Who Is Really to Blame?
Who Is Really
by Don Lobo Tiggre
While watching the blame-game go into high gear in the
wake of the Littleton shootings this week, an interesting pattern emerged. As in any
mud-flinging contest, if you want to find the real culprit in a confused environment of
flying accusations, look for the one clean spot with no mud on it, and that will be the
place from which most of the mud is coming—i.e. the people most interested in drawing
the attention elsewhere. In this case, it’s the education establishment, including
researchers, administrators, and policymakers.
Consider the people and things that are being blamed.
Guns, of course, and video games top the list. The internet itself is being blamed, as
well as entertainment and communications companies we could call "the media,"
and parents. Parents are responsible for their children, of course, though no one can be
100 percent responsible for the free-will actions of other human beings. The media too
should rightly be blamed, but not for their responsiveness to customers that like violent
content; they should be blamed for their willful cooperation with and participation in
victim disarmament. As for guns and games, well, other authors have already addressed the
myopic foolishness of blaming inanimate objects for the horrors produced by twisted minds.
A CNN Interactive Poll (4/22/99) asking,
"Who or what is most responsible for school violence?" produced the following
Who is to blame for school violence?
|Access to Guns
|All of the Above
|None of the Above
Now who does that leave out?
Where’s the category for "politicians"?
How about "education researchers"? Or "educrats"?
As mentioned above, parents are rightly blamed, and it’s
interesting that they received the largest number of votes by a wide margin. But let’s
face it: most parents ship their kids off to school and then go to work, perhaps
interacting some with their children in the evenings and weekends. This isn’t
necessarily a problem, if the parents are proactive enough to retain primacy as moral
authorities and exemplars for their children, but increasingly, this is not the case. Kids
are spending more and more time at school, and parents are abdicating more and more of
their roles as parents to the alleged experts at the schools—including, most
significantly, the teaching of values. This may indeed make parents as responsible as the
CNN poll suggests, but it’s not necessarily because of their parenting as such; their
great fault is in abdicating their most important responsibility to others.
So, what about America’s new oracles? Do we hold
teachers accountable for their teachings? Apparently not, according to CNN’s poll,
which showed that only 2 percent of the respondents really focused on the schools as being
most to blame. Now that’s quite remarkable. The institutions where school children
spend most of their days, and those who run them, are given the least blame. To an extent,
this may not be entirely unjustified, as teachers and even principals are caught like
ping-pong balls in bureaucratic table-tennis education policy games. Most of them just
want to teach. However, the research coming from education departments at universities
around the country, the directives from the U.S. Department of Education and Congress, and
the multiplicity of regulations and mandates from state offices of education drive them
hither and yon in pursuit of the latest education fix. The average result of all the
directives, mandates, and regulations has been an increasingly socialist socialization
(not to say "brainwashing") that minimizes the importance of the individual, and
hence individual responsibility.
Moral absolutes, of course, can’t be taught at all,
because no one has—or can—invent "average American morals" that
everyone agrees upon.
It would be bad enough if parents were
abdicating their responsibilities to teach right and wrong to others who actually did so,
but the real tragedy is that they are abdicating to a vacuum. No one is teaching
the vast majority of today’s kids any serious sense of right and wrong. Well, the
greens are; they have the National Education Association (NEA) helping them to push their
"people are evil and the planet would be better off without them" agenda. That’s
a morality of sorts, but if anything it’s one that might justify shooting sprees—after
all, the rain of lead is helping to wash the tortured face of our poor planet free of the
vile human infestation.
The One-Room Schoolhouse
This is the current trend in American education, but it
hasn’t always been so. Consider the one-room schoolhouse of last century. Is it even
imaginable that something like the Littleton shootings could have occurred in such an
And there are reasons for this. The first and foremost
would be that parents back then did not expect the school teacher to teach their children
to become responsible, healthy, moral adults. That was their job, and the teacher
was there to teach letters and numbers (which he or she did with a success rate that would
put many modern schools to shame).
Another important reason is that the school was too small
for any misunderstood outcasts to be neglected. The teacher would know much of the life
history of each child, would know their parents, would understand their unique situations
and challenges. Even if the teacher wasn’t particularly sympathetic, he or she would
at least be knowledgeable about every single child under his or her care. There were
probably mal-adjusted outcasts in most one-room schoolhouses, just as there have always
been outcasts—how long ago did Hans Christian Andersen write "The Ugly
Duckling"? But those unhappy souls would have a much better chance of getting the
attention they needed back then than the misfits in today’s massive indoctrination
To say that the increasing size of today’s huge
urban high schools is a contributing factor to school violence may seem to be making the
same mistake that people who blame inanimate objects (like guns) make. But who designs
these giant, politically-correct reprogramming factories? There are people,
individual policymakers, who have been pushing things in this direction. Who are they, and
where can we write them letters of protest? It would be useful to find out and let them
know that we will hold them accountable.
Also, these observations about the size and impersonality
of most modern high schools are made in the context of the understanding that the decay in
the moral fabric of society is worst in our public schools. In this context, the size of
the schools can be viewed as an exacerbating factor, more than as a direct cause in
itself. It is precisely because of the amoral context of modern education that the amassed
anonymity of huge high schools is so dangerous. Who has time to notice or care if some
neglected misfit is nearing the boiling point?
