I've chosen some e-mailers to reprint partially here. Although almost
all of these correspondents were willing to be publicly identified -
some demanded it - I'm only using their online names, since some of
their stories would put them in peril from parents, peers or school
"I stood up in a social studies class - the teacher wanted a discussion
- and said I could never kill anyone or condone anyone who did kill
anyone. But that I could, on some level, understand these kids in
Colorado, the killers. Because day after day, slight after slight,
exclusion after exclusion, you can learn how to hate, and that hatred
grows and takes you over sometimes, especially when you come to see
that you're hated only because you're smart and different, or sometimes
even because you are online a lot, which is still so uncool to many
kids ... .
After the class, I was called to the principal's office and told that I
had to agree to undergo five sessions of counseling or be expelled from
school, as I had expressed 'sympathy' with the killers in Colorado, and
the school had to be able to explain itself if I 'acted out'. In other
words, for speaking freely, and to cover their ass, I was not only
branded a weird geek, but a potential killer. That will sure help deal
with violence in America."
"The hate just eats you up, like the molten metal moving up Keanu
Reeve's arm in the 'The Matrix.' That's what I thought of when I saw
it. You lose track of what is real and what isn't. The worst people are
the happiest and do the best, the best and smartest people are the most
miserable and picked upon. The cruelty is unimaginable. If Dan Rather
wants to know why those guys killed those people in Littleton,
Colorado, tell him for me that the kids who run the school probably
drove them crazy, bit by bit ... . That doesn't mean all those kids
deserved to die. But a lot of kids in America know why it happened,
even if the people running schools don't."
"To be honest, I sympathized much more with the shooters than the
shootees. I am them. They are me. This is not to say I will end the
lives of my classmates in a hail of bullets, but that their former
situation bears a striking resemblance to my own. For the most part,
the media are clueless. They're never experienced social rejection, or
chosen non-conformity ... . Also, I would like to postulate that the
kind of measures taken by school administration have a direct effect on
school violence. School is generally an oppressive place; the parallels
to fascist society are tantalizing. Following a school shooting, a week
or two-week crackdown ensues, where students' constitutional rights are
violated with impunity, at a greater rate than previous."
"I was stopped at the door of my high school because I was wearing a
trenchcoat. I don't game, but I'm a geekchick, and I'm on the Web a
lot. (I love geek guys, and there aren't many of us.) I was given a
choice - go home and ditch the coat, or go to the principal. I refused
to go home. I have never been a member of any group or trenchcoat mob
or any hate thing, online or any other, so why should they tell me what
coat to wear?
Two security guards took me into an office, called the school nurse,
who was a female, and they ordered me to take my coat off. The nurse
asked me to undress (privately) while the guards outside the door went
through every inch of my coat. I wouldn't undress, and she didn't make
me (I think she felt creepy about the whole thing).
Then I was called into the principal's office and he asked me if I was
a member of any hate group, or any online group, or if I had ever
played Doom or Quake. He mentioned some other games, but I don't
remember them. I'm not a gamer, though my boyfriends have been. I lost
it then. I thought I was going to be brave and defiant, but I just fell
apart. I cried and cried. I think I hated that worse than anything."
FromZBird in New Jersey:
"Yeah, I've had some fantasies about taking out some of these jerks who
run the school, have parties, get on teams, are adored by teachers,
have all these friends. Sure. They hate me. Day by day, it's like they
take pieces out of you, like a torture, one at a time. My school has
1,500 kids. I could never make a sports team. I have never been to a
party. I sit with my friends at our own corner of the cafeteria. If we
tried to join the other kids, they'd throw up or leave. And by now, I'd
Sometimes, I do feel a lot of real pure rage. And I feel better when I
go online. Sometimes I think the games keep me from shooting anybody,
not the other way around. Cause I can get even there, and I'm pretty
powerful there. But I'd never do it. Something much deeper was wrong
with these kids in Colorado. To shoot all those people? Make bombs? You
have to be sick, and the question they should be asking isn't what
games do they play, but how come all these high-paid administrators,
parents, teachers and so-called professional people, how come none of
them noticed how wacked they were? I mean, in the news it said they had
guns all over their houses! They were planning this for a year. Maybe
the reporters ought to ask how come nobody noticed this, instead of
writing all these stupid stories about video games?"
