Trench discusses the American media fascination with the anniversaries of tragedies.
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In the wake of the Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting Vox.com looked into the bullied school shooter stereotype. What did they come up with? I think the title of the article kind of gives it away.
It makes me wonder if people will read it with an open mind or just dismiss it so they can continue to live with a comfortable lie.
Anyway, friend of the site, and Columbine author, Dave Cullen was interviewed for the article and once again brought his A-game to the discussion when it came to discussing the Columbine cowards.
“Everybody knows who commits these kind of murders. They’re outcasts, typically goth or other sorts of kids that dress funny and live on the fringes,” Cullen said. “That’s well known. It’s also wrong.”
“It’s complete nonsense,” Cullen said. Both shooters had a healthy circle of friends. Their social calendars, which were released to the public, were “packed.” They went bowling every Friday, and they typically occupied four lanes — enough for 16 people.
There’s also “no compelling evidence,” Cullen explained, that the shooters were bullied more than anyone else or that bullying drove them to the shootings. “We have their journals and videos,” Cullen said, adding that they “never mention bullying” directed at the shooters.
The article goes on to state that depression and mental illness are the main causes of school shootings. It was suggested that schools should hand out questionnaires to students to monitor for signs of depression. I’m afraid that while it may assist in getting some kids some help there are definite flaws by doing this. The first that a lot of kids with problems at home will lie so their parents won’t be notified by the school. Another problem is that any kid with depression will be labeled a potential school shooter and that doesn’t help anyone. Lastly, I don’t want to see depression become an excuse at trial for criminal behavior like bullying and Asperger’s have become in the years since Columbine.
Getting back to the bullying aspect I also wanted to add that this article is a great example of how school shootings have actually done a disservice to the victims of bullying. As I’ve said before now people are more concerned about finding the next shooter than actually doing anything about bullying.
Please watch the following video from ABC News in its entirety. You can also watch it at their website.
This was a segment by correspondent Pierre Thomas for ABC News’ This Week With George Stephanopoulos. I thought Mr. Thomas did a great job at first discussing the copycat shootings that were inspired by Columbine. It said all the right things without glorifying the guilty. I greatly appreciated how it was pointed out that a lot of the shootings had to deal with mental illness. I wish they would have said something to make seeking mental health treatment less stigmatized but it’s a start. Then at about the 4:12 mark it goes completely off the rails.
At that point Mr. Thomas interviews one Dillon Cossey. Cossey pleaded guilty in 2007 to plotting an attack against Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School at the age of 14. At this point in the interview the bullying trope is brought out. It’s like there’s a mandate for all American media that if you’re talking about school shootings you have to mention bullying in the piece whether it’s factual or not. If Cossey was bullied it didn’t happen at the school he was attending at the time because Cossey was being home-schooled at the time of his arrest.
Another thing that should have been brought up about how to stop some of these shootings is parenting. I would say just about all the shootings that were committed by juveniles could have been prevented if the parents just paid closer attention to their kids, stopped trying to be their friend instead of their parent, and having a modicum of common sense. If your kid has an unhealthy obsession with mass murderers it’s not ‘just a phase’. It means they are in need of psychiatric help. As an example of what not to do we’ll go back to Dillon Cossey. His parents were both arrested after his arrest because they were the ones who bought him a .22-caliber handgun, a .22-caliber rifle and a 9-millimeter semiautomatic rifle.
You get an E for effort ABC News. Maybe next time how about a little more fact checking and a little less dissemination of misinformation?
Sue Klebold, the mother of Columbine killer Dylan Klebold, is said to be writing her memoirs which will deal with the ‘indescribable grief and shame’ she has had to live with for 15 years. Also, all proceeds from the book will go to charity and mental health research. So does this mean that the Klebolds are finally accepting responsibility for the events on April 20th 1999? While that remains to be seen I doubt it.
In the past during rare times that she has spoken to the media she has made excuses for her, her husband Tom and their hellspawn. In 2004 she told the New York Times that “I haven’t done anything for which I need forgiveness.” In 2009 in an essay she wrote for O Magazine she basically admitted how clueless she was when it came to her son and again she admitted as such in a 2012 book about children who commit crimes. So you’ll have to forgive me if I think the book is going to be anything but more of the same.
But I hear you say “She’s not being paid for the book.” Of course she isn’t, not directly anyway. The only reason the proceeds are going to charity is because the families of the real victims of her son would raise holy hell if she took even a penny. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to get compensated especially if the book takes off.
