Saturday, April 21, 2007

Virginia Tech: Is the Scene of the Crime the Cause of the Crime?

From AlterNet:

Like their rage counterparts in the adult world, school shooters could be literally any kid except perhaps those who belonged to the popular crowd, the school's version of the executive/shareholding class. That is to say, about 90 percent of each suburban school's student body is a possible suspect.

And once again, I believe this at the very least suggests that the source of these rampages must be the environment that creates them, not the killers themselves. And by environment I don't mean something as vague as society but rather the schools and the people they shoot and bomb.

It isn't the schoolyard shooters who need to be profiled -- they can't be. It is the schools that need to be profiled.

A list should be drawn up of the characteristics and warning signs of a school ripe for massacre:

* complaints about bullying go unpunished by an administration that supports the cruel social structure;

* antiseptic corridors and overhead fluorescent lights reminiscent of mid-sized city airport;

* rampant moral hypocrisy that promotes the most two-faced, mean, and shallow students to the top of the pecking order; and

* maximally stressed parents who push their kids to achieve higher and higher scores.

Click here for the rest.

While I strongly believe that the authoritarian nature of our public schools creates untold amounts of psychic damage to both our culture and the individuals living within it, when I make out-on-a-limb statements like "public schools bear some responsibility for the Virginia Tech massacre," I sometimes wonder if people don't dismiss such thoughts as being unbelievably outrageous. I mean, school is such a pervasive, everyday concept, and something through which virtually all Americans pass seemingly unscathed, that for many, perhaps most, the schools are above suspicion.

The above excerpted essay, which very much echoes my own thoughts on the matter, gives me some relief: at least one other person independently arrived at the same conclusion I did. Of course, it's really not such an original thought. Jello Biafra, for one, relentlessly railed on suburban schools in the wake of Columbine, and both Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn have very matter-of-factly referred to American high schools as being totalitarian.

Anyway, go check this essay out. It's much more fleshed out than my meager post from yesterday, and does a marvelous job of illustrating the similarities between the hopeless high school life and the working world of adults. Good stuff.