A provoked response

By Chris Nielsen
March 22, 2001

Against my better judgment, I am writing this commentary in response to Michael Butler’s commentary in issue 18 regarding the Santana High School shootings. If the author’s intention was to provoke a response, well, you win.

First off, I would just like to ask if the incident that Butler wrote about was the same one that the rest of us have read about. The gunman who I read about, Charles Andrew Williams, is just as far from courageous as any other terrorist or murderer that we see on the news. Butler wants to see this killer as “casting his chains.” The last I checked, he was cast behind bars, and two innocent people are in a casket. Yeah, real heroic.

High school is a tough time for everybody. Let me repeat, loud and clear- HIGH SCHOOL IS A TOUGH TIME FOR EVERBODY. Anyone who thinks having broad shoulders and a clear complexion makes life simple obviously has a warped understanding of human nature. Nobody gets through unscathed. Every “jock” or “prep” has had some point where they were the object of ridicule. Acting cruelly toward others is a pathetic but common way for adolescents to deal with their own insecurities.

One of the many things that irritated me the most about Butler’s commentary was the reverse prejudice that it implied. In such statements such as “Plus, it really shakes up the jocks” and “the balance of power shifts that far away from them,” it becomes starkly obvious that Butler has no grasp on reality. The result of a shooting spree that leaves two people dead and 13 injured is not to simply even the playing field. It shows that the author has as much, if not more, contempt for “jocks” then they could ever possibly have for him. The hypocrisy is embarrassing.

The most frightening thing about Butler’s commentary is that his warped perspective is not as rare as we would like to think. The Columbine killers have a definite following among teens who consider them to be anti-heroes. I wonder if Williams could be included in that group.

As long as there have been peer groups, there have been bullies and the bullied. And vengeance fantasies have always been around. But now the fantasies are becoming more of a reality, and some people actually applaud the efforts. This is sick. I can only hope that the reason for this support is because these people can’t differentiate between what they see on the news and what they see on entertainment television. The reality of these lost lives obviously has no impact on these misguided people.

But more than anything about this column, I was offended by Butler’s cry for empathy. The author has empathy for Williams, but talks with thinly-veiled glee about him “netting two kills” and “a couple people on permanent leave from school due to being arrested or killed.” For crying out loud, the killer didn’t even discriminate about whom he was shooting! If this was really about getting even with the jocks, why did he also shoot a professor and students who were in no way, shape or form “jocks?” He didn’t aim for the people who picked on him; he just shot, with a grin on his face and innocent bodies lying around him. And you have the gall to call this kid “courageous.”

`80s, I know you, dude, and I didn’t want to get personal. But judging by this commentary, you are either A) Full of crap and a poor satirist; or B) In need of more help than Cabrini College can provide.

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Chris Nielsen

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