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Fire Away! by Dee Jay Gude
I gotta tell you…I am sick to death of the Littleton school shootings. I’m sick of hearing about it, I’m sick of reading about it, and I’m sick of listening to journalists, activists and politicians dole out the blame for it. It’s the parents’ fault, it’s the school’s fault, it’s Marilyn Manson’s fault, it’s Nintendo’s fault, it’s the Internet’s fault, it’s Charlton Heston’s fault – everybody gets a slice of blame pie.

I anticipated a rash of copycats – kids who wanted the kind of "fame" the two young men who did the shooting have gotten posthumously. And I wasn’t disappointed. Several schools have reported students prowling the halls in black trench coats, a la Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. It occurs to me that if the media wouldn’t make such a big deal out of this stuff, there would be a lot less incidents of it.

Whatever sociological/psychological/environmental issues that were at play with Klebold and Harris, they are only a part of the equation. What it boils down to is two punk kids who got trigger happy. It’s unfortunate but it happens. And if it’s happening more frequently, I would give the largest slice of blame to the media for glorifying it.

My mother went to school with Caril Fugate, the sidekick of Charles Starkweather. She remembers that, in the aftermath of the murder spree, they were portrayed as isolated freaks. They were not mourned and no one tried to figure out what caused their crimes. It was pretty obvious that THEY committed the crimes and it was no one’s fault but their own. Nobody thought to blame the gun for the killings – remember that we’re in the Midwest, where most of what you eat for dinner was shot by your father (back then, anyway). There was no Nintendo, no Internet, no Marilyn Manson, and Charlton Heston was just Moses. Back then, James Dean’s "Rebel Without A Cause" and Elvis Presley were the scapegoats for teen insurrection. Of course, now we adore Elvis and laugh at something as campy as "Rebel". But it was pretty clear that teenagers who shot their parents, then went on a shooting binge were freaks of nature and not appropriate dinnertime conversation.

Now heinous crimes get weeks of publicity. We know the criminals and their victims better than we know our own family members. And hundreds of disenfranchised kids get an idea of how they can achieve immortality. And maybe the smarter ones will figure out that an even better way is to kill a bunch of your classmates but not commit suicide. That way you can land several book deals and have Connie Chung come to your cell and put your interview in front of a large television audience.

The media covers their responsibility by saying, "Hey, we’re just reporting news." They claim that the people have a right to know and that awareness will help find a solution. Well, some problems have no solution and attention only exacerbates it. Human violence is an age-old dilemma - it goes as far back as the Bible, when they didn’t even have guns or any of our modern excuses. Some people are wackos and we’re never going to change that.

Yes, it’s horrible and we feel sorry for the victims and the parents…but let’s get over it already. No amount of fretting will take back the shooting, nor will it prevent future shootings. The only thing that happens is we get to listen to people who have too much time on their hands debate on how many of our personal freedoms should be taken away because of someone else’s crime.

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