Columbine

A serious one today.

Ten years have passed since the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. 15 were killed, including the two gunmen. Many more were injured.

There have been similar attacks on predominantly young people across the world both before and since Columbine, with many questions still open to question.

One that interests me, and that everyone is likely to have an opinion on, is this.

Should the parents of the gunmen have been sued by the families of the victims, as well as those who actually sold them the weapons?

$2.5m was awarded to the victims’ families in 2001.

They also wished to sue the makers of violent video games, seeking punitive damages in the region of $5bn, as the gunmen had left home-made videos and journal entries claiming that their inspiration came from certain games.

Not surprisingly, the lawsuit was dismissed – because video games are not subject to product liability laws.

Should they be? Do you believe that games, movies, music, comic books or anything else that in some way glorifies violence, can make a person capable of inflicting such brutal acts upon others? Should the makers and distributors of these games have been held at least partly accountable for the massacre?

Parental negligence is one thing, but multi-billion-dollar industries peddling hate to impressionable youth is surely another matter entirely. Few would argue that continued exposure to violence results in de-sensitisation.

But then, aren’t the parents ultimately responsible if they don’t know what their children get up to when they’re out of sight (likely to be most of the time, with many parents running dual-income households and teenagers needing their space) or if they allow them to access inappropriate material (for whatever reason)?

I’d like to know whether you blame the parents in cases such as this tragic one, those profiting handsomely from the mass production of violent media, or society at large for generally failing the populace… and then encouraging us all to enthusiastically apportion blame and seek to be compensated at every opportunity, with absolutely no guarantee that doing so will change anything for the better.

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

70 thoughts on “Columbine”

  1. It’s not the games – it’s merely alone the fact that civilian people have an opportunity to get their hands on weapons.

    No weapons, no Columbine, no Winnenden (latest German case 5 weeks ago).

    I know a lot of gamers that never killed – but I do not know just one case of running amok without a gun.

    1. To use a cliche, weapons don’t kill people, people kill people. If you take away the guns, the knives, the explosives, etc., violence will not automatically cease.

      The root of violence is not in the weapon per se, but in the individual using the weapon.

  2. I saw a piece on the news this morning about this (I was too young to know about it at the time) but the thing that struck me was that even after ten years it’s still happening today. If anything, these kind of attacks seem to have increased in the last few months.

    Although these are undoubtedly truly tragic events, I think that they are situations where there are two main things to blame, but you can’t really sue either of them.

    Firstly the killer themselves is obviously to blame – we all have free thought, and ultimately it is they who decide to go on such rampages as these. Whilst they should, and are, held accountable, they often commit suicide at the time of the attacks, thus rendering them unsueable.

    Secondly, the laws and system which allows such an easy acquirement of guns and similar weapons is to blame. I know it’s easy for someone living in a country where gun ownership is much more difficult than in countries where it is easy (such as America); and I know that the right to bear arms is an oft-used excuse for gun ownership, but ultimately, if a country makes it legal to buy guns, can it really be surprised when someone uses one to kill someone?

    Finally, neither the games/film makers, parents nor gun shop owner should be legally responsible. It’s the person with the gun who chooses to do it. Games and films are used as an excuse because it is preferable to admitting that there are people in society who for whatever reason, choose of their own free will to kill.

  3. Two schools of thought run through my mind on this at the moment.

    1. More gun control laws need to be implemented.

    When I was in Texas back in 1980 visiting an aunt, she left a gun on top of her television set. It was chrome with a white handle. To be honest, it looked rather like a cap gun. Anyway, my sister picked it up and aimed at me and pulled the trigger. Thankfully due to the fact that my younger sister did not know how to handle a gun she completely missed me and the bullet landed in the wall about 4 feet above me. My aunt came back into the room and took the gun off my sister. My sisters and I all cried as we did not realise that the gun was real. My aunt admitted later on that she left it on her telly to kill rattlesnakes when she entered the house. She momentarily forgot that there were now kids in the living room in the presence of a gun. So that is how easy it was for us particular kids could get hold of a gun.

    2. Bring back the cane! The youth of today have absolutely no respect for anybody or anything and that is because there is a lack of discipline both at home and at school. The soft “time out” business does not work all the time, you know. I also think that it is also down to the break down of the family unit. Kids are running wild. Something has got to give.

    1. Sounds like a lucky escape, Julie. How scary that must have been for you all.

      There does seem to be a definite lack of discipline in some quarters. The tales we’ve probably all heard about teachers having to pussyfoot around their pupils for fear of an assault or an accusation of some sort – from either child or parent, as many parents often refuse to believe that their little angel could be anything other than a delight at school – simply beggar belief, don’t they?

      I’m not sure about bringing back the cane. For one thing, we’d have to do away with those awful ‘personal injury’ lawyers first. We don’t want a load of them hanging around the school gates, asking the little ones if they’ve had any accidents or injuries at school in the last three months, promising them compensation. 😉

    2. In Arizona it is now illegal to smoke in a bar… because the second hand smoke can kill you. It is also illegal to own a swimming pool without a fence around it, because kids could end up in it and drown. It is illegal to leave a baby or an animal in your car unattended, because of the deaths from that. It is illegal to strike your child, for many reasons not just limited to physical trauma and psychological breakdown. It is illegal to abuse your pets.

      However, there is no law against having a loaded gun laying around anywhere in the house.

      I work with a lot of people that brag about guns all over the house… that’s America for you, the land of people that make no sense at all. 8|

    3. Actually in the U.S., many states now have laws that require a gun lock be sold with every gun. Of course that only applies to the guns that are legally being sold and it doesn’t guarantee that the locks will be used when the owner brings the gun home.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

  4. Of course movies (Rambo, particularly the last one, Notorious will most likely be a cause of some violence later). There are so many that make it look easy and elegant for children. Movie theaters need to be more diligent on who they let inside. Here in Ca, they don’t check to see ID or really care apparently, neither to a lot of the parents out here. Out here the kids run the game of life, but that is sort of a different topic. Games like Grand Theft Auto 1, 2, 3, 4 and more than likely a 5, 6, 7… etc, on the way, definitely desensitize the children who are playing them, along with many other games. The days of playing fun games, Super Mario Brothers and Olympic and other sports games are long over. Sad and true.

