] Mona Charen
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Jewish World Review May 3, 1999 /17 Iyar, 5759

Mona Charen

Mona Charen
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Lessons of Columbine High

(JWR) ---- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com)
RESPONDING TO THE TRAGEDY at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., authorities at first wondered whether there had been any warning signs of impending violence. Within a day or two, that question sounded more and more like a sick joke.

Sure, it is always easier to see things through what physicians call the "retrospectoscope." But come on, when two young men offer as many clues as Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris did, it is difficult to imagine how -- other than by proclaiming their intentions on a billboard or buying a full-page ad in The Denver Post -- they could have been clearer about their violent potential.

Harris threatened a schoolmate so convincingly that the boy's parents took their concerns to the police. They alerted the police to Harris' web site, which, according to The Washington Post, contained statements like the following: "I live in Denver and god dammit I would like to kill almost all of its residents. (Expletive) people ... My belief is that if I say something, it goes. I am the law, and if you don't like it, you die. If I don't like you or I don't like what you want me to do, you die. ... I'll just go to some downtown area in some big ass city and blow up and shoot everything I can. Feel no remorse, no sense of shame." The police took no action.

That was not the pair's last encounter with police. Harris and Klebold were convicted of burglarizing a car and sentenced to a "diversion" program.

Their probation officers (oblivious to the web site and morbid attire?) praised the two in a report.

Columbine students
At every opportunity, Harris and Klebold incorporated their macabre preoccupations and violent fantasies into their schoolwork. Together, they made a video for a government and economics class in which they portrayed themselves as gunmen methodically gunning down "jocks." The video featured a great deal of fake blood. No one could have known that the video was a virtual dress rehearsal for the real thing -- but nonetheless, shouldn't the principal have taken notice?

(A girl in the class said many of the videos were violent and sexual.)

In creative writing class, the boys penned extremely gory, violent tales laced with profanity. They saw Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers" numerous times, they played so-called "first person shooter" video games obsessively, they listened to violence-laden music by German rock bands, they shouted "Heil Hitler" when they bowled a strike and displayed an unwholesome interest in World War II. They loved Marilyn Manson and disdained those who believed in G-d.

Someone might have noticed.

They thought it couldn't happen in Littleton. Why? In just the past year, there have been fatal school shootings in five other states.

One of the reasons schools have responded so lamely to discipline problems in recent years is the American Civil Liberties Union, which is always ready to sue school districts for what it characterizes as infringements of students' rights. Within the past few months alone, the ACLU has sued a Missouri high school for attempting to ban the marching band from playing the pro-drug song "White Rabbit"; taken the Chicago public schools to court for supporting the Boy Scouts (because the Scouts require an oath to G-d); and harassed a Mississippi school district that has decided to require school uniforms.

The result of this litigation is to make school officials and teachers very skittish about imposing any limits on students. Parents who once supported teachers' discipline now more often resist it. And most adults today -- parents and teachers alike -- hate thinking of themselves as authority figures. Most are baby boomers who have never quite shed the self-image of youth. To impose authority is to be truly adult, and that, to judge by the car ads and television programs aimed at boomers, is anathema.

As Patricia Hersch argues passionately in her book about youngsters in Reston, Va., "A Tribe Apart," teenagers crave attention and guidance from their parents. They feel adrift. But it takes too much time and effort to give those things.

Parents instead give their teenagers freedom and "space," and think their job is done.


