- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 17, 2001

Home-alone killers
"In early March, when the latest teen-age killer to make national news opened fire in a high school near San Diego with the deadliest display of such violence since the murders at Columbine two years ago, the usual public scramble for explanations of his behavior followed true to what a sociologist would call 'cultural script.' The New York Times weighed in immediately with a stern editorial 'Guns in Young Hands.'
"Piecemeal other details of the killer's family life and lack of it filled in the blanks. The child of a decade-old divorce, he had resided with his father in California. He was a boy left largely to his own devices.
"The San Diego killer is only the latest such celebrity verifiable as a home-alone child. In fact, in a striking coincidence unremarked upon anywhere else, the other mass murderer most in the news this year had a childhood background in broad strokes identical to that of the San Diego killer: a parental divorce in middle childhood, after which the mother abandoned the boy and husband to move across the country when the child was 15, leaving behind a teen-ager whose father worked nights and who spent most of his time either unsupervised or in other people's homes. That would be Timothy McVeigh."
—Mary Eberstadt, writing on "Home-Alone America," in the June/July issue of Policy Review

Superbabies?
"People thinking about cloning tend to imagine 'Brave New World' dystopias in which genetic engineering reinforces inequality. But why, for example, should a corporation go to the trouble of cloning cheap labor? We have Mexico and Central America right next door!
"As for cloning geniuses to create superbabies, good luck. The last thing most Americans want are kids smarter than they are, rolling their eyeballs every time Dad starts in on the gays and slouching off to their rooms to **send Internet messages to** other genius kids in Sanskrit. Over nine years, only 229 babies were born to women using the sperm bank stocked with Nobel Prize winners' semen — a tiny fraction, I'll bet, of those conceived in motel rooms with reproductive assistance from Dr. Jack Daniels.
"People could be planning for 'perfect' babies today — preparing for conception by giving up cigarettes and alcohol and unhealthy foods, reading Stendhal to their fetuses in French. Only a handful of yuppie control freaks actually do this, the same ones who obsess about getting their child into a nursery school that leads straight to Harvard. Those people are already the 'genetic elite' — white, with lots of family money. What do they need genetic enhancement for? They think they're perfect now."
—Katha Pollitt, writing on "It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superclone?" in the July 23 issue of the Nation

Fading trend
"It wasn't your typical Backstreet Boys visit to MTV's 'Total Request Live.'
"Four members of the multi-platinum-selling quintet — Kevin Richardson, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, and Nick Carter — appeared before the cameras to announce that groupmate A.J. McLean, 23, had checked into an undisclosed 30-day rehabilitation program July 9 for what Richardson called McLean's 'depression, anxiety, and his excessive consumption of alcohol.' As a result, the band postponed 20 North American tour dates — for now.
"This February, he reportedly told a London newspaper that his depression began in 1999 and would lead him to 'sit on the bed, open a bottle of Jack Daniels and stare at the walls. I thought about leaving the band so many times.'
"More cynical observers might note that McLean's announcement comes just as the group is hitting a slump with the ever-fickle teen audience. 'Generally, the boy-band trend is waning,' says Pollstar magazine editor Gary Bongiovanni."
—Dave Karger, writing on "Boy Trouble," in the July 20 issue of Entertainment Weekly

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