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The Columbine Horror Expands

What a Revolting Development This Is

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, April 11, 2001.

Every once in a while an event of such monumental hypocrisy, tastelessness and self-aggrandizement comes along that all one can do is go slack jawed and drool while the horror unfolds before you. Usually this is involved in show business, but not always, and these days everything is being reformatted to be indistinguishable from show business so it's hard to tell. No doubt, numerous examples elbow their way to the front of your mind at the mere suggestion, but I received this week a correspondence from an editor down Denver way who was so infuriated , and with reason, he wants everyone to know about it. He's correct; this is an abomination.

April, of course, is fast becoming the repository of catastrophic holidays, since right in the middle of the month we have April 15th, which is income tax day, and it is also the anniversary of the Titanic sinking. It is also the day Lincoln died. In Colorado, April is now host to the Columbine Tragedy, in which two alienated children from that High School shot up their peer group on April 20 in 1999 and exposed so much official incompetence and procedural error that years will pass before it can be addressed coherently, much less accurately.

In March, the Jefferson County Public Schools sent out a letter requesting the media "respect the privacy of the families of the Columbine tragedy." This self-sacrifice was to be denoted by an absence of coverage of the shootings to honor the anniversary. It requested no anniversary note at all. Apparently, this was to prevent the children of Columbine from being sent into fits of terror at the memory, as if anyone in the school is likely to slap their forehead and announce "Hey, guess what happened two years ago today!"

Maybe not. This month, Jeff Co schools sent out another press release denoting April 20 as - and fluff out your handkerchief, towel, diabetes kit, or airsickness bag as you see fit - "The Heart of Columbine Day," in honor of an organization constructed to muffle the event. And by the by, since we have a week or so for preparation, the press release suggests that you and your own school can have a Heart of Columbine Day as well! False sentiment and crocodile tears for the whole family! Simply call 720-497-5351 or email theheartofcolumbine@yahoo.com, an address that defies further comment. Fun for the whole family. Perhaps you can get party napkins in Goth design, inscribed with the phony last words of allegedly religious students, quotes from the security tapes, and arrange for a piece of linoleum from the original cafeteria or a wood chip from the famous library to be carried around in a requiry like a totem for proper veneration. All tastefully done. All for the children.

After casting all decorum to the wind in this abrupt about face, Jeff Co descends into the chronic bin as it reaches its mission statement for the event. This is done with both punctuation errors and the run-on sentence that is the stigmata of our educators and their competence grafted onto their taste. "The simple remembrance is intended to honor the victims' families wishes that no formal event be held this year and, at the same time, help the community with its ongoing healing and provide an opportunity for students, staff and community members who wish to gather to remember." A list of speakers is given. But, you know, nothing formal. It's this Saturday in Columbine's parking lot. I have a strange power to imagine that television cameras and reporters will be allowed to attend this event, properly cowed, an event that only last month was proposed as an open wound if someone else did it, or improperly harnessed media covered it or did their own. But what are they healing? Nothing. They are applying another layer of Nu-skin to protect themselves and to throw a saddle over a corpse they can ride for malleable publicity. I suppose an event like this shooting - a genuine horror show that has devolved into hobbies or professions for parents of the victims at loose ends, who are reluctantly cashing in on gun issues, religious issues, self-pity issues - could only become worse. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, the Jefferson County Schools all failed to protect their charges.

But the main problem, the tolerated and sometimes encouraged atmosphere of physical intimidation and social stratification that is the social life of high school, is fudged. The reason is that our schools directly reflect the community's values, which are totally into snobbery and any caste system that somehow allows them to look down on somebody else based on the retail cost of their Nikes. These values come complete from the social store with all the predictable behavior they inculcate in children. There is no mystery about Columbine. The villains are the parents who raised bullies and snobs, and other parents so disconnected from responsibility that their children built bombs in their garage, harbored guns, and hated for years with white fury, and the best that can be said about these parents is that they didn't know.

No amount of hand holding or choruses of 'Kumbaya' can erase that, buckos. Lesser villainy is in the authorities who didn't act when violent behavior of the eventual shooters were called to their attention. The only heroism was shown by certain staff and faculty members who knowingly ran back into danger for the children. One slowly bled to death because the authorities had no idea what was happening within the school. The children who watched him die know how and why, and their lessons are learned and locked.

So what is a Heart of Columbine healing? Not the dead and wounded. Not the alleged community. They're attempting to present as people who are not responsible, but concerned that their victimhood not be forgotten, and that's why they needed to control any ceremony by first trying to condemn anyone who would continue to probe the causes, or be so crass as to gather for an unofficial ceremony, and then organizing that exact event themselves. And what does the Heart of Columbine organization promote? Something as alien to the causes of the shooting as could be imagined. The overfed, three car, cell phoned Heart of Columbine community is devoted to preventing hunger, something that happens far away from the anorexic Britneys in Colorado.