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Voices From The Hellmouth

JonKatz posted more than 14 years ago | from the Geek-Profiling dept.

News 1228

In the days after the Littleton, Colorado massacre, the country went on a panicked hunt the oddballs in High School, a profoundly ignorant and unthinking response to a tragedy that left geeks, nerds, non-conformists and the alienated in an even worse situation than before. Stories all over the country embarked on witchunts that amounted to little more than Geek Profiling. All weekend, after Friday's column here, these voiceless kids -- invisible in media and on TV talk shows and powerless in their own schools -- have been e-mailing me with stories of what has happened to them in the past few days. Here are some of those stories in their own words, with gratitude and admiration for their courage in sending them. The big story out of Littleton isn't about violence on the Internet, or whether or not video games are turning out kids into killers. It's about the fact that for some of the best, brightest and most interesting kids, high school is a nightmare of exclusion, cruelty, warped values and anger.

The big story never seemed to quite make it to the front pages or the TV talk shows. It wasn't whether the Net is a place for hate-mongers and bomb-makers, or whether video games are turning your kids into killers. It was the spotlight the Littleton, Colorado killings has put on the fact that for so many individualistic, intelligent, and vulnerable kids, high school is a Hellmouth of exclusion, cruelty, loneliness, inverted values and rage.

From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Todd Solondz's "Welcome To The Dollhouse," and a string of comically-bitter teen movies from Hollywood, pop culture has been trying to get this message out for years. For many kids - often the best and brightest -- school is a nightmare.

People who are different are reviled as geeks, nerds, dorks. The lucky ones are excluded, the unfortunates are harassed, humiliated, sometimes assaulted literally as well as socially. Odd values - unthinking school spirit, proms, jocks - are exalted, while the best values - free thinking, non-conformity, curiousity - are ridiculed. Maybe the one positive legacy the Trenchcoat Mafia left was to ensure that this message got heard, by a society that seems desperate not to hear it.

Minutes after the "Kids That Kill" column was posted on Slashdot Friday, and all through the weekend, I got a steady stream of e-mail from middle and high school kids all over the country -- especially from self-described oddballs. They were in trouble, or saw themselves that way to one degree or another in the hysteria sweeping the country after the shootings in Colorado.

Many of these kids saw themselves as targets of a new hunt for oddballs -- suspects in a bizarre, systematic search for the strange and the alienated. Suddenly, in this tyranny of the normal, to be different wasn't just to feel unhappy, it was to be dangerous.

Schools all over the country openly embraced Geek Profiling. One group calling itself the National School Safety Center issued a checklist of "dangerous signs" to watch for in kids: it included mood swings, a fondness for violent TV or video games, cursing, depression, anti-social behavior and attitudes. (I don't know about you, but I bat a thousand).

The panic was fueled by a ceaseless bombardment of powerful, televised images of mourning and grief in Colorado, images that stir the emotions and demand some sort of response, even when it isn't clear what the problem is.

The reliably blockheaded media response didn't help either. "Sixty Minutes" devoted a whole hour to a broadcast on screen violence and its impact on the young, heavily promoted by this tease: "Are video games turning your kids into killers?" The already embattled loners were besieged.

"This is not a rational world. Can anybody help?" asked Jamie, head of an intense Dungeons and Dragons club in Minnesota, whose private school guidance counselor gave him a choice: give up the game or face counseling, possibly suspension. Suzanne Angelica (her online handle) was told to go home and leave her black, ankle-length raincoat there.

On the Web, kids did flock to talk to each other. On Star Wars and X-Files mailing lists and websites and on AOL chat rooms and ICQ message boards, teenagers traded countless countless stories of being harassed, beaten, ostracized and ridiculed by teachers, students and administrators for dressing and thinking differently from the mainstream. Many said they had some understanding of why the killers in Littleton went over the edge.

"We want to be different," wrote one of the Colorado killers in a diary found by the police. "We want to be strange and we don't want jocks or other people putting us down." The sentiment, if not the response to it, was echoed by kids all over the country. The Littleton killings have made their lives much worse.

"It was horrible, definitely," e-mailed Bandy from New York City. "I'm a Quake freak, I play it day and night. I'm really into it. I play Doom a lot too, though not so much anymore. I'm up till 3 a.m. every night. I really love it. But after Colorado, things got horrible. 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 okay to hate me even more? People asked me if I had guns at home. This is a whole new level of exclusion, another excuse for the preppies of the universe to put down and isolate people like me."

It wasn't just the popular who were suspicious of the odd and the alienated, though.

The e-mailed stories ranged from suspensions and expulsions for "anti-social behavior" to censorship of student publications to school and parental restrictions on computing, Web browsing, and especially gaming. There were unconfirmed reports that the sale of blocking software had skyrocketed. Everywhere, school administrators pandered and panicked, rushing to show they were highly sensitive to parents fears, even if they were oblivious to the needs and problems of many of their students.

In a New Jersey private school, a girl was expelled for showing classmates a pocket-knife. School administrators sent a letter home:

"In light of the recent tragedy in Littleton, Colorado, we all share a heightened sensitivity to potential threats to our children. I urge you to take this time to discuss with your children the importance of turning to adults when they have concerns about the behavior of others."

This solution was straight out of "1984." In fact, this was one of the things it's protagonist Winston was jailed for: refusing to report his friends for behavior that Big Brother deemed abnormal and disturbing.

Few of the weeks? media reports - in fact, none that I saw - pointed out that the FBI Uniform Crime reports, issued bi-annually, along with the Justice Departments reports (statistical abstracts on violence are available on the Department's website and in printed form) academic studies and some news reports have reporters for years now. Violence among the young is dropping across the country, even as computing, gaming, cable TV and other media use rises.

Unhappy, alienated, isolated kids are legion in schools, voiceless in media, education and politics. But theirs are the most important voices of all in understanding what happened and perhaps even how to keep it from happening again.

I referred some of my e-mailers to peacefire.org, a children's rights website, for help in dealing with blocking and filtering software. I sent others to freedomforum.org (the website Free!) for help with censorship and free speech issues, and to geek websites, especially some on ICQ.com where kids can talk freely.

I've chosen some e-mailers to partially reprint here. Although almost all of these correspondents were willing to be publicly identified - some demanded it - I'm only using their online names, since some of their stories would put them in peril from parents, peers or school administrators.


From Jay in the Southeast:

"I stood up in a social studies class -the teacher wanted a discussion -- and said I could never kill anyone or condone anyone who did kill anyone. But that I could, on some level, understand these kids in Colorado, the killers. Because day after day, slight after slight, exclusion after exclusion, you can learn how to hate, and that hatred grows and takes you over sometimes, especially when you come to see that you're hated only because you're smart and different, or sometimes even because you are online a lot, which is still so uncool to many kids?

After the class, I was called to the principal's office and told that I had to agree to undergo five sessions of counseling or be expelled from school, as I had expressed ?sympathy? with the killers in Colorado, and the school had to be able to explain itself if I ?acted out?. In other words, for speaking freely, and to cover their ass, I was not only branded a weird geek, but a potential killer. That will sure help deal with violence in America."


From Jason in Pennsylvania: "The hate just eats you up, like the molten metal moving up Keanu Reeve's arm in the ?The Matrix.? That's what I thought of when I saw it. You lose track of what is real and what isn't. The worst people are the happiest and do the best, the best and smartest people are the most miserable and picked upon. The cruelty is unimaginable. If Dan Rather wants to know why those guys killed those people in Littleton, Colorado, tell him for me that the kids who run the school probably drove them crazy, bit by bit?.That doesn't mean all those kids deserved to die. But a lot of kids in America know why it happened, even if the people running schools don't."


From Andrew in Alaska: "To be honest, I sympathized much more with the shooters than the shootees. I am them. They are me. This is not to say I will end the lives of my classmates in a hail of bullets, but that their former situation bears a striking resemblance to my own. For the most part, the media are clueless. They're never experienced social rejection, or chosen non-conformity'Also, I would like to postulate that the kind of measures taken by school administration have a direct effect on school violence. School is generally an oppressive place; the parallels to fascist society are tantalizing. Following a school shooting, a week or two-week crackdown ensues, where students? constitutional rights are violated with impunity, at a greater rate than previous."


From Anika78 in suburban Chicago:

"I was stopped at the door of my high school because I was wearing a trenchcoat. I don't game, but I'm a geekchick, and I'm on the Web a lot. (I love geek guys, and there aren't many of us.) I was given a choice - go home and ditch the coat, or go to the principal. I refused to go home. I have never been a member of any group or trenchcoat mob or any hate thing, online or any other, so why should they tell me what coat to wear?

Two security guards took me into an office, called the school nurse, who was a female, and they ordered me to take my coat off. The nurse asked me to undress (privately) while the guards outside the door went through every inch of my coat. I wouldn't undress, and she didn't make me (I think she felt creepy about the whole thing).

Then I was called into the principal's office and he asked me if I was a member of any hate group, or any online group, or if I had ever played Doom or Quake. He mentioned some other games, but I don't remember them. I'm not a gamer, though my boyfriends have been. I lost it then. I thought I was going to be brave and defiant, but I just fell apart. I cried and cried. I think I hated that worse than anything."


FromZBird in New Jersey:

"Yeah, I've had some fantasies about taking out some of these jerks who run the school, have parties, get on teams, are adored by teachers, have all these friends. Sure. They hate me. Day by day, it's like they take pieces out of you, like a torture, one at a time. My school has 1,500 kids. I could never make a sports team. I have never been to a party. I sit with my friends at our own corner of the cafeteria. If we tried to join the other kids, they'd throw up or leave. And by now, I'd rather die.

Sometimes, I do feel a lot of real pure rage. And I feel better when I go online. Sometimes I think the games keep me from shooting anybody, not the other way around. Cause I can get even there, and I'm pretty powerful there. But I'd never do it. Something much deeper was wrong with these kids in Colorado. To shoot all those people? Make bombs? You have to be sick, and the question they should be asking isn't what games do they play, but how come all these high-paid administrators, parents, teachers and so-called professional people, how come none of them noticed how wacked they were? I mean, in the news it said they had guns all over their houses! They were planning this for a year. Maybe the reporters ought to ask how come nobody noticed this, instead of writing all these stupid stories about video games?"


