Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country
of West Texas
Tuesday, April 27, 1999
By Smokey Briggs
Change may not
have been good
Last week's events at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado seem
to have left us a nation searching for answers.
The anti-gun crowd is screaming that guns are the cause of this evil.
The psychologists are poking through books on Freud and Jung speculating
on what could cause such behavior.
Some find easy blame to lay at the foot of Hollywood.
Some would include the rest of the media for reporting the details of
the mayhem that man perpetrates on his fellow man.
Others wish to blame the parents of the shooters for poor parenting.
I'm not all that sure there is an answer. I am pretty sure that there
are no easy answers that will fit into a sound bite.
Moreover, I really don't think that if a genie were to lay the answer
at our feet, that we would like it, or even accept it.
What all of the speculators, experts and special interest groups have
in common, it seems, is a preoccupation with a symptom, or a final behavior
— but not a root cause.
Movies, guns, gruesome news coverage, bad parents and child hood problems
have been around for a long, long time.
But the recent rash of high school shootings is something new.
Something changed. Given the geographical spread of these events, something
changed all across our nation, and across our culture.
The anti-gun crowd is simply capitalizing on a tragic event, like vultures
winging swiftly to a fresh carcass.
Poisons, gases, explosives — all are relatively easy to manufacture
in a technological world. Guns are not necessary for mass destruction and
certainly don't plant the seeds of murder in peoples' minds.
Criminals wishing to commit the ultimate crime will hardly be deterred
by the lesser punishment they might face if caught with an illegal weapon.
And, for the right price, illegal items will always be available. Witness
Perhaps there is some merit to the charge against the violence so prevalent
in movies and television.
Although hard to quantify, advertising seems to work. Pepsi and Coca-Cola
sure seem to think so.
Maybe the violence we witness on video acts as sort of an advertisement
for creation of the same in real life.
If there is a connection, it probably has more to do with the morale
theme, or lack of one, rather than the violence itself.
When John Wayne shot somebody the guy needed shooting. The themes in
many of today's videos are not so clear.
The news media? Again, I'm not sure. But overwhelming, sensational coverage
of violent crimes has been with us for hundreds of years and failed to
create this effect before.
Bad parents? Troublesome child hood experiences? Ostracism from your
peer group? Certainly these have long been afflictions of man.
If anything, some of these might be variables in the overall equation
— symptoms to some degree — or contributing causes.
But the root cause, I think, lies deeper. It lies within our society,
Logically, unless it can be linked to something in the national water
supply, it stands to reason that the cause lies in something we did in
the last few decades.
Somehow, we changed something in our culture, and the result is horrible.
The question is what?
There are many things that have changed over the past couple of decades:
The nuclear family appears to be dead. Divorced parents seem to be the
norm today, rather than the anomaly. Divorce has become the cure-all for
hard times in a marriage and children are paying the price.
The extended family, for most of the nation, no longer exists — the
price we pay for living in a technological world that turns us into gypsies
living in air conditioned, but temporary, huts far from the rest of our
Even if a child's parents do manage to stay together, we have created
a society where both parents probably work — either from necessity, greed
or social pressure. The noble act of self-sacrifice performed by moms who
stay at home and raise their children is practically vilified in today's
And yet, in many ways, life continues to get easier and easier. Most
kids don't seem to need to work anymore, or they won't. Nintendo seems
to have replaced afternoon jobs, homework and chores. Nobody ever said
that a life of ease builds character.
Discipline seems to have fallen by the wayside as well. Somewhere in
between Dr. Spock and today the spanking of children has been labeled child
Teachers can no longer employ the universal language of pain to impress
upon students that they have done something wrong.
Unfortunately, throughout the world, there are people that understand
no other language.
And finally, there is tolerance. Too much of it.
In our drive to create a kind, gentle world where everyone is treated
fairly, I think we took a few steps down a path that looked good, but leads
to an abyss.
As a society, for the past couple of decades we have been preaching
tolerance to the point that tolerance has become the goal, rather than
a path to a goal.
But tolerance, in-and-of-itself, is not good. Tolerance of evil is just
Tolerating anti-social behavior doesn't make it go away. Instead, it
allows such behavior to grow and become more extreme.
In our desire to be tolerant of different people, cultures and beliefs,
we may have gone a step to far — we may have lost the guts to call evil
by its name — to teach the difference between right and wrong.
We may have forgotten that not everything in this world that is different
from our own beliefs is good, or even indifferent.
Right and wrong still exist. But try to point to it today and you are
likely to be besieged by some group or another as culturally biased, a
religious radical, a bigot, a chauvinist, a redneck, or any other term
that can be coined to cast a poor light on the speaker.
Here, I think, the news media may be at fault, either through conscious
effort, or blind support, of anyone who holds up the torch of tolerance
and proclaims this high ground for themselves.
The culture of America's past wasn't perfect. It wasn't Utopia. It wasn't
fair. But, it didn't create high school kids intent on killing their classmates
Comments needed on area bomber training initiative
We urge everyone in West Texas to comment on the Draft Environmental Impact
Statement (EIS) on the Realistic Bomber Training Initiative. Copies of
it can be found in the local library or you can request your own copy from
Dyess AFB (915) 696-2863.
While this document is beautifully presented with it's charts, pictures
and maps — the representations of the environmental impacts in it are flawed.
Of the 28 or so environmental documents the Trans-Pecos Protection Group
has analyzed, this one is the farthest from reality. It is totally without
merit as it apples to the National Environmental Policy Act. If this wasn't
such a serious matter — this EIS would be laughable.
There are realistic, real live people out here that this draft arrogantly
deals with as insignificant. The repeated use of words like "might" and
"may" and "negligible" and "inconsequential" when describing the impacts
felt by these Low Level Realistic Combat Training Flights are insults to
our intelligence. Anyone who has ever been under had a near-miss with or
had property damaged by these war machines can attest to a very definite
Comments can be sent to: Major Brent Adams, RBTI EIS Project Manger,
HQ ACC/CEVPP, 129 Andrews Street, Suite 102, Langley AFB, VA, 23665-2769.
For more information, contact the Trans-Pecos Protection Group at (915)
P.O. Box 605
Alpine, Texas 79831
Reader thanks staff at local hospital
I want to say a loud and resounding thank you to the Reeves County Hospital
Emergency room staff and the Dr. (forgive me for not remembering his name)
who were on duty the night of the 13th when my husband, J.R. Wooten was
taken in so near to death.
A special thank you to Mr. Bill Wendt for staying on after his shift
was over at 11:00 p.m. but was still right there when the ambulance left
for Odessa at 5:30 a.m.
To the E.M.S. crew for the courageous act of transporting J.R. and Mrs.
Lovelace in Unison to Odessa.
To our loving church and community family of Toyah.
Reeves County this is one time you can be very proud of your over-all
health-care giving units. But to God be the over all praise and glory.
Return to top
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Peggy McCracken, Webmaster
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.
We support Newspapers in Education
Copyright 1999 by Pecos Enterprise