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Home / Meta / Rants / Columbine, the Modest Proposal

So I'm reading the paper today and I come across an interesting article. It seems that some anonymous person has donated money to an ad agency so that said agency can put up billboards with "Messages from God". The messages themselves read something like "Tell your kids I said hi." "Be nice to me or I'll make rush hour longer." and so on.

And I'm thinking to myself "Huh. Well it's an interesting way to spend one's money and it's a Hell of a lot better than ads from Hooters." (Why? Because these ads are funny. Hooters ads are not.) If nothing else I figure it will show non-Christians that it is possible for Christians to have a sense of humor. I think this is a general point that's been lacking lately.

So I'm going along with the concept so far until I come up to one quote from a person who's commenting on the campaign. Their comment? "Well, after Columbine I think that something like this is really needed."

Wait a sec, hold the phone.

Flip forward a few pages in the paper and I get to another article. This time about a paintball competition (held so that the procees can go to the Columbine Memorial Fund, ironically enough) which had the cops called on it and the neighbors in the uproar because of the use of "firearms" in the area. The reason? "Well, after Columbine we didn't feel it was appropriate."

Ok, stop.

Am I the only one who's noticed that these days the phrase "After Columbine" is now being used as a reason and excuse for any fool idea to come across the pike? It's gotten to the point these days where the phrase "After Columbine" is sort of like the use of the word "Hitler" back in the heyday of Usenet life (Note for newbies: Years ago it used to be agreed that if someone on Usenet brought up the name Hitler, as in "Well you're so like Hitler to suggest splitting the group into two like this." that the conversation had strayed so far from the original point as to be stupid and was subsequently dropped.). Congress is using it to try to get the 10 Commandments posted in every school (like that's going to help - let me tell you, speaking as a Catholic - if I saw those posted in every public school in America I'd grab a gun on principle), parents are using it to lock their kids in the house, schools are using it to enforce new dress codes - and all of this without ever asking a Columbine student their feelings about it.

I live with someone who both went to Columbine (Class of 84 thank you very much) and taught there as well. I can promise you nobody's come to our door or phone asking her opinion about it. Nobody's asked what she think would help. And, moreover, nobody's using this as an excuse to actually do some good. You don't hear the phrase "Well after Columbine we feel that there should be programs to help make sure all students are included." or "After Columbine we realized that funding for schools should be increased to help teachers and faculty have the materials and staff they need to help troubled students." or "After Columbine we discovered that teenagers need more help and support than they were previously getting."

No. It's always "After Columbine (fill in your own self-interest here)." Come on - do you really think that the crap with the 10 Commandments was actually proposed with the intent to help Columbine? Hell no! It was done by people who've been trying to get the Comandments up in public schools (sorry, it's so insane I've got to emphasize it) and now they think they've got an excuse. Ditto the dress codes, blame on the movies, goths, kids who are "different", non-Christians and so on.

Hell, why stop there? Let's use Columbine for everything! I can see it now: "After Columbine, I felt my kids needed to drink more Minute Maid Orange Juice." "After Columbine I realized I should be reading The New York Times." "After Columbine we decided to pass a law making all kids wear sweaters to school."

Are you going to tell me any of those are more ridiculous than what's currently going on? It's gotten to the point where you don't need to make one - the phrase "After Columbine" is its own Modest Proposal.

People - back the Hell off. Forgive the profanity but I cannot believe there are people out there so low that they would use the reality of these dead kids to push their own politics. In all honesty I've got to say fuck you. If you're going to use a phrase like "After Columbine" you'd better make damned sure you're actually trying to do something to help the situation and not as a way of pushing your beliefs and ideas onto other people because you think everyone should think the same way you do. Guess what - it was bullshit like that that caused Columbine, and if you're not careful more kids will snap under the resulting oppression and more guns are going to come of it.

Columbine is not a political cause. It's the truth for fifteen sets of parents, the relatives of one school teacher and everyone who was and is an alum of that school. Bear that in mind the next time you decide to say "After Columbine."

Addendum - Not long after I wrote this the Denver Post had a few letters to the editor printed regarding the paintball incident. One was from the local county authority claiming that it was not an "after Columbine" incident but rather a matter of using public space for a private function w/o obtaining permission first. However, in that same issue there was another letter from someone who wrote in to agree with the "after Columbine" reasoning for banning paintball so I feel the point is still valid.

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