On April 20, 1999, America was shaken by what was the deadliest school shooting in recent history. Troubled teens Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold set out to destroy their high school in Littleton, Colorado. The pair murdered ten and injured twenty-four, three sustaining permanent physical injuries. They loved and admired Adolf Hitler, and choose to carry out their plan on his birthday. In the aftermath, issues such as bullying, gun control, drug use, martyrdom, and violent video games were brought to the forefront of media dialogue. What many found themselves asking was who were the victims and who were the perpetrators.
As Eberly discussed in her article, a subculture of admiration for Harris and Klebold occurred after the shooting, made by the internet. Sites, artwork, and music was made in their memorial; and many young people insisted that they were just as victimized as the people they killed. Trenchcoats, which the young men wore on the morning of the shooting to conceal their firearms, were worn in reverie by thousands of students in the following weeks.
Two of the slain students, Rachel Scott and Cassie Bernall, became figures for modern-day martyrdom. Devout Christian young women, the two were both allegedly shot after asked if they believed in God. Rachel’s Challenge, an organization started by Scott’s family, was created in her memory. The campaign encourages Random Acts of Kindness, something Rachel set out to do in her life, and works to combat bullying. In 2012, JMU started Friends of Rachel, and became the first university to work towards carrying out Rachel’s vision on a college campus. Likewise, Bernall’s mother Misty wrote a biography detailing her daughter’s turbulent teenage life and spiritual conversion.
In 2002, Michael Moore made a documentary titled Bowling for Columbine, which tackled the controversies surrounding gun control, goth culture, and mental illness. Rather than taking sides and pointing fingers, the documentary insists that while all these issues may have played a role, ultimately it could never be explained why they did it because the people who carried it out were both dead. The documentary also interviewed singer Marilyn Manson, who many accused of influencing Harris and Klebold with his music. When asked what he’d say to them if they were alive today, he answered that he would instead listen to them, claiming that that’s what nobody ever did.
Famous Salon.com article written by liberal columnist David Cullen:
Memorial website for Eric Harris:
Bowling for Columbine Documentary: