Playing the scapegoat game shuts down the vital debate

Oh for fuck’s sake not again. *sigh*, it appears we’re doing this Charleston again… I promise not to make it a regular feature, there are already online presences much better than my own making sterling work of keeping track of the Daily Mail’s torrent of bullshit. I received praise for last week’s article, particularly because it didn’t contain swearing which a lot of people thought was a big improvement on my usual drivel, but this one might not meet your extra high standards. Because racist scum-rag the Daily Fail is at it again, this time blaming the decidedly New Age cocktail of violent video games (Dark Souls specifically) ‘death metal’ and drug use to explain why a loathsome little creep decided to stab his 61 year old Spanish teacher to death at a Catholic school in Leeds.

In case you didn’t catch the news, Britain was rocked this week when on Monday an (as yet unnamed) 15 year old boy entered the classroom of 61 year old Spanish teacher Ann Maguire, stabbing her multiple times, fatally. Another meaningless tragedy, like the suicide of Oliver King, that is being used by the otherwise utterly despicable journalists at the Daily Mail to play to the most repugnant stereotyping trends among their aging idiot audience. Before I lay into bad journalism, this blog, as always, extends its deepest condolences to the family and students of Ann Maguire, tributes have been pouring in for her from current and former pupils as well as members of the teaching faculty. The two cases are of course very different, Oliver King was only a victim, but the 15 year old is a criminal who committed a murder. Nothing proceeding is supposed to assuage blame from what he did, or to defend or justify his actions, but in the wake of tragedies there is a tendency to portray the perpetrators as ‘other’ in every way possible, further vilifying the groups into which we ‘other’ them and shutting down reasoned intelligent debate designed to understand the actions of these awful people and prevent repeat occurrences… because these things keep happening. The fact is that the fifteen year old perpetrator is a person and grew up with a comparable moral code, but for some reason, he committed this appalling act.

I’m not defending Dark Souls, or ‘death metal’ or drug use, I don’t need to. Just like my previous article, I find anecdotal evidence is irrelevant to the argument, saying “I’ve been a fan for years and never once wanted to stab someone” or “every heavy metal fan I know is really nice” is unhelpful to the argument. As before, can we rule out the influence of Dark Souls, or other video games, or death metal, or drug use, or the Daily Mail on the mental stability of this boy? Unfortunately not. Charles Manson and Helter Skelter, remember? But pointing to these things as a causal connection is totally unhelpful to understanding why these people do commit violent acts.

The killer is painted with the same mad-libs collection of terms used for every school killer. Moody. Into fringe culture, be it games or music or movies. Unusually dressed. Intelligent. Withdrawn. 'Different'. He was different to you and me. He wasn't an extreme product of a defective system, he was just like that. The same way they describe Muslim fundamentalist terrorists as "they hate us because they hate us".

Like in the case of Oliver King, the perpetrator was the product of a broken home, his parents divorced when he was five years old, and he was at the same educational point as Oliver King; headed for the first big exams. Being fifteen he was around that terrible personal crisis point, where simultaneously one begins to experiment with drinking, with drugs, with sex and with style. In an attempt to figure out your sexuality, and who you are as a person; all while with a brain full of hormones and not always at chemical equilibrium. It is also at the point that authority figures are at saturation point for the lie we’re all told at school: “if you don’t have your life sorted by the time you’re 18, you’ll never amount to anything”. Which anyone over 18 knows is the least true statement ever uttered, but when it’s coming from teachers, parents, community leaders and everyone else, you’re made to feel guilty for every moment not spent studying, for every percentage point away from a hundred you get on a test. Life is incredibly difficult for teenagers, and only getting harder every year. And the self-righteous moral preaching of the Daily Mail, further ‘othering’, alienating and vilifying young people for liking hip hop, or heavy metal, or video games does not help the situation, it makes it worse. The young boy was subject to stringent uniform conditions at his school, including the description of "mosher" clothing in the same line which describes such items as "cult".

The fact is, this system only produces a few hundred suicides a year, and this is the first teacher killing in many many years (thankfully) but for all of these extreme cases, there are millions of children in our education system who feel stressed, who feel alienated and alone and ‘othered’ and these people are our future doctors and lawyers and soldiers and police and taxi drivers and Burger King employees, and so long as the debate around the extreme cases continues to be “he was different! Different I tells ye! It couldn’t have been the divorce, because I’ve got a divorce and lot of my readers are divorced, we don’t want to believe that what we’re doing is hurting our children. But violent video games? Heavy metal? I wouldn’t miss them at all, I’ll blame them, because they’re convenient and in the minds of our readership already a bit suspect” these things will continue to happen. Teen suicide will continue to happen. School shootings will continue to happen. Until the debate becomes more intelligent, and away from “Back in my day we didn’t have video games” – “yeah, well I’ve played them all my life and not killed a soul”.

Written under duress by Steven.

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