school shootings,science fiction, and "new age" theology

| | Comments (4)

One of the casualties at Virginia Tech was the son of SF writer Michael Bishop. I heard a profile the other day on Jamie Bishop, who was the German professor in one of the classrooms.

I get flashbacks whenever I hear about yet another school shooting. We lived in the San Fernando Valley when our oldest two children were in High School. Violence, especially gang violence, was an everyday part of life in that part of the world. My eldest daughter was mugged in broad daylight, in the parking lot of a 7-11, while she was in high school. Her friend was stabbed and had to get emergency surgery, and was critical for a while. She had schoolmates who were murdered. My eldest son was carjacked at gunpoint - he was not injured and his car was even eventually recovered, but it was stressful (to say the least). One of my best friends in Los Angeles lost her son and her nephew to a drive-by shooting - they were not involved in drugs or gangs or any such stuff, they just happened to somehow trigger a homicidal anger in the person who shot them. I can remember at least one time when the local police knocked on our door to ask if we knew or could identify a body found in our neighborhood. You learn to live with this kind of anxiety at the time, but looking back I am surprised that I wasn't more distressed.

We left Southern California to move to Eugene OR in January 1997. Eugene is an interesting place. Very tie-dye, lots of people who are living the voluntarily simple life (or so they say - wages are extremely low there!). While we were living there, and when we had 3 children in high school there was a shooting at the next high school over. May 21, 1998, Thurston High School,Springfield, OR. Here is a timeline for many school shootings - you can see that this is alas not a rare phenomenon.

I was at work 60 miles from home when the news came that there had been a shooting at a high school in the Eugene-Springfield area. In a medical office, as in so many workplaces, one is in a bubble and somewhat isolated from the outside world. And so I was as well. I knew that I was a good hour and a half drive away from home, and that realistically there was little or nothing that I could do, even if the incident had been at my kids' high school. So I finished out the day, hearing tidbits of details as patients came in one by one and shared what they had heard on the news radio or seen on the TV. I learned fairly soon that it wasn't my kids' school, but that didn't make it any easier.

The shooter turned out to be Kip Kinkel, a 15 y/o boy, the son of a professor at the community college where my husband then worked. Unusually for the school shooting scenario, he was captured alive.

In researching this story, I found this summary of the events of that day, and what followed. I also found this from the Portland Oregonian. Amazing, isn't it, how the internet can keep so much alive and in the present tense, even though it was nearly 9 years ago.

One of the things that I find somewhat surprising is that there has not been a concerted effort to research the mind set of the shooters who survived, who were not shot by police nor managed to shoot themselves. In the few things I have seen about Kip (and he is who I think of, every time I hear of a shooting), I read about a surprised remorse and a sense of the unreality with which he views his actions. Death is unreal - it doesn't seem to be permananent until suddenly it is. If you read what he said about shooting his parents, it seems that he thought that they would find death preferable to the embarassment he would bring them. I recognize that chain of thought. It is one of the things that the enemy of us all whispers in our ears when we are depressed and desparate. It is a seductive vision, especially if one's belief systems do not include the Christian concept that "man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

Charles Manson, infamous for his multiple murders, has been associated by some with the Heinlein novel Stranger in a Strange Land. One of the themes in this book includes reincarnation - and it specifically justifies the idea of murder as a means of sending a person back to start all over again.

So, what does this have to do with the school shootings?
Well, something struck me in listening to news coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings. It was a commentator on National Public Radio. He or she (I don't remember the details, I was in the car) said something about how these 'children' don't seem to have the respect for human life. I think that the commentator was talking about violent video games especially the 'first-person shooter' games. But it really struck me that this is the generation that grew up with around 1/4 of its members missing due to abortion. And this is also a generation where many have a belief system that justifies abortion due to the belief that the baby's soul is just recycled, that killing the baby now will give it a chance for a 'better life' somewhere else where it is wanted. And hence my somewhat rambling connection of thoughts about the school shooting, respect for life, and some science fictional influence on two generations.

I've had some other thoughts on this over the last few days, but I think I am going to go ahead and post this now. Comments welcome.


I really agree with you - there is so much a culture of death that our kids are being raised in - not only abortion and euthanasia, but war, video games, movies, books, etc. that there isn't an awareness of what life is - and what Christ accomplished on the Cross.

