Re: virus: going postal before you get a job

Kim McCann (
Wed, 21 Apr 1999 19:57:42 -0700


I've been lurking in the background for a while listening to the discussions here and found most of them somewhat interesting. This particular item however has caught my interest more or less because it has been forced down my throat for the last few days. Perhpas it could be because I suppose you could call me "part of the gothic subculture", albeit I am much older than these kids (by about 15 years) and have been "involved" in the subculture since 1982. I have a few comments and a qestion or two.

> That's almost certainly true, I doubt each school yard killer came
> up with the idea independently of the others.

I wouldn't doubt that at all in the absence of any evidence to the contrary. I suppose that I don't think it to be particularilt responsible to generalize about the origin's of an idea without having a clear precursor availible for study. I must admit that I have some difficulty in accepting that they all "caught" a murderous impluse from some toxic meme. If so, the meme would already have disposed of most of its carriers as it is evidently highly auto toxic.

> My local paper had a front page article that blamed gothic culture
> in general, and ultimately Dungeons and Dragons. Now there's a
> stupid meme that just won't die.

I agree. The usual argument that proponents of such ridiculous assertions is that such and such a percentage of x type of criminal played D&D or listened to such and such a band.... That argument can also be applied to almost anything. For example - do you know that 100% of our nations prison inmates are chronic air breathers? Don't you think breathing air leads to violent offences - shouldn't it be banned. The idea is patently absurd to anyone who responsibly studies statistcal methods.


All the schoolyard Rambos so far have been white males attending suburban or rural schools, and all have been outcast, persecuted and picked upon, for being bright, nonathletic or otherwise different.

I would check on this fact before making a sweeping generalization like this. It is not in fact correct. The number of mass slayings in the past 15 years has been predominantly carreid out in inner city schools by ethnic youth living in ghetto conditions. The difficult conditions of ghetto life have demonstratively hight co-respondence with violence than being a white kid from suburbia.

> In the past, jocks and bullies could get away with this kind of
> behavior, but with the internet providing access to knowledge of
> how to build weapons and opportunities to illicitly purchase them,

The Internet does not do these things. In fact it does nothing but allow comuters to communicate with each other. It can however provide a medium where like minded individuals can communicate ideas via web-sites, discussion groups like this one, etc...
The Internet cannot arm you. That takes a mind, hands, and a brain. By the way, I found four copies of the anarchists cookbook at my local library during a research project this last September. It took twelve minutes. I couldn't find a copy online, and I looked actively for four hours.... Hmmmmm.......... Again, actually looking this stuff up is highly revealing....

and with violent media, from movies to television to gaming, not only inuring and desensitizing youth to the horror of violence, but also training them in paramilitary assault strategies, this is no longer possible, nor can the information access rabbit be stuffed back into the hat.

Really, you learned how to be a commando from TV? I wish I had been watching those shows.... I am only joking, but I think that you can see my point. Every study attempting to link exposure to TV violence to realy world violence has failed to demonstrait a clear co-respondence. In fact there is some vauge evidence to suggest that TV and Media violence may be associaed with though disorders such as schitzophrenia, but that evidence is still largely anecdotal. The Media violence causing real violence myth is another meme passed along because it has an emotioanl truth to it, but not because it has factual truth. Again, it is worth looking this stuff up.

However I do agree that the emerging inforamtion society - for lack of a better term - has provided us with a new reinessance. The sheer volume of data and media that a citizen of North America is expected to devour each day has had a paradoxically liberating effect on the instinct to question authority, and it is no longer possible to "stuff it back into the hat".

> Unlike Japan, the US is a relatively extroverted
> and individualistic society.

Ummm.... Been to Tokyo lately? The stereotype that you are using is a little dated. Tokyo reminds one of nothing so much as New York with more rain and fewer taxi's.... The global culture has been emerging, and all over the world people are becomming more homogenous. Look it up... Better yet - take a vacation to Japan. It is really cool, and the industrial gothic scene there is amazing.... Check out the Geiger bar especially.....

> Whereas in Japan the teased,
> harassed and bedeviled outcasts and pariahs commit suicide, here
> they cold-bloodedly plan and commit mass homicide upon their
> tormenters.

Where are you getting this stuff from? Japaneese people commit sucide for the same reason Americans do - depression, isolation, feelings of inadequacy, etc. The Japaneese have their mass murderers too... Anybody remember a littel incident involving a subway and some rather unpleasant gas a couple of years ago? If not, you can look it up....

> To minimize the continued burgeoning of this trend, a
> policy must be set that harassment of any student by any other
> must be reported, and a "zero tolerance" policy must be
> implemented to deal with such harassment.

This "trend" is not a reatction to typical schoolyard bullying which has been going on since the dawn of civilization. This "trend" isn't even a trend. To all apparent criminology reports on the phenomena of mass murder, there appears to be no connection between incidents, that when averaged over the size of the population that experiences such events (namely the global, or even the US population alone) amounts to almost nothing. I think that to be a trend, mass murderers would have to account for more than 0.000002 percent of the population.

The disturbing trend that we have is the rampant replecement of emotional reaction for resoned discourse in a hypermediated culture. It is excellent to express youe hunches or inclinations to beleif about a subject, but it can be highly destructive, and counter productive to express hunches, and third party ideas as fact without evidence or at least experience. If we are to understand how memetics work, we need to become resopnsible for our own tendancy to pass them on. Know your own self. I'm pretty certain that everything else will just work out by itself. Of that last statement, I have no proof...

I think that in a culture that is as accelertated as ours, with as mant stresses and failings as it seems to have, that "social mutation" occurs constantly. Subcultures are the result. Some survive and thrive, like the Goth sub culture, some die off like the Beatnicks. Essentially however, the sub cultures offer their adherents a lifestyle or behaviour pattern that is adapted differently to the world around them than the manstream culture. This may offer selective advantage or disadvantage to its aherents, and the subculture of one gerneration may beome the mainstream of another (rock 'n roll, etc.). As the Gothic culture has been moving into the mainstream (and it has unfortunately for us old fossil Goths) there has been a backlash directed at it by the media. Just because someone wears a black trenchcoat and owns a Marylin Manson CD doesn't mean that they are a Goth, nor does it mean that they are a mass muderer. The media in in its attempt to draw a causal connection between them was atrociously irresponsible and a ratherr dim indicator on what the purchasing public is willing to believe. I seriously hope that Mr. Manson (who has been accused nationally of inspiring these events) sues the *&$@! out of the news agencies who irresponsibly spread this kind of crap.

By the way - I don't like his music - does that mean that I'm not Goth? Even though the Goth movement is older than Manson himself?

The simple fact is that an atrocious act of violence was commited in a small school by some evidently emotionally ill school children. It is that simple. If we want to look for causes of their behavior, why don't we start with their home lives, psychological environment, and hereditary predisposition to violence. Let's replace rumor mongering with scientific investigation, reactionism with reason, and panic with compassion?

Goths don't kill people. People Kill People.....