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Hope In The Hellmouth: Looking Ahead 321

Posted by JonKatz
from the best-of-times,-worst-of-times dept.
The bad news was that countless geeks and nerds were hassled, "counseled" and sent home from school last week for looking odd or saying what they thought. Geek Profiling was epidemic. The good news was that there was an extraordinary sense of community on the Net and Web last week, and that the word got out, big time. The "Voices From The Hellmouth" were heard and quoted on some of the country's most influential mainstream media, just as many of you had hoped for. You did good. And a whole new stream of messages came in, many hopeful, positive and looking ahead Beyond the Hellmouth. They ranged from starting a Geek Church to offers of help from kids, parents, and teachers.

There was bad and good news from the Hellmouth last week. The national hunt for oddballs did, in fact, become a hysteria. Many journalists, parents, educators and politicians chose to blame the Net and computer games rather than face the much more complex and unwelcome messages coming from Littleton.

Things turned increasingly ugly, for geeks and oddballs, as teachers, administrators, reporters and peers sometimes made them feel like potential murderers.

Kids by the hundreds were sent home, ordered into counseling, sent to special classes, lectured, suspended, expelled and ostracized for thinking differently and being different. Many of these messages are harrowing.

" My school has locked down," e-mailed Josh late last night from Colorado. "The four days that I wasn't too depressed to go to school I was patted down by the police and was taunted by the "jocks" and faculty! The morale of my friends and I were so low that you couldn't get a worm to crawl under it. The counselor called me to her office. She asked me If I had ever played Doom or Grand Theft Auto, and I told her that I had. Then I was sent home. Crazy man, this just shouldn't be happening to a normal nerd like me."

It was happening to lots of normal nerds.

But there was good news from the Hellmouth, too.

The Web suddenly became a place, not just for software and start-ups, but for testimony. Educators and pundits kept telling us that schools are fine, that the real problem was violence online, on TV and film, in games. But geeks used the Internet for the first time to speak over the heads of institutions in a powerful, unfiltered way. Their stories were irrefutable.

On the usually diverse and quarrelsome Internet, there was something approaching unity and a sometimes enthralling sense of community.

One reporter asked me if I had any messages for parents. I didn't, but the thousands of kids and former kids e-mailing me did: instead of blocking computer games or the Net, support your kids and their culture, and work to make your local school more humane, creative and responsive to the many students who chose individualism.

Oddballs, nerds, Goths, geeks and other so-called misfits seemed to ground one another after Littleton. They told and traded stories and seemed to take some comfort in the realization that they were a new kind of nation.

And while most mainstream media continued to bombard the country with disturbing images of grief juxtaposed with wildly irresponsible finger-pointing, and to disseminate the most thoughtless and inaccurate stereotypes about computing, gaming, the Net and the Web, and Goths, a growing number of journalists showed that it's also simple-minded to stereotype all reporters as hostile and clueless.

My apologies to those reporters -- especially some working for National Public Radio, the San Jose Mercury, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, Charlotte Observer, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle - who looked beyond the hysteria. They worked hard and rooted out and exposed some of the worst excesses of "geek profiling" going on all over the country.

Defying conventional wisdom and sometimes risking their editors? wrath, these reporters - many of whom were young and are online -- gave voice to geek kids under siege. In dribs and drabs, the other side of the story began to trickle out, filtering not only through the press but through the stunning, rapidly evolving connective power of the Web itself. Your stories made their way into homes, schools and media offices all over the country.

So congratulations to those of you who had the courage and good will to post messages to me and the site, and to begin writing a new history for geeks and nerds and for the Net.

Some of these stories from Slashdot.org ultimately were broadcast via MSNBC.com, ABCnews.com and Cnn.com and NPR and are being quoted in influential newspapers; they continue to circulate. Sunday, the San Jose Mercury reprinted "Voices From the Hellmouth" on the front page of its opinion section. You were heard. You did some good.

I heard from dozens of teachers and school administrators whose students asked them to read your (and my) Slashdot writings. Some parents were surprised as well.

"What a stunning experience," e-mailed Kathy, "to read these very painful messages on Slashdot - my son gave me your columns to read -- and to suddenly really that one of them was from him. May he forgive me... I knew how unhappy he was, but on some level, I guess I just didn't want to face it. I bought the notion that it's just part of life in high school. What a strange new world that I should get this awareness from a website. Monday, I have an appointment with his principal. It's time for somebody aside from Jason to feel the heat."

"These kids are heroes for speaking out," wrote Mr. H, a school principal in San Diego, California. "For what it's worth, I passed these columns and the responses out at a faculty meeting. The teachers were shocked, but they also - unanimously - agreed they were reading some painful truths and were determined to respond. We all went home and got on our own or our kids? computers to read these stories from the Hellmouth ourselves. Speaking as one school administrator, I want to say lots of us got into this business to help, not hurt kids. I hope you can make that point.

"We have work to do.

"But some of us hear you, loud and clear. Kids, if you have suggestions, make them. The good administrators and teachers will hear them, even if they don't seem to. The bad ones'well, you'll be no worse off."

By this weekend, my personal e-mail had probably topped 6,000 e-mail messages chronicling a tide of misery, alienation and exclusion in the country's schools. Slashdot received several thousand more messages, many of which were posted on different threads, but the site had to cut off some posts each day due to the volume.

Meanwhile, scores of sites popped up where geek students and survivors could tell their own stories. The tales could go on forever, here and elsewhere, but they've made their point.

While horror stories continue to pour in, a number of these messages were positive, helpful and forward looking, evoking a world beyond the Hellmouth:


From "Youth Cry", from Lord Kinbote:

?I have decided to start a Campaign towards fighting for the youth to be heard in the world as individuals:

Youth Cry.

Every day I go to school wishing for it to be different. Wanting a place for hope, a place to learn, a place without hate, and a place where being different isn't so wrong. But instead I find myself trapped in a prison of conformity. They tell me how I should be just like everybody else, how I should play their sports, how I should join their clubs, and how I should give up everything I have to be like them.

?it's time to let our ideas run free in the world and not be scared of the ridicule of being different. I ask you to stand up and shout your cry now, the cry you've held in all your life, but never let out because you were too afraid. Wear this ribbon on your sites around the world to help put out the blaze...

(The banner may be obtained from http://innerspace.hypermart.net/youthcry.html for use on pages.)


The Church of Geeks, from Mark:

Surely if [you] founded the ?Church of Geekdom, geeks in schools will be protected by the existing laws? Hardly practical but maybe another stick to beat the administration with, and a way to underline the fact that it's a (peaceful) way of life.


Call To Arms, from Bojay:

With all the commentary and what-not surrounding the whole debate, I think the time might be right to issue some kind of call to arms for geeks. Most of us are pretty, well, non-political about issues. I think if we're going to be running this country's infrastructure, and building communications world-wide, we ought to have a say. Which brings me to my second point - why can't we form a special-interest group? Over 1500 people have commented (some fiercely) about this. 99% of them think school was hell. Why not form a SIG to address "geek rights"? If you have any pointers, or some people you know who think like-minded, let me know. I'd like to start working on something that /will/ make a difference, not just a stir.


I'm Going To Speak Up, from JD:

There's a school board meeting next Wednesday, and you can bet that I'm going to be there, speaking on this very subject'I wish they had the Web when I was a little younger. A community is a good thing.


From Turned In:

I can understand where a lot of people are coming from on this. I am a 'freak' and 'goth'. I don't even know how I got the Goth label since I never wear black (I usually wear colorful outfits), don't like Marylyn Manson, and am an overall happy person. People seem to think I'm weird because I listen to Bjork and like Linux. Also, people (wrestlers, so I don't give them much credit) think I'm going to blow up the school. Why, you might ask? Well, because I am taking French, I dyed my hair, and (here's the clincher) I have a unibrow! So now unibrow = unabomber. Everyone watch out for that extra hair, it could be the difference between normal and serial killer?

Again, thanks for giving 'freaks' a place to be heard.

Fight Back With Jedi Mind-Tricks, from Geek Girl:

I am one of the misfits- a Girl Geek, if there was such a person. I got abused horribly by the jocks like the guys did, but it was worse in some ways as a woman because of the sexual element. ... I never considered doing violence to my tormentors- although my desire to defeat them led me in a roundabout way to the study of the occult- where I learned instead to rule myself. (Yes, there is a good side to the occult, if you can get past all the BS.)

Now, I understand how Jedi Mind Tricks really work, and when I have to have a run-in with a jock sort (they live in a time warp, growing potbellies and kids, but never truly maturing) I remember how weak-minded they are, and whop them with a bit of good old verbal and mental Aikido.


I AM ALONE, by Robert Sterling:

I am alone

beholden to no one

I need no one

I do not care

if I or anyone else

exists

Nor do I care what

others think

what they want or

how they feel

I am alone

And now I can laugh

and that is good

for I was not

previously

programmed

to do so

Copyright 1999 Robert Sterling


Queen of Peace seeks Doom Club Competitors:

Hey guy,

Queen of Peace HS in North Arlington, NJ, already has a DOOM club - they can't find anyone else out there to compete against. Are there any others? (do they dare announce at this time?), the contact name is QphsCrocco@aol.com ( Ms. Crocco at Queen of Peace )


Don't Go Back, by Janus:

I'm a freshman at a California high school, and a geek, and a Goth, and I don't have to tell anybody reading this what a Hell-week this has been for me - to the principal's office three times, and my parents have grounded me for the rest of my sad life, taken Doom, confiscated my Marilyn Manson CD's?oh well, no point in complaining. I will never quit or be beaten. I narrowly escaped counseling by bringing in a note from my minister.

I just want to say to all of you that for all of that, this has been one of the worst weeks of my life, but also one of the best weeks of my life, because for the first time in my four-year career as a creative and hard-working geek, I felt I had some help out there, that there were people I could go to. And there were actually stories and columns about me and people like me. I thought for sure nobody cared. So that was awesome!

Geeks will always fight, because it's their nature, but please don't go right back to all the flaming and arguing only... For me, and for all of the young geeks out there, how about it? This could really make a big difference in my life, and while I'm writing this, five wretched geek friends are standing right behind me while I type this in... Okay?



I Want to Listen, From a Teacher:

I am a teacher of high school; seniors in San Jose at Santa Teresa High School. Many students seek my time as a listener who makes no judgements. My age [68] may be a factor. Perhaps they look on me as a surrogate grandfather. When they seem to feel the need of someone to talk to in confidence, they ask, I listen.

I am worse than novice on The Net. I guess its a hangover from big telephone bills. However, if you think I can be of listening assistance for the loners, I will volunteer through you.

I want to be a listener for these kids. Please let me know if I can assist. calwest@gaird.com


The Quiet Revolution, from JD in Chicago:

I feel strangely optimistic about this week, as a veteran misfit with many ribbons and scars. If I hadn't learned how to stand firm while avoiding confrontation, they might have driven me crazy too. We are making a quiet revolution, the geeks. You can call it open source or open music or open whatever'it's unstoppable. All we have to do is not quit, and eventually, time will come around to us. Or maybe, a better way of putting it, is our time is coming. Then all of the things we've suffered won't be in vain.

Was it my imagination, or is the new story that things are looking up in the Hellmouth even, as Janus suggests, when they seem to have been worse than ever?

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Hope In The Hellmouth: Looking Ahead

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You know. They ran an artical in our town paper saying how our town was just like the colorado town. I thought FOR SURE the school would freak out. I must admit, they handled it very well.

    I got to talking with a school consolor about the issue, and she agreed that Games, TV Violence, and the internet arent to blame.

    My school distirect is pretty screwed up, but It humbles me to see how well they are handling it. But it saddens me to see how poorly others are.

    I think anybody that has been screwed over by either there parents, or the school should show them the slashdot stories. It could open some minds onto whats REALLY going on.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You know, I was just wondering....I have heard the media spout off about DOOM numerous times now over the past couple of weeks, and I'm really wondering why I haven't heard a single mention about Quake. I know that's a sidenote, but anyways. I think it is terrible how there is no longer such a thing as personal responibility in our society, and until that changes, those who are easiest to scapegoat will continue to be scapegoats. Sadly, us geeks fit into that category. All I can say is that we should all fight the good fight, and that they'll get my DOOM over my dead body.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Great idea!

    It shouldn't be too hard to make one of these and get a handful printed out. Just make sure you destroy all other evidence of doing it before you go out and post it.

    Then go out and put a few of these around your school. See if it sparks any debate. If it doesn't, then start to worry.

    If I had the time, I'd make each of those categories also reflect groups of other students, such as "hangs out with other students with similar tastes".

  • by Anonymous Coward
    As one of the "over 40" regular /. readers, I've
    found the Katz articles and reader responses quite
    refreshing compared to the majority of mainstream
    press coverage. Thus far school administrators
    seem far more content to externalize the
    conditions that lead to such erruptions as
    Littleton. Externalizing the causes deflects any
    consideration of how the subtleties of school
    policies and administrative decisions impact
    students.

    Having spent 7 years on a local school committee
    in one of Boston's "better" suburbs, I can not
    begin to adequately articulate how personally
    frustrating it is trying to talk about ideas for
    change and improving quality of school life with
    administrators who don't even understand why your
    bringing up such topics never mind act upon them.

    Public schools, with their eyes focused backwards,
    wedded to traditions of the past, and protected
    from real change by unions, are terribly insulated
    from the real world.

    My hope for what emerges from the ashes of such
    tragedies is that people don't let things "return
    to the 'normal' routines." Doing so will only
    prevent learning and true systemic change. We all
    need to use this time as an opportunity for real
    change in our communities that extends beyond the
    rhetoric.

    Enough, it is too much for too long now!
  • I am a serious geek, always have been. I'm 36 now and a successful computer entrepreneur. My high school experience was NOT hell, despite being a non-sports-liking, non-popular, way smart sci-fi-loving nerd.

    I think the reason for this was my high school itself (Nottingham High School in Syracuse, NY) and the really sensitive teachers there. Although it's a regular public school, there were always plenty of things to do even for outcasts like me. The school set up a computer club for us nerds to hang out together in (with its own room -- of course in those days it was modems to the mainframe, not PCs). We did science projects instead of having to go to senior physics -- we already knew all that stuff anyway and the teachers knew it.

