The bullied school shooter myth still needs busting even in 2014

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In the wake of the Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting Vox.com looked into the bullied school shooter stereotype. What did they come up with? I think the title of the article kind of gives it away.

“Think school shooters are usually bullied and unpopular? You’re wrong.”

It makes me wonder if people will read it with an open mind or just dismiss it so they can continue to live with a comfortable lie.

Anyway, friend of the site, and Columbine author, Dave Cullen was interviewed for the article and once again brought his A-game to the discussion when it came to discussing the Columbine cowards.

“Everybody knows who commits these kind of murders. They’re outcasts, typically goth or other sorts of kids that dress funny and live on the fringes,” Cullen said. “That’s well known. It’s also wrong.”

“It’s complete nonsense,” Cullen said. Both shooters had a healthy circle of friends. Their social calendars, which were released to the public, were “packed.” They went bowling every Friday, and they typically occupied four lanes — enough for 16 people.

There’s also “no compelling evidence,” Cullen explained, that the shooters were bullied more than anyone else or that bullying drove them to the shootings. “We have their journals and videos,” Cullen said, adding that they “never mention bullying” directed at the shooters.

The article goes on to state that depression and mental illness are the main causes of school shootings. It was suggested that schools should hand out questionnaires to students to monitor for signs of depression. I’m afraid that while it may assist in getting some kids some help there are definite flaws by doing this. The first that a lot of kids with problems at home will lie so their parents won’t be notified by the school. Another problem is that any kid with depression will be labeled a potential school shooter and that doesn’t help anyone. Lastly, I don’t want to see depression become an excuse at trial for criminal behavior like bullying and Asperger’s have become in the years since Columbine.

Getting back to the bullying aspect I also wanted to add that this article is a great example of how school shootings have actually done a disservice to the victims of bullying. As I’ve said before now people are more concerned about finding the next shooter than actually doing anything about bullying.

ABC News gets the Columbine effect right, then gets it very wrong

abcthisweek

Please watch the following video from ABC News in its entirety. You can also watch it at their website.

This was a segment by correspondent Pierre Thomas for ABC News’ This Week With George Stephanopoulos. I thought Mr. Thomas did a great job at first discussing the copycat shootings that were inspired by Columbine. It said all the right things without glorifying the guilty. I greatly appreciated how it was pointed out that a lot of the shootings had to deal with mental illness. I wish they would have said something to make seeking mental health treatment less stigmatized but it’s a start. Then at about the 4:12 mark it goes completely off the rails.

At that point Mr. Thomas interviews one Dillon Cossey. Cossey pleaded guilty in 2007 to plotting an attack against Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School at the age of 14. At this point in the interview the bullying trope is brought out. It’s like there’s a mandate for all American media that if you’re talking about school shootings you have to mention bullying in the piece whether it’s factual or not. If Cossey was bullied it didn’t happen at the school he was attending at the time because Cossey was being home-schooled at the time of his arrest.

Another thing that should have been brought up about how to stop some of these shootings is parenting. I would say just about all the shootings that were committed by juveniles could have been prevented if the parents just paid closer attention to their kids, stopped trying to be their friend instead of their parent, and having a modicum of common sense. If your kid has an unhealthy obsession with mass murderers it’s not ‘just a phase’. It means they are in need of psychiatric help. As an example of what not to do we’ll go back to Dillon Cossey. His parents were both arrested after his arrest because they were the ones who bought him a .22-caliber handgun, a .22-caliber rifle and a 9-millimeter semiautomatic rifle.

You get an E for effort ABC News. Maybe next time how about a little more fact checking and a little less dissemination of misinformation?

Study says bullying not the cause of school shootings

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You know, I was going to do this long drawn out post on this but what’s the point? I’ve been over this so many times and now there’s clinical support for my assertions.

Anyway, researchers at Freie Universität Berlin conducted a study of 126 attacks against schools in 16 different countries and do you know what they found was at the root of most attacks?

The biggest surprise for the researchers was that 43 percent of the perpetrators had problems, conflicts, or unjust experiences with teachers and school representatives before they went on the school shooting spree.

And since most school shooters are narcissistic ego-maniacs in my opinion the slights from teachers were probably not even slights at all.

Now can we please stop the bullied school shooter trope? Not only is it not true it really doesn’t do anything to stop bullying.

Anti-bullying video pulled by school district in wake of Sparks Middle School shooting

Washoe district stops showing anti-bullying video ‘Teen Truth’:

Someone thought this was a good idea
Someone thought this was a good idea

Back in October when 12-year-old Jose Reyes shot and killed teacher Michael Landsberry and himself at Sparks Middle School there was a story that went around that Reyes may have been influenced by an anti-bullying video that depicted a school shooting. At the time the school district denied any knowledge of such video. Now the school district is pulling the video that they had no previous knowledge of.

