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Are Kids Turning Your Kids Into Killers? 871

Posted by JonKatz
from the -the-other-side-of-the-story- dept.
After Columbine, many Americans blamed the Net for the massacre. "Are videogames turning your kids into killers?" asked the cover of one newsmagazine. Last friday, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said video games contribute to an "ethic of violence." The truth is, many more kids kill themselves then others, often because of bullying, a subject about which Ashcroft had nothing to say. The question really is whether vicious kids and hostile school environments are turning kids into killers. It's a question neither politicians nor the media seem to want to ask. (Read more.)

What makes big news -- and what doesn't -- is always telling. We hear a lot about kids who get gunned down in schools by their peers. We usually hear even more about the evil influences on their lives, from gaming to violent TV and movies to the Net. Yet a vastly greater number kill themselves because of their peers. That doesn't draw many headlines or stories on the evening news, or denunciations from the President.

In the past 15 months, four students have been killed and a more than a score wounded in a series of U.S. school shootings, the most recent in Santee, California, where 15-year-old Charles Andrew Williams allegedly opened fire from a bathroom in Santana High, killing two and wounding 13.

As usual, the government has tended to blame video games and violent movies and TV shows. Aschroft said "the entertainment industry, with it's video games and the like, which sometimes literally teach shooting and all, we've got to ask ourselves, how do we as a culture ... be more responsible."

It's a good question, but not in the way Ashcroft means. Many kids, like Tempest Smith of Lincoln Park, Michigan, simply couldn't take being teased and bullied any longer

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 2,000 school-age children aged 19 or younger take their own lives each year. The rise in suicides by children ages 10 to 14 is especially alarming, say CDC officials.

Psychologists and researchers report that bullying, taunting or constant ridicule by peers is often a major factor in these suicides, as well as a constant thread running through the horrific series of school shootings.

The Detroit News recently told the story of 12-year-old Smith, who hung herself from her bunk bed in February, leaving behind diaries describing the continuous harassment she faced daily about her shyness, her clothing and religious beliefs. She wrote that these taunts made life unbearable. And hers is not an isolated case. In recent months, I've gotten e-mail from the parents and friends of an Ohio hacker who shot himself at 14 after continuous jeering about his gaming. He was suspended for writing an enraged essay criticizing the values of his school, a piece that contained threats to retaliate against kids who had been bullying him for years. I've also heard from the parents of a 15-year-old Goth in Pennsylvania who slashed her wrists and died after years of teasing from classmates. Kids who are non-conformist, rebellious, individualistic or different in other ways are routinely subjected to harassment all kinds, as well as life in schools that cling to outdated curriculums, punish non-conformity and isolate individuals.

"Everyone is against me," Tempest Smith wrote in her diary. "Will I ever have friends again? ... Will I ever live in peace?"

More than 90 percent of people who commit suicide suffer from clinical depression, according to studies by the American Association of Suicidology in Washington, D.C. "Often, it's these mental conditions that cause children to be teased in the first place," an association official told the Detroit News. Taunting also is cited as a factor in many of the cases -- including the horror at Columbine -- in which kids kill other kids. Yet 81 percent of Americans told the Gallup they blame the Internet for Columbine.

A handful of schools have instituted anti-bullying and harrassment programs, but the popular media and most politicians seem much more interested in kids who go over the edge and shoot others than in the many more who are driven over the edge and kill themselves. Maybe it's time to shift focus.

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Are Kids Turning Your Kids Into Killers?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Heathers" seems to have gotten both of us through a bad time.

    Perhaps the imagination of the filmmakers in this case actually *prevented* violence.

    In my case, I took martial arts and anatomy. When I knew six ways to kill someone quickly, it became and remains much easier to be polite.

    However, I remain antisocial - I own my own law firm.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Japan produses some of the most violent video games, pornographic games too. Many of these will never see a US release for this reason. Ditto for animation. Some of the most violent and pornographic animeation in the world is made in Japan.

    Yet Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.

    Something appears to wrong with studies that correlate video games and cartoons with behaviour.

  • Because if it worked for you, it'll surely work for each and every one of the roughly 50,000,000 kids in schools today.

    Well I have a new approach. Anyone who sums up the problem as having one single identifiable root cause, or offers one single, simple answer to it, I will ignore with prejudice.

    "Well they didn't have religion." "Well they didn't have parents." "Well they were bullied." "Well their hearts turned dark because of the Internet." "Well they weren't spanked." "Well they listened to Eminem." "Well there are so many guns around." "Well they were medicated." "Well they watched Hollywood movies." "Well their complaints were ignored." "Well they were mentally ill." "Well kids these days have it TOO easy." "Well they played video games." "Well they listened to Marilyn Manson." "Well this is a violent society." No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

    The only single answer that I will accept is: PROBABILITY. Given the number of students in schools and the number of combinations of, well hell, ALL of the above, once in a while one or two of em will freak out and start killing everybody.

    So why don't we SEPARATE the "kids killing kids" problem from the bullying problem, because even if there are no school shootings, I should hope bullying would remain a concern.

  • Note that he said "traditional christian morals", not beliefs. UltraBot2K1 could have meant the morals that christianity (supposedly teaches). I have no problem with this. I'm an athiest (I guess), but I have a set of morals that roughly corresponds to christian morals. Don't steal, don't lie, don't kill people, be nice to people, forgive people, etc. I disagree with any bible bashing or religious dick-size wars, but I do not agree with teaching people (kids or just people in general) to have a good set of morals.
  • ... "traditional (insert religion here) morality" as a need for children, it really does nothing. it might keep kids from killing, but think of it this way - the most christian people in my school were the most cruel to me, and the hindi and agnostic kids were the most tolerant of me.

    I think that there are bad people in either way. I've met some really awsome christians that I would gladly trust my life, children, and possessions with. I've also met some that I haven't even wanted to stay in the same room with. Same with non-christians. Same with people with black skin, red skin, yellow skin, and white skin. I think that anyone of any race or creed or religious belief can be a total ass, or a great person. I'm not discounting your experiences of course, but I think that people can go either way.
  • by Python (1141)
    Go ahead, mod me down. I don't care. But this is one of the reasons the rest of the first worls looks upon America with bafflement and disbelief.

    While begging America to solve all their military problems and provide their police and militaries with those iky weapons. Give me a break. When push comes to shove you sleep better at night knowing that there are big mean nasty people with guns protecting you. And most of the time, those are American guns held by Americans and even, every once in a while, by your own countrymen. So don't be all high and mighty. Some one has to do your dirty work to keep your country safe and provide your police and military with weapons. Its so convient for you to sit there in your nice safe little home in your nice safe little neighborhood, with your good police departments and presumption that your police are beyond corruption and tisk tisk us poor misguided Americans and our silly gun culture. Tell ya what, why don't you just disarm your entire country and see how far that gets in this big mean nasty world? Oh? Whats that? Guns are OK for some and not for others? You trust your government without question? Whats that you say? You're not a native American going toe-toe with the Canadian military because you won't leave your land? Bah. Take your santimonious crap somewhere else. You Candanians have your own dirty laundry and unclean hands too. Not to mention you hide behind the US to keep your country safe.

    So you live in a society where people are nicer to each other and where you can trust your cops. Guess what, in America you can't trust the cops, they end up being crooks too often. Crooks with guns and badges and the courts on their side.

    Americans cops are well known to be some of the more racist and corrupt in the world. Just look at the latest in a long and proud string of scandals involving abuse of police power in America with the DC police e-mail scandal. Opps! The cops got caught speaking candidly. Just a little insight into their racist and corrupt little worlds. Black cops talking about huntings "whities" and White cops talking about "niggers". Oh yeah, I REALLY wanna trust the police now.

    But wait! Theres more! The glorious US history of using the police to oppress minority groups of all kinds! BE they political, racial, religious, it doesn't matter! If you can be tyrannized, we'll do it! How many first world countries do you see with the sorts of riots, lawsuits, beatings and even murders caused by of police corruption? When was the last time Canada had a race riot because your criminal justice system let off four corrupt racist cops that beat a black motorist almost to death? And you expect Americans to trust the police?!

    Did it ever dawn on you that many Americans keep weapons because they are afraid of the very police you think everyone expects to protect them? Many Americans have really good and personally earned reasons to be afraid of the police. The police are the bad guys too often in thise country and they get away with it too often as well. I myself had the misfortune of being attacked and beaten by some corrupt cops because I wouldn't do what they wanted me to do, and was not legally or morally required to ask they commanded. They were just thugs with badges and they knew they could get away with it. So don't tell me about how I or anyone else that has felt the horror of that trust in the police evaporate in an instance, only to that horrific feeling get flogged over and over again as you desperately try to seek justice in the very system that is supposed to wield it only to find out that the system protects the corrupt and racist in the police force. Until you have seen it yourself, you can not expect someone that has to implicitly trust the police to be the only ones with weapons - and too many Americans have seen the ugly face of bad cops. Now do you understand why this country is so heavily armed? Why this country has some many militias and conspriacy nuts ranting about not trusting the government? Hell, how many of your leaders have been impeached? How many of your presidents have committed felonies to get themselves relected? Bah. Trust your own damn government, don't ask an American to trust theirs. Its too ugly a thought.

    Again, perhaps you live in such an idealistic society that you can blindly trust your leaders to hold the power of life and death over your head, but its not like that in the US of A.

    Bah. All this "the US is violent why can't you be like us civilized people" is such a load of crap. The world is a violent place and US is not unique in that regard - nor is it truse that the US is the most violent country, or that countries with lots of guns are violent (look at Switzerland, they have LOTS of guns, and not much crime). For example, I've heard to many British citizens wax eloquent about their gun-free and mostly non-violent culture, while the British military has been violently oppressing Northern Ireland for decades. No violence there. No sir. To blame violence exclusively on access to weapons is totally missing the point. Where there is violence, people will find access to virtually any weapon. Again, just look at Northern Ireland. Where did all those machine guns come from? They're not legal in Northen Ireland, yet there they were.

    There had to be something there first to justify the need for the weapons and then their use. Communities aren't all peaches and roses until weapons show up. Weapons are tools. They get used in ways that illustrate the problems of that community. Take away the weapons, and more weapons will find their way into any violent community, no matter what you do.

    And that, is the point. Guns are not allowed in schools and kids, even in America, and not allowe to have them, and somehow no matter what right thinking gun-grabbers do to ban guns, they find their way in there. Even in Canada.
    Python

  • by Python (1141)
    Because there are violent people there. DUH.
    Python
  • She was a Wiccan, or at least curious about Wicca, and her tormenters were Christian Fundamentalists (though they weren't acting according to the teachings of Christianity.)

    Speaking as a Wiccan, I can tell you that I've had pleanty of Christians quote from the bible about why they would be morally right if they killed me. Something about Lividicous "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" sends chills down the spines of any Wiccan. There is the popularized WASP version of what it means to be a Christian, and then there is the fundamentalist and literal version of what it means to be a Christian. The latter is not nice at all.

    I wonder how many Christians have actually read the entire bible and considered what it really has to say about other religions if taken literally.


    Merry Meet, Merry Part and Merry Meet Again.
    Python

  • The bit about daycare and kids learning to socialize by the law of the jungle, I think you're stretching it.

    And also the bit about "the me generation". Every "generation" as a group, tries to characterize itself as somehow different and better than the preceeding and following generations. Human nature. Duh. "my homeez is better dan your homeez". They're no different than any other humans.

    However, the general overall trend of this industrialized society is, from large families with dozens of kids, where individuals are less valued than the family, towards families with fewer and fewer kids, greater competition for industrial and service industry jobs, and therefore, more intrusion into time that would otherwise be spent socializing kids for the group. Part of that is the demands of life in this age, and part of it is declining fertility rates. We don't know what causes that yet. The large family, etc. Now, individualism becomes more and more a factor, which in of itself is not a bad thing - it's the lack of guidance in that individualistic leaning, I think, that's a bad thing. And it's simply a side effect of industrialization.

    Fewer kids do mean that the parents have less kids to divide their attention upon, but sometimes that means that they have more time to spend on their own pursuits, like their careers. And competition in the labor market drives that to extremes. Making matters worse, parents often compensate materially. That is, they take their stock options, cash them in, and buy their only child a pony. Spoiled fucking little brats.
    Another BAD factor, in my opinion, is when people wait until they're 40 to start having kids. How is a 50 year old going to identify with a 10 year old? Or a 55 year old with a 15 year old? I personally think it should be a crime to have a kid after age 30. How are these kids going to develop the emotional skills to deal with situations like, that kid over there stole my legos and scratched me? TV? And the kids don't have as many brothers and sisters to identify with, or learn from. Who can they commiserate with? A 45 year old?

    Then, when this little individual begins to join society, and is asked to conform, if they can't or won't, the wolfpack chases them out. How the fuck do you think they're going to deal with it?
  • by jafac (1449)
    No, the popular jocks just date rape their girlfriends.