Then again maybe the guilt has finally gotten to her. The article states that she’s been wanting to write this book since Sandy Hook. That’s more than fitting since just about every school shooter has paid some tribute to her son and his cowardly cohort Eric Harris. Cho Seung-Hui, Stephen Kazmierczak and Adam Lanza all viewed her son as a hero. She has it within her power to try to end that kind of veneration of killers. Whether or not she chooses to use that power responsibly remains has yet to be determined.
According to WMAR in Baltimore, researchers are trying to find a link between Columbine and other mass shooters. I am far from a learned scholar but if you’ve been paying attention for the past 15 years it’s hard not to notice a link.
Columbine is the firs of what I call the five major school shootings in America. The others being Red Lake, Virginia Tech, NIU and Newtown. In each of those cases the shooters, Jeff Weise, Cho Seung-Hui, Stephen Kazmierczak and Adam Lanza, all had some degree of not only fascination with Columbine but in some cases sympathy or hero-worship of the killers. Weise wanted his shooting to be on the anniversary of Columbine. Cho referred to the Columbine killers as martyrs in his videotaped manifesto. Kazmierczak had an obsession with both the Columbine shooting and the Virginia Tech shooting. Lastly most recently Adam Lanza kept spreadsheets with detailed information about Columbine and other mass shootings. That’s not even mentioning other school shooters that don’t get as much attention like TJ Lane, Alvaro Castillo, Kimveer Gill, Aaron Ybarra, etc.
One researcher goes on to mention the media’s role in all this without saying if they’re to blame one way or the other. I think the media does share some of the blame as more and more media outlets try to be first rather than correct along with the sensationalist nature of today’s major news sources. Reports from these sources can sometimes be viewed as glorifying the killers.
The other thing that is a problem is the dissemination of misinformation that has perpetuated since Columbine. What’s the first thing that people think when they hear a school shooting has happened? Most people will wrongly assume that the shooter must have been bullied, yet there is no evidence that any of the six gunmen involved in the five major school shootings were bullied. Yet as I’ve said many times before this bullying trope, or myth as a I like to call it, has refused to die in the face of evidence that says otherwise.
I used to refer to people who idolized or sympathized with school shooters mutants. Since that time the internet has latched on to the term columbiners. Kids who weren’t even alive during the time of Columbine are on the internet professing their dedication to the two cowardly killers from Columbine and the others that have killed after them. Any one of them could be your kid. This is not normal behavior for anyone and will only set them down a path of destruction either for themselves or someone else. If your kid is one of these Columbiners intervene before it’s too late.
An 18-year-old student from East Stroudsburg High School North in Pennsylvania has been arrested for allegedly posting a rap song online called ‘Columbine’. He’s been charged with felony counts of aggravated assault and terroristic threats. Of course all the ‘Constitutional experts’ are calling this a violation of free speech, except it isn’t.
In the alleged rap song the student is said to have named staff members of the school by name in his threatening rap. Guess what kids. That makes it a threat which is not protected speech. It doesn’t matter how many samples or R&B Breaks you may have behind it, it’s still a threat. No word on how much time he’s looking at but since he’s 18 it’s big boy jail for him. Now we’ll find out how hard a rapper from the Poconos is.
I’m sure the same people would complain if he did shoot up the school asking why was nothing done to stop him when the signs were there?
Stop being outraged at everything. Be analytical and logical instead.
Today I was closing a paid e-mail account that I’ve used for the past 12 years. FastMail if you’re curious, I highly recommend it. It can do all the things G-Mail can without the specter of Google hanging over you. Right now it’s just not financially feasible for me, but I digress.
While I was cleaning out the account I came across some e-mails that I had saved from my previous e-mail account at Yahoo. These e-mails were from 1999, April of 1999 to be precise. If you’re not familiar with what happened then and what happened to me you can catch up on the About page.
Now this is in no way meant to imply what I went through was anywhere near the amount of tragedy and loss of what the victims and their families and friends went through. I just thought it would be an interesting story to share.
Anyway, it seems that I saved some of the e-mails that I received from journalists and those not deserving of the title. This was back before I even started blogging and I was not used to being thrust into any kind of spotlight. I’m not posting their names so the mutants don’t give them any grief.
This first one was from a writer at TIME magazine…
Subject: Trenhcoat Mafia?
Hi, my name is [redacted]. I’m a reporter at Time magazine, and I’m writing a story this week about the school shooting outside of Denver. Some students have said that the shooters are members of something called the Trenchcoat Mafia. Can you tell me what that is? It could well be a local group, but I found your site and thought I would “summon” you for an answer. Thanks for any help you can provide.
Feel free to e-mail me, or call 212-[redacted]. Thanks much.
Now we know how wrong that information was. I never did call him.