    Now on to the suing bit. Honestly, the parents need someone to blame for their child dying. I know I would. They will never find the ONE thing that put those kids that killed or maimed their children, over the edge. The ultimate blame needs to go on the one(s) that committed the act.

    The media blamed the parents, blamed the music (Marilyn Manson, Rammstein, which isn’t BAD music). Music has always been open to interpretation and they either did or didn’t interpret correctly (if in fact music was to blame), they blamed the gun sellers, makers. Why not blame the movie theaters, the movies, the director of the most violent movie? Then you’d have to blame authors too for some books out there that cause violence, then the bookstores that carry those books…

    1. Good points, Robyn. I’m glad you mentioned the (sensationalist) media.

      Funnily enough, I watched Rambo over the weekend. I don’t think I’ve witnessed such a graphic display of the horrors of conflict since Saving Private Ryan.

  5. Marilyn Manson wrote an excellent song about this horrendous event after the media inaccurately blamed him for the shootings. He was incorrectly fingered and one of the shooters favorite singers.

    What’s great about the song is that when it starts you think its about the shooters but by the time it ends you realize its about the media as well…

    The Nobodies

    Today I’m dirty
    I want to be pretty
    Tomorrow I know, I’m just dirt
    Today I’m dirty
    I want to be pretty
    Tomorrow I know, I’m just dirt

    We are the nobodies
    Wanna be somebodies
    When we’re dead, they’ll know just who we are
    We are the nobodies
    Wanna be somebodies
    When we’re dead, they’ll know just who we are

    Yesterday I was dirty
    Wanted to be pretty
    I know now that I’m forever dirt
    Yesterday I was dirty
    Wanted to be pretty
    I know now that I’m forever dirt

    We are the nobodies
    Wanna be somebodies
    When we’re dead, they’ll know just who we are
    We are the nobodies
    Wanna be somebodies
    When we’re dead, they’ll know just who we are

    Some children died the other day
    We feed machines and then we pray
    puked up and down in morbid faith
    You should have seen the ratings that day
    Some children died the other day
    We fed machines and then we prayed
    puked up and down in morbid faith
    You should have seen the ratings that day

    We are the nobodies
    Wanna be somebodies
    When we’re dead, they’ll know just who we are
    We are the nobodies
    Wanna be somebodies
    When we’re dead, they’ll know just who we are

  6. But ultimately the blame should be on those that committed the act. The parents should be blamed as well in that case, because they allowed the guns in the house to begin with and knew of thoughts that their kids had but didn’t believe anything would come of it.

    A similar shooting happened out here in Ca, at Santana High, where the kids of my former managers went to school. Scarier when it hits close to home.

    I had more previously but forgot to type in name and all that jazz and the rest was lost. Either way those are my thoughts and that toy makers need to stop making realistic looking guns to emphasize to kids that it’s okay to carry guns. The parents need to stop buying them things like that just because their friend has one. Some kids get anything they want, particular out here in Ca, with one little screaming tantrum. God forbid you let your child cry because he/she didn’t get the toy they wanted. Would it be okay to slap an adult when they do so? But that’s violent so no is my answer. But don’t you feel like it sometimes? It’s the parents that are dumbed down and the children due to that.

    Gotta run…

    1. Some kids get anything they want, particular out here in Ca, with one little screaming tantrum. God forbid you let your child cry because he/she didn’t get the toy they wanted.

      Going back to Julie’s point, that raises the issue of whether or not parents should be allowed to smack their children when they perform those high-pitched, ear drum-shattering tantrums in public.

      Shame on me, perhaps, but I know that I’d much rather see a little brat earn a slap across the legs rather than whatever piece of plastic or chocolate it was screeching so desperately for.

  7. Your last paragraph really sums up the bulk of the problem. As a society we allow not only the companies to market violence carte blance but also as parents we allow our children to participate in its hypnotic trance.

    Here in the states these companies often hide behind the ideals of free speech, artistic license, and market demands when questioned about their responsibility in the matter. The idea of the schools having the responsibility of “in loco parentis” has become a sad irony, too–we charge our educators with too much of the responsibility of raising our children and then blame them for not doing a good job all the while legislating and litigating those same educators in to a corner where they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Maybe that came as a reaction to the stereotype portrayed in “Another Brick in the Wall”, but maybe it is time for the pendulum to swing back a bit more toward center.

    Columbine is truly a sad example of what happens when we allow the combination of marketed violence, negligent parenting, and social ignorance to run unchecked.

  8. My view on violent media is that it is hardly the reason someone goes postal.

    If someone plays a violent game, then picks up a gun and shoots someone, that person was mentally imbalanced. The vast majority of people can easily tell the difference between the game world and the real world. Personally, I’ve been playing games since I was 5 years old, and I’ve watched all sorts of violent films since a young age too, but I’ve never felt any need to re-enact the scenes in real life. Obviously you cannot generalise from one result, but I would suspect that the vast majority of people are exactly the same.

    The same goes for all types of media.

    The problem is made worse by the media jumping on the “murderer had a copy of GTA4, so obviously GTA4 causes people to commit murder” bandwagon. I seem to remember one media source trying to blame the events of September 11th 2001 on Microsoft Flight Simulator!!!

    Ultimately, it’s the parents’ responsibility to bring their child up to know right and wrong, although that’s not an easy task, given that the child can easily fall into the wrong crowd, and the parent cannot keep their eyes on the child 100% of the time.

    But no, I don’t think the makers of violent media should be held accountable, as I really don’t think it’s their fault that someone commits murder.

