3D long distance from Apogee BBS several minutes after it came out :). And last and certainly not least I would go down several times a week and shoot a firearm downrange and receive training on how to become a better marksman.

    I'm sure it would be quite obvious to all these supposed "experts" that I was some raving psycho ready to let loose another school shooting. The worst part is, that every one of the activities I listed are what kept me sane through High School. Something about competitive shooting focused and calmed me more than almost anything could.

    Well I guess this turned into a personal story which I didn't intend when I started.. What I really meant to say was that I suspect that many Geeks if given the chance to be in the Majority would discriminate against the Jocks and everyone else. Many of the posts I've read have stereotyped negatively ALL jocks. This is no better than stereotyping geeks and we need to realize this!

    Who here would deny the fact that if Geeks ran the schools that everyone else would be taunted for running Windows and not Linux or *BSD? Or programming in Visual Basic and not C or Perl? There may not be as much physical abuse, but the mental abuse would be there...

    I don't know what the answer is.. Humans have been forming into little groups and fighting with the other groups from the very beginning... The only good thing to come from this shooting is that at least we are finally talking about this.
  • Well there already is a Geek Oppression webpage.
    I posted a story about my life in the Hellmouth there a while back and got tons of email from sympathetic people. A couple of other people also posted their stories.

    I think it was cited in connection with an article (on slashdot) about half a year ago on the way College treats students.


  • There was an increadible segment on last weekends This American Life [thislife.org]. It was the last segment, which dealt with the quelling the genesis of discrimination in very young children. The link above will take you to the home page that has a link to realaudio of the episode, and links to the book itself.

    The segment talks about a book called "You can't say you can't play" where a kindergarten teacher and researcher forbids her students from excluding any of the other children from playing. The results are surprising and encouraging.

  • We aren't pissed because D&D and video games didn't help us get laid. We are pissed because they were viewed by outsiders as being 'dangerous' influences. Remember that crap about D&D being satanic in the '80s? I had a friend whose mother made him throw out all his D&D stuff because she bought into that kind of garbage. (Without any regard to the fact that it cost aroung $80 altogether, which is no chump change to someone at that age.) This feels like the D&D scare all over again.

    It's not the fact that geeks get picked on (not that fact alone anyway) that is causing this outrage. It's the fact that the superstitious morons who run things are assuming that if two geeks kill 13 people, that this means all geeks are dangerous. Then the have the gall to go off and cite geek personality traits as indicators of a homicidal mind. That's pretty damn insulting, unfair, and more of the same kind of discriminating crap we had to deal with in high school. The only difference is that now its the established authorities doing it instead of harmless kid bullies.

  • I was a geek back in the late 70's; we didn't get picked on because we also fit in with other cliques in the school, via our various non-geek interests in soccer, dope, politics, Monty Python, etc (being as this was before the era of dual-Xeon toys and Doom, and Linux, it wasn't easy to become engrossed 24/7 in one's PC). I hated school because it was an assembly-line of conformity and because the curriculum was lame (both for the public and private schools I attended in those years). I got out quite early to go to college, because I "knew the right people". I have no horror stories other than my disgust for "the system".

    But that's not why I have little sympathy for this /. empathy-fest. In this hotbed of Social-Darwinist-non-empathy, you easily do the "I feel your pain" bit for geeks, but many of you have repeatedly failed in the past to feel one damn bit of pain for all those people around the world who suffer at the hands of bullies, be those bullies armies, governments, smug well-fed citizens, or corporations.

    It doesn't bother you that Air Jordans, carburetors, peripherals, and the like, are assembled by people working in hazardous working conditions and for cents an hour; it doesn't bother you that some of your food is produced under similar sad conditions. These people can't peruse /., since the cheapest PC costs them more than a year's wages in many cases. It doesn't bother you that US economic and political life is built upon the backs of these people. You Merkins don't even give a damn about your own country's long (and continuing) history of abuse of its minority populations, and you fail to see in your own attitudes the greed and non-sympathy that ensures that the future will contain just as much violence as the present -- there will be more shootings, more riots, and catastrophes (not necessarily violent) heretofore uncontemplated, all bred in the ill will that isn't going to go away any time soon, it seems. The deaths in Littleton weren't the fault of the guns, the blame goes to the ill will that seems to be the air that American society breathes.

    You're no different than the rest of society. Geeks are the ultimate in conformists. I say to all troubled geeks what many of you say to those who have suffered for decades worldwide, and will continue to suffer: "May the devil take the hindmost". I don't mean it, of course, but I'm really tired of all you people who will only walk a mile in your own shoes. The vast majority of you having trouble in school will survive it, thrive, and then proceed to become part of the problem. Screw that, and screw this bogus love-fest.


  • Me? A hippie? I was a punk, dammit! My "hippie" attitudes were programmed in me (in the early 70's) by my elementary-school teachers and other adults; they were the hippies -- my later teen rebellion took the form of being as non-hippie as possible. Of course, I could probably use a haircut these days.

    And giving a damn about Indonesian sweatshops is a trait that's timeless, and goes back at least as far as John Brown's mid-19th-Century crusades. Or the late-19th-Century Progressives and Populists. A lot of them had long hair and beards, come to think of it. But we had better dope and music :)


  • ...and I thank you for the efforts you've have made in your hometown, and all your other efforts.


  • Nobody is interested in your skill at the Kevin Bacon game of tying the subject under discussion to your personal hobbyhorse in six steps or less.

    If you haven't noticed, we're all here posting comments on the "personal hobbyhorse" of Jon Katz, et al. Your attempt at cuteness pretty much exhibits the very nonsense I'm ranting against. If you think it's just a "Kevin Bacon game", that's your problem. And it will be your problem, especially if you're a Merkin. It's the old "what goes around comes around thing" -- a "see no evil" society will eventually visit upon itself evils from which it can't turn a blind eye. Like Littleton, for instance.

    Drink Linux!

    Is that better?


  • In a lot of the responses to these articles I am seeing people reinforcing the line between "normals" and "geeks", "Them" and "Us" by bitching about their lack of understanding of our culture, or our "ways", of the things that get us through and help us learn and survive in a largely hostile world.

    While the sentiments are understandable, given the backlash that we are experiencing, not only in America but all over the world but is is not really constructive. Reinforcing the division between "us" and "them" is just helping them build the wall up against which they will eventually march us.

    When Bruce Lee came to America from Hong-Kong, he didn't come to start a martial arts school, he came to build a life but the intolerance and misunderstanding he experienced when he got here pushed him into starting his martial arts school. When he did this not only did he get intolerance and misunderstanding from Americans, but also from the Chineese community at the time who didn't approve of the arts being tought to the "Gwailo". He ended up fighting for his right to teach, but not simply for his right to teach but for his right to educate people who would listen about the beauty of his culture, that the Chinese were not something to be feared, and that they could coexist, that there was beauty on both of their sides of the wall.

    This is the kind of situation we find ourselves in today, we can retreat behind our wall and leave the "normals" their McJobs and end up rotting away in front of our terminals, with nothing left except for letters on the screen and voices on the other end of the cellphone. Alternatively we can get up and show them that we are not something to be feared, that there is beauty in what we do, even that there is a kind of beauty to be found in a good gibbing now and then. And maybe then they will start to understand us a little better, but it will never happen unless we make the effort to understand them too.

  • If parents had more choices, perhaps kids wouldn't be subjected to such bad environments. Trouble is, if you choose not to send your kid to a public school, you still have to pay for the public school. Some parents figure it's worth it and send their kids to private schools or home school their kids anyway. I'm not real sure there much to be gained by subjecting a kid to ridicule and harassment in the name of "socializing" them. Why not explore the magnet school concept further?

    Instead, the school administrators and teacher unions will dig in their heels further, turning our public schools into more oppressive garrisons than they already are.
  • Yes, sometimes fraternities are the havens of the popular/abusive kids from high school. They are not all bad. Some are the havens of the geeks and nerds. Some are filled with just your average Joe's.

    I was a anti-social geek in HS, but thanks to my house I learned I wasn't alone, even before I discovered the internet. We had some jocks, some rich kids, some geeks, but mostly we were average guys. While I was rush chairman I even recruited a few guys that could be considered freaks. While we had a few close-minded members question it, once we got them to actually meet the new guys they realized these guys were intellegent human beings underneath the mohawks and ratty clothes.

    A fraternity is what the members make of it. It can be evil, it can be an animal house, it can be just a house, or it can be a place where you fit in. (damn that sounds like a commercial). I just wanted to remind you that stereotypes, while sometimes grounded in reality, don't fit in some or many cases.



  • Besides that, the point of these articles isn't to glorify the killers. The articles are not even really about the killers. They are about the abuse geeks/nerds/freeks/individuals are receiving in high school. The first one about the aftermath, how it got worse for kids thanks to those that hate non-conformists using the colorado killings as a battle cry in their witch hunt. The second just points out how this has long been a problem and is more likely the real problem for kids rather then the evil internet, or evil games, etc.



  • This all comes back to stereotyping. If you want people to value your opinion when you talk about geeks being badly stereotyped don't go stereotyping other groups in the process. maynard and you are showeing me your almost as bad as the people you are down talking. I've known good and bad people in every organization I've ever been involved with. Good Frat guys/Bad frat guys. Good Jocks/Bad Jocks. Good geeks/Bad geeks. Simply because you were not in a fraternity doesn't make you any better, any more than my living in a fraternity makes me any better.

