Sometimes It Takes A Decade For Closure


If you are frustrated by the incomprehensible school shooting Newtown, Connecticut, I highly recommend that you take a step back in time and read Dave Cullen's book Columbine -- the book took nearly ten years to write and dispels practically every assumption that was first asserted by the media about the massacre in Colorado . . . and it is an excellent reminder of the futility of trying to follow a news story in real time; I consciously avoided reading or watching anything about the Newtown shooting for this reason (and because the story was so damn disturbing) but reading about Columbine is working as a diversion -- I feel like I'm engaged with what is happening in our nation, but I'm not participating in the sensationalizing of a tragic event; unfortunately, no matter how long I wait, I may never know what made Adam Lanza tick, but Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were remorseless enough to have left behind a treasure trove of film, journals, criminal incidents, Web pages, and transcripts from the various counseling they went through, and this information allowed FBI Agent Dwayne Fusilier to paint a complete picture of exactly why the boys did what they did . . . and it had nothing to do with the "Trench Coat Mafia" or  being bullied or jocks or targeting specific ethnicities or cliques: Eric Harris was a psychopath, who believed that he was superior to all other "robots" and his motive was to kill as many people as possible  in the most terroristic, fearful way he could conjure from his unsympathetic and damaged mind, and Dylan Klebold was intelligent and sensitive, but also a malleable, seething bipolar depressive who got sucked into Eric Harris's vortex of hate  -- and though it is frustrating to read about the various strands of both of these kid's lives that indicated that the were planning this horrible event -- hindsight is 20/20, of course -- and that they were really capable of pulling it off (although if it went as actually planned, then it would have been far, far worse -- Harris was determined to rack up a bigger body count than the Oklahoma City bombing -- but his bombs didn't detonate) but Dave Cullen constantly reminds us that psychopaths are notorious for pulling the wool over the eyes of everyone around them-- especially authority figures -- as they can mimic normal human emotions, including the all important ones like repentance, guilt, and resolution, and so it would have been very difficult to separate Harris from a typical rebellious teenager who was trying to turn over a new leaf . . . but the most disturbing detail of the book isn't even about the killers, it is about the rest of us and what we desire, which may not be as violent as what Harris and Klebold desired, but it is equally as sick and weird: soon after the massacre, "tour operators were quick to capitalize . . . the buses would pull up in front of the school, and tourists would pile out and start snapping pictures: the school, the grounds, the kids practicing on the athletic fields or milling about in the park."

11 comments:

Melanie said...

I just read this too. I checked it out on the Wednesday of the week there was a mall shooting on Monday and by Friday the Newtown shooting. One thing you didn't mention in your Sentence is that there were a few opportunities they could have been stopped - law enforcement knew Eric was making bombs, Dylan's English teacher reported a violent and disturbing school paper he wrote to his parents and school therapist. The shooting could have been stopped if all the pieces could have been fit together....OR maybe Eric would have talked his way out of trouble.

The way the community reacted is interesting too. There was such a huge amount of emotional support at first but by the time they went to build a memorial site a few years later, there was barely enough money to do so.

Good review Dave!

Dave said...

thanks mel. i got lost in this sentence, i wanted to point that out -- that in retrospect, the clues were there.

it's kind of reassuring that the community -- especially the new high school students -- eventually "forgot" about the tragedy and got back to smoking cigarettes at the smoker's pit again . . .

Jen said...

Smokers pit or "Patio C"?

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