From ES in New York:

High school favors people with a certain look and attitude - the adolescent equivalent of Aryans. They are the chosen ones, and they want to get rid of anyone who doesn't look and think the way they do. One of the things which makes this so infuriating is that the system favors shallow people. Anyone who took the time to think about things would realize that things like the prom, school spirit and who won the football game are utterly insignificant in the larger scheme of things.

So anyone with depth of thought is almost automatically excluded from the main high school social structure. It's like some horribly twisted form of Social Darwinism.

I would never, ever do anything at all like what was done in Colorado. I can't understand how anyone could. But I do understand the hatred of high school life which, I guess, prompted it.


From Dan in Boise, Idaho:

"Be careful! I wrote an article for my school paper. The advisor suggested we write about ?our feelings? about Colorado. My feelings -what I wrote -- were that society is blaming the wrong things. You can't blame screwed-up kids or the Net. These people don't know what they were talking about. How bout blaming a system that takes smart or weird kids and drives them crazy? How about understanding why these kids did what they did, cause in some crazy way, I feel something for them. For their victims, too, but for them. I thought it was a different point-of-view, but important. I was making a point. I mean, I'm not going to the prom.

You know what? The article was killed, and I got sent home with a letter to my parents. It wasn't an official suspension, but I can't go back until Tuesday. And it was made pretty clear to me that if I made any noise about it, it would be a suspension or worse. So this is how they are trying to figure out what happened in Colorado, I guess. By blaming a sub-culture and not thinking about their own roles, about how fucked-up school is. Now, I think the whole thing was a set-up, cause a couple of other kids are being questioned too, about what they wrote. They pretend to want to have a 'dialogue' but kids should be warned that what they really want to know is who's dangerous to them."


From a Slashdot reader: "Your column Friday was okay, but you and a lot of the Slashdot readers don't get it. You don't have the guts to stand up and say these games are not only not evil, they are great. They are good. They are challenging and stimulating. They help millions of kids who have nowhere else to go, because the whole world is set up to take care of different kinds of kids, kids who fit in, who do what they're told, who are popular. I've made more friends online on Gamespot.com than I have in three years of high school. I think about my characters and my competitions and battles all day.

Nothing I've been taught in school interests me as much. And believe me, the gamers who (try to) kill me online all day are a lot closer to me than the kids I go to high school with. I'm in my own world, for sure, but it's my choice and it's a world I love. Without it, I wouldn't have one... Last week, my father told me he had cancelled my ISP because he had asked me not to game so much and I still was. And when he saw the Colorado thing online, he said, he told my Mom that he felt one of these kids could be me'I am a resourceful geek, and I was back online before he got to bed that night. But I have to go underground now.

My guidance counselor, who wouldn't know a computer game from Playboy Bunny poster, told me was Dad was being a good parent, and here was a chance for me to re-invent myself, be more popular, to ?mainstream.? This whole Colorado thing, it's given them an excuse to do more of what started this trouble in the first place - to make individuals and different people feel like even bigger freaks."


From Jip in New England:

"Dear Mr. Katz. I am 10. My parents took my computer away today, because of what they saw on television. They told me they just couldn't be around enough to make sure that I'm doing the right things on the Internet. My Mom and Dad told me they didn't want to be standing at my funeral some day because of things I was doing that they didn't know about. I am at my best friend's house, and am pretty bummed, because things are boring now. I hope I'll get it back."

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Crime dropping is not an excuse! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1914855)

Katz reports juvenile crime is down. While this is true, its still at historically high levels, and the violence associated with it is quite high. It may be down, but go back 10, 20, 30 or more years and how many of these school shootings do you have? Nearly zero compared to the carnage of the last 18 months.



Just another comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1914856)

My school experience from elementary to highschool was a kind of hellish nightmare. Sometimes people just hate the looks of you. I receieved alot of that hate for 12 years of my youth. I barely came away with any kind of sanity. Now I'm about to turn 22 years old and I'm still trying to clear up everything that was do to me. I don't think I ever really will.

Been there, done that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1914857)

I feel for the victims most of all, and tragic loss of human life is deplorable.

That said, when I was in high school (10 years ago), I was also one of the "outcasts". I laugh now because time is a sweet reward. I make over 100K a year right now while some of my former high school tormentors still work at Wendys.

Private schools are good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1914858)

I went to a Catholic high school; as a non-Catholic, it was a good place to learn.

And I think those nuns would have been a lot nicer if they'd have gotten layed once in a while...

Thanks, Jon. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1914859)

Your first post on the matter was waaay off base, but I commend you for reading the replies and getting it right the second time around. Now, bring it out to the mainstream media. We all knew this before here on Slashdot.


Don't let people tell you that the teasing is just "kids' stuff", either. Unpopular kids in school are often the helpless targets of truly sadistic and evil people and acts who make us feel like our lives are threatened. One friend had someone a full foot taller than he pick him up by the throat in front of an administrator with little consequence. Another encountered some schoolmates in a park at night, said hello to them by name, only to find himself attacked with a piece of pipe, have his arm broken and his bicycle stolen. The offenders got probation when he turned them in, and afterwards he daily felt his life was in danger coming to the same school with these kids. One of my worst tormentors during high school, who daily spit on us and threw rocks and chewing tobacco in an attempt to start a fight, is now in jail. A few months after I graduated, he and his brother decided it would be fun to go out with baseball bats and find some homeless people to beat up. All in a good, white upper-middle class town. This is the type of people that outcasts are forced to deal with every day of their lives for years, and we're surprised when they lash out in revenge?

It doesn't take much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1914860)

I have thought about taking out a few people in school many times, if not everyday. I'm out of high school now and I still think about it. I doubt I'd ever do it, but if any of you out there understand the rage you feel day in and day out, it's all it takes.

WHAT TO DO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1914861)

GEEKS EVERYWHERE NEED TO CONTACT THEIR LOCAL MEDIA PURVEYOR AND TELL THEIR STORY. MAKE THE VOICES OF THE OUTCAST HEARD! CONTACT LAWYERS AND SUE EVERY SONOFABITCH THAT SAYS A DAMAGING WORD AGAINST.

IT'S TIME FOR THE POLITICALLY CORRECT REVOLUTION TO INCLUDE GEEK!

VERTICALLY CHALLENGED PERSONS, COLOR DIVERSE PERSONS, SIZE-ENHANCED PERSONS HAVE ALL HAD THEIR DAY.

THIS MUST BE THE SOCIALLY DIVERSE REVOLUTION.

ORGANISE YOUR LOCAL GEEK YOUTH!

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1914862)

>I would be interested to hear from any UK posters whether this atmosphere has developed in schools there - it certainly didn't exist when I left school (12 years ago).

I don't know specifically about the UK, but I went to school in NZ and their educational environment/attitudes are in general close copies of their British versions. I guess all I can say is that the schools there were the _most_ stratified I've seen. In the US, the only officially sanctioned status marker is a letter on your jacket, and streaming/tracking is often eschewed as elitist. In some of the NZ schools I went to, the "colors" system (equivalent to US letters) was much more elaborate, streaming/tracking was much more pervasive. We had two levels of prefects - house and school, the latter almost equivalent to the masters in authority - and _any_ fifth-year/seventh-form could wield a certain degree of authority over lowly first-year/third-form "turds". In Jolly Olde England the elite schools used to go even further with the "fagging" system, not all vestiges of which have died out even now.

No, my friend, I'm sorry. UK schools are not immune to this disease. At least they give colors out for something besides athletics, though, and streaming isn't all bad.

i hated school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1914863)

I would like to offer a different perspective. I am a geek and have always been one. I've loved star trek, played games, and felt kinda out of place my whloe life. However, to most of the world in High School, I looked like the model kid. I played and excelled at various sports, was in honors classes, had a group of friends, was attractive, etc. But I always felt uneasy with most of the people around me. I guess what I'm trying to say is that looks can be deceiving on both sides.

Kneejerk response, anyone? This is just as bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1914864)

Don't be dense. Ostracism of bright/eccentric kids by stupid peers and stupid adults isn't solved by abolishing public schooling.

These aren't evils caused by the public school system, they're caused by stupid and intolerant people. Which I scarcely think is addressed by private schooling (I know plenty of stupid and intolerant people who came out of private school, they just happen to be rich.)

Better idea: policy that specifically enumerates increased rights for students.
And genuine investigation (and public education) of the psychological / sociological issues involved, instead of a lot of folk sociologist nonsense about trenchcoats or video game playing being causes of or cues to a potentially violent person.

Let's blame Al Gore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1914865)

...after all, he *did* invent the internet.

lessee... popular people pick on geeks...
geeks build technology... popular people rely
on technology... technology wages go up...

There is *some* retribution.




Crime dropping is not an excuse! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1914866)

Yup, you're right.
Seventy years ago they used dynamite, and killed over 40.

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/litt leton_bath.html

What I'd like to see is the statistical ratio of such violence as a percentage of the population.

Crime dropping is not an excuse! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1914867)

1. Sensational school shootings are picked because they're flashy; they're not necessarily any worse than any other murder (which doesn't happen to be as sensational and doesn't get extended nationwide coverage.)

2. Population is at historically high levels.
Of course the number of violent crimes is at a "historically high" level.

It should be noted that there are lots of preliterate hunting/gathering cultures which have murder rates far in excess of those in detroit.
And there's no reason to think that these are exceptional in any way. Murder will be with us forever.


Not the worst time for me (but close) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1914868)

Jon, and many of the others here, are right, high school sucked. Getting beaten up or called 'swot' [1] every day by idiots who didn't know the meaning of the word was bad....

But the very worst time was after university.
Seriously.
Perhaps I hit that 'teen angst' thing a few years later than most but to spend over a year unemployed after getting a damn good physics degree from one of the best universities in the country was the absolute bottom of the stinking pit for me. The message I got was clear, intelligence doesn't matter, you are not needed. Do as you are told and keep quiet and get thrown on the scrap heap at 21.

[1] Swot British English term .n+v From 'to sweat'. Person who studies a lot rather than have friends and a 'social life'. The act of studying a lot. Often applied to 'nerd' types etc etc you all understand what I mean. Most of you probably also realise that the ones get taunted like this are the ones who don't need to study, they are at the top of the class just because they are smart, and spend the rest of their time with computers/sci-fi novels/role-playing games/fill in the blanks

Sorry to be the AC for this, but I'm not posting my ID when I don't if people who 'know' me might pick up on the posting.

High School (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1914869)

Man, I had a great time in high school, you all must really really be lame.