    The school also had an excellent theater program which gave lots of nerds an outlet: lighting, sound design, sets, and so on gave us a great community where we could be ourselves, have fun, and even get some recognition. In short, there were lots of ways for kids of all kinds to meet those similarly inclined and share their experiences.

    Yep, I got beat up a couple of times. I got the usual taunts. But I had a supportive if small community of fellow-nerds and we more than consoled each other.

    Perhaps if these kids (not just the killers but also many of the other posters here) could have these kinds of outlets they might have felt a little less left out?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Really, the next time someone writes in to say they're a nonconformist, I think I'm gonna have a freakin' embellism. Marilyn Manson? Bjork? DOOM? Are these the tools of the revolution? If so I fear for the true nonconformists of this world.

    All of these manifestations of your so-called "individualism" and "nonconformity" are nothing but corporate tools of profit and those that stand by them as an individuality-defining apparatus are just as lost as the jocks. The only difference is you're fooling yourself into thinking you're actually an individual, but you're merely conforming to a manufactured, processed, and produced "lifestyle."

    So, all of you "geeks" who think you're breaking the spell of conformity because you use Linux, dye your hair, listen to bad melodramtic joke-metal, or don't play sports: GROW UP. YOUR "DISSENT" IS NOTHING BUT A COMMODITY. You are sheep - a different breed of sheep, but sheep nonetheless.

    Define your own damned existence. Wake up in the morning and appreciate the life you've been given and quit granting relevance to all of the bullshit externalities of high school and mainstream culture. All of the whining and complaining that has come of this is a result of your own inability to allow yourself to live your life in a context seperate from everyone else.

    I used to have respect for Jon Katz - besides having the namesake of the best show on Television (Dr. Katz on Comedy Central), his leftist leanings provided a fine relief from the kooky Libertarian-wannabes around here. Now he's just flogging a dead horse that was delusional and retarded to begin with.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Just like the J.D.L (Jewish Defence league)

    G.D.L. - Goth Defence League
    N.D.L. - Nerd Defence League

    etc.

    all under the auspices of an umbrella org called

    F.D.L - Freak Defence League

    To lobby, organise, and rebel wherever necessary.
    We have the Internet, this could become global.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I absolutely agree!!! Finally a post that cuts thru all this BS!

    My god. Of course high school is a joke, why?
    Its one big marketing culture war!! And noone
    is going to help you because you are *supposed*
    to be beaten down so you will crave the next
    marketing "escape"--> ie. louder music, more piercings..wackier clothes.

    THE GOAL of high school is to learn not to
    give an ounce of shit what anyone else thinks of you.
    The only line I see being crossed is that of physical violence.

    But, to be "surprised" when people are actually
    provoked by dyed hair, black chains and crap and
    then get all upset blows my mind. Thats exactly the reaction what this crap is marketed to evoke.

    And you are in dreamland if you think you're somehow more of an individual then "jocks".
    You just bought into the marketing of "being
    an individual" lol. Give it up.

    You'll be truly individual when you stop
    buying shit. Until then you're just like everyone
    else.








  • by Anonymous Coward
    As a white, long-haired but otherwise normal looking person, who dresses at least decently and drives a decent car, I must say I love profiling. I feel bad for the people that get hassled, but if they stopped profiling and hassled everyone equally, I would catch a lot more of it.

    So basically, I feel bad for you, I understand how you feel, but I'm not going to try to help you, because that would be hurting myself.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why is the attitude around here seem to be that people who deliberatly look and act different are somehow automatically superior to those who don't?

    And how is society supposed to prevent future Littleton tragedies if they can't single out people who they suspect may have problems.
    ---

    Where do you get that from? From what I have been reading on here, most people don't feel we are superior. I think most of us feel we just aren't inferior, as others seem to think we are.

    While it may be prudent to look into those who may be more prone to do something like what occured in Littleton, it does not excuse the excesses gone to in the last week. People have had police investigations on them because of HOW THEY DRESS! Wearing a trenchcoat, black clothing, etc. is NOT probable cause. It does not warrent searching of ones belongings (or an investigation). If you allow them to do that, just wait till it's "wrong" to wear what you like. Then see how you like it. This is basic civil rights. Even the most vile criminal has rights. If you don't like that, move to China.

    The correct response here is to talk with those you may think identify with the killers and find out why this REALLY happened. No, it's not just one thing, but if you talk to enough people you can get a broad base to look at. This isn't something that can be understood in a week, maybe not even a year. It will take some time, but to attack those kids in school now who dress, act, or play differently even more is just plain wrong and could cause another incident. The accounts here on Slashdot are just one part of the story. But it's an important part that needs to be heard.

    Overreacting and passing a ton of new laws isn't the answer. There were plenty of laws that were broken leading up to the tragedy at Littleton. Persecuting the geeks isn't going to help either, and could cause more harm. We need to work toward understanding each other, only then can we see the real problems and work to repair the damage.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 1999 @08:32AM (#1906314)
    Hey, I liked the first two articles on this, and it is an interesting issues... but aren't we milking this a little TOO far? If not, why don't we create a nerd in school icon for related stories so they can be filtered? (Or discriminated against!)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 1999 @08:39AM (#1906315)
    So now white geeks are learning what those of us with middle-eastern looks/names/religion have known for years:
    PROFILING IS BAD.

    It sucks when black motorists get hassled for DWB (Driving While Black), when black women are subjected to full body
    searches at the airport by drug agents with NO evidence (and NO drugs are subsequently found) and when high school deans
    and prinicipals start hassling people for dressing in a non-standard manner or for being interested in technology.

    Oh yeah ... and it also sucks when I get hassled by airlines. :-)

    -Punjabi
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 1999 @08:48AM (#1906316)
    I've been listening to various officials on this topic. One school administrator said (of going back to school today) that it's time to "Get back on the horse." I always suspected my school administrators of being on SOMETHING, I just didn't know it was horse.

    I hate that cliche' and I hope the previous kills it for good.

    One administrator said that students WILL be safe and that they'll be there for them. Funny, isn't that what they said BEFORE? Call me a cynic...

    One administrator said that they will not make schools a prison. Yeah. At least in prision you can smoke. And wasn't that what the schools were before? That's always what I thought when I was incarcerated. But then, we already knew I was a cynic.

    AC's Predictions:

    Nothing will change for the better. The system will be more ruled by paranoia than it was before. We'll probably see a few more metal detectors and security guards in the schools for a while, some more restrictive rules on backpacks and clothing and in general a much more oppresive atmosphere than we had a month ago. There will be a lot of talk and a few symptoms will be targetted, but you know what, the actual disease will still be there and it will not be addressed. Bummer.

    AC's best bets for survival and keeping your sanity: Get out as soon as you can, get your GED and go to college. The younger memebers of the audience are SOL. Sorry. Pressure your parents into looking into home schooling. It ain't much, maybe someone else can come up with more.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 1999 @09:08AM (#1906317)
    I'm now 25, but I went to school in a very conservative, very small Southeast Texas town. To make matters worse, my parents were not only involved in the school, they worked for it. My stepfather was my principal throughout my high school years. This may sound like a blessing to some, but for me it was a curse.

    I too was a bit of an outsider (a popular outsider, but an outsider none the less). I didn't like what everyone else liked, I didn't listen to the same music, I didn't dress the same, I didn't really enjoy school activities. I preferred being on my computer, reading a book, or playing D&D with my friends.

    I was a very foward looking person, and I saw right through the illusion that was High School. I knew that short months after graduation, I wouldn't be hanging around with the same people, and the things that I did or that happened to me would be of very small consequence. However, with my parents working in the school system, there was a large pressure to "succeed". I don't mean just academically, that part was easy and came naturally, but I had to put off a good example for all the other kids. I had to belong to all the prestigious school groups, and I had to either be in band or sports, I had to date the right girls, I had to be someone I was not.

    Or, rather, I was expected to be. I did my own thing. But, it caused me no end of emotional pain. It seemed that everything I wanted to do or found fun was wrong. I had a lot of emotional issues because I was pushed into a lot of roles that I didn't really fit into. Luckily, I was fairly popular, and people realized that I was a genuinely nice guy, even if I didn't look or act according to the norm. I was fortunate that way. But, while I didn't get harrassment from my peers, I got it at home full force. Everything everyone's been writing about how school was so fascist and demanding and conformist, that's how my home life was as well. All the things I wanted to do were somehow "wrong" or "demonic" or just "deviant". Every month it seemed my mother was confiscating things out of my room that she didn't want me to have, such as computers, CDs, modems, books, you name it. They bought into all the hysteria on everything. Some kid went out and killed his friends, and he just incidentally happened to play dungeons and dragons? There go all my role playing books and dice. That's just a remote isolated instance. My parents never seemed to understand that I knew what was going on and that I had a vision that extended further than the next three days. There were girls I dated not because I loved them or because I wanted to spend forever with them, but just because I found them interesting. It was high school, for christ's sake, but my mother assumed that every girl I brought home was one that was a potential marriage candidate. Everything was all about appearance, not facts. I almost went crazy living that life. Why can't school administrators and parents understand that just because their kids want to be a little different, or experiment with things, it doesn't mean they are a bad kid. Not everyone fits into the societal norm. I really thought I got a warped view on how high school was because my parents were a part of the whole system. I thought that perhaps it was just me and I was the only one that got oppressed on a daily basis.

    I still rememeber my parents yelling at me to "get off the computer" or "go outside and do something productive" or "why aren't you in more school activities? You sit around too much on that damn computer". I wonder how they feel knowing that this year I'll be making 20k more than the two of them combined ever did, and I'm doing it on "that damned computer".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 1999 @08:49AM (#1906318)
    Katz has found a medium where he excells, as a passive moderator of an online community. This series on the hellmouth is a great work of moving the ego out of the way, and letting the substance of a community shine through.

    I am especially heartened to see all the others who, like me, are giving words of encouragement to those suffering through the hellmouth of school. The messages about it getting better all ring true, high school in America is truly a hellacious place for any type of non-conformism or individuality. It has gotten much, much worse in the 20 years since I was there.

    I suffered through all kinds of official torment each time I showed a bit of being "different", once getting expelled for 3 days for playing 'punk music' (talking heads and blondie in 1979) on the school radio. I built the school radio, the transmitter and the studio, and just before graduating I brought many accolades to the school for some of my achievements. The school claimed them as proof of their ability, but I have always chafed at that, since everything I did was against school policy, and still is. Last week they banned Marylyn Manson and all goth music.

    So, kids out there, don't despair. You'll make it through school, despite the administration and the cops and the councellors. And when you get out the other side, you will find there are rewards for being "different", and not all of them are financial. When your first art exhibit opens to good reviews, or your first computer game hits the shelves, or you get appointed to a human rights commission, then you will know that being different paid off. Persevere.
  • I'll kill you in my dreams.
    I turn the other cheek during the day.
    I'll kill you all.
    (I'm so sorry.)

    The subculture of my dreams is waiting for me to fall asleep.
    I know you're scared; you should be.
    I know you're scared.

    Hero.

    This attic of my mind,
    these feelings I can't hide, I can't share
    I feel alone.

    The subconscious keeps me here.
    I fell in love with a balladeer.
    I saw your tounge; it licked my heart.
    They called you queer.

    Hero.

    Dreamer.

    Hero.

    (Leave me alone.)

    They called you queer..
    They called you queer..
    They called you queer..
    They called you queer!

    - Edward Kowalczyk

    Ok, I believe this song is really about the dark side that everyone has (normally expressed in dreams).. But I found it strangely appropriate.
    Parenthesis represent lyrics I've heard in concert.
  • This really frightens me.. I have had problems at school, but the way even *TEACHERS* are reacting to this as a way to get rid of the geeks scares the hell out of me.

    Thank god I'm a university student now, where everybody is judged to their ability and not to their appearance.
  • After all, it does look like Jon is using this as yet another means of self-aggrandizement. This time it's arguably such a worthy cause that he should be doing it, but isn't it true that these are posted unde JonKatz? Therefore there already IS a way to filter it. Turn off Katz and you won't have to be drowned in it.
    Filtering Katz is not a statement that you don't care about the youth of today. It's just a way to get the gasbag to shut up, and most people can do more in their own back yards than Katz does with a thousand gassy essays. Self-espression != taking action. All too often it's just windy words (aka 'word, word, word')
  • Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangster Of Love:

    On Sunday, when my network gaming group (the WPNGG) had our last meeting I brought up to the group the possibility of inviting a local politician or two ot see us game and possibly get a better understand of what video gaming is all about.

    I was rapidly shot down by people who feared that the person(s) whom we invite might take one aspect of the gaming out of context, one of them said words to the effect of "Yeah, and if they see us playing Team Fortress Classic as soon as they see us trying to take out the president, it'll be all over."

    I think that civillians just don't get what we do, and don't get what we are.

    Maybe because they're not capable of doing so, maybe because they just don't care, maybe both. Over the years I have developed a sort of contempt for people like that. The "I can't program my VCR!" people, HEY RTFM AND LEARN! These people who expect machines to do what they want instead of what they instruct it to do.

    "Why won't this stupid machine print?" Um, because you have to TELL IT TO PRINT! See under the FILE menu? That little thing that says "PRINT", yeah do that!

    Sorry about the rant, but you know...

    LK
  • Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangster Of Love:

    >>Agree in advance with your entire group of a list of games you can play on that day that look good. Instead of TFC, choose something like Ages of Empires. And instead of conquest mode, choose a nice, peaceful ending goal like building a wonder. Then agree in advance to set up your game so you are all allies and work together. There's a lot of networked games out there that don't look like doom. Practice on some of them a weekend before you try this.

    I think that a game with norman parameters would be fine, but agree in advance that the only permissable combat will be with priests. No blood, no guts, but still the competitive aspect will be shown.

    >>for bonus points, no one should wear trenchcoats or all black. Tell them its just a fashion statement for when you go outdoor or to school, but that even the most extreme geeks are just normal kids with an extra dose of creativity. Pile on the bullshit.

    There is one problem with your plan, most of us are out of high school. One of the group's requirements is that members, and people who attend must be 18 or older, OR the legal ward of someone else in attendance who is 18 or older. We don't want to get sued if Jr. drops mom && dad's computer on the way up the stairs. We've got members up to 40 years old. Most of us are between 20 && 35.

