PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY REPORT -- June 1999 - PART 1
What Caused Columbine?
Everybody's looking for the causes of the terrible tragedy at
Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, and for ways to prevent
such horrible happenings in the future.
Hillary Clinton has volunteered her intuition that "part of growing up is
learning how to control one's impulses." Putting aside the point that
most of us don't have impulses to go on a killing rampage, who is
going to teach kids to control their impulses? Certainly not the
"village" (i.e., the government or government schools), which Mrs.
Clinton believes should have prime responsibility for raising children.
For the past 25 years, the prevailing dogma in public school teaching
has been Values Clarification (as in the tremendously influential 1972
book of the same name by Sidney Simon). That means teaching
students to reject "the old moral and ethical standards," and instead
"make their own choices" and "build their own value system."
Indeed, Eric Harris and his sidekick, Dylan Klebold, did "build their
own value system," which allowed them to kill 13 people at
Columbine, then take their own lives. Harris and Klebold were not
dumb or underprivileged; they came from affluent two-parent families.
Professionals who evaluated them concluded that Harris was "a very
bright young man who is likely to succeed in life," and that Klebold
was "intelligent enough to make any dream a reality." (New York
Times, April 23, 1999)
Values Clarification teaches that, since there are absolutely no
absolutes, students should engage in personal "decision making"
about behavior instead of looking to God, the Ten Commandments,
parents, church, or other authority which teaches that behavior
should conform to traditional morality.
Values Clarification is a book of 79 dilemmas for the teacher to
present to the students. The most frequently used classroom
dilemma is the "lifeboat game" (and its numerous variations, such as
the fallout shelter). The student is told there are ten people in a
sinking lifeboat and four must be thrown out to drown so that the
other six may live. The student is vested with the authority to decide
who lives and who dies. Shall it be the famous author, or the
pregnant woman, or the rabbi, or the Hollywood dancer, or the
Any answer is acceptable -- whatever each student feels comfortable
with is OK, and the students can all choose different drowning
targets because there are no right or wrong answers. No wrong
answers, that is, except one. One mother told our Eagle Forum
Parents Advisory Center that her child answered the question by
saying, "Jesus brought another boat and nobody had to drown." That
child got an F for giving an unacceptable answer.
The world view of Cassie Bernall, who looked into the barrel of a gun
and said, "Yes, I believe in God," is not acceptable within the rubric
of Values Clarification. She was killed by a fellow student who had
built his own value system.
As in the "lifeboat game," Harris and Klebold had already decided
that it was their right to decide who would live and who would die.
Harris posted on the Internet: "My belief is that if I say something, it
goes. I am the law, and if you don't like it, you die. . . . Feel no
remorse, no sense of shame." (Washington Post, April 29, 1999)
As part of a Government and Economics class at Columbine, Harris
and Klebold made a video in which they showed themselves as hit
men hired out to do violence to athletes. The video was violent and
ended with the two bludgeoning the head of a dummy amid much
fake blood. It amounted to a practice run for the Columbine shooting.
The teacher of that class has refused to talk to reporters about the
tape. (Washington Post, April 29, 1999) Another student-made video
ends with four students walking away from Columbine High School,
which explodes in a scene of orange special-effects flashings.
(Denver Rocky Mountain News, May 6, 1999)
When a surviving student was asked if anybody noticed anything odd
about these student-made videos, she replied that "everybody's video
involved fighting." She noted that many of the videos were violent and
that her own contained sexual scenes.
In Creative Writing class, Harris wrote his will as one of his
assignments. Harris's and Klebold's writings were filled with gore and
profanity. According to another student, they wrote about "rocket
launchers, grenades, zombies killing people, ripping people's flesh."
Harris and Klebold spent hours and hours playing "death matches"
with violent computer games. (Associated Press, April 22, 1999)
Harris was thrilled when Bill Clinton started bombing Yugoslavia. A
classmate who sat next to him remembers Harris saying, "I hope we
do go to war. . . . [I want to] shoot every one." Harris tried to enlist,
but Marine recruiters turned him down when they discovered he had
taken a powerful anti-depressant drug called Luvox. (Washington
Post, April 29, 1999)
Modern public school teaching exalts "tolerance" of other people's
behavior as the highest virtue, and "self-esteem" as education's
principal objective. Harris and Klebold made a practice of annoying
their teachers by propping their feet on their desks and leaning back
in their chairs. In the modern classroom, we are forbidden to be
"judgmental" about the behavior of others when they indulge their
impulses instead of controlling them.
Death Education at Columbine
In 1987 Eagle Forum of Colorado produced a two-hour video in which
student Tara Becker spoke at length about the relentless focus on
death, dying and suicide in her junior class at Columbine High
School in Littleton, Colorado. She and several of her classmates
attempted suicide as a result of this depressing curriculum, and it
took them many months to recover from the experience.