You're right! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1914870)

Yea, I really feel sorry for the poor picked on geek boys. The bottom line is life is not fair and you have to deal with it. I was the only one back in 1980 that could program in my HS and nobody picked on me. Now I'm making about twice what my jock classmates make, so who's laughing now. These were poor little punks that didn't get enough guidance from their parents.

Where were the Parents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1914871)

*sarcasm*
Boo-hoo. These kids have it so tough. Being picked on all the time. Tears are landing on my keyboard as I type. Ok. I'm over it
now.
*/sarcasm*

It really pisses me off that Katz sends these idiot kids off to peacefire so they can learn how to get around Net Nanny or what ever. Doesn't everyone say to look to the parents. So a parent puts Net Nanny on their PC so they can have a little control over their kid's exposure to the net, and that is shot down because it infringes on the kid's right to free speech. Sheesh. You cannot have it both ways!

Where were the Parents (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1915232)

I find it amusing they everyone wnats to blame the internet, Marylin Manson, and geeks. But when you look at, these kids were obviously ignored by thier folks. C'mon, they police said they found the Bomb just lying around the house! My foilk would have been at least a little suspicous about that.

To hell with the public education system (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1915246)

...for this and countless other reasons.

And to hell with any smarmy politican that wants to save it, or entertain fantasies that it can be reformed. The whole notion is structurally flawed. Let's finally scrap it. Let's go completely to private schools.

For the underprivileged, there's parochial schools. Yes, I'm aware that catholic schools are really messed up places, but they're still not as bad as inner city public schools. Those borderline psychotic nuns are the lesser evil.

hang in there (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1915247)

To all these kids that feel this way, hang in
there and fight the good fight. To people like
us, high school was the worst experience of our
lives. But from there on out, it gets easier
to find your own cliche and fit in in your own way. Just don't give up because it does get
better. And remember, five years later you'll
probably be earning twice as much as the jocks while they're still living with their parents.

Games are the solution, not the problem (1)

Have Blue (616) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915277)

The media is so hypocritical. They run news shows on how somewhat violent games are destroying our children interspliced with advertisements for their outrageously violent "specials" on car crashes, riots, and bloodsports. "See these criminals smash cars and run down pedestrians while we stand by and videotape it!" Something else no one has really pointed out is that games actually have a *therapeutic*(sp?) effect on children. I began my addiction to gaming in its many violent forms in high school, when I was feeling exactly the pressures that drove the Trenchcoat Mafia over the edge. Virtual combat was an outlet, where I could work off rage without resorting to physical violence. I remember many times where I came perilously close to simply putting my fist through the wall, but I chose to attack pixels instead of things that feel pain. Perhaps if tried to encourage virtual violence instead of suppressing every form of emotional pressure relief fewer teenagers would go ballistic, to put it tritely.

Rings true to me (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915283)

Posted by narrowfellow:

I certainly didnt have it as bad as many kids, but I don't look back on my high school years fondly. I hope this is an issue that gets heard in the mainstream media. Forward the page link to Tom Brokaw!

Stupid Kids (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915284)

Posted by Amar Kinseth:

The Trenchcoat Mafia is about racism and I hope some jock beats the crap out of any kids who can relate to them.

I hated high school and am a standfast geek (and proud of it) but I bear no association to these vile children from Colorado.

What to do (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915285)

Posted by gerstenberger:

I am currently a 20 year old college sophmore and looking back at my high school years I remember feeling much the same has everyone has discribed.
I was probley one of three kids who knew what a bbs was and physical and emotional abuse was a regular part of my day.

So now comes along a couple of kids that were just like me who decide that they can't take anymore and they have the means to take their revange.

So who does society blame? First it was guns. A simple mechanical object whos purpose is to put holes in people. (personal i believe guns are a problem but not the central one)

Next we decided to blame TV, internet, etc.
Next we will jump to the parents.
Then to the school, then to some unknown auther of a book, then back to guns.

This is a cicle of blame and all it is is looking for an excape goat. We have to stop and look into the mirror. We must come together has a community
and look in the mirror.

We are the lucky ones. The ones that at least know there is a problem. I saw it when i was in school i see it now. But we are now on the defense we are under attack and are getting labeled has "trouble kids who are going to kill others" What a joke. Every one wants to give into their rage from time to time. But we must be stronger then that. We need to chalege society and open our eyes. We need to look past the names of geek, jock, prep, nerd and look at what is true. That is that we all are people. We all want to be happy, to love and be free. We can't build these wall that separat us from others. We need to destroy them before the cement hardens.

So my point. Be happy and proud of who you are. Stand up for yourself. But don't play the game, don't hate some one or look down on them becuase they aren't like you. Turn the other cheek. Rise above this school heirarchy bullshit. Don't buy into.

Dan in Boise,, contact your lawyer (1)

bluGill (862) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915340)

I was on my high school newspaper, so I know that the national (forget the name) high school newspaper socity takes the idea of administartors killing articals seriously! Get a lawyer now, don't bow to the pressure, remember you have better lawyers (through that orginization) than they do!

PS, if you go to a private school, this doesn't applie. Public schools cannot mess with student papers, courts have held that up many times.

This is the price of freedom! (1)

bluGill (862) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915341)

I've thought about the Colorado situation for a while, and concluded: This is the price we pay for freedom.

WE could prevent this situation. 1984 basicly. Radio transmaitters on everyone (surgicly implanted, non-removable), mandatory random searches, and so on. Yes, we could have prevented that situation, but the simple moves to prevent it that you hear suggested (more gun control as if those kids legally had the guns in the first place), banning video games (even though quake is sick, and anyone who likes it needs help) or so on won't help. Either it is all 1984, or nothing.

Personally I'll take my chances that I and my friends will survive today. We may not, but I prefer taking my chances with death then to know I will live in the other socity.

Just a thought (1)

Eccles (932) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915346)

I realize the following avoids fixing the root problem, but anyway...

If you really hate high school, but are a good student, see if there's a chance you can graduate early. A friend of mine skipped 11th grade by taking English in summer school. Just think, one less year of torture...

Violence is not the Answer (1)

Phil Gregory (1042) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915354)

I must confess that I am of mixed feelings about Jon's response to the killings. On one hand, I've had the experience of bieng an schoolyard outcast. I never really "fit in" with the mainstream crowd, and probably had about two regular friends through middle school. One of those friends actually had thoughts of committing suicide. He worked through it, and none of us walked through our school killing other students.

I think we managed because we were friends. We were all rather introverted people, and so we formed close friendships with each other. I think our parents had something to do with our survival, too. I know that my parents brought me up with a fairly good sense of morals, and they made sure that I knew that they were proud of me as I was. Knowing that there are people that accept you as you are helps a lot, I think.

On another hand, there are a lot of violent influences on people these days. We play first-person-shooters for fun. The military uses very similar programs to desensitize people to killing. Many of today's blockbuster movies feature violence and mayhem. The heroes generally must kill dozens of enemies (but it's ok because they're "bad guys", right?) and emerge victorious and lauded.

On the whole, I think it comes down to psychological well-being. Someone who has difficulty distinguishing between reality and fiction has severe problems to begin with. Whether they're a gamer, quake player, or apparently "normal" person, the cause of the problem is far more deep-rooted than just "He played Quake and it taught him to kill."

I don't think that there's an easy answer to either teen violence or schoolground ostracism. But we can let people know that it's OK to be different, and that there are non-violent avenues that may be taken.



--Phil

Conspiracy nut? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915360)

I knew kids that had been imprisoned when I was in 5th grade. Mind you, I grew up in a less sanitized neighborhood. Violence of this kind is nothing new. What these kids did was just a little bit more extreme than what a hood might have been doing geek by geek in a middle school or elementary school 20 years ago.

Partially agree.. (1)

Thomas Charron (1485) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915379)

I PARTIALLY agree.. I feel for what happened to them, but something went wrong in their heads. Don't tell me you never just felt like beating someone to a pulp becouse of how you where treated. But something in their heads just went, and they did the unthinkable for many of us. I feel for them in what led to this, but I also feel that they could just as well been jocks or cheerleaders. People are targeting the wrong things here.. How many stressed over achivers kill themselves? I'm betting more then go out and blow acouple people away, but you never hear about them. They also had 'something wrong' happen in their heads..

I'm sorry, but this kind of thing does happen (1)

Thomas Charron (1485) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915380)

EXACTLY what I've been trying to tell people.. Eventually, something snaps. And everyone suprised when it happens.. People snap every day, after being pushed beyond their limits.

Suddenly, one of them thought of a way to get back, and be remembered for a long time to come..

For a mind that's been pushed one to many times, this would probrably sound great..

It's sad, but it's true..

Why I'm laughing now. (1)

Sabalon (1684) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915388)

I feel for the people that sent in stories...it was my high school as well, and that was 10 years ago. Although I was on one sport team, I was still a joke because it was the fencing team, and not something "normal" like basketball or wrestling. I played Dungeons & Dragons, I knew a lot about computers, I read science-fiction and fantasy (for that matter, I read recreationally). I got good grades. In addition to all this, I was tall and not exactly the standard-looking hollywood high school student.

Well, 10 years later, I am married to a beautiful wife, have a sweet 9 week old daughter, and tons of respect from my co-workers and peers in my field because I still know what I am doing.

It really makes me wonder what the jocks and pretty-boys are doing now. My guess is they've moved from one make-believe world (high school) to another (marketting), still living in the past when they were cool in their own minds.

After reading the stories above about kids getting sent home for this and that, I can officially be "outraged as a parent" now. If my daughter ever comes home for something as stupid as above, I will be in the principal or superintendant office that afternoon.

To the "abnormal" high schoolers, take heart - you are the ones living a normal life, not a the life of someone cut from a mold. Hang in - it gets better when your brain matters more than what clothes you wear.

Wow (2)

nstrug (1741) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915391)

I agree - a really great article. As a non-American I had never given a second thought to the US school system until I started reading articles on it following the Littleton massacre. The system of cliques, prejudices and the social ostracism of those who do not conform is indeed sad to read about, especially as it occurs in a country that prides itself (rightly) on its classlessness.

I would be interested to hear from any UK posters whether this atmosphere has developed in schools there - it certainly didn't exist when I left school (12 years ago).

The only concillation one can give to those who have a hard time at school is that, although it may seem like the whole world now, as soon as you leave you'll realise how unimportant it all was and how pathetic those children who humilitated you really were. Small concillation, I know.

