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why is it that.....

Posted by gibby3000 (My Page) on
Thu, Apr 19, 07 at 17:35

.....kids that are picked on now grow up to shoot people. The press is of course reporting that the Virginia Tech shooter was picked on as a younger kid. That never happened when I was a kid and it's not like kids weren't being picked on back then. And it's not that you just didn't hear about it - if kids were shooting people you would have heard about it.

I find myself continually preoccupied with these kinds of questions every time there is one of these shootings.
It seems like our society is in decline. It's like we're reverting back to the "wild west" days. You don't like something - can't cope - you shoot people.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: why is it that.....

Don't over-think it. He was a certifiable completely bat-crap-crazy person. That's all.


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RE: why is it that.....

Unfortunately killings at schools aren't a new thing. The earliest school massacre took place in the 1700's and the worst in the early 1900's. We just have better media now a days, and faster weapons. It's a sad change in many ways.


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RE: why is it that.....

You folks may want to join us over at the Hot Topics forum. There are several threads running over there right now about the shootings and associated topics.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hot Topics


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RE: why is it that.....

gibby, you're not over thinking it. In fact, you're not the only person asking this question. People from from many corners (psychologists, sociologists, clergy, media studies experts and parent awareness groups, to name a few) have been increasingly looking at what seems to be a phenomenon/trend of the past couple of decades. From my research (I've done quite a bit for both professional and personal reasons), it would appear that the answer you get depends on whom you ask: for example, some would point to increasing numbers of attachment disorders in children (usually resulting from having a primary caregiver/parent that doesn't adequately meet a child's emotional needs - there can be a variety of reasons for this) that lead to abberent or dysfunctional adult behaviors; some would point to increasingly realistic and violent video games that allow players to be "first person shooters" and reward players for killing (remember Harris & Kleibold playing "Doom?"); some would point to an overall trend in TV and movies to depict increasingly graphic and violent images and behaviors - often without showing any negative consequences for such behaviors - that is leading children and youth to become both desensitized to images of violence and more aggressive in their own behaviors; some would point to increasing social isolation and a breakdown of community and decreasing compassion for others in general; some would point to increased expectations and stressors placed on children at younger ages by their parents that can lead to clinical depression and explosive anger issues. And there are other theories out there, too.

These all make good sense to me, but I have to wonder whether the phenomenon we're seeing develop as years progress is one of those things that you can't simply blame on one thing - I have to wonder whether it may not be a cumulative effect of many of these factors working together - perhaps the agar in the petri dish, as it were, is just right to grow this kind of violence in certain kids. That makes it all the more tricky to deal with, unfortunately.

If you'd like some resources in the subject of media violence, violence in youth, or social trends of aggression, I'd be happy to give you a couple.


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RE: why is it that.....

I remember hearing about it when I was a kid. I think though that since Columbine, it has been glamourized in a way causing copycat shootings. I don't think that this guy's video to NBC should have been televised because that is exactly what it does.

When I was a kid there was a massacre at a McDonalds, when a guy came in and shot all the customers including a bunch of little kids. This is nothing new. Sad, but true.

I remember having lockdown drills when I was a kid as well. I'm 37.


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RE: why is it that.....

And we even played with guns when I was little - holsters, pistols, cowboy boots, etc. - we frequently had shootouts like Matt Dillon/Gunsmoke. Maybe now days people are more disconnected from other living human beings in a face to face kind of way - computer games, email, text/IM, etc. And many people do seem to be caught up in all kinds of stuff that is not related to intangible, human kinds of values. All about me - my stuff - my way - what I want - what's best for me - etc. Perhaps you lose perspective - it's crazy. Igloochic - you make my point exactly. There were shootings in the past when perhaps we were "less civilized". It seems we're becoming so again.


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RE: why is it that.....

There are so many good things about the changes in the world though that I for one, wouldn't want to go backwards. My son would be dead many times over if we went back to the "old" ways. But as we progress, we do change, and if we don't manage that change, problems grow. I'd love to start a great argument about gun control :p but I don't have the time or the patience today!