This next one was from a guy at the New York Post. He sent this after I had posted the disclaimer that my website at the time had nothing to do with the shootings…
I realize I stumbled onto your site because I’m doing a story for the New York Post about kids who are into Goth and Gothic characters.
I understand that you are not in any way involved in the shooting in Colorado, but I do have some questions for you:
In your new home page, you wrote, “Yes I have problems. But instead of acting out violently I write.” What do you mean by that? What kind of problems? Are these “problems” shared by other people in your school? Are there people you know who consider themselves outcasts because they feel excluded from the traditional school cliques (athletes, science geeks, cheerleader types, brains, etc)?
Why “dark poetry,” as you call it? What attracts you to these types of lyrics?
Please, if you get a chance, email me back with your phone number and I’ll call you to discuss this further.
Thanks for your time.
NY POST REPORTER
At least he had more tact than the guy from TIME but still off base as it turned out that goths weren’t involved in the shooting either. I also like how he assumed I was school age. I’ll admit that my writing back then was pretty juvenile but there was also a stereotype back then that only kids knew how to use the internet, but it was probably my writing.
I actually responded to this one…
Actually I’m a 30-year-old man from the east coast. I have the same problems as everyone else. Money. Job stress. Family problems.
I call it dark poetry because it’s not very positive. I’ve always been a negative person. Everyone has a violent side in them, but those who choose to act on it have even bigger problems. Mentally and emotionally.
Thanks for checking with me first. Unlike The Washington Post who automatically assumed I was part of that organization.
Yeah, I was still pretty bitter at the Washington Post at the time and you have to remember I was suffering from severe depression and was not being treated for it at the time. However as John Astin once said, “I’m feeling much better now.” I eventually did do some interviews with the Post but it was about MySpace stuff if I remember correctly and it wasn’t with that particular ‘reporter’. I believe his actual title was ‘style editor’ back then, whatever the hell that means.
The next one was from a Canadian reporter. I don’t recall what his questions were to me. I guess they’ve been lost to the ages but I felt his response to me was special enough for me to save for 15 years.
Thank you for the disclaimer. It’s important for a reporter to know whether he or she is on the right – or wrong – track when researching a story. And when one media outlet errs, the mistake is easily compounded because we sometimes rely on each other for leads. Hang in there.
The Windsor Star
Now that I think about it he may not have even asked me a question. He may have just been thanking me for not sending him on a wild goose chase that so many other news agencies pursued in the days following the tragedy. The Canadian media has always treated me well and fairly. They’re much better than the American media but they are hampered by law in what they can report when it comes to crime stories, but I’m digressing again.
That’s all I’ve got from back then. All the hate mail I received I deleted but I regret doing that now, except for the goatse one. If you don’t know what that is you’re better off not knowing. Oh, I still have the one from the Washington Post guy but I’ve discussed that one to death.
In a strange coincidence the paid e-mail account I mentioned before was due to expire this coming Sunday, April the 20th.
Another story that I’ve been woefully behind on is that of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School last year. Back in late November the state of Connecticut released their final report. You can read a PDF of the report here.
What a lot of media outlets have been focusing on is that Adam Lanza was obsessed with Columbine. I was about to dismiss this as media hyperbole again especially considering that Lanza had a not only a spreadsheet that detailed numerous mass murders but he also had newspaper clippings and documentation on the shootings at NIU and Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. That was until I read the report.
On page 27 of the report it states that among the evidence that was seized from Lanza’s room were ‘large amount of materials relating to Columbine shootings.’ So Lanza was just another copycat mutant, an anti-social loser with no originality. And just like his coward heroes the only way he could make himself feel relevant was through the barrel of a gun. Also just like his coward heroes he took the coward’s way out making the flames of hell burn just a little more yellow.
Also listed in the evidence seized were ‘materials regarding the topic of pedophilia and advocating for rights for pedophiles.’ So not only was he a mutant but he was pedo-defending scum too.
There’s a trial going on over in England right now where a teenager is accused of not only plotting to attack his school but also theaters and mosques.
While reporting on this the Daily Mail calls the suspect a bullied school boy in the above headline then goes on to describe him not only as a self-avowed neo-nazi but also as a racist, a fan of the English Defence League, and a mutant. Well they didn’t use the M word per se but did add that he was a fan of Columbine.
Yeah, if you’re going to be a neo-nazi racist you’re probably going to draw some negative attention to yourself so if this kid was bullied he more than likely brought it upon himself.
When large publications use the word bullied in a headline like this it’s not only a pathetic grab for attention but it perpetuates the myth about school shooters being bullied when the majority of them were not.
UPDATE 11/3/2013: While I expect this kind of thing from the Daily Mail it seems the much vaunted BBC has gotten into the act as well. Here’s the headline they went with recently.
