Lessons from Columbine

Yesterday, April 20, marked the five-year anniversary of the Columbine massacre. I hadn't seen this column from Reason Online until they re-published their 1999 column today. It was written shortly after the slayings, and contains some of the best points of view I've read on the subject since the tragic day.

While the nation rightfully wept those killed in the attacks, this piece of information did not escape the bloody details: The two murderers were mentally and physically harrassed at school, repeatedly. It certainly goes without saying that the 'punishment' the so-called bullies received certainly didn't fit the 'crime', but it's psychologically telling what someone is capable of doing if pushed hard enough. (Even the Onion addressed this with a dark humor piece). Columbine raised a myriad of different opinions and points of view on the situation, with many bordering on the absurd, such as blaming Marilyn Manson and video games. Meanwhile, the tragedy has also been used as a backdrop for a fictional... er, I mean... "documentary" film blaming guns as the culprit. But if any shred of good came out of the massacre, it's that people - albeit for only a short while - began to discuss the present school system and the ugliness that routinely goes on behind its walls on a day-to-day basis, as well as the notion of a school as a holding pen for those who would be better served outside of its walls. After all, one of the reasons why college was infinitely better than high school was simply due to the fact that the vast majority of college students chose to be there.

Even though, fortunately, there haven't been a Columbine-style massacre in the news these past few years, the unnerving friction and harrassment are still widespread within the school walls. Evidently, little has been truly learned since that tragic day. The FCC has recently re-heated its witchhunt of "indecent" material on the airwaves following Janet Jackson's Breastgate, still feeding on the notion that potty humor and lewd entertainment are what's ailing America. Meanwhile, the current broken state of the school system still perpetuates a rigidness that will eventually fuel another Columbine.

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you were doing so well until

you were doing so well until the HardyLaw link.

For one, Moore has already responded to nearly the whole thing google "wacko attacko".

More importantly, Hardy is blatantly guilty of the same misdirection he accuses moore of.

Check it out:
Germany: Bowling says 381: 1995 figures put homicides at 1,476, about four times what Bowling claims, and gun homicides at 168, about half what it claims: it's either far too high or far too low. ( J?rg Altmeppen has emailed me a link to a German site putting the figure at Moore's 381, in 1998 -- I have to depend upon his translation here, as German is one of the languages in which I can only curse.).

See what he does here? He's as deceptive as Moore could ever be. He's accusing Moore of trying to mislead about the statistics which, given Moore's interests, would obviously mean exaggerating the US deaths and underestimating the deaths in other countries. So when Moore actually seems to overestimate the deaths in Germany, Hardy decides to (out of nowhere) use Germany's plain-old Homicide statistics as the first entry to fit the theme of criticism, because then it looks like Moore's still undershooting. Then he accuses Moore of diabolically trying to overestimate the deaths in Germany! crazy talk, man.

I'm afraid the only lessons

I'm afraid the only lessons that have really been learned from Columbine are the hard ones that the kids themselves have had to learn. The lesson of needing to be on guard, and watching out for themselves, and their own friends.

As recently as under a week ago -- another 'Columbine' was in the making:


It's a constant struggle to keep ahead of the meltdowns waiting to happen in the public schools. The public school district I live in has won an award for it's 'Bully Prevention' program, and I'm telling you, it's just a joke. Something that the administration cooked up so they could say 'look what we did'!

If parents and teachers would truly put children first, like they claim to -- the next inevitable Columbine might actually be prevented.

Well Michi, while I am in

Well Michi, while I am in sympathy with you, I doubt that "parents and teachers just need to be better" is the solution. There are all sorts of structural and institutional problems that need tyo be corrected. I think handling the inter-school heirachies first, as Doug seems to advocate is a major step. That's a significant feature.

Matt, I suppose I shouldn't

I suppose I shouldn't have singled out just parents and teachers -- and I certainly didn't mean to have putting children first equated with just the 'need to be better.'

I'm not sure who you think will take on the inter-school heirarchies if not the parents, and would-be parents in each community. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting on a politician to tackle it. My own attempts at dealing with the public school heirarchies are at a stand-still, as I've never encountered such pro-union, anti anything else in all my days.

One of the most horrific

One of the most horrific films I've ever seen is Welcome to the Dollhouse. There are no zombies, aliens, or murderers. Its just about the utter horridness of being in 7th grade and unpopular. It was horrific because it was real, and it happens continually...