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Was teacher a Marilyn Manson fan?
The Arizona Republic
April 14, 2000

The investigation into the latest school shooting is closing without finding the answers to the crucial questions usually brought up in such incidents.

No one has found out whether Tucson teacher Kathy Morris liked goth music.

Or whether she liked violent video games.

Or what TV shows or movies she might have been imitating by firing a weapon in her classroom.

When a student opens fire on campus, the above information is immediately discovered. And the media conglomerates responsible for producing the violent video games, movies, music and TV shows issue appropriate statements of concern.

But, curiously, that's not happening with Morris, even though she's joined the too-long list of people who have pulled a trigger at a public school.

Morris, a sixth-grade science teacher at La Cima Middle School, shot herself in her classroom Monday morning. At first, she said the gunman was a Hispanic teenager with a shaved head. She confessed after police found a gun hidden in the false bottom of her handbag. She said she wanted to make a point regarding lax security against school violence.

She's now volunteered for psychiatric evaluation.

"In her head," said Maj. Brad Gagnepain, a spokesman for the Pima County Sheriff's Department, when asked where Morris got the idea to take aim at her right shoulder blade.

Sheriff's investigators seem content to believe Morris's mental issues alone explain her actions.

They're not looking at her mass-media preferences.

Nothing about whether she was driven to shoot after watching Falcone.

Or after hearing Rob Zombie.

Or if somehow she was affected by the impending release of American Psycho.

Incidentally, Morris told authorities she got the .38-caliber revolver she used from her grandfather. Yet, no one has complained about how easy it is for teachers to get handguns these days, either.

In this shooting, the focus is on the shooter.

It looks like we're ready to accept that this 41-year-old woman was propelled to act violently simply because she was disturbed. That the answer to her act lies within her own ears.

Pop culture gets a pass.

One it doesn't get when kids shoot.

Among the first bits of information doled out about the Columbine High School shooters was that they were Marilyn Manson fans and that one liked a violent video game called Doom. Much was also made out of the fact the suspect in the Springfield, Ore., shooting had an affinity for goth music.

Our own Sen. John McCain, motivated by the Columbine shooting, called for an examination of Hollywood violence.

Because with teenagers, the answer must lie in the media.

The answer can't lie in the shooters' own troubled minds.

Or the fact that the parents seemed to barely know their own children. The fact these teenagers were able to dabble in satanism, build bombs in their garages and torture animals, without their parents being aware.

No, when it comes to school shootings, the focus is on violent video games and movies and music.

Except in this most recent case. The one involving the science teacher, Mrs. Morris.

No one is blaming video games or movies or music.

The scrutiny and criticism is solely on Morris. As it should be.

Who knows? Maybe she'll end up teaching a valuable lesson about school violence after all.

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Reach Ruelas at Richard.Ruelas@ArizonaRepublic.com or (602) 444-8473.