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Steve Nelson (courtesy

“Men and boys commit the preponderance of gun violence,” Steve Nelson [above] writes at “According to the National Institutes of Health, women commit only 14.7 percent of homicides. A great many of these women’s shootings are in defense against an abusive or aggressive male. Many folks surmise that this gender-skewed expression of violence is essentially biological and therefore inevitable. It is neither biological nor inevitable.” Well it’s good to know that someone’s settled the nature vs. nurture debate. ‘Cause there I was thinking that . .

testosterone had a little something to do with gang bangers’ banging. An activity that accounts for the majority of non-suicide firearms-related homicides. Come to think of it, I was also laboring under the impression that firearms-related suicides – which account for more than half of all firearms-related fatalities – may have something to do with an individual’s genetic inheritance. But nope, it’s all social conditioning. Let The War On Boys commence!

Masculinity in this culture is defined in a peculiar and dangerous way. Boys are raised to suppress feelings. “Don’t cry!” Athletics are an important currency in social status. Toughness is rewarded. Qualities like deference, compassion, empathy and cooperation are considered feminine characteristics. Boys who express such things are told, “Don’t be a pussy!” “Sissy!” “Fag!” Despite the biological diversity of boys’ temperaments, physicality and emotional sensitivity, the cultural milieu rewards those boys who are aggressive, physically capable and stoic.

It is wired into our assumptions and therefore an explicit and implicit context in schools and homes everywhere. Boys play with trucks and girls play with dolls. Boys play cowboy and girls play nurse. How many little boys have camouflage shorts and T-shirts? I’ve seen camo onesies for goodness sake! Camouflage is a military fabric, associated with guns, particularly on film and in video games. It’s not just a fashion choice. How can it not influence a boy’s subtle sense of his world and his gender?

Oh I don’t know about all that. Deference and cooperation are so football team it hurts. As for the “biological diversity of boys’ temperaments,” I have to disagree. Boys are more alike than dissimilar. Tens of millions of boys around the world prefer playing soccer to writing poetry because that’s the way their brains are wired – objects moving through space! – not because their schools aren’t as PC as the elite Calhoun School in Manhattan (with Mr. Nelson as its head). Where “the old-fashioned notion of academic rigor is, well, old-fashioned.”

Like most old-fashioned elitists (does elitism ever go out of style?), Mr. Nelson’s dietribe [sic] reveals a fake egalitarian. Like this:

This skewed cultural understanding of masculinity harms the “winners” and the “losers.”

On the “winner” side, some of those who navigate the male culture through sports, as one small example, internalize the male qualities that helped them succeed. The endless stream of violence, including spillover domestic violence, in college and professional football, should be no surprise. It’s like pit bulls, trained for a lifetime to be aggressive through taunting, punishment and being rewarded for viciousness. Like men, the pit bulls weren’t born to this life. They were trained for it.

These athletes’ aggression is too deeply conditioned to be confined within the field’s boundaries. I suggest that the same process accounts for business bullies (can you spell Trump?) or males in any situation where aggression and lack of empathy are rewarded with material or social success. Because of male conditioning, the “winners” believe they are entitled to their success and will become even more aggressive when threatened or challenged.

At the risk of making this personal, I wonder how Mr. Nelson faired in his childhood athletic endeavors. Sissy! Just kidding, Steve.

I don’t suppose it ever occurred to the Big Apple educator that the nature of college and professional athletes is determined by a Darwinian process that selects individuals biologically suited for the task in terms of size, speed, deference, cooperation and yes, aggression. As well as poise, coordination and mental toughness (to use my hockey coach’s term). Help me out here: why aren’t these individuals entitled to their success?

The “losers” suffer a different, perhaps more dangerous fate. Wednesday’s killer may have been among them. He was a black man, reportedly gay. The sketchy record thus far reveals a man who felt serially humiliated, victimized, rejected and alone. Of course none of this justifies his heinous acts, but the cultural milieu in America inarguably humiliates, rejects and victimizes black and gay men.