    A lot of Fraternities and individuals do a lot to perpetrate the stereotype of Alcoholic Preppy Assholes. The media also only covers the problems and sensational things. They don't tell you about some Joe Smoe that stayed in school thanks to his house and help from members.

    I thought several friends and other guys might become alcoholics. Now that we have been out of college for several years, I don't know a single one that has continued down that path. Some have quit drinking, all have learned alcohol shouldn't be a way of life. I also knew guys in fraternities that didn't drink at all.

    Of course I went to a school that was practically all engineers. Most of the houses were pretty good. I've heard stories about how bad fraterities are on other campus, but I have to think that there are other good schools and even good fraternities on campus were most are crappy.

    I also know A LOT of people that lived in the dorms that fit your description of a typical fraternity guy. In fact I thought in many cases the dorms could be worse. Take alcohol for instance. In a dorm there is always some guys that will buy alcohol without question. In a good fraternity a person (underage or not) usually has somebody to take care of him if he gets a little stupid or drinks too much. I've seen and heard cases where if a kid does this in a dorm they are simply ignored. Who wants to take care of a drunk person they barely(or don't) know?

    I've put people to bed, checked on them late into the night, and check with them the next day. I also had friends do this for me. No these aren't actions that are only found in a fraternity and in some frats they aren't found, but of mine and many others that I know do a lot to encourage this.



  • Dunno if this would be legal or possible, but I think a compilation of the emails that jk got, and maybe selected /. comments would make a good, though slimish, book - intro being jk's essays? Seems like the feelings that have been expressed really need to get out in a concentrated form. Just my $0.02.

  • I posted a message like this yesterday, but wanted to post it again here. It's something that I think is worth looking at in light of the fact that nobody seems to want to look at the schools and parents and such as the problem.

    School administrators and parents won't accept the responsibility for addressing the real problems here. They can't. To do so would mean accepting liability for the actions of the teens by admitting that the kinds of injustices that we just read about above happen in schools all over the country. In a society that will sue at the drop of a hat (let alone a serious situation like this one), they can't admit any fault. It would open up parents and schools across the country to thousands of lawsuits. So now we have school administrators that are conditioned to deny any and all responsibility for tragedies like this. Parents do the same. The can never solve the problem until they can identify and accept the real problem. They can't do that as long as they fear the crippling lawsuits that will inevitably come from that admission. Without massive media influence to make people understand and recognize the problem, there isn't much chance of schools actually doing anything about it on their own. If they were smart, they'd recognize it and quietly start doing something to fix the problem. I don't think they've shown themselves to be smart though.

  • Actually he said that he knew how they felt because 3 years ago, in his freshman year, he wished he had owned a gun. He was talking about the past. Obviously if he's talking about it in this way now, he is past it and is just trying to get them to understand the problem. The point is that rather than look at his point seriously, they just kick him out of school and send him to counseling.

  • I'm in a school here in Metropolitan Washington that is home to two special programs, a math/science/computer magnet and a communication arts program. This school (Montgomery Blair High) had six Intel (formerly Westinghouse) Science Talent Search semifinalists. One of our students came in second place in this competition, losing to a 14 year old SENIOR from some other school. (This person will likely have serious social problems later in their life.) Frankly, this school is FULL of nerds, geeks, etc. I often feel right at home among these folks and don't get teased for being a geek.

    Now, ELEMENTARY school, on the other hand, was pure hell. As a geeky short-tempered kid with ADD and a mild learning disability, I was in trouble at the principal's office for various reasons about once a week. Yuck. But something happened between sixth and seventh grades and the weekly trips down to the office stopped. This is interesting because many psychologists believe that social pressures worsen in middle school.
  • I, for one, don't expect SPECIAL treatment for anyone who's not like the "beautiful people", as you put it. I wish that they would just be treated as something more than sub-human - people worth mounting some defense for when they're attacked (be it verbally or physically) by morons. I know that was my experience in high school - those who dislike you let you know it. They make it obvious they think you're not only less than THEM, but less than HUMAN, period. I think it's total garbage that kids that act that way get away with it.
  • For the people who do feel alone, this is the right audience. The young(er) people reading this are the ones going through it right now, The rest of us who have been paroled, can show them there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that geeks can have a very enjoyable life once they get out of the Public Education-prison system.
  • As others undoubtably have said, the press
    is completely ignoring the side of the story
    of the outcasts, casting them as anything
    from crazed students to white supremists. But
    what is not realized is how backwards
    high school can be in terms of morals -- and
    part of the problem is that the people involved
    at this point (teachers, adminstrators, the
    press) are *NOT* the ones that faced this stuff
    when they went to school -- AFAICR, most of
    the people that were the in-crowd went to
    college degrees in social sciences, not
    hard-core science. And until this point is
    made clear to the press, which will then be
    distributed to the public, it will be buried.

    JohKatz, you should prepare all these stories,
    including those of the students that spoke
    up about this in school and suddenly found
    themselves in trouble, and send them to
    all the major press houses. Keep the letters
    anonymous as you have done here, of
    course, but make sure that the letters are
    clear examples that the public high school
    envirnoment is terrible.

    Also, someone else made the point that while
    the in-crowd people will end up with lousy
    jobs while the nerds/geeks will get those jobs
    to rule the world: the nerd/geek has been around
    for at least 40 years (take a look at classic
    TV; Eddie Haskle from 'Leave it to Beaver').
    The bully has also been around. If nerd jobs
    automatically lead to jobs of power, you'd think
    we would already control this world; unfortunately, this is not true. Yes,
    the nerd jobs are generally more prestigious
    and make more money, but certainly have little
    power behind them. It's people with MBAs
    (CEOs, for example), and Pol Sci degrees
    (gov't ppl) and Law School degrees that end
    up with control over this world -- and those
    areas are generally ones were you will find a
    large lack of nerds/geeks, and a larger percentage
    of the in-crowd.

  • Brave soul? Utter moron more like.

    Tell me, what is the minimum recommended distance between a bomb and your car's fuel tank?

    And I'm sure the police would have been oh so pleased to have someone turning up and plonking a carrier bag on the desk and saying 'Um.. I found this bag; I think it's a bomb'

    All those signs you see on the tube saying things like 'if you see an unattended bag leave it the hell alone and call the police' aren't there for laughs you know.

    That particular moron almost certainly helped to destroy evidence. And, possibly worse, may be helping bring about a situation where someone caught with a bomb has the plausible defence of 'moving it to somewhere safer', which is definitely not good.
  • Controlling guns wont make the problem go away. L.A. has proved this with 'road rage'. People will just find other objects to bludgeon each other with. The whole gun thing is just a symptom of a more deep rooted cultural problem that needs to be addressed. Attempting to get rid of easy access to weapons will just sweep the underlying problem under the rug.

    Do they have road rage in Paris? It's certainly a more taxing driving experience than L.A.
  • Anyone that has ever watched StarTrek should be able to figure out how to make their own black powder.

    You just can't regulate these things away in a relatively free technologically advanced society. Even in the backwaters of South Africa, combatantas were fashioning their own crude firearms.

    At best you make it a little harder for someone who's already deranged, obsessed, criminal or all three.
  • by root ( 1428 ) on Tuesday April 27, 1999 @08:32AM (#1914202) Homepage
    When the school reopens, the geeks will still be shunned and ridiculed. Anyone 'caught' making comments like the thousands Katz received will be subjected to the trauma of being ordered to receive 'counseling' or expelled. The lesson being that differing opinions and the improper use of words is itself a dangerous and heinous act to be suppressed. This just builds more tension and resentment toward a school system structured more like a prison than an educational institution. And no one, not the student, not the parents, not the media, will stand up to defend a different opinion because a paranoid society will only suppress such people harder. Some will, on mere reflex, curse them as nazi/homo/goth/deathsquad sympathizers. Others, particularly in the schools, where mind control is stronger, will try to convince them of the error of their wrongthink. They will be badgered, continuously, unendingly, letters written to their parents, physicians secretly notified, psychiatrists and social workers too, all behind their backs, the conformists see it as their God given mission to 'help' these people before (they just assume) they can hurt anyone else.
  • I'm a 31 year old "geek sympathizer", and from recent experience, I've got to tell everyone out there that we're playing with fire here.

    We're in the middle of a full-fledged backlash, and admitting ANY kind of compassion for "these monsters" can be very dangerous. I think it's best that people remain anonymous in this, and I also think that you have to be VERY careful of what you say and who you say it to. Especially if you're a minor. I know it sucks, and I know that's not the way things ought to be in America (TM), and it certainly isn't fair, but people are VERY sensitive out there right now.

    I got into an argument about this with some neighbors, and I told them this story about the kid who posted yesterday (posted his picture), about being approached by a "jock", and being verbally abused, accused of being a Trench Coat Mafioso, and liable to snap and shoot everybody, then the jock spit on him and punched him. The response I got was not sympathy for the weird kid it was: "maybe people are really afraid right now".
    That makes ME very afraid. Like they said in MIB. . "a person is smart, people are stupid panicky animals and you know it".
    Truer words were never said.

