Day By Day

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Murder in Lititz -- Putting the Commentary in Context

The Borden murder case has come as quite a shock to people around here. "She Who Must Not Be Named" and I travel regularly through the Lancaster area and Lititz has always been one of our favorite stops. It's a beautiful town filled with quaint little shops and stores and lots of historical sites. "She" and her friends like to go there from time to time to spend a couple of hours flitting from shop to shop. While they do their thing, I retire to a local coffee shop to munch pastries, drink coffee, and read architecture and home design books which the place has in abundance. The people I have met there have all been interesting and friendly [about what you would expect for a town that depends heavily on tourist trade] and my experiences in Lititz have always been pleasant.

One of the things that has always interested me about Lititz has been its history. The MSM keeps harping on the fact that the teenagers involved in the murder case were both home-schooled, as if that were remarkable, but home-schooling (usually organized through cooperative groups of several families) is quite common throughout Dutch country as are private religious schools. Many of the residents belong to German pietist sects that have long disdained the public school system. I'm not familiar with the specifics of the Borden and Ludwig families, but in this area home and religious schooling are quite common.

Even within the Dutch region Lititz stands out for its religious history. The town was founded in the middle of the eighteenth century by Count Zinzendorf as a Moravian mission community. It's name, reflecting the historical background of the Moravian Brethren, commemorates a Bohemian village that served as a Hussite refuge three hundred years earlier. For a century after its founding Lititz was a closed religious commune organized according to Brethren principles. The Brethren were pacifists and refused to serve in either the Revolution or the later Indian wars, although they did maintain a hospital to treat military personnel. They had a communal economy in which all land was church owned and was leased to individual families. Theirs was a tightly regulated society with young and old, men and women, married and single people ranked in separate "choirs" [although they were not as strict as other Moravian communities and did not require that choirs live separately from one another]. They also maintained a separate, religiously-based education system.

Even when the commune was dissolved and the town opened to new residents, the tradition of educational separatism persisted. Many of the newcomers were themselves German pietists who felt that education was a family and church, not a State responsibility. To provide proper instruction the Brethren long maintained boarding schools at Lititz that attracted students from as far away as Baltimore and Philadelphia. Linden Hall Seminary, founded in 1748, is today the oldest continually operated girls' school in the country.

So, it is not too surprising to find that young kids of German descent living in Lititz were home-schooled. Non-public schooling is a long tradition around here. People I know who have home-schooled tell me that the internet has been a terrific aid to instruction. As the Borden murders show, though, it also poses significant dangers. It is the internet, not the schooling, that should be the focus of MSM attention.


It seems that the kid who did the shooting was extremely disturbed. He apparently fantasized about and planned out murders like the one he committed, and he seems to have abducted a girl before. His bizarre nature was apparently noted in Lititz and local residents tried to deal with it informally. Part of that accommodation may well have been forbidding their daughters to have anything to do with him. It's not clear whether or not bringing him to the attention of authorities would have forestalled the tragedy that ensued.

There seems to be severe cognitive dissociation involved in MSM coverage of the murders. I watched a CNN anchor attempt to interview neighbors of the murdered couple after their funeral. The neighbors expressed the common Christian faith that righteous people such as the Bordens had. upon their death, gone to a better place and that the funeral, rather than being an occasion for recrimination and regret, should celebrate that belief. The anchor was completely baffled by and obviously uncomfortable with their responses and kept probing for expression of anger and distress. Finding none, she quickly terminated the interview and moved on to an on-site reporter who could give an account of things more to her liking.


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