    LK
  • Posted by Brute:

    I keep hearing about people who are "different".
    Who isn't? I've never met a "same" person yet.
  • Posted by notamos:

    For years, teachers have been fighting for smaller class sizes, more money for programs that allow a creative outlet for students, and a curriculum with enough flexibility to allow students to progress at their own rate of learning.

    Year after year these improvements have been proposed, and year after year they have been voted down, shouted down, dismissed and denied. Too expensive. This country revolves around the almighty buck, and nobody wants their taxes to go up, just so a bunch of snot-nosed kids can have a computer lab and a school radio station.

    Perhaps it's time to re-examine their position. Perhaps it's time to funnel some of the money we spend on Ethan Allen furniture and dried mushrooms into the millions of young people who wake up every day filled with rage and despair because they are forced to go to a place where they have NO input, NO control, and NO rights.

    I'm not talking about the public at large, I'm talking about YOU. Do you have a hundred dollars left over this month? Were you planning on writing a check to the local high school's computer program so that they could buy a new piece of software, or the drama club so that they could maybe buy a new script? I didn't think so.

    If there is any single good that can and should come from the Littleton shootings, the McCarthy-esque backlash, and the new sense of community that we are all experiencing as the internet bonds together, it should be this: Take responsibility for ONE thing.

    Donate some software. Volunteer to take an afternoon off and lecture the art class about 3-D animation techniques. Pay 70 bucks a month for 50 MB of web space and offer it to the local high school students who want to set up web pages.

    The blame-fest has been fun and all, and it may even have been necessary, but it's real easy to sit on your behind and write furious mailings to Slashdot about what's wrong with the high school system, then get up out of your chair, order a pizza, watch some Red Dwarf re-runs.

    I'm sorry, but that's lazy, and that's cowardly, and that's what got us into this mess in the first place. So what are you going to do about it?
  • Posted by D-Rider:

    An it harm none, do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law --Aleister Crowley

    If you aren't a member of a culture, you can't judge its values. You probably don't understand it enough to label it in that way. But if you want to talk to people with lifestyles that glorify violence, forget the people that look different, start counselling the football players. I live in a college town, and from reading police reports in the paper, I'd say they could use it. Look at how many atheletes are in legal trouble. The last time I caught the sports on the radio (not something I make a point of trying to do), 75% of the stories were about which athletes had been charged with what. So why don't you start counselling the football players, and leave the guys and girls on the chess club alone?

    There are any number of groups that have been considered by the public at large to have "unwholesome", "troublesome", even "satanic" views. In many cases, these were outright lies. Ask a Pagan or a Wiccan (yes, a witch, we all know they've gotten lots of bad PR).

    By your standards, if the public thinks these things to be true, then the public would be justified in seeking these people out and sending them to counseling, investigating them, etc. After all, the public has to "single out people who they suspect may have problems".

    In my opinion, and I think many here would agree, but the distinction hasn't come up, people who look and act differently aren't automatically superior. People who look and act as they want to look and act, and more importantly, think as they want to think, are automatically superior. These are the people with imagination, creativity, and in most cases courage. (If you don't think it takes courage to be different when you know you're going to catch hell for it, you probably never had the courage to try it.) By the way, if someone truly is a natural athlete, and enjoys athletics, and that's who he really is, fine. Be your self. Do what thou wilt. Just let the rest of us do the same.

    > What good is "expressing ones individual identity" if everyone else thinks you are a freak, and treats you as such?

    What are you without it? I would rather be abused and mistreated and be me, than to be one of them (i.e. anyone but who I am). That is a choice I have made, and a price I have paid. I even tried it. I played sports for a year. Actually, that wasn't bad. Lost weight, got in shape, etc. But I quit because I didn't like the company I was keeping. Primarily because, in order to fit in, I had to be like them, and that included abusing others.

    So yes, most of us could fit in if we really tried. But most of us probably just don't consider it worth the price. We also don't consider you, or anyone else, qualified to judge the 'cultural value' of our choices. We shouldn't be made to suffer because our choices are different from yours. And I think it's a pretty safe bet that if there was less suffering, degradation, and humiliation going on in the schools, there'd also be less violence.

    He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice. -- Mark Twain
  • I must admit, I felt that I was persecuted when I was younger. I had silly adolescent dreams of revenge.

    I did not understand people well enough to prevent them from hurting me. The school system retarded my progress in gaining this understanding, and for this the system should be faulted.

    But now I am older and this childish pain is gone. I took an engineering degree, and now I have great success. I have published. I have a beautiful house, and I bought a Mercedes two months ago.

    There is no real profit in revenge. There is nothing to be gained in it.

    It is difficult to stoically endure the torture of social ostracism, but it is really the only answer. "How ridiculous not to flee from one's own wickedness, which is possible, yet endeavor to flee from another's which is not."

    I plead with you, my oppressed breatheren, do not yield to the temptation of violence. If you are patient, life will yeild to you such joy that will draw the envy of all of your tormenters.

    Be patient, my friends. Your time will come.

  • Don't forget that San Jose is part of the Silicon Valley area. Just because you see something there geared toward geeks doesn't mean it will spread to the rest of the country. The San-Jose Mercury News has always been a bit more technically saavy than your average news rag.
  • Hey, I'm sure the East Timorese tragedy is getting discussed right now in other venues. Would you also walk up to them, and tell them to stop, because the tragedy in Kosovo is worse?

    Hey, lots of tragedies are happening in this world. This is very sad, but unfortunately, we don't live long enough to address them all one at a time.

    Go back to the top of the thread, and follow along, if you please. Maybe you'll get the gist of it. If you have the attitude that "we don't live long enough to address them all one at a time", why is that? Why is it so hard to get you to address one problem? I'll not be long-winded here; I've already typed a bunch of words on this subject before [slashdot.org].

    --

  • This thread starts with the assertion that geeks are geeks because they like Doom, Bjork and Marylin Manson, and use Linux. A bold assertion, as many of the testimonials of ex-highschoolers in this forum show: back when those people went to highschool, neither Doom, nor Marylin Manson, nor Linux existed yet. But geeky people were still being outcast for being different. So far for that theory.

    What he's saying, I think, is that far too many people (of all ages) define themselves by what they buy (or wouldn't be caught dead buying). It's a very shallow form of "outcast". Meanwhile, there's tons of people who don't have the luxury of buying an identity -- a gay or lesbian didn't buy his/her outcast status, a non-white person didn't either. A campesino didn't buy his outcastness; he, too, was merely born into it. I'm repeating myself, but I'll say it again: if goths, geeks, nerds, etc, are being killed or imprisoned or massively ripped off or beaten bloody and senseless simply for "who they are" (which, in this culture, is often a synonym for "what they bought at the mall"), then all these threads would be both relevant and important. But if they're just being hassled by The Man for being "different", there are several remedies, since The Man is probably acting illegally. If Katz has some legal advice, then bring it on, but to turn this into a bandwidth-hogging inanityfest doesn't do a damn thing but pat "us geeks" on the head and remind us about how "important" we are. My ego is big enough already: I don't need to have mine stroked by Jon the Sycophant and his Interactive Amen Chorus.

    --

  • I'm being "different" and "non-conformist" for critiquing Katz and his motivations, but, as I write this, my post (click the "Parent" link to see it, if you must) has been moderated down to zero. I was being deliberately belligerent (hence the boldface), hoping to smoke the Gasbag out to explain himself. It'll never happen. I know.

    But I find it interesting that by being a non-conformist Devil's Advocate here (and I didn't even have to buy my "difference" at the mall!), I get thwacked by some anonymous moderator. This farce gets more farcical by the minute.

    I still await Katz's explanation.

    --

  • That's the difference between "real life" and "high school." In "real life," there's legal recourse. In high school, there's a prison-movie-esque code of silence. If you "rat out" someone who is picking on you, be it a peer or a faculty member, expect things to get much worse, not any better.

    You'd think that with all this "consciousness-raising" hot air we've all spewed, that high-school geeks would take the time to assert their rights as US citizens, rather than just whine or try to form a special-interest group.

    It is a cliche' of human history to fear what you don't understand, and it is a very small step from fear to hatred.

    [...]

    Small wonder an unrestrained jock clique drove these kids to violence. It only amazes me that it doesn't happen more often. How sad that it had to come to this before anyone noticed.

    It happens. Terrorist acts have occurred (or been foiled) in the US, and against Americans overseas, in response to its status as the "Great Satan". Rockets fly on a regular basis in Israel's Lebanese "Security Zone"; Israel also has had to deal with violence in "Judea and Samaria". People (in the form of groups) have taken up arms all throughout this century in response to being bullied. But here's the difference: we usually treat these people like scum or psychos for complaining or trying to fight back. They're "terrorists" (or, in past decades, "communists") in our eyes, and rarely ever seen as "victims" or "freedom fighters" or "founding fathers"; nobody notices them or "feels their pain" either -- it's no wonder they feel they have to resort to the plastique and the hardware to get our attention. And while we're not putting Eric'n'Dylan on a pedestal, we're using the cluelessness of the overreaction against "geeks'n'goths" to put forth our own truckload of cluelessness about "outsider"-ness and "oppression". We're just spinning our wheels until the next Big Outrage. We rail against the clueless and the hypocrite, yet we rarely put ourselves under the lens, and we rarely take the time to understand anything outside of our own front doors and cliques. Middle-class America may well be the nastiest clique of them all.

    Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of violence, or of Hizbollah.

    --

  • Kids can get outcast by merely being more shy or more awkward than their peers. And they certainly don't chose to be that way.

    But they grow out of it, and they don't get killed or imprisoned for it. I'm not endorsing the abuse of outcast kids; I'm just saying there's literally millions of people around the world who don't get to grow out of their outcast status, and who don't have the option of buying a makeover to become like the "popular kids". People who are cradle-to-grave outcasts don't get much attention from us; people who are really taking shit for being different don't get our attention, unless NATO, CNN, and the State Department band together and foist it upon us.

    If you feel that your ego is big enough already, you're free to skip the "hellmouth" stories, and move on to the other interesting items that Slashdot carries

    In a nutshell: Real is pissing me off for not coming up with their long-promised G2 Linux client, as is Microsoft with their Media Player; I can live with MP3, though sound quality is often a GIGO proposition (world-class encoders are a must, ideally Free ones); I haven't tried KDE (I'm a minimalist mwm person), but I think the C++ orientation (and OpenParts) is great, and I detest the GNOME/KDE flamewars; I have great hopes for the K7, and will probably get a dual-K7 mobo once they go to the .18-micron process; I tend not to upgrade my distros until the need for a bunch of library upgrades becomes crucial.

    OK? I've skimmed the topics. I would be repeating myself, or lamely seconding the posts of others, if I were to post a bunch of comments on those topics. Meanwhile, this "Hellmouth" scam (for in Katz's hands, it has become little more than that) seems much more Matter-ful, especially since I believe the general response to it to be as awful as the mainstream cluelessness about "geeks, goths, nerds, and outsiders".

    Today is World Press Freedom Day, a freedom that we in the West take for granted, even as that freedom often seems bogus amidst the deluge of pablum like that purveyed by the likes of Katz and his peers; tomorrow we commemorate those people slain in WWII, not just soldiers, but Jews, Gypsies, Communists, Christians, dissenters -- people who really were different, not for wearing mascara, or playing Quake, or consuming the latest Maverick/Interscope/MCA/Dreamworks product.

    People who actually stood for something have actually had Big Substantive Evil visited upon them, just for being different, or for protesting against injustice. We have, at least in the case of WWII, taken up arms to liberate some of those people, to "make the world safe for democracy", and all that. Nowadays, we just ignore them, or call them all sorts of names, or make them strawmen for stump speeches and campaign-fundraising mass-mailings, or pass laws against them, or make fun of them -- there was an earlier post about what it's like to be an Arab-American; I think he just gave us the tip of a nasty iceberg. And you can't be bothered to even register and log in, much less offer a decent argument.

    Do you want to do something to protest the Cuban Embargo? Or protest against the use of depleted-uranium Lite Nukes in Iraq and Serbia? Or fight for the rights of Third World garment workers to unionize and collectively-bargain for the chance to make more than 10-45/hr? Do you want to organize boycotts against those corporations that coerce people into permanent sweatshop slavery? (No, because you probably benefit from that cheap labor, though I suspect that it's not that simple.) Do you want to write letters to editors challenging a wide variety of FUD? Do you want to write your representatives, urging them to free Leonard Peltier, or grant amnesty to those people imprisoned because of the War on Some Drugs? There's plenty of outcasts out there that we've criminally ignored, and I suspect we'll continue to ignore them long after the hangovers of Katzdot's Hellmouth Toga Party.

    Disclaimer: Typed quickly; all spelling mistakes and errors in logic left intact.

    --

  • ...and I won't make a dime off of it.

    Read this [slashdot.org], and this [slashdot.org], and this [slashdot.org]; hopefully I didn't botch the links. In light of a big ol' world out there, full of violences in which we ourselves are often the bullies. Katz's message is self-aggrandizing bullshit (however noble his original intentions, it has long passed the level of trite and obscene), and we do little to advance much of anything by being self-congratulatory or all-of-a-sudden "shocked" into "aware"-ness about the plight of a relatively privileged few.

    "The great triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth." -- Aldous Huxley
    If we remain ignorant of the general violence and suffering out there, while obsessing over this particular Hellmouth, what really have we gained? If we lament the sins without lamenting the sins of omission that this media circus is all about, what really have we gained?

    --

  • I've met many who've been able to buy into conformity, both mainsteam and counter-culture. I have yet to meet someone who could buy their way out of non-conformity. It just doesn't follow. You don't decide to be a misfit. Others decide for you. In a nutshell, that's what we've been talking about.

    Ask Katz about his generation, and those who cut their hair, changed their clothes, and were "Clean for Gene" in 1968. What about Bill Clinton, who shaved his beard and donned suits in order to "work within the system". There's lots of grownups who look aghast when they see old high-school pictures, just as today's green-haired or black-mascara'd or omnipierced kids will look aghast when they look back at their current selves. Plenty of people buy their way into conformity; there's been former Flower Children who have become corporate disinfo people for scum like Nike. Plenty of people "sell out", even to the point of wearing it as a badge of honor.

