Monday, November 12, 2007

Only in America - in Finland...

Last Wednesday, an 18 year old Finnish teenager, Pekka-Eric Auvinen, opened fire at his high school in southern Finland. He killed six students, a school nurse and the principal before ending his own life with a gunshot to the head.

The shooting shocked the world - but for some people, the only shocking aspect of the tragedy was that it hadn't occurred in America.

That's because, according to the media, the tradition of the high-school shootout is a curiously American phenomenon.

It happens all the time. We Europeans adore peering down our noses at the 'colonials' and their tragic school shootings - tut-tutting at their lax gun control and violent society.

However, each time we do so, we neatly ignore events like Hungerford and Dunblane - proof that violent massacres also occur in our 'more civilised' society.

In fact, there is nothing uniquely 'American' about school shootings or violence - but the European media would never want to admit that.

Which is why they've leapt on tentative evidence suggesting that Pekka-Eric Auvinen was speaking online to a Pennsylvannia youth just weeks before his suicidal massacre.

The youth is believed to be 14 year old Dillon Cossey, who attended high school in Philidelphia.

Cossey was arrested in October for allegedly planning a high school attack in the mould of the horrific Colombine tragedy. He had dozens of air-soft pistols (low powered BB guns) daggers and knives - plus a 'violence filled' notepad, according to Plymouth Township Deputy Chief Joe Lawrence.

The European news places a heavy emphasis on the idea of Dillon Cossey helping to plan Pekka-Eric Auvinen's violent attack - because it's neatly perpetuating the myth that school shootings are an American problem.

Since the Finnish school shooting upset the 'only in America' mindset, Dillon Cossey is a perfect scapegoat to shift the blame Stateside once again and restore the media's biased 'status quo.'

Which I think is disgusting.

For a start, Pekka-Eric Auvinen was 18 years old. Dillon was four years younger. If the teenage pecking order is anything like I remember it, there's no reason to believe that Pekka-Eric was the follower, not the instigator.

Secondly, the claim that Auvinen and Cossey had even communicated at all is conjecture at this moment. Police have confiscated the two teen's computers - but currently haven't announced any links between the two apart from the fact that they both used the Internet.

And lastly and most importantly - I think Dillon Cossey is a blip on the high-school shooting radar. While he's clearly a disturbed and potentially dangerous young man, his collection of BB guns are largely harmless.

Ignoring whether or not he might have turned into a 'school shooter' in a few years time, at the moment, Cossey was only discovered with toy guns and a violence filled diary. Not the stuff of notoriety.

Dillon was a 'small fry.' Don't believe the hype which places responsibility for the shooting into this troubled 14 year old's lap.

If anything, Dillon was being groomed for a future massacre by Pekka-Eric, rather than the other way around. Pekka-Eric was the older teenager. He'd actually bought himself a real firearm, while Dillon merely had a collection of harmless toys. If these two had communicated at all, Dillon was clearly the student and Pekka-Eric the macabre mentor.

Yet that's not what the papers say. The European media have jumped on this news story in order to perpetuate the myth that high-school shootings always originate from America - even when they take place in Finland.

It's just another example of a growing anti-American bias in the European media.

On the subject of gun control and school-shootings, Editorial Bear had this post, too.

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