Guest Opinion:

Lack Of Values, Not Teasing, Turns Teens Into Killers

By Marianne M. Jennings
March 23, 2001

The gun control theme is not woven into the liberal lectures on the shootings at Santana High. Faced with the inopportune timing and resulting juxtaposition of the sentencing of Lionel Tate, a 14-year-old, to life in prison for his pummeling to death a 6-year-old girl, the taciturn Second Amendment subversives realize the dichotomy.

Still, they cannot bring themselves to condemn Andrew Williams, 15, who stands accused of the Santee shootings. They adhere to liberalism's notion that the only true crime is the infiltration of moral absolutes into public discourse, or worse, conduct.

President Bush referred to the Santee shootings as "a disgraceful act of cowardice," which sent Chris Matthews reeling on both content and his relentless theme of our President's inarticulate nature.

Geoffrey Fieger, the lawyer who represented kindly Dr. Kevorkian, is outraged that a 15-year-old will be held criminally accountable for cold-blooded murder. Fieger is not, however, opposed to civil liability for such shootings and does represent Isaiah Shoels' family in their wrongful death suit regarding Columbine. Murder is murder when it comes to contingent fees.

Unwilling to face the steady deterioration of the souls of our youth and silenced on guns, the liberal mind refocuses on new causation. A reader in my local paper wrote, "A lot of the 'troubled teens' out there are so because of the torment, abuse, name-calling, etc., by their peers."

The reader went on to write, "I am not endorsing what he did." Endorsing murder? Breathe a sigh of relief that the gentle reader will not lend her support for such Draconian punishment for taunting.

The barriers between disgraceful acts of cowardice and accountability must be removed. Two years ago, when our young turned on each other at Columbine, I warned of another Columbine and another after that until we addressed the underlying issues. We failed to do so. Our young kill again.

Bullying, taunting or the high school caste systems do not cause these shootings. High school has always been a bizarre rite of passage that involves cliques, insecurities, hormones and awkward physical changes with their outward mark of acne. Those who enjoyed high school generally peak there, while the rest of the geeks, dweebs and losers go on to become Bill Gates and other highly successful life forms once free from the shackles of a social system with the tolerance of the Politburo.

High school years in previous generations were, however, marked by: (a) no shootings; (b) family support for teens to know that this too shall pass and revenge comes from success, not murder; and (c) a moral code. Therein lies causation.

Teens today have little family support on the rugged battlefield their peers create. They have counselors who spout spiritually void platitudes. Their family contact is minimal. One survey showed that only one-third of them have dinner with their families. Following formative years in day-care centers, this generation fends for itself.

Young Andrew Williams' mother of Maryland said she was shocked at her son's shooting spree because when she spoke with her son "last month" from across the country (he lived with his father in Santee), he seemed happy. One cross-country phone call per month from Mom won't get you a heart-to-heart.

Add to the lack of family support the void of moral absolutes, and our young people are gasoline-soaked rags next to Coleman lanterns. On the "Today" show, the mother of Andrew's former girlfriend said she did not "agree" with what Andrew did, as if a murderous spree should be debated like a "Hollywood Squares" statement.

These youth have learned by example that any conduct is excused with extenuating circumstances. They witness only moralizers condemning the condemners, not the actions. Clinton is a lying adulterer, but the vast right wing conspiracy is wrong to meddle in his private life.

O.J. Simpson killed his ex-wife and her friend but must be acquitted because L.A. cops are allegedly racist. An arsonist in Phoenix burns new homes but is excused because he's an environmentalist concerned about sprawl. Abortion is a choice, not the taking of innocent life. Rationalization now haunts us.

Our President is correct - these shootings were a disgraceful act of cowardice. Repeat that phrase again and again. Be judgmental about this lad's spiritual void. A love affair with all that is secular has spawned a generation that is "cold, callous and indescribably cruel," to use the words of Judge Lazarus in the Tate case.

Raising children in a valueless world with few boundaries and limited adult supervision has given them the killer instincts of roving bands of wolverines. Please, don't shoot me for calling our young a name.

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