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Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the killers from Columbine High School, were not members of a “trenchcoat mafia.” They did not listen to goth-rocker Marilyn Manson. They were not bullied by the popular jocks. They were not outcasts. They were not known racists or anti-Semites. They did not ask classmate Cassie Bernall if she believed in God, and then kill her, execution-style, when she answered yes. Yet all those myths live on. Harris and Klebold, we now know, had an active social life and took advanced classes. Harris was adored by adults; he was a phony who would charm his friends’ parents and then eviscerate them on his webpage. Klebold was from a loving family who were doing everything to try to give confidence to a boy who viewed his life as a failure. And, had the two lived, they would have been disappointed by going down in history as vicious murderers: in their minds, they were martyrs. The real story of the Columbine killers, laid bare in exhausting detail in Dave Cullen’s book “Columbine,” was lost in the days after the massacre as apocryphal stories were told, then retold, then re-embellished, to amplify whatever point the narrator was trying to prove. The writing and re-writing of the Columbine drama provides a cautionary tale for those searching for answers in Newtown, Conn.


Kayyem, Juliette. "Details are a Distraction in Newtown Killings." Boston Globe, December 20, 2012.