Last month, I woke up, after a worse than usual fitful sleep, and my home page was flooded with posts about guns (all anti-gun control) and about eight different posts about how allowing God in the schools would have stopped this horror somehow the shooting of all those people, mostly babies in my opinion, in Connecticut .
The monster who committed these acts, and he was a monster regardless of cause, would have committed these acts in a church if that had satisfied his needs better. There's no logic to this. Stop looking for one. I for one am disgusted with much of what our formerly great country has deteriorated to, and can readily see many, many issues that probably affect our children in negative ways. A whole lot more than a lack of prayer in schools.
How many people gladly supply their teenage children with the most violent video games imaginable, allowing them to immerse themselves in a violent blood soaked cyberworld for hours at a time, ignoring scientific research that clearly shows these youths developing what can only be described as an immunity to violent images after a very short period of time? How many Zombies does a disturbed youth have to murder on screen before his cravings rise to dramatic and horrible levels? How many criminals do your kids have to emulate in popular games, even killing policemen, (check out the popular "Grand Theft Auto) before their learned morals and standards of behavior begin to change, and not for the better?
You think I'm wrong? Read the studies; watch a few of the worst of these games. And, there are parents supplying much younger children with them and allowing them to play for hours on end. Now add a young person with serious mental disorders into the mix.
And then when something like this happens, the question arises, "Where did he get the idea to do this!?"
For those wanting immediate gun control, there hasn't been one law proposed in my lifetime that would have prevented this if passed. For those against any form of gun control at all, how many more mass murders do you need? Once again, the assault rifle debate is on. The belief that their availability wouldn't have changed the outcome is a bit stretched in this case, don't you think?
The easy answers just don't work once you get away from shrill and dogmatic rants from the true believers on both sides of the issue. But clearly, we, as in the United States, have a problem nobody else in the world seems to have on the levels that we do. No populace is as armed as we are. But then again, unless you want a total ban on any weapons at all, there are no easy solutions. As for prayer in the schools, this man was a total psychopath. He may have thought God was telling him to kill, he wouldn't be the first. (You know the old adage, it's OK to talk to God, but if he starts to answer, seek some help). I was raised when a school prayer and celebrating Christmas in school was OK and the words "under God" were in the Pledge of Allegiance. But realistically, my religious education came from religious instruction at the church, not the school.
The Morning Prayer and the pledge were pretty meaningless to most of us at that age. And I was Catholic, others I knew, members of many mainstream Protestant religions, had Bible study after church. The bottom line was, the large majority of religion based morals never came from the school. That is a strictly political argument with little bearing on reality.
In my day, schools taught "the 3 Rs", parents were responsible for your moral compass. Too many have now abdicated that chore.
Looking at the elections of the last 16 to 20 years, going back to Bill Clinton, the hatred it generates, the self-righteous and dogmatic beliefs and most especially the actual anger and hatred directed toward the opposing side, you could make a much better case that children growing up and listening to their adult role models routinely spewing hateful and downright venomous lies and half-truths at each other might have more to do with what happened than guns or prayer. How many people even on Web sites have made "joking" comments about assassinations said it in front of young people? How about a candidate for national office publically mentioning her understanding of people wanting a "Second Amendment solution"? How about the person just north of here with a sign on his lawn saying we'd "Re-nigged" in the last election?
When adults routinely display that sort of intolerance and hatred based on race, religion or political party, why is anyone surprised that our children sometimes begin to see others as less than people?
We live in a society of entitlement, and I don't mean welfare or any other public assistance. I mean a society where material things are must-haves, not just wants, where people routinely overspend to make absolutely sure their kids get what the next kid has, even if it's ridiculously overbudget. Kids grow up seeing adults literally fighting over toys, camping out at stores for that certain special item, and generally making a mockery of the Christmas season, turning it into a totally commercialized orgy of consumerism. Kids grow up resentful of everyone who has more than they do, and react with anger when they can't have it too. Kids have been murdered for pairs of shoes or laptops.
Kids never have to take responsibility for their actions. We have all sorts of new psychological diagnoses to excuse what used to be just bad or rude behavior, or temper tantrums. Now we have "Oppositional Defiance Disorder" or "Intermittent Explosive Disorder" to allow for disrespect and rude or even assaultive behavior toward those in authority, and parents more than willing to sue over efforts to control their disruptive kids. By the way, it also entitles kids to have expensive and personal aides in the classroom. They can abuse them as well. Forget throwing totally disruptive kids out of school, consequences for actions is not part of our current society.
Yet at the same time we've eliminated any kind of expectation for long term mental health care for those that really need it. And yet we wonder why society seems to be steadily coarsening, and why so many kids are turning dangerous. Look at every city in America on a daily basis, not just the occasional mass killing, before you pass judgment on that last line.
I don't know about you, but I'm just holding my breath waiting for the next madman who chooses to outdo this last one. In the meantime, I expect most will just keep pointing fingers and blame and hate at that other guy, the one who doesn't believe or behave exactly like you do.
Paul Christopher is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org