The movie entitled ‘Teen Truth’ not only depicts a fictional school shooting that was caused by bullying but also showed the infamous security cam footage from Columbine.

Now I’m not here to debate whether or not this video actually influenced Reyes or not. Reyes might have already been a mutant prior to the video. What I am here to say is that this video is flawed and never should have been showed to the kids in the first place because not only was Columbine not caused by bullying, the majority of school shootings in this country were not caused by bullying.

This sounds like some company that wanted to make a fast buck since it was was purchased through a grant from U.S. Department of Education. The government will give a grant to just about any damn thing.

Not to mention as I’ve said many times before bullying is not a justification for mass murder. I was bullied mercilessly when I was in school. Looking back I wish I had stood up to them instead of fearing them. Your school years may seem like forever but in reality they’re just a blip on the overall timeline of your life. Don’t let your bullies define you.

I’m going to see if I can find this movie and give it a proper review.

The bullying myth gets a boost from NBC News

nbcnews-logo

Bullied Students Sneak Thousands of Guns Into Schools:

That’s a headline guaranteed to get your attention isn’t it? ‘Thousands of bullied kids take weapons to school’ Now too many people these days will only scan the headlines and maybe the first paragraph and take whatever information they skimmed as gospel. If that’s all you’ll read you’ll believe that hundreds of thousands of kids are taking guns into schools everyday getting ready to shoot the school up. This is how what I call the bullying myth gets spread.

Now that all the people who only read the first paragraph are pissed off please allow me to explain. What I call the bullying myth is the myth that bullying causes school shootings. It doesn’t. This started with Columbine when it was believed early on that the cowardly shooters were bullied. They weren’t. It turns out that they were the bullies themselves. Do I believe bullying exists in schools? Of course I do considering that I’ve received several concussions from my bullies at school but as I am apt to say I got over it.

So in the light of the recent school shooting plot that was foiled in Minnesota, Bill Briggs of NBC News decides to bring us this article with the clever attention-getting headline. In the article it says that the CDC has determined that at least 200,000 bullied kids have brought weapons to school. Those weapons include firearms, knives and clubs. It says that the victims of bullying experience four different kinds of bullying…

— being verbally tormented, sustaining a physical assault, suffering personal property theft or damage, and cutting school due to safety concerns —

The study or at least the way it’s being reported is very vague and leaves a lot of open questions. What kind of weapons are we really talking about here, pellet guns, pen knives, etc. And what do the kids they ask really consider bullying? Do they consider physical assault having their books knocked out of their hands? However buried deep in the article the study even says it’s hard to determine that if any of the kids that claim to be bullied aren’t bullies themselves.

They also might as well throw in some outright misinformation in there as well…

Alex Hribal, 16, is accused of a stabbing spree at a school near Pittsburgh that left 20 students and a security guard wounded. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Hribal had received an online taunt the night before.

What they neglect to mention is that not only did the police say that they have no indication that was directed at Hribal but that Hribal made threatening phone calls the night before his attack.

All that articles like this actually do a disservice to bullied kids. Instead of trying to correct the bullying problem schools are going to be more worried about finding the next shooter instead and will look to the bullied kids for their potential killers. The problem is that the attackers are usually entitled brats who feel the world owes them everything and use violence to deal with their own inadequacies.

News outlets don’t care about reporting facts anymore. It’s all about ratings and pageviews. The general public are idiots and will believe the first thing they here. Combine those two and it’s a recipe for ignorant disaster.

11-year-old brings gun, knives and 400 rounds of ammo to school because of The Myth

Washington boy brought gun, knives to school to defend bullied friend: police:

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A few weeks back an 11-year-old boy allegedly brought a .22 caliber handgun, some knives and 400 rounds of ammunition to Frontier Middle School in Vancouver, Washington. The boy is said to have told police that a voice in his head was telling him to kill and that he would have shot his target then shot himself in the head.

I’m sure that too many people out there think that this kid must have been bullied. Actually no. However his friend was. He said that another student had called his friend gay and that’s when he allegedly plotted the shooting scheme. Luckily the kid’s mother was attentive enough to realize that her son may have taken weapons to school and notified police.

This is what happened when you let knee-jerkers and pearl twisters dictate the media’s outlook and social policy, too many weak-minded people start believing the false notions that are put out there. Such as that school shooters were bullied. Most weren’t and as a matter of fact most of them were bullies themselves.

