April 20, 2009


I'm here today not to write about Columbine, but to tell you why I'm not . . . which, at the end of the day, amounts to the same thing.

I've been making notes on Columbine, Oklahoma City, Iraq, and Afghanistan for a while now. They usually reach out toward Foucault and Baudrillard, among others. Yesterday, I sat down on a rainy day to watch some basketball & dig through my notes, so I could have this post done on the 10th anniversary of the Columbine massacre.

As I rumbled through my notes, the Lakers were destroying a good Jazz team on TV. It seemed that every ad break was dedicated to Oprah's 10th Anniversary of Columbine Special. Sprinkled in were various mentions of other memorials on news shows and the like. I was beginning to feel like I was part of the gold rush in a way I didn't intend. The word "exploitation" was on the tip of my tongue.

I'm not criticizing Oprah here: the nation expects its intrusive and controlling but kind and well meaning auntie to address the anniversary that still is a source of grief and confusion. And if the daily news on April 20th, 2009 didn't memorialize the Columbine massacre, then something would be amiss. Without having read the book in question, I am willing to assume that the gentleman who wrote the book that Oprah built her show around is well meaning and intelligent, a man who values truth and insight above his own personal reputation, which he is staking on Columbine.

But somewhere today, someone will point to Columbine in an attempt to further an agenda. Someone will say "look at Columbine" when what they really mean is "look at me". Someone will talk of martyrs, someone will talk of monsters, and neither will add to the greater understanding of humanity. Someone on Fox News will say "If the security guards at Columbine had guns . . . ", and someone at CNN will say "If guns were outlawed . . . " and both will be ignoring the point. The point is this: 10 years ago, 15 kids died at a high school in Colorado.

Somewhere between sober memorials, Oprah's typically grandiose attempts to be the world's psychic savior, and blithering idiots on cable news shows, there is a line. The line is fuzzy and unclear, and I'm not sure where it is, but it does exist. I also feel I know just where in this scheme I fall.

I can assure you that my intentions are good; but at the same time, I can't help but feel I'm scratching at a wound needlessly by posting on this anniversary. I believe what I have to say about Columbine (and Iraq and Oklahoma City and Afghanistan) is worth saying . . . but I'm not going to say it today.

The chance of anyone with a personal connection to Columbine reading this is virtually nil, but I have always approached this blog as being fully in the public sphere, even if few sort through the noise to find it. As a public (if obscure) author, it would be irresponsible of me to exploit this anniversary for my purposes. Anything I have to say on April 20, 2009, will be equally valid June 12th, 2009. I will post my essay in the future.

Instead, allow me to light a candle. This song, "Columbine", is by Rob Bayne, a songwriter and friend of mine. It is far more appropriate than a philosophical rant. Please listen to it.

07 - Columbine.mp3

No comments: