Monday, September 24, 2012

Diversity


We hear a lot about "diversity." Especially at schools and colleges, of course, and government agencies, big corporations, really any institution in the public eye. As with the rainbow and the "coexist" bumper stickers, we're entreated to be accepting, to create one loving planet where people of all races, colors, religions and sexual predilections could be happy together. It'd be nice, honestly.

The problem is bringing this vision about. As in every government or corporate initiative, the first and usually only thought is to have a "program." So they hire a consultant, or create a "diversity office" with the advice of some consultant, and before you can say "Jiminy Cricket"* there are affirmative action hiring and admissions mandates, mandatory diversity and sensitivity classes, diversity audits...a whole 'nother bureaucratic layer, replete with self-righteousness and backed by the force of government. 

Ever wonder what happens in diversity classes? Typically, people are told they have to be "sensitive" to the culture and concerns of racial and ethnic minorities, women, "GLBTs" and other supposedly oppressed groups. Often this is overlaid with a guilt trip focusing on "white privilege." Apparently, every person not a member of a favored minority is personally responsible for the sins of slavery, Jim Crow, gay-bashing and general bigotry, even if they, their parents, or their grandparents fled to the United States to escape the same, or worse.
Even if they endured bigotry here, in fact.**

I'd call these programs horse manure, but that would be insulting to horses. Horse manure is useful; used properly it can make gardens bloom. These programs are toxic. Call them Agent Orange.

To understand why, we first need to be clear about goals. Here are mine:
One, that all individuals, regardless of ancestry, belief, sex, sexual preference or what have you, be able to achieve according to their talents and effort.
Two, for people to cooperate, voluntarily, to realize their common goals.
Three, for each person's ultimate identity to be American, first. Not that they should forget their forebears, heritage, religion or whatever else defines them; they should take pride in these and equal pride in the fact that America offers them the opportunity to do so.

I despise many diversity programs and those who would make them mandatory because they foster precisely the opposite of these goals. For instance, social psychologists recently "discovered" that making white people aware of their supposed biases or telling them not to act biased changes their behavior when they're with black people. They get stiff, uncertain, don't talk as much as otherwise. The black people, unaware of the manipulations, are aware of the discomfort and come up with the most accessible explanation: This guy doesn't like me because I'm black.

Only someone whose experience of the world was limited to the classroom, and whose knowledge of human behavior came from textbooks and journals, would find this surprising.
It's probably been written in hieroglyphics or illustrated on cave walls. But even the most sheltered pseudo-intellectual should realize that endlessly harping on differences and grievances can only produce resentment on both sides, whatever those sides may be. The common diversity program advocate is either hopelessly ignorant, uncaring, or worse, hoping to expand their bureaucratic empire and profit by perpetuating the problem.

What's doubly sad is that we've known forever how to deal with the issues. It was illustrated generations ago by the classic "Robber's Cave" studies. Muzafer Sherif (himself an immigrant and one of the great-grandfathers of social psychology) and his coworkers first created conflict between two groups of campers, then resolved it by creating a problem they could only solve by working together. Pursuing a common goal allows discovery of one's common humanity, not instead of but beyond whatever differences might exist. The differences then become---oh, interesting, maybe. Or mutually amusing. One no longer has to tiptoe around them with conscious and artificial "sensitivity."

I'll tell you a couple of illustrative stories. The first occurred in the summer of 1964, between my sophomore and junior years in college. I was working at a meatpacking plant on the South Side of Chicago.  It was a good job, paying twice the minimum wage plus overtime. We worked in a 40 degree cooler where sides of beef were disassembled, packed and shipped, 50 or more tons per day. Me, the sheltered white suburban kid, and a couple of hundred black men, most of whom used several large knives in their work. Being a kid and completely unskilled, I was given menial tasks, and did them as well and as
energetically as I could. I needed the money and I certainly wasn't about to irritate anybody.

