Things aren’t always what they appear to be. I’m not sure if there’s a more cliche phrase than that, but like every cliche, behind the tawdry, tiring trapping and accoutrement there’s truth. Combing through the typical media outlets today, I certainly didn’t expect to see an article in USA Today on Columbine. Nor did I expect it to challenge my long-held preconceptions about the school shootings and those who perpetrated them.
The story that I have heard since the story first broke was that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were repressed, bullied loners who, after listening to the likes of Marylin Manson and playing tons of Doom, decided to lash out against those who they viewed as their oppressors in the most violent way possible. This fit in with what made perfect sense, it was a classic tale of individuals drawing a nonsensical line in the sand after enduring humiliation and withdrawing into delusional rage.
But now, ten years after the attacks, information has trickled out that completely changes things. The classic notion of the shootings following a pre-made list of enemies is dashed against the rocks, everyone on said lists had already graduated, and the shootings did not target individuals. Instead, it appears now that the scope was intended to be much larger, and the victims indiscriminate. Bombs were supposed to tear the school apart, with Harris and Klebold picking off survivors. Car bombs were rigged in the parking lot to explode after police and ambulances arrived regardless of the shooter’s fate.
This wasn’t a matter of loners striking back against popular, minority or religious students. It was intended to be a terrorist attack inspired by deep-seated psychological problems. Harris had a god complex, while Klebold viewed himself as “a god, a god of sadness” and fell into a paranoid depression that most likely made him dependent upon Harris’ schemes of killing thousands.
To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel after combing through the article. Obviously there’s more info to go through, but if this article is correct in its assertions, the Columbine shootings don’t become any more or less horrifying, the terror that they breed merely changes its form. Before it seemed as though there were logcial, twisted, but nonetheless logical thought processes behind Klebold and Harris’ actions. They felt oppressed, they felt marginalized, were heavily influenced by violent culture and acted out against those they saw as the cause of their sorrows to attain a perverted immortality.
Now, there seemed to be little reason, even of the demented variety. That, in the end, may be more troubling tan the former rationale. They didn’t kill for a purpose, they killed because they wanted to, because they could. Not to breed the same sort of paranoia that followed Columbine in regard to “troubled” students and apply it to a wider scale, but it does bring up the frightening possibility of what people are capable of doing for the most fickle of reasons.