(But tell me...why does a 17 year old need an ozzie with armor piercing bullets???) :o) Ok I said I wouldn't start it!!! ::running away::


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RE: why is it that.....

We as a society devalue human life every day in our kids lives. In the music they listen to, in the television shows they watch, in the video games they play, and with some, in the values that are instilled into them (or not). Human life is worthless if it gets in your way. And then we sit back and say why.

Sorry about getting up on the soap box, but you asked. :-)


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RE: why is it that.....

I think that you have to add into the mix the fact that the internet allows sick people to hook up with other sick people and provides a sort of network of encouragement. It can give the person a strange sense of community and a source of information that wasn't so available in the past. Additionally, they know that the media coverage these days provides them instant fame/notoriety and that they will become a sort of warped celebrity whose moves, writings, etc will be intensely studied (and even admired by some) for years to come.

I once took a class called Modern Social Problems. We learned about a study done with rats that showed what happened to their community as the numbers steadily increased, and it was uncomfortably similar to what happens with humans. The rats got increasingly violent, vicious, and disenfranchised, but the truly scary part was that there was a "point of no return," when the population destroyed itself even when the restrictive conditions were removed. They had gotten to a point of not knowing anything different--violence had become the norm and they'd lost all sense of community, which destroyed them in the end.


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RE: why is it that.....

Deja vu.


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RE: why is it that.....

Perhaps the fact that many of these kids have been "picked on" doesn't mean that CAUSED their violent behavior, rather it was a correlated. Hmm, that wasn't clear. I'll try this: picking on someone doesn't cause them to kill. But some kids that get picked on get picked on because they exhibit behavior (antisocial, etc.) that is actually a "warning sign" that they have that potentially violent type of personality. It is a correlation, not a cause.

That said, I have thought for years that schools should take a zero tolerance attitude towards bullying, much the way they do to weapons in school, hate speech, etc.


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RE: why is it that.....

In a quick glance, I don't see that anyone has mentioned gun control. Is that a "bad phrase" around here? This mixed-up and very ill boy easily and legally obtained the guns that created the carnage. Period.


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RE: why is it that.....

And legally speaking shouldn't have been able to. One of the things the background check is supposed to pick up is any history of mental illness. Not only did this kid have a history, but it was even found by a court, so it was a matter of public record that in 2005 he was found to be an imminent danger to himself and others. But because he was allowed to go for treatment on a voluntary basis, it didn't get put on his record. Go figure.


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RE: why is it that.....

That's the law in Virginia (only involuntary admittance counts). Virginia has more lenient gun laws than many other states. Bill and I live in a state with extremely lenient gun laws - Maine. According to the Brady Campaign, Maine has more lenient laws than Virginia. For a strict state, take a look at Mass. (the state everyone loves to hate).

I actually had someone tell me that the issue is that MORE people don't carry guns. "If the professors had been armed this wouldn't have happened."

Here is a link that might be useful: State Gun Laws


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RE: why is it that.....

The worst of it is if you went over to hot topics and read the threads that started that day, I said basically the same thing out of frustration. I WILL still say this though. Apparently, there was a case last year where a student had a legal permit to carry concealed weapons, and got suspended because he was armed on campus. The state congress tried to change the laws to allow permit holders to carry on campus, and VT lobbied hard, and succeeded in striking it down. That being the case, I STILL say that if they're going to make sure these kids are defenseless, that defense should be provided FOR them, as well as the faculty. I would NOT be opposed to putting strategically placed armed guards throughout the campus, and not just on THIS campus.

If we're going to make our kids vulnerable, we need to protect them.


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Post Script

That's okay-- you wanna REALLY get violently ill and mad as a wet hen? Someone post the following link over in the other forum. If this doesn't piss you right off, nothing will:

Here is a link that might be useful: Protesting the Virginia Tech Funerals


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RE: why is it that.....

