Of bullies and killers

It is rather to be expected that after something as horrific as the shootings at Virginia Tech this past week that there will be questions about why, how and what to do to prevent something like that from happening again.

Sadly, one almost wants to say that there is now a pattern for these horrible events. After the memorial services there are predictably claims about violent games, television, and music, easy access to guns and a host of other causes and factors. And of course there is the usual calls to change things.

It is unfortunate though because there’s one thing that has been applicable here and at Columbine and in other situations. And yet somehow it gets only a passing mention and never any of the “things have to change” focus of other items.

That is the role of bullying in all of this. The fact that people involved in this situations are quite often the victims of ongoing, brutal bullying.

I suspect that people dismiss this first of all because it smacks a bit of justifying the actions and blaming the victims. I suspect too that people dismiss this as a survival of the very dynamics that creates that bullying into adulthood: a grown-up version of calling someone who is a victim of bullying a crybaby.

It is too bad because so long as we continue to ignore this point, the problem won’t really be solved. You can talk about the role of bullying in this all and not blame the victims. After all, we’ve learned how to talk about child abuse in viral terms (the abused becomes abuser), why can’t we do the same here? It shouldn’t take this long to figure out that our institutions essentially throw kids into a jungle where the lex talionis rules. And so when our kids emerge from that jungle dripping in blood, looking like they’ve come off the set of Lord of the Flies, it’s absurd for us to be shocked let alone horrified.

Indeed, in a way, it can be argued that these events represent people who have learned the lesson of that environment too well and that what they’ve done, really, is simply to take the proverbial gloves off and play that game to its fullest.

If people want to truly stop these situations then they should go to the first cause and actually work to stop that game once and for all by putting an end to the lex talionis in schools.

But once again, it seems that we’ll let the opportunity slip. Instead, we’ll put some new goofy labels on video games or some other ineffective action that at least makes people feel like something is being done, even though in truth nothing is being done.