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Documents from the Hellmouth
July 6, 2006 8:15 PM   Subscribe

Today Jefferson County Sheriff's office released over 900 pages of documents [32MB pdf] relating to what happened at Columbine High School in 1999.
posted by BeerFilter (117 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Guns in schools are a growing problem in today's society. Every day the news broadcasts stories of students shooting students, or going on killing sprees, or even just bringing a gun to school. Students bring guns to school for many reasons. Some for protection, some for attacking, and even some to show off. However, school is no place for a gun."

- Eric Harris, "Guns in School: Solution."

(p. 697 of the PDF)

...

This is some strange, chilling stuff.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:30 PM on July 6, 2006


Page 74: check out the day planner.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:33 PM on July 6, 2006


I am consistently amazed at the amount of planning and forethought they put into this. I'm surprised we still haven't seen anything matching it's scope.
posted by ColdChef at 8:48 PM on July 6, 2006


They're still not releasing the videos the kids made before the shooting.
posted by Mid at 8:48 PM on July 6, 2006


pg. 123

Rebel Pride.
posted by thanatogenous at 8:48 PM on July 6, 2006


Check out Hariss' essay on the Nazis starting at page 44.
posted by Mid at 8:56 PM on July 6, 2006


No, I mean check out the theme of the day planner.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:02 PM on July 6, 2006


White people are crazy.
posted by bardic at 9:03 PM on July 6, 2006


I have not read the linked pdf (I will) and I can't right now because it is just too much. I remember high school and the cliques and the bullies and the fun and the lonliness and the violence I felt like. I don't imagine that these documents describe that from either side: this is adult analysis. The innocence lost that day in 1999 is just too hard to fathom and can not be encapsulated in any number of pages. But it has to be explained somehow for the rest of us, I guess.

I have to believe the cops fucked up because their rules were wrong. The fog of war and whatnot. Somebody outside of the building failed to save many young lives. Legislator or cop-on-the-scene? I don't know.

It should never had lasted that long and claimed so many lives. I am not a romantic. Those boys should not have had the luxury of their suicides. They should have been taken out right quick and the resources were in place to do just that. Some commander failed that day.

I understand that things have since changed in that county: a much more aggressive police protocol is now in place for "situations like" the Columbine massacre: police can shoot first and mop up the blood later. I suspect the new national administration and the national history since then has helped things along in that respect. But really, there was a lot of wasted time on the law enforcement side that day and that resulted directly in dead teenagers.

Speaking of YouTube (this is YouTube central, right?) this is interesting and related to the FPP. It is a pretty crappy reconstruction/re-enactment of that dreadful afternoon--and it is hugely overdramatic--but it serves as a decent time line.

Zero Hour


posted by persona non grata at 9:14 PM on July 6, 2006


These two guys were little kids once.

Just hink about it. They were four years old once.

They probably played with little toy cars and legos and did silly things to get their parents to laugh and smile at them. They wanted mom to hug them and read them bedtime stories. They played catch with dad. They asked why the sky was blue and where the sun goes at night.

They had stuffed animals and funny pajamas and baseball mitts and the things that every other suburban little boy has.

They had that ridiculously contagious little boy laugh.

And then they walked into their high school with pipe bombs and automatic weapons.

.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:28 PM on July 6, 2006 [2 favorites]


The Trenchcoat Mafia! "No one would play with us! We had no friends, the trenchcoat mafia..." Hey I saw the yearbook picture, it was six of 'em! I ain't have six friends in high school. I don't got six friends now!
- Chris Rock
posted by Jimbob at 9:29 PM on July 6, 2006


I remember seeing that re-enactment back when I was in high school. What it lacked in its over dramatising of the events, it made up for in its presentation of the events that took place.

As for the pdf, I find the more mundane documents, such as their homework and the like, to be far more interesting than their notes on homemade explosives or plans for the day.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 9:30 PM on July 6, 2006



They had that ridiculously contagious little boy laugh.

And then they walked into their high school with pipe bombs and automatic weapons.


you left out the middle part.
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 9:33 PM on July 6, 2006


Amazingly, almost everybody was once a small child. Even Ken Lay.

Think about it.
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:36 PM on July 6, 2006


Even Dakota Fanning!
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:37 PM on July 6, 2006


Hey, wow. I live in Jefferson County...
posted by Eekacat at 9:38 PM on July 6, 2006


660.

>picture this: your in a large rectangular room, about 10 feet by 4 feet. it reminds you of the inside of a hull of a boat. there are old computer screens around you on the walls. except something is different about them, they are futuristic looking, but yet hundreds of years old. they are covered with dust and mold and vines. the only light in the room is from a full moonthat seems to dance around in the sky, so the shadows are all creeping around you. now, in the front of the room, and on the ground, are windows, you can see out the windows and you are looking onto a vast sea. large hill of water going uuup and doowwwn constantly, the only sound is the wind and the movement of the water. the room that you are in is moving, like a blimp would. and you are just standing there, staring out into the sea. that is one place i have imagined i would like to be.
> wow kind of gloomy
> yeah. but its still nice. no people at all. kind of like, everyone is dead and has been for centuries.

posted by thejoshu at 9:40 PM on July 6, 2006


you left out the middle part.
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 12:33 AM EST on July 7 [+fave] [!]


And what would that be? A contract with the devil? Demonic possession? MK Ultra? Bad acid trip?

Someone please explain the middle part to me.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:42 PM on July 6, 2006


Fucking high school.
posted by stet at 9:45 PM on July 6, 2006


George Bush was a little boy once too. BTW over romanticizing children can be an easy trap to fall into. There are lots and lots of children who are perfectly normal but very cruel to one another as well. Mind you most of them don't go around wanting others to die, and by and large children are less violent than most adults, but they have a sort of mindless cruelty to them as well. What makes them grow up to be vicious or kind lies, in a large part, in how they are (or are not) raised. If anyone could have caught this early it would have been the parents. Guns are not evil per se, but guns make certain violence easier, and if you are raised half in neglect and have access to guns that is irresponsible and bad parenting. This will happen again at some point, and schools will become more and more like prisons, sometimes it is hard to tell them apart nowadays, the building style seems very similar.
posted by edgeways at 9:54 PM on July 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


The question is what drives human beings to kill other human beings, isn't it? Having had the experience that I had in junior and senior High school, I can imagine, if it had been a little bit worse (I was mercilessly bullied by jocks), that I might have turned out a quite different person from the one I am today.

Yeah, ultimately, these kids were two little assholes who were failed by everyone. Certainly by their parents and the school and the law enforcement officials. But more than that, when you get down to what crafted them, what made them the social creatures they were, it was the social universe they were in. i.e., High School.

I think it's a simple equation. Constant social pressure/belittling/bullying/ etc. will fuel a consuming hatred, which, in a certain subsection of a demographic population, will result in a slide into what I could only guess is perhaps psychosis or some other abnormal mental state.
posted by geekhorde at 9:57 PM on July 6, 2006


I'm actually surprised it doesn't happen more often.
posted by geekhorde at 9:58 PM on July 6, 2006


I said it then, and I say it now, the US needs someone to just tour high schools delivering the same lecture over and over. "This school thing will pass and then you'll be on to something so much better, or at the very least you will get laid.
So think carefully about what you do. You do not want to miss getting laid. I promise."

Failing that, mandatory viewing of Heathers might help.
posted by BeReasonable at 10:11 PM on July 6, 2006


I'm so sorry, but I just have to:

Metafilter: You do not want to miss getting laid. I promise.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:22 PM on July 6, 2006


Not really sure Heathers would be a good choice, considering the satire that may be above your average high schoolers head. However it does stand as one my faves and has some of the greatest quotes in cinema.

