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School shooters are far less significant than Michael Moore thinks.

What spurred this past decade's confounding spate of schoolroom carnage? Constrained answers like "Those two boys in Littleton were just messed up" seem unable to sate the national craving for the kind of deeper, more probing explanation that Michael Moore's sprawling new documentary, "Bowling for Columbine," purports to feed.
Exploring why Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 15 (including themselves) and wounded 23 at Columbine High School in 1999, Mr. Moore--the left-wing provocateur best known for his loaded arguments against the auto industry--takes on not only Kmart (which sold the bullets) and the National Rifle Association (which held a rally in nearby Denver soon after), but Lockheed Martin, American support of Chile's Gen. Augusto Pinochet, Bill Clinton's bombing of a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory, the "CIA training" of Osama bin Laden, the bombing of Kosovo, slavery, the Los Angeles riots, air pollution, the television show "Cops," welfare-to-work programs and a slightly addled Charlton Heston.

Thus when Moore asks rhetorically, "Why not blame bowling?"--Harris and Klebold's last activity before going berserk--the facile answer seems to be, yeah, let's blame bowling, too.

Mr. Moore does duly discount such standard scapegoats as violent films, predatory video games and family breakdown. Despite his showcasing of gun nuts and gun stores--in the film he takes two Columbine survivors to Kmart to "return" the bullets that hit them--Mr. Moore, an NRA member himself, argues convincingly that gun ownership is not the core problem, either. Insofar as he submits any cogent alternative theory, it runs that two boys murdered 13 bystanders in Colorado because corporate America creates a "culture of fear" to better hawk its useless products.
This is a big stretch. And as painful as it may be for victims' families to live with stark, unmitigated loss, to take from these deadly teenage temper tantrums any grandiose "lessons" is to elevate small, mean fits of spite to a mythic status they do not deserve. Worse, by seizing on school shootings as totems of all that is wrong with America, we offer the role of cultural icon to any disaffected 15-year-old who swipes the keys to his grandfather's gun cabinet.

Indeed, the perpetrators' own writings contain plenty of pretentious sociological twaddle that would be right up Mr. Moore's street. Before opening fire in Mississippi, 16-year-old Luke Woodham penned, "Always beaten, always hated. Can you, society, blame me for what I do?"

In a word, Luke? Yes. Blaming a killing on the killer, period, may seem unsatisfyingly obvious. But by reprieving the culprits, we only ask for more tragedy: Shoot up your algebra class, and we won't fault you personally, just weak gun control or Marilyn Manson.

In extensively researching school massacres for my last novel, I was struck not by how much these incidents had in common, but how little. Any understanding was best assisted not by widening the lens, like Mr. Moore, but by zooming into the minute particulars of say, in Woodham's case, a short-lived girlfriend and a mother who chaperoned every date. The fact that he stabbed his mother seven times and then bashed her to death with an aluminum baseball bat demotes his subsequent assault on a school prayer group to an afterthought, and hardly testifies to the "culture of fear" wrought by greedy corporate America.
School massacres, like Teletubbies, are a fad. Sixteen-year-old Brenda Spencer may have been a trial blazer with a precocious shooting spree in her Cleveland high school in 1979--because, as the Boomtown Rats memorialized, "I Don't Like Mondays." But the rest are copycat crimes. Thus to the conventional options confronting despairing sophomores--write a mawkish poem for English or drain Dad's Absolut--we now add the standard resort, strafe the cafeteria with an assault rifle.

If perceiving this grisly phenomenon as merely a fashion seems reductive, at least anything that comes into style can go out again. With luck, at some point hip 13-year-olds just won't want to be seen with a MAC-10 in second period.

Sometimes the squalid is simply squalid. What may be noteworthy about juvenile rampages is how little they mean--or perhaps just how specific they are to particular families with singularly disturbed sons. Hence the derivation of lofty "lessons" from small, ugly stories threatens to distort the truth as much as to distill it. Although it takes enormous intellectual discipline and runs counter to the interests of the pundit industry that Mr. Moore exploits, let's do try to preserve the category of the pointless.
knee-jerk right-wingers HATE michael moore 19.Oct.2002 09:50

GRINGO STARS

Do you live in a vacuum? Are the Columbine shooters merely "bad boys?" Is your head warm deep in your colon?

