“We cannot but pity the boy who has never fired a gun.”

    –Thoreau

After the last youthful shooting of classmates, most thoughtful
folks are asking whether the unrelenting attack upon traditional
morality has let loose more systemic societal toxins than ever
experienced under the former “repressive” Judeo-Christian culture. Do we
continue to pretend that our embrace of secular narcissism does not
naturally breed cynical, violent children? Do we delude ourselves that
school children, educated in death, sex, homosexuality and AIDS, are not
being violated (a word which shares its Latin root — v”s, to force —
with violent)?

And we do persist in denying that our mass media — film, television,
books, music, newspapers, the Internet — daily train American children
in Advanced Sex and Violence Education.

While many critics cite untested childhood vaccines like hepatitis B
as adding fuel to the youthful violence fire, there are those who insist
any recollection of childhood innocence is a variation on the
“false memory syndrome.”

Such experts just discount increases of youthful venereal disease,
sexual addiction, depression, violence, suicide, rape,
homosexual/bisexual gender confusion or child sexual abuse.

Instead, establishment liberals are sure that guns cause boys to
murder praying and passing classmates. With an absence of historical
data showing boys as mass murderers, the robotic response is that the
memories of good kids are mere fantasies.

But the biographies of our brightest and best, including men like
Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, record youths perched in trees, rifles at
the ready for an errant squirrel or bird.

The “make love not war” elites appear to have brought us
indiscriminate lust (not love) and domestic massacres (plus war). Which
brings us to 1854 and environmental icon Henry David Thoreau’s
contribution to the current debate on boys and guns. In the tenth
chapter of his book, “Walden,” Thoreau reports that for centuries boys
used firearms without murdering friends and strangers — while managing
to treat girls and women with courtesy and respect. Hear Thoreau’s own
observations about American boys and their guns:

  • We cannot but pity the boy who has never fired a gun. He is
    no more humane, while his education has been sadly neglected. For no
    human being past the age of boyhood will wantonly murder. Such is often
    the young man’s introduction to the finest and the most original part of
    himself.

  • Almost every New England boy among my contemporaries shouldered a
    fowling-piece between the ages of ten and fourteen; and his hunting and
    fishing grounds were not limited, like the preserves of an English
    nobleman, but were more boundless even than those of a savage. No
    wonder, then, that he did not oftener stay to play on the common. …
    (W)hen some of my friends have asked me anxiously about their boys,
    whether they should let them hunt, I have answered, yes — remembering
    that it was one of the best parts of my education — make them hunters,
    though sportsmen only at first, if possible, mighty hunters at last. …
    There is a period in the history of the individual, as of the race, when
    the hunters are the “best men,” as the Algonquins called them.

Thoreau might conclude that while guns do not poison children,
cultural mores can indeed poison children. He records a difficult era
before the mass media and federally funded sexperts taught young
Americans to repudiate the demands and delays of a moral life. Does the
state honestly seek causes for the growing numbers of youths who
blaspheme, curse, rape, kill and lose their health to STDs, sterility,
abortion and AIDS? Causal answers can be found in an honest study of
the radical change agents of the second half of the 20th century —
especially the Rockefeller Foundation and its handpicked sex agent, Dr.
Alfred C. Kinsey.

Thoreau documents life as sacred when moral conduct was
resolutely required in all of America’s institutions and fully expected
of everyone, especially a president, legislator, clergyman, teacher or
others who held a position of authority and responsibility.

Not as much “fun”? Perhaps. But children carried firearms without
killing one another at school and their sexual life was largely confined
to “the marital act” on the marriage bed and not to playgrounds and
bushes in public parks. An unflinching look at the real causes
for juvenile vice and violence has become a national imperative for
liberty-loving Americans.


Dr. Reisman is the president of the Institute for Media Education
in Crestwood, Ky. Her latest book is “Kinsey, Crimes & Consequences”
(1998), which is available at this site.

Eunice Van Winkle Ray is president of RSVPAmerica.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.