That headline is supposed to catch your eye and I would assume most people would take the headline at face value without further reading the article where they would find this quote.
The defendant told the Old Bailey he had been called a Nazi, a fascist and a racist, at school.
That’s because he is all of those things. If you publicly embrace these kind of ideas you’re inviting abuse on yourself and you don’t deserve any sympathy.
UPDATE 12/8/2013: Back in November the jury deadlocked and a retrial has been ordered.
UPDATE 5/31/2014: The little racist bastard was acquitted after the jury deadlocked again. Sleep well Great Britain as he walks among you.
UPDATE 7/5/2014: It seems there has been a modicum of justice as the suspect has been ‘detained indefinitely’ for mental health issues.
A group of researchers from the University of British Columbia lead by psychologist Donald Dutton recently published a study that said some of North America’s most infamous school shooters committed their crimes out of paranoia and not any actual slight or mistreatment.
The team looked at the writings of killers Eric Harris, Cho Seung Hui, Kimveer Gill and Anders Breivik. We’re going to leave Breivik alone because he was not a school shooter, the study itself looked at these four as mass killers but I’m only interested in the first three.
Here’s some of what Dr. Dutton had to say…
“They become and remain fixated and obsessed with rejection by what they see as an elite in-group, whom they see as having unfairly achieved success,” Dutton and his colleagues write in a compelling paper just published in the journal Aggression and Violent Behavior. “Instead of transcending the rejection, they formulate plans to annihilate the transgressors, which they justify as vengeance for the transgressions made against them.”
Now let’s see what the cowards in question had to say…
If people were making your life a living hell, wouldn’t you be hurt emotionally? How come no one ever talks about those mother fucking jocks and preps whose fault it is. Oh no. Heaven forbid. We can’t possibly say that. Why does society applaud jocks? I do not understand. They are the worst kind of people on earth. And the preps are no better. They think they’re better than others, but they’re not.
Gill was 25 at the time of the Dawson College shooting and he was still talking about high school stuff. Gill was nothing more than a Harris-worshiper, or as I call them mutants. Friends that grew up with Gill say that due to his size he was not bullied. Gill is nothing more than a copycat.
Your Mercedes wasn’t enough? Your golden necklaces weren’t enough? Your trust fund wasn’t enough? Your vodka and cognac weren’t enough? All your debaucheries weren’t enough?
Cho’s problem wasn’t with jocks but people who he considered ‘rich’. Cho must have been born without a sense of reference because he was going to an expensive university in Virginia Tech, owned an Apple computer, and had enough money to buy at least two new handguns. That’s not exactly poor. Also, Cho mentioned Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in his video manifesto as being ‘martyrs’. Just another copycat like Gill.
Now let’s go to Coward Prime, Eric Harris…
Everyone is making fun of me because of how I look, how fucking weak I am, and shit, well I will get you all back, ultimate fucking revenge here. You people could have shown more respect, treated me better, asked for more knowledge or guidance more, treated me more like a senior, and maybe I wouldn’t have been so ready to tear your fucking heads off. … Same thing with all those rich snotty toadies at my school. Fuckers think they are higher than me and everyone else with all their $ just because they were born into it?
See, he hated jocks and rich kids. Again back in 1999 not everyone had a computer and they were pretty expensive. His cohort Klebold drove a BMW and they both lived in the suburbs. Their families weren’t exactly hurting financially.
Oh, but I hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth already. “Trench, Harris even says that he was made fun of, isn’t that bullying?” To put it bluntly, no. First off if I was just made fun of at school that would be considered a good day. Secondly, since Harris is a paranoid psychopath anything that is said to him he could consider being made fun of. Lastly, please allow me to expound on a theory that I put out there a few years ago.
Here’s what I think set Harris off. Harris wanted to be with the in crowd so much that it hurt. When he approached someone from the so-called in crowd he was either rejected outright or he perceived that he was being slighted by them. I think that one incident like this is what set Harris off. The fact that he was already engaging in anti-social criminal behavior probably didn’t help.
I also think that Cho and Gill probably had some type of similar situation that was a flash point for them as well which made them easily identify with Harris hence the copycats. None of them were bullied.
Dr. Dutton says as much…
Overall, this analysis suggests many of the media’s cliches regarding mass killers appear to be wrong. They were bullied? “This group greatly exaggerates the negativity of their treatment, as reported by third-party school peers,” the researchers note, adding that their writings contain few references to specific experiences of being a bullying victim.
Yet with all the evidence against them and other school shooters being bullied lesser minds will still contend that is the real reason behind school shootings rather than paranoid jealousy of megalomaniacs.