[Fwd: Littleton Killings]

kayak3 kayak3 at bouldernews.infi.net
Wed Apr 28 08:23:22 PDT 1999

S Pawlett wrote:
> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: Littleton Killings
> Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 11:27:24 -0400
> From: Ralph Larkin <rlarkin at banet.net>
> Reply-To: rlarkin at banet.net
> To: PROGRESSIVE SOCIOLOGISTS NETWORK <psn at csf.colorado.edu>
> As the author of "Suburban Youth in Cultural Crisis" (Oxford U. Press,
> 1979), a participant-observation study of an upper-middle class high
> school 25 years ago, I feel that I should comment on what happened in
> Littleon, Colorado.
> Although class, race, and gender played important parts in the
> stratification system at the high school that I studied, it was very
> clear to me at that time that students could be divided into "winners"
> and "losers." The school supported the winners and the losers were left
> to fend for themselves, except when confronted with the local police,
> 90% of their time was spent controlling juveniles.

I can agree with this. Alfie Kohn's boodk "No Compitition" makes a good argument that competitive sports are used in our society to enforce the notion that their are winners and losers. This supports the idea that winners are rich and deserve their wealth while the poor (including minorities) are losers who deserve their station in life. This is why historically, competitive sports have been pushed more in the Southern US Where racism and income disparity have been more intense. The obsession with sports seems to correlate with income disparity in the rest of the country as well. Sounds like a good research project.


> Why are white male adolescents engaging in killing sprees? Besides the
> obvious access to guns and the wherewithal to carry them out, one thing
> that has not been commented on by PSN members, is that one underlying
> dynamic is a relative decline in white skin privilege and patriarchy.
> White males defined as losers, when by all accounts they belong to the
> dominant social categories are denied their birthrights. This would
> account for the racism and sexism of the killers. It also accounts for
> their desire to kill those who are "good" or who are successes. No
> longer can white males automatically derive status from their whiteness
> or maleness. They feel threatened by upwardly mobile minorities and
> striving women. They want to keep them in their place. Therefore, they
> become the targets of male hatred.

But are middleclass white males more violent now than in the 50's 60's and 70's? I've hear the reports from researchers who say no. The only difference is the access of guns which makes the violence more lethal.

> One other thing I found out in my study is that interpersonal
> competition has been intensified throughout the years. Young people
> must deal with academic competition, an intensified and diversified
> sexual competitive struggle, and a hip competitive struggle. In my
> study, I found that HS kids felt highly vulnerable to attacks on their
> selves and attempted to fend off such attacks by adopting a persona that
> was viewed by themselves as false. One could be a loser in so many
> ways; the peer group was extremely mercurial, at one time providing
> support and at another being extremely cruel.

Is this study published? I'd like to read it.

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