Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Disturbing Story Disturbing Trend

The ten year anniversary of the killings at Columbine High School have brought the horrible tragedy back to the forefront of the mainstream media. However, ten years later the story reads much differently. I found this article on USAToday and found it almost as interesting as it was disturbing.

The article does an excellent job of revealing how much of what was reported was down right wrong. While I read through the article I couldn't believe how different the reports that are being revealed now are from my memory of the media coverage ten years ago. In my mind I envision two "goth" kids wearing long trench coats out to destroy the "beautiful people." It was two kids who listened to the wrong music (metal), watched too much gory TV, got bullied too much, and were basically social outcasts. According to many of the books and reports out now not much of the media's portrayal was very accurate.

I am glad that this retraction of sorts is actually getting some press, no matter how limited. I am glad because I think it illustrates a disturbing trend in our society. The trend I am talking about is the trend to find blame. I see more and more that we as a nation are seeking to place blame and find fault in every event that unfolds. Take Columbine. People want to blame the parents, blame video games, blame bullying. The list is endless. Is it too much to fathom that there are just some bad eggs out there? Any statisticians out there that can back me up? I am a firm believer that people are inherently good. However, I also believe that some people are just not good people. I am not out to solve the nature versus nurture argument here I am just saying that I never understood the need to blame everyone but the person who committed the crime?!

"These are not ordinary kids who were bullied into retaliation," psychologist Peter Langman writes in his new book, Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters. "These are not ordinary kids who played too many video games. These are not ordinary kids who just wanted to be famous. These are simply not ordinary kids. These are kids with serious psychological problems."

This trend doesn't just apply to acts like Columbine. It happens in everything from getting burned by a cup of coffee to natural disasters. Stuff happens, and I think that some of these events would have happened regardless of the precaution and/or changes in circumstance. Accidents happen, natural disasters happen, crazies are out there. Our quest to find a direct line of reasoning for the cause, which in most cases leads to blame, can not always be fulfilled. I don't know the what the perpetually increasing blaming trend stems from, but I think it may have something to do with the litigation nation phenomenon. We have more lawyers in the US than the rest of the world combined and it is their job to find blame, so maybe that is part of the cause. All I know for sure is that there is not enough responsibility placed on the perpetrator in scenarios like this and other tragic events. I think we can learn from the lessons illustrated in this tragedy, but beyond that realize that the world is a chaotic place and you cannot place the blame for any event that unfolds within it.


Steve Kasperson said...

I think that many people want to understand why these things happen. While I agree with you when you say that stuff happens, I also think that in today's American society, people are easily scared. When someone is frightened, the simplest way for them to feel better is to feel in control. Thus the quest for knowing why something happens. I think the blame is part of the litigation nation, because if you believe you have found some kind of fault with something, then you have some kind of case. I wish this was not the case, and people would be more accepting of the differences that are part of a diverse society, as well as the causes of that diversity. Perhaps some day.

Anonymous said...

Moral of the story is most of our press is not to be trusted, they want sensational stories that help them sell product (newspapers, cable ratings, etc.) rather than digging deeper to really uncover the truth. Easy explanations that scare the shit out of people are much more fun for them.