    I wouldn't be suprised if Jon Katz got his email inbox subpoenaed to locate these kids and cue them up for reeducatio- er, I mean counselling.

    I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said "Information wants to be free".
  • I think it's pretty clear that violent hazing of students lower on the totem pole of school society is both permitted, supported, and abused by school administrators and faculty in an attempt to maintain order. This simply must stop.

    While I'm offended at the flagrantly violent abuses I endured from other students while in high school, I'm outraged that the administrators actually preserved this system of order. As an individual student I simply didn't know it was this pervasive throughout the American school system, nor did I realize to the extend at which public school faculty and administrators regularly use students to impose order upon other students in a caste system; this is reminiscent of the Brown Shirts of Germany -- imposing order through violence against the minority German Jewish population during the 1930's.

    And lest you think that I'm taking this too far by drawing parallels with Nazi Germany, allow me to point out that I was assaulted several times by groups as large as six with metal chains on school grounds, and the faculty wouldn't do anything to preserve my safety because they claimed I didn't have any witnesses to back my story up. This is after they called me in to the administrative office and nursing station to find out why I had bruises all over my body, ostensibly in order to determine if my parents had been abusing me. Once they realized that in fact it was other popular students committing these crimes they lost all interest in the matter. So the school system would have called state protective services in an instant if they thought my parents had committed a violent crime against me, but once they realized it was popular students to blame they shut up and told me to go away (they didn't even suggest I should call the police). What assholes.

    Damn, I haven't thought about this in years and I find myself getting outright pissed off thinking about it as an adult. We do not accept this behavior in adult life, why should we impose this abuse on our children?

    Now I'm 31 and far from school grounds these days, but allow me to suggest to the younger audiences here on Slashdot that if you're experiencing this kind of violent abuse in school: drop out! Just go get your GED and immediately sign up for University or local Community College courses. Once you make it out of high school and start going to college (especially if you avoid those stupid fraternities), you will find that the adults behave civilized or they go to jail. Don't put up with violence, that high school diploma is meaningless compared to a decent degree and post graduate degree; never mind the emotional scaring you will likely avoid. And you don't need that high school diploma to get into college, you simply need to get good marks in a community college, or local state University, to transfer to just about any good private or public undergraduate institution.

    I will never allow my children (when I do have children) into a public school because of these experiences.
  • >Lets not mix 'geek' and 'outcast' even those >terms are considered similar in conventional >wisdom.

    In conventional wisdom, the terms are identical. 'Geek' and 'nerd' ared used in the hallways of schools every day as put-downs, and are often the very tools used to ostracize and outcast people that are viewed as different or strange.

    >In 1 generation, every kid will be using the >internet, programming, etc., and it will be quite >common. Instead of working at GM you work at >Microsoft or whatever, so the internet and >omputers are not the issue here.

    You're right. In 1 generation, every kid will be on the internet, and the internet as an issue in this will be a moot point. But the point you're trying to make isn't accurate. Sure in a generation everyone will be on the internet. If you've been watching the tech industry during the current generation, by the time the next one rolls around we're going to have some amazing technology. Full VR gear is just around the corner... And when the next generation rolls around, it will still have its 'geeks' and its 'nerds' unless we take the time and effor to do something about it _now_.

    Things are not going to better simply because you say it will. The only way things are going to get better is if _you_ take the time _now_ to change the way things work. Putting change off to the next generation has been typical of the 20th century mindset, and as we've seen, it only damages our children and their children. The tragedy in Colorodo is at least partially a product of this, perhaps moreso than anything else.

    You say we should take solace in the fact that using computers will be the norm in the future. If we could transport ourselves forward, that would be fine. But the use of computers isn't the only thing that outcasts people today, and new reasons to hate and dislike are always cropping up. Just because one of the most prominent reasons will slowly disappear over the course of the next generation doesn't mean another won't replace it.
    What needs to change is the way of thinking that causes this.

    Being different isn't _any_ grounds for hate or derogatory remarks. The law has defined what happens to our children when their in school as harassment, assault, and battery. Yet what happens to the people (yes, children are people too) that commit these acts? They're cheered on by the rest of the students, and the administrators do very little to discourage it from happening again. If an adult were to do the things that our children do, they'd be arrested, convicted, and then sued for physical and emotional damage.

    This has nothing to do with how bright and intelligent our children are. It's about how we as a society treat our children, and how we treat each other. That has to change, more than anything else.

  • Or... "How to survive in the non-geek world"

    It's nice to think that tragedies like this could be averted if everyone would just stop their mistreatment of nerds and geeks. Damn us engineers! Always trying to change our environment to suit us! But, practically, can we really expect everyone else to suddenly become geek-friendly? I've found it much easier to adapt myself to my surroundings: you (hopefully) have much more control over your own body and souls. It's much easier to improve a situation by controlling yourself than by attempting to control other people. Attempting the latter would merely make us frustrated and helpless... feelings that draw us towards emotional instability, as we learned from elementary psychology. I've developed some of the following guidelines for myself in order to make it through the troublesome school years, (insert Baz Luhrmann disclaimer on "dispensing advice" here)

    • Learn some people skills: this appears to come naturally to "normal" people, but nerds and geeks (almost by definition) will have considerable difficulty with this area. This is one way that "outcasts" are identified. You must make a concerted effort to realize this problem, and retaliate by practicing your social skills. If these "jocks" and "preppies" are really as shallow as you say they are, this should be easy. Study a little drama, or practice in front of a mirror if you need to. Examples:
      • Say "hi". Greet people. Smile at them. Many are offended when geeks (who might be shy or preoccupied in thought) seem to be giving them the cold shoulder or ignorming them, simply because they missed their cue on common courtesies.
      • Be interested in others (or at least appear to be). People love talking about themselves. Unfortunately, geeks especially tend to be so absorbed in their own world that they forget to ask other people "how are you doing?". Ask more questions about them. You'll be amazed by how long people can be in their reply. And you'll be winning valuable brownie points just by sitting there listening with glazed eyes.
      Try this even if you're a misanthrope and hate everyone's guts. Sooner or later you'll come to the realization that everyone sucks, and once you come to accept and expect this, then maybe people's acts of stupidity won't annoy you so much.
    • Keep a good sense of humor: Geeks excel at humor. Try to keep a good sense of humor, even when you're being picked on. Don't let a confronational situation turn serious, that's what bullies want. Turn things around, don't look aggravated when you're being abused, but try to appear to enjoy the attention you're getting. Take the opportunity to crack a joke. This can sometimes win you friends out of your oppressors, since pranks like wedgies and dopeslaps can sometimes be a form of hazing that "jock"-types often pull amongst themselves (not my definition of "friendship", but that seems to be how it is inside some circles).
    • Strategic alliances: Some tormentors are more dangerous than others. You might be able to ask the "jocks" to help stand up against the "gangsters" that are giving you trouble. Similarly, if you can somehow solicit the favors of the "preppies", they might stand up for you when the "jocks" are being too abusive.
    • Have some humility: everyone hates condescending behavior. Don't let yourself brag. Downplay your successes if you have to. Say things to make people feel good about themselves. Above all, do not let yourself become elitist! That puts you in the same group as the Nazis, the Fascists, and the bullies who think they can push nerds and geeks around. You're better than that! (oh, um, wait a minute... well, the logic here is tricky... use your judgement)
    • On forming groups/clubs: It's great for geeks and nerds to band together, the best memories I have from high school were from NBC ("Nerds by Choice"). There were several things we learned were effective, and other things we did that went horribly awry:
      • First off, by forming an "official" group, you are almost brandishing yourselves as elitist outcasts, which can spawn resentment from about half the people you introduce yourselves to. We tried to offset this by picking a silly, self-deprecating name, and having an open membership. We touted "unconditional social acceptance" to somehow show that we were less elitist than many of the other groups, but it all came to little avail. My recommendation would be to go with an innocuous name and a pretense of a purpose that doesn't seem intimidating to others... like "checkers/cards club" or marginally "SAB" (Students Against Boredom). You'll be more creative than I. Go with something safe, because, believe it or not, even we were censored by our school administration solely due to our name/purpose. Now more than ever, with the Colorado hysteria, it's important to choose a name that's harmless. You have much more important things to be doing than fussing with the administration over your rights to free speech.
      • Meeting location: naturally you want a hideaway that doesn't get too much traffic, like a remote corner of the school or the classroom of a friendly teacher. You'll be behaving normally (for geeks), which means you probably don't want to attract too much of the wrong attention.
      • Lunch: The cafeteria is the prime place for abuse, since everyone's stressed and restless and has a ready supply of projectiles. Sit at the tables far from crowds and traffic, so at least tormentors will have to go out of their way to do anything. We'd also avoid going to our lockers before lunch so we'd make it to the cafeteria in time to beat the long, arduous waits in the lunch line, where impatience and tension usually runs high. The best part of my school time was spent skipping lunch entirely in favor of a period in the library or the computer lab, eating a packed lunch in a classroom that didn't mind it.
    • Learn Martial Arts: nothing can do more to improve your confidence and constitution than good physical and spiritual training. Besides, if you suck at competitive sports as much as I do, you'll need something to keep yourself in shape. Of course, don't go to a school or club that's only into competitive sparring, instead find one with lots of mature people who are more focused on traditional techniques and development. Your goal is not to become a black belt or turn into a fighting machine, but simply to improve your self-control, manage stress, and sharpen your chi. (Not that physical prowess doesn't help... I once threw a warning kick at an oppressor that merely tapped him on his temple; however, I made it through the rest of middle school with the reputation like: "don't mess with that guy or he'll kick you in the head!")
    This rift that has been opening up between introverts and extroverts in school environments is only worsened by any "us vs. them" elitist mentality. One of us is going to have to step up and bridge the gap by accepting the other for who they are. Someone will have to evolve out of the natural human inclination to war and quarrel. I have a good feeling it's not going to be the others. Someone is going to have to start providing solutions to this crisis. We've seen the silly solutions the mainstream has been coming up with, it's about time we implemented some of our own.
  • by neo ( 4625 ) on Tuesday April 27, 1999 @08:33AM (#1914241)
    Understanding why these kids became monsters in no way condones what they did. While they may rot in hell for their actions, we must live in this hell... where people can't see past the mask to find the person underneath.
  • by ShinGouki ( 12500 ) on Tuesday April 27, 1999 @11:51AM (#1914309) Homepage
    Like some of the other posters, I've no real wish to rewrite my essay-length post from the first Hellmouth article (subj: Some thoughts...) but seeing some of the responses to this article (most specifically, the one i'm responding to) have made me think a bit further on some points I had missed in my first bit.

