|Tuesday, April 20, 2004
18:36 - Columbine explained
All this time we'd all assumed that Michael Moore had at least this much right: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the "Trenchcoat Mafia", the Columbine killers, were the products of a society that had lost its heart—an America where violence was institutionalized, where video games and the nightly news desensitized a generation of youths to the point where they thought it would be cool to shoot down their teachers and the jocks who tormented them day by day.
Dave Cullen, however, appears to be in exclusive possession of a new interpretation of all the official analysis that has been done since the event: FBI psychologists' work, operating independently of all the pundits in the news and behind the documentary camera, has reached an entirely different conclusion about the nature of these two boys and what they—particularly Harris—were trying to do.
School shooters tend to act impulsively and attack the targets of their rage: students and faculty. But Harris and Klebold planned for a year and dreamed much bigger. The school served as means to a grander end, to terrorize the entire nation by attacking a symbol of American life. Their slaughter was aimed at students and teachers, but it was not motivated by resentment of them in particular. Students and teachers were just convenient quarry, what Timothy McVeigh described as "collateral damage."
The killers, in fact, laughed at petty school shooters. They bragged about dwarfing the carnage of the Oklahoma City bombing and originally scheduled their bloody performance for its anniversary. Klebold boasted on video about inflicting "the most deaths in U.S. history." Columbine was intended not primarily as a shooting at all, but as a bombing on a massive scale. If they hadn't been so bad at wiring the timers, the propane bombs they set in the cafeteria would have wiped out 600 people. After those bombs went off, they planned to gun down fleeing survivors. An explosive third act would follow, when their cars, packed with still more bombs, would rip through still more crowds, presumably of survivors, rescue workers, and reporters. The climax would be captured on live television. It wasn't just "fame" they were after—Agent Fuselier bristles at that trivializing term—they were gunning for devastating infamy on the historical scale of an Attila the Hun. Their vision was to create a nightmare so devastating and apocalyptic that the entire world would shudder at their power.
Harris and Klebold would have been dismayed that Columbine was dubbed the "worst school shooting in American history." They set their sights on eclipsing the world's greatest mass murderers, but the media never saw past the choice of venue. The school setting drove analysis in precisely the wrong direction.
The whole thing is worth reading. This is important stuff. Particularly revealing are the entries from Harris' personal journal, which depict not a picked-on kid with delusions fueled by violent pop media, but a cold-hearted serial killer and mass murderer in the making—a prodigy in the psychopath department.
"YOU KNOW WHAT I HATE!!!? Cuuuuuuuuhntryyyyyyyyyy music!!!
"YOU KNOW WHAT I HATE!!!? People who use the same word over and over again! . . . Read a f---in book or two, increase your vo-cab-u-lary f*ck*ng idiots."
"YOU KNOW WHAT I HATE!!!? STUPID PEOPLE!!! Why must so many people be so stupid!!? . . . YOU KNOW WHAT I HATE!!!? When people mispronounce words! and they dont even know it to, like acrosT, or eXspreso, pacific (specific), or 2 pAck. learn to speak correctly you morons.
It rages on for page after page and is repeated in his journal and in the videos he and Klebold made. But Fuselier recognized a far more revealing emotion bursting through, both fueling and overshadowing the hate. What the boy was really expressing was contempt.
He is disgusted with the morons around him. These are not the rantings of an angry young man, picked on by jocks until he's not going to take it anymore. These are the rantings of someone with a messianic-grade superiority complex, out to punish the entire human race for its appalling inferiority. It may look like hate, but "It's more about demeaning other people," says Hare.
In fact, I'd say it sounds like he might have been a Michael Moore fan.