If we develop young boys into testosterone-fueled, entitled “winners” who succeed by suppressing real feelings and behaving aggressively, we shouldn’t be surprised when they act as they have been conditioned to act. If we humiliate and bully young boys for not being sufficiently “masculine,” we shouldn’t be surprised when they eventually act out with anger.

Sure, I blame society for the Virginia TV killer’s mindset. Because society never offered him a chance at an education (graduate San Francisco State University) or a highly prized career in television ( WTWC-TV, WNCT TV and WDJB) or a good job outside of the media (customer service for Bank of America and Pacific Gas and Electric Company).

Vester Flanagan may have felt “serially humiliated, victimized, rejected and alone” – as a gay man raised by a Jehovah’s Witness might – but whose fault is that, exactly? More to the point, how does his [alleged] suffering at the hands of society translate into a need for gun control? Mr. Nelson is glad I asked.

We must come to grips with the easy availability of guns and the political cowards who bow and scrape to the NRA. But we must also come to grips with the perverse notion of masculinity that drives our men and boys to take matters, and guns, into their own hands.

There are a lot of variables that “create” spree killers and gang bangers and suicides. Nature is one. Nurture is another. To suggest that we can disentangle the two, ignoring the role of biology in determining behavior, is preposterous and useless. It’s almost as deluded as arguing that the NRA is culpable for the amoral, illegal actions of a minority of American males. But not quite.

NOTE: There’s an excellent back-and-forth between Nelson and commentators underneath his article.

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      • How is it racist if it is factual?

        Denying that the real “gun violence” problem in this country is really a “gang violence” problem is probably politically correct but it is hardly truthful.

        If black lives really matter, than black men need to stop shooting their enemies and hundreds of innocent bystanders.

        • I agree. The truth about guns includes the truth about who’s using guns and to what purpose. Follow the facts wherever they may lead. Let the apologists moan, groan and wail all they want. We’ll just keep pointing to the facts.

      • Actually when violent crime is broken down that extra level from gender and age to race it is an obvious conclusion. Now the real question to ask would be “why”? Is it really a race issue, a geographic issue, or is it something else? My bet is on the revolving door prison system, lack of family values, degradation of the strong mother and father figures, and all forms of entitlement/ welfare.
        To ignore facts based on race is to be truly racist.

        • I agree we have a major gang problem in this country but my understanding is America has some of the toughest laws and longest sentences. I’m not so sure an increasive punitive sentence is going to do much more than harden criminals. I think we need to address the motives for a gang life- profit and power.

      • sparf – Everything is about faux outrage over being offended.

        CDC is as wacko a leftist a crew as you’ll find in the fed gov’t.

    • This is not a game they want to play. If you truly want to pinpoint the segment of society responsible for the preponderance of gun violence, you will inevitably land on a group we dare not name, lest the small-minded break out the “R” word.

  1. Speaking of your hockey coach, Mr. Farago, how does Mr. Nelson explain the NHL’s near-total lack of domestic incidents? It’s a highly physical game that lives and dies based on speed and aggression, yet the players are typically mild-mannered professionals who do, in fact, leave game on the ice.

    He’s also making Internet Mistake #1 – engaging opponents in the comments section with long attempts at rebuttals. How much conviction can he have if he needs to rise to every anonymous Intertubes challenge?

    • also, the only major professional sport in north america i know of where fisticuffs is an actual, commonly expected (if penalized) part of the game.

      for now, that is…

    • @ Jolly Roger,

      So what you mean to say is that the difference in the off field violence rate between NHL and NFL players is socio – cultural related to the black experience, particularly since there are hardly any black players in the NHL versus near 70% of NFL players are black?

      Hard to refute that logic, Nelson’s assertions not withstanding.

  2. Reminds me of a comment I read somewhere some time ago in reference to a woman who had killed her abusive partner and was subsequently found not guilty by reason of being under the influence of PMS:

    A woman who kills can claim hormonal pre-menstrual tension as a defense. A man who kills is suffering from testosterone poisoning.

