The US has always been mildly schizoid. Now post-Littleton, it seems to have gone completely insane. As the aftershocks continue to rumble through the news, school system and government, everyone is looking for easy answers. After all, American children couldn't possibly do "this kind of thing" without some external stimulus... there seems a general belief that there should be somebody to sue, somebody to blame, something particularly wrong in society, that can be fixed by waving a legal wand or reverting to prayer or "family values" the new politically correct term for blatant prejudice. And as millions of Americans search for things to blame, they seem to be finding answers. New, different and "dangerous stuff". Things like trench coats, shaved heads, Manson's music, the Internet, Nuke'em and other games that most adults have hardly heard of, let alone tried. Of course some ancient fears also are mixed in. Anarchists, atheists, socialists, uncontrolled people having access to guns also seem to terrify them. Their minds are so stodgy, based on a lifetime of being fed predigested pap, that they have forgotten that when they were children it was their clothing, music and interests that freaked their parents out. Or maybe they didn't? Maybe all the old farts making noises right now were all athletes? They have certainly missed the point that this kind of intolerant, stupid behavior is what seems to have been a major factor in triggering Littleton.
Time Magazine reported that Columbine school athletes incessantly picked on the geekier students and called them names. "Dirtbag" and "faggot," seem to have been their unimaginative favorites. It went beyond words (although words can hurt) to actual violence, where geek students became the target for rocks and bottles thrown at them from moving cars. Teachers reportedly backed up the abuse by blaming the social outcasts for things they hadn't done, while favoring the more mainstream kids. Looking for an alternative, the outcasts sought solutions as diametrically opposed to their oppressors as possible. They tried to adopt Nazism and atheism without, it seems, understanding either very well. Online interaction didn't push the Littleton shooters into mass murder and suicide. "We want to be different," one of them wrote in a diary entry. "We want to be strange and we don't want jocks or other people putting us down." Then they gave up. And in giving up, gave us Littleton.
Littleton was messy. So messy in glorious Technicolor that the American
media has put the 250,000 dead in Yugoslavia onto the back pages, while
wringing the last ounce of schmaltz they can from the Littleton tragedy -
right on the front page. Of course the number of kids killed on the highways
of America the same day, exceeded the number killed in Littleton. But those
who were just "road kill" succumbed quietly to an "all American activity"
that of driving very badly. The "lucky few" who achieved martyrdom in
Littleton, achieved the kind of fame that it is difficult to acquire in any
other way. Already stories about how some were killed "while praying", or
"confessing Jesus" are doing the rounds, sanctifying the little bastards who
were guilty at least of swallowing their parents attitudes and promoting hatred and diversity in their communities. At least one nasty factor leading to this insane violence was the intolerance many had toward non-conformists that is so central to the American lifestyle today. This coupled with the insanity of a society of informants and control freaks that does not permit individuality or rebellion to happen in a small way; escalated their protest into a bloody rampage. A day of excessive retribution followed. It was the revolt of the peasants, the rush to the barricades, the storming of the winter palace in the October Revolution, and all those other tragic overreactions when the underdog finally had his day and lurched from being the oppressed to being the oppressor. These troubled children, knowing that their victory was temporary and that no matter what they did they would be ground up by the system, tried to fight back. They didn't do it very well. It seems apparent that they had decided that they could not, or did not wish to survive their revolution, and made their stand knowing that. So there were no restrictions on their activities. Why should there be? In a society that believes in excess, believes in violence, believes that "three times and you are out" makes sense; a society which has ten times more of its population in jail than civilized nations feel the need of, and has an ongoing "war on drugs" which doesn't seem to do much to drugs, but appears to leave casualties strewn across society with abandon; it can be argued that these "killer kids" responded sanely, sensibly and rationally.