The worst thing about the ridiculously "homage-like" coverage the media is giving the murderer is that somewhere out there, there is another disenfranchised kid who is learning just how he, too, may create carnage and make the world stop for him...about how he can achieve instant fame and public sympathy, both now and each year upon the anniversary of the slaughter.
Sigh.


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RE: why is it that.....

Bill,
My problem with saying the solution to the wrong people having guns is to allow more people to have guns is that it puts the burden of protection on people who may not want this burden. I really can't imagine too many of my college professors packing heat. And they shouldn't have to. The state/police/towns should prevent the mentally ill, criminal, etc., from having guns. But of course, they can't do that unless legislators step up and risk eternal damnation by the NRA for supporting ANY gun control.

Part of the reason I gave up my concealed weapon permit was that the company I work for does not allow guns in the workplace, even if you are licensed. There are no metal detectors, so they'd never catch me. But I am not a rule breaker.

I don't think colleges should allow students to carry weapons other than pepper spray. There is a far greater chance that it will be used accidentally, drunkenly, or in a "domestic" situation than it being used to protect against a mass murderer. I would not want to go to school with a bunch of armed frat boys.


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RE: why is it that.....

But of course, they can't do that unless legislators step up and risk eternal damnation by the NRA for supporting ANY gun control.

Sue, in this case, that's misinformation. Even the NRA sees the need to keep the mentally ill from getting ahold of weapons, and has stated so, and believe me when I tell you, I'm no proponent of the NRA. I think they're just as off the wall as the Brady Center, or HCI, or whatever Sarah Brady calls her group these days.

As for your assertion that students shouldn't be allowed to carry firearms, although I could get into a whole discussion about that, as well, Lets give you the benefit of the doubt on this one. Granted. The kids shouldn't have guns. But now that they're vulnerable to attack, the college should then step up and make sure they're protected. I don't care how they do it. Just do it. End of story.


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RE: why is it that.....

Sue, I agree with you. It is a vicious and dangerous cycle to suggest that everyone and their brother load up on firearms to protect themselves. I absolutely see no logic at all in it, assuming that lots of people, especially drunk kids, do not always make the best decisions. And yup, you bet the NRA has LOTS of power.


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RE: why is it that.....

To go along with my "soapbox" post, my sister sent me this YouTube video this morning, and well, lets just say you can tell we're brother and sister.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Day They Kicked God out of Schools


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RE: why is it that.....

In his book, "Bullying: A Spiritual Crisis," Ronald Hecker Cram observes that, at its core, bullying is about a distorted, desperate cry for relationship. Even though the actions of bullies toward others are cruel and power-based, they at least engage another person (albeit in a very twisted form). As I hear about how isolated the boy at Va. Tech was - even from early school grades - I have to wonder whether this form of "ultimate bullying" was a very desperate (and twisted) and painful cry from someone who for years longed to be in relationship with others but - for reasons we don't know - never learned the tools about how to do that in healthy ways. I wonder how things for him might have been different if - instead of avoiding him or whispering about his differences (as I understand many did from even an early age) - kids at his school had reached out to include him or teachers had worked to create environments where "different" kids could feel welcome and accepted. I don't know - maybe they did - but I do wonder...


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RE: why is it that.....

I can't help but feel that some kids are "bullied" because they reject others rather than vice versa. From what I've read about many of these sociopathic individuals, it was marked from the very beginning that they did not respond to others and many appeared to shun people, even family, before they themselves were shunned. According to the news reports that quote his aunt, Cho was "cold" with everyone, even as a baby. Perhaps there is something missing inside them that does not allow them to understand how to have relationships? I don't know--just a possibility.


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hmmm

OMG, Bill, that was such a load of crap :)

Yes, if only Cho had been made to pray at school, had been spanked regularly by his parents, and had not received an unlimited supply of condoms this tragedy would never have happened. If there were any girls committing these acts, no doubt it would have to do with them having had abortions.

