2006-10-09

God, evolution, and guns

Orcinus: Let's be frank about what is involved in a majority of these high-school shootings: a psychotic reaction to a high-school culture that permits intensive and incessant bullying and social intimidation. The latter is decidedly a product of an authoritarian mindset; returning to a system of school-sanctioned fundamentalist religious beliefs -- with all their authoritarianism intact -- would only heighten these tendencies, creating greater stratification along religious lines and drawing clearer "in group" and "out group" classes.

Indeed, what's worth noting is that the most effective programs in defusing situations like those at Columbine and elsewhere are those that try to attack the culture of bullying. One of the foremost of these is the
Teaching Tolerance program that focuses on promoting an environment of inclusiveness in our schools and short-circuiting the cliqueishness and bigotry that travels hand-in-glove with bullying behavior.

However, these same programs are under attack
by the religious right precisely because they promote cultural tolerance and try to prevent bullying -- including the most common kind, gay-bashing. And of course, being multicultural in their orientation, these programs tend to undermine right-wing authoritarianism as well.

If fundamentalists want to point the finger of blame, they should be pointed to their own back yards.

After all, it should be noted that the ad above can easily be read another way: Not a Christian? Then your life is forfeit. This is a mentality that fits readily into the
Christian warrior video-game mentality that keeps bubbling up from the religious right.

Fundamentalist Christians, in truth, have their own version of "survival of the fittest": Only those who are "saved" are worth saving, and the rest are condemned. If they want to know where kids get these attitudes, they should examine the messages they send them. This black-and-white worldview plays out in social groupings, in cliques, in deciding who gets bullied.

Where do kids get the idea that life is cheap, that the strong dominate the weak, that morality, honor and decency are irrelevant in a culture where winning is all that matters? They don't get taught that in their biology classes.

No, they get it every day in their schools from participating in the culture: from the jocks and "in group" kids who dominate; from the teachers who coddle them; and from the larger world around them, where the ethics-deprived are more likely to become rich and the ruthless more likely to succeed -- all part of a system of "free enterprise" capitalism that the fundamentalist right celebrates.

And if you don't fit in? Well, you're just worthless. A non-entity. Your life forfeit.

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