Our Culture Behind Wisconsin Girls' Stabbing Case
by John Kass
What kind of culture produced those two 12-year-old
The 12-year-olds were charged as adults. Police said they wanted to kill their classmate so they could cement a pact with an evil, fictional character that lives only on the Internet.
We won't know for some time what really drove the girls to grab that knife and hold their friend down and stab her, if indeed that's what happened. But we do know about the culture they live in.
It is a culture that has fallen in love with magic and fantasy. It is a culture that takes fantasy symbols of evil -- the vampire, the witch -- and transforms them into heroes of great virtue. It is a culture where dark magic is celebrated, but religion is considered bothersome. We reap what we sow.
Before any of you get riled up thinking I'm about to burn "The Brothers Grimm" or "Russian
All living things take on the characteristics of their environment. Plants soak up nutrients or poisons, as do animals. Young humans do, too.
I figure most parents who've heard of the story must have shuddered, thinking:
Could my child have classmates like that, and be a victim? Could my children be capable of such monstrous selfishness?
"I can't even deal with it," said a young mother I know who has two little children. "I heard about it. I don't want to know."
Of course she'll want to know. She's a mom. And she'll learn about the girls and something will creep along her nerves, just like it's crept along the nerves of every parent with sense.
If you've been following this story, you know that police say the girls stabbed their friend in order to pay tribute to Slender Man.
Slender Man isn't a person, at least not considered a living being by those who can distinguish between fantasy and reality. It is a character created on a website.
Slender Man is tall and thin. He wears a suit. He has no face.
The girls, police said, were devoted to him. They wanted to kill their classmate so Slender Man would accept them.
"Both suspects had a fascination in a fictitious character that often posted to a website that is a collection of small stories about death and horror," said
And then came the boilerplate parental warning:
"Unmonitored and unrestricted access to the Internet by children is a growing and alarming problem," Jack continued. "Parents are strongly encouraged to restrict and monitor their
Slender Man, of course, is evil, but then so were vampires once.
Once, Dracula would take our immortal souls. These days, souls aren't discussed much, perhaps because the mention of souls will offend somebody.
So now vampires get married in an outdoor ceremony, or at least the movie clip I saw of "Twilight" informed me of as much. The vampire groom wore a tuxedo. The bride wore white. The minister began with "Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here on this glorious day ...."
And later, when the groom kissed his bride and all the people clapped, you could see the hint of his fangs.
Between "Twilight" and
On hot summer days when we were children, my brothers and I and our friends would go into the cool basement with an old tape recorder. We'd each adopt a character and we'd make audio theater. Yes, it was nerdy stuff, but fun.
Years later, I found an unfinished novel by
Steinbeck writes about the great knight Lancelot, imprisoned by witches and ruminating from his dungeon. A child, Lancelot thinks, could have a dog and call it brother, or pull wings from a fly and call it father.
"And then because his world has disappointed him, he builds his own world where he is king, where he rules not only men and women and animals but clouds and stars and sky. ... In his dream he builds not only a world but remakes himself as he would wish to be."
Often, Steinbeck's Lancelot observes, the budding necromancer makes peace with the world, crafting compromises so that the worlds of reality and fantasy don't hurt each other. But some do not make peace. Some must be locked away as insane. Only a few clever ones try to make such dreams real. They convince themselves they're enchanters.
"Not being wise enough or kind enough, the magic manufactured world does not function and many are injured and many killed by its ill design," Steinbeck writes. "And then rage comes as to the child, destructive rage, and vindictive hate. There lies the fear, for wizards and witches are children, living in a world they made without the leavening of pity or the mathematics of organization. And what could be more frightening than a child with total power?"
But that's what they appear to be, those girls in
They're not wizards. They're not witches. They're just 12-year-olds. What could be more frightening?
Available at Amazon.com:
- Tightening Whose Belt?
- Three Felonies a Day
- Reviving the North Korea-Iran Axis?
- The Pentagon Makes War on Alaska's Pristine Wilderness
- There's Still Time to Prosecute the Torturers
- The American Way of War in the 21st Century
- After Baltimore, a Call to Reclaim Mother's Day
- Venture Capitalists Rule the World
- The Weakening Foundations of Western Power
- Cuba's Coming Out Party
- Authoritarian Symps
- Celebrating Wars & Destruction
- Boston Marathon Bombing Trial: Search for Justice and Closure
- Yes, Black America Fears the Police
- New Boston Bombing Video
- Obama's Last National Security Strategy
- What We Lose with a Privatized Postal Service
- Wal-Mart Does Something Right
- Guantanamo Bay's Place in U.S. Strategy
- The Intersection of Three Crises
- Taking on 'Mayor 1 Percent'
- Obama Honors Chicago's Pullman District
- Chicago Police Testing Body Cameras
- Judge Says Chicago Cubs Can Keep Building Wrigley Signs
- Illinois Last, Best Chance?
- Bald Eagles Nesting in New York for First Time in 100 Years
- NYC's 911 System Overhaul $700M Over Budget
- Chicago Police Testing Body Cameras
- Obama Corrects a Historic Mistake on Cuba
- Why Obama and Congress Should Go Further With Cuba
- U.S. Cuban Relations Reimagined
- China and The United States
- Tensions in the Arctic
- Ebola and Moral Panic
- What West Africa Can Teach the U.S. About Ebola
- Everything Wrong with Obama's War on ISIS
- Maya Angelou was Deeper than a Pithy Quote
- Give Killers Coverage, Not A Soapbox
- Our Culture Behind Wisconsin Girls' Stabbing Case
- Are Hispanics in Danger of Becoming White?
- Obama Outlines the Limits of Foreign Intervention
- Just Don't Call It 'Reparations'
- Small Men with Ugly Thoughts, Expressed Aloud
- It's Time to Show Our Veterans Some Love
- Justice for All, Except Those Too Big to Jail
- On the 9/11 Memorial and Museum
- Policing Thought Crime
- Turmoil and Intimations of Gender Bias at The Gray Lady
- Jayson Blair and All The Lies Not Fit to Print
- Mental Illness and Guns have Created a National Epidemic
- Army of One
- Mass Killers Hold Culture and Country Hostage
- Florida Governor Takes Deep Dive into Climate Change
- Charlie Christ Flip-Flop is a Bad Idea
- Botched Execution Should Be Death Knell of Capital Punishment
- Cruel and Unusual Ways of Execution
- Bring Back Firing Squads? We Do Worse
- Clayton Lockett: A Just Execution, Regardless
- Supreme Court Rules 5-4 on Public Prayer
- Supreme Court Rules on Public Prayer -- But Should It?
- John Kerry Warns of Excessive Isolationism
- Obama's Foreign Policy Nonexistent
- On Race: Meet Dumb and Dumberer
- Believers in U.S. Decline Will Be Disappointed
- A Nation Divided with Liberty and Justice for Some
- Can Ethnic Hate Be a Mental Illness?
- Pulitzer Committee Makes Stand for Free Press, Accountable Government
- NRA Members Need To Step Up on Ending Gun Violence
- Military Chief's Plea: Put Returning Soldiers to Work
- Home from War, Our Soldiers Continue to Die
- Better Gun Laws Needed to Protect Mentally Ill and Rest of Us
- Guns: Monsters in Our Midst
Article: Copyright © 2014, Tribune Content Agency
"Our Culture Behind Wisconsin Girls' Stabbing Case "