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Mon May 21, 2018, 08:20 AM

Thresholds of Violence: How school shootings catch on

Good article, long, but worth a re-read from the New Yorker a few years back on theories about increased school shootings.


Most previous explanations had focussed on explaining how someone’s beliefs might be altered in the moment. An early theory was that a crowd cast a kind of intoxicating spell over its participants. Then the argument shifted to the idea that rioters might be rational actors: maybe at the moment a riot was beginning people changed their beliefs. They saw what was at stake and recalculated their estimations of the costs and benefits of taking part.

But Granovetter thought it was a mistake to focus on the decision-making processes of each rioter in isolation. In his view, a riot was not a collection of individuals, each of whom arrived independently at the decision to break windows. A riot was a social process, in which people did things in reaction to and in combination with those around them. Social processes are driven by our thresholds—which he defined as the number of people who need to be doing some activity before we agree to join them. In the elegant theoretical model Granovetter proposed, riots were started by people with a threshold of zero—instigators willing to throw a rock through a window at the slightest provocation. Then comes the person who will throw a rock if someone else goes first. He has a threshold of one. Next in is the person with the threshold of two. His qualms are overcome when he sees the instigator and the instigator’s accomplice. Next to him is someone with a threshold of three, who would never break windows and loot stores unless there were three people right in front of him who were already doing that—and so on up to the hundredth person, a righteous upstanding citizen who nonetheless could set his beliefs aside and grab a camera from the broken window of the electronics store if everyone around him was grabbing cameras from the electronics store.

Granovetter was most taken by the situations in which people did things for social reasons that went against everything they believed as individuals. “Most did not think it ‘right’ to commit illegal acts or even particularly want to do so,” he wrote, about the findings of a study of delinquent boys. “But group interaction was such that none could admit this without loss of status; in our terms, their threshold for stealing cars is low because daring masculine acts bring status, and reluctance to join, once others have, carries the high cost of being labeled a sissy.” You can’t just look at an individual’s norms and motives. You need to look at the group.

.........................................................................

Then came Columbine. The sociologist Ralph Larkin argues that Harris and Klebold laid down the “cultural script” for the next generation of shooters. They had a Web site. They made home movies starring themselves as hit men. They wrote lengthy manifestos. They recorded their “basement tapes.” Their motivations were spelled out with grandiose specificity: Harris said he wanted to “kick-start a revolution.” Larkin looked at the twelve major school shootings in the United States in the eight years after Columbine, and he found that in eight of those subsequent cases the shooters made explicit reference to Harris and Klebold. Of the eleven school shootings outside the United States between 1999 and 2007, Larkin says six were plainly versions of Columbine; of the eleven cases of thwarted shootings in the same period, Larkin says all were Columbine-inspired.

Along the same lines, the sociologist Nathalie E. Paton has analyzed the online videos created by post-Columbine shooters and found a recurring set of stylized images: a moment where the killer points his gun at the camera, then at his own temple, and then spreads his arms wide with a gun in each hand; the closeup; the wave goodbye at the end. “School shooters explicitly name or represent each other,” she writes. She mentions one who “refers to Cho as a brother-in-arms”; another who “points out that his cultural tastes are like those of ‘Eric and Dylan’ ”; a third who “uses images from the Columbine shooting surveillance camera and devotes several videos to the Columbine killers.” And she notes, “This aspect underlines the fact that the boys actively take part in associating themselves to a group.”
........................................................................

In the day of Eric Harris, we could try to console ourselves with the thought that there was nothing we could do, that no law or intervention or restrictions on guns could make a difference in the face of someone so evil. But the riot has now engulfed the boys who were once content to play with chemistry sets in the basement. The problem is not that there is an endless supply of deeply disturbed young men who are willing to contemplate horrific acts. It’s worse. It’s that young men no longer need to be deeply disturbed to contemplate horrific acts.


https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/10/19/thresholds-of-violence

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Reply Thresholds of Violence: How school shootings catch on (Original post)
ehrnst May 2018 OP
smirkymonkey May 2018 #1
TimeSnowDemos May 2018 #2
ehrnst May 2018 #3
TimeSnowDemos May 2018 #4
ehrnst May 2018 #5
TimeSnowDemos May 2018 #6
ehrnst May 2018 #7
TimeSnowDemos May 2018 #8
ehrnst May 2018 #9
TimeSnowDemos May 2018 #10
ehrnst May 2018 #11
TimeSnowDemos May 2018 #12
ehrnst May 2018 #13
TimeSnowDemos May 2018 #14
ehrnst May 2018 #15
TimeSnowDemos May 2018 #16
ehrnst May 2018 #17
TimeSnowDemos May 2018 #18
ehrnst May 2018 #19
raccoon May 2018 #20

Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon May 21, 2018, 08:24 AM

1. K&R

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon May 21, 2018, 08:34 AM

2. This is interesting, but...

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_school_shootings_in_the_United_States

Have a look at that...

