> Random Encounter
|NOTE FROM THE EDITOR|
following installment of Random Encounter was published to the site in
April of 2000, nearly one year after the terrible tragedy at Columbine
High School, and the letter it references was written a few days after
In the years since then, we have learned much
about Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the Columbine killers. They were
deeply disturbed young men who had a burning desire to get their
revenge on the world. Let by Harris, who was a textbook psychopath, the
two of them thought of nothing but getting even with a world full of
people that they perceived as being beneath them.
have an external trigger - not music, not movies, not the goth culture,
not video or roleplaying games - nothing fueled their fire other than
Not even, as it turns out, being bullied.
The accounts of Harris and Klebold being bullied and mocked by others
were just as untrue as the rest, as testified by teens who barely knew
them and a media that was desperate to feed news to a hungry public.
The same testimonies brought us the myths of Cassie Bernall's
martyrdom, and the killers targeting jocks or nonwhites during their
spree. Not only were the boys not bullied, but the reverse was true -
they were known to bully others from time to time.
I admit my
mistake, and apologize for it. It could be said that I am as guilty as
those who jumped to conclusions about popular music, video games, and
roleplaying games, and I suppose that I am.
In my defense, I offer this - that at least my conclusion was focused on a real
problem, and one that we would do well to confront, rather than
engaging in the futile practice of setting up straw men and knocking
- wjw, 10-01-09
April 16th, 2000
20th, 2000 marks the first anniversary
of the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colorado.
friends and family of the victims grieve and remember, news teams will
have their cameras rolling and a slew of news stories will appear,
through the files on my hard drive
last week, I came across a letter that I had written not long after the
incident. I'm not sure who would be the eventual recipient of
missive, but it never made it there. Rather than
let it go
to waste, I thought it would go to good use to post it here, and let
know exactly how I feel.
It's an unfinished
work, and will always remain that
way; it gets the point across, and stands on it's own well
For best results, read it after you have become overwhelmed with sound
bites and expert opinions.
P.S. Lest I forget
to mention, my anti-scapegoating
Project, is still alive, but not so well. If you
would like to
participate, and display a black page on your site this April 20th, go
a horrible crime like the
Columbine shooting comes along, everyone is quick to trot out their
like some kind of bizarre Westminster Dog Show.
parents of the victims blame the
parents of the killers, for not watching their every move, like any
parents without jobs or other responsibilities can.
zealots are blaming the incident
on the removal of prayer from schools, as if the propagation of their
beliefs is the only thing keeping the entire nation from exploding in a
blaze of chaos.
media blames practically everything
else: the Goth scene (of which the killers were not actually a part),
games, movies, and music (which are enjoyed by millions of other teens
who somehow resist the urge to waste their classmates), and even
games (which have not even been proven to be a factor in this case, but
they are such an easy target…).
one seems to see the real reason,
the reason that even the government is powerless against. And it's
in front of our noses.
interviewed about the personalities
of the suspects, most every one of the teenagers from Columbine High
called them "outcasts" and "loners." Many admitted to teasing them,
them names, and generally making high school life miserable for them…
are even the ones who first coined the phrase "Trenchcoat Mafia," a
later used by the outcasts themselves as a badge of individuality.
get me wrong; I am certainly
not suggesting that anyone "had it coming." While
none of us who
claim to be of sound mind can ever justify the massacre that was
it is painfully obvious that a fuse was lit. And the accompanying
speak from experience. I myself was
an outcast, misunderstood by most of my classmates, and as a result,
constantly by them. I was called most every name in the book, pushed
of lunch lines, picked last for every team in gym class, and
and humiliated in countless ways. At times, a few of the teachers even
joined in. When confronted with their acts by a teacher or the
the reaction of my tormentors was always a head-shaking,
plea of innocence, followed by even harsher treatment when the backs of
authority were turned.
day, as I stood at the far end
of the recess yard, minding my own business, I became the target of a
old-fashioned stoning. Just like the kind you read about in the Bible,
except that I had the chance to duck behind the gym teacher's car for
I didn't bother reporting it.
fact is, I fantasized about doing
something similar in my school; running wild through the hallways,
out any student or teacher who had ever given me trouble. The fact is,
many of us do. The difference between us and the Columbine killers is
we are much more stable, mentally. Our fuses fizzled, to everyone's
years ago, a friend informed me
that our class was having a ten year reunion. I was surprised at first
that I hadn't gotten an invitation; then, when I read my friend's, I
that my name had somehow dropped off of their list. Whether it was
or deliberately omitted will always be a mystery to me, but either way,
I'm glad. I'd much rather be forgotten by them.
in a way, that's a damn shame.
have we learned from Columbine?
What can we do to prevent another school shooting? Nothing if we do not
make some serious changes, immediately.
not talking about taking videos
off of store shelves, banning video games like Doom or Quake, burning
Manson records, or instating a nationwide mandatory waiting period for
buying a handgun. These are not solutions; they only make us feel
by knowing that we've stopped someone from doing something of which we
talking about treating people properly.
Tell the people you love that you love them, and treat the rest with
respect that you would like to get from them. And as for the ones that
you fear because they dress differently, or listen to strange music, or
follow a different religion, or have a different skin color, or you
can't understand them… leave them alone.
you can never be certain
whose fuse you are going to light… or how huge the explosion will
- FAQs - Blog
- Wiki - Features