    Life is not a game. There is no way to win.

    Some people persist in trying to live life as if it were a game (most people, in fact), keeping "score" with such things as money, posessions, power, etc. This is all bullshit. Yes, you need money to live off of, and you need money to do things (for the most part) but that is _all_ you need money for. I don't know who said this, but I once saw this quote somewhere: "In 100 years nobody will remember how much I had in my bank account, nobody will remember what kind of car I drove...but in 100 years the world may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of just one child." This explains, quite nicely, my feelings on all the "we get rich while they work at McDonalds, so we've won" posts. Life is not a competition, life is life. (this is why we have two separate words for these two ideas)

    For some people, money, fame, power, etc. may be the things they feel themselves called to chase after...these things may be what makes them truly happy, but what is right for one person is not necessarily right for everyone (or anyone) else. Conforming to non-conformity is still conforming...if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice (any other Rush fans here? :P).

    I have the technical ability to be a fairly well paid sys admin, webmaster, whatever and everyone I know boggles at the fact that I'm not...they constantly ask me why I haven't taken some position with some large (or small) company making ~60k a year for doing what is fun and natural for me. No matter how I try, I can't explain to them well enough that the last thing I want is to wake up at age 35 (i'm 22 now) and find that I've become the Man in the Grey Flannel Suit (!) type of mindless worker-ant happily trundling along and giving away bits of my life (time) to someone just so I can have a nice car or a nice apartment. For me, I need to take the time and find something that I really love to do, something that I can define by being who I am instead of something that defines me by being what I do. It is also necssary that I can make money at this since I _do_ need to eat :P The key here is that I have come to understand that this approach to life is not for everyone, in fact it may not be right for anyone besides me. That still doesn't change the fact that I'd like people to understand how I feel about it, but that may come (or not) with time.

    The greatest bit of advice I have to give is to make sure that while you're so busy trying to beat "them" you don't become them. As with my last post on the first article, I'd like to leave off with a bit of wisdom from a great philosopher...

    "'This is my way, where is yours?' I said to those who asked me 'the way,' for 'the way' does not exist. Thus spoke Zarathustra." --Friedrich Nietzsche (from Also Sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)).

  • When I read all these awful stories, I just can't help but wish there were a place where the "talented misfits" could go to find an uplifting, supportive atmosphere. Of course, you're not going to find that sort of silver bullet anywhere. But I still wish one existed.

    On a more pragmatic level, the best advice I can think of came from another Slashdotter: Get your GED and get out! If your high school is a living hell because you're bright, you sure as shootin' ought to be able to pass some lame GED exam and move on to college, where (usually) you can be challenged and appreciated.

    Ordinarily, I'd say high school is a valuable and necessary step _socially_ in the growing up process, but if high school society is the cause of your problems, get out!

    One word of caution: Going to college is no panacea, either. I knew underage college students who were just as miserable and lonely as high school students. Your fellow students may not be the abusive assholes they were in high school, but they ARE as many as seven years your senior -- and a hell of a lot happens in those seven years. Even if you are their intellectual peer, a social gulf will still exist. You have to go through late adolescence eventually, and it won't be easy anywhere.

    This, of course, brings me back to the idea of some sort of "geek haven" high school that the tormented outsiders could go to. Boarding school, of course, with 100-base-T in every room. :-) Please don't crash down on me with the logistical problems, I'm daydreaming.

    You may argue that the real world is a whole lot more like high school than we care to admit, and you're only hurting yourself hiding from it. I would disagree in one key aspect, though, which is that in the real world your tormentors rarely have the chance to actually beat you up. And in a battle of wits, we geeks can hold our own.
  • Is this problem a characteristic of having too few academically advanced students in a school?

    I ask because I had a group of friends who were similarly inteligent and didn't have much trouble with alienation and rejection from the normals in high school. My friends weren't as interested in computers, but we still understood each other and had various intellectual coversations. Because of our academic abilities, we were grouped together for most of our classes. But even when I did meet the normals, there usually wasn't much trouble unless they were freshmen.

    Middle School was much worse for me. The school wouldn't put me in the academically advanced gifted classes for some reason, and I was board most of the time. A lot other students didn't seem to appreciate me, save for the students in the gifted classes.

    So, maybe the problem could be reduced by grouping students with other students of similar academic ability. Of course, this won't solve the problem. It'll probably allow the problem to continue.

    I'd like to know what makes the masses of the school lash out against the most intelligent of the students. Maybe its the "attack what is not understood" syndrome.

    What do the /.'ers here think?
  • It's good to finally geeks and (former in some case) high school outcasts being able to express the way we've always felt. It's even better to express it mainstream so that people might realize that the people they've been laughing at and hating for no good reasons are also human being and have much to share if allowed to. But I'm beggining think it might be questionable to use this tragedy and those two kids as a launching point for all this. Let's not forget how it all started, lets not forget that those two killed 15 others, lets not use them as martyr to boost our cause. By doing this we're no better than the ones we're accusing of rejecting us. I already see the flames coming but as I posted this message to share my point of view I'm ready and eager to read what you think of my point of view and maybe you can even help me set my ming and figure out what is the better way to feel/act about this.
  • by lee ( 17524 ) <lee@@@pyrzqxgl...org> on Tuesday April 27, 1999 @08:29AM (#1914341) Homepage
    We can speak out and start teaching children at an early age that ridiculing people who are different is wrong.

    I was a new kid in the middle of the first grade. the first teacher I had at that school thought learning to get along and fit in was part of growing up. Instead of stepping in when the kids started to tease the new kid, she let them. She let them get away with it even when I told her they were hitting me. She said if I would just ignore them they would stop. She told me not to be a tattletale and a crybaby. Her inaction taught them that their actions were ok.

    I was tortured over the next 3 years until I moved out of that school. They got away with it because they were many and I was alone. That teacher had an opportunity to prevent at least some of that, but felt the lesson I needed, to learn how to fit in, was more important.

    This week I have talked to people who echoed her sentiments. I think such attitudes are very much part of the problem. It is not always possible to make your tormenters stop without help. I was told to ignore them and they will go away. Ignoring them did not make them go away. Instead of growing bored with a captive who did not scream, they hit me harder and tried more severe tortures until I screamed. Instead of me learning to fit in, they learned how to torment.

    We can reach out to those young people we know on the net, welcome the teen geeks to our groups--from linux users groups to our weekly D&D game. We can talk to them online and let them know that life gets better, but we need to teach the others what they are doing is wrong.
  • Don't forget the administration.. I had the principal of my high school come accuse me of vandalism. When I told my friend about it, I was lambasted for violating the confidence of his lies.

    I should mention that the vandalism was against some members of the student government whom I had no great history with. But the last 2 years I was in high school, I was punished for some other fools vandalism.. I'm glad I never had a gun, and I'm glad someone else was breaking shit for me.

    I got the pleasure of seeing girlie hooch cry b/c 'I' shaving creamed her car and she had to repaint it. BUT I did'na do it.

    Moral of this Story: Fuck it. Go read a book, and screw all those assholes. You don't need them, but killing anyone (including yourself) is just a chickenshit escape. Doesn't make things better. You just go to jail, or die.
  • by magic ( 19621 ) on Tuesday April 27, 1999 @08:21AM (#1914362) Homepage
    FastFood for thought:

    On the previous Hellmouth article, someone posted about Nerd Revenge, suggesting that getting a better job, a better spouse, and a better car means that you "won" and the jock working at McDonalds "lost". I like to tell myself this, but I'm not so sure it is true.

    What does it mean that you won on these criterion? You sacrificed everything you cared about when you were oppressed in high school-- freedom, deep intellectual concerns, a love of good books and good stories, general geeki-ness, and tried to beat the popular croud at their own game. So now that you are rich, well dressed, have lots of friends, and are tied 24/7 to your cell phone doing internet consulting... have you won? You bought into their ideals and sacrificed what you cared about. Sleeping with that popular person's boyfriend (or girlfriend), driving a porsche, and having them get your fries isn't what winning at life is all about.

