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The Columbine Massacre and Video Game Violence

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

"What would you do if somebody got a gun and killed all of your kids? Would you get the people who killed us?
--Isaiah Shoels, speaking to his parents 3 days before he was murdered at Columbine High School. [1]

It is April 20th... Hitler's birthday. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walk into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado and start shooting their fellow students. They are triumphant. Some say, "orgasmic". They are certainly berserk in the ancient sense of the word... when all is lost, no fear, no self-preservation, only wild abandon. Death is the fate for everyone they see, and for themselves. By the time the SWAT team gets there, the killers have already blown their own heads off. Harris and Klebold have wounded 20, killed 1 teacher and 12 students. The media searches desperately for a motive. Isaiah Shoels was a black student so it must have been racially motivated. Some pundits see the massacre as anti-Christian since many of the dead had been overtly religious. Others see the killers as victims themselves. Thus the massacre was revenge against the athletes. (It's Revenge of the Nerds, but with shotguns instead of brains.) Still others focus on violent video games. Harris and Klebold played Quake and Doom for hours on end, and that's what tipped them over the edge. The common theme is that the killers were not responsible for the evil that overtook them. In an earlier age we would say they were possessed by demons or hexed by witches. They couldn't possibly be bad kids. BTW, did I mention they tended to shout, "Heil Hitler" just for fun? [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I'm going to talk about the video game aspect of this disaster, but remember that I was an early video games programmer. The most violent game I worked on was the PC version of Platoon based on the movie. It was rather tame compared to modern games, but Germany banned its sale to minors. With that said, video game violence has some effect on the human mind. That is why the US Army uses them to train soldiers. It helps them overcome their reluctance to pull the trigger, but video games do not absolve murderers of their crimes. Back in the 1950s and 60s they blamed violent comic books like Superman. Then they blamed violent cartoons like Tom and Jerry, but animated mayhem does not make good kids into bad ones. It simply gives bad kids more creative ways to be bad. Remember that you are training your kids to do the right thing over and over again until it becomes automatic... just like gun safety. And if it they haven't learned the difference between right and wrong by the time they are 17... well... that's when I see them as a jail chaplain. You've had your chance. [11] [12] [13] [14]

LaGrand Case

Contributed by Southpaw Ben

On February 24, Karl LaGrand was executed by lethal injection, followed by his brother Walter LeGrand on March 3. They had be arrested for murder after a botched bank robbery left a man dead and a woman severely injured. What makes this case notable, is that these two men were German nationals, despite having lived in the US since ages 4 and 5 respectively. As a result, Germany filed legal action with the International Court of Justice to stay the executions, as the LaGrands had not been informed of their right to consular assistance, as established by the Vienna Convention. The ICJ granted that stay, but was rejected by the US Supreme Court, due to the 11th ammendment not allowing it jurisdiction, as it forbids federal courts from hearing lawsuits of foreign countries against US states. As a result of this case, the ICJ found that its own provisional findings, such as stays of execution or temporary restraining orders (in the national law sense, not the individual meaning), were legally binding, and as such it the US Supreme Court should have enforced the stay of execution, despite it violating US law. [15]

My Take by Southpaw Ben
In the ruling itself, the ICJ address the fact that the French and English texts of the ICJ statutes contradict each other, as one allows the court to make the provisional measures legally binding, and the other does not. It acknowledges that both are completely authentic, and then decides that the they would go with the French version, which would make all provisional measures legally binding. As such, it also decided that the US had violated the Vienna Convention by not enforcing the stay of execution against it's own laws. This is just on more case of governments, be it national or international, always interpretting any gray areas in a way that allows them further control and powers, rather than in a way that would limit them.