    Or did we all forget that one of the jocks at Columbine was involved in a situation where he raped his gf, and when she went to the authorities, they tried to hush it up, and offer her "early graduation" because they didn't want to lose their football star?

    This isn't about a few sick kids, or social hierarchies and conformity. It's about a sick system. Fitness and teamwork are important concepts, but they should NEVER be above or at the expense of an academic or intellectual focus at a SCHOOL.
  • by jafac (1449)
    they make that choice when they tease another kid. It may not have been obvious a few years ago, but it should be obvious now; if you tease that scrawny geek, you take the risk that he's going to come back with a gun and pop a cap in your brain pan.

    It is now a stated and obvious risk. When one child teases another, they are taking that risk. It's just a fact. Not a threat.
  • I live in Kansas, and I'm homeschooling my kid so I can teach him about evolution and cosmology, and he won't have to learn about that creationism bullcrap!

    (warning: This is a test of the emergency trollcasting system. If this had been an actual troll, it would have been a little more subtle, and from an account that has not previously been associated with pro-religious rants)
  • not every fulltime housewife wants to be a good parent either. My mother-in-law is perfect proof of that.
  • In fact, one of the school shootings a few years back was a kid who felt harassed by the Christian prayer group in his school. They told him that because he didn't join them, he would burn in hell.

    Left with no hope, he decided to take them with him.

    Some (most) Christians just don't "get it".
  • yes, go home, or to your privately funded church and worship freely.

    Do not take MY tax dollars, and spend it on your twisted fucked up perverted interpretation of Christianity.

    Or how about this: "render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar's."

    That is a quote from the dude himself, saying that you should give to God from your money BEFORE taxes. Your Taxes are money that belongs to Ceasar. So tithe from your gross, get a healthy good private school and church going. Don't give money to God that was rightfully Ceasar's. God doesn't fucking want or need it.
  • Every time one of these teased kids goes postal, it enforces the notion;

    "an armed society is a polite society"
  • I'm working on it. . .
  • by jafac (1449)
    no, because a decent sized police force is often more dangerous than NO police force. Then people need to carry around weapons to protect themselves from the police. Or haven't you been paying attention to LA or Wash. DC issues lately?
  • by jafac (1449)
    dude, say bye bye to legal flag burning in the US. #43 is pro flag burning amendment. I'm sure he and the republican dominated congress will get around to it after they outlaw abortion and eliminate environmental regulations. (I voted for Nader in a state where it made no difference).

    Personally, I think that it should be mandated as part of our independence day celebration, that we should celebrate our freedom by burning a US flag. The practice would quickly come out of fasion as an act of protest.
  • if you open up the definition further, "arms" can be economic. or even laws.

    Imagine that #43 signs a law that relaxes the amount of MTBE that is allowed in drinking water by 500 parts per million, and as a result, one additional person each year, statistically, will die.

    Now imagine that the law was not signed, and that the chemical company that made MTBE had to shut down operations because cleaning up the enviornment was too costly for them to pursue MTBE production, and 50 families were unemployed, and statistically, that means that two of these guys were going to die robbing a liquor store in an attempt to make their house payment.

    Why can't I keep and bear THOSE arms?
  • I drew cartoons of the people I hated getting killed by fiendishly ingenious devices.
  • oh shut the fuck up!

    Name one AGE of human history where life was revered and respected. Stop kidding yourself. Society and civilization is an illusion we all try to pull off to forget about the law of the jungle. But no matter how much of it we pave over, the jungle remains. No biblical scripture, no laws, no touchy-feely talk will EVER change that one fact of reality. Get over it.

    We can as individuals, try to act civilized and pretend we give a damn what happens to our neighbors, but the societal problem as a whole is not going to change because you wish we all cared.

    When I was in HS back in the 70's the solution was not to go on a killing spree, but killing sprees happened, and have happened since time immemorial. The newsmedias coverage may have made it more common and frequent, but the root cause remains the same. The solution when I was in HS, was not to go on a killing spree, but ask anyone who was in this situation back then and most of them will tell you that they thought about it. Fantasized about it. Wrote about it. Drew cartoons about it. It's hard to judge a life as sacred and revered when you're treated as a subhuman for no other reason than you think for yourself. Why not read the hundreds of posts here supporting these points? Moron.
  • I hate that my kid's best freind is a lying little spoiled punk, and that I am more of a parent to him than his parents are. Fucking pisses me off when rich people have kids because it was on their list of things to do.
  • You must be British!

    Yup! It's a subversive attempt to make Americans' teeth look as bad as the Brits'!
  • unfortunately, not every kid is going to have the emotional skills to deal with that.
  • Well, perhaps these kids are just out of control because they have too many bad thetans? Bring your troubled teens (and checkbooks) to our Church, (TM) and we'll apply some of our special techniques to rid them of these bad thetans, so they can get on the path towards being "clear", as the great genius L. Ron taught us!
  • It is a complicated problem and it might even be one that cannot be solved today or even ever.

    Thank you -- that's absolutely right. It's so frustrating to see most people try to oversimplify the issue and forget that we're really dealing with people. People that need to feel like they belong. People that need to feel valued by others. And this cannot be accomplished by a simply structural change.

    Remove the guns -- the bullying will still be there
    Abolish the games -- the agression will continue
    Sanitize the movies -- they'll just find other things to do
    Indoctrinate with <insert moral code here> -- they might feel a little more guilty as they do it

    If we want to deal with these issues, we need to dig beyond the superficial structural factors so we can expose and fix the cultural attitudes that foster this behavior. We can only deal with these issues by changing the village attitudes.

    A root of the problem is the village attitude that a person's value to me (or society) depends solely on what I (or society) can get out of them. This crops up way too often. You see it in families where the parents' affection depends on how proud their kids make them. You see it in marriages that are based mainly on how good the spouse makes me feel. You see it in cliques where popularity depends on conformity and mutual self-congratulation. You see it in bullying, because the bully can get a sense of superiority, however fleeting. Frighteningly, you can even see it in Bush's "teacher accountability" plan, where a student's value to a teacher is defined by their score on an exam.

    No, I'm not saying that this is the only attitude that drives our society. However, it is far too prevalent, and especially in the United States. Somehow, it seems that the mystique of "rugged individualism" and the "self-made man" has often been defined as someone who derives all of their value from what they give to others, without having to get anything from anyone else.

    The sad thing is that this attitude is so easily accepted and propagated, even in the face of the teachings most moral philosophies.

    Kant has his "categorical imperative": treat every person as an end in themselves rather than a means to an end. Christianity says, "love your neighbor as yourself -- do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Buddhism... Hinduism... humanism... it seems like this is a very common teaching. So why isn't it followed? Why does it seem like the worst offenders come from moral philosophies that stress this more?

    Sorry, ranting a bit there...lemme bring this back home. I'm starting to realize that the only way I can hope to see a difference is to work on my attitude towards others in my own village. Make sure I value others just because they are, not for what I can get from them. I can only hope that if I can do it, that others will be encouraged to do it as well.

  • Further bonus: one of the frequent arguments against homeschooling is the supposed lack of social skill practice. Well, what kind of social skill practice is it to sit in a room of 30 kids listening to some adult drone?

    I couldn't possibly agree more. My parents passed on the chance for me to skip a few years when I was younger because an advisor told them that I'd miss out on the socialization. That's just what I f'in needed: to be stuck with a bunch of mouth-breathing idiots who tortured me because I was smarter than they were. I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to be miserable for most of the formative years of my life.

    My children are going to be of school age in a few years, and my wife and I are seriously considering home schooling. I couldn't care less if they don't learn how to fit in with the jackasses of the world - I have bigger dreams for them than that.

  • What causes one to kill while another under the same circumstances does not?

    Same reason some kids GET bullied while others ARE bullied, really - no two kids are alike.

    Nature vs nurture - anyone who ever went to school and met actual people knows it's both, in varying degrees, depending on the person AND their environment. Some people never quite rise above their environment; some are born with a certain disposition and never outgrow it; some people are dynamic enough to adapt, learn, or even reverse themselves as they grow; some people are just weird and seem to develop contrary to either nature or nurture. And as I said, no two kids are alike - two genetically identical kids raised in identical families may STILL develop differing ideas about the world.

    That said, I agree about outlets - and not just for the victims who may snap and go postal. Bullies and asshole school officials tend to use kids as outlets for their own inadequacies. Isn't there a better way for THEM to deal with their feelings than pushing kids around?

    And last, here's a thought that just occurred to me: going postal on one's school is a form of suicide (whether they intend to point the gun selfward at the end or not). It's the point of greatest confusion, greatest desperation, and greatest anger and fear - it's the point where a violent solution is the only one simple enough to make sense. A kid who puts his brain on the chalkboard with a handgun is trying to scream in the land of the deaf - a primal yell, an attempt at making someone, anyone, look at them for one second so they can say "here's what kind of pain I'm in" (and usually "and you caused it"). An MIT-style prank (slinging cow hearts all over the lockers of known bullies for example) might work much better, but these kids have already fallen through that, reached a point where the only scenarios that make sense are the ones where they can vent their anger, on themselves or on someone else or both.
  • by Squid (3420)
    If guns are the problem, why hasn't this always been a problem throughout history?

    It HAS - and long before guns were invented. Thing is, in the past, angry kids waited until they were adults before snapping - though when they snapped, it was usually in the form of building an army and destroying whole nations, cultures, and races.

    What's different today is that we've raised a generation of kids so emotionally stunted they couldn't pass Deckard's test in Blade Runner. With a spinning top instead of a moral compass, and emotions in monochrome (no color, just intensity), is it any wonder kids have started to select violent options as the simplest ones available?
  • I really don't mean to be dismissive of your argument or seem harsh, but blanket (and self-contradicting) statements like that invite blanket repudiations.

    What you call a blanket statement, I call a fairly good description of the political party currently in charge of the country.

    You know what I think? You aren't looking for intellectual Christians- in fact, you've reason to be afraid them. You are looking to find people who call themselves Christians yet live clearly unchristian lives so that you can call Christianity itself a religion for the weak-minded hypocrites of the world and thereby reinforce your own prejudices.

    Well, since I can't very well go refer to the Book of Life and see if someone's listed or not, all I really have are their word and their actions.

    Racists do the same thing by focusing their attentions not on the accomplishments of the best and brightest African-Americans (who would undermine their own prejudices) but only the most egregious failures the black people have to offer. That way, they can keep telling their friends and peers, "Man, blacks are reprobates. Did you know that 1/3 of the males are in prisons? Hey, don't call me racist man, my boss is black. I know blacks."

    Then what would you have me do? For one thing, I'm not complaining about a race or people born of that race - I'm complaining about people who have chosen a particular set of beliefs that seem to make them a) forget how to exercise rational thought, b) take an us vs them attitude and begin to isolate themselves from the world, and c) consider it a GOOD thing to sweep the 1st Amendment under the rug since obviously their religion should be the official one in America. Would you have me pretend I haven't seen what I've seen, that I don't know who I know, and that the Bible doesn't say what it says? That Christianity in America isn't what it is? I'm willing to accept that you, if your beliefs are what you say they are (love for all people, tolerance of people who are different) are the good side of the issue, but I'm afraid I simply can't take your word for what the other 99% of Christians in America are.

    OK, so I sound like a racist to you, substituting Christianity for race. I know what I sound like. But lemme put it to you like this: would you defend a racist? Shouldn't we both be more open minded and tolerant of other people's belief systems that differ from our own? Shouldn't we focus on the GOOD things that racists have done, like the works of Wagner, T.S. Eliot, or many of our founding fathers? No? We SHOULDN'T accept racism if we can keep from it? Hmmm.

    Maybe that means there's a dividing line between the determinism that says "all belief systems must be respected" and the reality that some belief systems aren't all rosy and we're justified in complaining about them.

    You're offended that I might compare Christianity to racism - that's a valid reaction, but put it away for a second. Racism sucks and is an extreme. It's a destructive force in society and it hurts people. It's rather obviously bad to most people reading this - even those who, as you say, go "hey don't call me racist" think racism is a negative thing and will try to distance themselves from it. In short, even some racists think it's bad. Do racists have the right to hold their beliefs? SHOULD they have the right to hold their beliefs? If yes, should a line be drawn between holding their beliefs and trying to exercise their beliefs? Obviously we can't get away with making it legal to go around lynching other ethnic groups, but a vocal and devout Klansman would see it differently. We know he's wrong and we're right (on the subject of racism anyway) because... well, he just is.

    Back to Christianity - just HOW far afield have I gone by comparing it to racism? Are there good, intelligent people who are Christians? Yes, Don Knuth and Larry Wall are two names Slashdot readers will recognize. Many cool things have been done in the name of Christianity.

