So I was bumping around the internet, minding my own business, (mostly because yesterday I woke with a mega back-pain apparently having pulled something in my sleep. Today it’s gone, so I have no idea) when I came across this tweet (on an article, at Victory Girls Blog, not on twitter. There’s reasons I don’t go to twitter):
Dear LORD. The stacked stupid in that tweet could render everyone in the world subnormal. I think I lose 20 IQ points every time I read it.
The author said it wasn’t helpful, which of course it isn’t, but it’s also like saying “shooting a patient who is bleeding out won’t cure him.”
Let’s unpack that twitter, shall we?
First of all, can everyone in the audience who fits almost all of the characteristics or, if you change “trench coat” for some other kind of “strange” apparel fit all of them at one time in their schooling, raise his or her hand? Good, good. I’m going to assume a good portion of you raised their hands (more on that later.) So… how many of you were even potential mass shooters or another kind of murderer? I’m going to guess maybe one of you made elaborate plans to bomb the school, but never actually took step one to do it.
So, now, ask yourself, how would you have changed if, from the first day of school you’d been treated as a potential mass murderer? Yeah… like we weren’t shunned and mistreated enough!
Now let’s take his “characteristics” from the top.
Uh. Apparently it never occurred to this guy that “loner” goes both ways. Yeah, sure, those of us of an introvertish (my profile is weird) disposition won’t be found at the center of a group, but most of “us” that I know were shunned more or less from the first day of school.
Why? Who in heck knows?
We could go with the science fiction explanation: most of us “odd people” seem to be on top of the range, or a little higher, for Neanderthal genes. Maybe something about us activates the defense circuits of people who are less Neanderthal.
(Btw I like this idea that what makes us odd is Neanderthal genes. No need to explain how Neanderthals went extinct, then. “Hey, Ogg, wanna make baby?” “Not now, Oggina, I’m trying to perfect new type of arrowhead.”)
But there are tons of other explanations. The very life events (undoubtedly compounded by a bend of mind) that made us “odd” also made us give all the wrong cues to kids our age. Like, for instance, the fact that I was a child in a family of adults and that I’d spent most of my childhood in bed with an illness or another (Yes, this has been lifelong. Comes from being born premature) meant that my talking style was “weird” and my physical abilities, including coordination about those of a two year old. At the age of six or so when most groups work on instinct, the amazing thing would be if I WEREN’T shunned.
My older son? Outsized. The was over three feet at age 2, and by the time he entered elementary he was probably around 5 feet. (If he’d grown to a normal age, instead of stopping growing at 12, which he says is because he became a caffeine addict early, he’d probably be a giant.) Add to that the “grew up surrounded by adults — and bookish adults — and favorite pastime is studying Rome” thing. Just the way he looked and talked made him an outcast.
ETC. You could come up with reasons for each of you I’m sure. But the thing is none of us went to school going “I’m gonna be a loner.” We — I remember, yes — went into school all bright and eager because they’d told us we’d find friends and “have fun” there. And within a week we knew no one wanted to be our friend. (Or if we were lucky one or two people wanted to, but certainly not the main group.)
So, is being a loner a reason to profile someone as a mass murderer? Or just to wonder what we’re doing wrong, in terms of schooling, that some little kids find themselves in this situation.
BTW we have found that those of “us” can be identified by the habit of “Ledge walking” during recess. Find a ledge. Balance back and forth across it. This works for kindergarten or first grade, before we realize we can just bring a book to read during recess.
SNORT. Sure. Because a student who isn’t a loner is going to talk to? And if he’s walking around the playground waving arms and having conversations with imaginary friends, wouldn’t that be worse?
Listen bub, some of us learned to keep our conversations with imaginary friends inside our own heads.
I’m not even sure what he thinks he means. But apparently, the lone student who walks around shouting at the air isn’t a potential murderer. This is good to know. Instruct your kids accordingly.
3- is bullied
I’m not going to ask if this person was EVER a child, I’m going to ask if he’s ever MET a child.
Childhood, probably evolutionarily, is a time of conformity. The child is primed to learn all sorts of “ways things are done” that will make him fit well with his tribe.
It’s just that these days what they learn in the family doesn’t necessarily correlate with the larger tribe of strangers in public school, where the main thing people have in common is “live in a certain area” and “are a certain age.”
Now I can see where, historically, this would have meant you were the same “tribe.” Your ancestors probably knew each other. You probably all had the same general range of professions, and ate the same type of food, etc. Even in the nineteenth century or early twentieth when public schooling started, this made a certain sense. This was your cohort to go through life with.
Now people are too mobile for that. But the children’s instinct is still to find a pattern they conform to. And if someone sticks out make him conform or destroy him.
