Dads Against the Divorce Industry

DA*DI is devoted to reinstating the societal valuation of Marriage and the traditional, nuclear American Family, with particular emphasis on the essential role of FATHERS.

DA*DI offers contemporary reports and commentary on culture; its aberrations and its heroes.

Kathleen Parker: Making Sense of Things

Murderous teens missing spiritual, parental base - II

New laws won't end violence but we can

By Kathleen Parker

Published in The Orlando Sentinel on May 5, 1999.

In the two weeks since the Columbine massacre, President Clinton has set his sights on, well, everything: guns, movies, video games, gross-out rock bands, but especially guns. To prevent future atrocities, he says, we need more laws.

Those of us who've struggled to rear children amid today's cultural muck can only say: It's about time. Maybe the discussion will open some minds, but I'm not banking on it. I'm not even optimistic. Here's why:

The dialogue is about symptoms, not causes, and most people know it. Millions of children are exposed to the same things as the Columbine killers but don't turn to murder. School bullies weren't born this decade, nor did guns suddenly find their way into young people's hands. Clearly, something else is afoot, and whatever "it" is, it's big.

Just as clearly, the fix is us, not more government.

A few days ago, Clinton called for a truce between gun owners represented by the National Rifle Association and, presumably, the rest of us law-abiding Americans who plainly see that guns did this awful thing. He urged Americans to see what his proposed gun controls really are -- "common sense measures."

Despite my visceral resistance to government control of firearms and the confiscatory potential therein, I agree with some, though not all, of Clinton's suggestions. Some are common sense: No child needs to own a handgun; no child should use a gun without adult supervision; no violent offender, young or old, need ever own a gun.

On the other hand, laws rarely keep guns out of the wrong hands. And no gun law, present or proposed, would have stopped the Trench Coat Mafia killers. They had other means, other designs, and a sense of purpose that transcended mere legality.

Though Clinton's proposals may help settle our nerves temporarily, like any sedative, they'll wear off. Meanwhile, we'll have ignored what really needs fixing -- the empty hearts of young people who would turn to violence instead of family.

Rather than swat at the usual flies, President Clinton could take advantage of this unique opportunity to reshape America's thinking about families and children. Before the Columbine momentum is gone, he could invite Americans to join him in a cultural revolution.

What we saw at Columbine, he could say, is a symptom of a disease called despair. The American people, not the government, hold the cure. He could outline a point-by-point plan.

Freedom of speech precludes our outlawing vile movies or raunchy music, he could say, but free-market principles of supply and demand are persuasive. No market, no product.

Logic precludes our outlawing bad parents; too many of them. But the anti-smoking movement proves that social pressure works. Old-fashioned parenting confirms that people respond to shame and reward for bad and good behavior.

Clinton could pound his fist on the podium and declare that parents should spend quantity, not "quality," time with their children.

He could promise to make government work along with those objectives, whatever it takes. He could vow to put in place economic policies (lower taxes?) so that one parent can be at home. He could tell people how important full-time parenting is and publicly blast individuals and industries that suggest otherwise.

He could help people see that the source of youthful despair, as well as its remedy, is at home. He could, but I'm not banking on it. I'm not even optimistic.

Kathleen Parker's column also appears Sunday in the Sentinel's Insight section. She welcomes your views and suggestions. Mail: The Orlando Sentinel, MP-72, P.O. Box 2833, Orlando, Fla. 32802-2833.

[Posted 05/04/1999 9:18 PM EST]

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