    But my own take is that there's a MUCH longer list of horrible things done in the name of Christianity - many of them IN the Bible (before there was a Christianity whose name to do them in) - all of them the perpetrators apparently found justifiable biblically in spite of the Commandments they violate. (And a fine point this brings up: the holy book may say one thing, but the religion as practiced by a couple billion people worldwide tends to say something slightly different. What IS Christianity if not what people make of it?) Christianity has become the antithesis of moral and intellectual progress - whether it's being used to dismantle 150 years of science, or being used as justification to undermine the civil rights of any number of social groups (other religions, homosexuals, women), or being used to justify racism, or even becoming an excuse to declare war (the Crusades, anyone?) it's obvious that mainstream Christianity - the Christianity of record, the Christianity that America seems to want in charge, the Christianity that calls itself Christianity and from which your open-mindedness is apparently an isolated sprout - is a giant step BACKWARDS for the progress of humankind away from primitivism! I add to this what I've personally seen and experienced and I find that I am rather compelled to think Christianity is on racism's end of the spectrum. Not as bad as racism, but then, considering how often it gets used to justify racism and things far worse, how do I measure? When Christians do really cool things, it seems to be DESPITE the doctrine, direction, and momentum of the religion - it's always the radicals, the ones on the fringe of the religion, be it classical painters using religion as a sneaky way to get away with painting nudes, or Luther with paper and nail, or Mother Teresa with an interpretation of "missionary" that didn't involve destroying the native culture. Rather a strong indication that individuality plays a greater role in the ability of humans to transcend their condition, actually - and mainstream Christianity (in its various flavors) seems not to value individuality. Which sorta brings us circuitously back to the Slashdot story that started it all, the way America and its almost-theocracy treats anyone who's different.

    What you think is a hidden theocracy is instead a mostly powerless small minority of devout and vocal Christians who are pilloried by that even more vocal part of the citizenry (which I regret to say seems to include you) and media that feigns open-mindedness while simultaneously justifying their bigotry against people who believe in God, sin and the resurrection of Christ.

    I don't think I said the theocracy was hidden, merely that it hasn't taken over America's government yet.

    And from where I sit, the most vocal part of the citizenry seems to be the part that says we SHOULD merge Christianity into the government. I don't see Christianity as a minority - nor is the mainstream Christian mindset, the one I'm railing against, a rarity.

    It's been said that the true test of tolerance is its reaction to intolerance. I'm reacting to the institutionalized intolerance that is mainstream Christianity and I'm not doing such a hot job of it - but what IS the right answer? And for that matter, how do I separate those who call themselves Christians and embody everything I condemned earlier, from those like you who also call themselves Christians and seem to embody something else? If your Christianity is TRULY different from theirs, why do you take the name of their religion? You know people do shitty things and call themselves Christians, I condemn the mainstream that seems to be comprised entirely of such people and you a) think I'm talking about you, and b) defend THEM. What do you expect me to make of all this?
  • by Squid (3420)
    Today I figure there are already enough guns, in working condition, in private hands in America for every American to have one. Restrictions on gun sales mean NOTHING because if you can't buy one, you probably know where the parents or neighbors keep one hid. If nothing else call Chuck Heston, he'll lend you one. :-)

    If anything, the violent trend today is because kids HAD guns in the 1950s. Not that I'm saying this is a good thing, but perhaps 50 years ago anyone with a violent streak and aggression to take out, could take it out on helpless woodland creatures.

    Of course the real problem is that today kids have no handle on their emotions.
  • The question, however, is HOW someone can make every parent better. Should the government send every parent to parenting school? Should we try to de-evolve to the 50's when there was a housewife whose full-time job was to raise kids, or should we just forget the issue and hope the parents solve it themselves?

    That 50s mindset is part of the reason we have a problem: the 2.3 kids ideal is the reason there's whole generations of people who had kids they don't know how to raise, because it was a STATUS SYMBOL.

    Granted that's no worse than having 14 kids just for the welfare check. Or having kids because you actually want to pass on your alcoholic, heart-diseased, inbred genetic material. At least if you have a kid by accident you're coming by it honest. :-)

    The solution, near as I can figure, is to establish a NEW ideal - it should be "cool" to have kids only if you're prepared to put down everything and be a parent for 20 years. (I mean dads primarily - especially in married couples where the man has assumed authority to tell the woman to stay home with the kids.) It isn't cool if a kid grows up with parents as a distant entity. It isn't cool if a kid grows up having had no social interaction - and I can think of a lot of "status symbol parents" whose kids are socially undeveloped because of their parents' lifestyle. It isn't cool to, as some yuppie families do, treat the kids as pets. It's certainly not cool to have kids for financial reasons. All these things make a kid grow up feeling worthless. And the kid, having never seen any examples of actual parenting, will be incapable of figuring out what to do with their OWN screaming bundles of poop when they arrive.

    I don't think a parenting school or a 'kid license' is the right answer - parents should be able to select their own parenting style, especially since some kids will have unusual dispositions, unique problems, or worst of all, be smarter than their parents - a government-endorsed "here's how you raise kids" will fail more often than it works. But on the other hand, if it's irresponsible to let a kid go buy a pet rabbit before making them read up on what it takes to keep one alive, what do we call it when adults go buy a pet baby before actually considering what demands it makes of them? Any couple who wants kids should at least think about what kind of ethical and moral standards they want the kid to have when it grows up - and hell, most adults don't even know their OWN ethical and moral standards until after they've done something naughty and can't sleep afterwards. No wonder censorware and raise-by-television are so popular - it relieves adults from having to figure out how to turn the screaming bundles of poop into functional human beings.

    I think peer pressure could be used to our advantage. Figure out what the ideal should be, and then take over the media and popularize it subtly in sitcoms and car commercials. :-)
  • Can you name ONE "fundamentalist Christian theocracy" on the planet at this time? No, because there are no significant Christian theocracies in this era.

    America isn't a theocracy now, but has one hiding under the surface that pokes its nasty head up repeatedly. Lots of people in power in America - and presumably the people who voted them there - WANT America to become a Christian state, and seem perfectly happy to propose (and vote for!) laws that are rather blatant violations of the First Amendment. Thus I don't think it's at all out of line to use America as an example when talking about theocracies or how they go wrong - America has enough theocratic influence in the way it's currently run to serve as an illustration.

    Do you really believe this, or are you just saying it because it seems like it must be true because the alternative is to imagine a large body of people sharing an absolute religious worldview- a concept that, in our post-Christian agnostic consumerist society is too alien to fathom?

    Put it like this: there are a LOT of different ways to interpret a book as complex and symbolic the Bible or the Koran. When whole countries follow the same interpretation, something else must be going on.

    As a Christian, I disagree stongly with their religious worldview. But try to have a little more respect for people with differing beliefs, and allow for the possibility that the fact of someone else's differing opinion may not be indication of their inferiority as individuals or thinkers.

    I was a Christian. I probably understand your beliefs better than you understand mine. And my girlfriend thinks I'm TOO tolerant of Christianity - she considers it a mental illness, and after what she's seen, I can't say I blame her. Me, I got out because although there are some VERY smart people out there who are Christians, the norm seemed to be people who used the religion as an excuse not to think. I personally WATCHED people drop in IQ after they joined a church - I had to quit a job once because the boss got religion and became an asshole, and I don't mean he became an asshole on issues of morality, I mean he began insulting me verbally on a daily basis and started blaming me for everything that was wrong with the company. I have my reasons for saying the things I do.

    And I do like conversing with people whose beliefs differ from mine - I know I'm fallible, I know I'm probably wrong about certain things, and if I know I'm dealing with someone who isn't an idiot, I try to entertain the possibility I may learn something from them. The problem is, it's kinda hard to find a Christian whose religion hasn't dulled their intellect. (Note about that last statement: if I'm not talking about you, you shouldn't be offended by it.)
  • I think that school should be year-round.

    Have you considered what this does to a kid? You can't be a kid in school, you can't be yourself - the environment is too structured, it's just like prison or the army and for the same reasons. Lock a kid in there year-round and they will NEVER figure out who they are outside of that context.

    If parents aren't raising their kids during the summer months, work on the parents.

    Remember the one thing school can NEVER teach you is who you are. (If it does, you're nobody worthwhile.) You have to know thy OWN damn self. Some people may, within the school building and the social contexts it provides, find some answers (as I did - I became an artist while trying to keep sane in a boring class), but to expect that all kids will find this in school is wrong. Kids are better equipped to develop social skills during summer vacation, assuming your parents weren't like mine, living in a part of town where there simply weren't any other kids. Eliminate summer vacation and kids will grow up and only ever make friends and have social interaction within the structured framework of a job.

    As for your idea about kids getting work experience, I'm not real sure how that would work, but I DO know there are "lab" type classes that allow each kid to work and learn at his/her own level in that particular subject, and from what I've seen, they work GREAT. Couple this with some elective lecture-type classes (for those who want to learn high-level calculus from a teacher at a blackboard - would work best in a bigger school where you can choose a teacher) and you have an adaptive learning environment. Schools fail when they assume all kids are alike.

    Well, what kind of social skill practice is it to sit in a room of 30 kids listening to some adult drone?

    Sounds exactly like the last eight staff meetings I attended. :-) That said, meeting-happy corporate types seem to have learned this skill from watching boring teachers. Make lecture-type classes optional and this kind of stuff will start to go away.
  • I don't agree that long summer breaks are useful for anything. Especially given the trends towards double-earner homes where children are increasingly less supervised or simply shuttled to care centers which deprive them of any of the real benefits of a summer vacation. I certainly don't think much of ultraregimented schooling to begin with, I thought my bias was pretty obvious (any and all lecture classes should be eligible for some sort of testing out). And I think a proper school environment would be nothing like being "locked in" anywhere.

    Then WORK ON THE PARENTS. Seriously. School is not supposed to substitute for parenting, and what you're proposing IS that school should serve more or less as the child's home year round! If the problem is that the parents aren't home enough to raise their kids, deal with THAT problem, and don't just turn the teachers into parents instead.

    One of my major complaints with most schools is age segregation. It's not useful. It stigmatizes brilliant students (or at least bores them) and it stresses the less apt. Given that most kids are average this isn't a huge problem, but it remains. Even worse is the notion that your friends have to be your own age. The segregation that occurs due to the notion that children should only socialize with other kids their age is a major handicap. Society has people of all ages in it and children seem to be increasingly losing interaction with that (maybe it's not the case, this is just my perception).

    This I'll agree with. Age does NOT equal level of development. Classifying someone as a freshman may be useful only if the nature of school differs radically between one year and the next (i.e. middle school to high school may be a big shift) - but even that shouldn't be based on age! No two kids develop at the same rate, so let them advance through at their own pace. Dispense with years as a grouping mechanism, put kids in the classes they can handle, even if that means a gifted 12-yr-old is taking advanced calculus while also taking an entry-level language skills course. Allow graduation once a student has reached a certain level in all their subjects, so at least colleges know what they're getting.

    I never got along with people my own age. I got along best with people a couple years older or younger. Dispensing with the years classification (itself apparently just a way for older kids to feel superior and smug) would have vastly increased my opportunities to make friends.
  • Christianity is a teaching of love for all people.

    Then you REALLY need to get busy on the dominant religion in the United States that's using your religion's name without permission.
  • I'm going to try and keep this from turning into a gun-nut rant, because I'm not a gun nut. However, I do believe in the 2nd amendment.

    TrevorB wrote:
    Maybe I'm stupid and Canadian, but in an urban population with a decent sized police force, there should be no good reason for people to have to carry around weapons.

    This is true, to a point. However, there is a balance: there are many things the US police are not allowed to do, or are supposed to go to a great deal more trouble to do, compared to Canada or the UK. Greater citizen freedoms mean less police power, including less police power to stop criminals. That means in some cases citizens feel (and actually have) the need to supplement police protection with self-protection.

    I mean, Jesus, I remember driving in LA on vacation and seeing a cop in her squad car with the shotgun holster mounted right in the front seat. I mean, holy shit, that thing's loaded.

    OK, but a) that was a cop, not an ordinary citizen, and b) that was LA. LA can be a dangerous place, especially for a cop. Ditto New York, Chicago, Detroit, or DC.

    An aside here to all you kiddies who like to get up in "the man's" face: I don't like getting pulled over. But by god I'm polite about it. There are bad cops out there, but the good cops outnumber them at least 10 to 1, and what's just another speeding ticket to you is (to the cop) potentially a life-or-death situation. Next time you get pulled over, don't give them a reason to be afraid of you, OK?

    I try not to think about how many loaded weapons there must be if I enter into a family restaraunt in the states with my kids.

    Probably not as many as you think. Most of the people I know don't own guns. Most of the ones that do don't have concealed-carry permits or own more than one gun per adult in the house. And most of the ones who have concealed-carry permits have them more as a just-in-case measure, rather than actually carrying a gun 24 hours a day in an armpit holster. Our concealed-carry laws are really strict and just transporting a gun in your car (say from your home to the shooting range) that's not in plain sight can run you afoul of them. If I ever feel the need to buy a gun for my own safety, the first thing I intend to do before buying it is get my CCW permit.