Nick

Manufactured Education (1)

Canis Lupus (1922) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915396)

I, too, was not a happy conformist in high school. I was rather depressed (and terribly bored) during most of my high school "sentence". College was better but I still did not quite fit in. I ended up graduating early from a school notorious for most people graduating late.

I have long believed that we live in a society where we a worked on like some raw materials. Think bout how often the terms "molded" and such are used in regard to education. This is probably ok for the status quo. But what about those of us who do not fit the mold? Conform or break seems to be the prevailing additude.

But this is the age of the geeks. After having served my time through out school, I am happily married to a wonderful engineer "babe", I am on the brink of financial success, and I live pretty much how I want.

I finally made the rather socking discovery that I was not socially maladjusted, it was just that I was trying to be part of a society to foreign to myself.

I am still of the conviction that the kids who did this were completely and unquestionalably wrong in their actions. But I cannot but think that high school is very difficult society to live in. One that I want no part of.

CL,
Littleton, CO

hang in there (1)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915398)

" ...five years later you'll probably be earning twice as much as the jocks while they're still living with their parents."

... and taxed to support them when they're on welfare. :-(

You're right! (0)

Derek Pomery (2028) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915403)

I feel rejected and oppressed by all the cool kids in this college. I believe I'll wander down to the commons and take them all out.

I have zero sympathy for the TCM.

I really don't see their "solution" to their problems as having ANY positive benefits.

Is it 1984? I'm not sure... (1)

InThane (2300) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915410)

Actually, 1984 was supposed to be an allegory for 1948, which was the year the book came out. It had a lot to do with the nationalist attitudes, "My Country, right or wrong" that were prevalent at that time.

The fact that a lot of it is still relevant is what scares me...

Check out my page... (1)

Mike Bedy (2526) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915416)

I am now a grad student, but I can identify with the letters here. Check out the following page for the thoughs I wrote up a couple days ago: Here. [mtu.edu]

Crime dropping is not an excuse! (1)

cirby (2599) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915420)

Twenty or thirty years ago, this sort of stuff might not have happened, but there *were* a lot of problems... like murders... at schools. They just didn't get reported. When one kid got knifed at my high school in the 1970s, it didn't make the papers or TV. Two weeks after it happened, a small article appeared in the Dallas paper (100 miles away) about how the kid was getting out of intensive care. As far as the local media cared, it never happened.

And (as a small example) the worst case of school violence happened over 60 years ago, when someone blew up a school. Many more died then in Colorado.

Damn straight... (5)

acb (2797) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915426)

Far from being idyllic, happy communities, high schools (including the one in question) are hellish social pressure cookers. High school society is strictly regimented into rigid hierarchies; at the top there are the athletes, the cheerleaders and the kids with rich parents; the alpha primates. At the very bottom of the food chain are those who do not fit in. The environment is a closed system; there is only one hierarchy, and nowhere to run. And failure to conform is relentlessly punished, not by the indifferent authorities but by the system itself. Systematic physical bullying goes on on a scale sometimes reminiscent of the English public school tradition of "fagging". The whole system is sadistically elegant; if a latter-day Dante was writing an updated Inferno, he could scarcely find a better model than the social structures of the high school.

This system evolved to serve a purpose; by ruthlessly punishing difference, rewarding conformity and reinforcing an immutable status quo, it creates the preconditions of a modern industrial society; a population of predictable, conditioned worker/consumer drones, people who accept their place in the great machine of society and don't make trouble. The relatively small number of murders and suicides is well within the margin of acceptable loss.

Meanwhile, when the jocks and popular kids grow up, they take their places in the leader-caste of society; and while most of them are, by then, relatively decent individuals, they do not see that there is a problem. Hence, when a bunch of black-clad angstpuppies massacre some jocks and popular kids, the solution is obvious: sue the video-game companies, restrict the Internet. and ban aspects of outsider subcultures, such as black clothing.

And so, the invisible hand increases the pressure even further.

Sure wish we had a scapegoat... (3)

jjohn (2991) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915431)

Although I didn't have a rough time at all in high school, I think I can appreciate some of the problems that occur to "oddballs". High school nor society is ready to handle "special cases". Our country isn't very long on tolerance. It was founded by puritans after all...

It is far easier to run a school like a prison than to maintain a place of independent thought. Even teachers are kept on a leash. It is also easier to fault "deviant" lifestyles, like Goths, Geeks or Gamers, than to admit the utter failure of our school systems to engender social skills in our children. Is it possible that parents need to do this themselves? Please, mom and dad are already working two full time jobs.

In a fiercely capitalistic culture in which "greed is good", one's status increases by the number of people walked on. The outcasts deserved to be abused because they make the rest of us feel uncomfortable, right?

I saw VP Gore talking about how we need to reduce the amount of violence we expose our children to. He didn't mention NATO's "relief efforts" in Kosovo as one of those harmful influences. Clearly, real violence isn't as harmful to children as Doom.

What these Colorado kids lost wasn't their minds. It was hope. It's a shame what happened in Littleton. It's worse that our country won't learn squat from it.

Is it me or does anyone else see some parallels to the movie _Heathers_?

"What's your *damage*?"

The torture of high school (3)

maynard (3337) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915436)

As a 31 year old adult, far from the years of high school, I can tell you that those years were absolutely the worst time of my life. As a computer head and social outcast I grew up in a wealthy suburban town in Massachusetts. Getting teased regularly is one thing, but these kids assaulted me in large groups. I didn't stand a chance and the faculty refused to provide relief from my tormenters. If I attempted to defend myself the administrators would take me to task for supporting violence, yet would not prevent or punish those committing blatant violence against me and the other outcasts.

This is a human rights issue. I know many who had to drop out of high school because it was just too dangerous to continue in school, even though we lived in a famous suburban town (known for it's involvement in the revolutionary war -- how ironic). School administrators use the threat of being outcast and regularly assaulted in order to force mental obedience. Because of my experience I will never place my children (when I do have children) in public schools. I would rather homeschool or find a good private school than potentially subject my children to that environment.

Of course what those kids did was wrong. It pains me to know that they were pushed up against the wall and mentally twisted to the point where they murdered 13 others and then committed suicide. But the very fact that they planned suicide from the very start is telling: as far as they were concerned their lives were worthless because of the regular abuse they received. So they struck back by taking the lives of their tormenters. Kids who take enjoyment from dishing out abuse should take note of this event; they may reap what they sow in lead from their targets.

And yes, nearly fifteen years after my walk through high school hell I am still angry over how I was treated and how the school administration prevented me from living in a reasonable non-violent and non-abusive environment. So, while banning trenchcoats, video games, and access to the Internet won't stop kids from going on insane murder sprees, school faculty and administrators might consider providing a safe and reasonable environment to learn without danger; that just might bring peace back to our schools.

Media mentions of "jock's intolerance" (1)

SpiceWare (3438) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915437)

Interviews with various surviors of the attack quote the gunmen as saying "This is revenge".

Larry King interviewed a girl this weekend(Friday night?) who was friends with the gunmen. She confirmed that the members of the group where excessively tormented by the jocks.

Sunday on Yahoo's Colorado Shooting [yahoo.com] page there was an article about one of the trenchcoat group members who had dropped out of school becausing the tormenting was so bad. Click here [yahoo.com] for full article(it's no longer listed on the first page).

In spite of all this, the general public still maintains that games, music, and violence in the media are to blame for these two young men going over the edge. They conventiently gloss over the fact that day-in an day-out they were treated as dirt by the people they took their revenge on.

this is irrelevant (1)

nadador (3747) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915438)



Assigning the blame for this situation to mean jocks and uncaring teachers in the public school system is just as specious as blaming it on quake. We can not say that because our situations are difficult that we are not responsible for being evil. Those acts were a choice, and any statement that detracts from the fact that it was a choice is ridiculous.

American culture fosters a environment in which violence and sexuality are the two biggest concerns, and where personal immediate self gratification is the lowest common denominator to which we stoop. That's the reason those children went on a murderous rampage, because we taught them violence and hate, and then no one (like their parents) was there to tell them otherwise. ABC radio news is now reporting (minutes ago) that these kids kept a year long diary of their daily attempts to acquire weapons and planned on highjacking an airliner if they got out of the high school alive (where they planned to kill 500 people, apparently).


Andrew Gardner

School can indeed be hell if you're different (5)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915442)

In my case, it was a physical handicap. I suffer from a neurological motor deficit. I was not able to speak clearly until I was 18 or so, and was very clumsy in my movement. It's gotten almost completely better over the years.

As soon as I got to first grade, around 1963, the teacher heard the way I spoke and walked me down to the retarded children's classroom, where I stayed until my parents realized that my description of my classmates was a bit odd. No IQ tests or anything, she just dumped me in there. Once my parents found out, they tested my IQ (it was high) and put me back in the regular class, but the teacher resented it - she took every opportunity to tell me, in front of other students, that I was retarded and that I didn't belong in the class. This made me the school pariah until Junior High or so.

The problem with American schools is the awful pressure on students to conform, when they simply can not do so due to the misfortune of being bright, handicapped, or in some way unusual. The pressure to conform is the same sentiment that causes racism and religious intolerance - there's simply a different group being hated this time. It is enforced by the students but it must come from the instructors and parents - where else would the students be getting it?

Anger in our schools will be a problem until we can embrace our differences rather than try to iron them out.

Bruce Perens

Re:You're right! (1)

Lurking Grue (3963) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915444)

I agree with your zero sympathy statement. This whole incident is a microcosm of what's wrong in this country. It seems that everyone is using it as a platform for their causes, even those who claim they have no cause. Just on the face of it, there are a couple of items that we can learn from:

1. If you choose to be different, expect to be treated differently.
2. If you choose to antagonize someone who is different, be prepared for a different kind of response.

There is absolutely no excuse for the actions of the killers. It is one thing to sympathize for the treatment by their classmates. It is quite another to excuse the behavior. I was not an athlete in school. I did not belong to the "in crowd." My passion for computing definitely set me apart from my trendier classmates.

But there are several differences here. First, I did not go postal on my classmates. Second, I did not behave in a way that drew unwanted attention to myself. Third, I made an attempt to make friends. So even though I did not fit into any of the groups that prevailed (stoners, surfers, preppies, freaks) I still interacted with individuals from each of the groups.

