20090420

20APR09 10 Years ago today...

Columbine High School was the site of a massacre by two disturbed individuals.

Many factors were blamed, and many of us going to school in Colorado remember the fallout from that shooting. The paranoia in school, from the administration towards students, and toward particular students. When I was a student, I drew cartoons and comic book style art in school. I was a NJROTC cadet, and knew I was going to join the military without a doubt.

Most of my subject matter that I drew up usually involved military subjects, which incidentally led to drawing firearms in the hands of my characters. While this sounds innocent, it was treated dramatically different from 20APR99 onward until the end of that school year.


Art from my junior year

Some teachers, in particular the ones who bragged about marrying Vietnam Draft Dodgers really didn't like the idea of students drawing guns, or violence, period. Especially students that didn't hold they're own political philosophy...


Art from my Junior Year

In fact, one of my favorite teachers was my Electronics/CAD teacher who took me to the side and warned me about the intentions of some of the more paranoid teachers. Mr. Wallace was a gem of a high school teacher, outside my NJROTC instructors, he and Mr. Artz (the shop teacher) and Mr. Cunningham (my World History teacher as a Sophmore) were the only teachers I could relate to. Mr. Artz was a US Navy Corpsman in Vietnam, and Mr. Cunningham was a retired US Army Drill Sergeant during the Vietnam Era (no wonder I liked them so much...). Funny how the veterans and the teachers of trades could relate to some of us better than most others (I after all, knew I was military bound, and hated having college shoved down my throat).


Art from my Junior Year

Some of the more liberal teachers were paving the way for a restrictive environment we now hear about in some cities school districts, the "Zero Tolerance" policy toward firearms. I was being targeted at the time by some teachers that had a very hateful attitude toward the 2nd Amendment. So much for teaching tolerance and diversity... However, it was the efforts of teachers like Mr. Wallace that kept that at bay, for a while anyway; or maybe they just covered our 6 and made sure that those of us who weren't trouble makers in any other would make it.


Art from my Junior year

My brothers and I were boring students. We respected authority and did as we were told in school (or there would be HELL to pay when we got home, most especially if our grade was a "D" or an "F". Most subjects required a "B", but a "C" was acceptable for clearly defined hard subjects, which for me encompassed any course with numbers like Algebra, and alas, Physics...). Yet there were teachers that just plain didn't like our point of view despite being the almost model students that we were.

One thing I never really had to worry about because I was a clean cut young man (enforced by my Father, and of course, NJROTC with its military haircut standards most especially on Uniform Day once a week) was the sudden restriction on wearing black trench coats. In fact, they got real paranoid at any student who wore all black, and typically the only other colors were from the logos and graphics of heavy metal, death metal, and punk rock bands on the shirts. They felt the scrutiny more than I ever did despite my crazy artwork and jokes about insanity. This kind of profiling is unfortunately a natural human reaction to these kinds of events. It is and will always be un-acceptable at the level of paranoia that was the fallout of Columbine High School.

Far too many non-threatening people were being profiled in the halls and classrooms of my high school soon after that tragedy.

What truly angers me the most is the fact that warning signs about the shooters were completely ignored. Actions that they took highlighted long before they carried out they're killings. What is interesting the lack of coverage about the "Natural Selection" T-Shirt or other rants about "Survival of the Fittest" by the shooters. In fact, the Jefferson County Sheriffs office had filed a Search Warrant for one of the homes of the shooters (who had been arrested prior to the shooting for theft). From Wikipedia: "On April 30, high-ranking officials of Jefferson County and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office met to decide if they should reveal that Michael Guerra, a Sheriff's Office detective, had drafted an affidavit for a search warrant of Harris's residence a year before the shootings, based on his previous investigation of Harris's website and activities. They decided not to disclose this information at a press conference held on April 30, nor did they mention it in any other way. Over the next two years, Guerra's original draft and investigative file documents were lost. Their loss was termed "troubling" by a Grand Jury convened after the file's existence was reported in April 2001.[13]" The [13] being the source of the information, a Grand Jury report. Both shooters had a criminal background, and were blogging about making bombs and killing people. The combination of which should have been a red flag that should have indicated to both parents and law enforcement that they needed to intervene.

Instead, we all had to suffer through a terrible tragedy because crime control was not exercised, and parents were not paying attention to the online habits of they're children or the activities of they're children. While I don't believe in criminally prosecuting the parents, they could have prevented this by finding out what they're kids did online, and when they weren't around. No one is better at reading the intentions of they're children than parents, they should have stepped in long ago and found out what emotional and psychological issues their sons were having and sought help. Based on this, and for countless other reasons, I will be be very involved in my boys activities, online and otherwise. If they hide something from me, there isn't anything I can do. However, I intend to spy, its my fatherly duty!

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