04/28/99: Kevorkian is stopped
04/26/99: "Senseless tragedy"?
04/22/99: Hey, hey, ... Bubba
04/19/99: Why we are in Kosovo
04/15/99: Hooray for the NYPD
04/09/99: How to do something about taxes
04/06/99:Can the private sector handle foster care?
03/31/99: The Flower Child goes to war
03/29/99: Foreign-policy meltdown
03/25/99: 'Just doin' it'
03/22/99: Return of pay equity?
03/16/99: St. Hillary
03/10/99: Rodney King in perspective
03/08/99: Monica's story: No morals
03/04/99: Not home but library alone:
3/02/99: Tuning our racial sensitivities
2/27/99: Cease-fire in war between sexes?
2/23/99: Where were the religious voices?
2/19/99: Depends what you mean by "acting"
2/17/99: As Minn., goes so goes the nation?
2/09/99: Prepare for post-impeachment spin
2/03/99: Teaching morality
2/01/99: What did he say?
1/26/99: The truth about the Peace Process
1/22/99: The vulgar decade
1/19/99: Was Jefferson libeled by DNA?
1/13/99: The backlash picks up speed
1/11/99: Who invented politics of personal destruction?
1/07/99: Shall we dance?
1/05/99: Try him!
12/30/98: The price of virtue
12/28/98: The gift of giving
12/22/98: Party of shame, party of shamelessness
12/18/98: Wag the country
12/16/98: Is this impeachment constitutional?
12/14/98: Republicans find courage
12/09/98: Nappy Hair and other racial slurs
12/07/98: Stranger in a strange land
12/02/98: Dangerous ground
11/30/98: Involuntary fatherhood?
11/24/98: Lies, damned lies, and sex lies
11/18/98: Another victory for cowardice
11/16/98: Separatism plus welfarism equals a dead end
11/10/98: Did conservatism lose campaign '98?
11/06/98: Democrat venality, Republican timidity
11/04/98: Are girls being shortchanged?
11/02/98: Believe the children?
10/28/98: What 'Measure 58' would do
10/26/98: The officers are bailing out
10/20/98: Using Matthew Shepard's murder
10/19/98: The school voucher that saved a family
10/14/98: Are powerful women different?
10/09/98: Can just sex be impeachable?
10/07/98: Repeal Miranda
10/02/98: Understanding the polls
10/01/98: What school texts teach about marriage
9/28/98: Fear of choice
9/23/98: A fork in the road: Bubba's fate and ours
9/18/98: Christianity and the Holocaust
9/16/98: The national dirty joke
9/11/98: Are we in crisis?
9/09/98: Does Burton's sin let Clinton off the hook?
9/07/98: Liar's Poker
9/01/98: One, two, three
8/28/98: Fat and folly
8/25/98: When homework is a dirty word
8/21/98: The unravelling
8/18/98: The wages of dishonesty
8/17/98: Sex, honor and the presidency
8/12/98: Pro-choice extremist
8/10/98: Switch illuminates biology's role
8/05/98: The presumption of innocence and the American way
8/03/98: An American hero
7/29/98: Lock up those who need psychiatric care
7/24/98: Making the military more like us
7/22/98: The 'Net sex hoax... and us
7/20/98: Disappointed by Cosbys
7/15/98: Feelings, not morality, rule
7/10/98: Guns as the solution?
7/8/98: Teacher preacher
7/6/98: The China behind the headlines
7/1/98: What is the First Amendment for?
6/26/98: The Republican city
6/24/98: Poison pen
6/22/98: Clinton: inventing his own reality?
6/16/98: Senator mom?
6/12/98: Wisconsin: a trail blazer?
6/9/98: These girls say no to sex, yes to excellence
6/5/98: Lewinsky's ex-lawyer would feel right at home as Springer guest
6/2/98: English? Si; Republican? No!
5/29/98: The truth about women and work
5/27/98: Romance in the '90s
5/25/98:Taxing smokers for fun and profit
5/19/98: China's friend in the White House
5/15/98: Look out feminists: here comes the true backlash
5/12/98: The war process?
5/8/98: Where's daddy?
5/5/98: The joys of boys
5/1/98: Republicans move on education reform
4/28/98: Reagan was right
4/24/98: The key to Pol Pot
4/21/98: The patriot's channel
4/19/98: Child-care day can't replace mom
4/15/98: Tax time
4/10/98: Armey states obvious, gets clobbered
4/7/98: A nation complacent?
4/1/98: Bill Clinton's African adventure
3/27/98: Understanding Arkansas
3/24/98: Jerry Springer's America
3/20/98: A small step for persecuted minorities
3/17/98: Skeletons in every closet?
3/13/98: Clinton's idea of a fine judge
3/10/98: Better than nothing?
3/6/98: Of fingernails and freedom
3/3/98: Read JWR! :0)
2/27/98: Dumb and Dumber
2/24/98: Reagan reduced poverty more than Clinton
2/20/98: Rally Round the United Nations?
2/17/98: In Denial
2/13/98: Reconsidering Theism
2/10/98: Waiting for the facts?
2/8/98: Cat got the GOP's tongue?
2/2/98: Does America care about immorality?
1/30/98: How to judge Clinton's denials
1/27/98: What If It's Just the Sex?
1/23/98: Bill Clinton, Acting Guilty
1/20/98: Arafat and the Holocaust Museum
1/16/98: Child Care or Feminist Agenda?
1/13/98: What We Really Think of Abortion
1/9/98: The Dead Era of Budget Deficits Rises Again?
1/6/98: "Understandable" Murder and Child Custody
1/2/98: Majoring in Sex
12/30/97: The Spirit of Kwanzaa
12/26/97: Food fights (Games children play)
12/23/97: Does Clinton's race panel listen to facts?
12/19/97: Welcome to the Judgeocracy, where the law school elite overrules majority rule
12/16/97: Do America's Jews support Netanyahu?

©1999, Creators Syndicate