Even in the village school this applied. Use a strange word, and everyone will chase you around repeating it and laughing.
I was never bullied in the physical sense — giant for Portugal and built like a brick shithouse — but I was “bullied” in the “make fun” of sense and the “shun” sense.
The make fun of sense is interesting, and btw, a lot like the left still practices against our group. Take the craziest things and distort them out of all rationality, then flint them in the person’s face as though that was what they meant.
Take my best friend. Her name happened to rhyme with the Portuguese word for paper. It took about two minutes for the horde of school children to realize this and jump from it, to “She must be made of paper.” After that they ran after her, or surrounded her screaming she was made of paper and laughed. For some reason this became the worst taunt ever for her. (Me? I just hit people who taunted her. It’s who I am, it’s what I do.)
Or take my younger son. His first name (he goes by middle name, in no small part I think because of those years) is one of those names that can be altered with “son” to be a surname. Kids did that and chased him around screaming that name (which is now, btw, also “fashionable” as a first name. Never mind.) It made absolutely no sense, but it was obviously a taunt and they laughed at him and it became “the worst thing ever.” (The interesting part in this being we named him Marshall as a middle name, not a first, because Dan was afraid people would call him Marshmallow. Turned out they didn’t even need that.)
The “was bullied” is part of the “is loner” and “doesn’t fit in”. All of them are symptoms of “have a lot of unrelated kids in one place, and the kids identify one of them as different” not necessarily something that fits “mass murderer” profile.
4- loves violent video games
WHEW. All those of us who grew up before the nineties, take a deep breath. We can’t POSSIBLY be mass murderers, since violent video games didn’t exist.
Can we be real for a moment here? EVEN now with very realistic video games there ain’t no such correlation. You know MOSTLY what playing violent video games correlates with? Being under massive stress. Everyone I know in stressful situations loves first person shooters.
And in my day, everyone I knew in stressful situations liked violent movies, or in my case, very violent books. In the worst year of my life, at around 12, I read the full series of Captain Morgan’s adventures which in the version I read it could be subtitled “interesting ways to kill people.” And it had BEAUTIFUL lithographs of all the severed heads, etc.
Did this make me feel/want to kill people? Oh, please. The most marked effect was the scene where they use a very sharp sword to behead a sleeping woman without waking her. I was so terrified this would happen to me, I slept with scarves wrapped around my neck for two years.
All this clause means is “if people are stressed.” Well, genius. People who are forced to be in an environment where they’re not accepted and are bullied, are stressed.
Here’s a hint: Monkeys in the same situation are also stressed.
5- Wears a trenchcoat to school.
This is a Wut?
I know that the murderers at Columbine wore (black) trenchcoats because they were trying to be some variety of goth.
But frankly, what in hell is the fetishization of trench coats. I was once body-searched at my kids elementary school because I went to pick them up in a trenchcoat, despite the fact that a) they knew me. b) I was wearing a trench coat/raincoat with a hood because it was raining cats and dogs (in fact, the small mountain town was in the middle of a flood) and the wind would turn umbrellas inside out/carry them away. The kids had rain ponchos, but I had a stylish (truly) raincoat mom had sent me that winter, so I wore that. And suddenly I was a potential murderer? Why? Is there an instance of a raincoat becoming animated and killing people Because I’d think I’d have heard of it.
Both sons often wore trench coats when they were young. Mostly because it was too hot for an overcoat/leather coat, but this being Colorado, the day could suddenly turn cold. trench coats were easier to carry. They were usually light colored, and if they whispered in the boys ears that they should kill classmates, the kids obviously told them to shut up.
Does this apply to other odd attire? I confess round about 12 or so both older son and I decided there was only ONE fashion and it was thirties fashion.
Now, why I did it, I don’t know except the fashion of the seventies annoyed me. Son did it — button down shirt, tie, dress pants, eventually fedora and peacoat — because he’s massive and dark and people don’t usually lock car doors/act like they’re being threatened when confronted with someone wearing a button down and tie. Arguably he was more rational than I.
But I think we can fold this under “Wears odd clothes for his time and place.” (Unless there really are weaponized trench coats.
Which with “has a trace of individuality in an environment that rewards conformity” means the person will suffer all of the above penalties, and yes, probably be stressed and indulge in violent pastimes probably vicariously.
Does this mean they are about to snap and become mass murderers? Well, I will tell you that treating them as suspect, punishing them and enforcing MORE conformity will cause a certain number of them to go off the deep end, even if suicide is more common than mass murder.
But the numbers of both are vanishingly small given the circumstances. What circumstances?
Well, let’s start with how school classes are formed: grab all kids of an age and an area, and throw them in a class willy nilly, regardless of temperament, intelligence or even relative learning at that age.