    To the people still stuck in school: Middle school was hell. High school was hell. If you are lucky, you manage to slide by on the sidelines, keep your D&D friends, keep your computer, and keep learning. If you aren't, someone "cracks down" on you and takes away the things that are expanding your universe. Life is infinitely better in college; you'll find more people like yourself, be able to control what you buy, what you watch, what you do. You will [mostly] be rewarded for being intelligent and dedicated.


  • The scarier part about all this is how people are labeling the killers as 'freaks and mentals' or the equivalent. And to some extent, it's true. Only someone with a little bad wiring would take the hate this far. But at the same time, anyone with 'bad wiring' would be targeted and picked on even more in the school setting.

    I won't bring my own experiences into this (they're just like all the others, picked on and what not), I just feel that someone has to say that labeling the killers any futher is possibly a little hypocritical. Labels and what not started this whole thing.

    If they were nuts, they probably woulda taken more heat for it. And that would just make it all worse.

  • I'd love to go into miserable detail on why my formative junior high and high school years were filled with terror and alienation, but it would be just another scar on the collective /. belt so I'll leave it at that. (How did I get through? Found a few other like-minded individuals, channelled that energy into writing, listened to "Quadrophenia" incessantly.)

    More important to me is that the public education system is so ass-backward that it doesn't recognize the need to support its top students, the ones most likely to feel the pangs of alienation. Schools that have fought an uphill battle to have tracking (i.e. grouping intelligent kids together) are going to be hard-hit by the Columbine massacre. I'm sure we'll see folks saying that we can't trust all these geeks, nerds and gamers together or they'll turn out like the TCM. Well, obviously that's not the case -- the Denver killers had no support network, that's part of what drove them to do what they did. Smart kids need other smart kids around to understand them. Often their parents don't. I know when I'm a parent, I'll do my damnedest, having been there before, but only systemic change to the education system is going to make a substantial difference, regardless of the efforts of any parent.

    The lowest levels of our society have miles of support groups, and schools are required by federal law to provide special education and counseling services to the worst performing students. However, nothing mandates similar programs for the top tier of kids, and we have to squeak by on what sustenance we can gain from the few parents and teachers who know what it's like to be the one crawling from the garbagecans.

  • As with the teachers and administraters across the country, the adults at my school who are payed to teach and take care of us are taking things too far. At my high school there is no question of "could it happen here" because a kid brought a gun and knife to school last month planning to kill a girl who refused to go out with him. The situation was diffused and played down at the time, the student body was informed, but there weren't any changes in policy. Now however, the principal and the deans have taken things to extremes. The school paper had an article in it about death, which was unfortunate but not planned because it went to press before the murders, however our principal doesn't understand that, flipped out in front of the faculty, and has been throwing away all the papers he can find. All this does is show us students that he's irrational. Another boy had been distriubting a magazine he'd made of questionable taste with numerous drug references and even a picture of a naked woman, but did he get in trouble for those things, of course not! The deans threatened to expell him because there were two lines in it that were violent. And now we students are not allowed to stay after school and do work, the administrators are worried that something could happen with all of us not under constant supervision--maybe we'll run around the school and do bad things. This isn't sending the right message to the students, it makes for an environment where there is no trust and a lot of fear. How do they expect us to learn in a place like that?
  • First things first, violence does happen in Canadian high schools. As a Canadian, I think that i do need to point this sad fact out. Although I can only think of one case where someone died(a very focussed attack by a group on an individual, outside of the school), it still does happen here. But while we do have violence in our schools, we have not yet experienced a tragedy in the mold of Littleton, one where students almost randomly kill fellow students.

    Is this because we(Canada) have more restrictive gun laws? I've seen a lot of comments about this, I guess because it's a very touchy subject in the States. Yes, and no. Yes because not having access to the weapons(a locked metal cabinet is much easier to get at then going out and buying a gun), means that the scale of the violence is limited. Sure people could still make pipe bombs or other such things, but they aren't as reliable or efficient at killing people. No because having access to a gun does not absolve the attacker of anything. It is still the person that wilfully took the gun and killed someone with it.

    After reading all of the comments here, I think the main difference is that I don't know anyone who didn't love high school. Sure people formed different cliques, and perhaps the cliques as wholes may not have interacted with each other much, but it was very commonplace for individuals to change between them as easily as a politician before an election. I alternated between Ubernerd, jock, artsie, and for a bit AV guy. In a way it was expected of us to be as multifaceted as possible. Teachers in school would be just as lenient for assignments/tests/etc regardless if you were away playing rugby, going to a trivia tournament or filming a school event, in most cases they encouraged us to do as many things as possible whether or not we were any good at it. There was less of an us verses them mentality in high school because at any time we could be on either side, and so it makes it much harder to dehumanize your fellow students. Something that it appears was very prevalent in more than a few of your high schools.

    In fact from what i can see, the American attitude is like that of the Olympic Games: "Citius, Altius Fortius"(Faster, Higher, Stronger), whereas the Canadian attitude is more like that of the Special Olympics: "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." In other words, for Americans(gross generalization alert!!!) winning and differentiating yourself from those around you, is more important than the cameraderie gained by experiencing common events.

    Not sure what exactly it says about us but I thought it was worth mentioning

    Oh, and glad to see that there wasn't as much Katz bashing as there has been in the past.

    Anyways, that's my $0.02 (or $0.013 American)

  • by remande ( 31154 ) <remande@ b i g f o o t . com> on Tuesday April 27, 1999 @10:33AM (#1914434) Homepage
    From an engineering perspective, these kids were operating way the hell out of design specifications.

    Every device ever engineered has a set of design specifications. The red line on your tachometer shows one. When you exceed the redline, your engine is going too fast for its own good and you can no longer guarantee that it won't tear itself to shreds and take you with it.

    In short, when something exceeds design specs, it can fail. By "fail", I mean to stop doing the job it was designed to do. Engines explode; bridges collapse; processors release blue smoke; software crashes.

    People have design specs as well. They're more flexible specs, because a person is a wonderfully complex system. Some design specs are physical, some are mental, some are emotional.

    People can only handle so much stress before they exceed their design specs and fail. When a person emotionally fails, they become irrational. In common parlance, they "lose it".

    Who here has not exceeded design specs and lost it? I've certainly lost it, and done some incredibly stupid things as a result. But for most of us, it is but a momentary lapse of reason. We lose it, we get out of (or distanced from) the source of acute stress, and we start operating like somewhat rational human beings again.

    And then there are people who have exceeded design specs so far, or so constantly, that they lose it and never get it back. In engineering terms, they have "failed" and not recovered. In common parlance, we call these people "sickos" or "psychos".

    If this were not bad enough, the fact that we're so complex (compared to machines, anyhow) means that we fail unpredictably. It's like a girder buckling under the pressure; you don't know when it will fail, nor in which direction. Psychology texts are full of ways that people fail to deal with stress. The psych texts are incomplete, and people come up with new failure modes. One of these failure modes is suicidal and homicidal mania.

    With all the profiling, the talk about games and bands and coats, people are trying to predict the failure mode. We worry about this kid because he's likely to crack by going postal; we don't worry about that kid because she's likely to crack by popping barbituates and dropping out.

    Trying to predict which people will fail by gunning people down is a fool's errand, because we can't tell which way a person will fail. If we can, psychology is incredibly advanced, and I'd love to see some of these psychologists working in engineering firms.

    We can tell if a person is likely to fail in any sense. We can't tell when somebody will fail, because we can't accurately gauge their tolerance for stress. We can look at a person, see what causes stress for them, see what relieves stress for them, and look for a mismatch. If the stress is far above the relief, then the stress will eventually surpass any person's capacity. That person is going to break, period.

    I can't tell you whether it is possible for a school to do this for students. If it is, it is very hard. It is possible for parents to do so, if they know how and if they care. As a nation (not necessarily as a government), we must give the parents that care the knowledge to look for this. As a nation and a government, we also must require that parents do care about the well-being of their kids, including their emotional well-being. Failure to do so is criminal neglect.

    The schools are trying to make themselves safe, due to the media-hyped school shootings. First and foremost, this is a laudable goal. I believe that our schools are acting in good faith, but with bad information and the wrong tools. I'd rather have this than have intentionally malicious people attacking this problem with good information and the right tools. People with good intentions can be trained; people with poor intentions can often only be restrained.

    To all the parents and school faculty reading this and actively dealing with the issues of this tragedy, thank you. You have the right intentions. Read this thread, not just this post. Arm yourself with the knowledge and tools you need to do the job effectively.

  • by Chris Andersen ( 31183 ) on Tuesday April 27, 1999 @08:58AM (#1914436)
    Computer games, Goth, black trenchcoats, loud music...

    None of these things cause tragedies like the Littleton shootings.

    All of these things are merely attempts by isolated kids to create a means of expressing their pain in a way that DOESN'T involve getting a shotgun and blowing off the face of their tormentors. They are not not unhealthy influences that corrupt otherwise innocent minds. They are mechanisms we create in order to avoid giving into our unhealthy desires to haul off and wail away on our enemies.

    Suppressing these activities won't make the problem go away. If anything, this will simply limit the recourses these kids have and increase the possibility that they will resort to more violent modes of expression.
  • Peter from Boston's experience brings out an important point missed in all the blame laying.