  3. Steve Nelson’s parents sound like real assholes.

    I certainly wasn’t raised the way he described and if he was, well that sucks. Continue therapy.

  4. I believe that what society needs more is the swing back to make boys real men. Men that take responsibility for their own actions, take pride in their work, and by God protect and nurture their families. Men that do not kowtow to the Politcal Correct world, and be able call a spade a spade then act on it.

  5. Again, Still


    If God wrote a column there It would still need to be ignored.

    It’s nice that someone performs a periodic dipstick check on their level of stupid-crazy for us but no ones going there for substantive advice.


  6. Sooo more kids raised in households absent of a male role model is leading to overly masculine behavior from boys? Because they cant express their feelings? WTF?

    Males tend to be logical, females emotional. A logical person doesn’t start shooting because someone disrespected him. That is a purely emotionally driven response.

    So since most shootings are gang related, and most gangs are minorities, and a majority of minority kids are raised in fatherless homes…maybe this is a distinctly female problem?

    Take this further in the case of Vester Flanagan, who by virtue of beige a gay man would be more inclined to a more female reaction to the slightest of insults. One driven purely by emotion.

  7. This is so sexist. I am offended to what he is saying. In today’s PC culture I have a right to say this. I feel he is putting men down when he should be more sensitive to our needs.

    • Yeah, go with that and see what kind of traction it gets in today’s progressive liberal PC controlled environment.

      Remember, white males, and increasingly all self reliant males, are to be devalued at every opportunity. This regardless of how instrumental they were in near singlehandedly taking the initiative to build this country into the powerhouse it became, only to be denigrated and weakened by progressive, collectivist socialists and their PC mouthpieces who now want to give away all that gain in the name of some fleeting concept of “utopia”.

      Go trump, go Carson!

  8. What else would you expect from a man who wears a neck tie that declares his allegiance to the UN? Clearly proud of his statist success to be selected for publication in huffpo.

  9. Jesus… that tripe’s not just stupid it’s aggressively stupid. That kind of stupid that wallow around in it’s own feces.

  10. I wonder how Steve feels about the aggressive nature of Wall Street, esp for making large bonuses that are used to pay inflated tuition for kids enrolled at his elitist school? Can’t have it both ways partner. And I am sure the parents, esp the dads, will love how you want their kids to become soft and wimpy. that will go over real well at endowment campaign time

  11. I guess- welcome to weenie world where Bruce/caitlyn Jenner is the norm. Damn- winning the Olympics sucks! Shaving sucks! Being a dude sucks!

  12. Women commit only 14.7 percent of homicides? That cannot be allowed to continue!

    C’mon, women, step up and do your share. I expect you to commit at least 30% of all homicides by the end of 2016.

    Your percentage of patents is also lagging, so get inventive.

    You’re only writing 1/3 of the books, so hunch over your word processors and process your words, right now.

    And go out and find a new asteroid or something while you’re at it, because you’re not doing your fair share.

    Sheesh. Do we men have to do everything around here?

  13. Watch out for those “military fabrics”! Soon they’ll be classified as Assault Fabrics, and any camo colored clothing will be banned in NY, NJ, and CA.

  14. Stevie should be grateful for testosterone. Without it, he wouldn’t be here. Testosterone is what gave his great, great, great……… grandfather the balls to step out of the cave and fight off the sabre toothed tiger. (Yes, I know sabre tooths were extinct by the time humans arrived.) You can’t reverse a million years of genetic preference for aggressive men in a generation or two. (With the likes of ISIS running around, we can’t afford to.) His attitude has been referred to by some child development professionals as a war on boys.

  15. I managed to miss this moron’s qualifications to expound about the law, biology, psychology, and/or guns. Is he just all eat up with himself? He was sure good at researching all the current myths and lies on the subject, and readily equates “background checks” with “universal background checks”, sort of as if he doesn’t recognize that there is a difference.