    1. Absolutely well put. As a teenager (and especially in junior high school – during grades 7th and 8th) I was picked on most unmercifully by my peers, many of whom used to be close friends of mine. This form of ridicule, physical and mental, was a constant in my school life most every day. Physically I wasn’t menacing enough, nor was I someone who could protect myself if in a fight. Mentally I was a bit more of a submissive person and didn’t really speak my mind. I had access to an arsenal and supplies (my father was a police officer at the time) and I could have easily showed my aggressors a thing or two if I had wished. But I didn’t. I read violent comic books, watched violent TV and was privy to music that could have influenced me. But it didn’t.

      As I just posted (below), there is something to be said for our parents’ upbringing as well as our psychological profile. If I have a tendency toward violent behavior, ultimately it’s not the external signal that’s going to be the catalyst… it’s the fact that I was predisposed to this form of mental thought. Therefore anything can be blamed as the touchstone for my violent behavior. But it’s all external to the true source of this malevolence.

  9. I have to blame the kids and their parents. Although whoever sold the guns to them is to blame also. If I remember they did not buy the guns legally.

    I can not blame the video games or music. I grew up watching Bugs Bunny, and at no point did I ever think it was OK to hit someone with a hammer, or anything like that.

    As sad as it is sometimes there are just bad apples and we can not change that.

    1. There are bad apples all around us, but we also need to focus on doing our part not to help people become bad apples, or to help detour them from being a bad apple.

      Most of the people in these cases who have committed these acts have a similar theme… they felt they have wronged. Either by their families, churches, teachers, students, co-workers, bosses, etc, and let’s face it, life isn’t always kind.

      All I’m trying to say is maybe we should try to be more supportive to those around us we can see with problems, instead of shoving them in locker or trying to get them fired.

      It’s a combination of things that makes these people go hay wire, and bad music, bad games and bad movies don’t help (I hate censorship by the way).

      I hope I’m making a point to those out there that have a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other… I say more sex and love making (nudity) on TV and less blood!

      Take time to be kind.

  10. National Public Radio had a segment on an author who’s extensively researched the Columbine massacre since it happened. Eric Harris’s journal portrayed himself as a sociopath/psychopath, openly stating his intent to destroy as many people as possible (he had written that he wanted to kill everyone, yet – thankfully – he stopped at a school full of students). Dylan Klebold was more of a loving person who wanted to commit suicide and hence fell in with Eric and this “trench coat mafia” way of thinking.

    Ultimately, the fault falls somewhere in between family and their progeny (Klebold and Harris in this case). Organic mental disorders aside, parents have a responsibility to monitor what their children are getting into, whether comic books, music, games, etc. However, that’s an imperfect solution because you can’t be there ALL the time to watch all the goings on in their child’s life.

    I’d expect some form of responsibility by the youth of today in how they handle and react to what they take in (whether violence on TV, or in magazines, musical messages, etc.). Parents are primarily responsible to instil morals and ethics through upbringing, and monitor this throughout their pre-emancipated life. An outright ban on media in our disposable culture would be a bit TOO oppressive. I think those who control the content of various outlets for our culture have a responsibility to rate the appropriateness of content for targeted age groups.

  11. You can try and control guns and place blame all you want but its just chasing your tail I’m afraid.

    Bottom line is that there is no defense against insanity…

  12. Absolutely well put. As a teenager (and especially in junior high school – during grades 7th and 8th) I was picked on most unmercifully by my peers…

    Perhaps “Beppo” wasn’t your parents best choice…

    1. 😀 That’s funny. Screen name is Beppo, Matt. Actually, my name is Darren.

      I have to agree, though… my parents cut my hair funny and dressed me quite “different’ than others. The school regalia of the day was various forms of denim shirts, pants, clogs or sneakers, and the typical binders with various rock groups scrawled on the covers. I was a dapper dan, so to speak… hair done up just right, sweater vests, nice pants and usually desert boots. During the hormonally challenging days of puberty, I was a perfect target. Not one of the lemmings, thankfully, but sadly this had me ostracized on many levels.

      Darren

    2. I know that Darren, just having a pull, my friend. 😉

      I’ve had my share of “wiping your feet on the mat” jokes as well…

  13. Has it really been ten years? I remember it as if it were yesterday.

    I do not think it was right to sue the killers’ parents at all. They lost a child too and will have to live with knowing what their boys did that fateful day for the rest of their lives. I think that guilt at not doing something to stop their boys’ wicked plans is the ultimate form of punishment for anyone.

    Money will not bring the victims back to life, so I cannot understand why it always has to be about compensation and blame. I find it very un-Christian. When a gunman took the lives of schoolchildren in Pennsylvania in ’06, the Amish community grieved for the gunman and his family. It did not look for compensation.

    I blame the guns. These shootings would not have happened without guns!

  14. This may take a couple of chunks of space FEd.

    The “blame” should be placed squarely on the shoulders of those who pulled the trigger. There are environmental factors that increase the likelihood of any given action but ultimately we all are responsible FOR OUR OWN ACTIONS!!!! Help should be given to those who need it but they decided to pull the trigger and therefore are to blame.

    I know those two guys didn’t have an easy go of their school experience but guess what? Neither did I, I fought bitterly against feelings of isolation and insignificance and I made it through; and so do literally millions of disenfranchised youth worldwide. The triggermen were beyond ignorant, not to mention lazy, to not at least try to seek help through other avenues.

    Furthermore I hold their parents in contempt. Far be it for me to tell any parent how to do their jobs but it would seem a prerequisite to check in on your child from time to time to see how they are doing. It is not enough to float along thinking you’ve got the most perfect child in the world when there could be some serious emotional problems brewing right under your nose. In essence they needed to do a MUCH better job checking in. Yes, teenagers need space but they also need help navigating the tough terrain that is adolescence, they need space not abandonment. The TV, the computer, the iPod, these are not teenagers parents so they should not be expected to do the job.