Humor aside, the link is a chilling snapshot into the creation of killers. I'm a big believer in personal responsibility and thus I cannot accept that even children do not have some inkling of the results of their actions, regardless of their social pressures. These boys were monsters. How they got that way will doubtless be argued for years. I'd place a big chunk of blame on the parents, myself.
posted by elendil71 at 10:34 PM on July 6, 2006


(Now that I have that out of my system,) What's most fascinating to me about the decisions those two boys made is that, by widely-held standards of success in American life, they had it made. They came from affluent families, lived in a beautiful place, never went hungry, were safe....

I think one can infer quite a bit about the impact of what America really values in our culture at large, and the decisions about what constitutes happiness or success that flow from that. I see events like this as the extreme end of which the more "mundane" manifestation is the explosion of ADD/ADHD. Our kids are telling us that something is wrong with how we live, and how do we respond? By drugging them.* A couple of kids who could have it all decide instead, in all apparent rationality, to kill a bunch of people--and themselves--in a violent mass shooting and bombing. What the fuck kind of culture produces those two??

*Five million kids in North America are on Ritalin; the US & Canada account for about 95% of worldwide Ritalin consumption. And this is a powerful drug, too--from a 1999 Policy Review editorial:
Let’s put the question bluntly: How has it come to pass that in fin-de-siècle America, where every child from preschool onward can recite the "anti-drug" catechism by heart, millions of middle- and upper-middle class children are being legally drugged with a substance so similar to cocaine that, as one journalist accurately summarized the science, "it takes a chemist to tell the difference"?
posted by LooseFilter at 10:54 PM on July 6, 2006


Right, Ritalin made them do it.
posted by thirteenkiller at 11:12 PM on July 6, 2006


I think one can infer quite a bit about the impact of what America really values in our culture at large

posted by LooseFilter at 1:54 AM EST on July 7

I think the values point is important. It's controversial, and I'm sure it'll get the typical 'duh another stupid feminist' response that often seems popular around here, but Gloria Steinem's "Supremacy Crimes" makes some good points and raises tough questions to which I have yet to see any compelling answers offered.
posted by vitia at 11:18 PM on July 6, 2006


When I heard about what happened, I just nodded. I thought it was evil, but I understood why they did it. The social castes and bullying of schools are ruthless, and for years school administrators did nothing but wash their hands of it. The "This school thing will pass and then you'll be on to something so much better" speech only goes so far.

Harris and Klebold did a disservice to those of us left bullied and beaten and defensive by our school days: They martyred their bullies and made them heroes, while turning the outcasts into the ones to be distrusted.
posted by dw at 11:28 PM on July 6, 2006 [2 favorites]


Right, Ritalin made them do it.

Clearly, not what I said.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:32 PM on July 6, 2006


Wow. You folks really are cold in your souls. Deadly sardonic.
posted by persona non grata at 12:23 AM on July 7, 2006


These two guys were little kids once ... And then they walked into their high school with pipe bombs and automatic weapons.

Hitler was a kid once, so was Stalin, and Pol Pot. So was Charles Manson and Osama bin Laden. Why does it matter that they were teenagers when they did this? Adults flip out and kill people all the time, why is society so much more to blame when teenagers do it?
posted by delmoi at 12:28 AM on July 7, 2006


I see events like this as the extreme end of which the more "mundane" manifestation is the explosion of ADD/ADHD. Our kids are telling us that something is wrong with how we live, and how do we respond? By drugging them.*

I see your comment as devoid of meaning. What does Ritalin have to do with any of this? Maybe if they'd been on Ritalin or SSRIs they wouldn't have done all of these things. You're basically using this an excuse to rant about something completely unrelated. You have no idea if these kids had untreated add/adhd, and if they did it undermines your argument anyway.

Stigmatizing neurochemical imbalances as 'cries for help' is as stupid as trying to cure cancer with herbs.

Let’s put the question bluntly: How has it come to pass that in fin-de-siècle America, where every child from preschool onward can recite the "anti-drug" catechism by heart, millions of middle- and upper-middle class children are being legally drugged with a substance so similar to cocaine that, as one journalist accurately summarized the science, "it takes a chemist to tell the difference"?

Which is a big part of the problem. People view psychoactive substances as a moral failing, and blame depressed people for not working hard enough to be happy. It's bullshit. Who care's if it feels like cocaine anyway? Why is that bad?
posted by delmoi at 12:43 AM on July 7, 2006


It's not bad in and of itself, delmoi, it's bad because it's absurdly hypocritical. If it's okay for little Tyler and Ashley to take methamphetamine, why do their parents support putting folks in prison for decades for taking methamphetamine?

Not sure this has a lot to do with Columbine, but is is certainly bad from my point of view. If little Johnny can have methamphetamine to help him take the SATs, I should be able to take methamphetamine to help me clean my house.
posted by Justinian at 12:53 AM on July 7, 2006


Harris and Klebold did a disservice to those of us left bullied and beaten and defensive by our school days: They martyred their bullies and made them heroes, while turning the outcasts into the ones to be distrusted.

This was just about the most true statement I have seen on the topic in quite some time. Thank you for it, dw.
posted by nightchrome at 1:25 AM on July 7, 2006


Delmoi : One word - consequences. Hitler's genocide, or Pol Pot's atrocities were a means towards an end, whether a superior gene pool, or a Marxist-communist rural utopia; they weren't the goal in themselves. The Columbine shootings, on the other hand, were both the means, and the end. Which is why saying "they were once kids" has a special, deeper meaning here; they appear to have jumped directly from being toddlers to those handling guns without those character-building events that differentiate a teenager from an adult.

In a historical sense though, I would agree with you in that them being teenagers is besides the point. Most conscripted armies prefer soldiers in the same age group as these kids. Myanmar enforces its fascist regime through teenagers, and indeed, even Toul Sleng was full of 16 year old kids as torturers. Indeed, even "regular" conscripted armies such as those of Singapore and Israel, prefer citizens who have turned eighteen.

The difference, I'd like to emphasize, is that in all cases, the 17/18-year-olds followed orders in search of a higher goal. In Columbine, the 17-year-olds made the war-zone. Therein lies the difference.
posted by the cydonian at 3:22 AM on July 7, 2006


delmoi writes "People view psychoactive substances as a moral failing, and blame depressed people for not working hard enough to be happy."

Yep some people do that, usually ignorant moralists thinking that drugs are necessarily used only for entertainment and miss the difference between therapeutic and recreational use.

Yet I guess loosefilter was trying to make another point

LooseFilter writes "What's most fascinating to me about the decisions those two boys made is that, by widely-held standards of success in American life, they had it made."

Meaning, they didn't live an unhappy, stressfull, breaking kind of life for any american standard : on the contrary they had almost everthing they wanted, which in theory should have made happy+satisfied kids of them a.k.a. there is little or no frustration from _lack_ in their life or from _envy_

LooseFilter writes "Our kids are telling us that something is wrong with how we live, and how do we respond? By drugging them."

Well this is another bit of a provocative stretch, but I guess the point loosefilter is trying to make is : sometime we may be using a drug instead better understanding the causes of an abhorrent/apparently not normal behavior because it is convenient, we may be removing the unpleasant consequences and not bother with causes.

For instance, think about diabetes. It seems type 1 diabetes is not caused by an excess-of-sugar lifestyle , while type 2 seems to be caused by obesity. Obesity wasn't a widespread problem 20-30 years ago , probably because of a combination of a more outside-living lifestyle and reduced avaiability of fat/sugary foods, or maybe because more people now eat food more often -compulsively- then not, why ? I dont know.

In another paraellel, compulsive consumption of cigarettes is tought to be caused by a chemically induced unbalance in brain (induced by the cig itself) which affects the dopamine pleasure-circuit, creating a mild addiction. I quitted smoking they day I understood I was slave to a chemical sold to me by a band of legalized delinquents, understanding I wasn't feeling good while smoking the cig, I was chemically fooling my brain into a dependecy trip : yet it wasn't as easy as switching something on/off.

