massacres of the soul

This was written by Idat. She is one of our correspondents and is not a member of this household.

April 20th: massacres of the soul

Try to understand.

Try to understand how a young person, male, female, whatever can do something so unfathomably horrible; walk into a school and start shooting.

Imagine the horror in the minds of the students and teachers when they realize that they are in deadly danger.

Imagine the innocence lost, and try to understand.

Now, try to understand the hatred. The anger. The shooters in Colorado today did not go there to scare people. They went to make a point, written large and in blood.

Almost everyone reading this was tormented in school at one point.

Understand that for some children the torment stretches into years. The jeers of classmates, the taunts, the foot innocently left sticking out in a crowd. The parents who either don't know or know but are powerless to help. The unsympathetic teachers. The losers and the misfits of the world do not carry much of anyone's sympathy with them.

The reports say they targeted athletes. And it is the athletes who are the worst, in any school. The golden children almost always take the opportunity to piss on the people far below them.

In a sense, you might say they had it coming. I know this is uncharitable, unfair, and probably extremely mean of me to say.


I understand the hatred. The anger. The blind, furious rage. The pain eating at me from inside. I wanted them dead; I wanted to watch their eyes close and know that, for once, I had the power. I wanted to know that for once I had won.

I understand them. I did not do what they did; lack of access to guns and a strong sense of consequences kept me from it, though the thought crossed my mind many a time. Two of them killed themselves when they were done; they had run their course, stricken a definitive blow against a society that hated them and who they hated back. And they knew what would have happened once the police came. These are not the actions of children who believe they have a future. They are the actions of children who believe they have absolutely nothing left to lose.

I know how to prevent this from happening again.

Stop the mean kids. Stop the bullies. Find ways to prevent kids from being ostracized. Realize that children are some of the most brutal, imaginative torturers on earth. Don't turn your back and say "Kids will be kids." Parents need to keep in touch with their children as best they can. Teachers need to be willing to work with kids who ask for help. And remember that children become popular generally not because they are particularly likeable, but because they have the sharpest teeth and the most money. Popularity in schools is built on a mound of festering wounds dealt to others.

I am horrified by the event; but I am also horrified by the media's tendency to blame black clothing and "war games" for the fact that these boys snapped and decided to go hunting their classmates. I am appalled that these boys had access to the guns they used. I saw an interview with a school counselor who seemed to be convinced that making these kids wear normal clothes and stop playing their favorite games would have helped. She said, "I can't believe that those clothes and those games were allowed."

Not every outcast turns into a mass murder. But combine that blind rage, that sense of absolutely no hope, with the ready availability of guns, and you get kids who open fire in schools.

If I had one request to make, it would be for everyone to look beneath the surface. Their clothes and their games were harmless, but they were a barometer, perhaps, of something going on inside of them. Making them wear fashionable clothing (or uniforms) and stop playing their games would have merely put the problem conveniently out of sight. As someone on a BBS i'm on said today, "Most of the goths I know wouldn't go shoot up a school. They'd hang themselves by putting a rope around their necks and standing on a block of ice so they wouldn't have to do the work of kicking the chair out from under them."

If I had a second request, it would be a fervent wish for an eloquent letter to be found that would explain what they were thinking, why they did it. Unfortunately, the kids who do this sort of thing tend to be the ones who cannot express their pain and hatred any other way. The surviving boy will likely be inarticulate when asked about his motives, if he ever manages to say anything about them at all.

Which is too bad.


It's not as hard when it's a natural disaster. We don't expect those but there's nobody to blame.

It's not as bad when it's a war in another country. That's at a remove.

It's not as bad when it's gang kids shooting each other in the streets.

It's not as bad when it's a random madman killing strangers.

But the schools seem to be sacred, for some reason; I never felt safe in my schools, so i have no idea why.

I'm just overwhelmed by it all.


If you have anything you'd like to say to Idat, we'll be happy to forward it. Write email to us and put "Attention Idat" in the subject line.

Fear the Geek Dan Savage talks about the evils that have always existed in high schools, and suggests these school shootings might bring them to light.
Massacre of the Soul Idat describes the gut feelings of those who could do such things.
Prof. Jenkins Goes to Washington This is the story of how a mild mannered MIT Professor ended up being called before Congress to testify about "selling violence to our children".
Kurt, Kurt, Kurt... Bob King reflects on life in high school, bullies and their targets, and kids with guns.
How to create a school shooter Look at our culture, look at our entertainment, look at what happens to people who are different. It should be no surprise.
The Untouchable Mean Girls The death of Phoebe Prince.
Tell Us What Happened Why classmates are afraid to speak up about what happened to Phoebe Prince.

Wikipedia entry on bullies and what is being done currently.

Think about the chilling effect events like these have against children's self-expression and creative outlets. The self-expressions of young people will now be scrutinized more closely than ever. Taking their writing, taking their art, taking video games, Internet, TV etc., even guns, away will not stop the rage inside that Idat talks about in her article. Society itself has to change at a fundamental, core level. Do you think it can change? Do you think you can help make that change?

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