People need to start taking responsibility for their own actions. The gunmen in Littleton apparently did, but it was after the fact. No more excuses.

You're right! (1)

scenic (4226) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915450)

That isn't the point, moron.

Understanding the feeling of otrascization doesn't equate to justifying the actions taken by those two kids. Too many people are saying what you've said above and are ignoring the real problem. It's not like all kids go berserk and start killing people. But many kids feel this way. Instead of focusing our efforts on curbing the playing of Quake and other dumb, useless things like that, we should focus on the root of this sentiment of anger and hate, which is how kids treat each other in school.

Sujal

I'm sorry, but this kind of thing does happen (1)

Gambit Thirty-Two (4665) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915454)

Throughout this entire ordeal ive seen the blame shift from the shooters, the net, ID software, the parents, EVERYWHERE. It doesnt really matter whose fault it is at this point. What people have to start realizing is that you cant, can not, push these people around like this. If you push them around, day after day, throw them into lockers, ostracize them, one day they ARE going to retalliate.

And German has a great word for it: (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915458)

schadenfreude, roughly translated to 'taking pleasure at the suffering of others'.. Seeing the former BMOC tending bar on a tuesday after getting out of his drug treatment program, as you order a round of 25-year-old Macallans for your pals (which costs more than the fellow will pull in all evening), feels almost criminally good. Yes it's decadent and materialistic, but anything which rubs someones nose in something well-deservedly unpleasant gives me the warm fuzzies.

Solutions? (1)

squarooticus (5092) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915470)

Okay, everyone's been talking about the problems addressed in the articles, but no one has offered a way to solve them. I fear that these problems may be insoluble in the short term, but certainly are tractable in the long term.

The real question here is, how do you get kids to respect one another? Well, I think that the best way to do this is for parents to raise their kids that way. Parents set the most prominent examples for their kids in their early years, and a good model will go a long way toward keeping the jocks and popular kids from picking on the geeks and outcasts. (Of course, this has to go the other way too; I was a "bossy" kid, even at 5 years old, because I was smarter than all the other kids and I _knew_ it. Not helpful.)

But what about kids today? Is there any way to drive the culture out of the kids who are in school today? You can't allow the culture to fester, because the older kids just indoctrinate the younger ones by example. I'm not sure there's a good answer to this.

Oh, and as a result of this little trip, I have made up my mind that my kids will be going to a selective private school so they don't have to put up with the crap from the stupid kids. Private school might be less "real-world" than public school; but if what I had to go through in middle school and high school is "real-world," then my kids can do without it.
--
Kyle R. Rose, MIT LCS

Wow (3)

squarooticus (5092) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915472)

This is unbelievable. Thanks, Jon. I never thought so many people felt the same way I did when I was in high school. Thankfully, things have changed for me in recent years (as they usually do), but that doesn't make the high school and middle school (worse for me) years any better.

Thankfully, I'm an adult and can't have my net access taken away by mommy and daddy. =)
--
Kyle R. Rose, MIT LCS

I have a kid...I'm really dreading this... (5)

clintp (5169) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915477)

My kid is 6 years old now. Very smart. Handles a computer better than most adults. (On his own correctly analyzed and fixed a hardware setup problem last week when his game stopped working...) He's not particularly athletic, he despises "team" sports, and he's a nonconformist. His chances are pretty good at being a smart outcast in school.

I was blessed. I got to go through public elementary school in a 1-day-a-week gifted student program. Wonderful implementation. Freedom of expression was foremost. Most of those kinds of programs have dried up. I'm wondering if my child is going to have any way of expressing himself when his time to go through high school comes around. I doubt it. Parents are so quick to put on the Jackboots, and squash individuality. Supress individuality and expressiveness long enough, and it will find its own way out--in short, harmful, and explosive bursts.

As a postscript, my wife and I have raised Foster Children before (and shortly after) our son was born. For children that are truly destructive, harmful, and uncontrollable there are lots of warning signs. In practice, they differ from expressiveness and individuality as much as a shovel from a bayonet. Only when expressed in the dry, clinicians language used for describing behaviour do the differences fade. "Flat, sharp, metallic, with a handle". It's this dry description that's going to be used to hunt down the individualists.

(We had a Foster Child committed to a home for a while because of this kind of desctuctive behaviour, with good results. It's possible to tell the difference, and necessary to act on them.)

A few thoughts... (1)

EngrBohn (5364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915480)

Someone on 60 Minutes made the comment, "The issue is not what the kids are watching, but who's watching the kids," and I think that's right on the money (more on that, below).

For every person who plays Doom/Quake and goes on a killing spree, there are millions of people who play Doom/Quake and don't go on a killing spree. Recklessly making associations is fruitless unless you only want to place blame. What other associations can we make? They're all adolescent boys -- watch out for Timmy next door; he might be a killer!

For those whose parents are restricting their computer use, I sympathize with you, but I support your parents. It is the responsibility of your parents to raise you to be a productive member of society. It is up to them to decide how much freedom you get, and if they have reason to restrict that freedom to make you a better individual, then they are obligated to do so.
I say this not only as a general statement, but also as a warning. If parents are not willing to raise their children properly, then there will be more support for those who want the government to provide the proper values for our children -- see, for example, the (often successful) efforts to remove books from libraries and the efforts to filter internet access at the libraries.
Christopher A. Bohn

Hellmouth indeed (3)

J05H (5625) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915493)

I hated high school.
I REALLY hated high school.
High school, the act of getting up every
fscking morning to walk through hallways of
laughing happy people, to get shoved around
by people I didn't even know, to get called
names for the way I dressed, spoke.

I had friends, very close friends, but we
were a tight group because of the oppression
and crap that got thrown at us every day.

I remember getting slammed into lockers every
day for two years, over and over, for being
a little different. I remember teachers,
especially Mr Gunn, the coke head that stared
down girl's shirts, simply turning away, knowing
what was going on, but not caring.

In my high school, you got kicked out for
throwing a punch, so defending yourself from
physical agression lead to suspension.

I don't support what the kids in Colorado did, I
think it's repugnant, but I understand how they
were driven to what they did. The parents, guidance
counselors and adminstrators don't have the balls,
or intelligence, or compassion, to prevent this sort
of thing from happening. Unless people, that is,
teenagers in our schools, somehow start treating
each other like valuable human beings, instead of
social doormats, this sort of slaughter is going to
continue as more of the discontent snap.

Unfortunately, that does not seem to be what is
happening. It seems that, so predictably, there is
yet another backlash against the geeks, freaks,
nonconformists and kids who don't fit in. "Be normal"
they will tell you, over and over, "Try to get along",
failing to realize that it's not you, but the savages
that are stepping on you that are not being well
behaved.

To all /.ers that read this that are still stuck
in high school: good luck with the next few years,
my heart goes out to you. It should get better
afterwards, it might not seem like it now, but there
will be a time after school when you can look back
and think "How did I survive that?"

How to get this message to where it matters? (1)

NeoTron (6020) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915500)

Look, all this heart-rending stuff is all very well. We in the Slashdot forum know already that the knee-jerk reactions from Media, and Joe Public, are _wrong_ and also dangerous.

What I'd like to know is, what can we DO about it, apart from discussing this here - the very place that "non-confirmists, geeks etc" are likely to be anyway?

How can Joe Public and the Media be made to realise what the problems _really_ are - namely themselves?

The answer, I'm afraid to say, is - not a lot.

The Media deliberately sensationalises this type of story to the point of frenzied scandal - not because it's outraged at what happens - but because scandal and hype _sells_!

Joe Public doesn't want to hear that they're to blame, because Joe Public knows deep in it's heart that this is the TRUTH, and Joe Public doesn't want to take responsibility for it, hence the "witch-hunts".

I fear that getting the message through to them is going to take decades, if not forever. *SIGH*

Welcome to 1984... (1)

Ethan Butterfield (7481) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915513)

Just a few years later than expected.

geekgirls (2)

chialea (8009) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915519)

we're not all bad :-)

unfortunately, when the smart girls go through school, it can be worse than the guys. when I moved to a "conservative" school in MA, people made me miserable SPECIFICALLY because I am a girl who does not fit their shallow expectations. I'm quite glad I'm in college right now and missing the witchhunt...

at least college is better. and, being an engineer like I am, there are great people around me to hang out with. (and date :-) )

I'd like to extend my sympathies to all those who are getting persecuted by their parents or school officials... it will get better. my suggestion: go to a large school (I'm at Berkeley). there are sure to be great people in such a large, diverse group, and professors or whoever don't take the trouble to persecute anyone (there are enough around that they don't really care), but some will take a positive interest in you, if you talk to them.

Lea

School Life. (1)

Accipiter (8228) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915522)

This was an excellent post, and it hits home with me.

I was not popular in school. Most of my teachers didn't care if I was harassed in class, and very few did anything about it. (Though there were 3 teachers that come to mind that Really understood me, and cared enough to take action, sometimes when I wouldn't.) I was known as the punching bag of my class, be it verbal or physical...sometimes both. My talent in technology, my love for computers, and my somewhat different physical appearence (I'm much shorter than most people) all helped establish me as an outcast in school. Time after time I'd find myself in the Asst. Principal's office for getting into a fight, or some other 'routine' issue I seemed to have. I didn't make very good grades in school, and it wasn't because I couldn't do the work, but I was lazy. Middle School and High School bored me. (Hell, even my college classes are getting old.) I think the main reason I did so poorly in school, was the fact that I didn't want to be there, for whatever reason, be it academic or socially. There were days I would absolutely dread going to class, because there were others in that room that felt it necessary to torment me day after day.

The stereotypical view places this type of problem exclusive to High School. However it starts long before that. My estimate, based in on my own experience, is that it starts somewhere around late 4th grade. The adults of my time would say "Kids can be cruel." The fact is, as time passes, the kids in school are getting much worse. Days would go by where I'd come home from school literally in tears, because from the bus trip to school, during the day, and the bus ride home, I was bombarded with crap from other people.

Let me state right now, that I do NOTcondone what these kids did, and for them to have taken that step, there had to be some mental issues at work. However, because of my own experiences in school, I can understand what kind of a view these kids took toward school. As an example, I was passing by my old Middle School while walking one day, and there was a group of PE kids playing basketball. One of the kids got hit with the ball, and quite clearly, shouted "YOU MOTHER F**KING SON OF A BITCH!" Not being deaf to this language, I was still shocked to be hearing this from a Middle-Schooler.