So it could be that some behavior we don't completely understand is caused by something in our lifestyle (consumption of cig is just an example) BUT because there is a drug that limits the effect and because it's avaiable therefore we may be entirely missing the cause, which some would place in lack of parental attention and guidance to childrens.
posted by elpapacito at 3:32 AM on July 7, 2006


via Loosefilter: ... as one journalist accurately summarized the science, "it takes a chemist to tell the difference"?

Either a chemist, or someone who's actually, you know, used the drug.

delmoi: Which is a big part of the problem. People view psychoactive substances as a moral failing, and blame depressed people for not working hard enough to be happy. It's bullshit. Who care's if it feels like cocaine anyway? Why is that bad?

I've known adults who take ADD meds, and I've known lots of adults who've been prescribed anti depressants. When they work, the most common phrase I've heard used to describe the experience is 'like being normal all of a sudden.'

So, "like cocaine"? Not hardly. Not what you meant, I know, but you were kind of led into that trap by the specious statement about chemical similarity.
posted by lodurr at 3:50 AM on July 7, 2006


Its a tragedy that the system and their families failed them, but the two teens are not victims who deserve more sympathy than damnation. They were old enough to make rational decisions and to fully understand what they proposed to do and its ensuing consequences. No, like thousands upon thousands of teenagers, they were angry at the world, and opted to respond in a violent manner. I think the fact that we don't have more incidents like this is incredible, given the great access to information and weapons in America.
posted by Atreides at 5:01 AM on July 7, 2006


From vitia's link...

"We will never reduce the number of violent Americans, from bullies to killers, without challenging the assumptions on which masculinity is based: ..., that they must find a place in a male hierarchy, and that the ability to dominate someone is so important that even a mere insult can justify lethal revenge. "

Masculinity isn't about dominance, it's about independence. It's easy to confuse the two when you have an agenda though.

Though, I'll keep and eye on the submissive males in the bar tonight and watch how the women line up to admire their humility and get all hot over their downcast eyes. Oh, wait. That's not how it works, is it?
posted by 517 at 5:37 AM on July 7, 2006


lodurr: "When they work, the most common phrase I've heard used to describe the experience is 'like being normal all of a sudden.'"

I've had people say similar things to me regarding meth and cocaine, too.
posted by empath at 5:50 AM on July 7, 2006


Wow, lots of people missing the point. Let me paint you a picture.

They were happy little kids, then after only a decade spent in a public high school system, they became ruthless maniacs. This isn't Ken Lay or George Bush or Hitler who commited acts after a full life's worth of experience.

The only thing that happened between happy litle kids and the columbine massacre was public school and their parents. From all appearances at this distance, their parents are nothing out of the ordinary. Therefore, it was the school.

Yes, of course they were responsible themselves, but Jesus, read some of these posts. 5 million kids on ritalin + Millions more on adderal or some similar drug + dozens of school shootings. What the hell kind of a system do we have that requires millions of kids to be constantly medicated just to function within it, and which creates such violent rebellion?

And here's my opinion. These two guys turned into first rate assholes. Granted. Set that aside now. Let's focus on what is probably still happening at Columbine and every other high school in America.

The idiocy of the jocks, their constort girlfriends, the stratification, the basic prison-like social organization. The idiot athletes who pick on people 80 pounds lighter than they are.

If any of the idiot Columbine wrestlers that picked on these two guys are reading this (and I'm sure they aren't), I have this to say:

You weren't so tough that day, were you?
posted by Pastabagel at 6:19 AM on July 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


lodurr: "When they work, the most common phrase I've heard used to describe the experience is 'like being normal all of a sudden.'"

empath: "I've had people say similar things to me regarding meth and cocaine, too."


Often people who have undiagnosed ADD/HD self-medicate with alcohol or street drugs. They experience clarity and focus while high. They also face all of the same risks of using addictive drugs as anyone else, which is why it's better to use Ritalin to treat ADD than something you cooked up in your basement.
posted by Biblio at 6:23 AM on July 7, 2006


elpapacito: Well this is another bit of a provocative stretch, but I guess the point loosefilter is trying to make is : sometime we may be using a drug instead better understanding the causes of an abhorrent/apparently not normal behavior because it is convenient, we may be removing the unpleasant consequences and not bother with causes.

I have it on good inside authority from a number of schools in three different states that kids are diagnosed with ADD and ADHD on the spot by teachers based on one or two instances of classroom misbehavior. These kids don't have aberrant behavior. They are not dysfunctional in society. They are, at worst, dysfunctional in the public school environment.

Mark my words. If you have a kid who is reasonably bright and creative, and is likely to get bored and restless in class when they do the multiplication tables for the 5th time and because the school cancelled art and music classes ten years earlier, you should assume that one day a teacher will mention to you that your kid has ADD and should see a psychologist.

When that happens to my kid, and I assume that it will, I hope the classroom window isn't on the second floor, because the teacher is going through it.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:30 AM on July 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


Pastabagel: my cousin went to Columbine & was there that awful day. I thank the god I don't believe in that she made it out alive. She's a good kid & doesn't deserve the nightmares I think she still has about it. Just keep that in mind when you choose to use the shooting as fodder for pushing your agenda. It was a terrible event that left real people dead & others scarred for life, not all of whom helped create the situation that pushed the boys over the edge & none of whom were responsible for whatever trauma happened in your own life to make you lash out like this.
posted by scalefree at 6:42 AM on July 7, 2006


Pastabagel : "The only thing that happened between happy litle kids and the columbine massacre was public school and their parents."

I wasn't aware their lives were so incredibly uneventful. All kinds of things happened to me between when I was 4 and when I was in high school. I discovered music, grew hair where there had been no hair before, had some crushes, made some friends, lost some friends, learned how to ride a bike...But all these kids had was school and parents? Man, that would make one go crazy.
posted by Bugbread at 6:49 AM on July 7, 2006


Pastabagel : "When that happens to my kid, and I assume that it will, I hope the classroom window isn't on the second floor, because the teacher is going through it."

I wonder if parents threatening physical violence on people they disagree with is a really positive influence...
posted by Bugbread at 6:51 AM on July 7, 2006


When that happens to my kid, and I assume that it will, I hope the classroom window isn't on the second floor, because the teacher is going through it.

You're right! Public school does make people violent!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:53 AM on July 7, 2006


we live in a culture where the idea that if you have a serious greivance against someone, you are entitled to take violent means into your hands and smite your enemies with extreme prejudice ... it's presented to us constantly in tv and movies ... the big hollywood hero shooting all the bad guys and solving all his problems that way

a few people are bound to try it for themselves, even though it doesn't work

another related problem is that people aren't taught to deal with adversity and conflict very well in a sheltered environment ... it causes a lack of skills and a sense of entitlement that can be outraged when it's violated

i'm still wondering just how severe the bullying they suffered from was ... the accounts i've read suggest that they weren't as bad as anything i had to go through in high school ... in any case, somewhere along the line their ability to cope sanely with the social pressure disappeared
posted by pyramid termite at 7:07 AM on July 7, 2006


The idiocy of the jocks, their constort girlfriends, the stratification, the basic prison-like social organization. The idiot athletes who pick on people 80 pounds lighter than they are.

If you made it out of high school and you're still miserable about it, it wasn't the school. You have emotional problems, and they don't originate with people in high school thinking you were a loser. Even if that exacerbated the whole thing.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:10 AM on July 7, 2006


Come on, people. Eric Harris was one twisted fucker; he was a sociopath exhibited most of the salient characteristics of a sociopath, and had a seriously fucked up home life. [On preview: Can't track down the article I read that discussed Harris and Klebold's relative roles, so I might should be referring to Klebold. In any case, at least one of them was a right sick fucker.]

It's just as stupid to lay this all at the feet of demonic school hierarchies as it is to lay it at the feet of the parents as it is to lay it at the feet of the kids themselves as it is to blame it all on drugs or Marilyn Manson.

There are cultural factors -- very big, hairy, imprtant cultural factors -- that played a big role in Columbine and all the other school killings that have happened in recent years. But blaming it all on bullying jocks and their "consort" girlfriends is just... petty. Stupid. Trivial. Silly.