Things got more comfortable, though, when I met a couple of guys my age. Call them Robert and B.T. As I recall them, Robert was about medium height, slim, soft-spoken and thoughtful.
B.T. was shorter, chunky, gregarious and a joker. Being the "young guys," we hung out at breaks and lunch, talking about young-guy stuff. One day we were sharing photos of our girlfriends, and Robert said to me, seriously*** "Look here, why do white people think we're after their women? I don't want no white woman; (my girl's) as black as this boot and I think she's beautiful." So suddenly I have to answer for all white people's prejudices, right? I could've just shrugged but thought my buddies deserved better, so put on my best almost-20 psych. major persona and offered this: "Well, I don't really know, but I bet they're worried. See, lots of people believe that you guys have bigger, um, 'equipment' (imagine hands held a foot apart here) and I bet they're afraid the women will like you better." I hurried to add, in what I hoped was a scholarly way, "Of course, we know that's not true..."

"What'd you mean, it's not true!?!" B.T. said, eyes wide. "Of course it's true!!" Robert added "Don't you be tellin' people that's not true!" Then all three of us broke up, and laughed pretty much till the break was over. The older guys looked over, smiled and shook their heads. Kids.

Second story. It's 1970 or '71 and I'm in grad school at the University of Illinois.That's important because it was a selective, demanding program and we students were not only a cohesive bunch but pretty arrogant about our status. The time matters because it was about then that the university administration decided to assuage its corporate guilt by instituting affirmative action in graduate admissions. They wanted more black students. The problem was that we had few black applicants and the ones who met the admissions criteria somehow made the mistake of going to Harvard, Stanford, or some other lesser school instead. So the standards were lowered and a group of black students admitted to sink or swim.

As best I can recall, none of us students were particularly bothered by this. It wasn't that we hungered for "social justice," whatever that might be. It was what it was, and since these new folks were now part of our little universe the idea was to help them through. I don't remember discussing anything, it just sort of happened. We were elite and they would be, too.

Academics aside, we all partied and socialized together like every bunch of students in a college town. One afternoon several of us were in a lounge area, having snacks, coffee and maybe a smoke (you could do that then.) It was casual talk, joking, with the occasional zinger thrown in because that was part of our culture, a little harmless one-upmanship. Somebody mentioned marriage plans and finances, and I volunteered that my wife & I had skipped an engagement ring to save for more practical stuff. One of the black students--call her Janet, smart, independent, pretty and a friend of mine-- teased that I must be a cheapskate and that anybody who wanted to marry her was going to come up with a good-sized diamond. After the snickers died down I looked over at her and said "Gosh, I'm surprised. I always thought of you as more of a....sapphire." **** There was a lot of laughter, except from Janet, who looked at me sideways and said--and this is a quote--"Watch it, nigger."  There was a second of silence, then more laughter, even from Janet, who I swear was blushing, too. When it died down to chuckles I looked her in the eye and said "You know, that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me." It was, too.

Let me know when your diversity training can do better.




* Jiminy Cricket was Pinocchio's surrogate conscience, remember? These people want to be ours, whether we need one or not.
** The University of Delaware provides a particularly egregious example. You can read about it here: 
http://notssmbbs.com/viewtopic.php?t=1481
If you want to see for yourself, ask. I downloaded the program before it was removed from their website and will send it on request.
*** This isn't a direct quote. I'm reconstructing conversations to the best of my recollection.
**** If you don't get it you can find two views of Sapphire here:
http://www.classicmoviegab.com/2012/02/why-i-love-classic-tvs-sapphire-of-amos-n-andy/
and here:
http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/sapphire/
I'm of the first opinion but am nothing if not fair and balanced.








Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Manchurian Candidate


It's too bad Richard Condon is dead. We could use him about now.