Dr. Death Gets 10 Years. My Mother-in-law Gets Life

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

He is called "Dr. Death." His name is Jack Kevorkian. He is a pathologist. (That is, the guy in the morgue.) He has been promoting euthanasia, the gentle ending of a life. He even advertises in the newspaper as a "death counselor". He drives up in his beat up VW van. With the curtains drawn he sets up a cocktail of drugs on a rack. He calls this apparatus his Thanatron or "death machine". He sets up a harmless saline drip, and then the patient hits the button. The drip switches to sodium pentothal, a strong sedative. That is followed by a drug to stop the heart. (FYI, I am not telling you what it is because I don't want to frighten anyone. It is the same drug I take twice a day in small doses, but in a large dose it would kill me. And not incidentally, it would be difficult for the coroner to detect, so I'm careful not to piss off my wife.) Back to the Doctor, it is against the law at this time to help someone commit suicide, but the authorities have had a tough time bringing Dr. Kevorkian to justice, that is, until he goes on 60 Minutes. He demonstrates his machine on TV using Thomas Youk, 52, who is in the final stages of Lou Gehrig's disease. Oddly, Kevorkian changes his procedure, and administers the final injection himself. That is murder. Kevorkian is 70 years old. He will serve 8 years of a 10 year sentence, but he has already made his point. Euthanasia is now on the political agenda. [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Personally, I didn't like Kevorkian because he was some kind of death freak, but in principle he did things correctly. He saw a law that didn't make sense to him. He disobeyed the law in order to bring the case to court, but the authorities refused to convict him, or lacked the evidence to do so, and decided they had better things to do. Then Kevorkian made that error on 60 Minutes which I suspect was not an error. He technically murdered that man. This forced the government to act, and brought the issue forward. He walked out of that courtroom and into prison serene and happy. He had done what he came to do. Doctor-assisted suicide was on the agenda, and some states passed laws allowing it. Currently Texas law prohibits it, but withholding care is perfectly legal in Texas with the patient's consent. Thus, when it looked as if my Mother-in-law might die in the hospital, she signed a do-not-resuscitate order. We discussed it as a family with clergy present, and we all agreed. But then a Texas social worker confirmed it with my Mother-in-law after we left to make sure we hadn't pressured her. That pissed me off as if the state thought that we couldn't handle it, but upon reflection, it was a good idea. Trust but verify. (BTW, my Mother-in-law lived another year. False alarm.) [23]

Notable Births

  • Isaac Hempstead Wright: Bran Stark on HBO's Game of Thrones. (The books were amazing, but I've never seen the HBO series.--alexshrugged) [24]
  • Chandler Riggs: Carl Grimes, the kid in "The Walking Dead". [24]

Notable Deaths

  • DeForest Kelley (age 79, stomach cancer): Dr. Leonard McCoy on Star Trek the original series. [25]
  • Madeline Kahn (age 57, ovarian cancer): Lili Von Shtupp in Blazing Saddles. [26]
  • George C. Scott (age 71, a blood vessel burst): Patton. [27]
  • Iron Eyes Cody (age 94, old age): He was the "Crying Indian" in the TV anti-littering campaign. (I met him when I attended an Indian circle dance, lo those many years ago.--alexshrugged) [28]

This Year in Film

  • Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace: Although criticized, it is by far the highest grossing film for this year. [29]
  • The Sixth Sense: "I see dead people." (Great movie. Scared the pants off me.--alexshrugged) [29]
  • The Matrix: Follow the white rabbit and then take the red pill to learn the truth. [29]
  • And...: Wild Wild West, The Mummy, and Galaxy Quest, a parody of Star Trek. [29]

This Year in TV

  • Farscape: A science fiction adventure produced by Jim Henson. (Yeah. The Muppet guy.--alexshrugged [30]
  • The Sopranos: Italian-American mobsters on HBO. [30]
  • The West Wing: A Democrat President in the White House who isn't tripping over his pants every 5 minutes. (Did I say that out loud?--alexshrugged) [30]
  • And in Cartoons...: Family Guy, Futurama and SpongeBob SquarePants. [30]

This Year in Music

  • ...Baby One More Time: Britney Spears. "When I'm not with you I lose my mind / Give me a sign / Hit me, baby, one more time." [31]
  • You Were Mine: Dixie Chicks. "What Right Does She Have To Take You Away / When For So Long, You Were Mine." [31]
  • Napster peer-to-peer music sharing begins: Lawsuits also begin. It shutdowns 2 years later. It's brand name will be bought by Best Buy. [31]

