Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Salon on Jonathan Fast's CEREMONIAL VIOLENCE

Salon's Laura Miller takes a look at what turns an angry, alienated teen into a school shooter in her penetrating review of Jonathan Fast's new book Ceremonial Violence: "School shootings, at least those that kill only one or two people, have come to seem almost commonplace. The killing of one 15-year-old by another 15-year-old in a Knoxville, Tenn., high school cafeteria on Aug. 21 barely registered on the national radar screen. In order to make a name for himself, any malignantly narcissistic adolescent with a dream will need to aim for a body count in at least the low two-figures. Gun control opponents assure us that allowing teachers (and even students) to carry guns will help the situation by enabling potential victims to defend themselves against the likes of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. The Supreme Court seems inclined to oblige them, and perhaps regular shootouts will become a high school rite of passage, just like the prom and smoking behind the gym. Deeper, more systemic repairs to our culture will be harder to come by. Like the bullying prevention programs Fast describes in the final chapter of "Ceremonial Violence," such measures demand "attentiveness, self-scrutiny, consistency, detachment, and dogged attention to detail." And that sure just doesn't sound very American."

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