No one lives in a vacuum, actually. I don't and neither do you. The shooters are icons because our press made them into it. Our culture of violence and fear demand that we pay attention to them. The fact that our country aggressively pushes to solve its problems like a murderous gangster would, has NO bearing on how an average, schooled (hence "institutionalised") youth sees the world and acts on it? Think, man, think!

It's true that the shootings were the fault of the actual shooters. Duh. But to ignore the fact that our culture is moving in a particularly violent and fascist direction, and meanwhile these shootings are happening more and more often, is VERY unperceptive of you, Lionel Shriver. They used to NEVER happen. Did you know that?

not so sure this is right wing 19.Oct.2002 10:43

perhaps?

I am not so sure this is a right-wing screed- for one thing no denies that
it is the individuals responsibility to own up to murder and
while the ad-induced paranoia that make for easy selling of weak gun laws
can certainly be corporate-induced (these are the same sharks that
forced the US-led scuttling of the the small arms treaty - one that
would have made these arms much harder to come- and prevented
bloodshed with the US is the NO 1 exporter of arms - fueling bloodbaths
within Nicarauga, El Salvadore, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and lately Palestein to name just few ahem
www.google.com but I digress)

Actually what would be closer to the mark would be to both zero in
narrow the focus, as the writer above suggests, then find out how
out how outside factors explode situations (much like the US funding the
takeover by Pinochet, look it up in www.google.com - or fueling the Iran / Iraq war which
those gassed Iranian soldiers that the Bush administration is now weeping over
I am sure are now grateful for the belated support coming as it does years
later and after giving the Iraqis the ingredients and logistical
support to employ the gas google.com ahem).

Anyway in my opinion M Moore has more then a bit to say about the
the broad picture however I haven't watched the movie yet
(I will go see it now for certain-- I was wavering in that I thought the
movie was just about the two shooters).

I hope this poster generates lots of comment and participation.
It's an issue that should be discussed.

Gene Siskel is rolling over in his grave 19.Oct.2002 13:33

k-dog

I have not seen "Bowling For Columbine" yet , - I'm looking forward to it though because I find Moore's films to be incredibly entertaining: and "entertaining is the operative word here - He entertains notions and ideas extrodanarily well, and it is by this fact that his films stand out he'll take an idea and run with it (to extremes occasionally) and he hypothetically at least presentsus with some ideas we wouldn't come up with normally.
He is a humorist filmmaker - you're reading into the material too literally without allowing yourself to be entertained anything he presents to you, would it matter to you if someone read you're book and told you that it sucked if they were illiterate? I doubt it.

Problem Solving 19.Oct.2002 15:16

Rough Idea

Why do youngsters today resort to violence to solve their problems?

I don't claim to know all of the reasons, but could it be because small minded adults constantly embrace violence as the preferred way to resolve problems? This is demonstrated repeatedly in the foreign, and increasingly in the domestic policies of the U.S. government, as well as increasing frequency at your neighborhood Little Leage game.

I might consider supporting school prayer, if it consisted of fundemental principles like:

-Thou shalt not kill
&
-Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Until religious folks can commit these basic principles to memory and practice, they have zero moral standing in telling others how to conduct themselves.

Most organized religions today appear to share the same common goals: feed to greedy needs of the church, and spread hate and contempt for those who don't subscribe.

Here's a couple more for those holyer than thou:

-Judge not lest ye be judged
&
-Let he who is without sin cast the first stone

Moore, the ditch carp of democracy… 19.Oct.2002 20:43

FWR

Moore, the ditch carp of democracy...

Michele Moore is a fake. He pretends to be on the side of the little guy but he is a millionaire, and now just exploiting the poor to make is stupid error clogged films.

