Around eleven years ago, on Tuesday April 20th, 1999, a day that coincided with Hitler's birthday, a small Colorado town experienced an unexpected tragedy. It began like any other day, with parents and children going their separate ways to work and school. There was no particular concern for each other or how the day would unfold. However, a few hours later, everything changed.
On that fateful day, two high school seniors named Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold embarked on a killing spree resulting in the deaths of 12 students and one teacher. They also injured 24 students directly and some who were trying to escape before eventually taking their own lives. This horrifying event sparked a media frenzy leading to discussions about gun control laws, the accessibility of guns in the United States, and the issue of gun violence involving young people (Larkin 13).
Moreover, this massacre triggered controver...
sy and debates about high school cliques, bullying, violent films/video games' impact on a child's mental state & significant changes in school security measures. Additionally it led to moral panic around Goth culture/social outcasts within schools community/violent music/teenagers' internet use/pharmaceutical anti-depressants by adolescents.
The text discusses the recent shooting incident and its implications in our society while focusing particularly on two main issues: the violent nature of our culture and gun control.The text highlights the prevalence of violence in various forms of media, including news reports, video games, and movies. This saturation of violent content can have negative effects on individuals by blurring the line between fantasy and reality. Schweitzberger's quote emphasizes how exposure to this violence can influence young people to commit heinous acts depicted in these games. Th
text also mentions that gun control is a major issue being discussed due to a shooting incident and an upcoming election. It briefly brings up Monica Lewinsky's situation and criticizes those who blame Marilyn Manson for his music's influence on the Columbine shooting. Manson questions whether he or the President has a greater influence but acknowledges that he will be traveling with the President regardless. He argues that while prevalent violence exists in society, only his music's forward violence receives attention, disregarding the actions of the President who should serve as a role model for America. On the day of the Columbine shooting, there was increased bombing activity by the United States in Kosovo. In a small Colorado town, people were perplexed about how easily children could access guns and weapons and questioned why it was so effortless for underage teens to obtain them.The occurrence in Littleton, Colorado where a person opening a bank account received a free pistol instead of the usual gift bag is peculiar. This particular bank had minimal paperwork and deposit requirements for this unconventional giveaway. According to sociological perspective, children perceive guns as accessories rather than tools of violence. Our country tends to idolize violence whether we admit it or not. There are regular gun rallies where individuals express their satisfaction in owning firearms (Kass 87). Just two weeks after the tragic events at Columbine High School, which is only 15 minutes away from Littleton, the National Rifle Association (NRA) organized a gun rally. Despite pleas from the Columbine community to cancel it out of respect for the lives lost, the NRA proceeded with the rally. This drew significant attendance
numbers and highlights our society's skewed priorities, placing idolizing guns above acknowledging violent crimes (Kass 117). The speaker at the rally explains that they are there because their son Daniel would have wanted them to be present; if he hadn't been a victim, he would be standing beside them now. It deeply troubles them that a child can easily obtain and use a gun to shoot another child in the face, as their son tragically witnessed. Something is profoundly wrong.
However, it is important to acknowledge that weapons such as the Tech-9 semi-automatic bullet weapon have no purpose except to cause harm. These firearms serve absolutely no practical function. It is crucial for us to confront this urgent matter.
A father who lost his child in the Columbine tragedy wisely questions why American households possess firearms that are not meant for hunting purposes. Approximately one out of every three American households owns these unnecessary weapons. Our society has developed a pervasive sense of fear since the events of 9/11, leading us to believe that we must arm ourselves and be prepared in case someone invades our homes or carries out an unjustifiable act like bombing.
It seems that fear has become deeply rooted in our society. The sales of home security systems and firearms have significantly increased since the tragic incidents at Columbine. This trend began after 9/11 but doubled following the Columbine incident. The impact of what happened at Columbine was profound and had far-reaching consequences on our culture.
The young age of the students involved, the weapons used, and the level of violence inflicted were shocking revelations for our society. Media coverage and discussions surrounding gun-related issues
further contributed to a state of shock within civilization.