Tara was subsequently interviewed for an ABC-TV 20/20 program
(aired Sept. 21, 1990) where she said, "I had thought about [suicide]
as a possible option for a lot of years, but I never would have gone
through with it, never, because I wasn't brave enough. The things that
we learned in the class taught us how to be brave enough to face
death." She added, "We talked about what we wanted to look like in
The 20/20 segment showed morbid visuals of student visits to
cemeteries, to embalming labs where they were encouraged to touch
"still warm human remains," and to crematoriums where they were
told about picking bones out of the ashes. ABC stated that one out of
ten schools teaches death education, that there is no approved
curriculum, and that the teachers' training often consists only of a
one-day workshop. It was clear that ABC's Hugh Downs and Tom
Jarriel thought that death education was bizarre. Jarriel concluded the
segment by asking if these courses "suggest death as an answer to
adolescent problems." We urge ABC to re-air that important segment
because of its relevance today. Curiously, ABC refused to release a
tape of this program to Matt Drudge.
In 1988, Atlantic Monthly published an investigative article ("Mortal
Fears," Feb. 1988, p.30) confirming that death and dying courses are
given in "thousands of schools," often sneaked into health, social
studies, literature or home-economics courses without parents'
knowledge. Atlantic described how these courses require students to
visit cemeteries and funeral homes, write their own epitaphs to be put
on tombstones made out of construction paper, write obituaries,
wills, or suicide notes, decide how they would prefer to die, and plan
their own funerals, body disposal and pallbearers.
Atlantic quoted from professional journals to demonstrate the
widespread support for death education among educators. It quoted
The School Counselor as stating in 1977: "Death education will play
as important a part in changing attitudes toward death as sex
education played in changing attitudes toward sex information and
wider acceptance of various sexual practices." Atlantic also quoted a
National Education Association report entitled "Education for the
70's" which stated: "Schools will become clinics whose purpose is to
provide individualized, psycho-social treatment for the student, and
teachers must become psycho-social therapists."
Most parents are unaware that the mission of the public schools has
dramatically changed in the last 20 years by downgrading basic
academics and instead using teachers as pseudo-psychologists
conducting group therapy. This change was best described by the
late U.S. Senator (and former university president) Sam Hayakawa,
who -- in successfully persuading Congress to pass the Protection of
Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) in 1978 -- said that the public
schools have adopted "an educational heresy . . . that rejects the
idea of education as the acquisition of knowledge and skills . . . and
regards the fundamental task in education as therapy."
This invasion of the public school classroom by
pseudo-psychologists conducting group therapy opened the
floodgates to all sorts of psychological courses and surveys in
sexuality, drugs, incest, death, suicide, stress, and self-esteem.
Some of these courses incorporate guided imagery or New Age or
occult practices. Readers used in elementary schools are often filled
with weird or violent images, and little children are often taught to
take their problems to Pumsy the dragon or DUSO the dolphin.
Surely, one of the weirdest of these psychological courses is death
education. According to the Atlantic Monthly article, parents in
Illinois, Missouri, Michigan and Florida have attributed their sons'
suicides to public school courses in death, dying, or suicide.
Littleton, Colorado is an area where public schools for many years
have adopted all the trendy "edufads" such as Outcome Based
Education. OBE is a dumbing-down process that is heavy on the use
of attitudinal and subjective materials and tests, rather than (in
Hayakawa's words) "the acquisition of knowledge and skills."
In 1993, at the high school in the district adjacent to Columbine,
parents rebelled against this dumbing-down process and, by a
two-to-one vote, elected a "back-to-basics" school board. The
teachers union struck back in the following election and retook
control. The union was supported by People for the American Way,
using the usual negative slurs to accuse those opposed to OBE of
being "fundamentalists" and part of the "religious right."
Some politicians, unfortunately, are using the Columbine tragedy to
push their liberal political agenda, such as gun control. That's
obviously not the answer since killers Harris and Klebold violated at
least 17 current federal and state gun control laws that, had they
lived, would have kept them locked up for the rest of their lives.
Does anybody think that Harris and Klebold would not have known
how to release a mandatory gun lock? Or would have been deterred
by a three-day waiting period, since Harris's own journal detailed
year-long plans for the killing?
The tragedies at Columbine High School, as well as those in
Washington, Mississippi, Kentucky, Arkansas, Oregon, and Georgia,
demand that we investigate the curriculum taught in the public
schools, the value system that is taught, and the powerful legal drugs
that children are taking. We are paying a terrible price for allowing
public school curricula to teach students to create "their own value
system" instead of respecting moral laws such as "Thou shalt not
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