An Op-Ed on Oprah and a Columbine killer’s mother

October 18, 2009 at 3:29 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I have an Op-Ed in today’s Denver Post on the essay written by the mother of Columbine killer Dylan Klebold for Oprah. It begins, “One of the most compelling questions after Columbine was, ‘Who are the parents?’ Ten years later, it remains unanswered.”

The Op-Ed is a fuller version of my thoughts on the essay by Susan Klebold for O The Oprah Magazine. While observers had to make a little leap of analysis when a few select excerpts were first released, it appears those excerpts did give a pretty good picture: There was hardly anything new in the essay. “Years later, the Klebolds seem stuck on the same script,” I write in the Op-Ed titled “Klebold may not know what she knows.”

Aside from the content of the Klebold essay, released this past week, what strikes me is how many bloggers are getting it wrong. Many of the posts I have seen buy into O magazine’s (erroneous) salesmanship that the contents of the essay – or even Klebold speaking – are new.

Otherwise, there is one key recommendation I have in the Op-Ed, although the final say will come from elsewhere.

Susan Klebold on Oprah, Columbine and suicide

October 12, 2009 at 10:37 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Susan Klebold, the mother of Columbine killer Dylan Klebold, teases a key issue when she discusses suicide for The Oprah Magazine.

Klebold mentions (in the magazine ‘O’) the parallels between suicide and school shooters and indeed, many school shooters express suicidal thoughts before the shootings and/or upon being captured. The Columbine killers were different only in that they were unusually successful in carrying out their suicidal wishes.

What is the connection between suicide and homicide? I think it is one of the toughest questions in discussing school shootings. But Klebold touches on an important point – essentially an educated guess on her part – that her son Dylan did not discuss his suicidal thoughts with others because “He was accustomed to handling his own problems, and he perceived his inability to do so as a weakness.”

Handling your own problem is indeed a trademark of school shooters, I argue in my book. It’s the same as the expression “Be a sheriff in your own hearth,” a trademark of the South and West of the United States (where most school shootings occur). In those parts of the country, people have a sense of self-reliance and ‘Culture of Honor’ where they feel they have to defend themselves, especially if their honor has been violated.

That moves into the realm of homicide because school shooters feel their honor has been violated by their lowly status at school (real or perceived), and it is acceptable – even honorable – to retaliate with violence.

One other news flash is that Klebold indicates she (and I guess her husband) met privately with the parents of some of those killed at the school. I’m also guessing that she is not talking about being faced down by victims families during legal depositions. I had been told about such meetings, but never felt I had it fully confirmed.

After reading Klebold’s full essay (I’m guessing 3,000 words long) I stand by my original blog that there is little else that is substantive and new – despite what many in the media and Oprah claim.

Klebold’s essay is titled “I Will Never Know Why.” And that may be true, whatever criticisms may be leveled at the essay (and Klebold herself). But I would also argue that certain experts may be able to piece together the ‘why.’ What’s stopping them is a more forthcoming Susan Klebold.

Susan Klebold, mother of Columbine shooter, writes out for Oprah

October 10, 2009 at 1:07 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Susan Klebold, the mother of Columbine killer Dylan Klebold, is making news for a forthcoming column she has written for O, The Oprah Magazine.

Yet there appears to be more rewriting history than news.

The column – touted in a press release sent out by O – comes across as news because indeed the parents of both killers have said little. And it is a noteworthy development. But the news is also pumped up because even after 10 years and a spate of books on Columbine, the media can’t seem to get it right.

An AP story calls the column “the most detailed response yet from any of the parents of Columbine killers Dylan Klebold or Eric Harris.” But let’s recap. The Klebolds and Harrises did speak with police after Columbine, and summaries of those interviews have been released. The Klebolds were also interviewed for an (admittedly short) New York Times column. I’m not saying the killers’ parents have been forthcoming, but it doesn’t appear, based on the excerpts so far, that Susan Klebold is saying anything new.

It will also be interesting to see if Susan Klebold addresses some of the most intriguing things she has ever said previously, according to her interview summaries and other documents: That Dylan was fascinated with guns and explosives. Or that he was sullen, angry, disrespectful, intolerant, and isolated. The Klebolds have never fully explained those statements (made before, and the day of, Columbine). Or at least those discussions have never been made public.

Finally, Susan Klebold indicates she has been searching for answers, especially suicide. She is partially on the right track, as my book notes the suicidal links among school shooters across the country. But the Klebolds have a funny way of searching for answers. Their attorneys have at different times issued me a subpoena and said my sources’ hands should be cut off when I uncovered information.

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