It is evident that these boys displayed abnormal behavior even before carrying out the shooting – their writings included stories about killing animals and people, many with names similar to those they later targeted in real life.In addition, they developed a website that displayed Nazi memorabilia and violent images targeting their classmates. These concerning signs should have been noticed earlier. Despite the cultural values of equal opportunity, achievement, material comfort, activity/work, practicality/efficiency, progress/science, democracy/free enterprise/freedom/racism/group superiority being upheld in our society; it is clear that neither of these boys possessed any of these fundamental principles until this tragic event unfolded (Innes 221). The individuals involved in the Columbine shooting showed racism towards certain peers. Their website explicitly singled out African Americans as an inferior race. They lacked core values like "achievement and success" due to constantly feeling at the bottom of their high school's social hierarchy, which made them believe they did not have the same opportunities as their peers. Throughout high school, these boys felt disadvantaged compared to others and were frequently victimized by bullying. As Kendall's research reveals (113), they grew tired of this situation. These male individuals engaged in deviant behavior without considering societal values since society had no influence over them. This was apparent in the "basement tapes," where both males extensively discussed their enjoyment of killing classmates and nearby animalsWhen consulting with other students regarding these males, they were described as outcasts, losers, and nobodies. The judgment placed upon them by their peers can be attributed to ethnocentrism as it was deemed acceptable to evaluate based on differences. Innes (71) defines ethnocentrism
as the act of one culture judging another using its own criteria. Therefore, these males can be viewed as abnormal members of society for deviating from various social norms. Psychological explanations for abnormal behavior concentrate on irregularities within an individual's personality akin to biological theories. Some psychologists argue that societal experiences have the greatest impact on personality development while also acknowledging the influence of inheritance in specific traits. Macionis suggests that unsuccessful socialization results in deviant behavior. Vandenburgh supports this notion by stating that boys who undergo negative social experiences during high school often exhibit negative behaviors in society. In contrast, Durkheim developed a theory within the structural functionalism framework to explain deviance by asserting its necessity in distinguishing between right and wrong. He identified four fundamental principles: deviance reinforces cultural values and norms; good cannot exist without evil, and justice cannot exist without crime. The Columbine shooting serves as an example where society recognized the wrongdoing of the perpetrators despite their lack of legal repercussions.
Note: I made minor edits for clarity and coherence while preserving original content and Durkheim's second principle posits that society establishes moral boundaries through its response to deviant behavior, as seen in the labeling of individuals like the two shooters at Columbine High School. This process serves to educate people on what is considered right and wrong, specifically emphasizing that killing others based solely on perceived average or unfair treatment is incorrect (Emile-Durkheim.com).
A more preferable approach would have been for these individuals to seek assistance from a psychologist in order to address and overcome their negative experiences during high school.
Durkheim's third principle, which focuses on functional analysis, highlights the importance
of responding to deviance in order to foster closer social bonds. In the context of Columbine, this principle prompted collective discussions about issues within school systems. Schools responded by identifying signs of deviant behavior and implementing increased security measures to prevent future incidents. Society also recognized the significance of monitoring children's exposure to graphic images and online activities.
These actions align with Durkheim's belief that deviance drives societal change. The aftermath of Columbine resulted in significant changes, including improved school safety measures and enhanced availability of counseling services. Additionally, gun control measures were strengthened in Colorado, requiring safety precautions for firearms and ensuring they are kept out of reach from children.
The labeling theory played a pivotal role in explaining why these boys carried out their heinous acts.