School shooting are older than the phrase "as American as Apple Pie" making them MORE American than apple pie.

And the worst school massacre was almost 100 years ago...

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Response to TimeSnowDemos (Reply #2)

Mon May 21, 2018, 08:42 AM

3. But students shooting up schools were not as frequent 100 years ago, or even 20 by any stretch.

And some of the school shootings listed in wikipedia were accidental. Some were not at a school, but teachers being shot when they weren't at school, by people that weren't. Some were parents arguing with a teacher at a school event.

No, what the New Yorker article is talking about is much more specific.

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Response to ehrnst (Reply #3)

Mon May 21, 2018, 08:51 AM

4. True but

 

if the idea is that one sparks more, which sparks more, they would've been... check out the Bath School Massacre... it was on the front page for days on end... and yet, no copycats....

On the other hand, the massacres themselves have been happening for 150+ years...

so... there's no connection... them happening doesn't cause more (you'll note Norway hasn't had more since Anders Breivik, despite the media coverage)...what causes more is easier access to guns.

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Response to TimeSnowDemos (Reply #4)

Mon May 21, 2018, 08:57 AM

5. Again, what the article is talking about is a specific kind of shooting.

The shooters are overwhelmingly white male teenagers, that go into their school and kill kids, and not generalized massacres.

The Bath Massacre was perpetrated by an adult, not a student. There was also no social media in which students could go over and over the details of the massacre, nor was the massacre about anger towards peers.

So, no there would not have been the circumstances that there are now for copycats.

And we have a specific gun culture in this country - tied up with masculinity, that is not present in other industrialized democracies.



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Response to ehrnst (Reply #5)

Mon May 21, 2018, 09:01 AM

6. Go look

 

At those mass shootings... even in the 1800s they were largely white male teenagers.

That list is school massacres, not general mass shootings, btw. There's a different page for general gun massacres.

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Response to TimeSnowDemos (Reply #6)

Mon May 21, 2018, 09:02 AM

7. I did. And no, the pattern is not the same as the one the article speaks of.

Go look.

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Response to ehrnst (Reply #7)

Mon May 21, 2018, 09:03 AM

8. In what sense?

 

Kids killing their peers in schools with guns. Mostly white teens. Lots of media coverage.

What's different specifically.

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Response to TimeSnowDemos (Reply #8)

Mon May 21, 2018, 09:05 AM

9. Your generalization that "this" has been going on for over a century.

Read the article to understand what "this" is that I'm referring to.

And no, the term "massacre" isn't interchangable with "school shooting," which you seem to going back and forth on.

And no, "school shooting" as defined by your wikipedia link encompasses far more than actual "students shooting up schools on purpose," which isn't even the case in the Bath Massacre.

The article is talking about a specific phenomenon, complete with rituals prior to the shooting, primarily by white teenaged boys, that has been happening since Columbine.

Is that clearer?

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Response to ehrnst (Reply #9)

Mon May 21, 2018, 09:12 AM

10. We'll agree to disagree

 

And of course, these things are covered as extensively here in Europe as they are in the US... and guess what, no school massacres... which doesn't make sense if school massacres cause school massacres cause school massacres...

On the OTHER hand, the number of guns in America has shoot up since the 90s, which corresponds pretty much exactly with the preponderance of school shootings, using your definition.

So no, not buying that people are being made into mass murderers by the media.

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Response to TimeSnowDemos (Reply #10)

Mon May 21, 2018, 09:14 AM

11. Again...

There is a gun culture tied up with masculinity, combined with easy access to weapons that is specific to the US.

"People are being made into mass murderers by the media," is a simplistic misrepresentation of the article, which talks about riot theory being a part of it.

It helps to read the article prior to making statements about the content, then you have a basis on which to disagree with someone who has.

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Response to ehrnst (Reply #11)

Mon May 21, 2018, 09:23 AM

12. Again

 

School shooting are covered nonstop in the media worldwide. School shootings don't happen worldwide. Any notion that there's some causal link between the media coverage and school shooting is on it's face nonsense.