You want to "fix" this? Here's a small start: Stop rewarding people with attention when they act out. Klebold and Harris thought they'd be remembered, and they were right.

Then you can move on to: trying to make parents take an approriate level of responsibility for and interest in their kids; getting educational institutions to pay more attention to kids as kids instead of as bodies to be pumped through the system like sludge; getting kids to pay attention to other kids as though they might have the same kinds of thoughts and feelings they do.
posted by lodurr at 7:18 AM on July 7, 2006


Oh, and, Pastabagel: WTF are you smoking? How in the world does it harm you or your kid for a teacher who sees the kid for something ranging between 4 and 40 hours per week suggests that it might be useful for the kid to see a shrink? You can just say "no", after all. Even joking about tossing the teacher out the window betrays a seriously messed up relationship with your sense of you and your kids' responsibiltiies and roles in the matter.
posted by lodurr at 7:22 AM on July 7, 2006


The only thing that happened between happy litle kids and the columbine massacre was public school and their parents. From all appearances at this distance, their parents are nothing out of the ordinary. Therefore, it was the school.

Your logic here is really second-rate; please re-examine.

The idiocy of the jocks, their constort girlfriends, the stratification, the basic prison-like social organization. The idiot athletes who pick on people 80 pounds lighter than they are.

This is another absurdly simplified caricature of reality. In my experience, excluding for movie characters, few high school kids fit well or exclusively into any one of these roles.

And this:

If any of the idiot Columbine wrestlers that picked on these two guys are reading this (and I'm sure they aren't), I have this to say:

You weren't so tough that day, were you?


..is just ridiculous and sick.
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:24 AM on July 7, 2006


It's just as stupid to lay this all at the feet of demonic school hierarchies as it is to lay it at the feet of the parents as it is to lay it at the feet of the kids themselves as it is to blame it all on drugs or Marilyn Manson

It was actually Ramstein amongst others they liked (they found Marilyn Manson to be somewhat of a sellout). But that's all beside the point. If music is going to make a kid perform such an act, plenty of other things are just as capable of doing so.

Violent music doesn't make violent kids. Violent kids listen to violent music. Most of the time, it's actually beneficial.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 7:37 AM on July 7, 2006


Still, magnet schools are a good thing. Done right, they give the kids who want to excel in some area some weight of numbers and move them to the center of the school's life instead of the fringe. Used to be every high school was in essence an athletic magnet school, since that was the thing they spent money on and determined who the school's social leaders were. Say what you will about the decline of public education in America (and you'd probably be right), magnet schools are the leopard's kidneys.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:38 AM on July 7, 2006


We are not so jaded that this juxtaposition can be permitted to go without comment:
Violent music doesn't make violent kids. Violent kids listen to violent music. Most of the time, it's actually beneficial.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 7:37 AM PST on July 7 [+fave] [!]
Metafilter: It's the Leopard's Kidneys!
posted by lodurr at 7:43 AM on July 7, 2006


[comment][notice]
posted by lodurr at 7:43 AM on July 7, 2006


Just a quibble. Look at the Wikipedia articles for methylphenidate (ritalin) and for cocaine. They are not at all similar. Methylphenidate is more similar to methamphetamine.

Just a word about the wonders of psychoactive substances. I have a co-worker who has some pretty severe ADHD. She is nearly unfunctional when she is not taking her meds. She loses things left and right, leaves projects halfway finished, commits some serious breaches of loss prevention involving not locking certain things or laying money about unattended. When she's medicated, it's a whole other story. She's competent. Is that a failure of American culture? I don't think so.

Is it sad that so many children are exhibiting these symptoms? Yes. Does that mean we should demonize the treatment (even if the treatment may have unforeseen effects?)? I don't think so. What is the root cause of ADHD? I suspect that the toxic soup that we live in has something to do with it. We're pretty ignorant about infant brain development, in some respects, and we have no real idea what trace amounts of toxins will have on said development. Our modern houses are absolutely filled with chemicals, from pesticides to adhesives to other things. We understand pretty well what toxicitiy means as far as what it takes to kill an adult, most of the time, but we don't really understand what effect trace amounts of toxins have on human development. But that's just my gut feeling about the issue.
posted by geekhorde at 8:33 AM on July 7, 2006


And this:

If any of the idiot Columbine wrestlers that picked on these two guys are reading this (and I'm sure they aren't), I have this to say:

You weren't so tough that day, were you?

..is just ridiculous and sick.


Is it sick to hope that, even for a little while, that some bully will think twice before pummeling a freshman that could just as easily come back for justice Columbine-style?
posted by dr_dank at 8:37 AM on July 7, 2006 [2 favorites]


Yeah it is sick because it doesn't address the underlying attitude of bullying, it just makes the bully find a different channel for expressing his intimidation, one that won't rebound on him.
posted by scalefree at 8:56 AM on July 7, 2006


I went to a magnet school once. Now I can only take a bath pointing north.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:46 AM on July 7, 2006 [2 favorites]


god damnit do not blame anyone else besides me and V for this. don't blame my family, they had no clue and there is nothing they could have done, they brought me up just fucking fine, dont blame toy stores or any other stores for selling us ammo, bomb materials or anything like that because its not their fault, i dont want no fucking laws on buying fucking PVC pipes. we are kind of a select case here so dont think this will happen again. dont blame the school, dont fucking put cops all over the place just because we went on a killing spree doesnt mean everyone else will and hardly ever do people bring bombs or guns to school anyway, the admin. is doing a fine job as it is, i dont know who will be left after we kill but damnit dont change any policies just because of us. it would be stupid and if there is any way in this fucked up universe we can come back as ghosts or what the fuck ever we will haunt the life out of anyone who blames anyone besides me and V.
-- by Eric Harris (at page 942)
posted by brain_drain at 9:47 AM on July 7, 2006


Weren't Klebold and Harris big Red Sox fans?

It explains a lot.
posted by xmutex at 10:02 AM on July 7, 2006


High schools around the country are lawless holding pens for adults who have no legal rights.

Ritalin is chemical lobotomy that allows families and societies to do what they like and drug away the consequences.

If sociopaths are victims of mental illness, then don't vilify them. If they aren't, then there are no victims of mental illness.

If society doesn't offer people the freedoms that they want, and the opportunities to exercise those freedoms, then they have a right to take up arms against their oppressors.

columbine, Oklahoma, Ruby Ridge, Waco. Why is a segment of our society so unhappy? Are they merely on the fringe, or are they pushed to it?

...somewhere in all this is Eric... and all the other young people who live and die violent deaths every day in the U.S.
posted by ewkpates at 10:05 AM on July 7, 2006


columbine, Oklahoma, Ruby Ridge, Waco.

This list contains heterogenous elements.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:12 AM on July 7, 2006


dr_dank: "Is it sick to hope that, even for a little while, that some bully will think twice..."

Had to be done, really.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:17 AM on July 7, 2006


If society doesn't offer [sociopathic teenagers] the freedoms that they want, and the opportunities to exercise those freedoms, then they have a right to [go on a shooting spree].

That seems pretty silly when you give it some context, now doesn't it?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:34 AM on July 7, 2006


I want the freedom to oppress you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:46 AM on July 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


The most incendiary account of life at Columbine I have found is here.