    To be continued…

  15. All instances where innocent people, whether children or adults, are murdered is truly tragic. I don’t think that playing the blame game does anyone any good. I think Obama said it (rather incorrectly regarding the majority) when he said that we (the US) were not a Christian nation. That, to me, is the real issue.

    I believe that a God-fearing person who is raised with morals and ethics does make a difference, especially with regards to ones outlook on life.

    I have watched violent movies and played “war” video games (although I do prefer Mario myself) and I have never thought of taking any of my guns from my LOCKED safe to cause harm on anyone. Banning guns will do nothing – look at Australia. They have a gun ban in place and their murder rate (using guns) has never been higher. At the end of the day, guns (or knives, or fists or whatever) don’t kill people, people kill people.

    I feel the blame lies on the individual. I have always thought about the parents of the killers… they have to live with that guilt. That the child they raised was a killer. I can’t imagine either scenario and I PRAY (yes, I believe in prayer and religion) that I never have to experience first hand having a murdered child or a child who has committed murder. As a parent, I feel I have the responsibility to do everything in my power to raise my children to be God fearing Christian citizens that respect life and everything in it.

    Unfortunately if a killer wants to kill, they will find a way.

    1. You imply that unless you are afraid of god there is no reason not to kill people. To put it mildly, I find that implication very disturbing.

      How about letting your children make up their own mind about god and just try bringing them up as nice people? Using fear as a method of control doesn’t strike me as a very noble or good example to set.

    2. I’m with Dan on this one. Being God-fearing – Christian or otherwise – has nothing to do with it.

      I’m aetheist, but I can assure you I am not any more likely to shoot anyone because of it.

    3. First of all, Jesus wanted you to fear nothing, and besides that how many people have been killed because of religions? It’s got to be somewhere in the millions!

      But that is a completely different fun topic for another day.

      If you want a good dose of understanding what fear will do, read “The Shock Doctrine”.

  16. Well, first I don’t believe that suing parents or manufacturers of whatever we presume to be a contributory device would be appropriate. Partly that’s because I don’t really see that suing anyone is an appropriate response to such a tragedy, accepting that it would carry a deterrent value of sorts.

    To “punish” someone for the crime of another has to be wrong. To accept that the link to a crime can be so indirect is to erode personal responsibility to such a degree that we’ll all end up “to blame” – what about other purchasers of video games, they fund the market don’t they? Shall we sue them also. What about the makers of “Another Brick in the Wall” – bad example to disaffected youths – and lots of money.

    My point is you can very quickly push this sort of thinking to a point where it becomes ridiculous.

    Let’s be clear. This is a serious problem. I have no doubt that modern media in many forms has a de-sensitising effect and is probably – where other conditions pre-exist – a contributory factor in this very modern form of tragedy.

    Lack of discipline seems almost certain to be a factor also,. but the problem we face is that physical (indeed corporal and capital) punishment was not “better”. Rule by fear is not “better”. Somehow we have taken away the fear (some called it respect) and failed to replace it with something else – genuine respect, citizenship, being a stakeholder… maybe we should call it “love”.

    It’s this gap we need to fill, not the courts.

  17. Now then, on to the entertainment industry.

    Corporations exist for one purpose… to make money. I think they’ve shown over and over again they have no inherent since of morality. Corporations will push whatever sells. An external force is necessary to put an end to that. The most effective way to do that is create noise, or put the wallet down and keep your cash. Once something no longer becomes profitable corporations cease the activity.

    Call it artistic sensibilities or whatever you will but I BELIEVE in my country’s (U.S.A) first amendment… FREEDOM of speech, expression etc. The fact that entertainment is to blame for tragedies are ridiculous. The most popular scapegoats for the whole incident is Marilyn Manson and the video game DOOM. Well those two enterprises respectively have sold MILLIONS of copies, have we seen a correlating millions of violent events? No, we have not. The fact that these tragedies still surprise and shock are evidence of their rare nature so how can anyone with a functioning brain point fingers at what they were entertained by as a root cause for violence? In essence it is a sampling problem.

    Moreover, many artists make music as a catharsis to THEIR problems and expression of themselves; if it sells that is great but many do it solely so THEY will have an outlet. So at the very least it seems like a giant cop-out to say SOMEONE ELSE’S expression caused ME to be violent.

    After all did we take Roger seriously when he said in “In the Flesh”, “If I had my way, I’d have all of you shot”? No, we did not, nor should we have. We were meant to attempt to identify with the sentiment only and scores upon scores did while living relatively healthy, and productive lives.

    Thank you very much indeed, good night to you.

    1. After all did we take Roger seriously when he said in “In the Flesh”, “If I had my way, I’d have all of you shot”?

      Actually, yes, I did.

    2. After all did we take Roger seriously when he said in “In the Flesh”, “If I had my way, I’d have all of you shot”?

      No, I didn’t as I knew that Roger was showing this particular ‘Pink’ in a caricature of Adolf Hitler in this song. The Wall is a satire. It was inspired partly by ‘Ninteen Eighty Four’ too.

  18. Yesterday was also the 14th anniversary of a young man blowing up the Murrow Federal Building in my beloved home state of Oklahoma killing 169 men, woman and children.

    His reason was Waco, TX 2 years prior. My opinion, evil is evil. It doesn’t matter what you listen to, what you watch, what you play. Millions of people play, listen to and watch violent subjects all the time, and statistically that is just an excuse.

    I’ve had two people in my life murdered, one by a stranger and one by a father. The impact on my life has been profound and no amount of money would change that.

    Be it nurture or nature, fucked up people are fucked up people no matter what influences enter their lives.

    1. Actually there is a connection between the Oklahoma City bombing and the Columbine event. Apparently the initial intention of the Columbine students was to blow up the school. They wanted to stage an event that was as spectacular as the Oklahoma bombing. Tim McVeigh was part of their inspiration.

      Twisted minds.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

  19. For me, we should blame the entire society for first.

    Obviously the people who committed these crimes are responsible for their actions, because a gun doesn’t kill if there isn’t someone who uses it, but I think the single person’s madness is not enough to explain these tragedies.

