C. G. McGinn


Ramblings about Books and Writing

Columbine by Dave Cullen

There are some stories so unbelievable that the mind can’t help but try to understand them as fiction. Though written in the narrative form throughout most of its entirety, Columbine is anything but fiction. It was horrifically real. But even as the events and motives were carefully laid out by Dave Cullen in his book, you can’t help but feel a sense of surreal disbelief—a thought that even this couldn’t have happened. But it had. It was horrible. I have an idea of just how horrible because Cullen put me there, right in the middle of it—in the cafeteria, in the library, and inside the killers minds.

The story of Columbine can’t be talked about without addressing the myths surrounding the motive behind the attack. These myths were fueled and often created by the media and news outlets covering the tragedy. The biggest myth of all was that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were bullied and this was what had driven them to systematically plan, prepare and ultimately carry out a massacre that was intended to kill hundreds. In reality, they were not. There is no evidence of this in their journals or actions leading up to the attack. Both boys attended prom—with dates. They had active social calender’s, and they had friends.

Eric was a text-book psychopath who hated stupid people. He saw himself not only as the smartest man-boy in the room, but in the entire world.

Dylan was suicidal and looking for a reason to die.

Eric gave his friend Dylan a grandiose reason.

The fact that this myth is still believed in 2019 is staggering to me, but after a recent conversation with someone who adamantly argued that this was the root cause of the incident, left me shaking my head. It’s a convenient way of explaining an unbelievable event of actual horror—a way out for the mind to rationalize what its incapable of understanding.

I don’t think we’ll ever fully understand what happened on April 20th 1999 but Dave Cullen’s, Columbine brings us much closer than we would be if left to rely on the agenda-filtered lenses of the news media—cable or otherwise.