Continue with how classes are run: a friend told me — when I was puzzled by how teachers treated my kids in elementary — that the purpose of elementary isn’t really to teach. It’s to get all the kids at the same level. Sure, the most unprepared kids are going to be taught enough to be at “fifth grade level” by the end of elementary. BUT the most prepared kids are going to be bullied into “unlearning” what they know, so they too are at that level. (This explained their insisting my younger kid “guess” words, and force him to sometime guess them wrong “otherwise you’re sounding them out.” and causing me to have to battle THAT at home. They didn’t fully succeed, but they did stop him reading quickly and easily and give him a “thing” about reading. He’s mostly over it, but sometimes still “guesses” particularly street signs and comes up with the most bizarre street names.)
It’s the same with non-educational stuff. If I had a dime for every time a teacher told us “he has to learn to play the game” which meant “he has to conform to our arbitrary rules, even when they are counterproductive” I wouldn’t need to work a day in my life. (And frankly I got to the point where it was hard NOT to commit mass murder when I heard that sentence.)
Pity the poor kids whose IQ is north of 130 and really pity those that the testers say “We can’t give you a number, we can only estimate. He hit his head on the ceiling of every test.”
The way their minds work means they CAN’T fit in. They are in the same boat as every other minority/kid with visible issues. My best friend in middle school had crossed eyes. She eventually had surgery, but it was fairly rare at that time. In addition, she was also very high IQ and loved math. She was also tiny. This is when I developed a new hobby “Beat up on physically abusive bullies.” This in turn led to my ending up with a lot of tiny and odd friends. It was okay.
Then there’s the “material” they’re teaching you. Heaven helps the child who learns fast, because most learning in schools these days are set at tortoise crawl. And a lot of the learning is indoctrination or button counting for morons.
Any halfway smart child will go out of his or her mind with boredom. I learned to read other books under the desk, but my kids found that these books tended to get confiscated, because schools here/30 years later are even crazier than my schools were.
And then make the kids spend 8 hours a day in this environment EVERY DAY surrounded by adults who are either unable to protect them (in middle school most teachers were afraid of stopping the violent bullies, because they were… well… violent) or actively engaged in psychological bullying themselves, “They bully you because you’re weird. If you were just like them, they wouldn’t. You have to learn to play the game.” (This btw, ignores the fact that a pack of children can pick on the least difference, or merely choose an arbitrary target. AND if their bullying is given official sanction it can go insane. Because they’re children, which is to say unsocialized savages. Or that the traits they bully you for are USEFUL to adulthood, like a joy of reading, a large vocabulary, or the fact you don’t want to play the currently fashionable mindless game.)
For TWELVE YEARS.
What crime did those kids commit? There are prisoners who get a lighter sentence.
And don’t tell me that’s the only way to run public school. Over the run of public school in various countries, other methods have been tried, including but not limited to ability-grouping, allowing people to go as fast as they can (and get their sentence commuted early), and simply allowing teachers to step in and stop bullying, instead of siding with the bullies.
The ONLY explanation for the way our schools are run is that the teachers like bullying, and wish to enforce absolute conformity. Now, conformity is, of course, easier for teachers. They only need to deal with one level, one lesson.
BUT it is wholly artificial and not only doesn’t correspond with how individuals develop (kids can be all over the map at the same age) but has bloody nothing to do with the skills needed for adulthood.
Perhaps it was useful to train people this way in the early twentieth century when most labor opportunities were in factories, where most of what you’d do is push a lever, or move something, a million times a day. Perhaps that and knowing how to read signs was your best qualification.
That world is gone. It isn’t coming back. In a world that is going to “micro” and “individualized” manufacture, a world that needs innovative thinkers, self-starters, and people who can work alone, our schools are not just bad. They’re a liability.
Producing mass murders is just a side effect of the bullying and enforced conformity and other horrors. (And at that it’s amazing how few kids snap and kill people.) And no, banning guns won’t cure it. There are always other methods of mass murder, like explosives, and these days you can find how to make those online, very easily. And no, treating the kids who are excluded and bullied as though THEY’ve done something wrong won’t help. Scrutinizing them every minute and telling them to “Play the game” more isn’t going to make them into standard issue students who fit in the crowd. If anything it will drive them crazier. It’s like blaming someone for limping, or stuttering.
So, here is an idea: let my people be. Most of us would learn anyway! Just leave us alone. We don’t need much. Books, movies, computers, and time to think. There should be a way to accommodate this without breaking the bank.
Just stop trying to force the square peg into the round hole, and blaming the peg when it breaks.
Humans are not widgets and no matter how much you yell at them, you can’t make them be. Our education system is a miniature version of dictatorships. It’s not amazing some deaths result. The amazing thing is we don’t fill millions of graves.