Monday, April 20, 2009

April 20

How does a teacher appropriately mark the tenth anniversary of Columbine? I chose to teach a completely normal day, to listen to my students a little more carefully, and to hug my own kids a little more tightly.

I teach on a relatively open campus, a very typical California school with many buildings and no real hallways to speak of. Still, I followed the lead of the teacher nearby and kept my outside door locked today. It only locks one-way (not a fire hazard) and students are used to opening the door for each other anyway.

There was an interesting piece on NPR today about the myths behind Columbine--all the stories and stereotypes that have perpetuated despite their falsehood. When asked how we cope with that senseless act of violence, the freelance journalist David Cullen who reported on Columbine suggests that the public and particularly young teenagers flirting with ideas of violence need to see the dead bodies of the shooters. Not the yearbook pictures of the shooters, not the grainy security footage of them wreaking havoc in the library, but the gruesome photographs of their dead bodies as proof of the consequences of such violence.

The mom in me argues shouldn't the parents of the killers have some right? After all, they were someone's son, someone's cousin, someone's neighbor. Or did those two boys give up all rights to privacy and decency when they brought guns and bombs to school? Maybe the author has a point. The way I remember Timothy McVeigh is in an orange jumpsuit, looking cool and distant, completely pathological as he was sentenced to death. He looked above it all. Is it wrong to need to see a dead body in order to weigh the magnitude of murder?


Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I still find it hard to think that the US suffers from children with guns to the extent it does.

You really have such a different culture.

4:39 AM  

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