It’s been 15 years since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire.
I don’t have anything new to say, but I thought that we ought to pause and reflect on that day and all that has transpired in its wake.
Through the years I’ve written about Columbine several times, attempting to make sense of it, perhaps create a bit of context and perspective. The first in this extended series, “Columbine and the Power of Symbols,” which was written shortly after I visited the site a few days later, is still very hard for me to read.
I have compiled the rest of my writings on Columbine here, and invite you to track along with my journey.
So much has changed, so much remains the same.
Ten years ago, at the turn of the millennium, Nostraslammy took a stab at predicting the 21st Century, with a promise to check back every ten years to see how the prognostications were turning out. Odds are good I won’t be able to do a review every ten years until 2100, but I figure I’m probably good through 2030, at least, barring some unforeseen calamity. And if you’re Nostraslammy, what’s this “unforeseen” thing, anyway?
Let’s see how our 22 articles of foresight are holding up, one at a time.
1: Researchers will develop either a vaccine or a cure for AIDS by 2020. However, it will be expensive enough that the disease will plague the poor long after it has become a non-issue for the rich and middle classes (although this is one case where political leaders might fund free treatment programs). The end of AIDS will trigger a sexual revolution that will compare to or exceed that of the 1960s and 1970s (unless another deadly sexually-transmitted disease evolves, which is certainly a possibility). Read more
Susan Klebold, mother of Columbine High School killer Dylan Klebold, has finally, after all these years, decided to speak publicly about her son and the events of 4.20.99. She doesn’t give us anything like the understanding we might want – I doubt such a thing is possible – but it’s interesting nonetheless.
Read it here.
Part three of a series.
In the days following the murders at Columbine High School I visited the school and the grounds of Clement Park. Those walks produced this piece, which was originally published ten years ago today.
We have learned a great deal about the events that took place at Columbine since this essay was written (for instance, we now know that the “Cassie Said Yes” story never actually happened, and we also know that the whole “Trenchcoat Mafia” thing was also a media-propagated fiction). But it seemed to me that going back and revising to account for new information would damage the fabric of what I wrote in late April and early May of 1999. I have therefore elected to leave the factual inaccuracies in place. I do, however, note the spots containing errors with an asterisk (*).
Salon.com and Westword.com provide as thorough and accurate a picture as we are ever likely to have of the shootings and the aftermath, and I recommend them highly.
Sunday, May 2, 1999
It won’t stop raining, and nobody seems to care. Read more
Part two in a series
How did it happen? Why did it happen? There’s simply no way to measure how many hours have devoted to these questions in the ten years and four days since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire at Columbine High School, and while we don’t (and never will) have all the answers, we do have some of them. Obviously a good bit of the discussion focuses on the individuals themselves, and other analyses cast a broader net, examining the social factors that shaped the individuals. In a way, the question we’re still debating perhaps boils down to nature vs. nurture. Were Harris and Klebold Natural Born Killers? Or are they better understood as by-products of deeper social trends and dynamics?
The answer is probably “All of the above,” but we can’t simply check C and be on our merry, uncritical way. Read more
Part one of a series
April 20, 2009: 11:19 am MDT
Ten years ago a co-worker turned to me and said something that I’ll never forget, no matter how long I live: “Hey, Sammy, there’s been a school shooting in Littleton.”
Since that day a great deal has been written and said about Columbine High School and the events of 4.20.99, and like a lot of other people I’ve tried my hardest to make sense of something that seemed (and still seems) inherently senseless. Tried and failed. Now, ten years on, the grief hasn’t fully dissipated here in the city that I have come to call home, and even if we manage to understand the whos, whats, and hows, there’s a part of us that’s doomed to wrestle forever with the whys. Read more