    Yes, there are a lot of guns in the US, but the numbers are skewed by criminals who have nests of guns (far too many think they're going to be all macho and have a real gun battle with the cops one day) and by legitimate collectors who have a lot that they might or might not ever actually shoot.

    Another aside: here in the state of Virginia you have to have completed an NRA (National Rifle Association) or other state-approved gun-safety course, or be in a special category like police or military, before you're allowed to carry concealed. This tests not just general safety, but proficiency. You have to fire 40 shots in a designated time and hit a target on at least 37. It's not military-grade proficiency, but it's harder than you think.

    Virginia also has a program called EXILE with mandatory minimum sentences for possession of a gun by a convicted felon and other things. I don't like mandatory minimums in general, but the program seems to be working well (it was implemented after heat came down from other states accusing Virginia of being the source for guns used by felons there).

    The bottom line seems to be: places like Canada and the UK have a cultural trust of their governments, while we have a cultural distrust of ours. That translates into our desire to be more capable of using personal force to protect ourselves -- by our own choice, we need to.

  • There's something to be said for bullying, though...

    (bear with me here -- obviously this doesn't apply to everybody, nor every situation -- but it is a datapoint to be plotted)

    My cousin had a minor speech impediment as a young child. He still does, though you can barely notice it. He went to a speech therapist, which helped, but as a stutterer myself, I know the kind of torment young kids could inflict on somebody "different". However, you develop defense mechanisms.

    His mechanism (as was mine) was to not talk very much. I had a reputation for being very quiet, and as a consequence, I did a lot of *listening*, as did my cousin.

    My cousin, now, is working on finishing his Aerospace engineering degree, with a 4.0 average. He is one smart dude -- and I believe it came from his youth, when he was listening, rather than talking.
    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • Life is never easy for anyone, but it does get better after high school if you're one of us geek types. Stick with it. If you need the ear of a complete stranger to spill your guts to, drop me a line (email address above, take out the spaces).

  • by scrytch (9198)
    > Right...high density....like Littleton?

    Was that your attempt at a pun? Littleton is one of the largest suburbs of Denver, though I'd say it's much more sprawled than dense. Do at least consult a map next time, Littleton isn't some tiny little hamlet in the country.
    --
  • by elflord (9269)
    It's worth noting that concealed weapons probably have increased in availability. The family of the 1800s might have owned a shotgun, but smuggling such a thing into school is not easy.
  • by PD (9577)
    Good point. Check out http://www.users.drak.net/Homepages/whitedragon/ba th_bombing.html. Don't confuse this one data point as something close to "evidence" but it does point out that bad stuff has happened in the past. That was the worst school disaster *ever*, but unless you lived in Michigan in the Lansing area, I doubt you would have heard about it. Go ahead, ask your grandparents if they remember. They probably never heard of it.
  • by PD (9577)
    What you say?

    If you had a point in there, musta got lost somewhere down the line.

    All you've proved is that some people know about it today, but back in 1927, news was slower to travel.
  • Media coverage has nothing to do with the rage, disaffection and abandonment that these kids feel.

    It also has bugger all with teaching them right and wrong.
  • The cause of most of this crap is that parents don't teach their kids the difference between right and wrong, don't instill any sense of responsability and don't teach what's acceptable behavior.

    Kids grow into sociopaths because they weren't socialized in the first place. An IQ of 100, an underdevelopped sense of where the line is that you don't cross and knowing where somebody's dayy hides the guns is a recipe for homicide or at least grevious bodily harm.

    Are these parents lazy, ignorant, stupid? Yeah...

    What are you going to do with them? They grew up as kids of parents who were rebelling against authority and the believed the "advice" columns written by people whos' own kids grew up totally screwed up (those who didn't off themselves early "a la" Art Linkletter's daughter.)
  • That one in these situations would just suicide quietly, Now, for whatever reason, they have decided to take quite a few people with them.

    Does violence in media have anything to do with this? I don't know. All I know, is it sounds earily like what Heinlein wrote in 'Starship Troopers', in 1959.

  • But this is one of the reasons the rest of the first worls looks upon America with bafflement and disbelief.

    Yet we have to constantly police our borders trying to keep illegal aliens out. Yet we have waiting lists of people who want to legally immagrate here. Odd, for a country the rest of the world looks down upon.

    Finkployd
  • What causes one to kill while another under the same circumstances does not? It is an outlet. For some this is parents, for others - this is friends, for others it may be a hobby. But everyone who gets picked and doesn't use violence as the solution has had an outlet to turn to. It seems the more outlets the better. Have some good friends and loving parents, your odds are better that you won't resort to violence.

    Unfortunately, this doesn't explain it all. There are still the nature vs nuture tendencies out there. By nature, some personalities are more violent than others. By the way we are raised we may be more or less tolerant of others.

    But the more outlets one has - the better the chance one may reach a nonviolent solution.

  • by Zachary Kessin (1372) <zkessin@gmail.com> on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:31AM (#330838) Homepage Journal

    "A child's character education should take priority over his academic education. All educational efforts are basically meaningless unless build on the solid foundation of good character" --Menachem Mendel Schneerson The Lubavitcher Rebbe
  • by Squid (3420) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @11:01AM (#330839) Homepage
    Another thing that bothers me is the lack of traditional Christian morals that are being instilled in today's youth. You never hear about a Reverand's son or a child of a devoutly religious family shooting up a school.

    My experience is that the preachers' kids were half the time the ones doing the bulling. If I didn't know better, I'd be tempted to say the Christian ethic is one of intolerance towards anyone or anything different.

    Children need to be taught the difference between fantasy and reality.

    Then we agree on something. The first fantasy I'd eliminate is the one that says all morality must derive from Christianity. Even Wicca (witchcraft) has a moral code - you can interpret "do as you wilt an no harm done" in ways far stricter than the Ten Commandments, indeed the Commandments FIT neatly inside the concept of "no harm done" once you notice that lying, stealing, killing, coveting, cheating, disrespecting are all harmful things.

    Morality is a natural outgrowth of people living in groups - if you're greedy, the group may suffer because you're hoarding resources, if you're violent, the group may suffer because you're breaking everybody's belongings or limbs. If you're unfaithful, the group may suffer because the next generation may be entirely your offspring (not a problem for far-ranging animals in the wild, but in closed social groups this is a problem) - in two generations the whole group is inbred. If you fail to acknowledge the group's authority (in the Ten Commandments' case, the authority was God) the group may be unable to achieve its goals. (Of course, this assumes the group is to be preserved - sometimes revolution is necessary, but anyway these are the means by which a group protects itself.) There is nothing supernatural in the origins of these laws. Which is why atheists, more often than not, DON'T go around killing people. (And why there are so many people who DO go around killing people for religious reasons.)

    In other words, God's signature on your moral doctrine means NOTHING unless you're trying to get into your specific religion's afterlife. Ever notice how people who DON'T believe in an afterlife still do nice things for other people?

    The REAL problem, the one you miss in your high-speed race to make sure God gets in your message, isn't that people have the WRONG moral code - it's that people haven't bothered to find a moral code at all, perhaps because they've lived isolated, temptation-free lives where they've simply never needed one. Even many Christians I've known have a nasty tendency not to know what they REALLY consider right and wrong until after they've done something (even if they can justify it with the Bible!) and can't sleep on it afterwards. We now have a world full of adults who don't know what they believe (even if they have the words memorized), and kids who haven't even had a chance to figure out what's important. Bullies by definition have an incomplete moral code because so far they haven't needed one (I think it's because their emotional development is stunted, so they can't perceive when others are in pain - they apparently don't think funny-looking kids are really human!). Kids who go postal on their school have probably been too busy getting the shit pounded out of them to develop a moral code, or else have inherited one from their parents (in words only) and never bothered to figure out what it actually means or how it should apply to them (Harris and Klebold fall in this category - they "knew" better but didn't KNOW better).

    I think the most important thing anyone needs to know is oneself. Know one's own limits. Know how one would feel if one caused pain to another person. Know why one feels pain in the first place. Know the range of one's emotions (or at least the general flavor of them) so one's not so easily confused. That way, when the depression hits and you feel like the only thing you can do is eat a grenade, when you hear the voice saying "there must be another way" (and we all hear that voice) you'll recognize it as your own and you'll trust it.
  • by smileyy (11535) <smileyy@gmail.com> on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:25AM (#330840)
    The truth is, many more kids kill themselves then others ...

    I applaud the kid with the ingenuity to kill others after he has killed himself.

  • by trexl (16434) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:38AM (#330841) Homepage
    "The truth is, many more kids kill themselves then others, ... ".

    Of course Ashcroft doesn't want to acknowledge this fact. This would bring down his entire religious belief system. Anybody who can kill others after they have killed themselves would be stepping on God's toes ... unless they were aligned with Satan, in such case the ethic of violence would make sense.

    It's a common mistake, most likely a typ-o, should have been than instead of then. But it sure does conjure up a funny image of ghosts wandering through the halls with shotguns.

  • by meldroc (21783) <meldroc @ f r ii.com> on Thursday March 29, 2001 @01:48PM (#330842) Homepage Journal

    Now that I have kids, I want to make a "Proud Parent of Another Brick in the Wall" bumper sticker, with two walking red hammers to one side. ROTFLMAO!!! Let me know if you make them, I want one!

  • by WNight (23683) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @12:37PM (#330843) Homepage
    Many people drive drunk and survive, yet when someone gets in an accident while drunk we attribute that to the alcohol. This doesn't mean that everyone who drinks will crash, just that drunks are more likely to.

    Similarly, not every bullied teen turns killer, but when a teen turns killer we can attribute that partly to the bullying. It's not the only cause, but it's silly to deny that it is a cause.
  • by Gen-GNU (36980) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @10:17AM (#330844)
    Firstly...

    Density?

    Right...high density....like Littleton?

    As was mentioned elsewhere, high density areas have been around for a much longer time than the school shootings.

    Maybe I'm stupid and Canadian, but in an urban population with a decent sized police force, there should be no good reason for people to have to carry around weapons.

    Damn I wish I were you. To have that much faith in your govt. Wow.

    The reason American's, when setting up their own government, decided to let every law-abiding citizen carry a gun was simple. And it had nothing to do with bears or hunting.

    The question is often raised: &quot Who polices the police? &quot The answer is every citizen.

    The founders of the United States realized that in a normal, everyday world, police will behave in a manner that to them seems just. Laws will be enough to keep everyone, including the police, in line. The problem comes in times of chaos. These times can be long, like the LA riots after the Rodney King beating, or short, like the beating itself.

    It is times like this, when police are either the problem themselves, or cannot help each citizen, that the citizens must be able to help themselves.

    Yes, I live in a country where a co-worker could go nuts, go home and get his gun(s), and come back and kill everyone. The chance is remote, but it could happen. This is a trade off, however, that I am willing to make. I understand the risk, and would rather live in a country where if the shit hits the fan, I can defend myself, instead of being dependent on the gov't for protection.

  • by AdamHaun (43173) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @08:22AM (#330845) Journal
    Well, let's see...

    You say that guns are far more "difficult" to get today, but I have to wonder if that's entirely true. Yes, there are more laws regulating possesion of guns, but guns are also cheaper and in wider availability than, say, 50 years ago. In fact, in a small town it would be extremely difficult to acquire a gun without half the town knowing before long, as the person selling the gun is likely to know everybody within a few square miles.

    I think anonymity is more of a problem in this matter than anything else. It's easy to acquire a weapon without anyone noticing today, whether via legal means or the black market. As far as I understand, matters such as those Katz refers to would have been dealt with during a fistfight after school, or whatever they did back then :). I think perhaps today people who would have otherwise slit their wrists or just thrown a punch have picked up the school shooting fad. If I'm right, I think things will probably die down in a couple of years if we don't overreact and clamp down even further on the kids.
  • by wiredog (43288) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @08:23AM (#330846) Journal
    Re-Read your post, then read your sig.

  • by omarius (52253) <omar@allwron[ ]om ['g.c' in gap]> on Thursday March 29, 2001 @09:06AM (#330847) Homepage Journal
    The problem is just as Ashcroft points out, though it's not his point. Most of these middle class kids have never touched or seen a gun other than, perhaps, their fathers pointing their personal firearms out to them and saying "never touch these, they're dangerous." Instead of learning about guns from their parents, these kids are learning about guns from video games. I've yet to see a video game based on "shoot the rapist coming in the window because he thinks your wife is in the house alone." Guns aren't used for defense purposes in video games -- they're used for offense purposes. So, one grows up with the impression that guns are used to win something, rather than what they should be used for -- hunting, or to use in a life-or-death defense situation. These kids are not suffering, as a following poster asserts, from "gun culture." These kids have never been exposed to "gun culture." They are being exposed to guns alone, and then make bad decisions because they have no substatial parental guidence in reference to that firearm or, I fear, anything else in their lives.