In 1959 Condon published the novel whose title is above, about the attempted takeover of the United States by means of a Red Chinese puppet President. The puppet was a McCarthy-style conservative who in reality served the Maoists. His immediate controller was his wife: the agent of his rise was to be a brainwashed assassin, his stepson. Of course, the plot was foiled by a brave Army officer, who managed to undo the assassin's conditioning in the usual nick of time. It's a good story, even fifty-plus years later.*

Sure, it's a satirical sci-fi-ish thriller, not to be taken seriously. It reflects the prejudices of the author, most likely a Kennedy-style Democrat who found in the arch-conservatives of the day a perfect vessel for venality to the point of treason. The story went over well, though it could hardly be called realistic or even credible. I mean, what would the Reds have done with the US if they had a puppet President? Neither the Chinese nor the Soviets could manage their own economies no matter how many millions they killed in the effort. The best they might have done would have been to force the US to lose the global competition, say by crippling our economy, creating massive debts, building a hostile underclass, weakening the military, hollowing out our educational system...

A president alone couldn't accomplish that much destruction. It would require support in Congress, in the Supreme Court, the mass media, schools and universities, labor unions and so forth. They would need to gradually erode Constitutional limits so that a puppet President might rule by executive fiat. Not even the stereotypical Yellow Peril, nor a whole Kremlin full of Rasputins, could have managed it. No, we'd have to be induced to do that to ourselves.

With the above as background, how might one structure a Manchurian Candidate-like novel today?  The Chinese couldn't be the ultimate villains. They've got no motive. They own more than a trillion dollars of our government debt, manufacture a lot of the goods we buy (which incidentally benefits the People's Liberation Army), and have only to wait until our power in the South China Sea diminishes to assert hegemony there. They're good at waiting. Meanwhile, if they want to give us trouble they can have the North Koreans do it.

Not the Russians, either.  They're busy rebuilding their empire and won't have the capacity for another twenty years or so, assuming Putin stays in power. He's Stalin's natural heir, without the ideology and paranoia, and is happy to accumulate subject states while the US and Europe stumble around trying to prop up their economies and fight off Islamic terrorism without offending the enemy. He'd willingly kill as many people as Stalin did; he just hasn't had to. Yet.

So who does that leave as a credible source of villainy? How about our Islamist friends? They've got the money--that is, our oil money. They've got the motive, world domination and imposition of sharia. Sure, it may not be cost-effective, but since when has religious fanaticism depended on bottom-line calculations? Besides, the sultans and imams will live in luxury regardless of how much they spend, and if the rest of the people live like it's 999, why should they care? The Islamists make very credible villains.

Who would be their accomplices? That's easy. Just recruit the Progressive Left, the ones Lenin called "useful idiots." Since the Progressives have never met a "victim" they didn't love, just paint some Muslims as victims. The so-called Palestinians are perfect. In our fictional plot the evildoers then get the added bonus of making everyone's favorite scapegoats, the Jews (or nasty Zionists, if you prefer) look responsible once again. American Jews can be counted on to do nothing, since most of them are liberals having little identification with Israel. Even when uber-Progressives like the Occupiers mutter darkly about "Zionist bankers" on national TV, most American Jews stay passive. All you have to do is repeat "social justice" often enough and they'll fall into line.

Left-wing politicians are easy. After all, politicians are motivated by power and its rewards. Some campaign contributions and the possibility of a little influence-peddling and insider trading will probably do it. Have them create political support among other "victim" groups by, say, spreading welfare around, promoting unsustainable mortgage subsidies, de facto open borders, whatever, and you're a long step toward your goal. This has the additional benefit of vastly increasing public debt and further weakening the economy at the same time. It's a twofer. Even Ian Fleming couldn't imagine Ernst Stavro Blofeld** inventing a plot that devious.

Environmentalists would need to be included, too. Being mostly recycled leftists, they'd rush to join the plot. Have them prevent oil and gas exploration and transport, create climate change hysteria so power plants can't be built, make every seasonal puddle a "wetland" so private property can't be developed and of course vote Progressive to save dear Gaiea and you've got still more support.

