changes all the time. It is, indeed, people who need to initiate change.
Not with the
red tape of Washington, D.C., but the far more complex task of looking
in the mirror everyday."
class of 2002...the last class of Columbine students to witness the
events of April 20th, 1999, the 46 minutes that changed the world, graduated.
They were freshmen then. During that time, the suicide deaths of star
basketball player and Columbine student Greg Barnes and Carla Hochhalter,
mother of Anne Marie Hochhalter, another shooting victim of that fateful
day, still reverberated through the community.
"Survivor's Guilt", "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder"
and other psycho-babble become mainstays in conversation as the FDA
(Food and Drug Administration) and the APA (American Psychiatric Association)
battle out the effects of Luvox and Ritalin on suicidal/emotionally
Michael Moore comes to town, climbs on his soapbox of sand pimping his
own brand of self-righteousness and lining his own pockets with the
movie, "Bowling For Columbine".
The media feeding frenzy begins to wane as they move on to another disturbing
itinirary of school violence: Demming, New Mexico; Mt. Morris, Michigan;
Savannah, Georgia; Lake Worth, Florida; Santee, California; Gary, Indiana;
New Orleans, Louisiana; Red Lion, Pennsylvania; Cold Spring, Minnesota;
Washington, D.C, Red Lake, Minnesota; Jacksonboro, Tennessee; and regretably
and most recently in Colorado, Platte Canyon High School.
Each incident always referencing Columbine, like some sickening standard,
posing the burning question: "What will the world remember"?
Columbine was not the first school shooting, and painfully will not
be the last. George Santayana echoes this sentiment in his quote, "Those
who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
The decay in society's social fabric continues to spread, and with it,
dire consequences. An observation of how things have changed over time
was recently making it's rounds on the internet:
School: 1957 vs. 2007
Jack goes quail hunting before school and then pulls into the school
parking lot with his shotgun in his truck's gun rack.
- Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car
and gets his shotgun to show Jack.
- School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and
never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized
students and teachers.
Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.
1957 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins.
Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
- Police called and SWAT team arrives—they arrest both Johnny and Mark.
They are both charged with assault and both expelled even though Johnny
started it and Mark was just defending himself.
Jeffrey will not be still in class, he disrupts other students.
1957 - Jeffrey sent to the Principal's
office and given a good paddling by the Principal. He then returns to
class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2007 - Jeffrey is given huge doses
of Ritalin. He becomes a zombie. He is then tested for ADD. The school
gets extra money from the state because Jeffrey has a disability.
Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.
- Mark shares his aspirin with the Principal out on the smoking dock.
- The police are called and Mark is expelled from school for drug violations.
His car is then searched for drugs and weapons.
Pedro fails high school English.
1957 - Pedro goes to summer
school, passes English and goes to college.
2007 - Pedro's cause is taken up
by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching
English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class
action lawsuit against the state school system and Pedro's English teacher.
English is then banned from core curriculum. Pedro is given his diploma
anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak
was, at one time, perhaps meant to be darkly humorous, but has somehow
devolved into a vatic observation laden with irony. The foundation for
such devolvement can perhaps be retraced to the passage of Roe vs.
Wade in 1973, the government sanctioning of the devaluing of human
In 1996, Charles Derber wrote an almost prophetic book called, "The
Wilding of America" in which he observed cultural deterioration
and the actions of people like Susan Smith, OJ Simpson, Rob Marshall
and the Menendez Brothers. Had Mr. Derber waited 3 more years his novel
would have been significantly thicker by the tragedy of Columbine.
Though printed in 1996, Derber perhaps nailed the cause of such deviant
behavior by citing that it is, "..a manifestation of degraded American
individualism". Noting further, "Wilding is individualism
run amok,' and that "Individualistic culture promotes the freedom
of the individual and in it's healthy form nurtures human development
and individual rights. In it's degraded form, it becomes license for
unrestrained and sociopathic self interest.".
The sting of Columbine is still felt 10 years later, in many shapes
and forms. The backlash of "zero tolerance" and the reformation
of school policies affects people who don't even remember or barely
remember Columbine. The Thunder Ridge student expelled for calling a
female student who struck him first a "beaner" or the Overland
student expelled for having a knife in the bottom of his backpack after
going on a camping trip and forgetting to remove it.
Yet, with all such policies in place, even all over the world, it did
nothing to stop the slaughter of High school students and innocent bystanders
in Waiblingen, Germany as recent as last month. The Winnenden shootings
now join the ranks of Red Lake, Pearl, Thurston, Platte Canyon, Nickel
Mines, Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois University, Erfurt and countless
others which school violence have shattered their community.
Such events invoke the questions, "What will be the last bastion
of civil society?" Policy changes all the time. It is, indeed,
people who need to initiate change. Not with the red tape of
Washington, D.C., but the far more complex task of looking in the mirror