This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," October 10, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: It comes at a time in this country when we are focused on school violence. It happens all too often. And images like this become all too common. And issues like this become all too riveting.
This is something that no less than former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has been looking into, very much aware of terror abroad, but he has also focused on this very network on violence within, and particularly with gangs. Now, this had nothing, of course, to do with gangs in this case. But this undercurrent of violence in our nation is something that Newt has been paying very close attention to, and, I might add, before most folks really were putting these dots together.
Newt, good to have you. Thanks for coming.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It's good to be with you.
CAVUTO: Let's talk a little bit about the issue here of how much we protect ourselves, how much we should? Is there a limit to what we can do? If there's a madman or a mad young boy who is intent on doing some harm, can any amount of money, protection stop it?
GINGRICH: Well, look, I think there are three different things going on. And we ought to deal with all three.
One is the person who genuinely is unbalanced. I think that was clearly the case at Virginia Tech. We don't know yet about what happened with this person. But the person at Virginia Tech, for example, was actually protected by the law against authorities being informed that he was dangerous, even though he was clearly giving every signal that he was dangerous.
GINGRICH: So, one, you have got to rethink the balance between individual privacy and protecting the community. And you have got to have a more effective way of dealing with people who have genuine mental problems.
CAVUTO: So, in other words, if we had known more about this...
CAVUTO: ... has problems, we probably would have been able to do more.
GINGRICH: Look, there is no question, if we had understood and — everything that was available about the tragedy in Virginia Tech, it probably would not have happened, and he probably would be in a very different place today.
We don't know about this case. But the fact that this person already had convictions for violence indicates that there was something going on that is personal. So, the first box is kind of people who have a genuine mental problem that need a more effective and more aggressive program of helping people who have those kind of challenges. The second box are predators. When you looked at the killings in Newark of the college students, those were predatory behaviors. When you look at Philadelphia, which is the most...
CAVUTO: In other words, they were targets.
GINGRICH: They were targets.
CAVUTO: Those are no accidental, random...
GINGRICH: Yes. And we don't use the right language.
Somebody who walks up to kill you is a predator. Somebody who kills you for the purpose of taking your money is a predator. Philadelphia, which has been the most lax city — the judges is Philadelphia are so unwilling to lock up violent — violent criminals, that the district attorney has actually said there's no point in arresting them, because the judges won't put them in jail.
Philadelphia has suffered 3,000 murders since 1988, just in that one city. And, so, we really have a problem of predatory behavior, where we tolerate levels of violence we shouldn't be tolerating.
And some of this, by the way — and then the third point I want to make is about the culture. We have created this weird adolescent culture. We saw it — I saw it last night on FOX, film of girls beating up a girl on a playground in a way that would have been unthinkable when you and I were young.
We have tolerated the growth, whether it's on MTV or it's in a variety of other sources. We have tolerated a language. We have tolerated a kind of rap music. All of these things have been a coarsening, degrading process of saying to people, it is OK to ignore authority. It's OK to be brutal. It's OK to do really bad things.
And I think we have got to really come to grips at some point that trapping children, trapping young people into those kind of cultural settings, has consequences that are very bad for the society.
And I think it is much more than just, how do you reimpose discipline, but what is there that is going on with younger Americans that leads to these kind of behaviors? And I am, frankly, as disturbed by the scene of five or six girls behaving in a stunningly aggressive, predatory manner, beating up a girl on a playground, as I am by the story from Cleveland, which is more tragic, because it involves death.
But it's part of this same underlying pattern of a growth of youth violence in a way that is very dangerous for America as a country.
CAVUTO: But you're saying not addressing the cause. We are addressing the effect, right?
CAVUTO: I mean, in the case of a lot of schools — even this school apparently had a security budget. They had guards there. I don't believe they had metal detectors, but they had guards there. And a lot of schools don't even have that.
I notice in a lot of schools today, high schools and colleges, Newt, where they have got security fees they charge parents. So — and what parent is going to deny that? But you're saying that is only tackling part of the problem, right?
GINGRICH: Yes. There is something much deeper going on. I was very struck. I was in a meeting in Saint Louis with two colleges. And both colleges said in the same meeting they had a substantial number of freshmen and sophomores who were cutting themselves.
Now, this is a psychological reaction to a level of pain. They're in such psychological pain that cutting themselves with razor seemed a reasonable behavior.
And I was thinking to myself, I mean, what is happening to us when you have — you have obesity among 12-, 13-, 14-year-olds, leading to teenage diabetes, you have gangs of girls beating up another girl, you have young kids going to college who are cutting themselves psychologically? In small-town America, you have a methamphetamine epidemic that is a very dramatic spread of methamphetamine over the last few years in rural America.
There is something in the way we treat young adults that has to be fundamentally rethought if we are going to get this country back to stability.
CAVUTO: Well, you know what a lot of people say, Newt? And I know you had entertained running for president or not. But one of the big issues here was, the future has to address the fact that we are a particularly violent society, that America is.
Do you agree with that?
GINGRICH: I think that there are strains of violence in this country.
And part of it is because we have people who are so trapped in a world of illiteracy, in a world of ignorance, with nobody in their neighborhood having a job. You know, when you look at the Detroit school bureaucracy, which only graduates one of every four children who enter as freshmen...
CAVUTO: Is that right?
GINGRICH: That's right.
GINGRICH: Three out of four don't graduate.
And you look at the fact that, if you're an African-American male and you drop out of high school, you face a 73 percent unemployment rate in your 20s and a 60 percent chance of going to jail, and then you say, what would that particular subculture be like? It is a tragedy.
And I think we need somebody — and I — and John Edwards, to be fair — I don't agree with his solutions, but John Edwards has at least tried to put on the table the notion this is a national conversation we need. And I think today is a reminder in Cleveland, just as we had a reminder last year in Virginia Tech, and as we had a reminder with predatory behavior in Newark, there is something going on that we need to fundamentally readdress as Americans.
CAVUTO: In fact, you were saying this before a lot of folks, before a lot of these incidents, when you were looking even at gang warfare and the prevalence of gangs in the United States, that there is a sort of a very unpleasant underbelly to...
GINGRICH: Well, we did a FOX News special two years ago...
GINGRICH: ... on MS-13, which is the...
CAVUTO: Right. Right.
GINGRICH: ... which is the El Salvadoran gang, which is in over 40 cities, and is stunningly violent, I mean, brings to the U.S. a kind of Third World level of violence, cutting off people's arms with a machete, I mean, really brutal behavior.
CAVUTO: And to areas not predisposed to this sort of thing.
GINGRICH: That's right. People are shocked by it.
GINGRICH: But it's not just — it's not just foreigners.
You had this family in Connecticut where two people who had been left out who had actually met each other in a halfway house literally trailed a mother and her daughter back home...
CAVUTO: That's right.
GINGRICH: ... and then went home late at night, raped the two daughters, killed the mother and the two daughters, burned the house down. The father barely survived and escaped.
I mean, you look at that and you think, this is America. And, so, I think we need a conversation that says there are two or three different things going on. They are not all the same thing. But they have combined now to give us a level of violence and a level of predators that we can't function as a healthy society and tolerate.
CAVUTO: All right, Newt, there were so many other things I wanted to talk about today. Thank you for indulging us on this news development, because you were ahead of a lot of these things that we're seeing today.
Very good seeing you, my friend.
GINGRICH: Thank you. Thanks, Neil.
CAVUTO: All right.
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