[Marxism] young men trouble again (shooting incident)

dan d.koechlin at wanadoo.fr
Thu Dec 20 17:03:42 MST 2012

1) The phenomenon of school shootings (massacres) really started in the 
late 1980s-early 1990s in the US. If you look up the wikipedia article 
"shootings in US schools", you will find a long list of incidents from 
1830 onwards, with around fifteen a decade. ALL of these shootings are 
of the type "student X went home after being flogged by teacher Y, came 
back the next morning with a gun and shot teacher Y" or "Mr X was in 
love with teacher Y, she refused his advances, consequently Mr X went to 
teacher Y's school and shot teacher Y" or "teacher X was having an 
affair with student Y, then decided to terminate the tryst. Student Y 
then went to the school premises, shot teacher X and then him/herself."
So this interminable list of "shootings in US schools" on the Wikipedia 
page of the same name, which goes over all the shooting incidents of the 
past two centuries is obviously missing the point.
The first examples of "X walks into school and shoots everything that 
moves" clearly start in the late 1980s and the phenomenon keeps 
increasing in scope and frequency from then on. I'm not taking into 
account shootings in universities which began in the 60s-70s (Texas, 
Weapons were presumably widely available to any deranged killer before 
the 1980s. The targeting of primary and secondary students by psychotic 
spree killers is a recent development which should lead us to 
investigate the social changes that have made this (rare) phenomenon 
come into existence in the first place.
So what changed in the 1990s ?
Why did schools and children suddenly become "game" for criminally 
insane individuals ?
Probably the emphasis on fire power and the continual portrayal of 
multiple assault weapons disgorging phenomenal amounts of bullets in 
American movies and TV series. What used to be reserved for soldiers in 
war movies (shelling, machineguns, heroism under fire, numerous 
casualties) set in far-away and exotic frontlines, became commonplace 
occurrences for ordinary cops and robbers (extensive use of assault 
rifles, cars and streets riddled with bullets and grenades, 
machinegunes, snipers, blood and gore in normal suburbia).
The end of the cold war meant films and TV series started portraying 
war-like situations in suburbia, a displacement of the enemy from an 
external threat to an internal one. The traditional Western, mafia or 
cop story, in which bandits kill the members of a rival gang before 
being betrayed by an informer (for love or money), was replaced by 
stories in which an innocent looking house would be a den full of 
Mexican drug lords or deranged terrorists, armed to the teeth, plotting 
a terrorist attack. The hero would then single handedly, with the help 
of assault weapons and RPGs, clear out the enemy headquarters and 
eliminate the threat. But unlike the traditional Western or WWII/Vietnam 
war movie, the main protagonist is in no way dependant on a group of 
fellow soldiers (with which he has strong psychological bonds) to help 
him accomplish his mission. He attacks the enemy on his own (or with A 
single partner), trusting in his wits, ingenuity and limitless supply of 
This is a noticeable shift in storytelling that occured in the 1980s and 
coincides with the emergeance omy f the "school shooting" phenomenon. A 
change in narrative concerning the way extreme violence is depicted, 
from collective undertaking (traditional War Movie) to individual 
undertaking (RAmbo, Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, 24, ...)
The end of the cold war is clearly the underlying cause for this change 
in narrative structure. That these narratives have influenced the 
psychology of the crazed lone gunman is my take on this US (and now 
worlwide) phenomenon of school massacres.

More information about the Marxism mailing list