Sunday, October 14, 2007

Snitch of the Week: 10/7 - 10/13 (School Shooter Snitch)

School shootings have become a virtual way of life in this country. Gun proliferation and poor social skills keep these stories in the news.

So it's always good when the police can get the one-up on these kids. Another one of these stories popped up in Pennsylvania and it turns out the would-be shooter asked the wrong kid to join him on his Columbine quest.

  • The boy, whose name was withheld because he is a minor, attended the middle school associated with Plymouth Whitemarsh until 18 months ago, when his parents began schooling him at home because he was being bullied by other students, the police said. He tried to recruit another onetime student at the school to join him in the attack, they said, and that former student alerted the police.

The real kicker of this story is that the boy's mom bought him an assault rifle.

  • The genuine assault rifle, for which no ammunition was found in the home, was bought legally at a gun show by the boy’s mother, the police said. But she bought it for her son, Mr. Castor said, adding that as a result his office was still deciding what charges to file against her, if any.

Let's do the math on that one:

1. Son is a bully victim + 2. Needs to be home schooled + 3. Assault Rifle = ??

Um, yea...

The mom need to take a serious hit on this one.
For dropping the dime on the potential shooter, the other kid is the Snitch of the Week.


  1. What gets me is that Atty. Castor said it might have all just been some "big talking."

    It's amazing, after all that has taken place with Columbine, Virginia Tech, etc. that people still don't think school shootings are a serious issue.

  2. I bet NRA feels the correct solution in this case wouldn't have been denying the potential school shooter from owning a gun, but having more guns in school so potential victims could have defended themselves. Hooray for open shootouts.

  3. I'm amazed by the slowness of adults. When in the early 90's The song Jeremy predicted this before it ever happened. As a matter of fact almost every thing that is taken as a surprise is warned about in some form of music, movie or television.

  4. Good call amadeo, PJ called this shit out way before Columbine put it on the map.

    And now people want to arm teachers with guns for classroom shoot outs rather than fix the social cause.

  5. Vedder wrote the song based on a specific incident in 1991, combined with a somewhat similar event from his own childhood. It certainly wasn't some singular, prescient foretelling of events to come. It was essentially a documentation of events that had were already happening and as weapons and alienated people aren't going away, there's no reason to assume these events wouldn't continue to happen.

    It's a good song, but I think you're giving him far too much credit.

    As for threats of school shootings (in general): People are understandably extremely sensitive to potential threats of school shootings, but I think it's a mistake to conflate potential threats of all varieties with Columbine-like massacres. There's an atmosphere of terror that creates an attitude of almost-complete disregard for the welfare of any child who makes even simple reference to such events. People often seem to miss the reality that they're dealing with 14-year-olds. And while it might be easy to destroy their life -- charging them as adults and tossing them aside -- it often completely ignores the seriousness of the threats and the nuances of the culpability of children.

    Now, assuming that the details of this one particular event are correct, it would be very hard to defend this particular child because of the means available to him and the intent he appears to have had. However, I would like to remind the people clamoring for a lynch mob to keep in mind that this is a 14-year-old child and lacks the essential tools to be able to make sound decisions. Casually discarding the child as some people seem to want to do appears, to me, to be unnecessary, cruel, and essentially irreparably damaging to the child's development.

    On another point, I think it's important for those reading about these events in the media to recognize their own ignorance, as to the details of these events. Clearly, the district attorney must have a good reason for believing that the seriousness of the threat to the school isn't as severe as others have been lead to believe. Either his reasoning skills are seriously impaired or, more likely, as the reader of a small newspaper article, there's a wealth of information about the situation that isn't available to you, upon which this district attorney is making his judgments.

    The whole story itself is wrapped up in implications and suggestions. For example, the obligatory photo of the district attorney speaking in front of the large table full of extremely threatening weapons. It screams, "This child is a serious threat". Only on the tail-end of a sentence within the article do they qualify that by saying that, in fact, nearly all of the weapons on the table are simple air guns and not the fully stocked, mass-murdering arsenal suggested by the photo. Or, for example, in the second paragraph when the child is said to have been planning a "'Columbine-style' attack". Any talk of a "Columbine-style attack" immediately evokes images of scared school children desperately fleeing school buildings, teenagers walking about a cafeteria with automatic weapons, fly-by overhead shots, and so on. The phrase itself is absolutely loaded with suggestion. But who said this? The child? Was it the police? Is it even accurate? Was it some off-hand comment from a police officer whose only comprehension of a school shooting is Columbine and thus, readily offered the tag without any real attention paid to the accuracy and suggestiveness of such a characterization? Like you, I have no idea. "Notebooks detailing violent acts" or innocuous doodles of stick figures sword-fighting? Or how about "an Army handbook on counterinsurgency operations"? How relevant is that, really? Going back to the beginning, what are the details of the conversation between the two children that lead to one of them informing the police that the other had been planning violence against the local school? Was it a tongue-in-cheek bit of black humor completely misinterpreted by the other child? Perhaps he said something foolish when he was just trying to impress someone, trying to make a friend? What was the context of the conversation? Now, sure, it's quite possible that the child was looking for someone to assist him in some plot, but that's not really clear strictly from the article. It's simply assumed that the child flatly deadpanned some equivalent of "Would you like to kill some other children with me?". Even the district attorney's earlier-referenced statement that "an attack had not been imminent" -- what does that mean? Can you numerically quantify the probability of non-imminent acts? 50%? 60%?

    Any person who, from the article, believes that they have a solid grasp on the details of the situation is delusional. You're trying to understand a situation through incredibly incomplete, third-hand, filtered information offered through vague language that absolutely oozes with misleading suggestion and implication.

    And yes, the "Let's arm everyone!" line of thought is positively asinine. I've never found mutually assured destruction too comforting.