The United States has created numerous international headlines with its murderous rampages at educational institutions, such as Columbine High School in Colorado and Virginia Tech. The tendency may be to think that we have some kind of lock on the market of scholastic violence and the murder and misery it can create.
It will be surprising to many, therefore, that an 18-year-old gunman just last week killed eight people at a high school in southern Finland, then shot himself. It was the first known school shooting in "peaceful" Finland, where gun ownership reportedly is fairly common by European standards.
It has been discovered that the Finnish youth was in contact with an American teen who planned but failed to carry out a school attack near Philadelphia. Doubtless a number of our social critics will contend that it was a copycat incident inspired by American tragedies.
Such a reaction, and eagerness to absorb blame, does not begin to take into account that people, everywhere, increasingly are turning to violence to settle personal grievances. One of the saddest aspects of the Finnish incident is that there was more than passing evidence it was going to happen in an alleged "revolution against the system."
Finnish media reports say the shooter revealed his plans on the YouTube video Web site. A posting titled "Jokela High School Massacre" offered a picture of a building by a lake that appears to be the school along with two photos of a young man holding a gun. The person who posted the video was identified in the user profile as an 18-year-old man from Finland. More than 400 students, ages 12-18, were at the school, part of that "system" being targeted.
This was no copy of any American happening. It was strictly homegrown. When something like this occurs in the United States, criticism flies about how officials could allow such a thing to happen. How could they not read the apparent signs of trouble? What about Finland? Who neglected to "connect the dots" in this case? A series of Helsinki meetings are occurring to focus on the whys and hows and if such can be prevented in the future.
No diatribes about how America was the incubator for the Finnish action, please! By now we have ample evidence that there is enough unrest throughout the world that others can come up with their own horrible incidents of this nature.
Yet don't be surprised if the United States takes a lot of verbal hits about how it was the model, maybe even the inspiration, for the Finnish slaughter.