Stop blaming the Internet, Stop blaming Games like Quake, or Doom, and Stop blaming the entertainment industry. These are not the factors that are shaping kids into killers. For one, it is obviously a sort of mental problem that these kids had. Thankfully, the majority of people like me are able to deal with these kinds of things without totally going over the edge like this, but there are some people that aren't equipped to deal with it. These are the types of people that need to be helped. This is not accomplished by rounding up all the 'unpopular' people and getting rid of them, either. And as I said earlier, kids in schools are getting worse every year.

Another factor seems to be the parents of these kids. A bomb on the dresser for God's Sake!! WAKE UP PEOPLE! Take more responsibility for what your kids are doing, and stop looking for a scapegoat when something goes wrong.

Damn, that was a long-ass rant. :P

-- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

On being an outsider (2)

artdodge (9053) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915534)

I have oh-so-fond memories of high school. Let's see... computer geek, band member ("band fags" was the "cool" way to refer to us), republican, Christian... sheesh, I had _nothing_ going for me to endear me with any of the "in" crowds.

I had (and still have) some opinions that certainly didn't make me any friends back then, and probably won't make me too many friends in this forum either, but at least back then (early 90's) everyone was kind enough to pay lip service to "respecting my opinions". A few of those opinions, which I had no qualms about expressing in class, no doubt caught some administrators attentions; I'm not sure what kept them from acting, perhaps just because mind-control wasn't quite so widely accepted in public education six years ago, perhaps because they knew I wouldn't ever "keep quiet" if they pulled any of the crap some of these kids wrote about, perhaps because they also knew that if they sent such a letter to my folks some (figurative) heads would roll for it. (One advantage of having free-thinkers for parents...)

[off topic] katz's quote marks (1)

Cid Highwind (9258) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915538)

Why do double quotation marks in any of JonKatz's articles turn into question marks on my screen? I use netscape 4.0 for Linux, what does Katz write with?

It could be fixed... but don't hold your breath (3)

bughunter (10093) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915549)

Hell. I remember it. Not only was I a geek, but my parents moved so much that I went to 5 different high schools in four years. Actually, that probably insulated me from a lot of peer abuse, but it also insulated me from peers in general. High school was a living hell for me, just as it is for Katz' correspondents.

Administrators at every level between guidance counselor to President Clinton are asking "what can be done?" Yet they fail to understand that they are as much to blame as the TCM's parents. They fostered the environment where anyone who is not a superficial stuck-up bimbo or a dumb masochistic macho jock is an outcast, and ridiculed.

What can be done? Provide some socially acceptable environment other than battle.net for exceptional teens. Don't penalize them for being bored by the least common denominator curriculum you dole out in uniform, non-challenging parcels. Give them some advanced curriculum that interests them. Just pay attention to them fer christsake, instead of ignoring and berating them... instead of joining along with the kids you're supposed to be leading.

These are the people we need to drag this sorry ass culture from the depths of fossil fuel addiction. These are the future researchers who will find cures for aids and cancer. These are the future entrepreneurs who will raise this economy from of the ashes of depression when our paper tiger economy burns up. Wouldn't it be wise to nurture them instead of the future Anchor Bimbos, Housewives, Lumberworkers, and Linesmen?

Maybe it would be a start if we began to place a little more value on the teachers and administrators themselves. We don't exactly attract the best people to these jobs - I can count on one hand the number of teachers that actually taught me something. I acquired an education in spite of the rest. And the administrators... well, I won't repeat cliched jokes.

But consider - when your principal and dean were in high school, which group did they belong to? It's a self-perpetuating system...

Violation of civil rights (1)

NYC (10100) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915550)

To all those who have e-mail Jon Katz with their stories: goto http://www.aclu.org These violations should not go unnoticed. Some of the e-mails that Katz provided are clear infrangements on our rights. Please, this should not be tolerated! Not only is discrimination from our peers harmful, but coming from our higher authorities is worse!

American Civil Liberties Union [aclu.org] After this excellent article, I may have to change my .sig
--Ivan, weenie NT4 user, Jon Katz hater: bite me!

Highschool is Hell, for everybody... (2)

crovira (10242) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915554)

Hi,

with apologies to Matt Groenig, but High school is Hell. Mine sure was!

To make matters worse I was going from French school to English school, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and even as a puny, four-foot tall kid, I got into way too many fights, until some kind soul took me aside and taught me how to swear properly in English. (Oh, and I grew a foot, put on sixty pounds of muscle and stopped pulling my punches...)

Kids are cruel, conformist, slaves-to-fashion and God help anyone who doesn't fit the mold. And you're never told what the mold-of-the-week is either. High school was a hemorhoid and I often dreamed of making the evening news: ANGRY YOUTH SLAYS 330+ NO SURVIVORS!

The diference is that in Canada, guns are a real pain-in-the-ass to get a hold of so I'm not currently doing a whole bunch of consecutive life terms. (Legalized murder, sorry capital punishment, not being de rigeur there either.)

Too many guns, too many hormones, to many stupid students who fake being too bright and you end up with shools with too many dead students.

Its sad, its sick and the Weapons Manufacturers clearly share in the blame. Weapons without concience have caused multiple tens of millions of deaths in this century. Until we learn how to make them not to act without cause, we'll keep the worms fed.

-Charles-A.

What college? (1)

Dast (10275) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915555)

The girls here actually want a smart guy.

Where do you go to school? (I'm comming there :) The girls at my college are still act like the girls we all new and disliked in highschool.

Yep. I sympathize with the TCM more and more... (3)

Dast (10275) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915560)

The social hierarchy that exists in today's public education system determines an individual's status based on the wrong set of criteria. Rather than rewarding intelligence and free-thought, people are segregated by "popularity"--and popularity is a balance of good looks, money, and lack of thought.

Now, I'm not saying that the members of the TCM didn't have serious problems. I certainly think the whole "Hitler's birthday" thing was very odd. But I do sympathize with the reasons they feel the way they do (just not with the way they choose to express it).

On one hand, I think that the increased exposure of this problem may help. On the other, I hope that this backlash against free-thinkers in school doesn't make things worse. It is disgusting how school administration seems to beat down anyone who feels like the TCM did. They might as well call in the thought police and eliminate crimethinkers. Sheesh.

I am surprised that I didn't explode and spray automatic fire all over the schools I went to. (Everyone expected me to.) The reason I didn't was because I was brought up by good parents who took interest in what I was doing, rather then letting me make bombs in the garage. Take away good parenting and you will have a lot more kids who kill.

But that is just me.

Hang on in there..... (1)

SparkyUK (10333) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915561)

We've all been through it to some degree or another.

School years are the by far the worst, no power, no say, bossed around by people with no idea and often with lower IQ's.

Then one day you wake up and life has reversed.

Those people who made life difficult for you when you were younger now have dull, 9-5 lives, wishing always for the weekend. They are living in purgatory.

And you? You're pulling in 4x + more money than the oldest of them, doing a job you love, looking forward to monday mornings.

That's more than most people can say.

Just hold on...it's worth it.

Great article (1)

Pinehill.net (10499) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915563)

This is the best JK article I've seen yet.

My oldest son is at least as 'different' as I am, and I feel strongly that he does not belong in any school system. My wife and I are strongly commited to home-schooling him, he is six now and will not be starting first grade in the fall. He is already well ahead of what the the curriculum would have him doing now.

I hope I can spare my son the pain I endured.

Taking away computers? (2)

xyzzy (10685) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915566)

I'm sorry, but the last letter in Katz' article just broke my heart, both for the young boy or girl who had their computer confiscated, and for the parents, who obviously don't have an active relationship with them. And that, I think, is the heart of the problem. :-(.

Geek profiling (1)

Cally (10873) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915572)

Notes from a survivor
  • Keep your head down
  • Try not to allow bitterness or self-hatred consume you
  • Seek out your peers; they are out there, in the same schools
  • do what you have to to survive
  • remember that things can only get better
  • you are not alone
  • educate *yourself*
five years seems like an eternity to a teenager. I'm old enough to be these kids' father, and I'm in the UK, but this all sounds exactly like my schooldays. Folks: it can, and does, get better. -- Cally

Wish I was still in High School... (3)

PsychoSpunk (11534) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915586)

Yeah, it may sound strange but I wish that right now I was still in high school. That way I could effectively fuck with the administrators minds.

I was the "popular loner" in high school, a term that it took me years to create, but none to recognize. I was in all the "nerd classes" and I loved them, but even more importantly so were many of the "preps, jocks (shocking, huh?), and other popular people." I got lucky, as I was held with esteem by classmates for my intelligence. But then again, I didn't have a real girlfriend until I left high school. It is a stark dichotomy, and I imagine had I written my first poem this month rather than in '92, my english teacher would have sent me for counseling.

What hasn't been written is the other "escape plans" that students have available to them. My sophomore year, I was selected to attend the "Texas Governor's Honors Program" (btw if you're a TGHPer from '93 or later, send me a line at this email [mailto] ) and it was a pure joy that changed my life forever. A year later, I left for college before graduation at a program held at the same school as TGHP called the Texas Academy for Leadership in the Humanities [anapraxis.cx] . (That link goes to our reunion planning page for those of you academy kids who run across it.)

Texas has two such programs, TAMS @ UNT and the Academy @ Lamar-Beaumont. It let me leave an atmosphere that was stifling to go to a program where I was not alone in my desire for REAL EDUCATION! Unfortunately, public schools don't promote these opportunities because they would lose federal aid if they did. The government gives money for attendance, that's why these programs are hard to find. They exist, probably in abundance, but they are hush-hush.

I urge anyone who is a high school student who is a geek, nerd, dork, or "popular loner" to investigate these types of programs. Invest in your future and your pleasure. And for those older geeks with kids, help them if they don't fit in. I know I'm preaching to the choir because I imagine that parents who love learning support their children, I know mine do.

Please for the sake of everyone, do the Right Thing and give these kids what they really need, and that is not counseling, it's respect.

Mike Ford

If only everyone watched "Saved by the Bell" (1)

johnus (11641) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915589)

They they would have caught the only line every uttered in the whole existence of the show that was worth hearing:

"Be kind to geeks and nerds, because in 10 years, they'll be the ones with all the money."
-Screech


I wonder if Bill Gates ever got picked on/beat up in Junior High/High School....

You're right! NOT! (3)

johnus (11641) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915590)

> I have zero sympathy for the TCM.

