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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Virginia Tech and Columbine: A Revolution of the “Dispossessed”

    ‘You guys will all die, and it will be f–king soon! I hope you get an idea of what we’re implying here. You all need to die! We need to die, too! We need to f–king kick-start the revolution here!’ These are the words of Eric Harris approximately a month before the Columbine shootings. ‘I know we’re gonna have followers because we’re so f–king God-like. We’re not exactly human — we have human bodies but we’ve evolved into one step above you, f–king human shit. We actually have f–king self-awareness.’ These are the words of Dylan Klebold, spoken during the same recording. These two boys could never have truly known the impact they were going to make on American culture.

    These were not the first American school shootings, but they were the most sinister. Harris realized this too. He informed the world, ‘Do not think we’re trying to copy anyone. We had the idea before the first one ever happened. Our plan is better, not like those f–ks in Kentucky with camouflage and .22’s. Those kids were only trying to be accepted by others.’ Harris and Klebold were not looking for the acceptance of others. They made this remarkably apparent. What they intended was the biggest massacre in U.S. history. They wanted to surpass Timothy McVeigh. They knew when their ‘masterpiece’ was complete ‘directors [would] be fighting over [their] story.’ In the end, they really hoped for a ‘kick start,’ ‘a chain reaction.’ They talked a great deal about a revolution of the ‘dispossessed.’

    Harris and Klebold could never have known similar sentiments would be expressed less than a decade later. Cho Seung-Hui would follow in the footsteps of these two ‘martyrs’ as he said. Seung-Hui also chose to die ‘like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and defenseless people.’ The rejected, the loners, the ‘dispossessed,’ are who are asked to rise up. The continuity is remarkable.

    In 1993 and 1994 there were two school shootings in Kentucky. In 1996 the shootings gained notoriety. These shootings gained popularity in rural towns like Moses Lake, Washington, West Paducah, Kentucky, and Jonesboro, Arkansas. The massacres in these schools spawned something that was already there but must have been suppressed.

    It also appears that these shooters consciously made these decisions; planning them for quite some time. Michael Carneal murdered three fellow students in high school prayer class in West Paducah. Author Michael Ames wrote authorities found Carneal had downloaded ‘the Unabomber’s manifesto as well as something called ‘The School Stopper’s Textbook: A Guide to Disruptive Revolutionary Tactics; Revised Edition for Junior High/High School Dissidents,’ which calls on students to resist schools’ attempts to mold students and enforce conformity.’ It was later discovered he had been relentlessly bullied in school.

    Luke Woodham, a student murderer from Pearl Michigan, who’s killing spree had been two months prior to Carneals’, was very precise about his motives as well. Right before his rampage he handed a letter to a friend. In it he wrote, ‘I am not insane. I am angry. I killed because people like me are mistreated every day. I did this to show society, push us and we will push back… All throughout my life, I was ridiculed, always beaten, always hated. Can you, society, truly blame me for what I do? Yes, you will… It was not a cry for attention; it was not a cry for help. It was a scream in sheer agony saying that if you can’t pry your eyes open, if I can’t do it through pacifism, if I can’t show you through the displaying of intelligence, then I will do it with a bullet.’

    It was Columbine that brought school massacres to mainstream attention. However, the media could have never guessed the results. There was shock, disgust, and despair but what else? The most disturbing and censored result was a legion of young kids emerged who found new heroes; the ‘martyrs’ for Seung-Hui. Now Seung-Hui is becoming a martyr as well, as school after school closes down with V-Tech graffiti, future Columbine warnings, and threats of impending massacres. On a message board from Yahoo! in 2000, a fifteen year-old girl wrote about Harris and Klebold; ‘They are really my heroes. They are, in a way, gods…since I don’t believe in ‘GOD’ or any of that other crap that goes along with it. They are the closest thing we can get to it.’

    Now the media slowly fades away from another ‘old story,’ moving on to bigger and better things while there was never even a serious examination of the problem. We were bombarded with passionate sermons on the killer’s unparalleled evil, on the police failing to respond adequately, and gun control debates. But the crux of the problem will remain and these truly subversive acts will remain in the back of our minds until the next massacre occurs.

    If we don’t bother to come to the realization that the institutions, the individuals within the institutions, and the killers are the cause of these problems, if we prefer to retreat back into our collective amnesia, and not even listen to what these students told us loud and clear, then as Seung-Hui warned, ‘now [we] have blood on [our] hands that will never wash off.’

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