This Year in Video Games

  • Silent Hill: It changes the paradigm of survival horror games making you fear what is around the next corner rather than throwing monsters at you pell-mell. [32] [33]
  • Everquest: A 3D fantasy, Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG). [32]
  • Soulcalibur: A 3D fighting game and according to critics, darn near perfect. [32]
  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater: Amazing physics. Deceptively simple game play. [32]

In Other News

  • Boris Yeltsin resigns as President of Russia, leaving Vladimir Putin as the acting President: . [34]
  • NATO bombs Yugoslavia: This is the first time NATO has attacked a sovereign country. [34][35]
  • John F. Kennedy, Jr. crashes his plane into the waters near Martha's Vineyard, killing himself, his wife and her sister: New pilot flying VFR at night over water. Guaranteed disaster, but it was just a short hop. [34]
  • The Aggie Bonfire collapses, killing 12: It is a 6 story tower of logs, a substantial construction project. (A sad day. We fly the Maroon and White at my house.--alexshrugged). [34]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1999, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. "Washingtonpost.com: When Will The Healing Start?", October 31, 1999. Retrieved on 8 May 2017. “The Shoelses were riding in the family minivan when Isaiah piped up with a strange question. 'What would you do if somebody got a gun and killed all of your kids?' he asked. 'Would you get the people who killed us?' Michael pulled the van over and pressed Isaiah for details. 'Why did you say that? Has anyone threatened you?' Isaiah quickly changed the subject. He told his parents he was just posing a hypothetical question. Still, Michael and Vonda told Isaiah that they would never respond with violence, but they would speak out against senseless hatred if such a thing happened. Three days later, Isaiah was dead.” 
  2. QUAKE 3 Team Arena on Nightmare mode - YouTube. Retrieved on 5 May 2017.
  3. Quake 3 Tricks And Glitches - YouTube. Retrieved on 5 May 2017.
  4. Sharrett, Christopher; Luhr, William. "Film Reviews: Bowling for Columbine by Michael Moore, Kathleen Glynn, Charles Bishop, Jim Czarnecki and Michael Donovan". Cinéaste (Cineaste Publishers, Inc.) 28 (2): 36-38. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41689578. Retrieved 08 May 2017. 
  5. Pike, Sarah M. (September 2009). "Dark Teens and Born-Again Martyrs: Captivity Narratives after Columbine". Journal of the American Academy of Religion (Oxford University Press) 77 (3): 647-679. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20630144. Retrieved 08 May 2017. 
  6. CNN - Gun provider sentenced to 6 years in Columbine case - November 13, 1999 (November 13, 1999). Retrieved on 8 May 2017. “Manes told the court he was 'horrified' when he first learned of the attack. 'I had no idea anything was going to happen,' he said. 'I am truly sorry.'”
  7. The Denver Post Online - News (November 13, 1999). Retrieved on 8 May 2017. “The 22-year-old former Columbine student also was sentenced to three years, to be served simultaneously, for possessing an illegally sawed-off shotgun during target practice with Klebold and Eric Harris. The six-year term was for selling a handgun to minors.”
  8. Revenge of the Nerds (1984) - IMDb. Retrieved on 8 May 2017. “At Adams College, a group of bullied outcasts and misfits resolve to fight back for their peace and self-respect.”
  9. Columbine High School shootings - Facts & Summary - HISTORY.com. Retrieved on 8 May 2017. “Investigators later learned Harris and Klebold had arrived in separate cars at Columbine around 11:10 on the morning of the massacre. The two then walked into the school cafeteria, where they placed two duffel bags each containing a 20-pound propane bomb set to explode at 11:17 a.m. The teens then went back outside to their cars to wait for the bombs to go off. When the bombs failed to detonate, Harris and Klebold began their shooting spree.”
  10. Farrell, Kirby (Autumn 2000). "The Berserk Style in American Culture". Cultural Critique (University of Minnesota Press) (46): 179-209. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1354413. Retrieved 08 May 2017. 
  11. Platoon (1987) - Stage 1 - Successful Attempt - YouTube. Quicksilver Software (2017). Retrieved on 5 May 2017.
  12. BPjS / BPjM indexed games. mobygames.com (2017). Retrieved on 5 May 2017. “It is illegal to sell or make any indexed games available to minors in Germany and it is illegal to advertise for them in any form, including putting them on store shelves or publishing reviews in gaming magazines. The games technically disappear from the public. The only way to actually buy these games is via request ('under the desk', German unter der Ladentheke).”
  13. Grossman, Dave. On Killing, On Killing, Little, Brown. ISBN 0316330116. 