    Yes, there's "bigger fish to fry" out there, and we should "think globally, act locally". More importantly, you'd think that all this commisserating would lead to a greater awareness of those around the world who are bullied in one way or another -- that it would lead to a sense of the bigger picture, and maybe lead to some energy directed towards it, instead of a feel-good exercise in stress-testing /.'s server. But I get from all these posts no notion of that, no notion that anyone's interested in changing their backyards, much less the world, and no realization that we middle-class geeks, too, are bullies when we buy into the demonization of our domestic poor, or when we let our tax dollars get spent on clamping overseas dissent, or when those tax dollars are used to create "collateral damage", or when we cheer union-busting activity domestically and overseas, or even when we buy a pair of Air Jordans or a Disney action figure. If only one person had said "I vow never to be a bully in any way, shape, or form", I'd feel a little better about Katz's charade. But no one did. And in that apathy lies the seed of another generation of nerds and geeks and outsiders being schoolyard victims, because that apathy will probably be passed down to our offspring. So be it; the enemy continues to be us. Nothing to see here...

    --

  • In the interest of saving my busy fingers from typing, here's a copy-and-paste from higher up the page.
    ...you'd think that all this commisserating would lead to a greater awareness of those around the world who are bullied in one way or another -- that it would lead to a sense of the bigger picture, and maybe lead to some energy directed towards it, instead of a feel-good exercise in stress-testing /.'s server. But I get from all these posts no notion of that, no notion that anyone's interested in changing their backyards, much less the world, and no realization that we middle-class geeks, too, are bullies when we buy into the demonization of our domestic poor, or when we let our tax dollars get spent on clamping overseas dissent, or when those tax dollars are used to create "collateral damage", or when we cheer union-busting activity domestically and overseas, or even when we buy a pair of Air Jordans or a Disney action figure. If only one person had said "I vow never to be a bully in any way, shape, or form", I'd feel a little better about Katz's charade. But no one did. And in that apathy lies the seed of another generation of nerds and geeks and outsiders being schoolyard victims, because that apathy will probably be passed down to our offspring. So be it; the enemy continues to be us. Nothing to see here...
    I have no problem with the venting; I just object to the blinkered-ness of the whole thing; this is so hermetically-sealed as to be laughable. I guarantee you that nothing will be accomplished from all this, once the smoke clears and the hype fades.

    --

  • ...not really; I wasn't even born yet.

    Apathy is not the problem (IMHO); figuring out what to do to help, is an issue to discuss. Which is a question Katz does not seem to have addressed. Is this one of the sources of your hostility toward him?

    The hostility comes from exasperation toward the media in general in this whole episode. If I give Katz a hard time, it's because I take the time to read him (and I actually like him, believe it or not), and maybe because I hold him to a higher standard than I hold the people in his old milieux.

    To borrow a line from Thomas Merton, one that I think Katz might be familiar with, for all the good that may have come out of all this, Katz fails to hold up the mirror and give any of us the sense of being the "guilty bystander in a turbulent, desperate, cynical and violent world". We all have blood on our hands from Littleton, but no one with the audience to hear such a message will even come close to saying anything like that. The persecuting and harassment of geeks comes from all of us, geeks included. Eric Harris wrote "I am the law, if you don't like it you die. If I don't like you or I don't like what you want me to do, you die"; I maintain that he had lots of hatred and violence in him long before he was ever embroiled in the intramural warfare of the school grounds (IMHO). The society that can bully Yugoslavia by impossible demands at Rambouillet and via smart bombs in the air and by keeping the press on a short leash at home is the society that has lots of violences, large and small, physical, social, and psychological, coursing through its veins. If we can't start dealing with that, then we're all just a bunch of Gasbags here.

    --

  • In Other News...

    Eighteen people were murdered by Indonesian troops in the province of Aceh; we won't really know if they were murdered or if the troops were acting in self-defense, since the likes of CNN don't give these things wall-to-wall coverage. I do know that Indonesian governments ("it was self-defense, honest") have had a tendency to be compulsive liars. The people of Aceh are really different (the BBC describes it as "a staunchly Muslim province"); Aceh wants a referendum on independence, much like the one being proposed for East Timor (unfortunately in the latter case, many potential "Yes" voters have been murdered by Indonesian troops -- and their expensive American weaponry -- over the past quarter-century). You want Hellmouth? There's Hellmouth for you. I can grab a bunch of past and current headlines that trump your little Hellmouth, folks. Funnily enough, a lot of you could have banded together to stop them from being Hellmouths. But you're all too busy buying mass-produced products that make you "different". Meanwhile, the blood of Archbishop Romero is on your hands; the bruises and welts on the bodies of countless people -- political prisoners, democracy advocates, union organizers; people who are really different and trying to make a difference -- are on your hands. Some babies in the US have died, because welfare "reform" made it next to impossible to get them the nutrition and health care necessary to live to a ripe young age; some of you may have voted for the pols who made this "reform" a priority.

    Where's your outrage? Where was your outrage? Nonexistent, apparently. You really are a bunch of commodity-besotted sheep. You can tell me all sorts of things about Brian Warner, a certain prequel, SPECint readings, polygons, and other corporate-commodity minutiae, but when real shit is going down in the Big Room, you're all amazingly silent. Except for one extremely regrettable and overhyped incident in Colorado. Shame on you, and shame on Katz, who must be hoping the hype will still have some juice when his next Geek Book is published.

    --

  • I don't think anyone's trying to say being different automatically makes you better. They're just trying to say it doesn't automatically make you worse.

    I believe someone said it best with these words: "We are all born individuals - why is it so many of us die copies?" (paraphrased from memory)

    Also, Littleton might not have happened if it weren't for the "conformists" who think you're not worth anything if you don't conform to their idea of what is good and right. Try that on for size.
  • No, they (the US) just like to air out their
    hysteria and paranoia in the press. E.g. i
    suspect the german way to handle this would be
    to quietly keep notes on who to blame the next
    time they need someone to jump on.
  • > Anything Non-conformist: The parents,
    > teachers, school administration, etc. are mostly
    > of the Baby Boomer era. They were non-conformists.

    I don't think so. More likely the non-conformist boomers would have gone on to better things. Note that none of the encouragement messages are telling geeks to persevere, so that they can one day become teachers and principals.

  • Doesn't matter what the reasons for starting now are. You have to start somewhere, and it rarely is at the first sign of trouble. Maybe since we missed the boat already we should just give up, hmm?
  • Your mental clutch is slipping.

    What good is "conforming" to the norms of society when you're rejected and spat upon anyway.

    You can still join the football team, or wear Abercrombie & Finch-wear, and be 2 feet shorter than the rest, or have zits, or talk funny, or just plain not be interested in top-40's music, etc.

    Many weirdos just want to be that way, many others TRIED to follow the lame advice you're posing and "fit in", and still were not accepted. So you see, for some there simply IS no choice. But the most important thing is - there SHOULD be a choice. Just because someone dresses, acts, or plays differently, doesn't give any self-rightous conformist the right to tease and cajole.
  • Bullshit.

    Some people ARE born different. Whether they choose to TRY to "fit in" and act normal, or whether they go Goth, or Punk, or Zep-hed, or whatever, is nobody else's free ticket to abuse!

    Yes - I do agree that "different" folks DO need counselling. But COMPETENT counselling. Not the kind of counselling I've heard stories about here where they ask you if you play Doom, and suspend you if you say yes. They don't need counselling about their behaviors. They probably need counselling to help them come to grips with the assinine way everyone ELSE is behaving. And THAT is probably what happened to your poor Zep-hed burnout friends. Maybe if you and your wrestling buddies hadn't treated them like such assholes, they might be useful and productive members of society right now. Maybe dress different, maybe fix your email server. . .

    Or, you could let them self-destruct, let your email server self-destruct, and go watch the game.

    Your choice.
  • I think that perhaps there IS a choice about homosexuality, and that's whether a gay person chooses to be outwardly so.

    A gay person can act "straight", and sure, that's probably how they acted for centuries before society started to accept the "openly" gay.

    Whether the trappings of the "openness" are whistling at construction workers, wearing women's clothing, or a swishy walk (or any of the other stereotypes) - again, is not anybody's free ticket to invite abuse.
  • You wanna know the difference between schools on one side of that district from the other?

    Check the property values of the houses.

    I bet a 3-bedroom near the nicer school costs 20% more than a 3-bedroom near the shabby one.
  • Um. On the subject of heaven. Nowhere in the ten commandments are video games mentioned.

  • "You are sheep - a different breed of sheep, but sheep nonetheless"

    That's a given, but it's not the point. Whether a person gets into the whole "goth" scene, or stay's clean-cut, or grows long hair, or wears a pocket protector isn't the point.

    The point is that they are "different".
    True - when I was in HS, I listened to Sex Pistols, Crass, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, but I NEVER dressed like a punk. Black leather was a bit beyond my economic means, and I realized that the punks were just as much conformists as the jocks. But the music spoke to me, probably in the same way as Bauhaus speaks to today's goths, and even though they're a conformist subculture, on the large scale, they're just like me. Weirdos. And their enemies were always society's "in-crowd". The "normals". The popular kids.

    The point that they have chosen a differnt mode of conformity is pretty obvious, and I think it speaks volumes, and at the same point, is insignificant.
  • I wouldn't call Manson pretty either - but GG Allin does have some prior art here.
  • I was an "underachiever" too.

    I wonder why a good percentage of "us" were also underachievers. We even got rejected by "the smart kids" - the kids that got good grades.

    Actually, the smart kids in my HS that I hung out with the first two years all got sent out to a special school (Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy). That's when the REAL isolation started, because I never got good grades. I still don't understand why.

    The other story I've heard that others have related was how teachers would get so MAD at me for getting A's on their tests, though I didn't do any homework. One teacher sat me down and said that though, by my average, I deserved a C, she was going to fail me because "I'll be damned if I'm going to pass a student in my class that has done NO homework, just because they ace all the tests." Bitch.
  • I'm beginning to wonder if it's gotten worse since I was in high school. Though I may have had a unique experience - in class, I hung out with the "academic overacheivers", and outside of class I hung out with the misfits (rpg'ers, computer gamers, drama club, etc.). I got taunted by the jocks occasionally, but overall I had a good time in high school & would go back. (FYI, I graduated HS in 1989).

    Are things really that much worse today? Or was I just very lucky?
  • "Many journalists, parents, educators and politicians chose to blame the Net and computer games rather than face the much more complex and unwelcome messages coming from Littleton."

    Well said.

    "Some of these stories from Slashdot.org ultimately were broadcast via MSNBC.com, ABCnews.com and Cnn.com and NPR and are being quoted in influential newspapers; they continue to circulate. Sunday, the San Jose Mercury reprinted "Voices From the Hellmouth" on the front page of its opinion section..."

    That's a refreshing change. Shashdot is usually quoting those sources, rather than the other way around. Maybe we'll start to see a shift here as Slashdot slowy starts to become a first tier news outlet. Then again, maybe not. (?)

    Anyway, good luck to you geeks that are still in school. Been there, done that.

    -Derek
  • These series of articles, and the replies on Slashdot are like a breath of fresh air!!!

    Yes, there's some diversity in opinion (which is wonderful), but there's none of the spite, hate and violence I've seen on other boards discussing the same thing.

    Places as different as Salonmagazine and MSNBC's boards are predominantly inhabited by people seriously advocating fixing the violence by being increasingly violent, abusive and discriminating against their own kids and other people's.

    Kids learn what they're taught. If a kid is taught that might make right, that if someone disagrees with you that you SHOULD inflict suffering, that anger is best served explosively, then that is the behaviour they are going to show.

    If you throw in verbal and physical abuse, isolation, neglect and blaming the victim, you end up with someone with a LOT of pent-up, built-up anger and hate.

    Add easy access to weapons & explosives, toss in a pinch of Hollywood shoot-out glamour, throw in some questionably-prescribed drugs that those responsible are all but panic-stricken in their need to deny any possible connection, and there isn't the money in the world that could pay me to walk within a million miles of the place.

    Frankly, it terrifies me that so many people WANT their schools, households and kids to be about as stable and secure as nitroglycerine ducks in a shooting gallery.

  • Teachers have always been crazy. I've known plenty of teachers who have had severe rage problems, several from when I was in primary school.

    (Would you stick a cancer-ridden, dying teacher with an uncontrollable temper and nothing left to fear in absolute control of a class of 30 6 year olds? It was unthinkable to do otherwise, 20 years ago.)

    Kidsd have also always been crazy. Suicides amongst kids in primary and secondary schools is very high in many countries, PRIMARILY because of school violence. This has been true, again, AT LEAST the past 20 years, probably longer. In the US, I suspect suicides are slightly lower than in Europe, as the kids can obtain firearms or high explosives and retaliate instead.

    A Goth is someone into the whole "gothic" sub-culture. If someone dresses in black, has white make-up, has a depressed outlook, and listens to "Sisters of Mercy" at full volume, there's a good chance the person is at least a little bit gothic.

    If kids didn't learn in their households the principles of "trial by combat", "survival of the most sadistic", "might makes right", and "if you disagree with me, I'll beat the living daylights out of you", they probably wouldn't be attracted to games where THEY get to play the Sadistic Ogre.

    Why would they? If they'd not had that drummed into them, from day one, games like Doom would rapidly become boring, ho-hum and pointless. They wouldn't have anything to relate to.

    I believe you're right that there is a relationship, but I think it's the reverse of the one that's normally drawn, IMHO -- real-life violence and trauma create a market for virtual violence, not the other way round. But that's just my opinion.

  • Maybe they've been reading the Fortune Cookie one too many times. (Vote Anarchy!)
  • >And how is society supposed to prevent future Littleton tragedies if they can't single out people who they suspect may have problems.

    Erp! Well, one might start by doing their own parenting, instead of letting the TV raise their children.

    I think that TV and movies are to blame only when they're used as a substitute for raising your children.

    I beleive that its a parent's responsability to give their children the tools to make the right decisions so that when faced with adversity they can react without turning to violence etc.

    When we have a society of people capable of behaving properly, we will all be able to express our individuality without having to worry about being singled out as someone who is going to start shooting up their school.

    Millions of people have been listening to wierd music, dressing differently, and playing socialy unacceptable games for many many years. Now that two people that happen to fit that description go psycho, the whole world seems out to get anyone with different tastes.