Oh, and the academics. A credible plot has to include them. Once your cabal gets control of tenure committees, professional journals, and granting agencies, academics will follow. Not only does this give your movement intellectual cover, it gives you expertise in molding public opinion. After a generation or so of academic domination, most of those claiming college degrees will be at least friendly to the movement, especially journalism majors. That gets you newspapers, magazines and TV. To be most effective, though, "higher education" has to be spread around. Thus, with the help of your politicians, government builds more campuses, provides student loans (with the happy side effect of further increasing indebtedness), and creates incentives for schools to offer easy degrees which can't possibly lead to real employment. This increases the mass of dependent self-perceived victims.

Now the stage is set for the election of a puppet President, without the unnecessary drama and risk of an assassination. Who should that puppet be? Not a mature politician co-opted by power and money. They don't stay bought.  The puppet needs to be a fresh face, a virtual unknown who has been selected in childhood and groomed for the role his entire life. Ideally he should be someone identifiable as a member of a victim class, but not really of that class.
Someone surrounded from birth by those of the proper ideology. Nice looking but not too pretty, presenting himself with the skill of the sociopath. Smart but not too smart, so there's no risk of independent thought.

To elect him you create a crisis, military or economic, and have the captive media present him as the savior. It doesn't matter if nothing is actually done, since all his supporters will want to believe he's effective and benevolent. After all, how many Chinese on the Long March envisioned the Great Leap Forward or the Cultural Revolution? How many dedicated Bolsheviks foresaw the KGB, the gulags, the purges? How many useful idiots can imagine living under Saudi or Afghan-style sharia? 

See how nicely our story fits together?

Realistically, such a novel wouldn't ever be published. One, it's too long for modern audiences, with too many necessary characters. Two, it reeks of paranoia. Three, it's very much like one of those depressing 70's dystopian stories that led me to give up on science fiction. Four, and perhaps most importantly, there's no conquering hero. How could there be? How does one imagine that James Bond, Jason Bourne, Quiller, Jack Reacher , Bob Lee Swagger or even Harry Flashman*** could overcome something of the magnitude I've outlined? 

Fortunately, it's all imaginary, just the doodles of a never-was writer, the outline of a story too far-fetched for comic books, let alone hard covers. It can't happen here. Don't even think about it.

* Read the book. The original movie was good but not the same, and there are parts that don't make sense unless you've read the book. You'll also miss a lot of the satire. The recent remake sucked, ignore it. 
** SPECTRE, remember?
*** These are all fictional heroes who defeat nefarious plots one way or another. Google any who are unfamiliar. Flashman's my favorite.



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Chances Are....


Warning: Math ahead. Not a lot, but what there is, matters. I'm hoping to change the way you think about some important things, and maybe help you save your butt in the process.

Most people don't understand probability. That's especially true when it comes to extremely likely or unlikely occurrences, or extended sequences of events. If they did understand, Las Vegas would be a dusty gas station at a desert crossroads. So let's talk about small chances.

What's the chance of your being robbed, assaulted, burglarized, raped? Of being at a convenience store, druggist, bank, supermarket when some disadvantaged urban youths decide to hit it? Of being in a theater, classroom, office, restaurant, mall, church or in your car when some crazoid/terrorist/disgruntled employee/dissatisfied customer/road raging commuter decides to achieve fame/martyrdom/revenge by killing a bunch of strangers?
Small, right? In fact, vanishingly small on any given day or any given visit to any of the places above. So pick an arbitrary number to represent the tiny chance that any of the above will happen to you. How about one in a thousand--- .001? One life-threatening hostile event in 1000 days, commutes, gas fill-ups or what have you. 

This is important: each event, each day, is independent. What happens on one day has no effect on, no implication for, any other. * But the days are repeated. Each year has 365 of them. On each day the chance that nothing bad will happen is .999, 1 minus the .001 chance of a real threat. But...the probability that nothing bad will happen on any of those 365 days is the product of those independent probabilities, or .999 to the 365th power. That's gotta be small, right?  

In fact, it's .6907. Call it 70%. Not terrible. But after two years it's .4817; after 3, .3344; after 4, .2311; after 5, .1611; and after 10 years it's .0259. Those are the chances of no life-threatening event occurring. To find the chances of at least one such event within a given time, subtract each number from one. Looks different, doesn't it? What the numbers say is that within one year 3 of every 10 people will have experienced some sort of crime. In a ten-year period 98 out of 100 will, at least once.