And it’s because of that amoral context that the
boiling over of angry students is becoming increasingly dangerous.
Remember, it’s not that the one-room
schoolhouse didn’t have its ugly ducklings. There have always been outcasts—it’s
an inherent part of the human condition. And back then, it wouldn’t have been all
that surprising to find a number of possum guns among the coats, books, frogs in boxes,
and assorted other items stacked against the walls of the schoolhouse. So, the key
variable is certainly not that kids have greater access to guns these days.
The Education of a Misfit
Heck, I was a misfit in just about every one of
the more than 20 schools I went to, and I didn’t shoot anyone.
My parents moved around a lot when I was a kid, so I was
always the new guy. Worse yet, speaking frankly, I was smarter than most of my classmates
and they hated me for it (it didn’t help when the teacher would pretend I was a
computer and ask me to answer the questions other kids missed). Even in the best private
schools I went to, I was always the outsider, and loneliness was my predominant emotion.
Anger would have been a close second. After some particularly egregious contact with
members of "in" groups, or the bureaucrats who ran the show, my anger would
often boil up.
If school administrators had developed
"profiles" to target potential troublemakers as they are doing today, I would
certainly have been singled out: I played Dungeons and Dragons, I got involved in misfit
activities like medieval re-creation, I had few friends, and I was known to look down on
"Jocks". I’ve never had any respect for authority (though I have always had
a tactical sense of what I could get away with) and hated stupid and rights-violating
school policies. I even experimented with different explosives and pyro techniques. I even—horrors!—knew
how to shoot.
I also went to some huge public high schools with more
than a thousand students in each grade, where I experienced anonymity and neglect first
hand, but I never even considered violent—lethal—revenge. NEVER. What
fantasies I had concerned leaving it all behind, and maybe coming back to show then how
wrong they all were when I became rich and famous.
Some of the other misfits I knew would occasionally joke
about burning the school down (there was that "Teacher Hit Me With A Ruler"
song), but I never knew anyone, in any school, who I thought would actually carry out such
fantasies of aggression. I may not be able to speak for all the misfits of my generation,
but I encountered a good sampling of them and can tell you that we were not as murderous
as today’s troublemakers seem to be.
So, what’s the difference? What has changed?
Answer: the stage had been set for tragedy by the
impersonal, bureaucratic anonymization of public education, but the decay in morals had
not yet released the brakes on children’s angry impulses. We misfits might even have
had a better sense of right and wrong than the jocks and studs we despised and envied—we
were sensitive souls.
And now that last protection is being torn down. In an
environment where the highest moral percept is that it is wrong to be insensitive to the
feelings of trees and kangaroo rats, is it really any surprise that kids are acting out
the values (or lack thereof) they are being taught?
In this environment, does it make sense to:
1] Ban guns?
2] Ban trench coats?
3] Ban gang colors?
4] Mandate dress codes?
5] Strip kids of what few rights they have left?
6] Turn schools into mini-police states?
7] Ban violent video games?
8] Censor movies and books?
9] Censor the internet?
10] Sue gun makers and game companies?
11] Putting youthful-looking under cover cops in our schools?
12] Mandating metal detectors in all schools?
13] Do anything else besides address the real root causes of violence among
Notice that I say "violence among
school children." It’s not gun violence, or school violence, or violence by any
other inanimate objects. It’s violence by people, young people Americans have
entrusted to the care of self-appointed experts.
End the Education Monopoly
It’s time to tell the real culprits that we’re
on to them!
It’s time for parents to take back their
responsibility for the moral character of their children, and it’s time for their
agents, the people in the education establishment, to be confronted with the fruits of
The pundits are right about one thing, this shooting should
be a wakeup call. But it shouldn’t be a call for more of the same laws and policies
that set the stage for such tragedies in the first place. It should be a call for all
caring people to tell the public education establishment, bureaucrats, union honchos, and
legislators alike that we’ve had enough of their incompetence. And we want out of
their destructive monopoly!
If you’re a parent, the most powerful and direct
action you can take is to simply unsubscribe your children from public schools. Get
them out of those "disarmed victims waiting to be shot" concentration camps.
There are many things that can be done, but this one act cannot be ignored or
misinterpreted; it says "no confidence" louder than any number of letters and
phone calls. If you are not a parent, you can forward this article to people who are. It
doesn’t matter who you are, it only matters that you take action—not next week,
not when you have time, not after the next mass murder: do it now!
L. Tiggre is the founder of the Liberty Round Table
, an activist organization that focuses on non-electoral political action, and co-editor
of _Doing Freedom!_Magazine , which specializes
in information and services for people who want to live freer now. His
first novel, Y2K: The Millennium Bug, a 1999 Prometheus Award
finalist, can be found at Amazon.com. Being as much a rabble-rouser as a writer, DLT likes
to remind people that freedom is a choice, it's something you do, not
something you get from an election or any other kind of social sanction.
from The Laissez Faire City Times,
Vol 3, No 17, April 26, 1999