    I don't want to make sweeping generalizations, but it seems like in many schools student athletes are given license to abuse and even assault their classmates. I know in the town my wife grew up in, the police looked the other way when the football team did acts of vandalism. As a high school geek, I didn't get picked on because I was an avid judo player (surprised the hell out of the jocks when the found that out), but otherwise what happened to Peter could have happened to me.

    I don't lay blame at the hands of the kids -- athletes or geeks; IT IS THE ADULTS THAT ARE OUT OF CONTROL. Can you expect a kid to behave in a civilized way if there are no consequences for his or her action? I don't know many adults that I'd trust under those circumstances.

    The media backlash against marginalized youth subcultures totally misses the point. There's no way to avoid the popular/unpopular thing with teens and all the baggage of unfairness and shallowness that comes with it. What we need to do as adults is not to take sides. Some kids are geeks, some are jocks; our job is to provide kids with the things they need to explore their identies constructively: education, art, music, theatre, science, computers, clubs -- and yes, athletics too.

    Taking sides in the jock/geek thing creates an unhealthy, winner takes all atmosphere where the popular groups get everything: peer admiration, adult respect, money for school programs, and above all a freedom from the basic constraints of civilized behavior which no citizen, much less child, should have. As adults, we need to be on the side of all kids.

    For kids like Peter in Boston, I wish I could say that as adults we had our act together better. As a teenager, you won't have any problem seeing we've screwed up pretty badly. There's probably no easy or completely satisfactory answer to your problems. However, there are things you can do to get through.

    • Treat yourself with respect.
    • Treat others, even your enemies with respect. I know its tempting to dream of revenge, but its no good for you. Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind."
    • Make friends who live by these rules -- it's the loners who get it worst.

    Also, if you can find a wise and responsible adult who understands you can't just administrate this problem away, he or she may be able to help you find ways of improving the atmosphere in your school. Finally, if you're near Cambridge, there's an MIT student group called ESP that runs programs for smart kids. I don't know what they're offering now, but you might give them a call at 253-4882, or visit there web site: http://www.mit.edu/edsp/www. Any MIT geeks reading this may be interested in volunteering services with this fine organization. Geeks in colleges who want to do something about this situation should also take a look at this group as a possible model.

    Like we used to say -- if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

  • There are parental voices speaking the same words. MSNBC has some letters posted on their site [msnbc.com] The politicians and lawmakers are headed in the wrong direction. Speak up! go to www.senatevote.com and send your opinion to your senator on how this should be handled.
  • by Kitarra ( 33898 ) on Tuesday April 27, 1999 @03:20PM (#1914462)
    I watched the news coverage of the Littleton Massacre with dawning horror.
    There was a feeling deep in the pit of my stomach that what was going on was more
    than just wrong for the kids of Littleton. I dread that this is going to make life so
    much harder for kids like them.

    When I was in high school I was an outcast by choice. I hung with the popular
    crowed for my entire freshman year. But I felt so fake around them. I wasn't
    myself. I did not enjoy the same things they did. I was not concerned with clothes
    or parties or dances. I wanted to play with my computer and read my fiction
    books. By that point I had read my entire grade school library and was well on my
    way to devouring the paltry sci-fi/fantasy section of my High School library.

    I met my real friend my sophomore year. We got to gather through a club on
    campus called the Fiction Federation. Most of us are still friends (I graduated in
    89). We were not popular then. Though we were a registered club, we had to fight
    to get into the year book. We had to fight for a room to have meetings in and for a
    teacher willing to be a mentor. But we were lucky we found each other. And
    because we found each other we became a type of gang. We looked after each
    others emotional needs. We understood each other even if our parents and peers
    did not.

    I am terrified that since the Littleton mess that there will be no more Fiction
    Federations. That no one will be willing to help the geeks. And more than that, I am
    afraid that the geeks themselves will be too afraid to reach out. It is hard enough in
    high school to reach out to another person. Harder still if you are shy and different
    and your interests are nothing like those of the people around you. But now these
    people are going to be alienated even further, if not by their peers but by their own

    Where as before they might have brought a fiction book in a shy attempt to attract
    the attention of someone like them (my best friend and I got together like this), now
    they will be too terrified to even do that. It breaks my heart to think of how many of
    these people will succumb to feelings of worthlessness. How many of them will
    suffer silently in the darkness of their lonely lives. I fear that while before, loneliness
    will drive them to make contact, now it will drive them to an more permanent
    solution to their torment.

    And it will not be just the geeks who suffer. The artists, the poets... any one who
    does not fit in. High school was a prison for so many of us. Now it will be a
    concentration camp. Saddest of all is that the same people who could be helping the
    outcasts will be adding to the hysteria. Administrators, teachers, counselors...
    instead of instilling a sense of trust in these kids will now be watching them with
    suspicion. Alienating them further.

    And how many of us had parents we could turn to? I certainly didn't. Neither did
    any of my friends. If we had net met each other, it might have been one of us with
    the guns and the bombs. Certainly I have seen that much rage in some of my peers.
    And back then I was the only one with a computer and a modem (BBS days).

    I pray for their sakes that these kids can find an outlet. That they find a support
    group on line if they cannot find one locally. Find people like them. People who will
    support them and their creative efforts... or programing efforts. We need to provide
    access to the internet in every school library. In ever library period. Not everybody
    has a computer. But everyone needs an outlet. I think that a lot of doors have been
    closed for kids like these. Time we opened some up.

    That's my two cents.
  • I understand where you are coming from, and it's completely justified. This is a highly....... sensitive topic. The intentions of all these posts are to finally bring to full light the true nature of school life for many people. The problem is we are linking it to a terrible event. With what occured in Colorado, everyone's focus is on the deaths of the 15? students/teachers. With death comes the feelings of mourning, but aslo anger, hate, and rage directed at the ones responsible, and, unfortunately, the ones associated with them too.

    Now you said, "lets not use them as martyr to boost our cause. By doing this we're no better than the ones we're accusing of rejecting us."

    Why exactly do you feel that way? The way I see it, as much as they failed the system, the system failed them just as much. Out of all the stories we have heard, the posts that have been written, we all have come to the conclusion that these kids were not just geeks, outcasts, or whatever you want to call them. We all see that there was something else deeply wrong within them, and that they had some serious issues. Now, the question is, why didn't any of the parents, teachers, or counselers see any of the serious warning signs?

    There could be many answers to this, and your guess is as good as mine. Here is my view. They were all labeled as goths, loners, and all the pretty words that means they were different from the mainstream. One set idea that has been stated many times in these posts, is that those groups of people are 90% of the time misunderstood. People don't know anything about them (and don't want to), so anything and everything they do is just thrown into the class that people have labeled them as.

    Now I know im explaining this horriby, and I'm trying my best to get my point across straight. What I'm trying to say, is these people need to put their prejudices aside, and get to know these "different" kids, so that everyone can tell the difference between a gothic trend, and the signs of a seriously disturbed mind.

    These Colorado kids are a perfect example that the people in charge (and nearly everybody for that matter), just cannot tell this difference. The sooner people become knowledgable, the fewer of these cases we will see of schools overreacting to the actions of the "out" crowd. And, like the dominoe effect, when they start to learn about this "out" crowd, hopefully they will see exactly how bad it has gotten for them.

  • Funny, I thought that social engineering is exactly what both school and the media are about, and both of them are very effective at what they do. You seem to have just focused purely on restrictive and punitive measures. It is possible to engineer creative and supportive solutions that do actually help people, and it is possible to engineer society by having better PR than anyone else.
  • by kamileon ( 35033 ) on Tuesday April 27, 1999 @08:43AM (#1914470)
    Jon, while I applaud your attention to these stories, you are beginning to get a little redundant. Instead of showing us more and more of the insanity which parents are willing to perpetrate (which doesn't really show me anything new or shocking), how about a little more attention to potential solutions, instead of this hand-wringing. We know how the horror goes. Many of us lived through it. While my deepest sympathies go out to these people, I feel that I am betraying them, if the only thing I can do is sit around and say how horrible it is. That makes us as bad as the regular media.

    What can we, as a community, do about it?

  • by ashkte ( 43047 ) on Tuesday April 27, 1999 @10:58AM (#1914510)
    ok, first of all, expect no quotes/single quotes. they are not getting translated properly. we shall see what other symbols do not come across properly.

    i am 30, female, a mother, and a fringe geek chick. basically, i like being around people more intelligent than i am. while good enough for work standards with a puter (and could be better if i pushed it) i am working more on developing the >>people>too busy>group
    anyway ... my point, you ask? intelligence shaped the right way can be a benefit to everyone. open your eyes, yes, educators; stop thinking the world revolves around sports and athletics. when the body is old and feeble, what are you left with, if you have never worked to develop your mind?

    but by that same token, i made it through high school without ever hurting anyone. and i made it through a home life that was actually more traumatic than high school was, and i made it out alive. yes, geeks, nerds, what-have-you -- you are the upper class when it comes to brains and intelligence.

    i do not say this to say that it gets easier, or that one should sit idly by and allow oneself or a friend to be abused. but look at what MADD has done in this country about drunk driving in the last 20 years, alone. if you cry, do not keep it inside. find an outlet, raise your voice, be heard, speak up, ask for help and ask and ask again, until you are heard.

    but keep your fist to your side, unless to defend yourself from physical harm. let us speak to those parents who are too busy to make time for their children, let us teach them. let us speak to the educators, to the media; let us open eyes and minds to what is truly a horrendous situation. yes, yes, i am preaching to the choir. but if this goes beyond slashdot.org, then perhaps some parents will begin to twinge with guilt, and some educators to sit back and say, well now. maybe i SHOULD open my eyes.

    because -- take my word for it people -- this is not the end of it. it begins one person at a time, but things have a way of growing. let us see if we cannot influence the right things to begin growing, rather than a public outpouring of hatred. this is the easiest thing to do, to hate a group or class for what one or two of its fellows did. but i think we should push for something with a little more weight behind it; something like personal responsibility, and parental responsibility.

    and open-mindedness would not be so bad, either!
  • I was in highschool between 1989 and 1993. I can think of many times, just like others have admitted here, wanting to get back at others for the crap I had to deal with. Heck even before high school, I was being taunted all the time.

