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 So who here read "Comprehending Columbine" by Ralph W. Larkin

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Lunkhead McGrath



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PostSubject: So who here read "Comprehending Columbine" by Ralph W. Larkin   Tue Feb 07, 2017 5:35 pm

and if so, what'd you think?

It's an "academic" analysis of what happened and the social factors responsible, both Eric/Dylan's personalities and their environment and everything that's happened since the 1960s leading to social structures circa 1999.

The most notable things about it, IMO, are:

1)He includes a number of the infamous bullying stories at Columbine, and includes lots of witness testimony. They are some really horrifying and embarrassing stuff, particularly the things about "RH," Rocky Hoffschneider. That guy makes Evan Todd look like Gandhi. Allowed to park his $100,000 car in a faculty parking lot, punching his girlfriend out in front of people, etc. No way can I not believe bullying had nothing to do with causing 4/20/99 now, but I will state I'm not sure how much of this bullying was directed straight at Eric & Dylan. There are also stories about football players being bailed out of jail for games, although that may have been at a high school in Texas. Larkin cites the ketchup/tampon incident, even giving a date, which I thought people here didn't really believe happened anymore.

2)Whereas Dave Cullen had sympathy for Dylan to the point of seeming to LIKE him, Larkin paints Dylan as a worthless loser and outcast that nobody would like, someone who is almost grotesquely nobody. In addition he does not buy into the idea that "Eric made Dylan do it." Cullen's work is cited several times (Larkin's book is from 2007, but Cullen's articles had been published) and Larkin brings up Cullen's "depressive/psychotic E/D duality, but shoots that down as an explanation for everything; hilariously, he even calls Cullen "an unprofessional." Also, Larkin cites an instance of Dylan admitting to someone in a chatroom that he was bisexual. This seems to have been shot down by many Columbiners, then? Something people basically don't accept as a fact? Seems a bit second hand.

3)He really seems to have it in for evangelical Christians. I mean, he's not violent or loud about it but he certainly blames the evangelical Christian crowd in part for what happened, helping to "outcast" people like the Trench Coat Mafia. He also points out that many of the jock bullies claimed to be Christians even though they didn't live it.

4)He goes off on all sorts of long explanations about why kids in the 21st century are so aimless, claiming that the 70s were actually easier on kids.

5)When he gets to his ideas for "solutions" at the end, he praises the anti-bullying stuff that has popped up since Columbine, then gets a bit silly with it, citing that if someone becomes captain of the football team at a high school, they should have to take a semester of crisis management or something like that. Larkin is fairly left, and I kinda scoffed, although I will agree that bullying is a problem in schools and certainly some schools have a pathetic obsession with sports.

6)Larkin tries to be nice to Frank DeAngelis, who nonetheless in his quotes comes across as one of the most pathetically oblivious authority figures who ever lived. A far cry from Cullen who liked DeAngelis.

Rereading Cullen after this for a compare and contrast.
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PostSubject: Re: So who here read "Comprehending Columbine" by Ralph W. Larkin   Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:30 pm

From Comprehending Columbine:

Was Eric Harris a psychopath? The terms “ psychopath” and “ sociopath” are not used by the psychological profession anymore. The term listed in the DSM-IV manual is “ antisocial personality disorder” (AllP sych online 2004). The symptoms of antisocial personality disorder include difficulty with and hostility toward authority, illegal behavior, cruelty to animals, and pyromania. The psychological components are a depressed ability to feel empathy and the lack of remorse for wrongdoings.

Psychopaths lie for sport; they obtain pleasure from deceiving others. According to Cullen (2004), “ Harris’ [s] pattern of grandiosity, glibness, contempt, lack of empathy, and superiority read like the bullet points on [psychologist Dr. Robert] Hare’s (1999) Psychopathy Checklist and convinced Fuselier and the other leading psychiatrists close to the case that Harris was a psychopath.”

In a personal communication with Dr. Ochberg, I was told that the prime evidence of Eric’s psychopathology was his ability to use the language of emotion in a manipulative fashion. Ochberg’s case was presented in the Cullen (2004) article: Harris married his deceitfulness with a total lack of remorse or empathy—another distinctive quality of the psychopath. Fuselier was finally convinced of his diagnosis when he read Harris’ [s] response to being punished after being caught breaking into a van. Klebold and Harris had avoided prosecution for the robbery by participating in a “ diversion program” that involved counseling and community service. Both killers feigned regret to obtain an early release, but Harris had relished the opportunity to perform. He wrote an ingratiating letter to his victim offering empathy, rather than just apologies. Fuselier remembers that it was packed with statements like “ Jeez, I understand now how you feel and I understand what this did to you.” “But he wrote that strictly for effect,” Fuselier said. “ That was complete manipulation. At almost the exact same time, he wrote down his real feelings in his journal”:

Isn’ t America supposed to be the land of the free? How come, if I’ m free, I can’ t deprive a stupid fucking dumbshit from his possessions if he leaves them sitting in the front seat of his fucking van out in plain sight and in the middle of fucking nowhere on a Frifuckingday night. NATURAL SELECTION. Fucker should be shot.

