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School gunman Karl Pierson liked debate, running, but acted "weird" at times

Martinez and Wilson '13 (Michael and Stan, CNN reporters, URL: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/14/us/colorado-school-gunman-karl-pierson/)

Centennial, Colorado (CNN) -- To many of his neighbors, Colorado school gunman Karl Pierson was the wholesome boy next door who liked achievement and ran on the cross country team. He even worked on an Eagle Scout project two years ago. To schoolmates, Pierson was known for his outspoken intelligence that served him well on the debate team. But at times, he acted "weird" and alienated peers with rants about communism and his aggressiveness to win every argument, they said. One neighbor described him as bright but a social misfit whose peers ridiculed himHis mother had transferred him from another high school because of the mockery and altercations, the neighbor said. Pierson, 18, opened fire Friday inside Arapahoe High School, where he was a senior. Claire Davis, 17, was wounded in a point-blank shooting, and Pierson, who apparently didn't know Davis, then killed himself in the library, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson told reporters Friday. "He was a really smart kid. He was intelligent. He knew how to speak; he really did. I don't think I ever won an argument with that kid," junior Daylon Stutz said in the school parking lot on Saturday, when students were allowed to retrieve their cars. Stutz, an offensive tackle on the football team, had known Pierson since the two shared a human behavior class when Stutz was a freshman and Pierson a sophomore. They worked on a class experiment together in which they went into the community and tried breaking unwritten rules, Stutz said. "I did think he was a little weird, but I didn't think he was, like, bad weird," Stutz added. "He always kind of talked about how America was a communist country, how the government was, like, trying to take us over and stuff. I don't know, just some weird stuff that I didn't really pay close attention to, but nothing that alarmed me. "He was definitely kind to me. I never saw him mean to anybody. He wasn't condescending to anyone," he said. In Friday's shooting, Pierson was armed with a shotgun, a bandolier stocked with ammunition, a machete and three Molotov cocktails, Robinson said. Pierson fired five shots within 1 minute and 20 seconds, he said. Pierson entered his school looking for the debate team's coach,CNN affiliate KUSA reported, citing Robinson. Pierson was apparently seeking revenge against a faculty member because of a "confrontation or disagreement," the sheriff said. High school senior Frank Woronoff said he had known Pierson since they were freshmen. "He was the last person I would expect to shoot up a high school," Woronoff said. "He was pretty geeky and nerdy but in a charming way, one of the nicest, most humble people I know," he added. Senior Chris Davis, 18, was among many students Saturday trying to make sense of Pierson's shooting rampage. "He was a weird kid," Davis said. "He's a self-proclaimed communist, just wears Soviet shirts all the time." Pierson became easily aggravated, "always liked to be right" and didn't like losing, Davis said. "It seems realistic, now, that he did it," Davis added. The home where authorities believe Pierson armed himself is five miles from his school and appeared vacant Saturday. Its front door was sealed and boarded a day after federal agents raided the property and executed search warrants. A man who declined to be identified in an CNN interview lives a few doors away and said he has known Pierson since he was a boy. In the last few days, the neighbor noticed Pierson driving at excessive speeds throughout their normally quiet, modest middle-class suburb. The neighbor said Pierson's mother, Barbara, transferred her son to Arapahoe High School from nearby Highland Ranch High School because her son had been subjected to constant ridicule and physical altercations. "He was socially awkward and just didn't seem to fit into the larger teenage groups, and I think that weighed on him," the neighbor told CNN. The neighbor said Pierson's parents had been separated for years, and Karl was living with his mother and younger sister. "While Karl was socially a misfit around kids his age, he was intellectually bright and loved to debate in school," the neighbor said. "If he was disciplined in a debate class, that must have meant everything to him. It may have been trigger point." Pierson was active in his community, KUSA reported. He took pride in how he routinely won contests on his speech and debate team, the station reported. He showed off his first place and second place trophies online. One neighbor described him as a "nice young man," the affiliate said. In fact, the TV outlet interviewed him seven years ago about the design of a quarter commemorating Colorado. Pierson submitted questions to the station in 2008 for a show about the Colorado Supreme Court and asked a question at a U.S. Senate debate in 2010, the news outlet said.