    In elementary school because I was interested in computers, everyone assumed that I was a super smart kid. Unfortunately that was the wrong assumption - I hated homework, and I didn't like school work. I got in a few fights, etc. Nothing too major, but I don't look back on it with rosey thougths.

    In grade six I went on a trip to Ottawa (Canada's National Capital) and by the end of the trip, someone had spread a rumor that I was gay. The kid who spread the rumor was completely pretentious, and had to better himself over others.

    Kind of funny to note though is, I came out as a gay man when I was in university in Ottawa.

    Anyway, in high school, I had to deal with looking after my grandparents while my mother was working. My parents were divorced when I was four. So while trying to get the grades to go to university, I was looking after my grandparents.

    I had to deal with stupid 'popular' kids on the bus who had no idea the life I was leading. As far as they were concerned, I was a gullible individual who had no life, was never invited to parties, who sat in front of a computer all day.

    It wasn't until grade 12 and my OAC year I was told by someone, "You know, you're really cool." I was floored! I had no idea that I was cool! Someone actually liked me!!

    I went to university and lived in residence for my first year. While I wasn't one of the guys getting picked on, my roommate was someone who did get picked on all the time.

    What about the counsellors when I went through school? Useless. Teachers? Useless.

    There was a memo leaked by some of the students while I was in high school. The teachers were having a contest to see who could score the most baseball caps from students in the school. Teachers were waiting by the entrace at hometime, and kids on the way out of school with their baseball caps on inside the school would have them taken away. How can you expect the students to respect you if you won't respect them?

    What about teachers who jump to conclusions and you don't get a say? Guilty until proven innocent? HELLO!

    It's not just the kids we need to look at, the parents, teachers and administration are all responsible.

    What about games, and such? Give me a break! Music does not make kids bad. Video games don't make kids bad. It's the example they get from society - and in high school the examples are teachers, administration, and parents.

    Schools should not be facist states, but they sure seem run that way, for no particular good reason. I often wonder if the administration even think!
  • by Cheshyre ( 43113 ) on Tuesday April 27, 1999 @03:05PM (#1914516) Homepage
    [Hey, I'm a library science student -- I love this kind of research]

    If you want to find out just what your rights are as a student, go to http://www.aclu.org/issues/student/hmes.html, which solely focuses on the civil liberties of students.

    Several "Student Briefer" documents deliniate what rights you actually have.
    • http://www.aclu.org/students/slfree.html covers free expression, including dress codes and censorship issues.
    • http://www.aclu.org/students/slprivacy.html discusses privacy issues, including what to do when a school official or police officer wants to question or search you.
    • http://www.aclu.org/students/slfair.html has information on fair treatment and due process -- permissible school punishment and what rights you have if threatened with suspension.

    Again, a couple excerpts:


    In 1969 in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District the Supreme Court held that students in public schools -- which are run by the government -- do not leave their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse gate. This means that you can express your opinions orally and in writing -- in leaflets or on buttons, armbands or T-shirts.

    You have a right to express your opinions as long as you do so in a way that doesn't "materially and substantially" disrupt classes or other school activities.
    If you hold a protest on the school steps and block the entrance to the building, school officials can stop you. They can probably also stop you from using language that they think is "vulgar or indecent," so watch out for the dirty words, OK?

    Also, school officials may not censor only one side of a controversy. If they permit an article in the official school paper that says that premarital sex is bad, they may not censor an article that says premarital sex is good.
    . . .
    If you think your school's dress codes and hair codes are unfair and you want to challenge them, be aware that a court probably won't overturn the codes unless the judge finds that they're really unreasonable, or that they're discriminatory.


    You've all heard cops on TV or in the movies say, "you have the right to remain silent..." Well, that's exactly what you should do if the police ask you questions. Remember anything you say can be used against you.

    Just give the police your name and address and say you want to speak to your parents and a lawyer. As soon as you do that, the police must stop questioning you.

    The police aren't allowed to search you unless they have a warrant signed by a judge or unless they are arresting you. However, if they believe that you have a weapon, they can frisk you, and if they feel a weapon, they can then search you. If the cops ask to search you or your car, don't resist the search, but let them know that you don't consent to it.
    . . .
    You have the right to remain silent if you're questioned by a school official. Usually there is no problem with answering a few questions to clear something up. But if you think that a teacher suspects you of having committed a crime, don't explain, don't lie and don't confess, because anything you say could be used against you. Ask to see your parents or a lawyer.

    The Supreme Court ruled in 1985 in New Jersey v. T.L.O. that school officials, unlike police, may search students without a warrant when they have "reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will turn up evidence that the student has violated... either the law or rules of the school." But school officials may not search you unless they have a good reason to believe that you in particular -- not just "someone" -- broke a law or a school rule.

    So, if a teacher thinks she saw you selling drugs to another student, she can ask you to empty your pockets and can search your backpack. But just because they think some students have drugs doesn't give them the authority to search all students.

    And no matter what, the search must be conducted in a "reasonable" way, based on your age and what they're looking for. Strip searching is illegal in many states, and where it is allowed, there has to be a solid reason to suspect a particular student of having committed a really serious crime.

    In some states, courts have ruled that a student's locker is school property, so the school can search it. But in other states, school officials must have "reasonable suspicion" that you are hiding something illegal before they can search your locker. Your local ACLU can fill you in on your state laws. But here's a word to the wise: don't keep anything in your locker that you wouldn't want other people to see.


    The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees everyone in the United States something called "due process of law," which means you have the right to be treated fairly by people who are in positions of authority -- teachers, school administrators, -- and the police.

    Let's say a teacher or school official accuses you of having done something wrong and wants to suspend you. Well, they can't just throw you out! You have a right to a hearing so you can tell your side of the story. This right was established by the U.S. Supreme Court way back in 1975 when it decided a case called Goss v. Lopez that involved some high school students who had been suspended without a hearing.

    Another thing: if you're found guilt of something, the punishment can't be more serious than the misconduct was. So your school can't suspend you for just a minor violation. Or for something other kids did and only got detention for.
    . . .
    No matter how long the suspension, you have a right to notice of the charges against you -- that means being told exactly what you did that was wrong. You also have the right to a hearing before a person or people who are impartial, meaning they don't have anything to do with the incident, and they don't have any attitude towards you one way or the other.

    If you deny the charges, the school officials have to tell you what evidence they have, and give you the chance to tell your side of the story. And if you're facing serious punishment, like suspension for more than 10 days, you have the right to be represented by a lawyer who can call witnesses. You also have the right to question or cross-examine your accusers and the witnesses against you. And you have the right to ask that a record be made of everything that happens at the hearing. You can use this record if you decide to appeal the decision.

    But you don't have the right to a hearing for a minor punishment, such as being made to sit at the back of the class or detention.

    The only way you school can suspend or expel a student without notice or a hearing is if they think the student is a danger to other students or to school property. But even then, they're obligated by law to give the student notice and a hearing as soon as possible after the expulsion.
    . . .
    And schools don't have the right to punish you if you broke a rule you had no reason to know even existed.

    So you do have protections. Obviously, you'll have to check the rules at your school district, but if the officials mistreat you, make a stink. The more people who hear how ludicrious these policies are, the quicker they'll be dissolved. Try these on for size:
    • You can't be punished for violating the dress code unless they clearly told you beforehand what the rules are.
    • If a school official wants to search you, demand to know their reasons.
    • If officials insist on punishing you, make them explain exactly why they are punishing you. Not the general charge, like "dress code violations" but get specific -- coat was too long, outfit too black, whatever their excuse. That could sound extremely silly before an impartial hearing.
      If you think you can win, challenge it.
    • The punishment can't be more serious than the misconduct. So what punishments are less serious than a dress code violation? Changing outfits or a brief detention.
    • If you don't want to use ignorance as a defence, then go the other way.
      Ask the school for a written copy of their dress code. Get every detail. If they use a vague phrase like "Gothic attire" then demand an exact definition of what exactly is forbidden clothing. Then find all the loopholes or places where rules are arbitrary, unreasonable and/or discriminatory.
      Can't bar hats unless there's an exception for yamulkes (Religious Jews keep their head covered at all times). If nobody is allowed to dress in black, then what are people in mourning supposed to do? If combat boots are prohibited, then what happens to ROTC? If miniskirts are forbidden, find out how many inches that is.
      Now you have three options:
      1. Dress as provocatively as you can while always staying within the loopholes. [Wear skirts 1/2 inch longer than the limit. If all-black outfits are forbidden, wear mostlyblack. In my high school, students couldn't wear shorts, but girls could still wear skirts. So a large group of guys started wearing miniskirts to class.]
      2. Be good little citizens and point out all the "good" kids who are also violating these new rules. If combat boots are forbidden, make the hall monitors write up the ROTC. If all black wardrobe is verbotten, ticket the entire swim team. Either the school will refuse to apply the code in these situations (which proves discriminatory enforcement) or the popular kids will get so fed up that theywill get these codes repealed.
      3. Or, if you find enough holes, go ahead and challenge them in court.