  16. Having had a childhood filled with books and sketchbooks, being the one who was shunned from being on anyone’s team in gym class, let alone being the last one picked, did not enter the lunch room my junior and senior years in high school due to bullying, and now grown up…still drawing, writing, being blissfully ignorant of any sports teams, prone to rescuing and fostering stray cats, and currently possessing 5 NFA stamps with another two in progress, I find these essays really quite amusing.

  17. Banning testosterone, that pretty much sums up one of today’s agendas. The state wants a monopoly on self defense, they are incrementally outlawing self defense for the average Joe.

  18. Ironically, shooting sports are some of the few sports that require very little in the way of athletic ability. I was/am terrible at anything that involved a ball or coordination. I took up archery and loved it.

    All of the benefits of sports, without the prerequisite athletic ability.

  19. If this blowhard thinks that women can’t be mean, vicious, aggressive and deadly, I’d like to introduce him to some of my exes.

    • This Nelson guy and his “masculinity creates bullies” delusion… There are bullies on both sides of the gender divide; it’s just that the male ones tend to be less subtle and are easier to identify.

      I’d rather deal with a male bully than a female one any day. At their worst, women can summon a level of soul-destroying emotional viciousness that most men can’t even comprehend.

      • Largely a result of learned cultural deferences to the ‘weaker’ female sex women are to often given a pass.

        However, experience has revealed women can nonetheless be viciously vindictive if they are so inclined.

        No doubt Ralph can attest to that, as can I, though fortunately not from any marital experience.

  20. 1)I don’t think “playing guns” is politically correct thanks to people like you. Plenty of people I knew when I was young did this, and I don’t recall any of them shooting anyone. I’d be paranoid telling my kid it’s okay just because of people like you running educational institutions.
    2)Besides masculinity, what about roles that men play in organized crime? Not only that but is justice applied equally between men and women for violent crime?
    3)although admittedly not an athlete, there are some great traits that many athletes have. I once got to talk to a pro base ball player, he was one of the most motivated people I’ve ever met. It was amazing.
    4)Camo is not always associated with the military. Hunting culture is huge. My mom’s school lets out every year for the first day of deer season, just because there wouldn’t be any students there. A lot of these families are multi generational.
    5)Life has winners and losers. It has nothing to do with masculinity. It’s a good concept for kids to understand. If we are to fit into society we have to know what we’re good and bad at. The notion of being in a major league sport is laughable to me, but I can work on machines in a way that many just can’t. We need to appreciate and understand ourselves in order to find our place in society.
    6)The people who are “losers” in life would actually make poor pro athletes. You need to be confident in who you are and your abilities to be a player in those games. The consequences of living fast, living on that road and having large amounts of money are side effects.
    7)The VA shooter was indeed a reflection of point 6. Instead of going to point 5 and trying to fit into society he thought society should bend to him.
    8)It disturbs me that this guy is head of an educational institution. He has spent far too long in the ivory tower instead of in the real world. This attitude will perpetuate issues by generating people who are lacking in self confidence. I am willing to guess these are the sorts he likes because sheep and cattle bow to his will better. A pro athlete may be able to influence youth at a certain level, but people like this are far more likely to have a direct, every day impact on impressionable youths.

  21. They’re almost cute when they think they have a point.

    “the cultural milieu in America inarguably humiliates, rejects and victimizes black and gay men.”

    I seem to recall the ‘what what, in the butt?’ Guy being pretty widely celebrated, he was black and gay. Probably still is.

  22. Sure, the preponderance of male homicides is purely the result of socialization – that’s why it’s a phenomenon that cuts across all cultures throughout all of history.

  23. Progressive political solutions remind me a great deal of medieval medical solutions.

    Thomas Sowell has said that due to having gotten a degree from Harvard he knows that a degree from Harvard isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

  24. I have to pounce on the sports bit.

    When I was in high school, violent guys were often required to join the wrestling team. Their competitive side made them work to get a letter. Working to get a letter made them self-disciplined. And self-discipline crushed their violent tendencies. It didn’t even take teamwork, given that wrestling is a very individual thing.


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