  14. Why Children are Killing Children in Modern Society (1:2) - YouTube. youtube.com (2017). Retrieved on 8 May 2017. “Lt. Col. Dave Grossman was interviewed by Glenn Beck on January 2, 2013, on the topic of mass killings of children by children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre. Lt. Grossman is one of the world's foremost experts in the field of human aggression and the roots of violence and violent crime. He is a former West Point psychology professor, Professor of Military Science, and an Army Ranger who has combined his experiences to become the founder of a new field of scientific endeavor, which has been termed -killology.- In this new field Col. Grossman has made revolutionary new contributions to our understanding of killing in war, the psychological costs of war, the root causes of the current -virus- of violent crime that is raging around the world, and the process of healing the victims of violence, in war and peace. He is the author of On Killing, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; has been translated into Japanese, Korean, and German; is on the U.S. Marine Corps Commandant's required reading list; and is required reading at the FBI academy and numerous other academies and colleges. Col. Grossman co-authored Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill: A Call to Action Against TV, Movie and Video Game Violence, which has been translated into Norwegian and German, and has received international acclaim. Col. Grossman's most recent book, On Combat, has also placed on the U.S. Marine Corps Commandant's Required Reading List and has been translated into Japanese and Korean. Col. Grossman has been called upon to write the entry on -Aggression and Violence- in the Oxford Companion to American Military History, three entries in the Academic Press Encyclopedia of Violence and numerous entries in scholarly journals, to include the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. He has presented papers before the national conventions of the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. He has presented to over 100 different colleges and universities worldwide, and has trained educators and law enforcement professionals, in the field of school safety, at the state and regional level, in all 50 states and over a dozen foreign nations. He helped train mental health professionals after the Jonesboro school shootings, and he was also involved in counseling or court cases in the aftermath of the Paducah, Springfield, Littleton, Virginia Tech, and Nickel Mines Amish school shootings. He has been an expert witness and consultant in state and Federal courts, to include serving on the prosecution team in UNITED STATES vs. TIMOTHY MCVEIGH. He has testified before U.S. Senate and Congressional committees and numerous state legislatures, and he and his research have been cited in a national address by the President of the United States.”
  15. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LaGrand_case
  16. Macau - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 14 April 2015. “Sovereignty over Macau was transferred back to China on 20 December 1999. The Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration and the Basic Law of Macau stipulate that Macau operate with a high degree of autonomy until at least 2049, fifty years after the transfer.”
  17. Jack Kevorkian's Death Van and the Tech of Assisted Suicide - The Atlantic (June 3, 2011). Retrieved on 8 May 2017. “In the back of the Volkswagon, where Kevorkian had removed some of the seating, the doctor assembled his Mercitron and Thanatron, two machines he built himself. The Thanatron ('death machine'), which Kevorkian showed off during an appearance on the Donahue show, was constructed out of household tools and spare parts you might find in any suburban garage. Kevorkian outfitted the patient with an intravenous drip of a saline solution. When the patient pressed a button, the saline would switch to thiopental for sixty seconds. After that strong dose of thiopental, the patient would slip into a deep coma, at which point the Thanatron would inject a lethal dose of potassium chloride, a solution that stops the heart. Potassium chloride, a mix of potassium and chlorine, is the same solution that is delivered in the final step of most lethal injection procedures. The key component of Kevorkian's Mercitron ('mercy machine'), which was used far more often than the Thanatron, was not potassium chloride, but carbon monoxide.”
