The playground as prison yard

Where did these kids get the idea for this:

The plot surfaced when the target, 13-year-old Ethan Travis, went public May 10. Travis said fellow students at Mount Marion Elementary School, part of the Saugerties School District, had planned to attack him while on the playground. Four of the students were to surround Travis while the fifth, one of the boys, jumped him and slashed his throat with a blade, the students admitted in court. The dispute was over a girl, one of the boys said.

The blades came from pencil sharpeners, the boys said. One of them told the judge how he had stomped on the sharpeners to extract the blades and strung them on pipe cleaners. The girls admitted to the judge that they each had the weapons. The school principal found blades in their backpacks at school.

That sort of scene is a staple of virtually every prison drama ever made, the killing of an offending inmate during an exercise period in the prison yard, complete with the improvised weapon. For a thing like this to be planned by 12- and 13-year-olds for a schoolyard suggests that something has already been killed, at least in these kids, or at least never properly developed. I think that something must be what was once upon a time called “conscience.” You know, that inner voice that tells you something is inherently wrong.

Perhaps between the thrusting hooker-like tootsies on music videos, the advertisements for drugs that produce 36-hour erections, the glorification of gangsta’ livin’, and the long variety show of an otherwise disintegrating culture, some of it reinforced by public schools and some of it not, these young kids somehow — one wonders how it could have happened — failed to develop properly formed consciences.

Just a guess.

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