    Hope this information / these ideas helped. If there's a local branch of the ACLU in your neighborhood, they may have the specific rules for your neck of the wood. Otherwise, I do enjoy digging for data like this, so if you have further questions, post them as a response and I'll see what I can find out.
  • by Cheshyre ( 43113 ) on Tuesday April 27, 1999 @12:17PM (#1914517) Homepage
    Schools have sent gothic children home to change clothes, confiscated students' trenchcoats and books, forced some kids into counseling, and suspended, warned and otherwise punished students solely due to their wardrobes. Wardrobes, mind you, that were no different than what they wore without incident only one week ago. The Federal Way school district in Washington State passed an ordinance forbidding anyone from wearing trenchcoats or dressing in all black (I guess mourners are just out of luck, huh?)

    But this is still America, where the Constitution promises us freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble, and security against unreasonable search and seizures without probable cause.

    Take a look at the 1969 Supreme Court case called Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School Disctrict. This argument could be very helpful for people trying to challenge these prejuicial policies.

    In summary:
    Petitioners, three public school pupils in Des Moines, Iowa, were suspended from school for wearing black armbands to protest the Government's policy in Vietnam. They sought nominal damages and an injunction against a regulation that the respondents had promulgated banning the wearing of armbands. The District Court dismissed the complaint on the ground that the regulation was within the Board's power, despite the absence of any finding of substantial interference with the conduct of school activities. The Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, affirmed by an equally divided court.

    The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the students, noting that:
    1. In wearing armbands, the petitioners were quiet and passive. They were not disruptive, and did not impinge upon the rights of others. In these circumstances, their conduct was within the protection of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth.

    2. First Amendment rights are available to teachers and students, subject to application in light of the special characteristics of the school environment.
    3. A prohibition against expression of opinion, without any evidence that the rule is necessary to avoid substantial interference with school discipline or the rights of others, is not permissible under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

    To read the full text of the decision, go to http://caselaw.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navb y=case&court=US&vol=393&page=503 or go to http://www.findlaw.com/casecode/supreme.html and perform a citation search for 393 US 503.

    There are some really good arguments here, and it doesn't get too bogged down in legalese. Much of it is still relevant to the recent cases wardrobe harassment. The following extracts all come from the full decision:
    The District Court recognized that the wearing of an armband for the purpose of expressing certain views is the type of symbolic act that is within the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.

    As we shall discuss, the wearing of armbands in the circumstances of this case was entirely divorced from actually or potentially disruptive conduct by those participating in it. It was closely akin to "pure speech" [393 U.S. 503, 506] which, we have repeatedly held, is entitled to comprehensive protection under the First Amendment.

    First Amendment rights, applied in light of the special characteristics of the school environment, are available to teachers and students. It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate. This has been the unmistakable holding of this Court for almost 50 years.

    The Fourteenth Amendment, as now applied to the States, protects the citizen against the State itself and all of its creatures - Boards of Education not excepted. These have, of course, important, delicate, and highly discretionary functions, but none that they may not perform within the limits of the Bill of Rights. That they are educating the young for citizenship is reason for scrupulous protection of Constitutional freedoms of the individual, if we are not to strangle the free mind at its source and teach youth to discount important principles of our government as mere platitudes."

    The school officials banned and sought to punish petitioners for a silent, passive expression of opinion, unaccompanied by any disorder or disturbance on the part of petitioners. There is here no evidence whatever of petitioners' interference, actual or nascent, with the schools' work or of collision with the rights of other students to be secure and to be let alone. Accordingly, this case does not concern speech or action that intrudes upon the work of the schools or the rights of other students.
    Only a few of the 18,000 students in the school system wore the black armbands. Only five students were suspended for wearing them. There is no indication that the work of the schools or any class was disrupted. Outside the classrooms, a few students made hostile remarks to the children wearing armbands, but there were no threats or acts of violence on school premises.
    The District Court concluded that the action of the school authorities was reasonable because it was based upon their fear of a disturbance from the wearing of the armbands. But, in our system, undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression. Any departure from absolute regimentation may cause trouble. Any variation from the majority's opinion may inspire fear. Any word spoken, in class, in the lunchroom, or on the campus, that deviates from the views of another person may start an argument or cause a disturbance. But our Constitution says we must take this risk, Terminiello v. Chicago, 337 U.S. 1 (1949); and our history says that it is this sort of hazardous freedom - this kind of openness - that is [393 U.S. 503, 509] the basis of our national strength and of the independence and vigor of Americans who grow up and live in this relatively permissive, often disputatious, society.
    In order for the State in the person of school officials to justify prohibition of a particular expression of opinion, it must be able to show that its action was caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint. Certainly where there is no finding and no showing that engaging in the forbidden conduct would "materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school," the prohibition cannot be sustained. Burnside v. Byars, supra, at 749.
    In the present case, the District Court made no such finding, and our independent examination of the record fails to yield evidence that the school authorities had reason to anticipate that the wearing of the armbands would substantially interfere with the work of the school or impinge upon the rights of other students. Even an official memorandum prepared after the suspension that listed the reasons for the ban on wearing the armbands made no reference to the anticipation of such disruption.
    On the contrary, the action of the school authorities appears to have been based upon an urgent wish to avoid the controversy which might result from the expression, even by the silent symbol of armbands, of opposition to this Nation's part in the conflagration in Vietnam.4 It is revealing, in this respect, that the meeting at which the school principals decided to issue the contested regulation was called in response to a student's statement to the journalism teacher in one of the schools that he wanted to write an article on Vietnam and have it published in the school paper.
    It is also relevant that the school authorities did not purport to prohibit the wearing of all symbols of political or controversial significance. The record shows that students in some of the schools wore buttons relating to national political campaigns, and some even wore the Iron Cross, traditionally a symbol of Nazism. The order prohibiting the wearing of armbands did not extend to these. Instead, a particular symbol - black armbands worn to exhibit opposition to this Nation's involvement [393 U.S. 503, 511] in Vietnam - was singled out for prohibition. Clearly, the prohibition of expression of one particular opinion, at least without evidence that it is necessary to avoid material and substantial interference with schoolwork or discipline, is not constitutionally permissible.
    In our system, state-operated schools may not be enclaves of totalitarianism. School officials do not possess absolute authority over their students. Students in school as well as out of school are "persons" under our Constitution. They are possessed of fundamental rights which the State must respect, just as they themselves must respect their obligations to the State. In our system, students may not be regarded as closed-circuit recipients of only that which the State chooses to communicate. They may not be confined to the expression of those sentiments that are officially approved. In the absence of a specific showing of constitutionally valid reasons to regulate their speech, students are entitled to freedom of expression of their views. As Judge Gewin, speaking for the Fifth Circuit, said, school officials cannot suppress "expressions of feelings with which they do not wish to contend."

    As we have discussed, the record does not demonstrate any facts which might reasonably have led school authorities to forecast substantial disruption of or material interference with school activities, and no disturbances or disorders on the school premises in fact occurred. These petitioners merely went about their ordained rounds in school. Their deviation consisted only in wearing on their sleeve a band of black cloth, not more than two inches wide. They wore it to exhibit their disapproval of the Vietnam hostilities and their advocacy of a truce, to make their views known, and, by their example, to influence others to adopt them. They neither interrupted school activities nor sought to intrude in the school affairs or the lives of others. They caused discussion outside of the classrooms, but no interference with work and no disorder. In the circumstances, our Constitution does not permit officials of the State to deny their form of expression.

    So, if you are still wearing Goth clothing to make a statement you may have a case here. If you do get harassed by officials, see what they make out of this. And otherwise contact your local ACLU, who may be in a position to help.
  • In a country where juries will award a million dollars to a woman for spilling hot coffee on her lap, why doesn't anyone sue these schools which have such "look the other way" attitudes towards harassment of other students? I remember a year or two ago sexual harassment prevention in schools was the "big thing" (and went way overboard IMO). Since schools seem to only pay attention to lawsuits, this seems like the best way to win the war against apathetic school administrations.

  • This never happened to you?

    The problem isn't a few insults-- the problem is constant, unwavering abuse.
    Sometimes, subtle abuse. Sometimes people shouting "Hey, faggot!" as they drive by.
    The problem is thrown things in class. The problem is being tripped in the hall. The problem
    is people muttering "fag" as you walk by. The problem is so overwhelming that those
    people you malign, the ones who, as you say, "relate better to inanimate objects" can't cope, because it's difficult to cope with that sort of thing.
    Especially when it's constant. You sound like you were never in this position. For this, I think I envy you.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it is too dark to read.