As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Columbine at 10

In 1999 I was living in San Francisco, doing stand-up and generally being a cynical lout, and someone I knew back then was actually a graduate of Columbine High School, something I unfortunately only found out after doing some half-assed Columbine joke about what it would be like at the 10-year reunion. Look before you leap, kids.

And that goes double with the retrospectives of the Columbine massacre, which the media drove along using a narrative completely at odds with the truth (kudos to USA Today for some good reporting correcting the record):

They weren't goths or loners.

The two teenagers who killed 13 people and themselves at suburban Denver's Columbine High School 10 years ago next week weren't in the "Trenchcoat Mafia," disaffected videogamers who wore cowboy dusters. The killings ignited a national debate over bullying, but the record now shows Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold hadn't been bullied — in fact, they had bragged in diaries about picking on freshmen and "fags."

Their rampage put schools on alert for "enemies lists" made by troubled students, but the enemies on their list had graduated from Columbine a year earlier. Contrary to early reports, Harris and Klebold weren't on antidepressant medication and didn't target jocks, blacks or Christians, police now say, citing the killers' journals and witness accounts. That story about a student being shot in the head after she said she believed in God? Never happened, the FBI says now.

A decade after Harris and Klebold made Columbine a synonym for rage, new information — including several books that analyze the tragedy through diaries, e-mails, appointment books, videotape, police affidavits and interviews with witnesses, friends and survivors — indicate that much of what the public has been told about the shootings is wrong.

Harris and Klebold were psychologically disturbed, not driven to rage through constant torment. They wanted to kill thousands of people, and if Harris knew how to build a bomb or had the money to do it properly, they would have. The entire thing is terribly frightening, from the standpoint of the media misinformation, the true intent of the criminals, everything. I think we've solved a couple of these problems, but not all, and some are probably unsolvable.

Sam Smith at Scholars & Rogues has more.

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