These are just numbers, and you might argue that they don't reflect reality. Fine, look up the statistics and pick your own. My friend Tom Givens, of Rangemaster in Memphis 
(http://www.rangemaster.com/) estimates the yearly odds there as 1 in 50. In Chicago or DC, who knows? Maybe worse.  If you live in Mayberry...Oh, wait. Mayberry's imaginary. 

The principle goes beyond crime, of course. Do you talk on your cell or text while driving? Like to have a drink or two while you're out? What are the odds that something bad, maybe very bad, will happen over some reasonable time? The message here is that they're higher, way higher, than you think.**

It'll be easy for some people to ignore this post. As Barbie famously said, math is hard, and worse, it's boring. Besides, they won't want to believe it, and won't even go to the small trouble of checking my figures or computing their own. When the world happens to them they'll whine about fairness and demand that the government give them some of my property, or take away some of my rights, to make them feel all better. 

Sorry. It may be heartless and insensitive, but for those people I have this message:
You've been told once, and once is all you get. Act accordingly, or don't. The universe goes on and the numbers roll over, uncaring.

Place your bets.


* That may be debatable, but assuming otherwise makes the argument to follow stronger.
** Sticklers will know that the calculations in these cases are different, because we're talking about differences in odds. The principle still applies.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

They Did it Again


The New York City cops shot an innocent person. This time they killed a clerk who was just trying to escape an armed robber. You can read about it here:

http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2012/09/07/police-shoot-kill-man-during-bodega-robbery/

You can watch it here:

http://news.yahoo.com/video/security-video-nyc-police-shooting-013555031.html

They're calling it a "tragic accident." If the officer in question hadn't had his finger on the trigger the gun wouldn't have fired. If he'd had proper training he wouldn't have had his finger on the trigger. If New York City had either a mayor or a police chief who gave one single damn about the safety of its citizens (or its police, for that matter) he'd have had training.
Instead, the mayor spends his time protecting New Yorkers from Big Macs and Big Gulps.
I suppose the police commissioner spends his time making excuses for incompetence and justifying stop-and-frisk laws.

New York, New York. It's a hell of a town.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Someone To Watch Over Me


There's a somebody I'm longing to see
I hope that he turns out to be
Someone who'll watch over me
I'm a little lamb who's lost in the wood
I know I could always be good, with
Someone who'll watch over me...
George Gershwin

Everybody's heard it, or heard of it, by now:The line from the DNC video that goes  " Government is the only thing we all belong to." Got that? "...belong to."
Of course, the Obamanistas are clamoring that "We didn't mean it that way, really, really we didn't." Yeah, like Obama didn't mean "You didn't build that."

BULLSHIT.

Nearly every government has owned its subjects. What do you think feudalism, which lasted until the 20th century in Russia, was about? Do you think European serfs could come and go as they pleased? Sell their goods wherever and to whomever they wished? Do you think Asian peasants fared any better? Perhaps the Athenian and Roman republics recognized the idea of a free people, as limited as their concepts of freedom were. Maybe the Swiss.
Certainly not the Brits, whose "sturdy yeomen" were kept from complete serfdom only by virtue of their longbows, the medieval equivalent of the AK-47. They were still "subjects," not citizens.

Throughout the sorry, bloody course of human history there was one, and only one, nation founded on the principle of free individuals with inalienable rights voluntarily cooperating to form a government with carefully defined and highly limited powers. You get one guess as to which one that might be. However imperfectly we have lived up to that ideal it is still what defines the United States of America.

It is understandable, though, how representatives of a political party that takes as its first principle that government is the source of all good, that coerced collectivity is the natural state of mankind, might unthinkingly write a line that reflects their philosophy. Unthinkingly in the sense that they weren't considering how those not sharing their ideology might take it, since they never speak to anyone who doesn't share it. They weren't paying attention, and that's when one's real nature is revealed. 

