What To Do About School Violence? Nothing

Joni Balter and Steve Chapman

What To Do About School Violence? Nothing

Joni Balter and Steve Chapman

What To Do About School Violence? Nothing
An email conversation about the news of the day.
May 19 1999 5:14 PM

Joni Balter and Steve Chapman

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What have I told my boys about Littleton? I told them not to take bazookas to school--those are for door-to-door solicitors who interrupt us when we're watching the director's cut of Natural Born Killers while baby-sitting the toddlers from down the street. I'm confused. One day I'm depicted as reasonable and moderate, and the next I'm a member of the Michigan Militia. Did you not get your doughnut this morning?

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As for what to do about Littleton, I think "nothing" is most of the answer, if not all. This even though inaction goes against the tendency of us editorial writers to formulate instant solutions. These things are freakishly rare, which makes it almost impossible to find ways to prevent them. Should we restrict movie violence or bloody video games because 0.01 percent of the population may be warped by them? I don't think so. I have no problem with mandating trigger locks to prevent children from using guns without parental supervision, but in a country with as many firearms as people, I doubt even much stricter gun-control laws would have a noticeable impact on crime. But here we go again like a couple of editorial writers, earnestly debating serious subjects.

Since you asked: What I told my kids (13, 11, and 8) was, first, you don't need to worry about this happening in your school because these events almost never happen, and second, if there are kids in your school who are ostracized or mistreated, make an effort to be friendly to them. So far it's worked: no school shootings in our suburb.

Barely 48 hours after hay fever has been vanquished, the paper this morning says researchers have come up with a drug that reduces cold symptoms by half. This looks like the week to short Kimberley-Clark stock. And I see that your local Indians are eating whale blubber raw, partly because, as one says, "it's not like we have a bunch of favorite recipes to work with. This may be an ancient tradition, but it's all new to us." I think you as an enterprising journalist have a duty so sample raw whale blubber and report back to us, your readers. Who knows? Maybe it will cure colds.

Before I send this off, I have to ask: Did you go to the Robert Rubin school of question-ducking? I solicited your nominations for America's most overrated and underrated newspaper columnists, and I'm waiting. Don't tell me that on this issue you have no opinion. I've yet to find a subject on which you have no opinion.

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Expectantly,
Steve