Thursday, April 20, 2006

Happy Columbine Day!

Today is April 20th, the anniversary of several notable events in world history. First of all, Adolf Hitler was born on 1889-04-20, one hundred seventeen years ago today — more than seventeen years before the Great San Francisco Earthquake. Imagine — if only the teenaged Hitler had been sightseeing in San Francisco instead of watching his mother die of breast cancer, we might have been spared World War II. Poor little Adolf could've been standing right on the San Andreas Fault when it breached, and he would've been swallowed alive and crushed into the bowels of hell instead of having to kill millions of people first.

The second anniversary for today is the Columbine High School shooting spree, culminating in the suicide of the teenaged perpetrators, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, on 1999-04-20. That Harris and Klebold chose Hitler's birthday for their murder/suicide rampage is no coïncidence. Their twisted drawings featured Nazi 卐 symbols, and they singled out some African American students when they started shooting.

However, as horrific as their crime was, we must never make the mistake of pretending that Harris and Klebold were space aliens whose behavior has no context in American culture. There are deep undercurrents that connect the terrorism of Harris and Klebold with the defiant American-supremacist attitudes of the Bush administration and the judgmentalism of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, to name just a few.

For a look into the minds of perpetrators of this kind of school violence, I strongly recommend the play Bang Bang, You're Dead! by William Mastrosimone, and the film of the same title that expands upon the theme of the play. If the lives of the 13 people that Harris and Klebold killed, plus the injured, plus the boys themselves — you don't get to pick and choose — mean anything to you, you should see this movie. It's available on Showtime Pictures DVD from all the usual places. Bowling for Columbine only scratched the surface of the killers' minds; BBYD goes for the bone.

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