Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Gives Columbine Tapes a Dangerous Five Stars
Alan Prendergast's article in Westword about the Columbine tapes discusses the quandary the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office is in over to release, or not to release, them to the general public. The tapes, as well as some writings by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and a diary kept by Harris's father of notes about his son's mental health (Eric was diagnosed as bipolar not long before his death).
Right now, the only people who had seen the videos are the involved cops and attorneys and witnesses, the victims' families, the Harrises, the Klebolds, and some reporters. (This article doesn't mention it, but there was this bizarre event wherein all the victims' families viewed a showing of the videos together.)
The tapes are not going to be released, Prendergast argues, because they imply a good bit of heretofore unacknowledged negligence on the part of the Sheriff's Office (as well as a good many school officials), and the decision ultimately rests in the hands of Sheriff Tim Mink. The excuse given for not releasing the tapes is that they might inspire copycat crimes (as if wannabe school shooters really need the tapes to be inspired by the bloodiest school massacre of all time). To which Predergast smartly responds:
It's true that the gunmen wanted their words to find as wide an audience as possible in order to attract followers; but then, they, like the sheriff's office, had an exaggerated notion of their own importance. The county's efforts to suppress the killers' writings and tapes have given them a cachet of consummate evil and menace; being taboo, they've become cool. Yet anyone who's actually seen the tapes or read the journal fragments soon recognizes that these fabled mass murderers are not gods but adolescents. Angry, scared, mocking, disturbed, bitter, pathological, deluded (fucking self-aware, mind you), emotionally stunted and deadly, but adolescents just the same. Behind the blather about being gods and kick-starting a revolution is a bottomless obsession with their own lack of status and sense of injury.
If any of these kids actually sat down to read the Columbine report (which is 11,000 pages, so I highly doubt they would), I think the mystique of these kids would be gone pretty fast. I wanted them to be brilliant righteous rebel revolutionaries, but they were only 1/4 that (and none of the "brilliant"), 3/4 stupid generally inarticulate teenage boys with cringe-inducing grandiosity. Pretending that these tapes would be inspiring (rather than disheartening) is strangely the equivalent of giving these four hours of bravado a critic's two thumbs up.
If they really want to scare kids away from being "copycats", they'd have emphasized this bit, which I only recently found in the report.
Click to enlarge.