On the other hand, what DOES match is the rise in the number of guns and the rise of gun death.

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Response to TimeSnowDemos (Reply #12)

Mon May 21, 2018, 09:35 AM

13. I went to a high school in the 70's where there were gun racks in trucks students drove to school.

Last edited Mon May 21, 2018, 10:13 AM - Edit history (3)

There were guns available to anyone that walked out into the parking lot with a key to those vehicles - far more access than they would have in the last 20 years.

Hunting was a male rite of passage.

Most men and boys I knew owned guns - BB guns and air rifles as kids, then a rifle when he got to his teens. I'm sure that number has gone up.

There has not been a single shooting at that high school.

(Another example: http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20160109/news/160109001/ )

Other suburban high schools had shooting clubs with teens bringing guns to school, too.

"Guns were in the schools," Wagner recalls, "and there were no problems with them."

The Arlington High School students involved walked to school with their guns, brought their guns on their bicycles along with their backpacks or simply carried a gun case onto the school bus. English teacher Wayne Wagner would secure the arsenal in a locked classroom closet until the final bell rang.


Clearly there is something else at work in the last 20 years, in addition to the simple increase in guns, when we are talking about school shootings by students. (Let's keep on topic, shall we?)

School shooting are covered nonstop in the media worldwide. School shootings don't happen worldwide. Any notion that there's some causal link between the media coverage and school shooting is on it's face nonsense.


To declare that media, especially social media, has no effect is on its face nonsense. To state that in addition to the availability of guns that all the media coverage of shooters can be the tipping point for some young men who would not have otherwise opened fire in a school is not ignoring the problem of gun availablity. What it does do is let us know that there are kids who don't show signs of mental illness who could be at risk. A good thing, yes?

If you had bothered to read the article that you keep trying to say is "nonsense" you would have understood that there is a snowball effect - a young white American male sees peers, sees a model for dealing with pain, and it is amplified via social media. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the "Incel" groups that worship the shooters that have been "rebuffed" by women who they think owe them sex.

I suggest that if you are not going to even read the article, that you do a bit of research on the effects that social media especially has, on young white men.

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Response to ehrnst (Reply #13)

Mon May 21, 2018, 10:20 AM

14. Not clear at all

 

Because, again, no stats ACTUALLY back up the notion that guns were more common in the 70s.

And again, the rest of the world has social media, yes? And media. And videogames, and heavy metal, and crazy people, and 'evil'.

But it doesn't have school massacres.

In addition, gun deaths - aside from school shootings - are basically the same as they were in the 70s. So at VERY best kids shooting other kids in a narrowly defined way is up, over the course of the last 30 years - pre-social media there were dozens of these sorts of shootings a year though remember - and yet all the things that you claim are behind this exist everywhere, except guns and school shootings.

There's no real correlation here.

I mean, aside from guns and gun violence.

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Response to TimeSnowDemos (Reply #14)

Mon May 21, 2018, 10:32 AM

15. You still haven't read the article, have you?

But that doesn't stop you from lecturing on the content, even as you misrepresent what it posits.

I can guarantee you that no, there are no guns being carried openly into schools now, like kids did in the 70's, but what would even that mean to someone with an axe to grind with me for some reason.

Nothing, clearly. By all means, keep on banging away.



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Response to ehrnst (Reply #15)

Mon May 21, 2018, 10:34 AM

16. I have

 

I subscribe to the New Yorker.

That doesn't mean it or you are making a convincing argement.

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Response to TimeSnowDemos (Reply #16)

Mon May 21, 2018, 10:37 AM

17. Your posts don't indicate it.

In fact, the opposite.

You seem to have a very specific problem with the very idea that social media, or media in general has a profound effect on teenagers. Or perhaps you have competing studies that disprove or debunk riot dynamic?

Personal experience? That often overrides logic.

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Response to ehrnst (Reply #17)

Mon May 21, 2018, 10:38 AM

18. Your posts

 

Don't exactly make me think you've done much research beyond reading an article.

Let's agree to disagree and move on.

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Response to TimeSnowDemos (Reply #18)

Mon May 21, 2018, 10:44 AM

19. I agree to disagree that

you have done any more than make this very personal on your part, and not about facts.

May I suggest the "ignore" feature?

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Response to ehrnst (Reply #5)

Wed May 23, 2018, 09:48 AM

20. You can say that again.


And we have a specific gun culture in this country - tied up with masculinity, that is not present in other industrialized democracies.


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