    We are all part of a system which tell us (sometimes in an explicit way, but sometimes no) that making money, win, be competitive are the right values to believe in.

    The new generations have grown up listening to these messages all around them, while the adults had become victims of the same values and no more capable to teach them the right ones, so our society has gradually lost its functions.

    There would be no danger in listening to Marilyn Manson or playing violent games if those young people would live in an healthy society, with a net of correct relationships all around them.

    I mean, how can the adults teach them what the reality is, if they’ve lost their own sense of reality, too?

  20. For starters, many people want to blame the guns. That is a passive/aggressive way to ignore the real problem. These kids nurtured and fed a growing hate for others and a hate for human life in general until it manifested itself in this terrible way. We don’t want to address that.

    We don’t want to look at our own lives and our own kids to see what they go through. We don’t want to ask and answer the tough questions. We don’t want to recognize that parts of our materialistic, self-centered ‘winner takes all’ society are fatally flawed. It’s easier to point fingers at the guns, games, and music.

    These things will continue to happen as long as we, as a society, choose to avoid the real issue of the hate and evil in the hearts of the perpetrators. Violent games, music, and movies aren’t helping the situation, but we have to address the reasons why these things are so popular and the damage they can cause if left unchecked in a few bad seeds.

    1. These kids nurtured and fed a growing hate for others and a hate for human life in general until it manifested itself in this terrible way.

      That’s exactly the problem and I think there could be nothing more unnatural for a human being (who should be a social animal) than this feeling of hate.

      I speak about a human being because I think the adults share the same problem; an adult has usually more self-control than a young person and he has the tendency to hide his bad behaviours to be socially accepted, so maybe the problem is less evident, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not existing.

      Two days ago, here in Italy, a middle aged man killed another person for a parking space. We could say that he was just mad, but it can’t be the only reason.

      Frustration is the key.

      A society which exalts money, power and competition as the most important values, can only generate frustration in all those (a lot today) people who are not able to reach them. That leads many people to hate the others’ and their own lives and to feel a general indifference for life, as also the increasing number of people with mental diseases shows.

  21. Just my opinion, but this is NOT a video game problem. It IS a parenting problem!

    I think they (the parents of the students who were killed or injured) have every right to sue the parents of the two children who performed this act of terror. It is a sad testament for today’s culture. Parents NOT spending enough or any time at all with their children. We have all heard the excuses; we both work all day and just don’t have the time to spend with them. Listen up!! All it takes is an hour or so a day spent with your children and you SHOULD find more time. Who would these people have blamed 25 years ago before video games? Television news broadcasts? I think not.

    I am not trying to make light of what happened, what happened is truly sad and I worry every day about my two children while they are at school. Like I said this is just my opinion but I really think too many parents do not spend enough time with their children. And when they do something like this they try to blame it on something like video games instead of where the blame belongs, themselves.

  22. Alright, so I just wrote a thing on this and my computer made it go away, saying it could not display the page… grrrrr… if I had a toy ‘piece’, I’d eat it…

    Here is a shortened take on what I just wrote. I saw Chris Cornel in Chicago last night and he played Syd’s ‘Dark Globe.’ Not as good as David’s, but very nicely done. Chris is buddies with the fellas in Pearl Jam, who wrote ‘Jeremy.’ We all know that tune was about kids with guns in school… Complicated stuff we have on our hands here.

    What can I say that hasn’t been said already? Violence, not good… My dad is a U.S. Marine from Vietnam who paid hell. He ironically threatened us with violence if we did stupid shit, this worked… My mom brims with love and kindness and her example worked. I have never punched anyone, ever. I just made sweet love to a very pretty girl (D.S.O.T.M. On!) and that is the only gun I shoot off. Get your freak on and smiling on a honey girl is the only way to go.

    Everybody, smile on yer brother and get together…

  23. Wow Fed,

    As a parent myself then I can relate to certain parts of the argument. However, how far does responsibility go? It seems to me that the kids are being allowed to flee the nest too early during adolescence and not growing into adults. Maybe peer pressure etc.

    Did you see the tragic story of the young, talented and beautiful Welsh actress hanging herself this week? The world’s gone really mad and where does it end!

    Guns and weapons should be illegal unless sanctioned by disciplines like the Army! Even then it’s contentious!

    Can’t blame the parents, can’t blame the kids, can’t blame society… or can we?

  24. As a teacher, I have a unique perspective from which to discuss this issue. I have studied this very issue at an advanced level. It is a natural assumption that since the shootings occurred in a school building with students aiming fire at other students, that it can only be the result of some failing by the school.

    But I don’t think we can blame the schools, any more than we can blame Marilyn Manson or a video game. Schools are just a piece of any child’s environment, with video games and iPods being other pieces. The biggest part of anyone’s formative environment is the family. Families provide the world view, the connection to others, and the sense that life has meaning, that are the anchors which keep people grounded. It is the absence of these anchors that enables some people — those with the predisposition — to become killers.

    Most people who listen to Marilyn Manson and play video games don’t become killers (I’m sure there are killers who listen to Mozart and never play video games). But most killers come from a bad family situation.

    You don’t believe me? Go to any prison and ask the inmates. Having once taught at a jail, I have done so. Some of the inmates have never played a video game, most dropped out of school, and nearly all of them are from really messed-up families.

  25. To me this just comes down to a case of two Evil people.

    Sure, the parents are maybe a little to blame, but in the end it was these two little Evil boys that were at fault. Maybe they should have been spanked a little in their youth or told ‘no’ once in a while. This was just plain Pre-Meditated Murder. They knew the difference between right and wrong.

    No bad video games or music, just two Evil boys when it comes right down to it.

    Hoss

  26. It’s a very, very difficult topic and your post almost sounds like a pros and cons essay.

    Young people have always rebelled against the older generation and the established society – and it’s a good thing 😉 – but I don’t know who or what to blame for the increase in youth violence these days.