    -Omar

  • by TrevorB (57780) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:47AM (#330848) Homepage
    Drat: I finally found the link after I posted. Here's the link to CBC National's special on bullying [cbc.ca]
  • by TrevorB (57780) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @04:54PM (#330849) Homepage
    The founders of the United States realized that in a normal, everyday world, police will behave in a manner that to them seems just. Laws will be enough to keep everyone, including the police, in line. The problem comes in times of chaos. These times can be long, like the LA riots after the Rodney King beating, or short, like the beating itself.

    It is times like this, when police are either the problem themselves, or cannot help each citizen, that the citizens must be able to help themselves.

    So Rodney King would have been better off if he had a gun? Be able to "defend himself from the man?". No, Rodney would be DEAD. The only way Rodney could have held power over his own government was with a portable nuclear device...

    As much as this "arming the citizenry to defend against the government" gets quoted, it's not like it's been tested much as a theory. The thing is, is it really needed? Democracy ALONE seems to work well at correcting itself once it's stable, and you don't need to arm your citizenry to the teeth to defend it.

    An aside here... There are more unstable fledgling democracies, Africa and Eastern Europe come to mind. Eastern Europe, though going through a hard time, seems to be coming along fine. Some states in Africa had had real problems starting democracy, but that appears to be because their citizenry is armed. It's more of an external force. Feel free to pick me apart on this item...

    If government sucks VOTE THEM OUT. I know for you it's 4 years, and that's too long. Maybe think about changing your system so that if something is VERY wrong you can kick out your government. Most parlimentary democracies (sorry, my only frame of reference) can allow you to ditch a government in a single non-confidence vote. Sure, you can have more frequent elections, but in a near 50-50 split like your last election, the government would be so unstable it would either have to co-operate (or more likely) collapse after several months.

    I'm disturbed how Americans defend their right to self government with guns, and then so few of them actually vote when the time comes. And when they do vote, they don't take enough care of their voting system to be able to handle exceptional situations (like vote count accuracy within, say, 50,000 votes!!!). Democracy is something to be cherished an nurtured.

    Sorry, I don't mean to flame the whole country. The US has done some amazing things, and is damn high on the list of places to live in the world. And Canada has its fair share of problems too, they just generally don't involve things blowing up or killing people. It's just every once in a while we see things up from up here that scare us. Perhaps America needs to be able to take a little constructive criticism instead of telling everyone else to bugger off.
  • by Datafage (75835) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @08:09AM (#330850) Homepage
    coaches push to fight against the weak- so the jocks naturally gravitate towards the oppression of the weak.

    Just as a point, not all coaches are bad, I was in track and cross country, and I had the best, fairest, most inspirational coaches you could imagine. Now realize I was the worst on the team...

    -----------------------

  • by CamShaft (103126) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:30AM (#330851)

    JonKatz wrote:

    The truth is, many more kids kill themselves then others

    The problem is after the kids kill themselves, it is their unstopable lust for life that makes them go on killing sprees.

  • by IronChef (164482) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @09:56AM (#330852)
    If I carry a pistol, hey, better get an UZI in case someone comes up to me with a desert eagle or some such thing.

    That's crazy, and not even us gun-nuts argue it that way. Even in states where you can legally carry a concealed weapon with ease, no one's carrying around rifles and other forms of extreme firepower.

    If someone takes after you with a BIG gun, even a SMALL gun is enough to defend yourself. Carrying a big gun doesn't make you tougher.

    If you are really getting at "why do we need to have the right to own black, scary-looking rifles?" then that is another topic for another post.
  • by boing boing (182014) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:46AM (#330853) Journal

    Are we all sure that this phenomenon of children going berserk is recent?

    Everyone seems to assume so, but I'm not to sure...

    How many small town news stories like that would have spread far enough for you to hear about them back in 1900 or even in 1950? Not many...Most people only knew about things that happened in their small towns, particularly before the widespread use of telephones.

    Now information is spread instanteously; I can fidn out about the latest school shooting within an hour of it happening. In 1950, you *might* hear about it the next day, you might not ever hear about it.

    To say that we know what the cause of these things are, is to reduce an extremely complex problem down to an absurd solution. It could be guns, it could be bullying, but I don't think those are the answers. John's essay indicates that many of these people (I would guess this holds for similar past crimes) are mentally disturbed/ill.

    The problem seems to me to lie in the parents, teachers, and friends who might realize that their son/daughter/student/friend is having problems and doesn't step in to help. It is a failure of that person's support network. There is one obvious solution to this problem:

    Pay attention to the people around you and talk to them if you think they are having problems; counsel them; help them. If you don't help them, who will?

    .

    BTW, the lameness filter sucks, repetition of a few characters can cause a filter, but the trolls seem to get by just fine.

  • by WildBeast (189336) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:24AM (#330854) Journal
    How come when a kid kills people he usually gets sentenced for life in an adult prison? On the other hand if an adult kills a kid, well he usually gets nothing more than a few years in prison.
    Talk about double standards.
  • by ichimunki (194887) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @08:04AM (#330855)
    I agree. The children I see in my neighborhood who cause the most trouble are the same ones whose parents are least interested in actual parenting. Parenting includes more than taking your kids to activities or buying them toys. It is about communicating real values.

    I also think our school system is a massive failure. Someone else on this thread suggested that we not extend the school year into the summer, but ban school entirely. I disagree. I think that school should be year-round. These days, kids who have the summer off are completely on their own after about age 10. Those kids who aren't own their own are doomed to a day in a daycare, which is a stultifyingly structured unproductive environment.

    But on that same note, past sixth grade, no kids should be in school for more than four hours a day. They should be working at internships and part time jobs... and not fscking fast food, but assisting in adding value to the world and learning to do something (or a variety of somethings) useful at the same time. This should be part of their educational experience and not additive as it is now. It should be coordinated and fairly compulsory. They should be treated with respect and given real responsibilities. Sure, there is still room for activities like sports and debate teams, and all that. But get a kid with a math bent a job in an actuarial firm or a bank or a science lab, and she'll never be stuck in a room with 29 other kids whose primary question is "what good is this junk?" Also, this gives kids an honest chance to see what jobs and work are like.

    Further bonus: one of the frequent arguments against homeschooling is the supposed lack of social skill practice. Well, what kind of social skill practice is it to sit in a room of 30 kids listening to some adult drone? How to learn to actually interact in a civilized manner when you're surrounded by other children? School is missing some major lessons that life has to offer and serves to do little more than keep most kids age 12-21 in a kind of social holding tank.
  • by glebite (206150) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:43AM (#330856)

    It has to be a complete culture change - from that of a typically violent, religious-based, keeping-up-with-the-Jones' culture to one where individuality is respected. And that is not likely going to happen in the near future.

    The solution to foot-in-mouth disease is to not have any foot-in-mouth disease. Read: get rid of the guns. I know that won't help the poor individuals who will take their own lives or come up with more inventive means of striking out, but it might slow things down. Seriously, what the f*ck does a person need a gun for anyway?

    Drop the religious aspect of your society back to the individual's beliefs. Don't ever allow it to creep back into politics or society as a whole. I've been to engineering meetings in the USA where problems encountered in designs were met with a "prayer" session. Sheesh - why don't we just sacrifice a goat or virgin or two to Baal to help our sales team.

    Keeping-up-with-the-Jones' is going to be a real tricky thing - this is the result of feedback from a capitalist society - more money tends to breed more money, and a drive to get what is perceived to be better and better things. Some people will be able to afford the "bestest" things (generally the goal of all), most people will be able to afford the "next-to-bestest/acceptable" things, and unfortunately, there are a lot of people who never will - they get left out. I don't know how to counter this one.

    Perhaps as the boomers die out, we can influence our children to respect each other's individuality a bit more. Cycles like this occur to counter the previous generation - we just have to wait for the prevaiing group to die for the other extremists to take over.

    Oh well, that's all I got's to say - let's see what fallout comes from this...

  • by TOTKChief (210168) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:59AM (#330857) Homepage

    You know, I've come to the decision after working with high school kids that it's a fad. What do I mean by that?

    Kids do things to get attention: from their peers, from their parents, from those in authority. That's why kids act out, and that's why kids have interesting modes of dress. That's why kids push for "innovative" music--because it pushes the envelope.

    This nature--probing the envelope--is key to understanding this phenomenon. Kids are going to push the envelope: consider bedtime. "Mom, can I stay up 'til 10?" If that works, you push for later and later. If it doesn't, 9:30 is your next offer. Kids push, push, push, until they find the limit.

    A loving parent sets those limits. It can really hurt to do that. Hell, it hurts me as a twenty-something working with kids to set those limits on kids for things that adults would do with no recourse [such as alcohol consumption, etc.]. It bothers the snot out of me to tell kids not to drink at their age when I am just 4-10 years older [depending on what age group I'm working with at the time] and can drink most folks I know under the table.

    Unfortunately, some parents, rather than set limits, become uninvolved in their kids' lives. Becoming uninvolved is a process--because kids want their parents to be involved, for the most part. Yeah, even at the teen ages, they still want some parental involvement, though they only want it on their terms. The kids keep reaching out for things that aren't there--loving parents who want to know what's going on. And considering that brain development is still going on at that age, they can contemplate things from a whole new perspective without good parental supervision: hence, the idea to go out and take a lot of people out with you.

    I contemplated and nearly did commit suicide just five years ago. But while I was at a residential high school [k12.ms.us] where taking out a few of my peers would have gotten me a shitload of publicity, and I did have access to guns, including one of my own, when I was suicidal and wanted attention, I never thought of doing something like killing my peers. But now that a couple deranged people have done it, it now becomes plausible and has mindshare. The "early adopters" have created a market for killing.

    I'm sure there are a ton of posts about how kids picking on kids are nothing new. Sure wasn't when my parents were growing up, sure wasn't as I was growing up. That's true. What's different is that there are new methods of acting out in the social conscious. Wonder why teen smoking and drug use is somewhat down? They've found something new to try.

    And, like a bad kidney stone, this too, shall pass.


    --
  • by agentZ (210674) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:46AM (#330858)
    Ah yes. To quote, "Tod: You know, Mrs. Buchman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car -- hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they'll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father."
  • by lupa (218669) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:53AM (#330859)
    You never hear about a Reverand's son or a child of a devoutly religious family shooting up a school.

    no, but you do hear about them taunting/beating up/raping their peers. (ask me how i know.)

    i'll ignore the obvious 'freedom of religion' argument here and go for a little reality. while i feel that there is nothing inherently wrong with touting "traditional (insert religion here) morality" as a need for children, it really does nothing. it might keep kids from killing, but think of it this way - the most christian people in my school were the most cruel to me, and the hindi and agnostic kids were the most tolerant of me.

    coincidence? maybe, maybe not. either way, if i had gone over the deep end, those traditional christian morals would not have saved me.
  • by Lethyos (408045) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @08:13AM (#330860) Journal
    Ashcroft, like most politicians, is ignoring the actual cause of this problem. The reason being is probably that most people in the world today would find it an unpopular opinion that bullies cause kids to lose their marbles. Most people out there were highschool bullies.

    Schools are just as equally to blame - for their silence and inaction if nothing else. How many of us have gone to our counselors or teachers or principles for help. "They will not leave me alone. Do nothing to them, but they keep hounding me!" How often has the response been something like, "oh, just ignore them/be nice to them. Everyone gets picked on." Pfft. Things are different.

    The dynamics of how who gets picked on and why are different and nobody seems to realize this. Now a days, it's the majority - the people who follow the norm, play sports, wear Abercrombe & Fitch, etc. that are doing the bullying. They often move in packs or groups upon individuals or very small groups of smart/independent thinking people. That's a hell of a lot for a person to cope with. In my grade school days, I've been surrounded by groups of 10 or more other students, all bent on name calling, pushing, etc. There was never any escape and the school never did anything. Often times, I was the one who was punished for making a "big deal out of it" or pushing them back.

    The story is the same and goes on much longer. But in my pre-highschool days - a far back as early elementary, this kind of treatment has induced violent behavior. I often fantasized about severely injuring my class mates. I dreamed of bringing a gun to school so I could make people not mess with me. I harbored images of the school's smoldering remains. And yes, you guessed it... this was LONG before I had ever even SEEN a video game. And no, I wasn't listening to goth music either.

    Again, this story is nothing new. But one thing is certain, it's worse today for the "social outcasts" than it ever was before. Ashcroft's position is a slap in the face. The schools' continued inaction is a cause for yet more dispare. However, with the sudden increased frequency of school violence, they're going to get to the point where they have to act, out of fear if anything else. One of my friends and I were discussing this issue, and he was of the position that this is the only good thing that will come out of these shooting. Schools may do something about the problem (other than installing metal detectors - those only make the 'jocks' feel save). And maybe, just maybe those who do the bullying will think twice.

    Who knows. I was one of the fortunate people who didn't suffer any kind of break down from the treatment. But there are a lot of people who simply cannot take it and will lash out against oppression. Ironic how schools do nothing. That's simply historical fact.