When you spread misinformation it will come back to haunt you.

Lessons in journalism and The Myth courtesy of the Daily Mail

Actual Daily Mail headline
Actual Daily Mail headline

Bullied schoolboy, 16, ‘plotted British Columbine-style massacre targeting schools, mosques, cinemas and 19 teachers and pupils’:

There’s a trial going on over in England right now where a teenager is accused of not only plotting to attack his school but also theaters and mosques.

While reporting on this the Daily Mail calls the suspect a bullied school boy in the above headline then goes on to describe him not only as a self-avowed neo-nazi but also as a racist, a fan of the English Defence League, and a mutant. Well they didn’t use the M word per se but did add that he was a fan of Columbine.

Yeah, if you’re going to be a neo-nazi racist you’re probably going to draw some negative attention to yourself so if this kid was bullied he more than likely brought it upon himself.

When large publications use the word bullied in a headline like this it’s not only a pathetic grab for attention but it perpetuates the myth about school shooters being bullied when the majority of them were not.

UPDATE 11/3/2013: While I expect this kind of thing from the Daily Mail it seems the much vaunted BBC has gotten into the act as well. Here’s the headline they went with recently.

bbcheadline

That headline is supposed to catch your eye and I would assume most people would take the headline at face value without further reading the article where they would find this quote.

The defendant told the Old Bailey he had been called a Nazi, a fascist and a racist, at school.

That’s because he is all of those things. If you publicly embrace these kind of ideas you’re inviting abuse on yourself and you don’t deserve any sympathy.

UPDATE 12/8/2013: Back in November the jury deadlocked and a retrial has been ordered.

UPDATE 5/31/2014: The little racist bastard was acquitted after the jury deadlocked again. Sleep well Great Britain as he walks among you.

UPDATE 7/5/2014: It seems there has been a modicum of justice as the suspect has been ‘detained indefinitely’ for mental health issues.

BC researchers say school shooters were paranoid not bullied

What mass murderers have in common:

Inside the mind of a mass killer: Intense paranoia drives killers not a detached sense of reality, study finds:

Former reader of this site Kimveer Gill
Former reader of this site Kimveer Gill

A group of researchers from the University of British Columbia led by psychologist Donald Dutton recently published a study that said some of North America’s most infamous school shooters committed their crimes out of paranoia and not any actual slight or mistreatment.

The team looked at the writings of killers Eric Harris, Cho Seung Hui, Kimveer Gill and Anders Breivik. We’re going to leave Breivik alone because he was not a school shooter, the study itself looked at these four as mass killers but I’m only interested in the first three.

Here’s some of what Dr. Dutton had to say…

“They become and remain fixated and obsessed with rejection by what they see as an elite in-group, whom they see as having unfairly achieved success,” Dutton and his colleagues write in a compelling paper just published in the journal Aggression and Violent Behavior. “Instead of transcending the rejection, they formulate plans to annihilate the transgressors, which they justify as vengeance for the transgressions made against them.”

Now let’s see what the cowards in question had to say…

From Gill…

If people were making your life a living hell, wouldn’t you be hurt emotionally? How come no one ever talks about those mother fucking jocks and preps whose fault it is. Oh no. Heaven forbid. We can’t possibly say that. Why does society applaud jocks? I do not understand. They are the worst kind of people on earth. And the preps are no better. They think they’re better than others, but they’re not.

Gill was 25 at the time of the Dawson College shooting and he was still talking about high school stuff. Gill was nothing more than a Harris-worshiper, or as I call them mutants. Friends that grew up with Gill say that due to his size he was not bullied. Gill is nothing more than a copycat.

From Cho…

Your Mercedes wasn’t enough? Your golden necklaces weren’t enough? Your trust fund wasn’t enough? Your vodka and cognac weren’t enough? All your debaucheries weren’t enough?

Cho’s problem wasn’t with jocks but people who he considered ‘rich’. Cho must have been born without a sense of reference because he was going to an expensive university in Virginia Tech, owned an Apple computer, and had enough money to buy at least two new handguns. That’s not exactly poor. Also, Cho mentioned Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in his video manifesto as being ‘martyrs’. Just another copycat like Gill.

Now let’s go to Coward Prime, Eric Harris…

Everyone is making fun of me because of how I look, how fucking weak I am, and shit, well I will get you all back, ultimate fucking revenge here. You people could have shown more respect, treated me better, asked for more knowledge or guidance more, treated me more like a senior, and maybe I wouldn’t have been so ready to tear your fucking heads off. … Same thing with all those rich snotty toadies at my school. Fuckers think they are higher than me and everyone else with all their $ just because they were born into it?