I don't know how much this version can be relied upon, but I think it deserves to be taken into consideration. I found it through MetaFilter, but have not tracked down which thread.
posted by jamjam at 10:49 AM on July 7, 2006


jamjam, here's the thread discussing that article.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:01 AM on July 7, 2006


I don't know how much this version can be relied upon, but I think it deserves to be taken into consideration.

i don't ... as nasty a person as this wrestler may have been in high school, the author doesn't indicate that he's ever had any personal contact with him ... which really makes me wonder what entitles him to that level of hatred towards him

people grow up, get out in the real world and become different people than what they were before in high school ... people who were once cruel and thoughtless turn into reasonably nice people ... people who were once abused and bullied find a better place to be and build a life for themselves

it's a cliche, but the best advice anyone could have given those two is this - "the best revenge is living well" ... and they had as good a chance to live well as anyone ... or in other words, as my father used to tell me, those jocks and other popular people are having the best times of their lives in high school ... after that, it's not going to be so good for them ... they're going to work, they're not going to be the star of the game anymore, they're just going to have to get used to the idea that society doesn't reward them for what they do as an adult in any other form than that of a paycheck

the author of that rant doesn't have a clue about that
posted by pyramid termite at 11:06 AM on July 7, 2006


Thank you, monju_bosatsu!
posted by jamjam at 11:08 AM on July 7, 2006


I see your comment as devoid of meaning. What does Ritalin have to do with any of this?

Well, even though elpapacito did a good job filling in the blanks, let me flesh out the details you chose to completely miss:

Thirty years ago, there was no ADD or ADHD, nor was there a need to identify such a disorder. The problem is one of the modern world, and appears to be particularly pernicious in North America. It's pretty clear that things we are doing to ourselves are causing many people many problems. ADD/ADHD may be caused by toxins, too much TV under the age of 2, whatever (we don't know), but there has been an explosion of a disorder that, in many quarters, is still debated as to what, exactly, the illness is.

I was attempting to draw a correlation: there seem to be a lot of health problems (physical and emotional) that have exploded in the last few decades, and are due to things we're doing to ourselves. Our children--by suffering from (or being misdiagnosed with, which--make no mistake--happens on a huge scale) ADD/ADHD and things like it---are telling us that our way of life is profoundly unhealthy. Harris and Klebold, in their spectacularly sick way, were saying the same thing.

People view psychoactive substances as a moral failing[...]

Again, way to miss the point. If you want to talk about ADD/ADHD in particular, that's a derail, but suffice it to say that many tens of thousands (or more) of children on the very strong drug Ritalin, are misdiagnosed--when instances of acting out are labeled as a disorder. I saw this myself several times as a teacher. This is not a condemnation of medicine being used as medicine. It is a criticism of American culture's strong tendency to want a pill to fix everything. Many times, a pill really helps. Great. But for thousands of kids, they're being drugged because it's easier.

My point is that it seems to me that Harris and Klebold should be telling us that something is wrong with all of us, collectively as a society; not just that something was wrong with the two of them.

but I guess the point loosefilter is trying to make is : sometime we may be using a drug instead better understanding the causes of an abhorrent/apparently not normal behavior because it is convenient, we may be removing the unpleasant consequences and not bother with causes.

Yes, elpapacito that's what I was getting after. Many thanks for expanding on that for me.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:20 AM on July 7, 2006


scalefree: I'm sorry about your cousin and what she had to go through. Please believe me when I say that I understand that it was real, and my comments are not directed to the majority of students like her.

Everyone else: relax. Do you take everything you read in a discussion forum literally? Sheesh. I wouldn't really physically act out against any teacher, obviously. Good grief.

I find it this notion fascinating:

How in the world does it harm you or your kid for a teacher who sees the kid for something ranging between 4 and 40 hours per week suggests that it might be useful for the kid to see a shrink? You can just say "no", after all. Even joking about tossing the teacher out the window betrays a seriously messed up relationship with your sense of you and your kids' responsibiltiies and roles in the matter.

Please. Even joking about something betrays a messed up relationship? Really, jokes? You know what's messed up? That you think a teacher is qualified to diagnose anything. A teacher sees an entire classroom of kids maybe 5 hours a week. On that basis, they can pick out a single kid as having a serious mental disorder because they get restless in class? Teachers who are barely trained to teach their subject are now psychologists. That, my friend, is messed up. And what happens if you say no, because you think the kid is bored. Any hope of solving the problem?

It's funny how certain concepts are off limits. No one is allowed to ask what the hell was going on in that school, why would kids do this, what provoked them, etc. Those subjects are somehow off limits. There's bullying in every school, but what was going on here that made it erupt like this?

You weren't so tough that day, were you?

Why is this ridiculous and sick, exactly? Please tell me why these guys who were so tough when they picked on kids half their size didn't stand up to defend a single one of their classmates when something real happened.

Actually, now that I think about it, I would like one of those guys to explain why they didn't stand up to defend anyone? Aren't athletics supposed to build character and leadership? So, did any athletes display any?

Oh no wait, that question is off limits. Shhhh. Let's go back to calling Eric and Dylan evil, because that explains everything.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:34 AM on July 7, 2006


Thirty years ago, there was no ADD or ADHD, nor was there a need to identify such a disorder. ...

OK, hold it, stop right there: This is an unfounded and unsupported statement. How in the world would -- how could you -- know if this statement were true? What evidence would you use to prove or disprove it?

Prima facie, it's a lot like saying "Thirty years ago, there was no AIDS or HIV, nore was there a need to identify such a disease."

You're stating your case in far stronger terms than is warranted.
posted by lodurr at 11:42 AM on July 7, 2006


Psychiatric diagnosis is mostly fiction. Sometimes it is useful fiction that helps us identify treatment methodologies... and in these cases it is a flexible fiction that changes with the patient and/or the clinician's perception of the patient.

But, its still mostly fiction.

It is only useful to one model, one point of view, to say that they were sociopaths. They certainly didn't want to go on a shooting spree, from the beginning of their lives, to the exclusion of everything else. They ended up at that choice because of a set of other choices and experiences, most of which were dictated by their society.

So monju, it's silly to say that "murderous sociopaths don't have any right to go on shooting sprees". That's what's silly.

Please feel free to continue with the reductionist fallacies though. Keep 'em coming! It's Friday!
posted by ewkpates at 11:43 AM on July 7, 2006


pastabagel: It's funny how certain concepts are off limits. No one is allowed to ask what the hell was going on in that school, why would kids do this, what provoked them, etc. Those subjects are somehow off limits. There's bullying in every school, but what was going on here that made it erupt like this.

LOL! Oh, but that's just bullshit, and you know it. In the years since, I've heard little else but such speculation.

That you fail to be able to remember seeing or hearing that speculation is interesting. It argues that we probably ought not take you seriously when you talk about other things.
posted by lodurr at 11:45 AM on July 7, 2006


So monju, it's silly to say that "murderous sociopaths don't have any right to go on shooting sprees". That's what's silly.

I'm puzzled by this statement. It seems to me that your argument would support moju's assertion, and yet you say your argument confounds it.

In any case, I would still fail to see what's mistaken or silly about the statement "murderous sociopaths don't have any right to go on shooting sprees". Seems to be pretty clear and obvious, to me. Are you saying that they do have that right? Or are you saying that it's a silly statement because "murderous sociopath" is a "silly" term?

Tangent: This whole tendency we have in America to dismiss anything that's even vaguely "psychological" is just fascinating to me. We are at once the most psychologistic culture on earth, and the culture that's most distrustful of psychological concepts. Often -- I daresay, most often -- these attitudes co-exist in the same person.
posted by lodurr at 11:49 AM on July 7, 2006


This is an unfounded and unsupported statement.

Apologies--I should have said, thirty years ago there were few or no diagnoses of...etc. etc. My point is that, in a VERY short time, North America went from zero to FIVE MILLION.

(And as ewkpates points out, there are important differences between identifying and diagnosing a physical infection and illness, like HIV/AIDS, and a psychological disorder.)
posted by LooseFilter at 11:54 AM on July 7, 2006


Society needs to protect individual liberty and reinforce inclusion so that those people who might otherwise be classified as mentally ill can find constructive contributive expression for their interests and culmination for their desires.

Sociopaths don't want to shoot people. They end up shooting people because they are denied everything else that they want.

Do we need to prevent them from harming people? Absolutely. Do they have a right to life, liberty, happiness? No duh.

Tangent: Distrust psychiatry? Impossible! Doubt the very foundations of a profession that began with Fraud? No No! View with skepticism a soft science constantly undercut by hard research? Ridiculous!