Its insane to believe that the little world I grew up in was such a mess..
I was at work and someone said, "Oh my god, check out the story on MSN" and I did, and all I could think of was Thurston.. and then when they locked us all in my freshman year of HighSchool because a guy living on the street behind it shot his wife and was running around outside with the gun. It may have been the scariest time when we lived in Oregon.
But I look back and realize that I slept as a child to the noises of LAPD helicopters searching, and that I never felt the need to lock things, and just left it all up to you and dad.. and it just makes this world seem so insane.

The reason given by all these recent shootings is that they were abused/ignored/mistreated by their peers.
Who wasn't?
Just think of the reasons why I started skipping school; constant abuse from other students, and an uncaring faculty, who would rather have me drop out than alienate the rich parents of the kids who were the abusers. My sophomore school year, I skipped 4/5th of the school year in classes.
I know that D had major issues her Sophomore year too..
But we're both fine, neither of us have flipped out and killed anyone.. we're overall OK, despite all the crap that we went through.
Once upon a time they said "what doesnt kill you, makes you stronger"..
now I suppose the reasoning these people use is, "What doesn't kill them, makes them kill others."

What is wrong in the minds of these people?

What is so wrong in my generation that there have been so many school shootings?

Why doesn't anyone care?


Some of us adults also trust to our father who loves us more than we can know. That is part of what I have had to learn. I do my best but trust in God.

There are times and circumstances where we do not fit in. We allowed you to adopt that pattern in part because we also do not "fit in". Fitting (or not!) the expectations of those around us is a conscious choice we make.

You "think" and you "ask" and those are very important traits. More than that you "care". I'm proud of all of you and as I say "You've all turned into people I'm glad to know."

The phrase that starts "that which does not ..." is much too glib. They are thinking of exercise and building strength. They overlook the fact that a few diseases or emotional conditons can have a permanently debilitating effect.

You know how little TV I watch. EWTN and the Boring Channel (TWC) are 99% of my TV time. My news is from the radio (which is easy given where I work.) But there is a TV on full time in the AM control room. While it usually rests on TWC, the producers in there tend to be channel surfers. The few times I saw a picture of the Virginia Tech shooter, I thought to myself that he looked posessed. As your mom said, there was an air of unreality that matched what Kip Kinkle described for himself.

Speaking of unreality... The juxtaposition of that VT shootings with the ad nauseum coverage of "One sheet Cheryl" a few days later was too much for me. I would never eat a sandwich made by her hands.

In my opinion the problems of shootings, stabbings etc have always been there. Think about "Romeo and Juliet" as only one example. That was art imitating life. Another example is the neighborhood gangs that are still out there.

The media has an internal logic that tends to blow certain events way out of proportion. It is what too many people are taught in J-school. These HS shootings are tragic and we should be doing what we can to prevent them, but each one is not the end of the world. It does not need continuous coverage and the blathering of "experts". You know that I shudder if I am ever called an expert. EX=former SPURT=drip under pressure. Similarly with 9-11, my reaction was "the whole world changed only if you have had your head in the sand - if you expected the world to be perfect - just the way YOU wanted it." My world has never been that perfect!

We need to do what we can - and accept that we can make an individual difference but it is out of our hands to change the entire world. But don't stop caring!

Longer post than I intended!

i will say that fitting in (or not) was not always a conscious choice with me as for all that i tried, it often didn't work unless i was trying to fit in with the nerds.
as for the dichotomy of how we grew up in Cali to how we reacted to the violence at Thurston and the crazy near Sheldon. i think it was more a matter of inoculation. living with it close and heavy meant it didn't seem as odd as when it all seemed so safe.
oddly enough there are times i appreciate my aspergers because it allowed me to be unconscious to the fact of how people were picking on me. looking back now from a vantage point where people have pointed out what i wasn't seeing, i realize what i missed and am glad that i didn't know at the time. the knowledge would have made a hard point of my life harder.

i will say that my boyo has joked that kip was the best thing that happened to him. it meant that the hicks at his school decided not to hassle him anymore out of fear of him snapping.
it's sad that it took that for them to treat him with the necessary humanity, but... yeah

February 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28    
The WeatherPixie

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by alicia published on April 22, 2007 8:09 PM.

The heritage of the poverty cycle, made worse by public policy was the previous entry in this blog.

from the coalition for improving maternity services is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.