    I think that going against social principals just to be different is kinda dumb, but I also refuse to change my behaviour because its not socially accecptable.

  • This whole story makes me think about the pink floyd movie the wall alot. The poem up there is a perfect example. They have built up thier wall and are now "comfortably numb". The problem isnt the geeks are listening to the wrong music, everyone else is, they would have realised this would happen if they listened to pink floyd :)
  • After all who really wants to be just "another brick in the wall."
    I am propably going too far with this, but im wondering why you are saying it that way. Read the poem above, it seems like the people picking on that person were bricks in the wall. Also, maybe the people who pick on others, and try to be the same, just use this as thier own wall. If anyone is interested in talking about this stuff contact me (through efnet irc). There is so much in the wall that explains what happened here.
  • Judged by their ability alone? Possibly in .nl... but not by any means here in .us. People are certainly judged less by appearance. But I think that we are judged by our peers even more so than in high school. He's a mechanical engineering major? Obviously a gearhead with no abstract thinking skills. She's in dental hygiene? Valley girl.

    And it gets worse after college. This "egalitarian" society is more socially stratified, in some ways, than many feudal societies of the past.
  • How large is your school? I see less of it at my college (3000 students) than I would at the University of Oregon (30,000 students). If you've got a small student body where you are forced to get to know a lot of people from different majors, I'd bet that makes a big difference.
  • Your followup is better, but...

    ...but what harm is there in having them talk to a couseler?

    To what end? About the only thing a decent counseler can do is make it clear that with choice come repurcusstins: if you choose to be different, then you will alienate many with which you might otherwise wish to associate. If the freedom to be yourself is worth such a price, then there is nothing wrong with you. Some, however, are not quite ready or willing to pay this price for their individuality, and help understanding this consequence is welcome.

    However, this i not what many counselers do: they try to force you to fit in. Worse, some may harass you even after you have chosen to be different and accept any resulting alienation.

    Kids who are beaten do not need counseling - they need to have the same rights in the security of the person respected as any adult.

    The counceler should be competant enough to sort out which kids merely "look different" and which ones are truly disturbed and need help.

    And what form should this help take? Learning to fit in? Or, security from battery? You don't need a counseler for that, you need rights and the power to back them up, hopefully vested in a trusted third party. There is no such third party available to many battered kids, and, in such circumstances, using force, deadly if necessary, against their batterers, is perfectly justified. Where there is no law, it is perfectly acceptable to take it into one's own hands (and avoiding this is one of the reasons to have law in the first place). Unfortulately, abuse often leads to misperceptions about who one's abusers are. This does not justify simply countering the dangers of such misperception, but, if anything, is a stronger incentive to counter the abuse in the first place: you can't blame a crazy person for being crazy.

    You are born a jew, you are born black, these are not lifestyle choices. One is not born a Goth, one is not born with body-piercings all over ones body, etc.

    Ah, the old "nature vs. nurture" debate. Tell me, are some peopleborn gay, or do they become gay? honestly, I don't think we know. But, people are born with the capacity to choose, and the fact that they do should, by itself, not be a reason to deprive them of their rights.
  • As someone who was sent to a counselor in grade school for being "too detached", I can say that the counselor did not try to force me to conform, she was more concerned with finding out why I was the way I was.

    Then, perhaps your experience was atypical.

    It all depends on the choices you make. Just because one has the ability to make choices doesn't guarantee that all choices will be good ones, IE the choice to harm others.

    There is a difference between harming others, and dressing differently, or having different interests.

    My question to you would be, if a child makes the choice to become a skinhead, and adopts the racist views that go with it, should we as a society say, "Aw look, little Johnny has decided to express his individuality!", or should we attempt to do something?

    If the racism is passive, i.e. not wanting to associate with those of a different race, wishing that he could join exclusionary organizations, I say go ahead (build your little enclave, you dumbsh*t). I honestly think that racism would be less of a problem if passive discrimination were legal. Surprisingly, a vast percentage of those that have suffered active racial discrimination that I have met agree with me on this: the dufus standing on a street corner yelling "nigger", "kike", or "honky" isn't a threat (though that tests the limits of what I consider passive). It's the guy who says he doesn't discriminate and then does (defrauding you in the process) that's evil.

    Once you get into active racism, hate mongering, and racially motivated violence, you've got another issue.

    I've encountered "skinheads" who's racist views run the gamut from passive avoidance to active hatred. You generally can't tell them apart by looking. Furthermore, I've seen the same distribution of racist tendencies in people that look perfectly normal. At least with skinheads, they don't pretend to hide their unpopular views. At some level, I have to respect such honesty.
  • Except it is "normal" (as in like most other people) to be born heterosexual. Therefore it is natural to question why someone is not "normal".

    Of course, if they aren't harming you, why not leave them alone?
  • by Rene S. Hollan (1943) on Monday May 03, 1999 @08:43AM (#1906365)
    The point missed here is that while "evil and violent" does imply "different", the converse, that "different" implies "evil and violent" is not necessarily true. Unfortunately, the powers that be apparantly never took a course in logic.

    The U.S. was built upon some pretty important principles, one being that one is innocent until proven guilty. Supposedly, before investigating and othewise violating someone's private life, one should have reasonable suspicion or, after the fact, probable cause. There's a reason why the police are supposed to get a search warrant before searching someone's property. Looking different isn't enough.

    Your line of thinking is frighteningly close to how Hitler managed to strip Jews of their basic rights, and kill them by the millions -- with the help of Goebels (minister of propaganda), he innundated the population with true stories in the media of Jewish rapists, murderers, thieves. (We tend to do the same thing with non-whites, sadly) To simply be Jewish was now enough reason to "investigate" and act.
  • by Ray Dassen (3291) on Monday May 03, 1999 @08:27AM (#1906369) Homepage
    It's a pet theory of mine that the biggest impact of telecommunications, and the net in particular, will be cultural.

    In the past, one's culture depended to a very large degree on one's physical place. The net is changing this, and allows us to find our own cultures (yes, plural), independent of our geographical location and "real world" culture. Not a global village with a monoculture, but a bazaar of cultures/communities.

    This need not necessarily be a good thing (think of suicidal cults), but the Hellmouth discussions show that it can be. The net is a place where we can go beyond the grief this tragedy caused, and where we can force each other to search our souls, not just to ask "What went wrong?" and "Who/what can we blame this on" but also "What can we learn from this?".

    I'd like to thank everyone who contributed to the Hellmouth discussions and thereby helped the "real" world show that the net is a home for communities.

  • Repression is what happened to my Jewish grandparents in Poland. Somebody hurt your feelings???? Oh, how sad - if you ever meet up with real repression you'll hopefully wake up in time to fight and realize what a silly ass whiner you are now

    For one thing, some of us were in fact physically attacked, even threatened with deadly weapons, in high school...do we have to die in concentration camps before we're worthy of your condescension???

    For another thing, repression always begins with nonviolent taunts and ostracism before it grows into beatings, deaths, and pogroms.

    Lastly, even if we suffer from nothing worse than simple injustice, loss of rights, and emotional abuse, that is worthy of compassion all by itself, even if it doesn't compare with the agony and plight of others in still worse conditions.

    Your lack of sympathy does you no credit; it's attitudes like that which contribute to the problem. Perhaps you're a high school principal...hopefully not, but still I'm reminded of the aphorism "if you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem." You could at least be compassionate.

  • by [null] (4156) on Monday May 03, 1999 @08:54AM (#1906372)
    I apologize for posting this now instead of earlier in the Hellmouth series, but it was terribly long and I didn't want it at the last page of 300 comments where few people travel. Yes, it's really long and just reiterates all the stuff you've heard until you get towards the bottom half.

    As an avid Slashdot reader, former high school and now college) student, and self-confessed Geek I feel compelled to give you the my viewpoints. I have been mostly speechless as most of the articles and comments from my fellow Slashdot readers have essentially said most of what I feel. However I must express some of my own viewpoints.

    The fallout of the shootings in Littleton have lead many to attempt to find any explanation as to how such an event could occur. Many are blaming anything that they can tie to the killers. Trenchcoats, Quake, Marilyn Manson, the Internet, Hitler, and anything non-conformist all are being blamed. This is very ironic. Let us examine these closely.

    Trenchcoats: Now some people would have you believe that wearing a trenchcoat automatically makes you someone who will shoot up anything. This is ironic because if you examine it closely, your officers of the peace and armed forces have trenchcoats as part of the standard uniform. And these are people carrying guns as their job. I don't see them shooting up everything in sight without orders.

    Quake: this is the classic "blame violence for causing violence" issue. Does this mean if I watch the news and they show a protest in Israel, fighting in Kosovo, or footage of the civil rights marches of the 1960's that I will go shoot people? I don't think so. Actually, the effect of so much violence being shown by the media leads to the viewers being desensitized.

    Marilyn Manson: The same people who listened to rock in the 60's (who are now the parents of the children listening to Mariliyn Manson) are doing the exact thing their parents did to them. They blame the music for their kids being disobedient. How hypocritical.

    The Internet: The Internet is at fault for providing the killers with bomb plans? Excuse me. I believe there is another place where you can find everything you need to know about building a bomb. It is your local library. I do believe Abbie Hoffman wrote one book with bomb plans in it, and there is the _Anarchist's Cookbook_ too, along with everything from chemistry books to books on the physics of the atomic bomb. The Internet only makes it faster to find what you are looking for.

    Hitler: I believe it was reported by an NBC affiliate that one of the killer's mothers was Jewish, or at least had Jewish roots. Strange. Also, the people who are acting anything like Hitler are the people segregating anyone resembling a profile of the killers and forcing them to be ostracizied. They're rounding them up into internment camps and re-education facilities they call "counseling" and "therapy sessions", or they exile them from school to keep all the other "good" children safe.

    Anything Non-conformist: The parents, teachers, school administration, etc. are mostly of the Baby Boomer era. They were non-conformists. They had Woodstock, they experimented with drugs, and they didn't conform to what their parents wanted. Suddenly the people who didn't conform to what their parents wanted expect their children to conform to what they want?

    A Geek Life Story

    I had a rough time in school from the start. Both my parents worked. My dad worked various shifts, and my mom worked mainly 3p to 11p 5 days a week. We lived in the bad part of the Port Clinton, Ohio. In the Port Clinton area, you can go from a $500,000 view of Lake Erie from a cliff to less than $300 apartments in duplexes built as temporary housing for troops in World War II that were meant to be destroyed after the war. My parents encouraged me to learn. We sacrificed cable TV, good clothes, and everything else for books and educational stuff. We got our first computer in 1990. Things got better for us by misfortune. My father was in three auto accidents, one in 1984 when I was 6, one in 1986 (IIRC), and one in 1989. From the total of the three accidents he is partially paralized, suffers loss of short term memory, has severe muscle spasms, thoracic outlet syndrome, and a host of other ailments. This set the stage for me to grow up with an even bigger division between my classmates and I. I had a father who was working to pay the bills, in constant pain, and unable to do the normal fatherly things like teaching his son how to throw and catch a football or baseball. My mother worked full-time to pay the bills. There were doctor bills, lawyer bills, insurance bills, everything. My parents fought to get the insurance companies to pay on their policies and pay the bills. They finally reached a good settlement which allowed us to move into a good neighborhood, wear good clothes, have a satellite dish, and live the "average" middle-class life depicted in the media and television. "Oh boy!" I thought. I had been a subject of ridicule since about third grade. I was always called "very bright" by teachers. I never fit in with the other students though, because I couldn't play their games (not knowing the rules and how to kick or throw a ball) and I would always get praise from the teacher, causing jealousy and anger in my classmates because it was demonstrated that I was smarter than them. I got ridiculed, but I actually got attention, something I didn't get at home. I seized on it. I became a class clown. They put me into a Talented and Gifted program where I had fun and learned things instead of being bored in class. I didn't get along well with the other people in there because I played class clown. I didn't know how to make friends. People learned my father was handicapped and made fun of him. I couldn't do anything. I was like this until high school, where I finally snapped and started defending myself. I had enough of a certain group of sophomores and older picking on me in gym class. I started poking fun of them when they started taunting me, and one day it came to a head where I saw the group enter the locker room in a mass. I just turned to ignore them, and they came around me and one of them punched me hard right in the back. I jumpped up on the bench and laid into the kid all over the head. His buddies drug me out to the teacher and told her I attacked this kid, and I told her he attacked and I defended myself, and please let's take this down to the principal. It went to the principal where I was told that I would be seeing ten days of out of school suspension. I told the principal that any policy where someone is punished for defending themself was unfair, and that I would gladly take it to the school board and an attorney if I needed to. Needless to say I wasn't punished. As a result of this though, people didn't mess with me as much. We would trade insults but not much else. However I wasn't still in the "in" group because by then I saw the "in" group for what they are: materialistic, superficial people with bad values and morals. I decided that I didn't have to get perfect grades or wear $50 jeans or cheer the school on. During this period I contemplated many different acts of violence against my classmates or my teachers or the administraton, or even myself. I thought regularly about suicide. I attempted it several times. I survived long enough to graduate. I did think about getting a GED; however, the even though you can't be discriminated for having a GED it still carries certain stigmata.

    What Happened After High School?

    I'm at a university in south-eastern Ohio reknowned for its party and riot reputation, surrounded by more of the same people. I realized that last quarter. I'm not doing too well in my classes either. The difference between the people here and the people in high school is that the people here realized whether I graduate or not, I will likely end up being paid and worth more than they are. They ask me for computer help, they actually try to integrate me into their social activities, and they respect me more than the people in high school did. I am still emotionally scarred from my time in primary and secondary school though. I have been to several counsellors, psychiatrists, and I currently take 20mg of Prozac a day. I had one brief relationship which broke up badly because I did not feel adequate nor was I actually adequate for my significant other, and I had nothing to guide me in the relationship, since I had no experience. I have only a few things in my life that make it tolerable. Right now my father is fighting to keep working, since his employer (an automotive systems coroporation recently made wholly separate from a large US automaker) and the union he is a member of (a union for people in the automobile indusrty) are discriminating against him because he wants a policy of their changed because it is discriminatory. Remind yourself that he is legally handicapped. (You may not like the term, but that's what it says on the blue and white tag that gets him front-row parking in most places.) He now has some idea of what life was like for me. He really wants to continue working there but the people there want him out because he didn't sit down and shut up and conform. If he loses his job, quits his job, or takes disability from them, he effectively can't make enough to help put my sister and I through college, and he doesn't have job skills for the current job market nor can he pass a physical to get a job. He takes his anger out on the rest of the family, and we understand why he does this. We're waiting for more information from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to get back with decisions on how to handle these matters. That's where things are for now.