The theory states that individuals become deviant when they are labeled as such or when they exhibit behaviors associated with deviance. In essence, the theory argues that people become deviant when they are forced to conform to imposed identities. The boys at Columbine felt trapped by these labels and retaliated against those who had assigned them these labels. This process of reevaluating past actions based on current identity is called retrospective labeling. The tragic shooting at Columbine caused Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to be perceived as individuals who had deviated from societal norms in hindsight. Their previous behavior leading up to the shooting was seen as aligning with the labels placed upon them. The theory places emphasis on stigma, which is a highly negative label that greatly impacts one's self-concept and social identity. During high school, both boys may have believed that being unpopular would forever mark them as
losers, given its significance in shaping an individual's life. Additionally, it can be argued that Eric Harris exhibited medical abnormality due to his reliance on medication affecting his mental state. In recorded tapes prior to the attack, Harris discussed stopping his medication in order to allow anger to build up within him, making it easier for him to harm classmates. The absence of prescribed medicine worsened years of harassment endured throughout high school and led both boys to feel like they had nothing left to lose.
Consequently, in order to regain control over their lives, the boys devised a plan to gain control of the school's security system. They saw this as an opportunity to overcome judgment from classmates and the community. According to Hirschi's Control Theory, individuals who feel they have nothing to lose are more likely to engage in deviant behavior. Both boys lacked the four key beliefs highlighted by Hirschi that can lead to aberrant actions if lacking. The first belief is attachment, where strong social bonds promote conformity. Unfortunately, both boys had no social attachments beyond themselves due to a troubled home life filled with domestic violence and mistreatment from family members. This made them feel completely isolated without support. The second belief is opportunity, as greater opportunities in life decrease the inclination towards aberrance. Coming from low-income families and struggling academically, both boys believed that higher education was unattainable and felt trapped in their small town indefinitely.The third belief is involvement, where participating in activities such as having a job or being part of a sports team leaves less time for engaging in or contemplating aberrant behaviors.However, these boys never took
part in sports or attempted to find employmentAccording to Hirschi (87-93), individuals with strong beliefs in morality and regard for others are less likely to engage in aberrant acts. The "basement tapes" recorded by the boys before the murder revealed their discussions about harming animals as a way of practicing their intended actions towards their classmates, showing their absence of moral values and disregard for others. This abnormal behavior can also be attributed to their longing for power. In contrast, society considers "insane" individuals less threatening than those lacking power. The boys, who were social outcasts in high school, felt powerless and unrecognized due to domestic violence within both families. Consequently, after experiencing a dreadful day at school, they faced further humiliation at home. As a result, they started considering revenge on their classmates driven by the desire for power that had always eluded them. According to Vandenburgh (111), the Columbine High School shooters believed that holding their schoolmates hostage would help them regain lost power caused by years of societal torment.The tragic event, which resulted in the loss of more than 20 lives, will always be remembered as one of America's most horrifying incidents. It compelled society to acknowledge the powerful influence that media and authorities have on our lives, as well as draw attention to gun control issues and violence within our society. This incident served as a stark reminder of the significant impact that America's intense fascination with guns and violence can have. Ultimately, it was two young individuals who felt isolated and chose to cause harm to their peers.
- Society essays
- Stereotypes essays
- Social Change essays
- Sociological Perspective essays
- Social Movement essays
- Charity essays
- Social Science essays
- Anthropology essays
- Generation essays
- Social Status essays
- Social Stratification essays
- Emile Durkheim essays
- Sociological Imagination essays
- Sociological Theories essays
- Race essays
- Gender Roles essays
- Interpersonal Relationship essays
- Social Class essays
- People essays
- Globalization essays
- Audience essays
- Web Dubois essays
- Cultural Competence essays
- Culture essays
- Social Control essays
- Citizenship essays
- Social Justice essays
- Caste System essays
- Social Responsibility essays
- Socialization essays
- Deviance essays
- Modern Society essays
- Popularity essays
- Civil Society essays
- Community essays
- Female essays
- Filipino People essays
- Igbo People essays
- Indigenous Australians essays
- Indigenous Peoples essays
- Minority Group essays
- Social Institution essays
- Men essays
- The nation essays
- Middle Class essays
- Social Norms essays
- Discourse Community essays
- Popular Culture essays
- Car Culture essays
- American Culture essays