Rather than attempting to find out why these children were angry and unhappy
to the extent where they were looking to kill others, and hoped to die in a
blaze of glory, people are trying to figure out how they got their guns,
where they got their ideas and giving the athletes and "Christian martyrs"
an authoritarian stamp of approval. The only way to describe this frenzy of
avoidance behavior as people ask "Why?" and answer "How" is that real
answers to the "Why" question would lead uncomfortably close to home. The
Internet is full of tales of the post-Littleton modern day witch-hunt
against kids who wear black, use the Internet, play video games or don't go
"Rah! Rah!" when their buttons are pushed. Kids throughout the US are being
victimized, not just by fellow students, but also by parents and teachers. In the American police state of the mind, where the tyranny of the masses has become a tyranny of the "normal", being different isn't just grounds for being made unhappy, it may well be dangerous as well. Schools throughout the US are calling in psychologists - to "analyze" or "profile" children perceived to be different. Geeks. Atheists. Punks. All are being investigated. Do the "Normality-Nazi's" fondly imagine they will discover a tool that will convert angry thinking children back into a part of the mob? The geeks are talking to each other, forming "support groups". Noting the blaze of glory surrounding Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Noting that nothing has changed, that the message from Littleton, fucked up though the delivery might have been, is completely submerged in the orgy of finger pointing sweeping the country. And the people at whom fingers are being pointed are noticing. In one Internet forum, a video game player wrote,
"People were actually talking to me like I could come in and kill them. It
wasn't like they were really afraid of me-- they just seemed to think it was OK to hate me even more. ... This is a whole new level of exclusion." If mainstream America doesn't wake up, Littleton will be repeated and repeated until people learn from history. Or perhaps, rather than learning from history, until American society implodes from the sheer mass of victims that they have created.
Last week, Suzanne Schraderthe, the school superintendent for Portsmouth,
New Hampshire, put the blame for the Littleton massacre on the 20-year-old
gothic music genre, and formally banned Goth fashion from area schools.
Goodbye, freedom of expression. Other styles of dress, and kids with other
musical tastes, are unaffected by the bigoted prohibition. In California, a
13-year-old girl at Balboa Middle School was suspended after "admitting"
that she could understand how, if pushed hard enough, the Littleton shooters
might snap. Goodbye, freedom of thought. Another 13-year-old is facing
expulsion for saying she had an enemies list. Goodbye, sanity. I have heard
of schools being shut for days after people said "Don't forget Littleton, it
could happen her too." In a recent Gallup poll, 82 percent of those surveyed
said the Internet deserved at least some of the blame for the Littleton
shootings. Governmental authority figures are aching to respond. Deputy U.S.
Attorney General Eric Holder told CBS that it was time to impose "reasonable
restrictions ... on how people interact on the Internet" -- a solution every
bit as sensible as banning black clothing. Goodbye freedom of association
and speech. In a small town in Iowa, a five-year-old child was sent home
with a police officer and a social worker. They wanted to see the child's
environment and question his parents when the child said that he would
"bring a gun to school and shoot you all!" It seemed that no warrant was
necessary - the implication was that if the police officer and social worker could not come in, pry around the house and get the answers they wanted, that the social workers would bring the entire mechanics of the state down onto the parents’ heads.... Of course they let them in. Of course they answered all the questions. Of course they let them "look around." And of course, this is the kind of tyranny of the state that the bill of rights was intended to prevent. Goodbye, right to privacy. Goodbye, right to due process and freedom from government intrusion. Goodbye, America.
Vilifying geeks may be a new phenomena, but the demonization of a minority by the mainstream is an ancient response to difficult problems. Not a useful response. But an ancient one. Almost as ancient as racial and religious prejudice perhaps. Are there any solutions? Perhaps. I believe there are. But it will take an awful turnaround in American attitudes, outlooks and actions to make it happen. Maybe that was what Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were trying to say. People need to be valued for who they are, no matter how they dress; or what kind of music they listen to; or even which gods believe in – or fail to believe in. I suspect that this may indeed have been their message. And it may well be that they realized how much of a shock it would take for society to realize this. And tried to provide it. The fact that this view has not been expressed anywhere in the American press that I have read, indicates that if that was their cause, they died in vain. Of course, that makes their “victims” die in vain as well. Which completely explains why Americans are at a loss to explain this entire “senseless tragedy.”
DasHermit <Who thinks that Harris and Klebold understood why Socrates chose hemlock over exile>