I get so tired of Christians pretending that they are the only ones who are good people. I know you'll say that's not your meaning, but that's exactly what that silly blurb is saying. "We're the only ones with values and without full compliance with our dogma, the world will fall apart. Don't blame us when tragedy strikes." I admire those who are dedicated to their religion and who do their best to be good people and work to better the world. I just don't believe that forcing everyone to one point of view is making the world a better place, and that is precisely what that video clip is suggesting.


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RE: why is it that.....

seekingadvice (I like that name - that's me too!) -
I think that's a great point! There are some that would say that that kind of sociopathy is chemical/neurological, and others that would say that it can stem from a lack of sufficient attachment as an infant. Either way, it doesn't seem to me that we as a society are very well equipped to deal with sociopaths among is - whether they be adults or children. And I also wonder how some of our media trends might be "stirring the pots" of some who are already predisposed toward sociopathy toward violence...


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RE: why is it that.....

seeking-- That's your opinion. I disagree.


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RE: why is it that.....

The thing about gun control and crazies is that they'll *find* a way to obtain weaponry. Maybe not as easily, but they will.

Criminals don't obey the laws.


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RE: why is it that.....

For what it's worth....here's an article that came out about an hour ago...

MASS SHOOTINGS MORE COMMON SINCE1960s
By MATT CRENSON, AP National Writer 45 minutes ago
Mass public shootings have become such a part of American life in recent decades that the most dramatic of them can be evoked from the nation's collective memory in a word or two: Luby's. Jonesboro. Columbine.

And now, Virginia Tech.

Since Aug. 1, 1966, when Charles Whitman climbed a 27-story tower on the University of Texas campus and started picking people off, at least 100 Americans have gone on shooting sprees.

And all through those years, the same questions have been asked: What is it about modern-day America that provokes such random violence? Is it the decline of traditional morals? The depiction of violence in entertainment? The ready availability of lethal firepower?

Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox blames guns, at least in part. He notes that seven of the eight deadliest mass public shootings have occurred in the past 25 years.

"I know that there were high-powered guns before," he said. "But this weaponry is just so much more pervasive than it was."

Australia had a spate of mass public shooting in the 1980s and '90s, culminating in 1996, when Martin Bryant opened fire at the Port Arthur Historical Site in Tasmania with an AR-15 assault rifle, killing 35 people.

Within two weeks the government had enacted strict gun control laws that included a ban on semiautomatic rifles. There has not been a mass shooting in Australia since.

Yet Grant Duwe, a criminologist with the Minnesota State Department of Corrections, said the availability of guns was not a factor in his exhaustive statistical study of mass murder during the 20th century.

Duwe found that the prevalence of mass murders, defined as the killing of four or more people in a 24-hour period, tends to mirror that of homicide generally. The increase in mass killings during the 1960s was accompanied by a doubling in the overall murder rate after the relatively peaceful 1940s and '50s.

In fact, Duwe found that mass murder was just as common during the 1920s and early 1930s as it is today. The difference is that then, mass murderers tended to be failed farmers who killed their families because they could no longer provide for them, then killed themselves. Their crimes embodied the despair and hopelessness of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, the sense that they and their families would be better off in the hereafter than in the here and now.

On Dec. 29, 1929, a 56-year-old tenant farmer from Vernon, Texas, named J.H. Haggard shot his five children, aged 6 to 18, in their beds as they slept. Then he killed himself. He left a note that said only, "All died. I had ruther be ded. Look in zellar."

Despondent men still kill their families today. But public shooters like Virginia Tech's Seung-Hui Cho are different. They are angrier and tend to blame society for their failures, sometimes singling out members of particular ethnic or socio-economic groups.

"It's society's fault ... Society disgusts me," Kimveer Gill wrote in his blog the day before he shot six people to death and injured 19 in Montreal last year.

In the videos and essays he left behind, Cho ranted about privileged students and their debauched behavior.