Death cult author responds

Giroux '13 ("Radical Democracy Against Cultures of Violence" Published in Truthout, December 17, 2013. URL: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/20669-radical-democracy-against-cultures-of-violence)

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. - Nelson Mandela Guy Debord once argued that the spectacle suggests society's desire for sleep.[1] He was enormously prescient, and his words and work are more important today than when they were first written. The spectacle has been energized and reworked under the forces of neoliberalism and now promotes a mix of infantilism, brutality, disposability and lawlessness. As the visibility of extreme violence is endlessly reproduced in various cultural apparatuses and screen cultures, it functions increasingly, alongside a range of other economic and political forces, to legitimate a culture of cruelty and disposability in everyday life. Pleasure is now colonized in the service of violence, reinforcing Rustom Bharacuha's claim that "there is an echo of the pornographic in maximizing the pleasure of violence."[2Casino capitalism feeds on the spectacle, whitewashing history while ensuring the triumph of form over substance. Violence is not simply glorified, it is also spectacularized in more graphic, stirring and dazzling digitally induced dramatic depictions. Violence is the new state-supported and institutionalized obscenity, parading as both entertainment and an honorific social ideal to celebrate those who inhabit its repressive state apparatuses - from its war machine to its local police regimes. Violence and politics are no longer separate but permeate each other in contemporary American society, contributing "to the suppression of the very conditions necessary to build a [democratic social order and] polity."[3Such violence promotes a state of moral, emotional and intellectual anesthesia in which real violence seems technically imperfect compared to its Hollywood, television and screen culture versionsnot to mention its celebration of an idiotic celebrity culture, which constitutes an assault on the very spirit of agency and the radical imagination. One consequence is that society now resembles a war machine as the welfare state is transformed into the punishing state and death zones proliferate. In the face of the latest school shooting in Centennial, Colorado, a young teenage boy allegedly seeking revenge for being thrown off the debating team decides to goes on a murderous rampage. The roots of such violence are not merely personal, lying in the realm of some unfathomable emotional disturbance. They are also part and parcel of those varied educational and cultural conditions that give meaning to such behavior, suggesting that such violence is a normal and acceptable way to relieve anxiety, tension, and resolve problems. A social pathology and collective amnesia both hides the deeper structural and symbolic dimensions for such violence and produces a weak moral and political response. What are we to make of a mainstream media, along with the American public that appears more concerned about Kim Kardashian flaunting her post-baby body[4] than about the Obama administration ordering a drone strike in Yemen that killed 17 innocent civilians who were part of a wedding party?


I thought this raised some interesting questions about debate and US culture. Do y'all agree or disagree with Giroux? Why or why not? 


A longer article that adds some clarification and extra details/interviews to Pierson's background: http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-colorado-school-shooter-identified-20131213-story.html  


elements of story:

  • carl schmidt (like another schmitt?), fellow senior, discussed Pierson when interviewed by LA times
  • gun rights advocate
  • bullied, divorced parents
  • cared passionately about debate
  • motivation?: disagreement with debate coach--kicked off team & suspended after becoming angry after wanting 'changes to the debate team'--went after coach with guns and molotov cocktails
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For a piece which is supposed to inform and educate, his prose is awful.  It's taken too much from the school of 'dramatic monologue' and not enough from the school of 'actually explain what you mean'.  Nor does it seem overly concerned with instilling an intellectual understanding of what it describes - it wants you to feel, not think.  


More substantial commentary would require too much effort figuring out exactly what he's saying, and honestly, I'm not convinced this piece is worth the effort.


That a professional educator thinks this is effective prose is depressing, although not surprising given other writing of his I've seen.  At least that other writing was directed at colleagues rather than the public - a public who will invariably be unwilling to spend the effort to think about what he's written.  There will be those, like me, who understand what he's doing and just ignore him, but worse, there will  be many others who will do what he seems to intend, and just have a gut emotional reaction to the prose instead of actually thinking about it.  He talks about threats to the conditions necessary for a democratic social polity - prose like this and the desire to appeal to the emotions in public policy writing is the single biggest threat to democracy.  When we make decisions based solely on how we feel, we tend to make really bad decisions.

Edited by Squirrelloid
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