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Everybody’s Columbine

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By Virgil - Posted on 19 April 2009

Ten years later, the Columbine High School massacre is still about nothing. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold did not go on a killing spree because they were picked on, or because they were pagans, or because Colorado had lax gun laws. Eric was a cunning, calculating psychopath who wanted to kill as many people as possible, and Dylan was a depressive who wanted to kill himself. That is it.Such information vacuums are dangerous, which is why the incident, memorialized in Dave Cullen’s new book, Columbine, continues to fascinate, horrify, and confuse. Confronted with the lack of recognizable human logic, we have provided our own, to make us feel better, to profit, to justify the way we see the world. If we are Christian, the shooting showed the imperative of others sharing our faith. If we were unpopular in high school, it cast a light on the dangerous petri dish of public schooling. If we believe in gun control, it reflected the recklessness of the gun lobby and our country’s frightening obsession with firearms.

But none of these things had anything to do with Columbine. It was just about two boys, stupid and vain, one dangerously charismatic, the other painfully awkward and tragically impressionable. Together, they decided that murdering as many people as possible was the only logical action; the book argues convincingly that the shock of their attack does not come from the fact that they killed thirteen people but that they didn’t kill more. Had the propane bombs they’d planted in the cafeteria gone off as planned, sending surviving students streaming out into the school’s parking lot where Eric and Dylan were waiting, they could have killed more than 500. Had not everything gone awry, in spite of their meticulous planning, they would have.

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Windpressor's picture


No, ... unsurprising.
Well, surprising in the remarkable unsurprisingness of it all.
Truth is morphed.
Or is it twisted?
Truth is reshaped by media then unfolded, presented as rorschach,
repackaged under diverse labels and traded in the exchange of popular myths.

I like the closing remarks of the review[pg2]:
============Columbine was a rare circumstance, beyond classification or easy explanation. Which is why we struggle so much trying to explain it. This is a uniquely American concept: We require answers and motivations, quickly, even if they’re ultimately wrong. We do not handle mystery and uncertainty well. [emphasis added]

In truth, the book doesn’t have all the answers, either, and is as susceptible to revisionism and incompleteness as any historical interpretation. ... But what the book captures better than any other reporting is the confusion and fear that come from an inability to make sense of something that has no reason, no cause, no source—confusion and fear that can lead to damaging misinformation and lasting fictions. Despite all of the coverage, we still don’t know what motivated Eric and Dylan. The best we can do—what the book is arguing for—is to stop trying to guess.=============

An intriguing attempt to debunk what amounts to urban legends.
Good luck with that ....


G-Juan Wind

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