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The Hidden Hand of Violence
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From the Editor’s Desk

The Erosion of Right and Wrong

Gail Armstong
Gail Armstrong
Executive Editor

n alert columnist pointed out after Colorado’s Columbine High School massacre in April that this was not the first time the school had been in the news. Columbine High happened to be featured in a 1991 ABC 20/20 segment for its highly debated “death education” class — in which students discussed such macabre topics as how they wanted to look in their caskets.

The segment offered a glimpse at just one aspect of the “values” education that insinuated itself into our national school curricula over the past four decades. The irony is that programs implemented ostensibly to shape values have had the opposite effect. Educational experts have long since sounded an alarm over an “anything goes” attitude born and bred with these programs, as we cover in more depth inside.

Much of the current public discussion about youth violence focuses on depictions of violence and brutality in entertainment, whether movies, video games or music.

Explicit, exploitative violence is unhealthy for anyone’s outlook on life. But if one stops to consider it, it becomes readily apparent that this is nothing “new.”

Feeding Christians to lions was once popular “sport.” For centuries, public executions drew large crowds in London regardless of what king or queen ruled — as they did in other cities at various times in Europe and elsewhere. Our culture before television and film is strewn with explicit violence, mayhem and death.

Even so, people were not driven to take each others’ lives. In fact, statistics recently compiled from historical records reveal that in battles between the third century B.C. and World War II, only 15 to 20 percent of the men engaged in fighting actually tried to kill the enemy. That was despite going into war with the stated purpose to kill, and with their own lives at stake.

One could conclude that it requires extreme persuasion to get a human being to want to kill another, let alone to do the deed. And although some need less prompting than others, they are few indeed — especially when young.

Yet with psychological manipulation, military forces solved their problem after World War II, rousing the “kill will” in up to 95 percent of soldiers through programs designed to inure them to taking another’s life.

These programs manage to overcome an individual’s innate sense that it is wrong to kill another human being — a sense strongly present even in soldiers who are there to kill.

It is time to take a closer look at the possibility that the reason violence more strongly influences youth in our schools today is that the sense of right and wrong has been eroded through the last four decades of “progressive education” — a system designed more for psychological conditioning than academic success.

Add the wholesale labeling of children with psychiatric “disorders” (such as “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” and a host of “Learning Disorders”) for exhibiting much of what was previously considered normal childhood behavior. These labels not only excuse the educational shortcomings of our schools, but the youth who receive them are told that they are responsible neither for what they do nor for the decisions they make. In fact, and perhaps not so coincidentally, the Denver Post reported in December 1996 that federal law prohibited the expulsion of three kids who passed a gun around at school because they were classified as “special education” students. These students were not considered responsible for what they did.

Finally, add a chemical catalyst of mind-altering psychiatric drugs and the result is volatile and even deadly. Keep in mind, too, that the types of “special education” students who are not held responsible for passing around deadly weapons at school are the ones most likely to be on such drugs.

We explore, in our cover story, how these youth are catching up to the society that created them.

We also present other aspects of violence in this issue. While much has been written and said on the subject, we hope we have provided new perspectives — ones which will help open doors to more effective and lasting solutions to this societal problem.

And as with all issues of Freedom, we welcome your views.
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