You are missing the point here. As other people have said, the media has totally latched on to the wrong thing. This wasn't the actions of the whole little group, this was the actions of a couple (maybe few) totally messed up individuals.
If a Slashdot poster goes out tomorrow and guns down 10 people and the media gets a hold of the knowledge that he's a member of slashdot, what will happen? You better believe that everyone here would be shunned by the media. Not because we are all bad, but because we had one bad apple. The media would do the whole Slashdot = EVIL, geek = dangerous, smart people= bad people. Just like they have in CO. Look at some of the discussions here! Insults abound. Some people hate Katz, some people hate Star Wars, we generally say what we feel (and sometimes it isn't very pretty at all).

In the article above, people are being shunned and mentally evaluated for saying things like we say here every day. Now that is sick. And people here with no clue just say the whole group is bad, i don't feel sorry for them... You should. Because once people start losing freedoms for wearing a trench coat or listening to MManson or playing Doom or Quake, we've started on a long slippery road.

When you stop defending other people's freedoms, where are you going to be when they start restricting yours?
You're going to be up a certained un-named creek, because there are no free people left that want to defend your freedoms.

To hell with the public education system (1)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915647)

Oh, sure. And we all know what bastions of egalitarianism among students private/parochial schools are.

Jon's writing and this tragedy. (1)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915648)

Ironically, I find that Jon's writing is at its best when confronted with an outpouring of e-mail - usually in response to tragedy. This was a very well written piece, Jon: junior high hasn't seemed so recent in my memory in years.

You will be assimilated.... (1)

c64k (16259) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915668)

High school was never for learning. It has always been, and always will be for forcing individuals into a mold. Go here, sit for 40 minutes, now go here, sit for 40 minutes. ... do not think, do not act out, do not question authority.

I survived high school, but it's taken years to finally realize that the things I do, and the person I am, is good and okay.

Some of my friends were not so lucky. A couple commited suicide, some were arrested (some drug related, some violent), and some just gave up, and became the automatons that the system wanted.

When your different, every day of high school is torture. I'm not surprised by what happened, I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often.

But no parent, or teacher, or administrator wants to admit what their system is doing to kids, or why. So it must be blamed somewhere, where better than the kids... the ones who don't fit the molds, now can be called dangerous, and punished for their thoughts.

Killing is wrong. But what is being done to the youth of America... is just as wrong.

Same old story. (1)

mhat (17077) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915678)

When I was in middle school, I wore a Simpsons teeshirt to school that said "I'm bart simpson who the hell are you?" (or something to that effect). I was ofcourse sent to the principals office, he told me I had a few options: Change shirts, Go home, or allow him to cover the word up with a black marker. If you havn't guessed, the problem was the word "Hell", back then it was a big deal to say hell - in the massmedia sense. Socity blamed radio and televisions for the violence in schools.

Later in highschool this card game came out called magic. Lots of us played it then, and for about a year it was okay with everyone. However like all things something happened to someone who had a magic card somewhere on their person for some reason in the last few days - so obviously magic==problems in school. Sortly after whatever happened the game was banned. The game was just a step in the pathway to worshipping satan, in their eyes, I guess. Occultism was another nice area of distress, people wearing magic-stars and ankhs were "danger signs".

Around this time I think was when the first seeds agaisnt video games were planted. I clearly remember getting strange and concerned looks from various teachers the day I bought Ultima 8: Pagan [ea.com] .

The point of all this being that none of this is new, its just the same old crap happening again. The problem is its not just repeating itself, it seems recursive. What I mean by that is: each time something like this happens subculture gets pushed harder and harder.. and people snap. Its just numbers, of n people some % of n are going to snap.

My sentiments precisely. (1)

Yohimbe (17439) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915682)

God I hated high school. I got the shit beat out of me several times. Not even 1 date because I was "different" and "a nerd". Small school, just 300 students.

It was worse because of that, because I didn't even have one friend to talk to. The cliques, the jocks and their bimbos.

Shit what a piss poor way to spend 4 years. I ended up going to a community college instead of university, because university required 1 more year in that hell hole (Grade 13, can you believe it?)

Pisses me off even now, and that was 20 years ago.

You're right! (1)

dillon_rinker (17944) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915689)

No sympathy - I can buy that. They murdered and they died. I feel sadness for their parents, but not for them.

However, this article was not a call for sympathy, but for empathy. How can you possibly hope to help someone if you can't climb inside their head and think "Hmm, so THIS is what makes them tick - I can see the inputs, the internally consistent logic, and the outputs"? If only someone could have done this a year ago, rather than saying "Their behavior is unacceptable. I dismiss them entirely. I fart in their general direction." Until you can say "They were WRONG, but I completely understand why they did it", you are part of the problem.

Excelent... (1)

kennedy (18142) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915693)

You know... it's not everyday something like this comes around. for years i had thought that i was almost totaly alone. High School and Middle School were an absolute nightmare for me. I was verbally and physically harrased DAILY because i am different. I dress in mostly black and listen to different music and love computers. No one ever understood this untill after i graduated high school. College is very different but i still feel quite alone (with the exception of one or two other people). mass media sucks and i think it will always suck.

Just keep this in mind... while all the jocks and so called "in" kids are working thier ditch digging blue collar jobs... we'll be kicking back programing or admining and having FUN while getting paid for it.

scapegoat. (3)

pinko (18911) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915705)

does anyone notice how no one in america is responsible for their actions anymore? instead it's the fault of the media, of the violent video games, of the dark role playing game, of the music and/or of the kids friends. a parent ignores all the warning signs that they have a troubled child. the child finally lashes out. whose fault is it? of course it can't be the parents! it has to be those violent video games, violent movies, or offensive music. bah! so since it was the video games fault etc... anyone who plays that game is a suspected killer. heck, them geeks in their trenchcoats are weird anyway. they gotta be up to something.

america today is ripe with hypocrites. we have politicians who make big deals over other peoples affairs, when they've done the same themselves. we have people who under no circumstance should be allowed to raise kids raising them (or letting tv do so). after they've made a mess of their kids and the kids do something stupid, it's the media's fault. i'm so sick of people blaiming the media. GET IT THROUGH YOUR HEADS. IT'S BAD PARENTING, NOT THE MEDIA THAT IS TURNING YOUR KIDS INTO KILLERS.

I want to know how 2 sets of parents didn't notice their sons stockpiling weapons for a year. that's a dilly for you america.

so now the counsellors and school officials want to pick up the slack. great. last group you want to do that. they deal with so many kids, they cannot possibly know them all. so now were dealing with the results of their knee-jerk reaction to this all. trying to find their own trenchcoat mafiosos.

i know if any of those things in the article happened to me in school, my parents would have been at the school in 5 minutes to give the school official the third degree. they might have even brought a lawyer. that's what you're kids from the article need to do. the officials at their schools need a whack with a clue-by-four. just bring the lawyer and make it legal.

Remember: The best revenge is living well. (2)

AJWM (19027) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915708)

Yes, high school can be hell for those who are a couple of sigmas beyond the mean -- the very people from whom ultimately society gets most of its advances. And also some of its most dangerous psychos, if too alienated.

As someone else mentioned above, HIGH SCHOOL IS NOT THE REAL WORLD, DON'T TAKE IT TOO SERIOUSLY. And it's only temporary. After that, the geeks who were outcast by the average majority in high school will go on to thrive in college and beyond.

There's a saying, "the best revenge is living well". There's certainly truth to it.

We have nothing to fear? (1)

aphrael (20058) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915724)

I'm struck lately by how being afraid of things seems to stimulate exactly that which we fear; it's almost as if the cosmos has some sick sense of humor.

So middle-aged Americans, uncertain of what made the kids in Littleton snap, are afraid that it could happen at their children's school, and are looking for scapegoats because it's always easier to blame something external than to take a long hard look at the things you consider normal or natural ...

And when they find the scapegoats, they single them out, and repress them, and apply subtle and not-so-subtle levers of harassment ... thus intensifying the anger and rage that those scapegoats, already feeling outside of the system, feel ... making it more likely that someone else will snap.

Out of fear that you'll harm me, i'll treat you like shit, and then you'll want to harm me.

*sigh*

A few thoughts... (1)

brad.hill (21936) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915746)

The point of this is that the games are *NOT* the cause of the hatred the drove these kids. I agree that the parents could've stopped this massacre, but they weren't the cause of it.

If you smoke 2 packs a day for 30 years, then die of lung cancer, we may blame your doctor for not finding that tumor when it was small enough to be operable, but fundamentally it was the cigarettes that caused your cancer.

These kids were being forced to smoke 2 packs a day of dehumanization, and their parents didn't catch the tumor of hate in time. The problem with expecting the parents to prevent this is that we'll never be able to catch all the cases in time. There are kids who are clever enough to hide it well and parents who are too uninvolved or too much in denial to do anything effective. Denial is epedemic. What about all the parents who've no idea that their "good kids" are daily tormenting and physically abusing their peers? Who never instilled compassion and the need to treat everybody as human in their children? I think that at the very root they're just as much to blame for this whole horrible chain of events.

To prevent this from happening again, we need to remove the cause of the hate. This is the motivation behind our posts. Nobody is trying to justify or condone what happened. We're speaking out because we don't want to ever see it happen again, and we feel like we have a better insight into the crucial "why" of this than mainstream society is able or willing to.

Stop the hate. Humanize high school.

i hated school (0)

p00ploop (24414) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915766)

I sure hated my first few years of high school and junior high. Worst years of my life.



Ben

P.S. First Post :-)

i hated school (1)

p00ploop (24414) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915767)

brain fart...

What I meant to include is that College has been the opposite. I am having a great time. The girls here actually want a smart guy.

Ben

yup (1)

rullskidor (27874) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915788)

The feeling in those letters shure feels familiar. The school is relly not a good place to grow up in I would say

There are lots of people who don't like to learn for example all the math or something else but they are foreced to, by family and society - this doesn't generate a good mood :/
Add to this that some teachers sux and you may not like your classmates.