Poor Tom Cruise. He questioned our myths, now he must pay. Poor Dr. Breggin. He turned science on his profession of quacks and was labeled... a quack.
posted by ewkpates at 11:58 AM on July 7, 2006


On posting, w/r/t lodurr's tangent--I certainly don't mean to be dismissive of illness. Quite the opposite, actually. I'm just trying to point out that psychological illness in children, particularly the extreme manifestation found in our Columbine shooters, certainly seems to have exponentially increased in the past few decades.

So, what's up with that? Are we making kids (and ourselves) crazy? Are we poisoning ourselves? Are we making it up, and just being self-indulgent whiners?
posted by LooseFilter at 11:59 AM on July 7, 2006


ewkpates: All I can say in response to you is what I have already said. "Often -- I daresay, most often -- these attitudes co-exist in the same person."

You are damning psychology by deploying the concepts upon which it is founded -- which is to say, via psychologistic reasoning.

And while you're at it, you're confusing "psychology" as an area of scientific study with clinical psychology and psychiatry. Painting with a very broad brush, today.

There are other sciences that have been founded in "fraud". Chemistry comes to mind, and modern medicine -- should we abandon those, too? Should the existence of hard data that confounds theory be taken as a condemnation of the field of study -- the same field, after all, which lead to the hard data?
posted by lodurr at 12:06 PM on July 7, 2006


ewkpates: "Sociopaths don't want to shoot people. They end up shooting people because they are denied everything else that they want."

That's so true! Sociopaths would much rather strangle, rape, brutalize, torture, and eat people! But a lot of sociopaths are also cowards. So they're kind of stuck with the whole guns & explosives euvre.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:08 PM on July 7, 2006


The only thing that happened between happy little kids and the columbine massacre was public school and their parents. From all appearances at this distance, their parents are nothing out of the ordinary. Therefore, it was the school.

What makes them grow up to be vicious or kind lies, in a large part, in how they are (or are not) raised.

Look, the evidence strongly contradicts that parents have next to any influence on how their children turn out, once genes are controlled. In fact the entire systematic environment - schools, neighborhoods, parents, social class, peer groups, etc. - explains very little of life's common outcomes (such as how much money you will make or if you will go to jail), much less completely unique events like the likelihood you will die by getting fucked in the ass by a horse or if you are going to shoot up your school. You can't predict or explain totally unique events, or even 1 in 100 million events, as if they were reoccurring or systematic events like the consequences of drinking and driving. Marilyn Manson + bullying + mommy doesn't hug, does not equal shooting up your school. Add as many "intuitive" variables you want, the correlation will still be 0.

When I heard about what happened, I just nodded. I thought it was evil, but I understood why they did it. The social castes and bullying of schools are ruthless, and for years school administrators did nothing but wash their hands of it.

I think it's a simple equation. Constant social pressure/belittling/bullying/ etc. will fuel a consuming hatred, which, in a certain subsection of a demographic population, will result in a slide into what I could only guess is perhaps psychosis or some other abnormal mental state. . . I'm actually surprised it doesn't happen more often.

The idea that these kids were some sort of hyper-bullied outcasts was debunked a long time ago. They were average kids of average popularity. Just more weak made-up folk theories to "explain" in retrospect, what no one could have predicted ahead of time with their own simplistic variables.
posted by dgaicun at 12:15 PM on July 7, 2006


But, I'RFH, can't you see that if we just gave them what they wanted, they wouldn't have to do the whole guns & explosives thing?

'Course, if you're right, what they want could be kind of unpleasant...

(The whole "society makes sociopaths" rap gets old pretty fast. I mean, if society is so good at making sociopaths, why doesn't it make more of them?)
posted by lodurr at 12:15 PM on July 7, 2006


Eric Harris was prescribed fluvoxamine. The autopsy pathologist didn't bother to check whether any was present in his blood, though.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:16 PM on July 7, 2006


Thirty years ago, there was no ADD or ADHD

Nope, it might not have been called ADD/ADHD 30+ years ago but it has recognized at a disorder since ...oh around the turn of the last century and the use of amphetamines for the disorder has been going on for about 70 years.
posted by squeak at 12:18 PM on July 7, 2006


In fact, doesn't the fact it "doesn't happen more often" show you why your theory sucks? Why your "simple equation" is ridiculous?
posted by dgaicun at 12:18 PM on July 7, 2006


I'm painting with a broad brush because there is so much too paint... I'm using science to condemn arbitrary fiction and speculative theorizing...

I'm not saying that chemistry and psychology will never stand on equal footing, I'm saying that all of psychiatry and all of psychology stand on the same footing as philosophy, which is to say no footing at all.

Ms. Henderson... is exactly your audience.
posted by ewkpates at 12:26 PM on July 7, 2006


dgaicun, I was taken aback by one thing you asserted -- that parents "have next to [no] influence on how their children turn out, once genes are controlled." So I followed your link, and I think I understand what you're saying: That there's next to no influence on "measurable personality."

I can buy that. But that's quite different from saying that they have next to no influence on how the kid "turns out."

How the kid turns out is a lot more than personality. We are, each of us, a lot more than our 'measurable personality.' Even hard-core personality-theory types are quite clear on that.

So yes, it's possible to raise someone who has, shall we say, an innate lack of respect for others, but who yet behaves well in society. That is in fact a function of his upbringing: How he behaves.

I'm reminded of something that Scot McNealy said a couple of years back in a Wired interview: "If I'd been born 50 years earlier, I'd have wound up in prison." What me meant was that his natural impulses found an outlet in business in the late 20th century that (he imagined) they wouldn't have, earlier. He was outing himself as a little bit of a predator.

Back to "measurable personality": I think that's a great concept. But what is it, really, a measure of? Most of the inventories I've seen are designed to be taken without contemplation, so that they get you at your gut reaction level. The concept has limitations, but I think people who actually do real research in the field understand them. The point is that you're trying to get someone's "natural", "innate" tendencies. But what about their manifest tendencies?

What we become, ultimately, is a function of what we are and what we experience. Part of what we experience is that "village" that's made up of our parents, our neighbors and extended family, our schoolmates and teachers and ministers, etc.

Where I think we have something interesting going on in 20th/21st century America (and indeed most of the post-industrial and trans-industrial world) is that we're constantly tearing that "village" apart and re-assembling it in new ways. I could argue (but won't, here) that the environment starts to co-evolve with us (well, with our society and our culture) after a while, especially as things like ideologies and economic systems come into play. It seems to me that our system of consumption selects for more fragmented family structures. such structures make people more nervous, more uptight -- more prone to engage in "economic behavior" (i.e., consumption).

What does that mean for sociopaths? I think it means that there's a good likelihood that they will not be socialized; that they'll be more willing to understand how thin the rice paper is between order and chaos.
posted by lodurr at 12:36 PM on July 7, 2006


I'm saying that all of psychiatry and all of psychology stand on the same footing as philosophy, which is to say no footing at all.

And yet, you seem uninterested in providing a footing for your own assertions.
posted by lodurr at 12:37 PM on July 7, 2006


Stand back, everybody! ewkpates is using SCIENCE!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:37 PM on July 7, 2006


dgaicun : "The idea that these kids were some sort of hyper-bullied outcasts was debunked a long time ago. They were average kids of average popularity."

Thanks, dgaicun, I wasn't aware of that.
posted by Bugbread at 12:48 PM on July 7, 2006


and I think I understand what you're saying: That there's next to no influence on "measurable personality"

Nope. Type 'shared environment' into Pubmed along with any variable you think is important (longevity, crime, income). Parents will mostly have little to no long term effect. Life outcomes are a lot more complex than previous generations of social scientists thought, and this is know becoming very apparent in the social sciences. Parents are not a huge source of influence outside of group identity variables like how you will vote (but not your actual political values!) or what religion you identify with.

