JESSIE KLEIN [email]
Klein is author of “The Bully Society: School Shootings and the Crisis of Bullying in America’s Schools.” She just wrote the piece “Latest Conn. School Massacre Reminds Us Again to Transform our Bully Society into More Compassionate Communities,” noting that “Many of the school shooters since 1979 have been described as ‘brilliant’ and ‘remote.’ Repeatedly they had left notes or testimonies about how they were called ‘nerd’ or ‘geek’ of even more often, ‘gay.’” But Klein adds: “We need to stop looking for the profile of the perpetrators; and examine instead the profile of schools and society more generally. According to the General Social Survey (GSS 1985 to 2004) social isolation has tripled; other reports suggest that empathy has significantly decreased; depression and anxiety rates, among adults and youth alike, are soaring. …
“Robert Putnam in ‘Bowling Alone’ is only one of many authors who have highlighted the extent to which community and civic responsibility have decreased in our society. Jacqueline Olds and Barry Schwartz wrote another book vividly describing our post-modern zeitgeist, ‘The Lonely American.’
“In ‘The Bully Society: School Shootings and the Crisis of Bullying in America’s Schools,’ I discuss how bullying and other hurtful behaviors have also become common norms. People are pressured to become as successful and powerful as they can be — but rarely encouraged to check on their neighbors and offer support to others in need. The truth is that most of us are working so hard, and so over-scheduled that we don’t have time to stop for one another even if it was our priority. When gunmen are repeatedly described as ‘remote’ or a ‘loner’ — there is likely more than just a ‘personality disorder’ behind their history. Fifty percent of our population according to GSS 2004 have either one or zero people to talk to about important issues in their lives — what scholars suggest is inadequate or ‘marginal support.’” Klein is assistant professor of sociology at Adelphi University in New York City.
JENNIFER BROWDY DE HERNANDEZ [email]
Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez is associate professor of comparative literature, media studies and human rights at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Massachusetts. She just wrote the piece “Standing Strong Against the Furies,” which states “Just as people in places like the Maldives, Bangladesh and Pakistan may have shook their heads at the cluelessness of Americans who suddenly woke up to climate change when Sandy came to town, people living in hot spots of violence around the world now have every right to be shaking their heads at the collective American refusal to see and understand how, in the wake of the Newtown massacre, we are much to blame for our own misery.
“The U.S. is the largest arms manufacturer and exporter in the world. We have by far the largest military. We are also by far the most heavily armed civilian population in the world, with some 300 million guns circulating among our population of about 300 million people. Americans need to acknowledge that collectively, as a nation, we have been responsible for hundreds, and probably thousands of deaths of children worldwide through the weapons we sell abroad. …
“It is hypocritical to weep crocodile tears for the slaughter of innocent children … in Connecticut but to callously ignore the slaughter of innocent children by American drone fire in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
See the report today of “9 Girls Dead Following Deadly Blast in Afghanistan.”
Also, see “Remember All the Children, Mr. President” by Bill Quigley.