I hope he runs on the Green party ticket in 2004, we need the help...

quite simply 20.Oct.2002 03:53

oh, just some right wing gun nut, probably

Firearms have been around for over 1/2 of a millenium. I'll line up to turn mine in when the violent crimals line up to turn their guns in, and when the Police and Military around the world who routinely slaughter the unarmed citizens of their bananna republics, and ours too, line up to turn their guns in. Then we can melt them all, burn all the knowledge about manufaturing them in a big pile, erase the wealth of knowledge about firearms on the 'net completely, and wait around with whatever edged and blunt weapons are left until somebody re-invents gunpowder. Now, I'll concede that the Chinese had it a long time before cannons came on the scene, but I somehow doubt that there was no murder rate or military agression in the Seven Kingdoms at the time. In the same sense that I enjoy looking at the similar statistics on violent crime in Europe vs. the U.S., and noticing that violent crime always goes UP when weapons are banned. Happened in Australia too, go figure...
Did any of you catch the fact that Moore himself is an NRA member in the above post ?!? Now, I enjoy his movies, too, though I generally disagree with his more simplistic knee-jerk Leftist arguments. I'm gonna have to check out WHY he is alledgedly an NRA member...this seems too strange to be true.

Michael Moore Entertainment vs. Truth 20.Oct.2002 17:20

Holocaust Victim Incarnate

... ..the family is far from satisfied with the sheriff's explanation. Sue Petrone recalls how, when she showed Taylor a photo in the April 21, 1999, Rocky Mountain News of her son lying on the sidewalk outside the school, "his face went ashen." And many details of Taylor's "eyewitness" account coincide with physical evidence the family has since uncovered, evidence that's seriously at odds with the official story.

"If the guy was lying, it's strange that he got so many things right," says Brian Rohrbough. "Where was he getting his information?"
 http://www.westword.com/issues/2002-03-07/feature.html/1/index.html

"This is the worst school shooting in the country, and they destroy the primary record of what their officers did that day?" Rohrbough asks. "They don't save a copy for anybody? I find that really hard to believe."

"How do we [heal] with the truth still hidden, rewritten, destroyed and covered up?"
-- Dawn Anna, whose daughter, Lauren Townsend, was killed in the Columbine shooting.

"Our window to find answers is dissipating. We've asked the questions. We have no answers."
-- Al Velasquez, whose son, Kyle, was killed in the rampage.

 http://columbine.n3.net/

I have to agree with the Right wing gunnuts absolutely correct interpretation as it applies to the very foundations of the 2nd amendment as written within the constitution. There has never been a genocide committed by an armed citizenry. Just ask the Holacaust victims, and visit Jews For the Preservation of Firearms.

Then ask yourself was Columbine an event to create massive GUNCONTROL. Perhaps Michael Moore might discover another side of the story.

I am a huge fan of Michael Moore as a filmmaker, and concerned American Citizen.  http://www.michaelmoore.com/ He is truly heroic, having written one of the most controversial books in decades, STUPIDWHITEMEN. and having been stubbornly persistant, expressing his rights to the First Amendment revolving around the grossly inadequate roll of the publishers to ship the book in a timely manner. This would be called censorship.

As for Bowling For Columbine I would urge everyone to view his latest project. He is such a very talented humorist, which is revealed in all of his projects from Roger&Me to The Big One, and TV Nation. Bowling For Columbine should be another rollicking adventure.

I have not seen Bowling for Columbine, and because of this I am unable to make any pertinent commentary, but the title certainly signifies the exploitation of Columbine
Victims gunned down in cold blood, by the authorities, and the Colorado State Legislature who are doing a professional job as always at protecting the JeffCo Police Dept. and other Federal authorities who are the most readily visible TERRORISTS in America today committing thousands of unjustified homicides, from Waco to Columbine, to Ruby Ridge and using the mass media to coverup their acts of murder and atrocities.

On another layer, the mass media creates fear and hysteria in Americans in which Michael Moore rightly points out in Bowling for Columbine, even though violent crime is down, and blown completely out of proportion by the mass media which are WHORES plain and simple.  http://www.skolnicksreport.com/liars.html

-Holocaust Victim Incarnate

MM is a Fucking moron 21.Oct.2002 12:21

The Black Asp

Blaming two kids and their dipshit parents is two far fetched for Moore, it has to be everybodys fault accept the shooter.

I think GW was the third hidden shooter,

My personal favorite remark of Moore's was " we should open all our borders and let in every imigrant that wants to come here,"

That would help the economy numbnuts!!!