Dave Cullen, a reporter at Salon.com, spent 10 years working on his newly-published account of the Columbine massacre. Difficult as the event was to comprehend at the time, his book raises troubling new questions. One has to do with the way the media depicted both Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. We were meant to believe they were troubled loners who one day just "snapped." Instead, they were both socially active, involved with a group of ten or fifteen friends. They weren't Goths, they weren't part of a "Trench Coat Gang," and they didn't just snap. They spent more than a year planning a major school massacre, including acquiring pipe bombs, a major gun arsenal, and building other incendiary devices. They had hoped to kill as many as 2000 people. On the day of the massacre--April 20, 1999, they installed a propane-fueled bomb in the school cafeteria and various pipe bombs. When none of their bombs detonated, they began shooting people, and then killed themselves.
Cullen's study of the boys' diaries, websites, and conversations with their friends leads him to believe they wanted to make a sort of horrific live action movie, something along the lines of Quentin Tarantino.
Harris came to the attention of local authorities about a year before the massacre. A parent, alarmed by his website, contacted the police. A search warrant for the Harris home was issued, but never executed. Why, we'll never know.
And the father of one of the two boys, I believe Klebold, actually found one of the pipe bombs some months ahead of the massacre. He apparently took no action.
I'm grateful I never had to deal with the issues the Klebold and Harris households did, and even more grateful I never suffered the kind of loss that the parents of the victims went through, but reading about the father's discovery of one of the weapons reminded me of a very unpleasant time in my own household.
Some thirty years ago, I discovered that one of my stepsons was growing dope in the attic, selling it in the neighborhood for pocket money that he used in turn to buy more significant drugs. We had a very hard time dealing with this. He was angry and he was very big and when I finally, after many months of living with the situation, confronted him, it was one of the most difficult days of my life. We didn't have a happy ending, or at least, we did, but it lay many years down the road. I wondered what I would have done if any of my husband's sons, who all lived with us, had been making weapons. What would you have done?