Blaming parents for one of their sons becoming a shoplifter is folly, blaming them for one of their sons becoming a horse-fucking, transvestite mass-murderer is madness.
posted by dgaicun at 12:57 PM on July 7, 2006


I guess I'm not following your reasoning. You say that life outcomes are more complex than previously supposed, but then you say that you can demonstrate that parental influence isn't a significant part of that complexity?

Also, I wonder how it could be that "parents" could be a Pubmed "variable." What are you looking for? What are you testing? Can you give me an example of some query you'd perform, and the result set?
posted by lodurr at 1:02 PM on July 7, 2006


LOL! Oh, but that's just bullshit, and you know it. In the years since, I've heard little else but such speculation.

That you fail to be able to remember seeing or hearing that speculation is interesting. It argues that we probably ought not take you seriously when you talk about other things.
posted by lodurr at 2:45 PM EST on July 7 [+fave] [!]


Oh really? Does the converstaion proceed along the lines of what would drive kids to do this in general, or what I am asking, which is what drove these two particular kids to do this particular act at that particular place.

I keep hearing about some vague bullying, but that happens everywhere, right? Was there really any bullying? If so, then what specifically was done to these guys, by whom and why did that person do it, etc. Trace the chain of events, identify the parties involved etc, run eveything to the ground. Investigate.

Nice ad hominem attack, btw. I won't respond in kind. If you actually read the comment in context, you'll see that I wasn't calling for speculation, I'm calling for very direct and narrowly focused questions, along with answers. Who, if anyone, did what to these two guys, how often, and why did they do it?
posted by Pastabagel at 1:04 PM on July 7, 2006


Pastabagel, did you read dgiacun's link (the one called "debunked")?
posted by thirteenkiller at 1:06 PM on July 7, 2006


I did read the comment in context. I quoted your whole paragraph. You said no one was talking about what went on in that school. And I say again: You have to be willfully ignoring it not to see that people have discussed that very topic, ad nauseum.

In any case, I suggest you read the Slate piece that dgaicun points to. It's what I was referencing in one of my earlier comments, but couldn't remember the source for. It answers some of your questions, indirectly.
posted by lodurr at 1:09 PM on July 7, 2006


lodurr, again type 'shared environment' into pubmed. It's a term used in behavior genetics to describe the effects of shared household environment. I'm not going to go through a tutorial here but if you take two unrelated kids and raise them in the same house they will grow up as different as two random strangers. Therefore the shared parents did not result in them being more alike.

By "complex" I mean life outcomes are not easily captured by the 'intuitive' macro-variables that people typically use 'explain' them. Scientists need to look for new variables, we don't know them yet or even where to begin looking for them. We only know what they aren't.
posted by dgaicun at 1:20 PM on July 7, 2006


lodurr : "You say that life outcomes are more complex than previously supposed, but then you say that you can demonstrate that parental influence isn't a significant part of that complexity? "

I'm neither agreeing or disagreeing with the initial statement, but generally if something is a significant part of an issue, it means that the issue is not so complex. When there are few significant parts, but many small parts, complexity is greater. So I don't think there's anything contradictory with saying "A is very complex, and therefore B cannot be weighed very heavily into it".

lodurr : "You said no one was talking about what went on in that school. And I say again: You have to be willfully ignoring it not to see that people have discussed that very topic, ad nauseum. "

I think the whole "This Cannot Be Discussed" thing that Pastabagel is on about is quite silly as well, but if you look at Pastabagel's last comment, at least it's a bit more clear. He wants to know, specifically, who, on what day, did what to Harris or Klebold. If dgaicun's link is true (and I have no special reason to believe it isn't), then the reason we aren't discussing it is because there is no "who" "when" and "what" in relation to bullying, because there wasn't bullying (or, at least, not enough to warrant discussion). If, however, there was bullying, I have to concede that, while we do often talk about it in the general, we don't really hear "Ralph Jones punched Eric Harris in the nose on July 2. On July 6th, Jim Roberts pushed Klebold off his chair at lunch and took his spot" type stuff. While I'm not going to say that that information would be particularly useful, Pastabagel's initial comment ('We don't discuss this stuff') does at least make some sort of logical sense, as it's true that we don't discuss specific individual actions by specific individual people.
posted by Bugbread at 1:21 PM on July 7, 2006


ewkpates: if Tom Cruise & Peter Breggin are the leading champions of your position, I'd say it's time to call it a day.
posted by scalefree at 1:30 PM on July 7, 2006


You know what's messed up? That you think a teacher is qualified to diagnose anything. A teacher sees an entire classroom of kids maybe 5 hours a week. On that basis, they can pick out a single kid as having a serious mental disorder because they get restless in class? Teachers who are barely trained to teach their subject are now psychologists. That, my friend, is messed up.

Not to veer off topic, but I found this short-sighted. Yes, sometimes teachers only see students for a few hrs a week. And yet they are often called on to nearly raise these kids. They see the kids, interact with the kids in many cases more than the parents do.

At home kids can go in their room, shut the door, crank up the ipod and their problems can be overlooked by parents who may just think of them as regular, moody teens. At school, they are forced to sit in that seat and the teacher may often have more of a chance to see through to someone who is being bullied, becoming severely depressed or just...a moody teen.

I mean, damn, give some underpaid, overworked teachers some credit, would ya? I think it's doctors that are too quick to prescribe meds that should receive your skepticism.
posted by CwgrlUp at 1:31 PM on July 7, 2006


Oh, you're talking about twin studies (and their ilk). I understand now. I wasn't following your term of art. (Which is a little counter-intuitive, wouldn't you say? After all, it's a non-shared environment...)

I still think you state the case too strongly. I don't have access to the databases that you do, so I can't back this up with a query, but I would expect to find a lot of what I would regard as similarities in the upbringing of those disparate children. E.g., if they're growing up in similar millieus, that's an argument for influence, not against.

I'm not arguing -- nor would I ever -- for a tabula rasa idea of human potential. I am arguing that interesting variations are possible, and particular with regard to moral behavior. And I would also argue that it is quite possible to intentionally raise a psychopath. Ceaucescu did precisely that for years in his state orphanages. But that gets to the whole difference between pathology and "normal" behavior, which is probably not somewhere most people will be interested in going.
posted by lodurr at 1:33 PM on July 7, 2006


scalefree, you Freud loving Commie you...

From your Breggin page: His 18 books, most written for the general public, attack psychosurgery, electroconvulsive therapy ("shock treatments"), Prozac, Ritalin, and the use of psychiatric drugs in general.
So, on my side is this guy and Tom Cruise... sure, that could look bad... but on your side is Freud, Prozac, Ritalin, psychosurgery, and electroshock.

Please. You can come over if you like, I won't say anything to anyone.

Science: May cause unpleasant chaffing.
posted by ewkpates at 2:04 PM on July 7, 2006


(he seems to be talking about what would be the opposite of twin studies, shared environment not shared genetics)
posted by raedyn at 2:05 PM on July 7, 2006


(alright, could be, but I have to go home now.)
posted by lodurr at 2:09 PM on July 7, 2006


ekpates, perhaps you'd like to enlighten us: Exactly what sciences of mind are not fraudulent? And is it ever appropriate to prescribe drugs for "psychological" problems?

'Cuz I'm left kind of not really understanding what you're talking about. You've tarred 'all of psychology and psychiatry' with a broad and damning brush, but you lionize 'hard data.' Well, where does that hard data come from, if not from psychological research?

So, again: Tell us what's not hokum. I think it will then be easier for us to tell what you're on about. In the mean time, I just really don't have a clue.
posted by lodurr at 2:12 PM on July 7, 2006


but I would expect to find a lot of what I would regard as similarities in the upbringing of those disparate children. E.g., if they're growing up in similar millieus, that's an argument for influence, not against.

Again, two unrelated children brought up together in the same household from infancy are no more alike, on average, than two random strangers from the population. How in the world is such a finding possibly evidence for parental influence?

And I would also argue that it is quite possible to intentionally raise a psychopath. Ceaucescu did precisely that for years in his state orphanages.