  • by thebuddhaofdoubt (413104) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @10:16AM (#330861)
    You'll never know how much I owe you for writting that article. I was sitting here in my basement thinking that dying might not be such a bad alternative to going to school tomorrow. Blindly perusing slashdot I came across this and it made me feel infinitely better knowing that life only gets easier. It reminded me of all the things I want for myself and for the people I love. Thanks for saying what I've been hoping.
  • by Squid (3420) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @11:22AM (#330862) Homepage
    Density?

    Actually it's always been a problem, but only became a MEDIA problem when it started being upper-crust white kids getting killed.

    Guns don't kill people, gun culture kills people.

    Knives don't kill people either. America probably has more KNIFE killings per capita than Canada - which hints at the real problem: American culture is just plain violent. It's like we're expected to go for the most violent solution first (and I consider lawsuits a form of violence, if that helps) any time we meet resistance. Actually two problems - we want EVERYTHING (American corporate culture is driven by the belief that you can't just make money, you have to make ALL the money, and you go to Hell if you leave one cent unmade in your chosen market - doesn't this explain the RIAA's behavior?) and we don't see anything wrong with using violent means (guns, fists, lies, lawyers) to get it all. Canada doesn't seem afflicted with either disease, except perhaps within the bounds of hockey. :-)
  • by Squid (3420) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @09:09AM (#330863) Homepage
    Seriously, what the f*ck does a person need a gun for anyway?

    Same reason a person needs a lawyer - to defend oneself against other people with lawyers. We really don't need guns or lawyers, but as soon as one person pulls either a gun or a lawyer on you, you'll need both. :-)

    Drop the religious aspect of your society back to the individual's beliefs. Don't ever allow it to creep back into politics or society as a whole. I've been to engineering meetings in the USA where problems encountered in designs were met with a "prayer" session. Sheesh - why don't we just sacrifice a goat or virgin or two to Baal to help our sales team.

    Funny, I think, that the unholy marriage of religion and politics were something Jesus seemed to resent.

    The only way a state religion can work is if EVERYONE - every last person - supports it, or at least if there's a convenient way for dissenters to move to a neighboring "free" nation that the religious nation isn't planning on conquering. (In many ways a theocracy is a bit like a Communist state - if even one person doesn't buy into it, it starts to collapse.)

    Actually, that's not entirely true. A theocracy COULD possibly work if it's not the kind of fundamentalist regime we see in most Christian and Muslim countries - the real problem isn't the religion, or the link to politics, it's that for FAR too many people in the countries I've mentioned, religion amounts to little more than a desire to see everyone else become exactly like you, and for some, it's a means of gaining power. THAT's the real reason we have a separation of church and state - religion is all about interpretation and divine inspiration of unverifiable origin, so all it takes is one Cardinal Ximinez or one Jerry Falwell to start to impose his will onto a religion and then impose that religion onto the state. The only defense is to prevent religion from being imposed onto the state - and so far America has done a shitty job of this, mostly because the lawmakers tend to WANT religion imposed on the state.

    Keeping-up-with-the-Jones' is going to be a real tricky thing - this is the result of feedback from a capitalist society - more money tends to breed more money, and a drive to get what is perceived to be better and better things. Some people will be able to afford the "bestest" things (generally the goal of all), most people will be able to afford the "next-to-bestest/acceptable" things, and unfortunately, there are a lot of people who never will - they get left out. I don't know how to counter this one.

    Look at the root of the problem: people don't know how to be happy anymore. Unable to find emotional satisfaction, unable to comprehend subtlety, or unwilling to become philosophers who see more beauty in a rundown building than in a mansion, people have tended to latch onto dicksize as a means of happiness. They think if they LOOK happy, they can BE happy - and the only way to look happy is to look like you have more toys than the happy people next door. They shouldn't call 'em yuppies, they should call 'em Happies.

    Anyway, it's an amusing situation - a whole sector of people who want big houses they can't live in because every room is a museum, big vehicles that get 8mpg and have 4 wheel drive they'll never use because going off road would get it dirty (I have no problem with people who buy SUVs because they actually intend to use the four wheel drive, but as status symbols they SUCK), and kids they don't even raise. (And yes, I think this tends to pass these same kinds of values on to the next generation.) All because these are the things they see other people having and it certainly makes THEM happy.

    Me, I'm thankful I have such weird tastes in stuff. I've gotten cynical in my old age (26) and despite the limited world experience I have, I've nonetheless come to the conclusion that there is NOTHING in this world I can obtain - no stereo system, no car, no woman - that will grant me lasting happiness. There is joy to be had in owning things, which is why I hang out at thrift stores, and I do happen to like having a girlfriend - these things, for me at least, tend to subtly increase the level of joy in my life, but I already know there's no guarantee that ANY of them - or even ALL of them, if I should somehow one day be granted the complete checklist of "stuff I want" (a delightfully implausible list that includes Jennifer Connelly, 109 missing episodes of Doctor Who, various unbuilt Amiga prototypes from over the years, and a winning $250m lottery ticket) - will make me live happily ever after. Nor would I want them to - the struggle to become happy is the point of life. (Even for you religious types, "being happy" means pleasing God, and therefore is the point of life.)

    Granted part of the reason I came to this conclusion was that I noticed I never really much liked "cool" things. It's a blessing not to have to judge oneself by other people's standards - and it's paid off, because I can get great deals on the stuff other people throw out. :-)

    I don't know how to cure the Happies of their problem. The sad thing is, the ones who were once hippies used to have the answers (insofar as they had simpler tastes) and seem to have forgotten them. But there's another aspect to the problem - the Happies have been conditioned by the media. Come on with a commercial during Seinfeld to tell them this year's SUV brings happiness and they believe you - and once they own one, and can park it in the driveway where their neighbors can drool over it, pretty soon the whole block will have one. How do you decondition people from the media? Hell, most of them don't even realize they AREN'T as happy as they make the neighbors think (and when they do, it's called a midlife crisis) - which means as far as they're concerned, this kind of one-up lifestyle has WORKED. It's a religion, really - and people only ditch a religion when a) they realize how silly it sounds, b) they realize it isn't working for them, or c) they weren't really that deeply into it to begin with.

    The problem is that waiting for the boomers to die won't help - the boomers have offspring who have been similarly conditioned.
  • by RPoet (20693) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @08:02AM (#330864) Journal
    The truth is, many more kids kill themselves then others


    Please explain how it is possible to first kill yourself, then kill others.
    --

  • by wiredog (43288) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:24AM (#330865) Journal
    See the Rough Draft [washingtonpost.com] column from Monday for more from the Press.
  • by detritus. (46421) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:33AM (#330866)
    The plague of experts reached new virulence this morning when some guy showed up on The Today Show to tell us how kids can dodge bullets in school. Kids should run when they hear gunfire, he said, but they shouldn't run in a straight line. They should zig and zag.

    Funny, I learned that a long time ago after playing first person shooters.



    - Slash
  • by TrevorB (57780) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @12:20PM (#330867) Homepage
    OK, getting back to the original subject.

    There's been a lot of talk in this thread how guns are used for useful purposes: self defense, to defend against the governmet, etc.

    Can you imagine if these same arguments were used by students in real schools???

    "Everyone knows that it's dangerous to go to school these days, who knows what sort of whacko's are out there. I'm going to arm myself in self defense."

    So why not train and arm all the students in a school just in case one person comes along and decides to start shooting people. If gun control doesn't work, why have gun control in the schools?

    The analogy is the same, except for the "children are not the same as adults" argument. There is a point here. Adults generally have more social maturity to handle situations like this better. So it's a matter of scale... 99.9% of adults are responsible with guns, lets say high school children would be about 80-90% responsible in the same environment.

    But in this argument, even with the change of scale, wouldn't the arguments be the same? I get the feeling that people here advocating gun posession would still possess their guns even if the odds of violent crimes occuring were a thousand times less. I ask these people:

    By the same logic, why not advocate arming school children as well?

    Reductio ad adsurdum. Perhaps not quite QED.. :)
  • by tentac1e (62936) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @08:46AM (#330868) Journal
    Yes, we have society to blame for school violence and suffering. Yes, you can shift blame on bullies. You can shift blame on intolerant schools. You can even shift blame on teachers who flunked students, which has been reported as the cause of some suicides.

    Who do we have to blame most? People like JonKatz. People who refuse to see that the blame first and foremost for the child violence, both self inflicted and caused by others, lies in the hands of the perpetrators.

    I hear cries about "persecution," and "intolerance." That's called human nature. Are we so oblivious of the way children act that we forget this has taken place for thousands of years?

    Fifty years ago, virtually any person in America could easy obtain a gun. Why is it we haven't had this outbreak in child violence until (relatively) recently?

    Compare any schoolchild today to a child living during the Great Depression. Do you honestly thing you could hurl a single insult that would even phase a child living in the poverty stricken America? They learned to endure what they had to, and kept going. The average teenager today cares more about who broke up with who on Dawson's Creek, rather than what their grandparents had to endure so they could be alive today.

    If students can't stand bullies, then bring criminal charges on them. If the level of harassment brought upon students does not qualify as criminal action, then learn to live with it. It's cruel and unfortunate, but (shockingly) that is how life works.

    What drives these children to do what they do? Nothing. It is the indifference, the feeling of "nothing," which allows children to committ truly evil acts. Through our own ignorance, we have raised a cynical generation, adorned in nihilism, seeking only hedonism. I have seen the face of evil, and its name is Apathy.

    Not a day goes by that I don't hear from the media about just who is "really" to blame for these tragedies. I know who is to blame. The whores in the media, whether they be Newsweek, JohnKatz, the New York Times, or Oprah, who make us feel good about ourselves, by telling us we didn't fuck up raising our kids. Instead, we are offered the alternative of blaming violence in the media... blaming school bullies... blaming guns. No.

    We can only shift the burden of those to blame on ourselves. Yes, it's a child's fault when a child kills someone. It's also our fault when we neglect our duty, and _ours_ alone, to raise children who don't break out into violence.

    What can we do? We can set the first example. We can take responsibility for our actions, starting with the rearing of our children. We can stop parenting as a means of pleasuring _ourselves_, and start paying attention to the fact that once we have children, there is no longer such a thing as "myself". We can stop trying to be the world's coolest parent, and start trying to be a _good_ parent.

    I leave you only with an excerpt from a letter Ronald Reagan wrote to his Alma Matter, after he was critized by the student newspaper for having spoken out against a raucous and disgraceful student event that took place on campus grounds.

    "I know from my own memory the easy question of why study history-- whats so important about where we've been. At your age you are interested in where you are going. But we must study mans achievements as well as his failures. The problems we must solve today are the results of errors of the past. True feedom is the freedom of self discipline-- the freedom to choose within acceptable standards. Take that framework away and you lose freedom."

  • Humans are social animals, if not pack animals, and will tend to derive self worth from their peer group. And between other kids who mock them, teachers who tell them that 'it's nothing to worry about,' the 'it' in this case being, of course, the child's feelings of unworthyness, and parents who often don't notice such things it can get rather lonely. Throw in the fact that the average 10-15 year old is probably somewhere in puberty process, depending on race, sex, and a few other factors, and you get some nasty hormonal imbalances influencing the kids towards behaviour that, a year or two later, they'd never dream of. Oh, and as an aside, zero-tolerance policies are a bad thing; they tend to influence kids into not 'ratting' on friends who are 'talking smack' because they'll get thrown out of school; how do the kids feel when it turns out he wasn't just 'talking smack?' Of course, how do they feel if they do get him kicked out, and it turns out to be nothing?
  • My wife and I were talking about this the night of the Santee shooting, and we reached the same conclusion.

    I preface this by saying that I'm an RF circuits engineer and she's a teacher in a private school that goes pre-K to twelfth grade.

    We both are of the opinion that what we're seeing is partly a reflection of the narcissism of the modern classroom. On numerous occasions I've seen reports that rank American high schoolers close to last in the industrialized world for math skills, but they rank themselves as first when polled. For ten years or more we've had this idea of Outcome-Based Education, which is an odd name for a system where the outcome doesn't matter. With OBE, it's how the student feels, not how much they know. We as a society have raised a whole generation of empty egos, and they don't know how to handle anything that might endanger their severely distorted self-concept. I think that the great majority of school violence, from these shootings to inter-class fist fights, stem from this (inherent in kids) over-inflated self concept. Anything that threatens the self-image is more than they can handle, and they lash out.

    Also, with more and more kinds coming from two-career families or broken homes we have parents that bend to their kids' every whim out of the parents feelings of guilt. I see some of my wife's colleagues -- teachers no less -- doing this. The incessant cry of, "Gimme!" is never met with a, "no." Children are taught that they deserve and are entitled to whatever they want, without exception. Their little egos are continually puffed up both at home by unwitting parents and at school by institutionallized emotional poisoning.

