Monday, May 21, 2018

The Most Recent School Shooting

While mental illness is the cause of most of these mass murders, it is not the only one.  This one in Santa Fe, Texas does not fit that pattern.  My wife blames the society's increasing normalization of chaotic family structure and divorce.  Is bullying a cause?

I was subject to lots of bullying.  I was different.  I was a year younger than my classmates and pretty smart.  And this was in a district where many kids came from UCLA faculty or engineer homes.  I remember being 4th grade at Roosevelt Elementary School in Santa Monica getting an ice cream bar and a 5th grader whose name I did not know pushed me against a wall and punched me in the stomach while a crowd of my fellow 4th graders stood around and cheered. 

In junior high, the thugs were Casey Vis, Mark Friend, and Hugo Gonzalez.  I keep waiting to see one of their names with "(D-CA)" after it.  They attacked me on the Wilshire Blvd. bus one day.  At the end, I had a cracked wristbone.  They were, of course, never punished. 

High school was less severe, but threats and implications of violence were common.  I took to using the computer lab as my sanctuary.  Throughout this entire period, I never thought of using lethal force.  I had no access to guns or explosives, but even if I had, I would never have even considered it.  It just was not something you thought about.  Glenn Reynolds' 5/21/18 USA Today column points out that part of the problem is memetic:
We’ve got a problem, and it has to do with memes.
No, not those photos of cats, or the American Chopper guys, with amusing text superimposed. Real memes.
Geneticist Richard Dawkins coined the term meme to describe self-replicating information that passes from one person’s mind to another. Genes are self-replicating information — a human is your DNA’s way of making more DNA — and so are memes. Memes are just ideas that “infect” someone who then spreads the idea to others. Genes use your body to make more genes — and, for that matter, viruses are self-replicating information that uses your body to make more viruses. (There’s even a book about memes entitled, aptly enough, Virus Of The Mind.)
Of course, we could regulate "assault media": the kind that have millions of viewers.  But that only moves the problem; it does not solve it.


  1. Well, if the CDC actually do what they are funded to do, a good multi-variate analysis might give us a clue about what drives these recrudescent snowflakes.

  2. My bullying came in elementary school. The biggest bully on campus was Eddy Burton, a kid from a broken home who lived with his grand parents. He even found away to physically harm me while in class, kicking a desk into my spine whle the teacher was writing on the board. You expected your bullies to eventually have D. Ca on their names. I just expected to eventually hear Eddy was in prison: assault and battery that eventually resulted in death (but not intentional). Eddy gave me my first concussion.

    In truth I never saw him after elementary school. The principal pulled strings and got me transferred to another Jr High. When I went to high school several faces I never saw. In truth the biggest bully in Elementary school would always find that in Jr. High they had to first deal with the biggest bully of the other three schools that fed into the Jr. High. By the time your in High school a number of boys would find they no longer were top dog and would drop out of school. Granted the guy(s) on top would be the worst and they would be fighting for girls, on campus drugs, etc.

    In the end they let the boys do it in elementary so the boys would show their leadership. But in the end it either put them on the road to dropping out by mid teens or getting involved in crime by the end of their High School years.

    As for those they bullied, yes I became interested in the military which to some would mean guns. But I think I was looking for a disciplined education system that didn't allow the bullies. After getting the transfer I learned that most bullies have a mark they constantly harrassed because they know they can do it. I was an unknown so for two years they didn't bother me as much. My final year they started to bother me but I had friends now and that served as a shield. The mark always had to have no one to turn to or they were no longer easy prey. In High school I went JROTC which gave me my place to hide as you hide in the computer room (which we didn't have).

  3. My God, it's a small world!

    I too went to Franklin Elementary School, when I lived with my folks on 21st Place in Santa Monica. Left there in 1956 when my Dad got stationed in Hawaii. I used to walk to school, and like you I got bullied (not nearly as bad as you did though.)

    Once I got rounded up, by some older guys, with a couple of other young innocents on my way home after school. This gang of bullies wanted to make us steal eggs from someone's backyard chicken coop. I was scared to death, they said they were going to hurt us badly if we didn't do what they said. Luckily the juvenile police were waiting for them (the owner had had trouble before with this gang,) so we got saved.

    I never told my folks, I was afraid my Dad would get really mad at me. After that I avoided that street & stayed out of the alleys (well, out of some alleys anyway. The alleys were where lots of great stuff could be found!)

    Mostly I liked Santa Monica back in those days. I used to ride my bike to the theater on Wilshire for the Saturday double feature. Drink & the movie for 25c, can't beat that!