Bowling for Columbine

 Dylan Klebold, 17, and Eric Harris, 18, had a plan. Obsessed with violent video games and paramilitary techniques, they spent a year planning a crime the nation would never forget. Dubbed “the Trenchcoat Mafia” for their habit of wearing black trench coats, the boys had long been bullied and scorned by classmates. They decided to kill themselves, but in the process they also wanted to kill as many of their classmates as they could and blow up the school. The day before their rampage, they sent an email to the police declaring that their revenge against those who ridiculed them had been accomplished. They blamed parents and teachers for turning children into sheep. At 11:30 a.m. on April 20, 1999, they hid weapons beneath their trench coats then ran through the school yelling and shooting. When they reached the library, they killed their largest number of victims before turning their guns on themselves. After police got into the building, they counted 34 casualties and 15 dead students, including the shooters. Eric’s diary confirmed how they planned the event: the two were part of a larger network, and their motives were intense, but confused. They were angry, bitter kids who acted out against classmates who fit into the school environment better than they did. Watch Bowling for Columbine 1/12 Michael Moore

The Columbine High School massacre occurred on Tuesday, April 20, 1999, in Columbine, an area of Jefferson County, Colorado. After the massacre the boys committed suicide.  Psychologists Derek Miller and John Looney noted adolescent killers show a capacity to dehumanize others because these kids are  themselves dehumanized. The library massacre occurred at 11:29 a.m. Eric shot at a display case  injuring student Evan Todd then yelled for everyone to “Get up!” and uttered things such as “Everyone with white hats, stand up! This is for all the shit you’ve given us for the past four years!” and “All jocks stand up! We’ll get the guys in white hats!” When no one stood up, Eric was heard to say: “Fine, I’ll start shooting anyway!” Harris walked over to the table across from the lower computer row, knelt down, and said “peek-a-boo” before shooting Cassie Bernall in the head.  Eventually Eric and Dylan committed suicide. Two SWAT teams entered the school at 1:09 p.m. and at 4:30 p.m. declared, ironically, the school was safe. Safe from what?  Prejudice? Exclusion?  I think not.

The link between bullying and school violence has attracted attention since the rampage at Columbine High School. Both of the shooters were classified as gifted children and were victims of bullying for years. There may or may not be a connection between the “gifted” label and the subsequent bullying, although a label of any sort that is hoisted upon a child can be very confusing. It sets that child apart from the general school population…never a good development during the most vulnerable time of a person’s life. On the fifth anniversary of Columbine, the FBI’s lead Columbine investigator went public in a news article, arguing Eric was a clinical psychopath and Dylan was depressive. They believed the plan was masterminded by Eric who they thought had a messianic-level superiority complex and hoped to illustrate his massive superiority to the world. Watch Columbine high school security system

Later several “experts”, politicians and officials declared confidently the motive behind the massacre:  Watch Marilyn Manson – bowling for Columbine   If only it were that simple.

n.b.  A very good book that discusses what many of us view as eccentrities, differences, abnormalities and otherpersonality issues in children entitled Far from the Tree:  Parents, Children and the Search for Identity, offers a personal perspective on being an outcast, and the victim of bullying during elementary and secondary school years; bullying, of course,  being the catalyst behind the Columbine shootings, as it is behind many current teenage suicides and self-destructive behaviours.  It is a very good resource for people with parenting issues, or who are themselves the victims of exclusion, or anyone simply with an interest in how people become who they are in an unaccepting, yet supposedly divergent, correct society. Preventing atrocities such as Columbine starts with awareness: perhaps forewarned is forearmed (tragic pun).  Highly recommended read. (No I didn’t get paid for that generous endorsement ….  pooh).

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