By Paul Wein
Any murder is terrible, but when a school becomes a shooting gallery, when children who go to school to learn about history become part of history, that shakes society to its core. After a tragedy like this, everyone struggles to find the answer to the only question that comes to mind after something like this – why?
It is not the incident that I wish to address, because I think we all know what happened and my heart goes out to everyone in Colorado. What I do want to address is the answers that people have been coming up with as to why Eric Harris and Dylan Kleibold decided to commit one of the most horrible acts in our nation’s history.
From what I have heard on television and read in the papers, Harris and Klebold were fans of “demonic” music by artists like Marilyn Manson, they played “violent” video games like Quake and they watched “improper” television shows like South Park. Those in charge of the investigation believe they were influenced by these things and that might have led to the tragedy at Columbine.
I am proud to say that I am one of the most “clean cut” people you will ever meet. I have never been arrested, committed a crime, stolen anything, gotten into a fistfight, or done graffiti. I have over 500 articles published in close to a dozen weekly newspapers and one daily, I have received numerous awards, proclamations and acknowledgements from everyone from Mayor Giuliani to President Clinton and I have taught journalism at a Middle School for Gifted Students and a High School. Yet, I like Marilyn Manson, I play Quake, and I love South Park – so how come I’m not running through a High School with a shotgun?
I’ll tell you why, because what a person listens to on the radio, plays on their PC, or watches on television does not make them who they are. What makes a person who they are is how they are raised, what kind of home life and childhood they have, and most importantly, what they are told is right or wrong.
I realize that this tragedy has made everyone stop and think about the society we live in and wonder what drove these two boys to run through their High School killing innocent students and then themselves. I can tell you this – there was something that influenced those two boys, something that made a very strong impression on them – but it was not a song, game or TV show, because if it was, I would feel the same way, and so would the millions of others that listen to that type of music, play those games and watch those type of TV shows.
Perhaps instead of looking at what they were watching, how about we focus on who was – or wasn’t – watching them?