Friday, August 24, 2012

The bullies and the bullied


While researching for a planned novel the other day, I had to do a quick google search on school shootings. I was looking for more recent ones, but one of the country's earliest was the one that caught my eye.
It happened in 1978 in Michigan. A Nazi sympathizer, taunted by his classmates for his beliefs, brought a gun to his school and shot two of his tormentors, wounding one and killing the other.

These days, school shootings are more common than ever. Every time a shooting makes the news, we hear about how the shooter was bullied and tormented until they couldn't take anymore and lashed out at their tormentors. But when I read about this particular shooting, the first thing I thought was, "Who on earth would pick on a Nazi supporter? Isn't that sort of like poking a sleeping bear?"

Except cute little bears like this one. You can poke them all you like. (source)

But these are different times. 1978 was only about 30 years after Hitler's regime ended. I'm no historian, but I'd be willing to bet that we know a lot more about Nazis now than we did back then.
For the past several nights, my dad has been watching documentaries about "Hitler's Secret Life" or "Secrets From Hitler's Death Camps." Information about Naziism and World War II concentration camps that supposedly wasn't widespread before. Perhaps these kids were simply doing what bullies do -- taunting a lonely kid for having different beliefs. They couldn't have realized the atrocities Nazi sympathizers were capable of.

Interestingly, this school shooting scenario is the reverse of what we see/hear today. We usually hear about poor, innocent kids who were picked on for being loners, for their taste in music or movies, for being scrawny, self-conscious, or socially awkward. Who was worse in this situation: The kids who bullied someone, or the kid who sympathized with a political party known for carrying out atrocious, inhumane acts? Or were they really in the dark

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