He also mentioned the Columbine killings, referring to Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris as "martyrs." Imitation undoubtedly plays a role in mass shootings as well, said Daniel A. Cohen, a historian at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

"Certain types of crimes gain cultural resonance in certain periods," Cohen said.

So many post office employees gunned down their co-workers during the 1980s and early '90s that they spawned a neologism. To "go postal," according to the Webster's New World College Dictionary, is "to become deranged or go berserk."

The most recent postal shooting was in January 2006 when Jennifer San Marco, a former employee who had been fired a few years earlier because of her worsening mental state, walked into a letter sorting facility in Goleta, Calif., and killed six people with a handgun.

Criminologist Fox speculates that the increasing popularity of workplace killings, and public shootings generally, may be partly due to decreasing economic security and increasing inequality. America increasingly rewards its winners with a disproportionate share of wealth and adoration, while treating its losers to a heaping helping of public shame.

"We ridicule them. We vote them off the island. We laugh at them on `American Idol,'" Fox said.

But there has also been an erosion of community in America over the past half-century, and many scholars believe it has contributed to the rise in mass shootings.

"One would think that there's some new component to alienation or isolation," said Jeffrey S. Adler, a professor of history and criminology at the University of Florida.

People used to live in closer proximity to their families and be more involved with civic and religious institutions. They were less likely to move from one part of the country to another, finding themselves strangers in an unfamiliar environment.

Even so, the small-town America of yesteryear wasn't completely immune. On March 6, 1915, businessman Monroe Phillips, who had lived in Brunswick, Ga., for 12 years, killed six people and wounded 32 before being shot dead by a local attorney. Phillips' weapon: an automatic shotgun.

Remarkably, violence in today's media seems to have little to do with mass public shootings. Only a handful of them have ever cited violent video games or movies as inspiration for their crimes. Often they are so isolated and socially awkward that they are indifferent to popular culture.

Ultimately, it is impossible to attribute the rise in mass shootings to any single cause. The crimes only account for a tiny fraction of homicides.

And a significant fraction of those who commit them, including Cho, either kill themselves or are killed by police before they can be questioned by investigators.


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RE: why is it that.....

The thing about gun control and crazies is that they'll *find* a way to obtain weaponry. Maybe not as easily, but they will.

Criminals don't obey the laws.

reno fan, that's only part of it. One thing people don't realise is even if you take away the guns, someone who is bent on killing is going to kill. Even if, for some reason, they can't get ahold of a gun, they'll come up with something else, and for those who say "Well, atleast they won't kill as many people"-- I've got two names for you-- Timothy McVey, who never fired a shot and killed 168 people and injured another 850, and Jim Jones, who only fired ONE BULLET-- into his own head, and kiiled 909 people. Just between those two people, they killed more people than ALL the school shootings combined, AND THEN SOME!

If someone wants to kill, they're going to kill. Don't think getting rid of guns will stop, or even curb them.


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RE: why is it that.....

Halfdecaf - that was an interesting article. There were a couple things in there that made sense to me. First is my impression that our society has a declining sense of personal accountability. If one doesn't get what one wants, isn't "successful", etc. someone else is to blame. Granted going berserk and shooting people would be a very extreme manifestation of that. The other thing that I think is true is that there is less of a sense of community and caring for others in distress. There's more of an "all about me" mentality. Me having what I want - my family having what they want - etc. and if I don't have it, someone else is to blame.

Just my opinon of course....based on things I observe that may not represent a "random" sample of what's really going on.


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RE: why is it that.....

Hey Gibby - I think we're on a similar wavelength. In fact, you might enjoy (no wait, "enjoy" may not be exactly the right word...how about "find interesting") an article in this week's Time magazine - the essay on the last page. It's entitled, "It's All About Him," and talks about the common thread of narcissism in people who do this kind of thing...


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RE: why is it that.....

Bill, I hear ya. I'm in OKC, and know too well about that one. :(


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