    Is it right? No. What should be done about it? I say, increase the torment! Call it Tough Love. People need to be deflated from time to time so that they don't get these dangerous egos. They need to see how they're not that smart, they're not that tough, they're not that athletic, they're not that pretty, they're not that anything. In a word, they need humility. They need to know that it's ok not to get everything you want; in fact, nobody has ever received everything they wanted. They need to learn not to take themselves so seriously or to be so brittle when things don't go their way.

    One thing that's missing from just about every aspect of modern life is humility. To be humble in America is to be weak. To be unimportant. To be laughed at. These are the things that must change.

  • If you think the problem is the availability of guns, think about this. The US has had easily available guns for 200 years. In fact, guns are far more difficult to get than they've ever been. Yet, this problem of children going berserk killing people is only a relatively recent phenomenom.

    If guns are the problem, why hasn't this always been a problem throughout history?

    Guns are not the problem, people are. The problem is cultural. Not all modern cultural trends are bad (I don't think video games are), but quite a few are.


    --

  • by jmahler (192217) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:36AM (#330872) Homepage
    >>>>

    first - sorry, i shouldn't have bothered with my previous post. it was kinda pointless. i WAS shocked that i got FP tho, first time ever. not even intentional.

    anyways, my 2 cents- i think the whole thing about bullying is pretty simple. some kids are jerks, some are not, and the rest float in between somewhere. The jerks make life hell for the "easy targets", the defenseless who won't garner any sympathy. witness the phrase "man, look at those pants. he had it coming. snarf snarf snarf". coaches push to fight against the weak- so the jocks naturally gravitate towards the oppression of the weak.

    the worst thing about all of this is that when there IS a backlash (columbine etc) the only thing that happens is blame is thrown around and the easy targets become easier. according to a friend in high school, the school shootings that have been happening actually caused an INCREASE in the violence and general crappiness in his school. the jerks in the school used his long blue hair as a target- one even tried to plant a "hit list" on him. he's been frisked numerous times by a not-at-all-attractive vice principal, more than anyone else and on very shaky grounds.

    my point is... crud. i forgot. i think it had to do with the fact that being a teenager sucks. it always has, and always will. someone told me "these are the best days of your life, jeremy"... i wanted to kill myself then.
  • by Llama Keeper (7984) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:27AM (#330873) Homepage
    I was a geek all through school, ostracized and bullied (Even more so since my little brother 12" shorter than me and extremely athletic could kick my @ss in a fight, good thing we are really tight).

    I didn't kill anyone or go postal. WHY? Because I had good parents who recognized when something was bothering me and dragged it out of me. I say a culture where parents don't give two shits about whats going on in their lives and let their kids have free rein of their lives is what causes killer kids. This is not an issue of what the schools/teachers/media can do, but what good parenting can solve. Call me out of line or whatever, but I really think a two parent loving family, that is attentive will prevent 99.9% of these incidents from occuring! THATS ALL THERE IS TOO IT!

  • by sammy baby (14909) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:51AM (#330874) Journal
    someone told me "these are the best days of your life, jeremy"... i wanted to kill myself then.

    It's funny, but when I was in junior high, I remember talking to my Dad for a while about girls. Not the "this is how the plumbing works" talk, but more prosaic "why don't you ask girls out" kinda stuff.

    The thing I remember most about that conversation was that he told me, "Don't believe anything anyone else says to you. These are, bar none, the hardest years of your life. It all gets easier from here." And, he was right. By the time I was a high school junior, I was more or less comfortable with my geekiness, and resolved to just have a good time being me. My senior year, the group of geeks I hung out with mysteriously turned into the most popular group of kids in the school. It was nuts. Large numbers of us still hang out together, ten years later, and we even have actual lives.

    I was lucky that things got better for me, I know. But I suspect that the improvement in my circumstances stemmed from an understanding that life wasn't all wine and roses, and I didn't have to act like it was all the time.

  • by Badgerman (19207) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:54AM (#330875)
    OK, this is when I enjoy Katz - heartfelt, human, and without bizarre comparisons or conspiracy theories.

    In our country people like to blame "outside" elements - the that-not-like-me. It is games (which I don't play), music (which I don't like), and the Internet (which I'm too ignorant to use).

    However, what is missed is that a problem this widespread (violence, suicide, bullying) is not going to come from outside - it is going to come from within the culture. That is hard for many people to accept.

    Americans are people with a great deal of pride, but not all of that pride is earned. We visualize ourselves often as the Light of the World.

    We're not good at introspection (having only 200+ years of history limits our shared experiences).

    So, we don't want to deal with the fact that if something is going wrong in our country at large there is a problem in the culture at large. It would be having to admit we're not perfect. It would be having to admit we can make mistakes. It would mean hard work to fix things. It would mean confronting ourselves.

    We are a violent culture. Wether we justify it by God, Darwin, or History, we figure nothing is wrong with taking what we want, hurting those different, and stomping around as if we'll never take a fall. Repercussions will never happen because, of course, we are so wonderful - and if they do "someone else" must be to blame.

    Someday, America, will have to collectively examine itself.

  • Another thing that bothers me is the lack of traditional Christian morals that are being instilled in today's youth. You never hear about a Reverand's son or a child of a devoutly religious family shooting up a school. It seems like today's family's would rather watch WWF Smackdown than enrich themselves with the wholesome teachings of Jesus Christ.

    As a Buddhist, I resent the "My religion is better than your religion!" mentality that you imply here. I agree that religion has a place in society, but please do not denigrate people as immoral because they do not agree with your religious beliefs.

    May I remind you that the young lady Smith who commited suicide in Detroit was bullied partly because of her religious beliefs. She was a Wiccan, or at least curious about Wicca, and her tormenters were Christian Fundamentalists (though they weren't acting according to the teachings of Christianity.)

  • by Waav (33401) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:28AM (#330877)
    As much as this a very accurate and useful point to make I think most people who read Slashdot are going to go 'duh'. I mean it's very obvious to those of us who grew up in such a life and contemplated escaping it all ourselves.

    If this editorial piece were in a major newspaper or on the six o'clock news - it would be substantially more useful. This is really a case where Mr. Katz is preaching to the converted (again).

    To make this piece useful I encourage everyone to print it out and mail it into your local newspapers and news stations. And perhaps the people who really need to be reading this kind of essay will get the opportunity.
  • by TrevorB (57780) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @08:04AM (#330878) Homepage
    If guns are the problem, why hasn't this always been a problem throughout history?

    Density?

    Let's face it, if the number of bears in the forest surrounding your log cabin outnumber the number of children in your family, then having a good supply of ammunition and weapons in your house is a good thing.

    Oh crap, I feel a flamebait rant coming on... Oh well, I've got karma to burn...

    Maybe I'm stupid and Canadian, but in an urban population with a decent sized police force, there should be no good reason for people to have to carry around weapons. I mean, Jesus, I remember driving in LA on vacation and seeing a cop in her squad car with the shotgun holster mounted right in the front seat. I mean, holy shit, that thing's loaded. I try not to think about how many loaded weapons there must be if I enter into a family restaraunt in the states with my kids.

    Can't you see how this makes you all look like freaks to the rest of the world?!?

    Go ahead, mod me down. I don't care. But this is one of the reasons the rest of the first worls looks upon America with bafflement and disbelief.

    Guns don't kill people, gun culture kills people.
  • by TrevorB (57780) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:41AM (#330879) Homepage
    I've been amazed in Canada how bullying has taken the forefront of the local, provincial, and national news in the last year, and specifically in the last few months. After several teen suicides, a few key surveys of school age kids, and a rather well done documentary on bullying on CBC's evening news show "The National" that provoked an enormous outpouring of phone calls and emails to the station that the next night they had to do a follow up the following night, to the commercials on TV and the radio "bullying is dead serious", Canada seems to have taken the hint. Bullying => teen violence, and bullying is the root source of the problem. BC's government seems to have gone off on this weird tanget for rating video games, but that story is eclipsed here by what's now perceived to be a epedemic problem across the province and the country.

    Last night on the news I saw a segment on an elementary school talking about anger management and bullying to 5 year olds. Things are starting to *happen* here. I've got more confidence that my own kids (the oldest now three) will be able to go to a school where the consequences of bullying are recognized as severe.

    All I can suggest: Write your local media. Find a good set of journalists who can do a *good* job of getting down to the school level and investigate what kids are actually saying. We had one of our (two) major networks do a huge story on bullying and the whole thing started to snowball once the general public had a chance to react.
  • by doonesbury (69634) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:31AM (#330880) Homepage
    Pointing out that whole "Its the mental condition that get kids teased in the first place" - that's bull. Kids get teased because they're there. They get teased for anything at all that makes them different; this, at least in my case, may have had depression as a contributing factor, but I never heard anyone coming up to me, saying "I'm teasing you because you're depressed."

    What's more likely is that either a) the teasing leads to depression, mental or clinical (I wonder, can someone be depressed during puberty, and then the body thinks that the *standard*, thereby causing clinical depression?) or b) the depression leads to unusual habits/attitudes, leading to getting teased.

    Finally, what I think few people tend to forget is that kids can't get out of these situations. They're stuck with the people at school for years, live in the same neighborhood, have a tight community that they can't get out of; and seeing ways to make the future brighter isn't exactly something people teach. Taking away their video games isn't going to fix the problem. Just may make them stop specifically *shooting* one another. The problem's still there.
  • by smirkleton (69652) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @11:47AM (#330881)
    No disrespect intended, but I am surprised that this treatise has been moderated to a 3. I guess that reflects the reality that many with moderator points are agnostic relativists happy to rubber-stamp something the reinforces their own muddled worldview while perpetuating stereotypes about worldviews you've already repudiated. Why do I say this?

    "Actually, that's not entirely true. A theocracy COULD possibly work if it's not the kind of fundamentalist regime we see in most Christian and Muslim countries - the real problem isn't the religion, or the link to politics, it's that for FAR too many people in the countries I've mentioned, religion amounts to little more than a desire to see everyone else become exactly like you, and for some, it's a means of gaining power. "

    Can you name ONE "fundamentalist Christian theocracy" on the planet at this time? No, because there are no significant Christian theocracies in this era.

    There are, however, many Islamic countries which we would classify as having a theocratic system. The laws of government are derived from the Koran and Islamic religious tradition- it has nothing to do with, as you state, "a desire to see everyone else become exactly like you, and for some, it's a means of gaining power". Do you really believe this, or are you just saying it because it seems like it must be true because the alternative is to imagine a large body of people sharing an absolute religious worldview- a concept that, in our post-Christian agnostic consumerist society is too alien to fathom?

    Visit one. I was in Jordan last year. The Islamic citizens there aren't pod-people with a hive mentality looking to homogenize themselves- they're human beings with beliefs that they value above their own lives. Also contrary to your statement, they have less power as citizens than you could possibly imagine, and belief in Islam will ensure that they remain without power or freedom as we know it. Yet they still believe..

    As a Christian, I disagree stongly with their religious worldview. But try to have a little more respect for people with differing beliefs, and allow for the possibility that the fact of someone else's differing opinion may not be indication of their inferiority as individuals or thinkers.
  • by cluge (114877) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @08:23AM (#330882) Homepage
    Lets face it, video games are an easy target. It gets really hard (and expensive) to deal with the real issues and problems behind violent behavior. Guns will be blamed because they are easy to blame also. That will be until some kids learns to use brake fluid and Clorox with nails added for effect. Let us explore some more probable causes for violent behavior shall we?

    • Huge schools, large class sizes, the de-personalization of people
    • Parents and systems that encourage small amounts of "quality time" as opposed to just spending time with your kids.
    • A society that tolerates behavior that is hurtful and directed at people it hurts the most.
    • Treating kids and adolescents like adults

    Now don't go flaming me just yet, these are broad generalizations, lets look at these in a bit more depth.

    Quality Time
    In our society there is a huge increase in 2 working parent families. Most day care services are staffed by some of the poorest trained lowest paid workers in the United States today. A child raised in this environment is usually introduced to other children via the law of the jungle. i.e. those that can exert their force and power will and you will bend, or go home bloody from "falling" off the jungle-jim.

    A parent's time is hard to come by. Companies DEMAND more and more out of their staff (especially those of us in tech or management and on salary!) This in turn gives us less and less time for ourselves, and also less time for our families. Then comes the fabrication of quality time. The idea that spending the "right kind of time" will be ok and you won't have to spend as much time with your children. Try to find a good scientific study about quality time (good luck). The find a study about just plain old "parental involvement". Quality time is a crock designed to make over worked/stressed parents feel better about themselves.

