Jewish World Review April 26, 1999 /10 Iyar, 5759
(JWR) ---- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com)
WHAT HAPPENED IN LITTLETON, COLO., was not a "senseless tragedy." That
term, which tends to get slapped on horrifying acts of violence like a Good
Housekeeping seal, actually subtracts from our understanding.
So do the counselors, therapists and presidents of the United States who
suggest that the problem is one of anger management. "We do know," President
Clinton advised the nation on the day of the shootings, "that we must do
more to reach out to our children and teach them to express their anger and
to resolve their conflicts with words, not weapons."
That approach may be appropriate for a kindergartner who throws a punch on
the playground. For 17- and 18-year-old devotees of Nostradamus and Marilyn
Manson who visit neo-Nazi Internet sites, we've moved a bit beyond anger
management. We are in the realm of deep corruption of the human soul.
Every time one of these stories erupts, we are shocked by the violence. But
within a few hours, the more shocking news dribbles out: just how much
deviance is overlooked these days by parents, school authorities, teachers
and society in general. According to The Washington Post, the Littleton gang
that called itself the Trench Coat Mafia wore black every day -- black
shirts, black pants, black boots and black trench coats -- even in class.
They also frequently wore dark sunglasses indoors. Why was that permitted?
The gang's fascination with Adolf Hitler was known, as was its interest in
guns. Some members of the gang boasted of their latest gun acquisitions and
even made a video of their gun collections in a school production class.
What grade did they receive for that, one wonders.
One young man who knew one of the murderers slightly told CNN that the
shooter (who giggled while killing) came from a "nice family." Let's pursue
that for a moment. This young man by all accounts was dressing very
strangely, listening to the music of Marilyn Manson and other Goth
"musicians," and creating a web site dripping with violence, threats and
The Internet web sites he was visiting can only be guessed at, but his
tastes were probably similar to those of Michael Carneal, one of the
previous school shooters, who was known to patronize violent and
Do nice parents permit their sons to indulge in these corrupting
entertainments? Can a parent who knows of such things and does nothing, or a
parent who doesn't take the time to know, be considered "nice"?
In the cold aftermath of the Littleton shootings, we will plunge once again
into a national discussion about what causes violence. The simple minded
will blame guns. Some, like the president, will suggest that the matter is
so deep a mystery that "we may never fully understand it."
And still others
will blame Hollywood and the entertainment industry.
Hollywood types will obfuscate by pointing out that entertainments from
"Oedipus Rex" to "Schindler's List" have contained violence. But there is a
world of difference between presenting violence as tragedy and presenting it
as pornography. The video games, movies and rock music peddled to kids now
are designed to destroy the inhibitions necessary for civil society -- all
for greed. One recent Hollywood film, "Basketball Diaries," depicted the
very thing we saw acted out in horrifying reality -- a black trench
coat-clad high schooler shooting his classmates in cold blood.
Why is it that a nation recently willing to spend billions to keep children
from inhaling cigarette smoke can shrug its collective shoulders when kids
ingest the likes of Marilyn Manson? The brain is a much more sensitive organ
than the lung. How can parents allow teenagers who are obviously showing
signs of unhappiness to go into their bedrooms, shut the door and dial up
every kind of cultural pollution imaginable on their computer screens? Is it
because that leaves the parents free to watch "NYPD Blue" in peace?
Sure, put locks on guns. Install metal detectors in schools. Send
counselors in to talk to the kids about their feelings. All of that is
harmless, and it may even help.
But until we confront and correct our moral
agnosticism, until parents demand an end to cultural pollution, we will not
see an end to the
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©1999, Creators Syndicate