My Dad told me how once a guy named John Hinckley attempted to kill a President because he thought it would make him popular with some actress and how another guy named Mark Chapman had killed a singer for no reason at all.
Sadly even for me, it's the names of the bad guys that I remember like Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Bonnie and Clyde, Al Capone, Charles Manson or D.B. Cooper. As a society we romanticize the wrong doings of others or try to justify their actions in order to explain why we are fascinated by them. Jesse James, Billy the Kid and Bonnie and Clyde become Robin Hood figures. Al Capone and D.B. Cooper are cool because they were able to stick it to the man. While Manson and other killers become the boogey man. We're frightened by them but we're also entertained by them as if they are Freddy Kruger come to life. We turn villains into celebrities and forget about the people that bring them to justice. We give lip service to admiring the police but I've seen a lot more news stories and protests condemning police officers than I've seen praising them for the jobs they do everyday.
On April 20, 1999, in Colorado two students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, killed 12 students and 1 teacher at Columbine High School. They also injured 21 other students directly, and three people were injured while attempting to escape. The pair then committed suicide. Instead of simply condemning the actions of these two individuals the media questioned "what caused these young men to kill?" Dad says that there were debates on gun control and referendums on bullying in schools. He says that the focus shifted away from the killers to the other kids at the school and the bullying that must have been inflicted upon Harris and Klebold to cause them to kill. The victims of the crime were villainized for mocking the "Trench Coat Mafia" and lowering the self-esteem of the killers to the point were they felt like they had no other alternative but to go on a killing spree and ultimately take their own lives. Ridiculous.
American society exalts "tolerance" of other people's behavior as the highest virtue, and fosters "self-esteem" as a principal objective to it's detriment. Being "judgmental" is considered wrong. Meanwhile when people indulge in their impulses instead of controlling them we are supposed to provide them with patience and understanding. Instead of just telling them to stop doing whatever it is that they are doing. To disrespect someone has become a four-letter word, "diss". Yet, it is always someone with the least level of accomplishment who is concerned about being "dissed". Peer pressure is condemned but peer pressure is only bad when it causes someone to as my Mom is found of saying, "jump off a bridge" or shoplift. Peer pressure is also society's collective way of saying "stop doing that." The kids at that high school were I'm sure telling Harris and Klebold to, "stop wearing trench coats...that's weird" Peer pressure tells us to not chew with our mouths open; to wait patiently in lines; to bathe regularly; to not talk in the movie theater. All of which are good things. Without peer pressure we can't live together because the police and heroes can't be everywhere no matter how many laws politicians pass.
I should clarify that I'm not condoning bullying. What Josh McIntyre is doing to me is wrong. Bullying is when you pick on someone for no reason or for a reason that is beyond their control, like their race or hair color or sexual orientation. Peer pressure is an attempt to get people to act within the boundaries of society. There should be more peer pressure and not less. Society should re-institute the concept of shame. If we did there might be less Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton sex-tapes getting "leaked" into the public. There might be fewer reality TV shows in which the "contestants" have no talent other than being obnoxious or weird. We might have less graffiti because the perpetrators would be referred to as vandals and not artists. There might be fewer gangs because the lifestyle would not be glamorized in music and other entertainment.
Right now however, I live in a society that values fame above all else. People don't care how they get famous today. I think that once upon a time people had to have had some talent or accomplishments before they became famous but that is not the case today. When cast members from the Jersey Shore are signed up to be on "Dancing with the Stars" we have lowered the bar for what constitutes a star and as I stated above there are many whom if they can't become famous will resort to becoming infamous. Which makes it ironic that my family and I work so hard to maintain our secret identities. We could be rich; have a reality show; endorse perfumes and colognes but that's not the way my parents are raising me. Which makes me happy. Dad and Mom say that through the example that they and the rest of the Guild of Heroes set that the world can change for the better.
It's hard to think this about my own parents but I believe they are deluding themselves. The Guild is good for preventing alien invasions but for there to be a change in society we are going to need not only people leading by example but we are going to need a lot more people exerting a lot more peer pressure on the rest of the country.