They think we're all property.

I am astonished that any Jew can subscribe to their philosophy, when so much of our ancient and recent history is about resisting, escaping or simply surviving slavery. How any Jew who supports Obama and the rest of the Progressive mob can read the Passover service without choking on the words is bewildering. I am equally astonished that any black person, whose ancestors were recently property, could hear that line and not immediately understand just how Nat Turner felt.*

I can explain it, though. Read the lines above. Gershwin wrote a sweet though decidedly non-feminist love song, but the words extend beyond romance. Many, many people, men and women, want to be taken care of. Property is taken care of, more or less. You don't need to make hard choices if you're property. You don't need to succeed at anything because if you fail you'll still be taken care of. They want to be pets. Of course, pets have limited freedom. They get fed what the owners think is good for them, or cheap. They run around inside the fence, because outside is dangerous and scary. They get groomed. They're taken to the vet, too, and being neutered is part of the price they pay for security. Of course you mustn't bite...

What those people don't realize is that only a very few are pets. The rest are livestock, producing for the owners. Draft oxen. Plow horses. Milk cows. Owners can use them for whatever purpose suits them; witness the Great Leap Forward, which killed what, 45 million Chinese? Stalin's purges and destruction of the kulaks, which accounted for 30 million or so. The entire nation of North Korea. Every once in a while the herd needs to be culled of undesirables, too, so we get the Holocaust and the killing fields. Sometimes it's just easier to get rid of the whole herd and start over.** 

Why don't progressives understand the facts of history? One, they're ignorant and two, they don't want to. The facts are there if you look, a couple of clicks away, but they don't want to know. It might mean that they'd have to take care of themselves, show some responsibility, and that's scarier than the possibility of the gulag or the slaughterhouse. Besides, the price is paid only in the long run, and as one of the progressives' minor deities once said, "In the long run we'll all be dead."


* If you don't know who that was, look here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nat_Turner

** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_at_B├ęziers











Sunday, September 2, 2012

Comix

I always liked comic books.  As a kid in the 50's my favorite was Blackhawk, about an international group of combat pilots who battled evil from their secret base, Blackhawk Island. They were more human and interesting than Superman and Batman, who were  unbeatable and therefore boring. Besides, the Blackhawks flew cool jets.

In college I found Spider-man, then the rest of the Marvel characters. Never a real "fan," I enjoyed them from time to time for a couple of reasons. One, the characters were like real people. Clark Kent was someone Superman, the real guy, pretended to be. Peter Parker, skinny and geeky, was the real guy; sometimes he tried to be Spider-man, with varying degrees of success. That resonated. 

Two, Marvel characters faced real ethical problems. They had to make hard decisions. Sure, it was comic-book style. We're not talking Shakespeare or Steinbeck here. But still, it was better, more engaging, than Superman vs. Lex Luthor, whose conflict boiled down to "Good is better than evil because it's nicer"  as opposed to "Evil is better than good because it's more fun." You could almost root for Magneto, or feel sorry for Doc Ock. It was possible to empathize with Wolverine or the Hulk, whose biggest challenges were staying human, controlling the beast inside.

Fast-forward to the 70's and 80's. My sons had heard or read almost all the kids' books in the library. I wanted something interesting and a little challenging for them, and thought of comics. Cheap to buy, colorful, exciting, sometimes thought-provoking and with a more adult vocabulary. I started reading to them, doing voices and everything, sometimes with commentary and questions. As they became able to read for themselves I gave the comics as little weekly rewards, always reading them first and holding back any I thought too violent.
That was rare, though. Sometimes we'd talk about the stories and the characters' dilemmas.

I'm not sure exactly when the change began, because as my kids got older they were able to buy their own books, comic and otherwise, and didn't need supervision. I didn't read them on my own. Somewhere along the way the comics got...darker. Maybe Frank Miller and The Dark Knight had something to do with it, but there had to be a market the publishers were serving. The superheroes' lives got harder, sadder, and while they still came out ahead their victories became progressively more Pyrrhic. Even Superman wasn't immune; everyone got the Dark Knight treatment. Today's superheroes are tormented characters, their powers a source of both conflict and obsession.