Both boys took pleasure in duping others and being able to hide their plot from their parents and friends. The diversion class was a charade. Yet it is clear from Eric’s response (Harris 1998), he understood the content of the program in great detail.

In my view, the evidence for Eric’s psychopathology is, at best, mixed. Could he be cold and calculating? Yes, he could be. However, he could also be volatile and violent in his interaction with others, such as the incident in which he threw a rock and cracked the windshield of Brooks Brown’s car. P aradoxically, although Eric took pleasure in duping adult authorities, he was also highly respectful of them, including his own father. In the windshield incident, Judy Brown confronted him.

According to her observations, he was fearful of the reactions of his parents. He was remembered in Plattsburgh, New York, as shy and respectful. He never constituted a behavior problem in class; Principal DeAngelis did not know him because apparently there were never any problems with Eric in school, although one of the students interviewed (EK) indicated that her brother was bullied by Harris and Klebold, which was adjudicated by Mr. DeAngelis. He apparently forgot about the incident. At work at Blackjack Pizza, when it was discovered the boys were exploding firecrackers and making ice bombs behind the store and their boss told them to stop it, Eric did so. In one of his final diary entries (Harris 1998), Eric stated, “ [Just] because we went on a killing spree doesn’t mean everyone else will and hardly ever do people bring bombs or guns to school anyway, the admin. is doing a fine job as it is, I don’ t know who will be left after we kill but damn it don’t change any policies just because of us” (Emphasis mine).

Yet this same administration that Eric is praising is the one that stands accused by many observers, including this writer, of tolerating the conditions that led to predatory behavior on the part of the jocks in the school that angered Eric. Clearly, Eric did not display empathy on April 20, 1999. But in talking with people who knew Eric, a quite different picture emerged: Eric had a pet dog that he loved and cared for. He was described as a good friend who could give emotional support to people he liked; he empathized with those like himself who were victimized by the jocks. I doubt whether
the profilers talked to any of his friends.

Was Eric a psychopath? Was Dylan a depressive? Obviously, both boys manifested characteristics of these psychological categories. The problem with such characterizations, especially used by a nonprofessional such as Cullen, is that it tends to engulf the boy’s identities and reduce them to labels. Once the boys were labeled, then it became easy to engage in crude psychological reductionism. “ Most Americans have reached one of two wrong conclusions about why they did it. The first conclusion is that the pair of supposed ‘ Trenchcoat Mafia outcasts’ were taking revenge against the bullies who had made school miserable for them. The second conclusion is that the massacre was inexplicable: We can never understand what drove them to such horrific violence” (Cullen 2004).

Aside from the simplistic notions of causality, Cullen (2004), drawing on the information from FBI profilers, concluded that the shootings were the consequence of the psychological pathologies of Harris and Klebold. He decided that the shootings were a result of Klebold’s depression and Harris’s psychopathology. The problem with Cullen’s conclusion is that depression and psychopathology are insufficient factors in determining any given behavior. Depression can evince itself in any number of behaviors ranging from inability to get out of bed in the morning and function to homicide.

Psychopathology can be present in any number of people, from clever and manipulative politicians and CEOs to serial killers. Environmental influences give direction to psychopathology. For Cullen to attribute the Columbine shootings to the psychological states of the killers is to deny environmental influences in the generation of those psychological states and tacitly to absolve others of any culpability. It is the equivalent of Columbine High School Principal Frank DeAngelis attributing the killings to the fact that the boys were “ evil.” It is a case of labeling and throwing away the label. Nothing is explained; however, it gives the labeler a false sense of certainty of a deus ex machina, or more precisely, diabolus ex machina explanation.
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PostSubject: Re: So who here read "Comprehending Columbine" by Ralph W. Larkin   Wed Feb 08, 2017 8:41 am

I did a book review on here Here is what I said:
This book is all over the place. Larkin talks about the boys about Columbine and about things not really related at all. Typos galore it seems and he quotes a TCM webpage as belonging to Eric when it was realized that it did in fact not belong to Eric at all. Among other factual errors. He gets very deep into calling Eric a "skinhead" or a "Nazi" and keeps that stance. Talking about how Eric killed Isaiah because he was black and so forth. He also talks a ton about the whole Christian Martyrs thing. So much so I almost skipped the section. This book was actually very dry in my mind. I almost put it down and didn't finish it. It just goes on and on and on about nitpicky things that I don't even consider to be true. He also seems to have a hard on for DeAngelis. He talks about how Eric and Dylan wanted to be celebrities as well so that had a hand in the killings. In the end he talks about finding "peace" and how we can all help prevent future Columbines. This was a shorter book at 295 pages but it felt like so much more and that is not a good thing. Based on the dryness and factual errors I would not recommend this book.