    I think that exposure to media violence may make young people more aggressive (at least ‘fragile’ ones), but I heard that many studies showed there was no link between watching violent TV programs and having a ‘criminal’ behaviour.

    There is this interesting article (Report of the Surgeon General of the US).

    Anyway I think (in general) that people these days always want to transfer responsibility to someone else. They need a scapegoat, someone to blame for all the problems they are unable to solve themselves.

    A little example: Parents often claim that there is not enough discipline in school but they are not able themselves to make a single kid (or two) obey at home. On the other side, when a kid misbehaves at school, teachers are quick to say that it’s the parents’ fault… Oh, but they all agree it’s partly the fault of TV violence, violent video games or internet… 😉

    However I think that kids these days are spoiled too much, they get all that they want too easily, they are considered by many parents as the center of the world. Raising a kid doesn’t consist of only giving him money.

    Michèle

    1. Very interesting article, Michèle.

      And you are right about responsibility. No one wants to have any responsibility today and when bad things happens it’s always someone else’s fault.

      It really seems we are living in a world full of eternal children.

  27. I agree with most here that gun control would be a wonderful thing, particularly handguns and assault rifles. I think it’s a good idea for its own sake. However, I think if someone is determined, as many of these shooters are, they will find a way. There isn’t much that can be done when someone is born with their wires crossed.

    I found this news bit earlier. The parents of the dead children seem to agree that gun control would help prevent these tragedies.

    I keep thinking about the children who are raised in an environment with legal guns, though. Gun control won’t stop them.

  28. The love is gettin’ cold lately and the evilness is all around. It makes me cry how these terrible things still happen in our world.

    The change is necessary and urgent.

  29. Alice Cooper (who, oddly enough, is actually a great proponent of moral behavior despite the “reputation” of his stage persona) wrote a song in 2000 about this very issue (from a first-person perspective), with the words, “It’s not the games I play, the movies I see, the music I dig, I’m just a wicked young man”.

    I think the vast majority of blame belongs squarely on the shoulders of the shooter(s), with a smaller amount of blame to the parents IF they really had access to information about their sons’ plans but simply ignored it. My wife and I monitored our children closely as they grew, but by the time they reached 17-18 years of age we were past the days of sneaking a peek at their diaries. A parent is OBVIOUSLY culpable for leaving the loaded gun out where the 4 year-old can pick it up and shoot his 2 year-old sister — but that “responsibility factor” for your children’s behavior is a sliding scale as they get older. At some point in time they become responsible for their own actions. There is no easy answer for the question, “When IS that?”. It will be different from child to child.

    Regarding media/game/music input and its effects, it seems to me that the real issue is parental attention as kids grow. A young child’s unrestricted access to violent media and games is probably not a CAUSE for later malevolent behavior, but more a SYMPTOM of the type of parental inattention that leads to a child growing up full of bitterness and disappointment.

  30. The issue here is not guns as much as it is the person that has said gun. True, a gun in the hands of a dangerous person is a dangerous thing. Drunk drivers kill more innocent people than guns every year… yet no one is crying to ban cars are they? No, because the car isn’t the issue.

    Do I think there needs to be stricter gun laws in the United States? Sure. Do I think we should ban guns entirely? *cough* Fascist dictatorship *cough* No, I don’t. The Second Amendment (right to bear arms) here in the U.S. was established so that this nation would be one where the supreme power lies within a body of citizens. It is essential to the democratic republic the Founders began.

    Perhaps Thomas Jefferson said it best: “The beauty of the 2nd Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it… What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?”

    So essentially, yes to tougher gun laws, no to banning guns.

    1. I am not American, but dare writing a comment to you anyway.

      As far as I understand, the background for the 2nd amendment was USA’s war of independence from Great Britain. The purpose of the right to be armed was to defend the free state, right? The right to bear weapons can seem like an anachronism from the past, even though it also seems to be a vital part of the American mind in general.

      The statistics today, however, speaks a clear language (I’ve looked in Danish sources, hope they are accurate): On average, every American citizen owns 2,8 shot weapons. That is almost 0,5 billion firearms in all. Every year, firearms kill 30,000 people in the USA. In the UK (I know the country is smaller, but still), firearms cause 60 deaths.

      Seen from the outside, it is hard to understand that the American people’s right to own weapons – for the rights sake itself – is more important than 30.000 people being killed every year from the same weapons.

      We don’t have this right here, in my country. And we certainly don’t live in a fascist dictatorship. It is not a question of either you have the right to have weapons, or you live in a fascist country.

      I don’t know if this makes sense.

      PS: I’ve been to the USA many times, and LOVE both the great country and it’s great people. But that doesn’t have to mean that you love every single thing about it.

  31. In 1996, in a small, rural town in Washington State, a 14-year-old boy walked into his classroom and killed two classmates, one teacher, and wounded another classmate. His defense counsel cited Pearl Jam’s song ‘Jeremy’ as being to blame. Oddly enough, the song ‘Jeremy’ was based partially on a newspaper article that Eddie Vedder had read about a teenage boy who committed suicide in front of his class in 1991.

    After Columbine, and the many child-murderer rampages to follow, the press went after Marilyn Manson (the lyrics did it!), video games (graphic computer-generated violence did it!), movies (Kill Bill, Pts. 1 and 2 did it!), etc. Some of the shooters were as young as 11 years old.

    What did these kids have in common? They all had access to guns. Some used pistols or hunting rifles that their families had at home, some used semi-automatic assault weapons that they had easily purchased at gun shows. And, apparently, all were mentally deranged (for lack of a better word) in that they lacked the ability to restrain themselves from acting on their base impulses. I don’t think it had so much to do with knowing right from wrong, but rather having an impulse to do harm to others AND having easy access to fire arms in order to act out that impulse/fantasy.

    Blame? IMHO, guns – too fuckin’ many, too easy to get ’em.

    Sadly, if the young perps/victims were black, we wouldn’t be having this discussion – it would be accepted. Young white boys as perps and it’s an anomaly!! :!

    Peace!

    1. I haven’t been around much, but I’ve been poking my nose in.

      I couldn’t agree with your last statement more, Gabs. I happen to work with a lot of those young black (as well as lots of other ethnicities) perps, and as long as it is accepted, youth violence won’t stop. These youth will rise to your expectations, but we need to raise the expectation. I’m not saying this always works, but you’d be surprised.

      Peace and Love to you all,

      ~Erin

  32. This is a really sad subject with absolutely no easy answer. As the old saying goes, nothing is ever black and white, just many shadings.

    My own opinion is that here in America we have far too many guns and not tough enough gun laws. The old line ‘right to bear arms’ was written at a time when there was no law enforcement as we have today. It is archaic and misinterpreted today. It is deplorable how many ‘killings’ like this happen, how many innocent children die by drive-by shootings or gang clashes.

    As for the teens who shot and murdered others, it is hard to figure out why they really turned to this evil way to ‘act out’. It is not clear cut why some people in the same circumstances turn out one way and others kill. I have read some of John Douglas’s books (profiler for the FBI) and the reality is it is complicated, but that there are some indicators that parents need to be sure not to ignore. They start when children are young. One to watch for is brutality towards animals.

    Some people blame their environment, others blame the examples of others (such as the one involved in the ‘wilding’ in New York. Those kids blamed Dick Nixon). No one seems to take responsibility for their actions any more. It is always someone or something that ‘made them do it’.

    It is hard to say anything about what would be right regarding law suits. Our society is law suit crazy as it is.

    As I said, sad, sad situation.

    Jan

  33. I don’t think this kind of discussion belongs on a ‘David Gilmour’ blog, especially considering (as far ask I know) it’s not even written by Mr. Gilmour himself.

    This is a flawed argument anyways, I won’t even begin refuting it.

    1. It’s not written by David, it’s written by a fan who feels that David’s fans are an interesting, informed group of individuals who have kindly shared their views on a wide variety of topics previously, creating some high-quality discussions.

      I agree that it doesn’t technically belong here and apologise for that. However, if there were only new posts whenever there is something directly relevant to David, there would be one or two a month at best. I can only do so much regurgitating.

      Again, I apologise if the latest post is of no interest to you and ask that you dip in and out as and when you feel that a topic is worthy of your time.

      Thanks for reading.

    2. I’m sure most Gilmour fans who post on this blog enjoy these philosophical conversations. 😉

  34. I feel that everyone is responsible for their own actions. The media, family, friends and society continuously reminds us what is right and wrong within our individual societies and overall as a race we believe that we should not harm or kill any other person.

    There are many things that can influence our race, but our instincts of what is right and wrong should never be ignored or become clouded.

  35. Whenever mass killings like this occur, I brace myself for the inevitable anti-gun and, basically, anti-accountability sentiments that waft from the mainstream news media like the draft from a public rest stop. I was right to brace myself when the Columbine massacre occurred because, as expected, they blew the same foul air in reporting on it that they had on every other gun-related killing. Consider this post a virtual breath of fresh air.

    The two masterminds of the Columbine massacre only used guns because their original plan of blowing up the school didn’t pan out. Anyone who knows this and continues to rail against guns is ignoring the fact that the underlying problem in this, and every other such case, is that of murderous intent, not guns or explosives or any other physical object that might be used to wreak bloody havoc on society!

    As for blaming other, more abstract things, I acknowledge the presence of disturbing, distasteful media, familial and societal pressures, mental illness, etc., but the only real candidates for accountability are the individuals who choose to externalize and impose their rage on others, not the presumed cause of this rage or the means through which they vent it.

    Sure, we are all fragile creatures, and life can be terribly unkind. But does that justify murdering innocent people? I’ve endured the usual stresses and strains of life, as well as one family tragedy, which I won’t detail, and I’ve never wanted to hurt an innocent person!

  36. I love when my 16 year old is renting a video game that is rated M for mature themes of violence and fake blood and I am asked to permit it before he can rent it.

    Then we go home and watch on T.V. a 16 year old pirate and his mates holding a ship’s captain hostage for ransom.

    I ask you, which world is more bizarre?

  37. Guns are inanimate objects. They cannot be blamed as they don’t have a mind of their own. People are the ones that take action and it is their actions that should be held accountable.

    To me it is a ridiculous argument to ban guns as even before the invention of gunpowder and guns people still found ways to kill each other – swords, knives, bow/arrow, axes, lances, rope, rocks, slingshots. In fact, look at the axe. An axe is an excellent and useful tool, yet it can also be used to kill someone – Lizzy Borden anyone?

    The public needs to stop looking for something else to blame and start taking on responsibility for their actions. Lack of parenting is a huge part of the problem in society around the world. Good parenting involves talking to your kids as well as disciplining them. If you don’t discipline, they will never grown up knowing what is right or wrong. If they don’t know that they won’t know the experience of feeling guilty. That feeling of guilt is a huge deterrent.

    The discussion of blaming things like video games always reminds me of the PMRC debacle. Funny how this group of parents decide that music needs to be labelled yet books don’t get that special sticker. How many “great pieces of literature” talk about murder and sex in extreme graphic detail? But that now is never discussed as an influence on actions.

    I wonder if in Shakespeare’s time there was discussions of banning poison/daggers after reading/seeing Romeo & Juliet?

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    1. Bravo!

      Also, gun laws only affect people who actually obey the law. In other words, a criminal who buys guns illegally in the first place (say, from a smuggler in South America) will still be able to do so, regardless of what gun laws are in place. In the end, the only person restricted in their purchase and use of firearms is, ironically, the law-abiding gun owner.

      Yeah, that’s really smart!

  38. There are thousands and thousands of young boys who have fun with these kind of games, based on violence and destruction, those green facts in the US and the recent one in Germany are the consequence of an isolation from the world and the thought of being God on earth and that reality was a game too.