High school favors people with a certain look and attitude - the
adolescent equivalent of Aryans. They are the chosen ones, and they
want to get rid of anyone who doesn't look and think the way they do.
One of the things which makes this so infuriating is that the system
favors shallow people. Anyone who took the time to think about things
would realize that things like the prom, school spirit and who won the
football game are utterly insignificant in the larger scheme of things.
So anyone with depth of thought is almost automatically excluded from
the main high school social structure. It's like some horribly twisted
form of Social Darwinism.
I would never, ever do anything at all like what was done in Colorado.
I can't understand how anyone could. But I do understand the hatred of
high school life which, I guess, prompted it.
"Be careful! I wrote an article for my school paper. The advisor
suggested we write about 'our feelings' about Colorado. My feelings -
what I wrote - were that society is blaming the wrong things. You can't
blame screwed-up kids or the Net. These people don't know what they
were talking about. How bout blaming a system that takes smart or weird
kids and drives them crazy? How about understanding why these kids did
what they did, cause in some crazy way, I feel something for them. For
their victims, too, but for them. I thought it was a different
point-of-view, but important. I was making a point. I mean, I'm not
going to the prom.
You know what? The article was killed, and I got sent home with a
letter to my parents. It wasn't an official suspension, but I can't go
back until Tuesday. And it was made pretty clear to me that if I made
any noise about it, it would be a suspension or worse. So this is how
they are trying to figure out what happened in Colorado, I guess. By
blaming a sub-culture and not thinking about their own roles, about how
f---ed-up school is. Now, I think the whole thing was a set-up, cause a
couple of other kids are being questioned too, about what they wrote.
They pretend to want to have a 'dialogue' but kids should be warned
that what they really want to know is who's dangerous to them."
"Your column Friday was okay, but you and a lot of the Slashdot readers
don't get it. You don't have the guts to stand up and say these games
are not only not evil, they are great. They are good. They are
challenging and stimulating. They help millions of kids who have
nowhere else to go, because the whole world is set up to take care of
different kinds of kids, kids who fit in, who do what they're told, who
are popular. I've made more friends online on Gamespot.com than I have
in three years of high school. I think about my characters and my
competitions and battles all day.
Nothing I've been taught in school interests me as much. And believe
me, the gamers who (try to) kill me online all day are a lot closer to
me than the kids I go to high school with. I'm in my own world, for
sure, but it's my choice and it's a world I love. Without it, I
wouldn't have one ...
Last week, my father told me he had cancelled my ISP because he had
asked me not to game so much and I still was. And when he saw the
Colorado thing online, he said, he told my Mom that he felt one of
these kids could be me ... . I am a resourceful geek, and I was back
online before he got to bed that night. But I have to go underground
My guidance counselor, who wouldn't know a computer game from Playboy
Bunny poster, told me Dad was being a good parent, and here was a
chance for me to re-invent myself, be more popular, to 'mainstream.'
This whole Colorado thing, it's given them an excuse to do more of what
started this trouble in the first place - to make individuals and
different people feel like even bigger freaks."
"Dear Mr. Katz. I am 10. My parents took my computer away today,
because of what they saw on television. They told me they just couldn't
be around enough to make sure that I'm doing the right things on the
My Mom and Dad told me they didn't want to be standing at my funeral
some day because of things I was doing that they didn't know about. I
am at my best friend's house, and am pretty bummed, because things are
boring now. I hope I'll get it back."
Europe's an unhappy place, they've got that facist groove thing. - Heaven 17