The Last Page

The Last Page

No social movement can thrive without the energy of the emerging generation, and from this perspective the Columbine High School shooting was awful in more than the obvious way. Amid the anguish, indignation, hysteria, and political posturing that followed the events in Littleton, what struck me most keenly was the silence: the eclipse of young people as social and political actors. Yes, we heard a lot about teenage culture, with its seemingly intractable hierarchies, cliques, and brutal exclusions; and hardly anyone argued, as they might have done had this been the first such incident, that these were just two psychopathic kids whose actions reflected on no one but themselves. It was widely assumed that if mass murder was erupting in the heart of white, middle-class suburbia, some sort of social critique was in order. A few intrepid souls, noting the gender of every school shooter to date, even suggested that masculinism and homophobia might have something to do with the case. Yet the spirit of the public discussion was mainly that of panicked prison guards who had lost control of the inmates. How to get it back?

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Lima