This is false and pernicious. It is indeed - quite obviously - possible to damage an infant or child through criminal abuse or neglect. These orphanage children were rescued after the fall of that regime and adopted into foreign homes, and many of these children were indeed damaged in their social and health capacities, but it is insane and ugly to call any of them "psychopaths", which has a specific clinical meaning. At most we can say they are slightly more likely on average to get in trouble at school. That's it - that's what we found. Jesus.

I'd advise you to, in the future, please not make up pernicious facts about adopted children; it's already hard enough to get people to adopt precisely because of sensational misinformation like this.
posted by dgaicun at 2:46 PM on July 7, 2006


Amen, dgaicun.
posted by agregoli at 2:47 PM on July 7, 2006


Six billion people on the planet. It was bound to happen soner or later.
posted by Jimbob at 3:08 PM on July 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


"I have it on good inside authority from a number of schools in three different states that kids are diagnosed with ADD and ADHD on the spot by teachers based on one or two instances of classroom misbehavior."

I know it's pretty easy to make a sweeping statement that too many kids are diagnosed with this but my mother taught public elementary school, various ages, for over 30 yrs in 2 states - and every time she had to get a kid diagnosed with any disability it required a lot of paperwork and tests to be given to the child. Those are not given by the teacher but by a specialist who comes in from outside. Usually the process can go faster if the parents simply take the child to a specialist of their own and have the child tested - but this generally means they have money. In the lower income schools my mother taught at she actually did take the trouble to get many children tested and get extra help. Which didn't always mean a diagnosis of ADD or meds btw.

"A teacher sees an entire classroom of kids maybe 5 hours a week. On that basis, they can pick out a single kid as having a serious mental disorder because they get restless in class? Teachers who are barely trained to teach their subject are now psychologists."

Most public schools have a system of school psychologists/counselors who will work with teachers/administrators to help a child. But the teachers do have to notice signs of trouble ahead of time, and it's not always easy especially if the child switches schools frequently. If a child exhibits enough symptoms teachers will usually call a meeting to decide what to do, bring in the parents, discuss options, etc. Of course all this depends on how much money a district has for this kind of staff and this kind of time. Many private schools don't have such a set up. In high school though they may not be seeing the child as often as in elementary, teachers still meet to discuss the students and figure out what may be something that needs extra help. But remember, there are a lot of kids, a lot with problems, and not much motivation to stay in a teaching career. And in some schools teachers really have to push to get a district to spend the money to give a child tests in order to diagnose a problem.

Meanwhile I had the impression that Harris and Klebold's parents sent them to counseling outside school - so that the school officials could assume that something was being done to give these two some help. Not that it did...
posted by batgrlHG at 3:09 PM on July 7, 2006


Someone please explain the middle part to me.

The lack of a middle part represents the lack of effective parenting that ends up with 13 people dead.
posted by frogan at 3:43 PM on July 7, 2006


OK, dgaicun, so I touched a nerve. But you really should grow a tiny bit thicker skin.

I'm sorry that you couldn't see I was trying to engage in dialog.
posted by lodurr at 4:24 PM on July 7, 2006


This thread is probably dead now, but I'd like to point out that yes, I've read dgaicun's link here before, and also this one. You'll note that neither of those articles states that EH or DK were not the subject of bullying, it points out simply that jocks were not targets on the day of the shooting. That's doesn't mean that they weren't bullied (it doesn't mean they were either, it means, yet again the question is going unanswered).

Also, neither one of those articles, nor any other that I've seen, makes any attempt to answer (a) what the hell happened to these two kids between ages 4-16 to make them end up as killers, or (b) what was the environment at the high school in the years they were there.

Specifically, dgaicuns's Slate link describes what experts think they turned into, and what their mental state was leading up to it. But that's not what I'm asking about.

I don't acre what the kilelrs mindset was, they were obviously raging lunatics. I want to know objectively waht was going on at that school, in their home lives, leading up to this. The school obviously had something to do with this, because they didn't kill their parents (like another school shooter Kip Kinkel), and they didn't shoot up a shopping mall. The school was the focus.

Consider this reprint of a Washington Post article about the school: The pair knew of instances where athletes convicted of crimes went without suspension from games or expulsion from school. They witnessed instances of athletes tormenting others while school authorities looked the other way. They believed that high-profile athletes could finagle their way out of jail.

In one episode, they saw state wrestling champion Rocky Wayne Hoffschneider shoving his girlfriend into a locker, in front of a teacher, who did nothing, according to a close friend. "We used to talk about Rocky a lot," said the friend, who asked not to be identified. "We'd say things like 'He should be in jail for the stuff he does.' " Another friend of Klebold's, Andrew Beard, remembers distinctly Klebold's rage at four football players' "getting off" after destroying a man's apartment last year.

posted by Pastabagel at 6:12 PM on July 7, 2006


bardic writes "White people are crazy."

It just appears that way because they all look the same, one nut job taints the whole pool.

dw writes "When I heard about what happened, I just nodded. I thought it was evil, but I understood why they did it. The social castes and bullying of schools are ruthless, and for years school administrators did nothing but wash their hands of it."

And:

Mayor Curley writes "If you made it out of high school and you're still miserable about it, it wasn't the school. You have emotional problems, and they don't originate with people in high school thinking you were a loser. "

The worst five years of my life were grades 6-10 (in grade 11 I got into an Honours program that isolated me from the evil). I wouldn't say I'm still miserable about it but I don't have much in the way of fond memories either. And even at the time I couldn't have cared less what those stupid bastards thought of me. I just wanted to be left alone. The stories that came out on /. in the weeks after Columbine were very revealing and gave me a real sense of not being alone.

pyramid termite writes "it's a cliche, but the best advice anyone could have given those two is this - 'the best revenge is living well' ... and they had as good a chance to live well as anyone "

I think Niles said it best:
Frasier: NILES!  Niles, get a hold of yourself!  Stop it!  Stop, stop.  
It's all right. You're no longer an awkward teenager, you're
a renowned psychiatrist. Danny Kreizel may have won a battle
or two back in junior high, but that's where he peaked. You
won the war. You know the expression, "Living well is the
best revenge"? Niles: It's a wonderful expression. Just don't know how true it is.
Don't see it turning up in a lot of opera plots. "Ludwig,
maddened by the poisoning of his entire family, wreaks
vengeance on Gunther in the third act by living well." Frasier: All right, Niles. [heads into the kitchen] Niles: [follows him] "Whereupon Woton, upon discovering his
deception, wreaks vengeance on Gunther in the third act
again by living even better than the Duke." Frasier: Oh, all right!

posted by Mitheral at 7:44 PM on July 7, 2006 [2 favorites]


U forgot Seinfeld: "Sounds nice, doesn't really work on that
Charles Bronson kinda level. You know what I mean, those movies where his whole family gets wiped out by some street scum. You think you could go up to him, 'Charlie forgot about the .357 what you need is a custom-made suit and a convertible. New carpeting, french doors, a divan. That'll show those punks."

"we live in a culture where the idea that if you have a serious greivance against someone, you are entitled to take violent means into your hands" - posted by pyramid termite

I think at least part of the problem is there. They thought they'd be remembered for the distruction/killing, etc. And our culture reacted with typical fascination/revulsion /attraction/distortion.
Them saying they wanted to be remembered reminds me of the Brown's Chicken Murders. The two guys there said they wanted to be remembered for something big.

From Moore's flick I remember being impressed with Marilyn Manson, being asked what he'd say to those two kids and his replying something like: "I wouldn't talk I'd listen."
posted by Smedleyman at 12:17 AM on July 8, 2006


Also, neither one of those articles, nor any other that I've seen, makes any attempt to answer (a) what the hell happened to these two kids between ages 4-16 to make them end up as killers, or (b) what was the environment at the high school in the years they were there.
— Pastabagel

Do you really think something happens to people that makes them do and feel things? You must be far denser than even your previous posts showed you to be.
posted by blasdelf at 7:04 PM on July 8, 2006


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