More on the sad and sickening case of Phoebe Prince, the poor girl who hung herself this past January after months of unrelenting cyber-stalking, and physical, verbal and mental abuse at the hands of her classmates.
Even if the video does come from (P)MSNBC, and is probably a cleaned-up version of events, three issues are becoming clearer with every passing day:
1. Phoebe's primary tormentors were girls. Particularly girls who were jealous of her, and that it might have been a girl that got dumped that began this whole sorry process. Hell hath no fury like a menstrual, hormonal teenager scorned, and all that. I expect to hear negatively from my female readers for saying this, but it's very possible that women are perhaps the more vicious sex. Men may be brutal, they might fight to kill, but Women fight to wound. And we're not talking cuts, scrapes and abrasions, we're talking psychic wounds. Deep ones. And when one woman is targeted by a group of women, it's like watching a school of sharks tear at a wounded baby seal.
Just because these girls were teenagers, an presumably unsophisticated, doesn't change that dynamic. Just ask Sarah Palin what her "feminist" counterparts have to say about her -- and her daughters and handicapped son -- on a daily basis.
I routinely see little groups of young girls in the neighborhood here who remind me of Nazis with Lip Gloss. They're every bit as crude, rough, nasty and vulgar as the boys are -- they certainly fight each other in the street as if they are -- and I'm beginning to get the impression that this has now become the norm, and despite what "the experts" might have to say, it's my opinion that nowadays, girls are just much more aggressive than they ever have been.
2. One of the unintended consequences of modern technology is that these girls had the ability, thanks to the Internet, Cell phones and Social Networking sites, to kick this girl's ass, sully her name, and torture her in public 24/7/365. There was no respite; the pressure was unrelenting. Even in the dark of night, a rumor spread in a chat room, a picture posted online, is now available to anyone 24-hours a day. This girl was not only be humiliated within her peer group, and even within her community, she was being hunted, tortured and humiliated all over the world.
How the hell to do you hide from something like that? Where do you go to get a break? Even if you don;t fight back, I can imagine she had a mailbox full of hate mail and obnoxious comments from complete strangers; because the Internet encourages every jerkoff who can type to get in on the act. I hear from them almost everyday, and I actually ask for it, I even relish getting that sort of e-mail. But I'm a 42-year old man who's survived some pretty nasty shit so that he doesn't have a fear of anything anymore. Do you think a 15 year-old girl wants that kind of attention, or is wired the same way so as to withstand it?
3. No one with any kind of authority -- let alone anything approaching decency -- seemed prepared to do much of anything. The parents of the tormentors, the school authorities, the Police, apparently didn't do a whole lot to help this poor girl. The pillars of our society are steady being eroded so that no one respects the word of a Principal, the Cop on the Beat, and certain not one's Parents, anymore.
I blame the lack of Corporal Punishment and the fact that the current generation of parents were raised by people who gave a shit about their "feelings" and "self-esteem", but neglected to teach them right from wrong. When I grew up, no one cared what I thought; I was a kid, it was my job to take orders...for my own good, see?
The end result of this stinking amalgam of stupidity, technology and no respect is a dead teen aged-girl -- anguished, afraid, isolated, unprotected -- and ultimately found hanging in her closet by a younger sister.
I can promise you that none of the teenagers possibly connected with her death probably feels in the least way responsible for what's happened. I can promise you that a few probably feel justified in what they did. Because they inhabit a world that doesn't even resemble the teen-aged world I grew up in, the one where actions still had consequences. Most of that feeling of non-responsibility will be due to the fact that that they're all idiots; only stupid people do the things this bunch is accused of doing, and nowadays most teenagers haven't got the same sense found in a retarded Cocker Spaniel. They certainly aren't being taught anything in school, let alone Civic Virtue or Morality. But the primary cause will be Bad Parenting.
These kids don't have parents; they have Sperm Donors and Rent-a-Wombs, who's primary responsibility seems will be to feed the fucking thing until it's 18 -- and then kick it out of the house -- all the time praying that it doesn't do anything stupid to either embarrass you, or cost you money. When that, invariably, happens, then the little bastard they never discipline, say two cross words to, or punish in any meaningful way for their transgressions suddenly becomes the perfect child "Never been any trouble before. An absolute angel. I can't understand what made her do this. She was probably "pressured" into it by the other girls, uh-huh...". You really haven't a clue as to what your children are up to when they're not in your sight, do you? Real parents would know what they did, they would have raised their children with a sense of right and wrong, a moral code and a sense of decency. Good Parents teach their children to be compassionate individuals -- capable of imagining what it's like to be on the receiving end.
Bad parents raise murderers.
These weren't "children"; this was a pack of hyenas. And that's an insult to hyenas, because what a hyena does at least serves some ultimate purpose.
If there were truly any justice in this world, and these girls were in fact ever convicted of causing Phoebe Prince's death, then they'd be found hanging inside a closet, too. Instead, what's probably going to happen is that Justice will be restrained by Psychology, and some PhD who couldn't get a real job will explain that these children were psychologically-incapable of realizing they were doing something wrong, and too dumb to foresee the ultimate end their actions might entail. The State of Massachusetts will spend another slab of money on "anti-bullying" programs, there will be more cyber-protection laws put in place, and then another girl will found dead, the victim of unrelenting bullying in both this world and in the virtual world of cyberspace.
Because the problem is not The Law, and it's not Psychology; it's the kids and their lousy parents. If these kids aren't torturing each other until one feels the only way out is suicide, they're plotting Columbine-type events -- and their parents are always the last to know.
No one will stop this nonsense until punishment, real and proportionate justice, free of the stain of pap Psychology, is dealt out very, very publicly, and very, very painfully. It's the only way to restore a sense of responsibility back into this culture.
UPDATE: It was pointed out to me that Phoebe committed suicide in January, not this past weekend. It was only nationally-reported this past weekend. That mistake is mine, and has been corrected.