    We can’t blame the families, even though they should be aware of what their children are doing and they’re responsible for them, theoretically.

    On the other hand, these boys got their hands on weapons too easily, this is not right.

    Less weapons, more control by families and school, which should co-operate more often than they do.

  39. I have just come offline playing against my brother and other gamers around the world. When you see someone injured or shot you can go and revive them, it’s a great feeling when someone comes over and saves you. But most of the players are adults, I don’t want to go out and kill someone when I come offline, it baffles me all the time when a fellow human being can kill an other. But I do think these kind of games should be kept out of reach from the more immature mind, ie children.

    I work for Victim Support in the UK, I see violence all the time, we do seem to keep a tight gun control here but we do still have a knife problem mainly with youths.

    The USA is always going to have problems while its citizens still have the right to bear arms.

  40. Never in my life have I felt the urge to drop an ACME anvil on anyone’s head, nor blow them up with an ACME nuclear device. I have never felt the urge to hit anyone with a frying pan or stick my fingers in their eyes while going whoop whoop whoop.

    I have read, watched, played countless violent media without the urge to go and play it out for real.

    The Columbine shooters and those since and before were most probably already mentally unbalanced to some extent. It is the easy access to firearms that is mostly to blame for these horrific acts. That, the fact that there are just some people who are evil and the feeling these days that unless you are famous you are nobody, and to be famous some are willing to kill and die to achieve that.

  41. I wrote my opinion many times before in different forms.

    The Columbine tragedy happened because guns are easy to get and buy in the US. I come from a country, Italy, where it is not easy to have access to weapons and culture has developed in a way where guns are not a cool way to have fun, apart from hunters and some fans who shoot in “firing ranges”.

    So the cure is very simple for me: avoid guns. This doesn’t cure the mind diseases that take crazy people to do insane acts, but for sure those acts would be less dangerous.

    I wouldn’t sue parents. Because this implies that the attitude of a person depends on his education and this is not true. Criminals are not sons of criminals.

    I am for not censorship in media because I do not believe in the direct link but I can admit influence on the less prepared mind.

    When you are young you have this feeling of being invulnerable and the market knows that. Young people are attracted by the worst models because they are the easiest to understand: sex, drug, violence etc. etc. It is all so cool and makes young people feel cool. We lack in real models, good models to conform to.

    Anyway I am scared of censorship because behind the good cause there is usually a hidden bad cause… to control us.

    I think that is the whole culture of western society based on PROFIT that ruins all: to have more, more, more. We should think more to what we ARE than to what we HAVE.

  42. By the way, I am not a teenager, as I am sure you have all figured out by now. I enjoy playing video games and have all of the Lara Croft Tomb Raiders. Still haven’t wanted to go out and hurt anyone.

    However, there have been some irritating people like Madhoff that might make me want to kick his shins. Very hard.

    Jan

  43. Fed,

    I just wish that these cowards would just kill themselves and leave the ‘innocent’ alone. In my home town, a man tossed his 5 kids off of a bridge into Mobile Bay but then didn’t have the nerve to go through with the suicide. It should have been the other way around and he should have tossed himself first.

    These maniacs deserve as little attention as possible but unfortunately, because of 24 hour news channels, they receive ‘glory’. It is nauseating and I wish I had 5 minutes alone with them in a room from the time between the last murder and their suicide… or gutless non-suicide as in the Mobile Bay case. I’d make them wish they were dead… that’s for sure.

    Blake in Nashville

    1. We definitely seem to be hearing more and more about one parent killing their children to spite the other. It’s tragic.

  44. I do know that the media and Bill Clinton here in the US blamed Marilyn Manson (a shock rocker, IMHO a modern day Alice Cooper) for having the assailants done what they did as they were fans of his music. Even Clinton called Manson “evil” (I guess he never heard Alice Cooper who was doing shocking things in the 1970s on stage).

    I don’t think either Marilyn Manson’s music nor video games nor movies had anything to do with Columbine. I’ll state what the great Don Henley stated on a interview on the Making of the Hotel California album on the US radio show In The Studio and I quote: “If a kid is brought up and raised properly, he’s going to know the difference between reality from fantasy. Only a kid whose been screwed up by the parents or school system or some genetic defect will take what they see seriously to do some damage to themselves or to somebody else” – end quote.

    I think the gunmen were bullied on and seen as nerds or whatever and they snapped. Their self esteem, I believe, was shattered. They could have gone to school counsellors, psychiatrists and/or parents to deal with their demons. Instead, the kids who did the shootings snapped and they paid the price for their violent acts. As of this, school students now have to act like Robots and so forth.

    What I got away with 15 to 28 years ago won’t be accepted anymore (sliding down bannisters, giving teachers the bird, running like a mad dog, etc) because of Columbine.

  45. I’m sorry but being bullied is not a good reason to “snap”. Period. Maybe if you are left alone by absent parents, with no guidance in life. If you are not reinforced in your interests and passions by them, if you don’t have that comforting presence of one or two loving parents, THAT makes you have low self esteem.

    If you have confidence in yourself because of your education, you won’t snap, kill people and commit suicide. Come on!

    The American people live in a bubble. I love them, their country, but I hate some aspects of their society. And guns are one of them. The reasoning behind them too.

    Only in America will you hear such kind of equation: “they were picking on me, so I lost it, went home and took my dad’s M-16 to kill ’em all”.

    This is wrong, sick, and unacceptable.

    We are not living in Hollywood movies and video games.

    And anyways, those two from Columbine made videos of them shooting weapons for fun. Is it really so important to play with guns in life? I mean, aren’t there any other activities a young man can do?

    To me it sounds like either stupid parents or absent parents.

    Do sports, music, skate board, make amateur movies, or like I did, along with playing guitar, learn to draw, and create comics, with characters and stories. It gives you self esteem.

    No one will convince me that weapons can be fun and safe. And combined with bad parenting, it’s even worse.

    Sorry about my basic English, it’s my second language.

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