"So?", you're asking. "They're comics, and movies made from comics. Get serious," you say.
I am. There's a point here, and it's this: The bad guys have all the fun. The heroes suffer, struggle, lose loved ones both figuratively and literally, finally end the menace at great personal cost and for their trouble are labelled "vigilantes" and "menaces." The super-villains, meanwhile, are having a fine time blowing up innocents while laughing maniacally.
Right up until the last moment, they're winning. In the modern comics, evil is a hell of a lot more fun, and if good is nicer damned few of the comic-book public and none of the government seems to realize it.

Now consider a kid. A boy, of course. It's always a boy. He might be smart, in a narrow high-GPA sort of way, but he has poor social skills. Physically he's unimpressive, uncoordinated, weak. He's a little creepy. He's a target, naturally, because kids are feral. Why do you think they call it a "pecking order?" He gets pecked, a lot. Nobody teaches him how to fight back, but nobody protects him, either. As a teenager girls ignore him or, worse, laugh at him. So he retreats, into video games, comics, the Internet. What's there for him to identify with? Not the heroes. They're good-looking, strong, and people like them, at least while they're being their mundane selves and not their super-powered alter egos. It's the bad guys. They're the ones revenging themselves on a world that never gave them the adulation they believe they deserve. Think of the Joker. Doctor Doom. The Green Goblin. Oh, and while he's at it the boy gets a video game/comic book concept of weapons, too. There's no one to disabuse him of his fantasies, or provide any alternative. So he ruminates, maybe alone or maybe with a kindred spirit he welcomes to his nightmare. Either way, the anger and the revenge fantasies get amplified, because rumination does that. *

Because he's always been "good"---no fights, no drug arrests, no formal contact with institutions--the boy has no flags on his record, so when he's old enough, he can buy guns.
If he's not, he can steal them, or buy them on the street. He knows how to make them go bang because everyone does, at least everyone who watches TV. He knows precious little else about them, but he doesn't have to. Pretty soon he's ready to be his own little Joker, at Columbine; Virginia Tech; Aurora, Colorado or wherever else there are a bunch of unarmed victims waiting to be sacrificed. There's no handy Spider-man on campus, no X-Men taking the night off at the movies; just the police, who are always too late. Maybe, with luck, there's one person with the courage and presence of mind to respond effectively, armed or not.** Mostly, there's nobody, and people die.

Are comics responsible, and should they be censored? No, and no. That's stupid. There have always been dried-up biddies of both sexes wailing for censorship,*** but comics are no more responsible for mass murders than Luther's 95 Theses are for the Thirty Years' War or Playboy magazine for millions of bastard children.  

Everybody wants simple answers. Don't expect them from me. Simple answers are the province of hack politicians, TV preachers and infomercials. My business is asking hard questions.

Here's a hard question: What are you doing about it? These kids didn't become murderers overnight. I'll bet substantial money that their parents backed off and let them stew, too embarrassed or timid to face the possibility that there was something seriously wrong with their son.  Their neighbors and the kid's teachers didn't want the trouble, and their school administrators were afraid of liability.**** The police aren't interested until there's an actual bleeding body, and are only too happy to hand off responsibility when they can. So what do you, a citizen, parent, teacher, cop, need to do? When do you stand up to take the heat? We all have to answer that question, because there are no superheroes to do it for us.

Batman retired.



* Trust me on this; it's my business. References on request.
**  For instance, Liviu Librescu, Virginia Tech professor. He died in the process.
There's also Leonardo Johnson, at the Family Research Center in D.C.; Kenneth Hammond at the Trolley Square Mall, Salt Lake City; Antonio Milow, Aurora CO church shooting. The killers in these 3 cases don't fit the topic, but the principle applies.
*** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seduction_of_the_Innocent
**** For example, http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/prosecutors-aurora-suspect-made-1505651.html