    What's Ahead?

    I am doing something that I want to do. I run LilithFair.org [lilithfair.org] (not the official site in case you didn't catch the .org) and while it's been a pain in the butt it's something that I have hope for. I'm doing it in part because I sort of owe my life to Sarah McLachlan and other singing women. It's kind of my outlet and my stress relief to listen to that music rather than rap, R&B, or a group of screaming boys jumping around. I'd like to get a job as an administrator for the summer at least, if not for the next year if someone offers. I'll be happy to take a year off from college. I'd like to be part of Lilith 99. I'd bust my butt for them in exchange for food and a place to sleep for 4-6 hours. Happily. (Okay so I'm weird.)

    What the Heck Should I Get Out of This?

    * Some people have it harder than you (I didn't intend this to make a flood of personal hardship stories, but just an example to try to cheer up some people who think they have it bad).

    * Maybe sometimes hauling off and decking someone might be a Good Thing (okay this is debatable).

    * Find something to have hope in. Find something to put your anger towards. Don't lose hope!

    I'm not afraid to stand up and say I'm James Turinsky. If someone has a problem with it that's too bad. Feel free to reduce/recycle/reuse any part of this if you tack my name and my e-mail address general@LilithFair.org [mailto] on it. Feel free to e-mail me. Feel free to ICQ me at #20441490. I have nothing to be afraid or ashamed of.
  • So conformity is a good thing? A one nation world? A one Operating System computing platform?
    That is what your arguement is sounding like.

    Einstein was "different".
    Socrates was "different".
    Jimi Hendrix was "different".
    Linux Torvaldes is "different". (grin)

    The problem with stereotyping the way people act with the way people look is that there will always be people who break the stereotype.

    What does conformity accomplish? If everything is the same -- what changes -- where do new trends come from -- where do we evolve mentally and as a society?

    There should always be a conflict , someone rocking the boat and changing the norm. Stagnation accomplishes nothing. If it was not for being "different", new ideas would not be as plentiful.

    You can't single out "suspects" of who is going to strike next. It could be anyone, it could be an honors student who snapped because he didn't study for a test and failed it and it ruined his GPA. It could be a kid who has mental problems. It could be a teacher whose wife just left him. It could be a principal who just can't take it anymore. Looking for people because of how they look is making the innocent out to be guilty. Last time I checked in the United States the law was "innocent until proven guilty". (I can't speak for other countries)

    I see the weak point you are trying to make that if you dress differently then you should expect criticism. And I think the problem here is lack of respect....if I dress differently why should you disrespect me? Because I am different from you? That is no reason to disrespect someone, that just causes more problems and seperation.

    The attitude is not "people who look and act differently are superior" no one is claiming superiority, all anyone wants is equality. That's like saying defending women's liberation is being "anti-male and pro-female domination". We should have the right to express ourselves in any manner (which does not hurt others) and not be condemned for it. The attitude is not "we are better"; the attitude is "you are not any better/worse".

    Derek
    http://www.reject.org/
    "It's so easy to defend the status-quo" -nofx
  • by Vertigo1 (5415) on Monday May 03, 1999 @08:17AM (#1906376) Homepage
    Jon Katz is to be commended. I the recent past I have not always agreed with him, but this time I do. This has gone on long enough. Enough is enough and it's time for a change. A social revolution is at hand. The lurkers from down below have risen to the challenge before them, and are taking a stand at being themselves. Don't be a cardboard cutout of a pattern that was designed by someone. Be yourself and revel in your own accomplishments. After all who really wants to be just "another brick in the wall."

    my two and a half cents....
    Me!
  • by Komodo (7029) on Monday May 03, 1999 @11:05AM (#1906383) Homepage
    On the one hand, we are all responsible for the world we live - we made it, and we have to live with it.

    But your last comment - that outcasts do it to themselves - is exactly the fascist attitude that breeds paranoia and violence. It is backwards logic to assume that people who are maladjusted made it that way on purpose. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

    The shooters in Littleton made their choice. The rest of the wierd world should not be made to suffer for it.
  • by chialea (8009) <chialea@@@gmail...com> on Monday May 03, 1999 @10:11AM (#1906390) Homepage
    Done what to ourselves? Yes, we chose to be different, but we did NOT choose to be abused, harrassed, or beaten. The reaction to our personalities comes soley from the environment. I am living proof of this. I am the same person, to a large degree, as I was in middle school. (except no longer depressed... and that grew from my treatment there) In one school I was made fun of and avoided because I could program, and far worse, I was female. What girl/woman is expected to program, let alone beat the guys at it -- or math or science or anything else? Several YEARS later I found friends -- people, almost exclusively -- who had moved from other states or countries where the rules that prevailed there did not loom so darkly. We weren't beaten like other geeks might have been, but we were humiliated. Luckily for me, they did not hit girls, but that did not prevent them from throwing my books to the ground or stealing my possessions.

    Was I asking for any of this? Simply by being intelligent in unexpected areas, I was a misfit and worse.

    My family moved to CA, after far too long of this hell, and I went to a school were people were TOLERATED. Had I changed in those short months of the summer? No. But my environment had. No longer was school a living hell. Yes, it took me years to recover, but at least I was able to.

    So what did I do wrong? How was I asking for my treatment?

    Lea
  • And when you see these "different" kids, are they alone? No they are with a group of kids who look just like them, so they are conforming.
  • If anything, I'm for diversity in OSes, but I think you will even admit that not all OSes are ed equal.

    In the same way, not all lifestyle choices are equal, as I stated in another post, I grew up in the 80s, and had several friends who became "non conformists", and ended up destroying their lives with drugs, alcohol, crime, etc. I believe that there are definatly negative lifestyle choices, and I think anyone who is intellectually honest will have to agree with this statement.

    The problem is that our culture seems to be more and more buying into ethical relativism -- all choices are equal, there is no right and wrong, etc. I think this is going to bite us in the *ss more and more with tragedies such as Littleton.
  • by FreeUser (11483) on Monday May 03, 1999 @08:58AM (#1906410)
    After having read the "Hellmouth" series to date and the related /. discussions, I have to say this has been one of the most positive, refreshing uses of the net I have seen for some time. Aside from bringing back old, forgotten memories of just how difficult and painful high-school was (and thereby improving my own empathy for some of what kids are going through today), I think it has started us down the very necessary path of taking a hard look at some of the real dysfunctional aspects of our society.

    Some additional points (not very organized, but worth saying I think)

    * Things must change, else we'll see (much) more of the same. Children do not go mad in a vacuum, clearly something is very wrong, and it is high time we started looking at the causes with something greater than the hitherto superficial calousness and passing interest. Blame games and superfical pop-phychology are simply no longer acceptable.

    * The fact that "that's always the way it's been" is no excuse for not initiating change. Until 70 years ago war had always been considered a pretty good way of expanding one nation's influence, power, or wealth at the expense of others. While we still make war even today, very few think of it as anything other than a trajedy. 30 years ago racism was institutionalized in the US at every level, now, while racism still exists, most if not all would be very emberrassed to admit racist attitudes today. Two lessons come from these examples: (1) real progress is possibe and achievable, regardless of the length of history or lack of precedent preceeding it, BUT (2) real progress is almost always slow and painful, as evidenced by just how much work still needs to be done (vis a vis achieving a society in which war is unthinkable, and skin color is of no more, or no less, interest than hair or eye color). This is both a cause for hope and excitement, as well as a cautionary note to not place one's expectations too high, and to not grow too discouraged if ones expectations are not achieved right away.

    * The net has often been touted as a tool for social change. The "hellmouth" phenominon looks like the beginning of what could be a very powerful, very positive example of this, especially if it can bridge the communication gap between those of us who have suffered under the system as it currently is, and those who have the power to facilitate change. I find it incredibly reassuring that administrators, parents, and teachers are reading the comments on /. and taking them to heart. Maybe positive change will come during my lifetime, afterall.

    * "Open Source, Open Music, Open Thought, Open Minds." (Not my quote, but I'm happy to adopt/pirate it) The scientific paradigm (the open exchange of ideas which are then subject to peer review, discussion, and improvement without -- ideally -- preconcieved bias) is I believe the catalyst for this phenomenon. The net has made this paradigm available, even fundamental, to many outside of scientific circles. Like the printing press bringing literacy to the masses, the changes this will spark are nothing short of staggering. But IMHO the net is simply the medium, it is the "open thought" paradigm, finally given the means to reach a large percentage of humankind, that is the real force driving change.

    * Finally, please, please, if you're going to use MS Word, turn off "smart quotes"! Those non-ISO standard characters are displayed as question marks by those of us using non-windoze browsers, and they are really distracting!

  • The half-truth that I am referring to:

    > But I can't help but think that those of us who ever saw ourselves as outcasts have done it to ourselves.

    I am possibly taking this to mean something something beyond what the original poster meant, but this could so easily be extended to "outcasts are to blame for their own situation", and there is a point here that needs to be made.

    I'll speak from my own case, as that the best way to say this, and I suspect that my case is far from unique:

    I was bullied through my whole time at school, not necessarily for being a 'nerd' or a 'geek' but just for being 'different'.

    When I look back on it a few years later, I realize the rather unpleasant truth, that in some ways I had myself set up to be bullied. It was like a I created an invisible sign saying 'victim' that everyone else could see and I couldn't (btw, I certainly don't have that sign now). It's difficult to be specific, but there was something that made it obvious that I was a good target - I couldn't/wouldn't effectively hit back. So I can understand the idea that I did some of it to myself.

    BUT, and this is where the above is only a half truth, the fact that I was a 'victim' in absolutely no way excuses the victimization, and the system that permitted the victimization to happen for so long. I did not in any way 'deserve' to be bullied. I did in some ways make myself an outcast, but much of that was ways of trying to keep myself safe from further bullying, and the whole mess reinforced itself. I certainly did not intentionally set myself up as a victim, and the times that I was blamed for the situation did me a terrible disservice.

    This paragraph might be a little tasteless in the context of the recent shootings, but my one real regret from high school is that I let the bullies get away with it without effectively hitting back. (I suspect that if I said something like that as a student of an American school at the moment, I would be sent home pronto).

    I do agree strongly with 'Bucko's point that we need to be careful not to be part of the problem. It's not for being a 'nerd' or 'geek' that people are given a hard time - being different from the norm in whatever way is sufficient. Let's not forget that.

    Roy Ward.
  • by Bucko (15043) on Monday May 03, 1999 @08:25AM (#1906431)
    For nearly two weeks now the search for meaning and the search for culprits in this terrible event has led to -
    Well, where it's led has depended on who you read. And I find that "interesting" to say the least.
    Read Salon, it's the gays who are being blamed. Read the W. Post and it's the Goths, the Marylyn Manson fans and the Hitler Youth who get the blame. And let's not forget gun owners.
    Read SlashDot, and it's the Geeks who are blamed, except that they are blaming the jocks.
    Yeah, right. Who's kidding whom? You hurt someone, you're part of the problem. You pull the trigger, you're a big part of the problem. You point fingers, you're part of the problem too. And that includes the Geeks here, who don't seem to notice that they're doing-unto-others exactly what they say is being done to them.

    Yes, this is one big mess and the e-mails Jon Katz has shown all week us are compelling. But I can't help but think that those of us who ever saw ourselves as outcasts have done it to ourselves.

    J.
  • I was in a school system (Volusia County, Florida) where the policy was that the intelligent kids should, to some degree, be put in with the kids that don't do as well. The idea is that the intelligent ones will help the others. That couldn't be more wrong since the kids that need the help don't want it. That evil policy kept me from advancing quicker through math, and assured that 7th grade was *really* boring -- it covered nothing I hadn't already learned.

    BTW: Volusia county in Florida has a really messed up school system. It seems that one side of the county is favored -- it gets more money and its students can win the science fair. The other side, the Deltona end where I was, is shunned. My science fair projects on a C++ event driven GUI and on VR (complete with power glove & shutter glasses) always lost to a program that only lists data (real basic stuff) thats on a periodic table.

    There is a public school in North Carolina that is similar to the one in Toronto. Its a magnet school that houses the students, so only the chosen students attend. Its curiculum is rich on the science and math end of things. The school is in the resarch triangle area, where a lot of money can be found, along with Duke U.

    Of course, this won't stop jocks from harasing geeks. I think the only thing that will is strict punishment against them, and anyone else, for harrasing other students. Such a policy can make it difficult to avoid giving punishment to a student who is only defending him/her self.
  • When I see people who get into lifestyles that glorify nihilism, death, destruction, violence, just what is the cultural value?

    Uhmm isn't that sometimes called war (or football :-)? Also reminds me of the other students with such little minds that they had to gang up on a single small individual to prove that they were tough (animal pack mentality).

    Now I know what you are talking about and in a society packed onto a small planet (such as ours) you will always have such extremes. And making repairs to that way of thinking is necessary but the "geek" label has suddenly been swung around from the small, weak, coke bottle glass wearing, book worm to gun toting, suicidal, power mad dweeb. I've gone from being something that was loathed (why? because I am smart) to someone that must be corrected and brought into conformity before I wipe out society.

    What is beginning to bother me most is that I no longer have the right to decide what fits my life best. I'm told that I'm different because I don't watch television enough. I'm told I'm different because I don't drive my care enough. I'm told I'm different because I didn't spend enough money on my car. I'm told I'm different because I ride my bicycle too much. Well I've come to realize that I am different and I no longer care what others really think about me, I only care what I think about me (how I project myself to others). And if you take it to an extreme how far is it before conformity requires blond hair, blue eyes and fair skin?

    I don't sympathize with the 2 killers but do sympathize with their victims and all the people who are being label as dangerous without proof (wear a trench coat and you're going need councling) hey maybe we should outlaw trench coats as deadly weapons! (Sorry media frenzy and stupidity brings out the sarcasm in me).

