Monday, April 20, 2009
Columbine Memorial Littleton, Colorado
Today is the 10th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School and, inevitably, it will renew debate in the United States about gun control - perhaps the hottest hot button topic of our day. But a just-released book that chronicles the events leading up to and including that fateful day suggests that, perhaps it's reporter, not gun control, that's needed.
Before I go any further, let me quickly add that I am not in favor of putting constraints on reporter's First Amendment rights. But the book, appropriately titled Columbine, argues that, it wasn't a case of a couple of bullied boys who reached the end of their emotional ropes. Instead, says author David Cullen, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold's motivation was to gain them more notoriety than Timothy McVeigh.
The reporting a decade ago, however, left the impression that they were bullied to the breaking point. This is the problem with the minute-by-minute news cycle, led by cable TV and, now, the Internet. It leaves no time for reflection and proper analysis. And the early reports, which journalists are pressured to file with or without proper verification, are the ones that we remember the most. If the reports are inaccurate, then, so too, are our collective memories of events.
That doesn't mean we shouldn't be discussing the issue of guns in America. There are hearty arguments on both sides of that debate that deserve airing.
But remember, McVeigh didn't use guns when he blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City. He used fertilizer. And Harris and Klebold's original intent was not to shoot up, but to blow up the school.
Ten years after the tragedy, a more accurate explanation and analysis is warranted.
We talk about issues like this and more weekdays at 5 PM New York time on News Talk Online on Paltalk.com
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/keyzer/1473718448/