    Cost to fix? High, companies would have to stop demanding 12/15 hour days, perhaps even give mothers more time off for maternity. Help provide proper day care. this adds up to $$$$$

    School Systems
    School Systems Schools are designed with cost in mind, and it is cheaper to build a BIG school for thousands of students then to build several little schools for say 250-500 students. This leads to a system where students can easily get lost, be over looked and hide. There are simply too many students, and our current Jr and Sr years are nothing more than a fashion show in many schools. The fix would be to build smaller schools, and hire more teachers. This of course costs $$$, and trust me the BABY BOOMERS (i.e. the me generation) wants absolutely nothing to do with raising taxes or paying for a good education system. Of course raise taxes for Socialist security to keep it solvent, but the hell with our children! (Sorry, I live in an area with a lot of Senior Citizens, and that attitude is so pervasive it makes me sick)

    Improper treatment of children and adolescents
    Our society, our advertisers and to a lesser extent each of use are treating adolescents as adults. This can be seen in malicious humor directed at them, in advertisements and in their ability to commit "adult" crimes. It's so funny that our society must be PC (nee see the "re-education" of John Rocker) but we will happily laugh along with the sitcom that makes fun of the "geek", that chastises the girl that is "over wieght" (i.e. she doesn't look like she spent 8 months in Ausweitz) etc. Wow, strange world we live in.

    To some extent adolescents WANT to be treated like they are older, and I did too when I was 15-16 etc. BUT this is the age when one learns coping skills, when one learns how to deal with adversity and so forth. A minor incident for an adult can feel like a life threatening tragedy to some children/adolescents. People need to keep that in mind, adolescents aren't adults yet.

    Agree with me or not, the cost to solve these problems are high, they will take time, and lets face it video games and rap songs are a symptom not a cause. The politicos will point to the John Rockers of the world (and who cares what he thinks anyway???) and have him get "sensitivity" training while happily ignoring millions of school aged children. PC will simply be a way to silence different points of view, while allowing daily doses of hurtful propaganda that makes some companies rich right on through.

  • by Bluesee (173416) <michaelpatrickkenny@yahoo. c o m> on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:31AM (#330883)
    No matter what Hillary says, that phrase is important because it points closer to what it is that allows for the evil suggestion of a student's Final Solution to enter his brain and seem like the Only Solution.

    Stay with me here, I think I have part of the answer, and a damn sight bigger part than a politician would dare try to tackle.

    The "village" in this instance is the environment of the kid; this includes parents, school authorities, his peers and friends, TV, video games and computer games. From this village he forms his opinion of the world and obtains a sense of 'connectedness'. 'Connectedness' in this sense represents his relationship with his village: i.e., he gets what he needs from his environment and in return he is responsible for contributing his part to the environment ('he' is generic here, okay ladies?); he feels connected to it, a part of it.

    But our village is burnt out.

    The parents have skewed values and pursue money at the expense of time with their children. The child is latch-key and unsupervised and unloved in a real sense.

    The school environment is composed of overworked and burnt-out teachers: sure they Could care, but who Cares if they Care? So none of them connect with the troubled teen in a realistic manner. And the teen feels inadequate to approach them for help; it certainly isn't encouraged in this day and age. Teachers are Not Parents, but they play them in the classroom.

    And now for the Active elements in the Boy's young life! TV actively plays teens against their parents, portraying them as the enemy and corrupt and evil. Kids buy into this because they want power and ally themselves with a 'villager' who appears to be their ally. But it isn't their ally; it is their 'wormtongue', placing messages of destruction into the child's mind. No one would argue that TV is a poor parent for a child. TV actively increases the level of anxiety in the teen's mind... I could go on and on about this, but I think we all agree its fairly evident.

    Finally, and in league with the media, is the interactive world, the electronic world of messages that play into the natural tendencies of a child's aggression. He doesn't roughhouse with Dad, he doesn't play capture the flag with his friends, he isn't wrestling in the gym. No, he is sitting in front of a screen blowing the bejeezus out of a bunch of frightening images, getting a subtle (not so subtle?) rush of adrenaline (adrenaline, the drug of choice for Americans, bar none) in doing so. And, as Ashcroft correctly if misguidedly asserts, learning how to kill.

    Finally, add the complete humiliation day in and day out of his peers, the final element of his village, taunting and ridiculing him freely and
    without supervision. Nothing will stop this daily terror.

    Oh no, add one more thing.

    Give him a gun.

    Therein lies the recipe for these disasters. And when you add the sensationalism and copycat solicitation provided by the media, you really shouldn't be surprised in the monsters you have created.

    It takes a village, alright. A village of village idiots.

    Last thing. All you single-cause zealots who use these tragedies to foster your cause are doing nothing to help. You add heat but little light to the discussion. Banning guns would help but it ain't gonna happen. The Ten Commandments in school halls would remind us all who is really in charge here (White Christians, not God), but would lessen the alienation of our troubled youth not one whit. Punishing Hollywood, punishing parents, laying blame on Any Single Thing is perpetuating a vicious spiral that gets us nowhere. So please, if you care to respond to any of this, keep that in mine when you do. It is a complicated problem and it might even be one that cannot be solved today or even ever. But we can't make headway if we fall back into old and tired arguments. Not that the NRA isn't an idiot, but that it is too thickheaded and stubborn. Not that Christians aren't the new Nazis, but that calling them names doesn't allow them to trust America enough to open a dialog. We need a brand new paradigm, just like the old paradigm that we once held sacred, albeit only for the landed gentry. Perhaps if we can extend it to All Men and Women and Children, the village can have meaning again for a nation of alienated and Disconnected youth.

    (Reprinted from a Plastic article [plastic.com] I wrote. I only got one karma point, but a bunch of replies. :)
  • by jmahler (192217) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @07:22AM (#330884) Homepage
    i don't know.... my brother just made a bumper sticker as a spoof of the "my kid beat up your honor student"....

    "my kid shot your bully in the head"

    with a doom background. :)
  • by MacGabhain (198888) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @11:24AM (#330885)

    One thing Katz missed in an otherwise very good article is the termonology battle. Kid in school are victims of "bullying"? I think not.

    They're victims of: Assault, Simple Battery, Agrevated Assault, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Misdemeanor and Felony Harrasment, all degrees of Sexual Assault (with 3rd degree happening to your average attractive girl around 40 times per day), Extortion, Robbery, Theft, Racketeering (a group organized for the purpose of an illegal activity) and countless other very real crimes.

    So long as we continue to convince students either a: that the criminal behavior in which they are engaged is acceptable (or, at worst, subject to minimal action taken outside of the criminal justice system it would be in in any other context) or b: that their complaints regarding criminal actions being taken against them aren't to be taken seriously we will continue to have large numbers of students taking their own lives or, in much smaller numbers, those of others.

  • I think that policymakers focus on guns, games, etc. because they can be eliminated using traditional authoritarian police measures from schools, homes and the other places where children live. Every parent, no matter whether they abuse their child or are a moidel parent, can feel better when they remove evil games or install software to spy on kids or set up a snitch line. That is why law enforcement finds these approaches politically useful.

    Cultural change against bullying must come from the kids themselves. Perhaps they need to think of themselves as a cohesive group with a common interest and goal.. in which case, resistance against the curtailment of everyone's rights would be a good option.

  • I think one of the most depressing things of these modern times is that people want someone or something to blame for everything wrong with society. I feel sick at these claim company ads on TV "Have you been in an accident ? Call us and get £££ compensation !".

    It feels to me that parents want to point fingers at anything other than themselves for their children's problems. For instance, Columbine - lets blame music and the colour black. The more interest parents take in their childrens' lives, the quicker to help and slower to punish, the more trust children should be able to feel in their parents; these are all issues that should be addressed. Not "what should we ban for the sake of our children". That's why they hate South Park, it is a cleverly executed, very accurate parody of modern society.

    Claric
    --

  • by infinite9 (319274) on Thursday March 29, 2001 @09:15AM (#330888)

    When I was younger, I was very pale, very small, and had a very sharp tongue. I also grew up without a father and instead being raised by my drill sergeant mother and spineless door-knob step father. The Pink Floyd album "The Wall" has special meaning for me.

    From the 5th grade to the 9th grade, I was the target of constant ridicule and physical violence from other students. Invariably, these students had social problems that they were unable to handle. So they looked for a target on which to vent. My poor people skills, high intellegence, sarcastic tone, and effeminant manerisms made me an ideal target. My mother had always indoctrinated me with non-violence. So when I was the target of abuse from other students, I always backed down. And even if I hadn't I figured I was smaller than everyone else, so I would have lost anyway. Dating was also hell for me since I was exactly the opposite of what every highschool girl wants.

    Ashcroft said video games contribute to an "ethic of violence."

    Video games, violent and otherwise, were an escape for me. had those been taken away, I'm sure I would have vented in more destructive ways.

    The question really is whether vicious kids and hostile school environments are turning kids into killers. It's a question neither politicians nor the media seem to want to ask.

    I suspect that's because politics and the media tend to attract extroverted people. These types of people, in my opinion, would tend to be the popular people at school. So drawing on their own school experiences would be useless in understanding the plight of these targeted children.

    What makes big news -- and what doesn't -- is always telling. We hear a lot about kids who get gunned down in schools by their peers. We usually hear even more about the evil influences on their lives, from gaming to violent TV and movies to the Net. Yet a vastly greater number kill themselves because of their peers. That doesn't draw many headlines or stories on the evening news, or denunciations from the President.

    The media is in business to make money. And sensation sells. That's why they cover it. And if they can promote their liberal agneda in the process, all the better. No one wants to hear about how johnny got beaten up on the way home from school for the fourth time this week.

    As usual, the government has tended to blame video games and violent movies and TV shows. Aschroft said "the entertainment industry, with it's video games and the like, which sometimes literally teach shooting and all, we've got to ask ourselves, how do we as a culture ... be more responsible."

    LOL. I know our public schools are bad, but even the worst educated students can figure out how to fire a gun. They don't need a video game to learn that. I hate it when old conservative politicians try to find some "morally reprehensible" activity, one they don't engage in themsemves, on which to blame society's problems. Morality is part of the answer, not the answer.

    Psychologists and researchers report that bullying, taunting or constant ridicule by peers is often a major factor in these suicides, as well as a constant thread running through the horrific series of school shootings.

    This is bullshit. A student fearing a shooting at their school is like a passenger on a plane fearing a plane crash. I guess the APA has to get their gun control agenda in there somewhere.

    Kids who are non-conformist, rebellious, individualistic or different in other ways are routinely subjected to harassment all kinds, as well as life in schools that cling to outdated curriculums, punish non-conformity and isolate individuals.

    It's not just the goths. All I worked hard at being normal.

    Yet 81 percent of Americans told the Gallup they blame the Internet for Columbine.

    This is because that's what the media told them to believe

    A handful of schools have instituted anti-bullying and harrassment programs, but the popular media and most politicians seem much more interested in kids who go over the edge and shoot others than in the many more who are driven over the edge and kill themselves. Maybe it's time to shift focus.

    I'll believe it when I see it. And that is why my four kids are in a private school. There's no more powerful weapon to get schools to fix a problem than money.

    I have a very clear opinion as to the cause of schools shootings. You can agree or not. I don't care. But it goes something like this:

    1. In the lower grades, the "killer" student is ridiculed. Singled out by the other class mates as someone who is different. Maybe they look different, like a very pale person in sunny california. Or an over weight person at a very athletics-oriented high school. Or maybe their parents are poor, so their clothes are an issue. Who knows.

    2. Then the killer student either goes to someone they can trust and gets nowhere or the have no one to go to. For me, the people I trusted did nothing.

    3. The student feels trapped. Nothing is resolved. The physical and emotional abuse goes on and on, unchecked. Somewhere around now, the student may exhibit emotional or behavioral problems and is more than likely placed on some kind of drug.

    4. Then the killer student reaches puberty. The student is now feeling a volatile mixture of self-destructive feelings, poor self-esteem, and unbridled rage.

    5. What happens next depends on the student and how they were brought up. If they were brought up in a religious, but not too religious home, with caring, if out of touch parents, they simply kill themselves while leaving a note designed to exact the maximum pain on the ones responsible. If the student was brought up in a home where the parents had no involvement at all, or were really out of touch, and the student has a weak moral background, they may decide to take out as many students as possible on their way out.

    In any event, suicides, and shootings are designed to send a strong message to people who aren't listening, while putting an end to the student's pain.

    I was close to suicide on many occaisions. I was constantly considering ways to end my life. I eventually decided that the only ways available to me were slashing wrists, jumping from my high-rise apartment building, or jumping in front of a subway train. None were certain or instant enough for me. Salvation for me was puberty which finally hit in the 9th grade. I grew nearly a foot in one year. And over a summer vacation, nearly all of the bullying stopped. Now I'm 6'5" and 270lbs. People tend to leave me alone now. My manerisms are also very different now.

    What these kids need today is a good moral background. And good parenting from both parents. If every child got this, the targets would survive the bullying and the bullies wouldn't need to. But parents/adults/politicians don't want to hear this. They want a scapegoat, an easy solution that doesn't involve a behavor change for the parents. Today it's the internet and first person shooters. When I was growing up, it was heavy metal and D&D. Tomorrow it will be something else. Is it really so hard to see?

Entropy isn't what it used to be.

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