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PostSubject: Re: So who here read "Comprehending Columbine" by Ralph W. Larkin   Thu Feb 09, 2017 2:51 am

I have. To me, the best thing about the book is it shows how widespread and pervasive in daily life bullying and ostracism really was for those unlucky enough to be at the bottom.

It stood out how even unpopular students who had little status or popularity themselves had zero sympathy for the "freaks and losers."

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PostSubject: Re: So who here read "Comprehending Columbine" by Ralph W. Larkin   Tue Feb 14, 2017 4:19 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
From Comprehending Columbine:
But in talking with people who knew Eric, a quite different picture emerged: Eric had a pet dog that he loved and cared for. He was described as a good friend who could give emotional support to people he liked; he empathized with those like himself who were victimized by the jocks. I doubt whether the profilers talked to any of his friends.


[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] What did you think of Jeff Kass' book?
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PostSubject: Re: So who here read "Comprehending Columbine" by Ralph W. Larkin   Tue Feb 14, 2017 4:23 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
From Comprehending Columbine:
But in talking with people who knew Eric, a quite different picture emerged: Eric had a pet dog that he loved and cared for. He was described as a good friend who could give emotional support to people he liked; he empathized with those like himself who were victimized by the jocks. I doubt whether the profilers talked to any of his friends.


[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] What did you think of Jeff Kass' book?

Jeff Kass wrote for Rocky Mountain News in CO. So he has a lot of information from just being a reporter during this time. This book starts out about the massacre but then kind of starts over with talking about where Eric and Dylan came from. He dicusses the Harris and Klebold family history and how they grew up. I do feel he seems a bit bias toward Dylan (a common theme) as he has much more information on the Klebolds and the pages on Dylan are much more numerous than Eric but that may be just because the Klebolds have been more open in this whole thing as opposed to the Harrises. He doesn't talk much about the massacre itself so much but he talks a ton about the after effects on the community and how he as a reporter has tried to get info. He has a lot of good points about how JeffCo is failing and floundering and I found myself agreeing with him a lot. He also sheds what very little light he can on how the Klebolds and Harrises have been since 1999 up to the point of writing the book. Including people in the Pool family that he knew. He talks about trying to get information out of the FBI and how that seems futile as well. All in all I do think this is a good book and a good read. It was a fast read for my but at 443 pages it has quite a bit of information


And more here
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PostSubject: Re: So who here read "Comprehending Columbine" by Ralph W. Larkin   Wed Feb 15, 2017 2:59 am

I read Kass' book really recently - like maybe 2 weeks ago. Like [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] I agree that it was quite slanted towards Dylan, but I also agree that it's probably because the Klebolds have been more open than the Harrises. I liked that it gave a fairer treatment to Eric. For some people, Cullen's belief that Eric was an unfeeling, psychopathic monster is pretty on the money, but it's terribly convenient to my mind. I also liked that it explained the issues surrounding Columbine.

It left me feeling pretty depressed after I finished reading it, but most books about Columinne do that! I recommend the book as well.

I've read Larkin's book too. I quite liked it though it was a bit more "academic", I suppose. It was a bit dry at times. It's got a lot of information about evangelical Christians, the favourable treatment of jocks at Columbine and things like that. It's an interesting book, but I wouldn't call it essential reading for people interested in Columbine or the circumstances that created it.
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PostSubject: Re: So who here read "Comprehending Columbine" by Ralph W. Larkin   Wed Feb 15, 2017 4:44 pm

Thankyou to the original poster, I knew Evan Todd was a piece of shit, but this Rocky guy really takes the cake.
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PostSubject: Re: Rocky   Thu Feb 16, 2017 7:13 am

>Thankyou to the original poster, I knew Evan Todd was a piece of shit, but this Rocky guy really takes the cake.