See, he hated jocks and rich kids. Again back in 1999 not everyone had a computer and they were pretty expensive. His cohort Klebold drove a BMW and they both lived in the suburbs. Their families weren’t exactly hurting financially.

Oh, but I hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth already. “Trench, Harris even says that he was made fun of, isn’t that bullying?” To put it bluntly, no. First off if I was just made fun of at school that would be considered a good day. Secondly, since Harris is a paranoid psychopath anything that is said to him he could consider being made fun of. Lastly, please allow me to expound on a theory that I put out there a few years ago.

Here’s what I think set Harris off. Harris wanted to be with the in crowd so much that it hurt. When he approached someone from the so-called in crowd he was either rejected outright or he perceived that he was being slighted by them. I think that one incident like this is what set Harris off. The fact that he was already engaging in anti-social criminal behavior probably didn’t help.

I also think that Cho and Gill probably had some type of similar situation that was a flash point for them as well which made them easily identify with Harris hence the copycats. None of them were bullied.

Dr. Dutton says as much…

Overall, this analysis suggests many of the media’s cliches regarding mass killers appear to be wrong. They were bullied? “This group greatly exaggerates the negativity of their treatment, as reported by third-party school peers,” the researchers note, adding that their writings contain few references to specific experiences of being a bullying victim.

Yet with all the evidence against them and other school shooters being bullied lesser minds will still contend that is the real reason behind school shootings rather than paranoid jealousy of megalomaniacs.

Elad Nehorai: Another Columbine mythbuster

Eric Harris, Adam Lanza and Evil:

myth

Elad Nehorai is a blogger and writer who wrote a series of posts comparing Sandy Hook to Columbine. One of his points of contentions I respectfully disagree with is that the parents should not be held responsible for the massacres. In his opinion this makes the school shooters out to be victims. In my opinion the parents should be held partially responsible for these tragedies as they could have easily prevented them but the one thing we do agree upon is that school shooters, especially Adam Lanza and Eric Harris, are never victims.

I urge you to read both of his posts, the first one is linked in the article I linked to. I can’t do his work any justice being the hack that I am but please allow me to leave you with some of his words about Eric Harris and the persistent myth that he and Dylan Klebold were bullied….

Eric and Dylan weren’t outcasts, and they were hardly ever bullied. In fact, if anything, Eric was a bully himself. They weren’t goth, they weren’t gay and they weren’t outcasts.

Eric Harris was never quietly suffering. In fact, from a young age, Eric was exhibiting signs of being a born killer.

In fact, one of the most pervasive myths about Columbine was that it was a school shooting. It wasn’t. It was a failed bombing. Eric and Dylan had planted bombs throughout the school. There plan was to massacre as many of the students and faculty as possible, with no specific group in mind.

In other words, there were no targets.

Eric’s dream wasn’t to kill jocks or anyone else. His goal in life was to make as many people suffer as possible, as painfully as possible.

Yet still people cling on this myth like it was the last life-preserver on The Titanic, like it was the only thing giving them purpose. Let it go. Not only is it not true but the more you hang on to your high school hate the more you let the bullies win. It’s time to grow up now.

Steven Weber perpetuates the myth

Steven Weber
Steven Weber

Weiners and Losers:

You remember Steven Weber don’t you? He played the screw up brother on the TV show “Wings” and was in the horrible made for TV remake of “The Shining”. Basically on the relevance scale he ranks somewhere between Gallagher and Emilio Esteves.

Since the Huffington Post will allow any ‘celebrity’ to rant there Weber takes the media to task for descending on disgraced US Rep. Anthony Weiner like a pack of rabid badgers. In his admonishing of the media Weber uses a falsehood to try to get his point across…

The fact that Weiner was one of the left’s most effective warrior’s against the legitimately vile purveyors of rightwing horseshit is now seemingly forever lost in the bloodlust that defines our cultural landscape; the prevailing analyses have more in common with base schoolyard taunts that bred a Dylan Klebold than with straight journalism.

I find two things wrong with Mr. Weber’s admonishment is that not only does he falsely assume that bullying caused Columbine but I have to ask where Mr. Weber’s criticism of the media was when right-wing politicians like Mark Sanford and Larry Craig were being raked across the media coals? I wouldn’t doubt that Mr. Weber was relishing in that but now that it’s one of his guys he thinks the media needs to lay off.

Please critique the media Mr. Weber as they often deserve it but at least be non-partisan about it and please do better research on Columbine before making the same mistakes that the media you’re criticizing makes.