Author speaks to ESHS students about Columbine tragedy

Friday, October 4, 2019
Author and journalist Dave Cullen spoke at Eureka Springs High School on Monday about the 1999 Columbine school shooting.
Haley Schichtl / Carroll County News

By Haley Schichtl

Dave Cullen, journalist and author of the novel Columbine, came to Eureka Springs High School on Monday to talk to students about mass shootings, particularly those that have happened in schools.

Cullen covered the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, which was the largest school shooting in history at the time.

Cullen said the shooting brought about a conversation about what needs to be done to prevent it from happening again, but unfortunately nothing was really done.

And now, Cullen said, “It doesn’t just keep happening. It’s getting worse.”

He identified three main reasons these shootings are happening: a lack of mental health awareness, a lack of gun control and the way media covers these shootings.

Cullen explains the focus on the shooters in media coverage is attractive to people who are thinking about committing a mass shooting — they want their names and faces to be known.

Cullen spent much of his speech discussing the Columbine shooters — Dylan Klebold, a suicidal depressive, and Eric Harris, a sadistic psychopath.

Cullen refers to Klebold and Harris as “the founding fathers” of their own horrible movement, saying they have set an example for other shooters for the past 20 years. Both teenagers left behind some sort of journal. Harris’ focused on hatred and the desire to kill others, Cullen said, while Klebold’s focused on hatred of himself and the desire to commit suicide. Cullen said most people who commit mass shootings are more like Klebold than — they’re more focused on the suicide aspect, and the homicides are just a way to bring others down with them, or perhaps to prove a point of how much they are hurting.

Klebold and Harris spent at least a year planning the Columbine shooting. They had videos of themselves discussing their plans, and they wanted to be known for what they did, Cullen said. Harris showed his own journal in the videos, calling it “the book of God.”

In many cases, these shooters view themselves as heroes. Cullen calls these individuals “Social Robin Hoods,” saying people who commit these shootings are outcasts who believe they are taking down the “social haves” and giving their power to the “social have-nots.” However, Cullen argues, that’s not what the shooters do at all — they go in and shoot anyone and everyone.

“They were not targeting jocks. They were not standing up for the little guys, the outcasts,” Cullen said. “People love that idea of [Robin Hood], taking from the rich and giving to the poor. That’s what this Columbine mythology is based on. … That’s why the myths are so insidious.”

Cullen summed up his speech with the three ways to prevent people like the Columbine shooters from following the same route: Treat their depression, don’t arm them and don’t inspire them.

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