But it still doesn't answer the question *why* kids kill their classmates

As I see it
Schools don't have to suck, they can be made better, and it's relly easier to create a good school instead of trying to censor games, taste and attitudes which would meen alter the humanity. The will to play games, be different, and have fun will always remain but why should a corrupted and destructive system be allowed to last?

echo of our childhoods (1)

lightPhoenix (28084) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915789)

I think Katz has just solidified what happened to us in high school without the witch-hunt of the colorado killings. I would guess most of us here had to endure ridicule, stupidity and persecution.
I consider myself lucky, as I went to a pretty enlightened (relatively) high school, Chaminade-Julienne, where the computer geeks were able to have normal lives. On the other hand, I can't speak for the people who wear black and listen to KMFDM, as they were never people who I hung out with, so I don't know what tribulations they've gone through. What my hope is, is some wacky-alternative (ie a-typical) reporter/media type will find a way for Katz' logical word to find a way into the mainstream. Its simple to blame a big bad computer, but for the average 'rent to talk to thier kids about how they treat other kids at school is beyond the average parent.
Good luck to those still in the hell of high school, there are _much_ better things past it.

-jeff Gondek

Reality Check (5)

scotpurl (28825) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915807)

I was both jock and nerd in high school (14 years ago). Worst time of my life. I needed anti-depressants, 18 months of counseling, and strong support of my parents and my few friends to make it through without killing myself. Life has improved by magnitudes since then.

If your parents abuse you, Child Protective or Social Services steps in. If your co-workers harass you at work, The Law protects you. If some stranger harasses you, there are restraining orders, and stalking laws, and such, to use as a remedy.

But if your classmates treat you in a manner that is not acceptable in _any other facet of society_, it is called "part of the growing up process," or "all part of high school." I have never again seen the callous viciousness that permeated high school.

I do not, in any way, condone or sympathize with any violent actions. I do not condone, nor understand racism (especially because I am of mixed race).

But this national search for scapegoats must end. If the Internet and violent games cause behaviour like what has surfaced in Colorado, then how do we explain the actions of Ted Bundy and Ed Gein, whose killing sprees were far, far more sinister?

Conspiracy nut? (3)

Jimhotep (29230) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915813)

Sounds like "they" want to arrest
people "before" they act.

About school uniforms.

My son wears uniforms to school.
His school has taken the lead in
arrests. How many of you knew
anybody that got arrested in the 7th
and 8th grade? I didn't.

Conspiracy nut? (1)

Grandpa_Spaz (29498) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915814)

I gradutated two years ago from a high school in a town of 19,000. We had approximately 150-175 students in my grade, and by the end of middle school, 15 had been arrested (mostly for misdemeanor drug use, a few for resale), and, to the surprise to everyone, several pregnancies occurred. My crowd sat back an watched it all; drug use would become common among a few friends a couple of years later, but at that time, we were able to see these people, the shining apples of their peers, have to bear these in middle school (which, IMHO, is a far harsher environment socially than high school), and, in a twisted way, we were glad it happened (although it does not say much for us in that respect).

I survived the utter boredom of high school through a close-knit family, a few friends, and the support of the teachers. Most of the teachers there despised the administration, and many of them would help myself and my friends through various ways: our programing teacher (supposed to be BASIC, we did C and C++) allowed access to the school computer security system, under the supervision of the man in charge of it, actually improving on it. Our english teacher would hold reading groups with us; we'd pick the book, and then we would meet two weeks later and discuss it. I won't go into more detail, but the fact remains we were fortunate. I do not go back there; I maintain contact with those teachers through email. I do not see anyone from that high school except the six people who I considered close friends... 3 of them have moved away now, so the 3 of us huddle together on the holidays and summers, inviting our college friends down to help pass the time better.

I had decided a long time ago that the people who would ostrasize me for who I am are not worth mess with or worrying about; it was hard to learn to ignore them, to not worry about them, but, after several months (almost a whole semester), I was able to do it. The result? I am never bothered (they do not wish to waste their time), and I am actually on slightly friendlier terms with them then I would be otherwise. Sometimes, the best solution is the hardest one; we just have to remember, when these other people are shunning us, or poking fun, or hurting, why are we around them, and do we truely want to befriend them?

-G.

-G.

This is not new... (1)

CricketGod (29826) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915821)

High school and junior high kids have felt rejected by their peers since the beginning of time. The fact is that this is an insecure age for a lot of people, and most of them don't have enough experience living to realize that it has happened to everyone. Thus, young kids think that their own individual suffering at the hands of is a fresh pain felt only by them, and that it makes them different from other people. To encourage this by saying that they are 'voiceless kids,' is not healthy. They are only voiceless if they talk to no one.

This is not at all to say that the things happening to people lately are all good. Some people are certainly misundertanding the shootings and what they mean; however, this does not justify self-pity or self-alienation.

And to all of the people out there who are feeling under things -- don't sweat it, things'll get better; however, they won't if you don't want them too. Just do your best to do what you believe in, and don't worry about what people say.

If you are a student reading this (5)

DonkPunch (30957) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915830)

I have one thing to say, and I can't say it loudly enough:

The talents and values which are rewarded in high school have NOTHING to do with the real world.

HIGH SCHOOL IS NOT THE REAL WORLD!

I get up every morning to go to my over-paying job GLAD that I made it through without killing myself. Eveyone I know who is happy as an adult HATED high school.

HIGH SCHOOL IS NOT THE REAL WORLD!

If you're an outcast in high school, it's probably because you have values more meaningful than sneaking beer and attending pep rallies. I'm sorry it sucks, we "adults" aren't doing a very good job making it better.

People used to tell me it gets better after you get out. They were wrong. It gets fscking GREAT after you get out.

I can't imagine why adults are fascinated with high school. Every day I put between that place and myself is an improvement.

HIGH SCHOOL IS NOT THE REAL WORLD! DON'T TAKE IT TOO SERIOUSLY!

Hope this helps.

What about other countries, why here? (2)

D3 (31029) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915831)

Why are we so narrow minded to think that only kids in the US have problems in late grade school and through high school? There are pleanty of non-conformist kids in schools in England, Canada, Australia, and (insert any non US country you like here), aren't there? Don't they go through the same difficulties of having friends, not being part of the "in crowd", and authority figures being in their face about being who they want to be? What the "heck" was the Pink Floyd album "The Wall" all about then?!?

And yet, do other countries have the same problem with school violence? A friend from Canada claimed the only random act of violence he remembers recently was someone breaking into the house of some high ranking official while armed with a butter knife.

So do the other countries teach values? If so, what/whose values are they? What about countries where the children grow up carrying weapons as part of 'civil' war or other strife?

I won't claim to know what the fix is. I can knee jerk a few things I think are to blame but _none_ of them are all inclusive. I'd just really like to hear opinions and maybe some stories from non-US kids that show the same understanding of the situation as those quoted by Katz.

To hell with the public education system (1)

dickens (31040) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915833)

Bravo...

Seen the recent L.P. article saying much the same ?

I was just looking at www.lp.org but I couldn't find it. The title was "Release: Colorado massacre".

You're right! (1)

remande (31154) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915836)

Scenic, please read before you flame. Reacting before understanding puts you at the same level as school faculty in "crackdown" mode.

Note that the post above yours noted zero sympathy for the TCM. Smiley-caption Derek's first sentence for extra flavor.

You are in violent agreement with Derek and you proceeded to call him a moron. This is just OTT.

School, compulsion, misanthropy ... (1)

timothy (36799) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915932)

There is an organization devoted to eliminating compulsory, state-funded / run education.

The participants come from a wide range of backgrounds, but most expressing a preference are religious, specifically Christian. I'm not religious myself, but I see no conflict of interest.

See www.sepschool.org to check it out, just be warned that the mailing list is full of folks more into their logical arguments than formatting text nicely (to say the least!)

Timothy Lord

Damn straight... (1)

hemp (36945) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915933)

>Meanwhile, when the jocks and popular kids grow >up, they take their places in the leader-caste >of society

I ran into one of the popular jock guys I went to high school with just last week. He was behind a bullet proof glass case at an Exxon I stopped at to get some gas. I laughed for 20 minutes...

I'm shocked... (1)

BeezleBug (40734) | more than 14 years ago | (#1915973)

This is pretty much the first I've heard of the colorado shootings, and I imagine they were pretty terrible (We in britain have had classroom massacres, and child-killers - though not in the same instance). But that it should have resulted in such victimisation against people who are slightly "different" is an added tragedy.

No guesses which country is one of only two UN members that haven't signed up to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

I was never more glad to be British. I think that because britain is a less litigious society - people don't sue as often - schools and other institutions are less paranoid about possible lawsuits, and so would be less likely to react in such a totalitarian fashion, at least i hope so..

I can't believe that any school authority would so discriminate against the rights of it's pupils...

BeezleBug

Conspiracy nut? (1)

zantispam (78764) | more than 14 years ago | (#1916057)

"and by the end of middle school, 15 had been arrested (mostly for misdemeanor drug use, a few for resale), and, to the surprise to everyone, several pregnancies occurred."

#scarcasm mode ON

Obviously, all of these kids played D&D and listened to Metallica, right? What else could explain this kind of behavior?



you people are kidding. (2)

MrSparkle (127251) | more than 14 years ago | (#1916072)

Five comments, five "no sympathy" responses. As if , enemy #1 had written these posts.

Now, I will go on the assumption Jon did not fake any of these letters. If he did, my judgement would be pleasant compared to those who "supposedly" represents.

Three years of my life will go down as the worst ever: 1987-1990 (7th-10th grades). During this time I eschewed the social game of life, was excluded from practically every party/event (even some classes for which I was considered "too curious"). I aimed for perfection, and, given the skill level required for things, quite often met it...with disasterous results. I thought (and was constantly taught) that success and perfection was the goal. Yet everytime I did well, it was yet another "beating", another time my books were stolen and burned, another time I was locked in a bathroom. Why?! I was different. Due to a very healthy family life, I never was seen as different at home. I entrenched myself into computers, but my parents believed that this was where things were going and that it should always be encouraged. Lessee, I have a CS degree and am a working programmer...imagine that, encouragement and acceptance at home actually did something.

What really irritates me about these first few posts is that they do not see the obvious lack of acceptance and understanding these people deserve. Especially during this fearful and paranoid time when every parent worries for their child (I know, I have 2), it is a shame that the response be even more oppression, even more alienation. Not NERD news? This is NERD social studies. It's NERD history.

I want so hard not to lower myself to the level that so many of my classmates did. Call names. Tell people to get a life/clue. And I will succeed, because I learned to be accepting since I learned the lesson the hard way.

Age is supposed to grow experience, and experience wisdom. If people do not learn from this, we have lost all chance for wisdom...and will suffer its repetition.

Jesse
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