Honestly, the stories about him are legitimately terrifying--I don't think I've ever read anything else about any individual high schooler getting away with so much crap. This guy makes Jake La Motta look calm. Numerous other students mention being terrified of him in interview snippets in the Larkin book.
Of course, maybe I shouldn't be too miffed about him not being mentioned in the Cullen book, when one considers that there's no evidence that Rocky, or anyone from his (gawd) "crew," had any interaction with E&D or ever did anything to E&D.

Larkin's book brings up a point not often discussed, that Columbine seemed to have this sort of jock mafia thing going on with players getting away with all sorts of crap, and yet Columbine had plenty of good teachers and academic achievements too, parents moved to that area to send their kids to Columbine. Most of the time, Midwestern and Southern high schools seem to be dumps that revolve exclusively around the football and basketball teams with no real academic achievements to speak of. Certainly my high school was that way.


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PostSubject: Re: So who here read "Comprehending Columbine" by Ralph W. Larkin   Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:43 am

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
>Thankyou to the original poster, I knew Evan Todd was a piece of shit, but this Rocky guy really takes the cake.

Honestly, the stories about him are legitimately terrifying--I don't think I've ever read anything else about any individual high schooler getting away with so much crap.  This guy makes Jake La Motta look calm.  Numerous other students mention being terrified of him in interview snippets in the Larkin book.  
Of course, maybe I shouldn't be too miffed about him not being mentioned in the Cullen book, when one considers that there's no evidence that Rocky, or anyone from his (gawd) "crew," had any interaction with E&D or ever did anything to E&D.  

Larkin's book brings up a point not often discussed, that Columbine seemed to have this sort of jock mafia thing going on with players getting away with all sorts of crap, and yet Columbine had plenty of good teachers and academic achievements too, parents moved to that area to send their kids to Columbine.  Most of the time, Midwestern and Southern high schools seem to be dumps that revolve exclusively around the football and basketball teams with no real academic achievements to speak of.  Certainly my high school was that way.  


I just hope it still doesn't go on today, I just hope the bullying has gotten better.
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PostSubject: Re: So who here read "Comprehending Columbine" by Ralph W. Larkin   Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:46 am

Pure scum are what all bullies are!!! that's why I empathize with Eric and Dylan on that front. They should've handled it differently of course, I would've beat the living hell out of them instead of murdering them. Murder is not okay. The only thing I regret is not defending myself back in middle school, if I could go back in time, they would be in the hospital.
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PostSubject: Re: So who here read "Comprehending Columbine" by Ralph W. Larkin   Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:48 am

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
>Thankyou to the original poster, I knew Evan Todd was a piece of shit, but this Rocky guy really takes the cake.

Honestly, the stories about him are legitimately terrifying--I don't think I've ever read anything else about any individual high schooler getting away with so much crap.  This guy makes Jake La Motta look calm.  Numerous other students mention being terrified of him in interview snippets in the Larkin book.  
Of course, maybe I shouldn't be too miffed about him not being mentioned in the Cullen book, when one considers that there's no evidence that Rocky, or anyone from his (gawd) "crew," had any interaction with E&D or ever did anything to E&D.  

Larkin's book brings up a point not often discussed, that Columbine seemed to have this sort of jock mafia thing going on with players getting away with all sorts of crap, and yet Columbine had plenty of good teachers and academic achievements too, parents moved to that area to send their kids to Columbine.  Most of the time, Midwestern and Southern high schools seem to be dumps that revolve exclusively around the football and basketball teams with no real academic achievements to speak of.  Certainly my high school was that way.  


I just hope it still doesn't go on today, I just hope the bullying has gotten better.

I cannot tell you about Columbine, but my brother's girlfriend attended Chatfield and she described it to me. It sounds as if bullying still goes on but she never experienced the things like freshmen bowling or throwing ketchup etc. IMHO, as long as there are kids who feel they are better than other kids there will be bullying. And since some parents have more money/give their kids better items there will be jealousy and bullying. It is human nature.

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PostSubject: Re: So who here read "Comprehending Columbine" by Ralph W. Larkin   Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:23 am

Noone is better than others.
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PostSubject: Re: So who here read "Comprehending Columbine" by Ralph W. Larkin   Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:23 am

Parents have a responsibility too, they should always tell their kids not to bully.
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PostSubject: Re: So who here read "Comprehending Columbine" by Ralph W. Larkin   Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:04 am

Mad

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PostSubject: Re: So who here read "Comprehending Columbine" by Ralph W. Larkin   Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:26 am

Why the frustrated face? It's the truth.
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PostSubject: Re: So who here read "Comprehending Columbine" by Ralph W. Larkin   Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:43 am

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
Why the frustrated face? It's the truth.

It isn't meant to really be an angry face, but truth or not it isn't going to happen. My parents could have yelled at me until blue in the face it would have made me rebel more.

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