    BTW: Since I've grown up (37 year old "computer enthusiast" (we used to be hackers but that's another thread...)) and I now exercise, manage my finances, I'm married, well educated and happier. I still do not understand why we (there are others like me) had to endure the hardships to get here. I won't hurt anyone, life is to short "smoke 'm if you've got 'm".

  • by Seth Scali (18018) on Monday May 03, 1999 @11:02AM (#1906451)
    I can't say as I agree.

    I attended a magnet school for a while in Florida. There were kids who were there because they had applied and were accepted, and those who were there because it happened to be their school district. The kids in the magnet program and the kids in the district were segregated like blacks and whites in the old south-- territories clearly marked, students kept in separate lines-- it was disgusting.

    The worst part was that nerds and geeks never got in trouble for what they did. I was part of the geek group, and I saw more injustice than I cared to see.

    I remember a geek and a "local" getting into a verbal battle. The local kid was rational, the geek wasn't. Needless to say, the geek took an intellectual whipping. He, however, didn't like losing to somebody "dumber" than him, so he landed a punch right across the non-geek kid's jaw. The non-geek, not wanting a fight, simply pushed the geek to the ground.
    The geek was at school the next day. The other kid wasn't at school for another two weeks.

    There are more stories I could tell. But why? Obviously, people seem to think that we can recitify the situation by reversing it.

    I hate to say it, but being a geek is ALWAYS going to be hard. "Geek" might not be the word the tormentors use, and the kids may just as easily be "greasers", but tormentors and tormentees will always exist in the hellish battle that is high school. The best we can do is to offer support to those who feel like there are little demons running around poking them in the ass with pitchforks. Whether these kids are jocks or nerds or goths or greasers doesn't matter-- we need to be supportive and let them know that it gets better.

    It's getting to the point where Slashdotters are intent on making schools into geek Utopias instead helping kids get through the hell that, sadly, high school will always be.
  • Nice post...just wanna insert an MS jab here

    Finally, please, please, if you're going to use MS Word, turn off "smart quotes"! Those non-ISO standard characters are displayed as question marks by those of us using non-windoze browsers, and they are really distracting!

    I'm using IE5 in Win98, and they show up as question marks here too...IE5 actually uses ISO 8859-1 or ANSI 1259(? -- the Windows charset, but I'm not sure about the number), so the quotes don't work outside of Office. Consistency's for losers, I guess.


    Mike
    --

  • I didn't hear a thing about Himself in the what, four? articles he's posted so far on the subject. The reason he's posted so much is because there is, in fact, more to tell. The first was about how he thought it was. The second, about all the email telling us how it really is. The third, the "normal people"'s backlash. This one, about the anti-backlash.

    Furthermore, this last one is the most important one, IMHO. It means we're not dead yet. It means that something good is going to come out of all this death and destruction. Katz has an ego, yeah. But this ain't part of it. For once he's being a good journalist, unlike the shlock we get on the street and the boob toob every day, and telling as many sides of the story as he can get his hands on. Tell me where the hell else I can go and get that, huh? Please, I'd love to get some unbiased non-nerd news once in a while. The ONLY place I know of to get ALL sides of a story is none other than right here [slashdot.org]. And Taco don't post politics.



    Don't criticize a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins. Then you'll be a mile away, and you'll have his shoes.
  • I'm sorry. Perhaps I should have tried harder to be the school prom King. Perhaps I just wanted to be called 'Fag' all the time. If only I could have just ignored my curriosity for the binary challenge, or my love for good art. Silly me to think that I didn't fit in with the people who kicked me in the hall and spit on my lunch and snapped me with their towles in the shower after P.E. Perhaps I should have refered to them as 'Your Highness' & all that humiliation would have gone away! Perhaps I shouldn't have ever opened a book at lunch time so it wouldn't have gotten stolen. Of course I did it to myself! What an idiot I've been all these years to think that they didn't like me. If only I would have known that all that shit was their way of saying, "Hey bud, Let's be friends."

    Bucko seems an appropo nick for your 'Myoptic Views'!

    -sonic
  • by ywwg (20925) on Monday May 03, 1999 @08:26AM (#1906478) Homepage
    Someone (I call notme!) should make a "wanted" poster that kids can post in their schools:

    WANTED:
    non-conformists
    for crimes yet to be
    committed!

    There are members of our community who are threatening the bland conformity that we have tried so hard to create! Please report anyone matching the following description to your superiors so that these individuals can be "corrected." Remember, opinions you don't agree with are wrong!

    Warning signs:
    -- odd clothing
    -- liking for weird, therefore bad, music
    -- heavy internet use
    -- high intelligence
    -- seeking out others with similar tastes
    -- zits
    -- dislike for classes, teachers
    -- reclusiveness
    -- anything else?
  • by laura20 (21566) on Monday May 03, 1999 @09:08AM (#1906481) Homepage
    The irony of some of the geek profiling has been enough to make you retch at times. The NYT did a piece on an Arizona high school, outlining the cliques and in particular where they sat at lunch. The jocks and cheerleaders outside at the prime tables, and god help you if you tried to sit there if you weren't of the approved. The regular students inside the cafeteria. And off in the drama building, the drama geeks as well as various other oddballs who had taken refuge with them, because anyone from special ed students to geniuses could hang out there without fear. So let's guess which group was being harrassed last week: the gentle tolerant ones or the assholes who had driven them out.

    Yes! Got it in one. They wear *black*, after all, and therefore must be EVIL.

    I've got a suggestion for a constructive bit to go with our venting, though: there were two superb replies on one of the earlier Hellmouth threads outlining exactly what rights students had (they can't just suspend you without a hearing, for example) and how to work the rules if they start making arbitrary dress code changes and the like (they ban black? make them specify exactly how much black you can wear. Helpfully report popular students who violate the rules.)

    It would be an awfully good idea to put up those sort of useful messages in a permanent, easily accessible area/webpage (Geek Defense, perhaps.)

    Laura
  • by Q-bert][ (21619) on Monday May 03, 1999 @08:26AM (#1906482)

    I think we as a group of people need to come together and show people who and what we are. For so long we have stayed in our own groups and kept to ourselves because of feer of what would happen if we spoke out. I feel that now is the time that we should raise our voice against today's socitey and point out all the problems in it that create a culture that excludes and persecute us.

    We should take a stand and cry out against the injustice that is done to us, and for once stand-up for ourselves. Not through violence like the boys in Littleton, but through peace of words. We must make people see that what they do is wrong and they we are not the bad ones, that they are the ones who would destroy us, not us them. Through our united voice via the Internet, our great tool, should we show people that we are good.

  • Adolf Hitler was "different".
    The people in the KKK dress "different".
    The Heaven's Gate cult was "different"

    Alot of people are different, look at Albert Einstien's hair, why would you name just a few sick examples of difference?

    Why is the attitude around here seem to be that people who deliberatly look and act different are somehow automatically superior to those who don't?

    ummm, I don't think that is the attitude we portray, if it is then its wrong, but in general I believe we are just saying that those who are different are not any less of a person then the people who surround them.

    What good is "expressing ones individual identity" if everyone else thinks you are a freak, and treats you as such?

    So you believe that one must conform to societies image of how an indivual should look and behave? I think what is important here is that whats on the outside of the person is exactly what we should not be judging a person on. And while for some, this may be the case, more commonly those who look different from our selves are wrongly prosecuted for their apperence. Conforming would be the easy way out, in the short run, but suppressing ones identity leads down a path of inner destruction, and cowerdice.

    And how is society supposed to prevent future Littleton tragedies if they can't single out people who they suspect may have problems.

    How would you? Would you single those out based on thier apperance? On thier choice in music? Games? Friends? These attributes are not what distinguishes the right from the wrong type.
  • by ChrisGoodwin (24375) on Monday May 03, 1999 @08:47AM (#1906484) Journal
    The POV of eponymous cohort: Adolf Hitler is "different," therefore, everyone who is "different" is bad. Therefore, we should send all those who are "different" to re-education (i.e. counseling) and keep them away from decent folks (i.e. other students, especially the conforming ones) because they're going to snap and start killing people.

    Have you been missing Katz' point entirely? Kids are being singled out for no other reason than their looks and being officially harassed.

    I seriously hope to whatever supreme being may or may not be out there that you aren't a school administrator, police officer, or other government official.

    What good is "expressing ones individual identity" if everyone else thinks you are a freak, and treats you as such?

    Ever heard of the First Amendment?
  • I hate to be a cynic, but I am honestly expecting all of these counselling centers and offers of help and assistance to slowly fade out over the months. People want to help in the immediate wake of the crisis, but how many are truly in it for the long haul?

    I point to the case on Slashdot of the guy who was challenging MS because he owned the term "Internet Explorer." When we found out his kid was sick, everybody wanted to send money. People offered to set up accounts. Then within days, when people found out he'd settled, all offers were taken off the table.

    This is NOT the first time a school shooting has taken place. Why are people offering to start things now? Why didn't they start them last time it happened, so it wouldn't happen this time?
  • by RebornData (25811) on Monday May 03, 1999 @08:47AM (#1906489)
    I've been experiencing the repercussions of this event from both sides of the fence. I'm fortunate enough to be a sponsor / leader for the high school youth group at my church, which is urban and Presbyterian. Although we're a little light on "jocks", otherwise we've got a real cross section of the high-school power structure among the group members. (As an example, we recently participated in an interfaith-exchange program, and after seeing our group, the Jewish delegation asked if our church required boys to have long hair. :-)

    I deeply know the pain and agony that can be life at highschool, both from the young people in the group and from my own school experience (I won our district's high school *team* programming contest working alone. There wasn't anyone from my school there. 'Nuff said).

    However, I've also heard the fear of being bombed or shot from almost every young person in our group. One of our youth talked about the fact that when he walks around now, he always keeps an "escape route" in mind. Another told of a "lock down" because someone brought a gun to class. Yet another was sent outside for a few hours after a bomb threat emptied the building. Yet another was on a "hit list" confiscated from a student who had allegedly been planning a mass-murder. Many were afraid to go to school last friday, which supposedly was the anniversary of Hitler's death. The terror goes on, and on, and on.

    The problem is that now, every attention-seeking, disaffected, neglected youth knows how to get immediate attention and action: threaten to shoot something or blow something up. It's very sad that our educational institutions (and parenting!) have fallen to the level that this is necessary. But it is also unacceptable that our young people (most of whom go about their daily business without picking on people) live in fear.

    If you've been experiencing the Hellmouth, I sympathize deeply with you. Please find *someone* to talk about it with, whether it's your parents, your church leaders, your friends, or an Internet community.

    Please *don't* take out your frustrations by "pushing the limits" and scaring other people, no matter how tempting that may be at times. It just doesn't help, and it will only prolong this backlash.
  • Alice:"I do say what I mean... at least... at least I mean what I say! That's the same thing, you know"
    Mad Hatter:"That's not the same thing at all. You might just as well say 'I see what I eat' is the same as 'I eat what I see'"
    March Hare:"You might just as well say 'I like what I get' is the same as 'I get what I like'"
    Dormouse:"You might just as well say 'I breathe when I sleep' is the same as 'I sleep when I breathe'"
    (My apologies to Lewis Carroll)
  • This to me is the same as calling the person who got raped the problem, just because they wore tight clothes or was flirting. Sorry - It don't work that way.
  • by Wah (30840) on Monday May 03, 1999 @11:52AM (#1906504) Homepage Journal
    ..and that's the level of service you get. I think *some* of the problems in high school and our school system in general could be solved with money, in the right place. I'd like to see a teacher pay raise of roughly 100%, make it a, crazy idea here, highly competitive field to be in, as opposed to something more akin to a fall-back position. I had a some good teachers whose influence is with me still, however I had many more folks just showing up everyday that did absolutely nothing for me. Teaching can be very rewarding, but it's also very difficult/demanding to be done correctly, b/c the industry itself(public teaching) will never generate revenue, that line of work will not be compensated in accodance to its importance.
    Forget programs and initiatives and all the crap that won't work without dedicated individuals..and go find those dedicated individuals, and compensate them!

    (I'm not a teacher, not even close really)
  • I had friends during high school who got into the Metal lifestyle (1980's), and they ended up destroying themselves

    That doesn't mean that the "metal" lifestyle itself is destructive. I had one friend who lived it and destroyed himself. OTOH, I lived it myself, and I think that anyone would agree that I have a very good life!

    Again, the problem is that you believe that since a few people who destroyed themselves lived this lifestyle, that everyone who lives the lifestyle will be destructive, and therefore we as a society have the right to ignore their rights and freedoms and treat them as the criminals that we somehow know they'll become!

    The problem with your friends was just that - their problem. It wasn't caused by the music they listened to. It was caused by their entire, individual set of circumstances.

    99 little bugs in the code, 99 bugs in the code,
    fix one bug, compile it again...
  • Right. because any kid who choses not to conform is being hassled, and some of them are actually daring to complain, you say they are equally guilty? Get a grip!

    I'm guessing you weren't one of the outsiders at school, or you would not say such things. Cliquey, clannish schools make 'geek's lives a living hell. Shit, you pressure and exclude someone every day for years, make it a legal requirement to attend and then you're surprised when there's an explosion?
  • by Silex (34738) on Monday May 03, 1999 @08:41AM (#1906519)
    This problem isn't going to go away by teachers, parents or students asking jocks, and all the people who push around nerds, to just stop. They know exactly what they're doing, and it takes a LOT to convince them to stop.

    What needs to be done is that nerdy students need to be given a somewhat private enviornment where they can learn together, in peace. This not only protects them from the horrors of school bullies, it also helps them socially, as they can be with people whom they like.

    Sound more like a dream than reality? I went to a public high school exactly as described above, in Toronto, Canada. It was a public school, with what they call streamed education. The program was funded by corporate partners (the school board had very little influence). We had everything from SGI Indigo's (Unix in school!) to a national robotics team. How it worked was that students submitted their school records, filled out a form, wrote a couple essays, and sent it off to the school with a $10 registration fee. If they thought you had the brain skills (bascially, you had to have above average grades ... not 100%), they called you for an interview. The interview is where you really get your chance to show them that you deserve to go to this school.

