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EDITORIAL: American violence is a learned behavior unlikely to change

It's not been a banner week for the United States. Sunday, a 20-year-old deputy sheriff in Crandon fell into a jealous rage and mindlessly murdered six innocent people. "He must have just snapped," said a close friend of Tyler Peterson, the shooter.

It's not been a banner week for the United States.

Sunday, a 20-year-old deputy sheriff in Crandon fell into a jealous rage and mindlessly murdered six innocent people. "He must have just snapped," said a close friend of Tyler Peterson, the shooter.

Wednesday, 14-year-old Asa Coon went berserk and opened fire on his Cleveland high school. A classmate said the shooter had misbehaved all week. ''He's crazy. He threatened to blow up our school. He threatened to stab everybody,'' Donei-

sha LeVert said. ''We didn't think nothing of it.''

Her comments are so strange and inappropriate that they deserve analysis. Why would a young person not put credence in such overt threats?

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Because violence is all this generation has ever seen. Their country has been at war virtually every day since birth. The Bush mentality of "might makes right" has firmly been stamped on young minds. We've seldom seen our most respected leaders solve problems without making threats or pulling triggers.

Technology also plays a role. Unlike 50 years ago, battlefield violence is televised bomb by bomb, bullet by bullet, virtually immediately, pounded nonstop at young and old alike. Wounded and lifeless bodies are wheeled past cameras for anyone to see. And it has inspired an endless array of knockoff TV dramas that spare nothing when it comes to graphic displays. Similarly, street crime has inspired gruesome TV shows that are broadcast and rebroadcast 24/7.

We're all aware that troops can suffer from "shell shock," a deep depression inspired by the horrible scenes they've witnessed. It's not a stretch to say this phenomenon has spread to the masses.

Now, combine that visual bombardment with poverty, job pressures, mental illness and an endless supply of weapons. Is there any reason to be surprised that Americans are violently acting out their frustrations?

People are looking for answers. There aren't any simple ones -- short of an entire change in the American psyche.

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