The horrific and senseless tragedy in Newtown, Conn., has caused me to revisit a piece I wrote several months ago after the Aurora, Colo., movie theatre massacre. I might have naively hoped I would not have to write about this subject again, but in the society in which we live such hopes will be forever fulfilled.
My other half is a teacher... has been for many years. Years ago, being a teacher would never have been considered a hazardous job, yet incidents like this mind-numbing event at Sandy Hook Elementary along with what occurred last year in an Ohio high school or years ago at Columbine indicate otherwise. This terrible event in Connecticut by someone in their collegiate years who has killed and wounded so many makes us shake our heads in disbelief and sorrow and ask, "What has happened to our schools and what has happened with our children?"
Can we really, though, be surprised? When some of the most popular movies that target the adolescent and post-teen demographic are riddled with violence and the top video games, like “Call of Duty,” “Mortal Kombat” and “Grand Theft Auto” along with numerous others, award points for bloodshed, how can we be shocked when this senseless violence spills over into real life? When it becomes engrained in the grey mush that constitutes an adolescents brain that the more blood, gore and death you cause is rewarded in points on a scoreboard or bragging rights in an online chat room can we really be surprised by events like Newtown, Aurora, and Columbine?
While the media and a constant parade of forensic psychologists will try to explain it, we’ll never know why a teacher’s 20-year-old son was motivated to slaughter so many innocents in Connecticut, we already know he was raised in a “broken home.” With no personal knowledge beyond that of his upbringing, I can still safely guess he was likely “raised” without respect for human life and “disciplined” by the sadly popular “time out” method.
I remember the "good ole days"... days when a student — unless they were the class “wiseguy” — would never dream of "acting out" in school. Such misbehavior would immediately prompt a trip to see the principal and the application of something known as "the paddle." Surely back then you still had the "class clown," smoking in the boy's room and even some bullying, but you still had control and discipline and respect for authority. Then along came Dr. Spock — no, not that pointed-eared guy from the sci-fi show — DOCTOR Spock whose mantra was "Spare the rod....".
So now we've had two generations of violent video games and young people that know that they can back-talk and swear at their teachers at school and parents at home and suffer no recourse except for a suspension or a "time out." Corporal Punishment in schools? That's grounds for a lawsuit and the probable firing of the educator. At home? Well now the out-of-control child knows they can always call Social Services and charge their very own parents for "abuse." So now we have the great and all powerful "Time Out" where they get to spend a couple hours maybe sitting in a chair and facing a corner.
Those of you who are old enough stop and think for a long hard minute, back in the days of corporal punishment in the schools and before “spare the rod,” do you remember ever hearing about a tragedy such as Newtown or Aurora or Columbine?
The tragic irony of Dr. Spock's wonderful "Time Out" system is that now so many of our youth grow up and, like the shooter in Aurora Colorado, get the ultimate "Time Out" ... 20-years-to-life facing four corners at taxpayers' expense.
Stephen Eisenbaugh lives in Virginia with his wife and four cats. He publishes a weekly blog on the political website http://AP2012.com. You can reach him for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.