  18. Sodium thiopental - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 8 May 2017. “Sodium thiopental is an ultra-short-acting barbiturate and has been used commonly in the induction phase of general anesthesia. Its use has been largely replaced with that of propofol, but retains popularity as an induction agent for rapid sequence intubation and in obstetrics.[citation needed] Following intravenous injection, the drug rapidly reaches the brain and causes unconsciousness within 30–45 seconds. At one minute, the drug attains a peak concentration of about 60% of the total dose in the brain. Thereafter, the drug distributes to the rest of the body, and in about 5–10 minutes the concentration is low enough in the brain that consciousness returns.”
  19. Kevorkian's Nine-Year Euthanasia Crusade Leads to Murder Conviction. nrlc.org (2013). Retrieved on 8 May 2017. “During an interview with Mike Wallace, Kevorkian admitted he wanted prosecutors to put him on trial again. 'I've got to force them to act,' he said. 'They must charge me. Because if they do not, that means they don't think it was a crime.'”
  20. Dr. Jack Kevorkian's '60 Minutes' interview - CBS News (1998). Retrieved on 8 May 2017. “Dr. Jack Kevorkian had long been a public advocate of assisted suicide for the terminally ill. From 1990 to 1998, he claimed to have helped end the lives of some 130 willing subjects. In September of 1998, Dr. Jack Kevorkian videotaped himself injecting Thomas Youk, who suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease, with a dose of lethal drugs.”
  21. Dr. Death Goes Down: Jack Kevorkian Convicted Of Murder In 1999 - CrimeFeed. crimefeed.com (March 27, 2017). Retrieved on 8 May 2017. “For some, including the members of Youk’s family who spoke to the press, Kevorkian performed a 'mercy killing.' Others viewed the lethal-injection video as network TV’s first prime-time excursion into 'snuff films.'”
  22. Kevorkian released from prison after 8 years - Health - Health care - NBC News. Retrieved on 8 May 2017. “'You think I’m going to obey the law? You’re crazy,' he said in 1998 shortly before he was accused — and then convicted — of murder after injecting lethal drugs into Thomas Youk, 52, an Oakland County man suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease.”
  23. Texas Euthanasia Laws - FindLaw. Retrieved on 8 May 2017. “Although euthanasia is illegal in Texas, doctors may remove life support in order to allow a person to die naturally. This may be the case when a person's life depends on artificial processes like 'iron lungs' or intravenous nutrition. Sometimes, a person is put on life support with the hope that their body will recover, and the life support may be removed. However, after some time it may become apparent that the person cannot survive without the life support. In this case, the family may wish to allow the person to pass away. However, doctors may only remove life support if the patient consents to the removal.”
  24. 24.0 24.1 1999 Births - Wikipedia (1999).
  25. DeForest Kelley - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 5 May 2017. “Kelley died of stomach cancer on June 11, 1999, at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles. His body was cremated and the ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.”
  26. Madeline Kahn - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 5 May 2017. “Kahn developed ovarian cancer in 1998. She underwent treatment, continued to work on Cosby and married John Hansbury in October 1999.[38] The disease spread rapidly, and she died on December 3, 1999, at age 57. Her body was cremated. A bench dedicated to her memory was erected in Central Park by her husband John Hansbury and her brother Jeffrey Kahn.”
  27. George C. Scott - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 5 May 2017. “Scott suffered a series of heart attacks in the 1980s.[19] He died on September 22, 1999, aged 71, of a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. His body was buried in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, California, in an unmarked grave.”
  28. "Iron Eyes Cody, 94, an Actor And Tearful Anti-Littering Icon - The New York Times", January 5, 1999. Retrieved on 5 May 2017. “Iron Eyes Cody, the actor who played an Indian shedding a tear at the sight of a littered American landscape in one of television's best-known and most-honored television commercials, died yesterday at his home in Los Angeles, the police said. He was 94.” 
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.3 1999 in film - Wikipedia (1999). Retrieved on 27 January 2017.
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 1999 in television - Wikipedia (1999).
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 1999 in music - Wikipedia (1999). Retrieved on 30 January 2017.
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 1999 in music - Wikipedia (1999).
  33. ZDTV GameSpot TV Horror Edition Part 1 of 3 - YouTube (Silent Hill, 8:08 minutes in). Retrieved on 5 May 2017.
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 34.3 1999 - Wikipedia.
  35. 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia

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