    The school still had normal kids, who went their because it was in their zone (this includes some jocks). BUt those people were not allowed to enter the special classes, and the school tried their best to keep lunch periods seperate. The result was an enviornment where geeks, nerds and even smart Goths can thrive. 80% of the school belonged to the special program.

    I don't know if something like this is available in the US, but it should be. If your school doesn't have something like this, try talking with the board. But more importantly, you need to talk to your school. If you can convince your school, show them the benifets (money, extremly high averages, good enviornment for teachers, etc), then convincing the board won't be too hard when you're backed by an entire school. It doesn't cost anyone much, because it can all be sponsored by corporations who donate money and cool hardware.
  • Why is the attitude around here seem to be that people who deliberatly look and act different are somehow automatically superior to those who don't?

    Why do you think that those who are different have a choice? I didn't choose to myopic, asthmatic & intelligent - a geek, it's the way I was born. My enjoyment of reading, math and eventually computers came out of my nature, and I couldn't succeed at sports any more than Mike Tyson could succeed at quantum physics.

    It's a simple fact that people are different. Always have been. Always will be. Perhaps we should work towards accepting these differences in schools instead of trying to eliminate them?

  • by drougie (36782) on Monday May 03, 1999 @09:11AM (#1906522) Homepage
    I wanted to let you all know that Slashdot is mentioned in today's frontpage of the New York Times in an article on parents and their kids on the net. I have the upmost respect for Cmndr Taco and his work. Even though some of us may bare apathy toward the Times, it is quite a milestone to have your project mentioned on the frontpage and used as a source. Mad props due!
    my email's doug@escape.com, drop me a line if you think i am elite.. aoturkey.escape.com rulez
  • by coyote-san (38515) on Monday May 03, 1999 @09:40AM (#1906523)
    It's hard to respond to this argument since its wrong on so many levels. Where to begin?...

    Hitler is an obvious example of diversity harming people, but what about Martin Luther? Without Martin Luther we would have not had millions of deaths in wars between Protestants and Catholics, the Spanish Inquisition, etc. But without Martin Luther our culture would be unimaginably different; nailing the 47 questions (?) to the church door lead to...

    Charles Darwin. Without Darwin we would have still had the theory of evolution (Darwin didn't originate the theory, he just gave compelling evidence of its breath and proposed that *all* variation could be explained by it without divine intervention; contemporaries of Darwin were on the same track and Wallace arguably had the idea and evidence first). But without evolution it would have been far harder to understand the implications of DNA (assuming Watson & Crick still did their work) and we would have none of the recent medical advances.

    Then there's Einstein with his silly theories explaining the anomolous precession of Mercury. The researchers at Bell Labs who discovered cosmic background radiation or invented the transistor, laser, and Unix. And let's not forget that crackpot Guttenburg and his ideas for printing with reusuable, movable type instead of woodcuts.

    If you think "different is dangerous", go find a cave. Without fire -- fire is dangerous. Or atl-atls -- new technology is dangerous.
  • I'm sitting at work right now, and I've been reading all these articles about Littleton, nd I really wish I had my own little cubicle because I'm a bit teary-eyed right now. I guess I developed my own little persecution complex during my time in school and so I identify with what many of the kids are going through right now. For a long time, I was a major part of the KJHS and KHS "nerd herd", and it took a few years to learn how to deal with that. Sure, in the end we turned out fine but how many kids never get to that point? I had a distinct advantage: my high school had a well-developed fine arts program, so those of us in drama, music, and the like had a large peer group that was mostly left to its own devices by the more traditional cliques (jocks, preps, etc). It still took some work...who doesn't want to be popular? But you eventually learn that only the opinions that matter are those of people who matter to you, and people whom you matter to. Don't worry about the rest. I know, easier said than done, but it's something to keep in mind.

    Why am I telling anyone this? To be honest, I don't really know. I guess I just wanted to offer one more testamonial to the fact that most of us turn out okay. I grew up playing D&D, listening to heavy metal sometimes (even stuff like Slayer and beyond, for a while), playing violent computer games (it's not like they're new...even my old Atari had shoot-em-up games....it's just that back then, people didn't blame crazy shit on them). In school, I got fairly good grades, was a member of many of the school bands (clarinet, sax, and drums), a member of some of the competing teams (JETS, Engineering Design Team, etc), and didn't have a girlfriend until 10th grade. I was picked on, teased, all the regular stuff that we all have come to expect. But you come through on the other end a better person. You learn who you can rely on. You learn to rely on yourself, and those few rare souls that you connect with during those dark years.

    Eventually you will see the light at the end of the tunnel. It might be high school, it might be college, it might be when you enter the work force, but the day will come. Just keep trying to make yourself a better person, make youself someone that YOU can be proud of and don't worry about the others.

    Yeah, well, that felt mostly pointless. : ) Well at least I got my $0.02 in. Hopefully someone can take something from what I've written.

    Cheers...
  • by fable2112 (46114) on Monday May 03, 1999 @01:09PM (#1906539) Homepage
    *raises hand*

    Hello, my name is A.J. and I'm a geek. I learned to read when I was two years old, I am decidedly unathletic (though that is improving a little now that I've discovered SCA fencing), and in a lot of ways I was a "mini-adult" starting when I was five or so. Recipe for instant disaster when attempting to mix with other kids. And did I mention that I was tall enough to tower over most of my class? That's no help, either.

    My parents, and the local school system, tried every academic solution available, and nothing seemed to completely fix the problems I was having. Hellmouth didn't end for me until I started attending a state college at the age of not-quite-sixteen.

    Here were the steps:

    1. I went to a Montessori preschool and kindergarten. Problems galore here, much to everyone's surprise. My original preschool teacher decided I was autistic because I couldn't tie my shoes. She was later fired for cracking a ruler over some kid's head. Kindergarten was better but not great -- my teacher informed my mother that I knew all my vowels but not consenants because we hadn't learned them yet. At this point, I'd been reading for two and a half years!!

    2. Catholic school, first and second grade. First grade was wonderful thanks to a teacher who understood what was up with me and let me read out of the fourth grade reading book. Second grade was horrible. The teacher once asked my mother, "Well, don't you want your daughter to be NORMAL?" She, having been the "class brain" herself, had the sense to respond: "NO! Not when normal is six hours of television a day!" This woman then became the principal, which led to ...

    3. Homeschooling from 3rd-6th grade. This probably is what gave me something of a foundation of sanity. I was free to follow my interests: mathematical matrices, the history of France, environmental science, horseback riding, baking cakes ... all of it was "school" for me. The down side was that most of the area homeschoolers fell into one of two camps, neither of which we fit: the "We are true Christians who don't want our kids taught *gasp* sex education!" camp, and what I called the "homeschooling anarchists" camp -- those who didn't seem to care if their kids EVER learned to, say, read. So, for various reasons, I decided I wanted to try going back to school. We sat down with the superintendent (who by now was a family friend) and that led to ...

    4. 8th-9th Grade: Public Jr-Sr Hellmouth. My experiences were textbook-case Hellmouth.

    It started when I pulled an admittedly silly stunt to fit in, and indirectly caused a fistfight between two girls. I was considered "maladjusted" as a result, and sent to a counselor. She told me that sarcasm never solves anything, when it was the only defense I HAD against certain subsets of the school population. This woman did nothing to help my self-esteem, and actually made things worse. And, of course, gossip got around that I was talking to a counselor, which helped NOTHING.

    Lots of other little (and not-so-little) incidents -- I nearly had my bike stolen by a bunch of guys higher on the social food chain, I had my French tests blatantly copied (and the teacher did nothing about it), and I had a choir director make my life miserable because I'm an alto and her definition of alto is "chicken soprano." She wouldn't let me try out for All-County Choir, and in a later competition, singing one of what would have been the tryout songs, I scored higher than someone who made the damn choir. Was I angry? You betcha.

    Most significant of them all, a particular jock who was in 12th grade when I was in 9th, and decided that the 7th-9th grade girls were his harem. Only a couple of us "geek girls" complained about this, and the response? "He's just flirting ... if you can't handle this, it's your problem." My best friend was thrown up against a wall by this person and told "I'm going to f**k you before I graduate if it kills us both." This is NOT just flirting, and yet it was blamed on the girl's perceived lack of social skills. I had a similar problem, went to talk to the aforementioned clueless counselor, and she broke confidentiality on me. The aforementioned jock spent the next few weeks threatening my life. NOTHING was done, even when this happened in front of teachers. And I had to see a lot of the person who was threatening me -- he was in choir, in band, and in the school play with me. I think it was one of the other actors who finally got him to leave me alone. Ironically enough, the same person who gave me all this trouble later defended me from some other folks who insisted on running their mouths at me.

    I'd had as much as I could take, and thankfully I had an out ...

    5. A high school-college bridge program, housed at a private women's college. Here, I thought, there would finally be people like me. But "people like me" still turned out to be rare, and overall, the experience was a disappointment. The kids were bright, sure, but too many of them were also filthy rich and had the attitudes to match. To them, this was just a super-elite private school. One of them loved leaving little messages like "you should be dead, you f**king dyke!" on my dormroom answering machine. I knew who was doing it, but had no proof, and the administration there didn't believe me.

    I was lucky there -- I did have wonderful teachers, and I got out of most of the "required" classes due to some summer coursework I had completed. The "traditional" college students were generally good to me, and I was able to "pass" as one of them most of the time, even though I was not-quite-14 when I started there. But eventually I decided enough was enough -- the teenage silliness of "I need a man!" got on my nerves, as did the drunken "men" who came to visit the dorm and pulled a water fountain out of the wall at 3 AM, flooding my entire floor and mildewing the lounge carpet. Also, the school's program in my area of interest was quite weak. It was time to move on ...

    6. I transferred to a small-ish state college. This was good as well as bad. After a year of strangeness and only a few friends, I found "my" people. The Real Friends I'd been hearing about all my life. But this, too, had its downside. Since I enjoyed something of real popularity for the first time in my life, my academic life suffered for it. I didn't see it that way at the time (and part of the problem was my tendency to bite off more than I could chew), and I made it through without flunking out, but I wish I had "applied myself" a bit more. Too late now, of course. ;)

    I've been out of school for two years now, and I want to go back, if I can find a grad English program in the area that will have me. :) I've got a job, I've got a fellow-geek boyfriend (though I could just as easily have a girlfriend *grin* but I'm content), and I'm doing all right. The scars are there, but they aren't open wounds.

    I wish I could say that anything I experienced or didn't experience was the problem, but my parents certainly tried, many of the teachers tried, and nobody knew quite what to do with me. No blanket solution, or even combination, is going to "save" all the kids from having to go through this stuff.

    If you are one of those kids: hang in there, it does get better. I do wish I'd had the Internet around when I was younger. It might have helped.
    Since you've got it, use it wisely. Or something.
    :)

  • by Xavoc (46146) on Monday May 03, 1999 @10:22AM (#1906541)
    Going to high school was a daily chore for me. I dreaded setting foot inside the classroom. I was a typical geek, not goth, clean cut, I just didn't fit in. I had no-one to share my pain with. I had a few friends, but they were unable to comprehend what I was experiencing.

    I was verbally abused by both students, and faculty. Publicly, privately, I once had a guidance counselor swear at me loudly. I didn't cause trouble, trouble just seemed to find me in the form of mindless twits with nothing better to do than cause me pain.

    I spent four years in the worse hell imaginable, a prison of the mind, where my thoughts were filled with nothing but desire to run from the school and never look back. My grades suffered, my nerves shattered, and my self esteem shot, I managed to grauate 4 years later.

    I do not mean to belittle what has occured in Colorado, or the various other schools that have been victim to the rampages of a few. The part that really disappoints me, is how quickly the media set forth on blaming everything material around them, instead of finding out if there was any kind of emotional reason for it.

    Teachers do not care, no matter how much they claim to. I had teaches who told me they knew what the other classmates were doing to me, but they never lifted a finger. Yeah, great, talk about the problems besetting our kids, god forbid you actually try to help one of them. I am disgusted at how teachers only now care after something tragic happens. It is your job to make sure we are okay. You are there to teach us, to help us, and to make sure we do not harm ourselves or others. Any of you who claim it is not your job to do this are blind fools. If you were lieing, bleeding on the sidewalk, and a student of yours walked past you and said 'This isn't my job' would you forgive them?

    If you don't care, get out of your job, because you do not belong there.

    Shame on you, hopefully you will someday wake up.
  • And they are a GODSEND. I really do encourage you, if you are stuck in a regular public school, and think you can qualify, to get in one. But not everyone's grades are up to it.

    On convincing school boards to implement magnet schools: It is going to be tough if the district doesn't already have them. You're going to hear comments like "elitist" and people are going to question why they need to spend money on such things, when they only benefit a small minority. School bureaucrats tend to be hidebound, and narrow minded, and very very much like the old Ma Bell - they don't care, they don't have to.

    It's possible to do, just as it's possible to move the earth with a lever. But it will take you a lot of effort, and a lot of time. It's much easier to move yourself around, and change yourself than it will ever be to change them. My advice is to not even try.

    If you don't have a magnet school in your district, you still have options. And this is where parents come in. If you think your parents are up to it, try dropping out and home school. But you really need the right kind (ie. not screwed up) of parent to pull this off. Most kids these days don't have very good parents, unfortunately. But go for it if you do.

    Otherwise, your options are junior college and GED.

    The main objective is to get that 4-year college degree. How you do it isn't too important. And it is possible to get there without attending a traditional, jock infested high school.
  • by reive (171173) on Monday May 03, 1999 @08:43AM (#1906556)
    One of my oldest friends is a teacher. Last night she told me what's been going on in her school. Teachers are scared of the freaks, they are whispering about who to watch out for in the teachers lounge, and my friend spoke up and said "I was a goth. And a nerd. And miserable and suicidal because I wasn't doing what everyone else was doing. So I graduated, went to college and came to NY, and now you're telling me, that kids who are the way I was terrify you. I know plenty of goths, I've been to the clubs, and you couldn't find a group of more harmless people. It's just about sensuality. Wait, that scares you too." Her fellow teachers just looked at her in shock and horror anyway. How can it be that education these days is only for those that don't explore?

    Anyway, I've got friends going to their local school board meetings, and writing their alma maters and spreading the word.

    We will change this stuff.

I have never seen anything fill up a vacuum so fast and still suck. -- Rob Pike, on X.

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