Unlearned lessons of Columbine

Columbine was in the news a lot a few weeks ago due to the 10 year anniversary. If you read some excerpts from Izzy below you will get an idea of why I am so impressed with his work.


In case you have been oblivious to recent news, the month-and-a-half period preceding the 10th Columbine anniversary had more high profile mass shootings than any six-week period in history. The most horrific took place in the city of Binghamton, New York, where my own son happens to go to college. Without exception, every one of these shootings was committed by someone feeling like a victim…of their ex-spouse, of their boss, of other students, of the economy. Why are so many people going on angry shooting rampages?

Of course the following cannot be the only explanation for these shootings, because each shooter has his own history, constitution and motives, but the massive anti-bully education we have been getting since Columbine can only have served to contribute to people’s anger towards, and desire for revenge against, their perceived bullies. After years of hearing endlessly that bullies are incredibly dangerous, that bullies shouldn’t be tolerated, that bullies should be punished and expelled, and that society must protect us from bullies, is it any wonder that some of us eventually crack when society fails to protect us from bullies, and pick up guns to solve our problems once and for all?


The anti-bully establishment couldn’t have been happier with this story. The idea that Harris and Klebald are victims has been a thorn in the side of the anti-bully movement. Victims are supposed to be saintly innocents who need protection, and bullies are supposed to be cold, cowardly psychopaths who pick on the weak. But how can victims be angelic when they can commit horrific school shootings? What a relief, then, to discover that these monsters were after all, bullies, and not victims. With this new characterization of the Columbine killers as bullies, we can continue on our anti-bully witch hunt unencumbered by doubt.

The article talks about a new book, Columbine, by Dave Cullen. The book paints the Columbine killers as full of rage; paranoid; cold-blooded, predatory psychopaths; and super-terrorists. This sure makes them sound like bullies.

But paranoia is not a bully feeling. Paranoia, the feeling that everyone is against us, is the ultimate victim feeling. Being a psychopath and feeling like a victim are not mutually exclusive. If a psychopath feels victimized by you, you had better watch out!

Rage is not a bully feeling; we go into a rage when we feel victimized.

Terrorists feel like victims; they want revenge against the great powers that have victimized their people.

No one commits mass shootings and then turns their guns on themselves because they want to bully people. They do it but because they feel like victims.

The article says:

The U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Education Department soon began studying school shooters. In 2002, researchers presented their first findings: School shooters, they said, followed no set profile, but most were depressed and felt persecuted.
“Felt persecuted.” Bully feeling or victim feeling?

How many shootings will it take before we learn that we are most dangerous not when we feel like bullies but when we feel like victims? Will we never learn?


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