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 Who has the right to care about Columbine?

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sympathyforEandD
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PostSubject: Who has the right to care about Columbine?   Who has the right to care about Columbine? Icon_minitimeFri May 03, 2019 8:38 am

Some years ago, I corresponded briefly with a teacher who knew Dylan and Rachel. One of the things she said to me - in a polite way - was that I didn’t have the right - the moral authority - to have strong feelings about the massacre. That privilege, she implied, was reserved for those who had a personal connection to 4/20.

She was right, of course, but she was also wrong. I have the right to have strong feelings about anything and everything. But I do feel kind of guilty about it.

A friend of mine who once made it inside the school asked me if I would ever go. I said, “No. It would be crossing a boundary. As curious as I am, I cannot justify that kind of intrusion. I respect your decision, but I could never do that.”

Lately I’ve come to realize just how much of my interest in NBK is wrapped up in my own issues about myself. And I can’t help but wonder if I’ve inserted myself where I don’t belong. I’m not going to disavow my interest in the massacre or my participation on this board, but I really do feel like I’ve invaded territory to which I have no legitimate claim. It makes me feel like I’ve crashed a private memorial service or something.

What do you think?
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PostSubject: Re: Who has the right to care about Columbine?   Who has the right to care about Columbine? Icon_minitimeFri May 03, 2019 9:02 am

That teacher was gatekeeping, which is not cool. For those that don't know, gatekeeping is when someone takes it upon themselves to decide who does or does not have access to a community or identity, or access to information.

And quit worrying about what other people think of you. Their opinions don't matter.
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PostSubject: Re: Who has the right to care about Columbine?   Who has the right to care about Columbine? Icon_minitimeFri May 03, 2019 9:35 am

She was absolutely gatekeeping.

It is interesting the different POV's regarding who can care about the case vs who can't. I don't remember if she said anything specifically but I think Devon has spoken about how she doesn't like others caring about "her" tragedy... but I have a few people in my life who are survivors who totally get it and understand that it was a really big event for many people our age no matter where you were.

I sometimes am surprised how it affects people much younger or older than me though. There was a blog that was run by someone who was in her 30's when Columbine happened and I did wonder why someone who wasn't a teen then could be so affected by it. However that is kind of a gatekeeping mentality too.

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PostSubject: Re: Who has the right to care about Columbine?   Who has the right to care about Columbine? Icon_minitimeFri May 03, 2019 1:28 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] I know exactly what you mean. After years, I realized the same thing.

For many people, they don't realize their interest in Columbine isn't actually about Columbine. It's a way of dealing with our own unresolved issues. Few recognize this, I'm really happy to see that you have. I know many others who have come to the same realization as well.

Columbine is just one stop on the journey - some get stuck in it for a long time, others pass through when their own issues are resolved...

I, too, thought I was authentically interested and concerned until I had a wakeup call in 2007. When Joe Stair committed suicide, someone online told me about it. He was a real-life friend of mine. My immediate thought was, "she has no right to be upset over his death!" Then I realized technically, that's what the Columbine community feels about all of us researchers. And I saw the harm and emotional distress that just being involved in the daily discussions was really doing. Talk to enough survivors and it becomes clear that just the existence of conversations about the tedium of the shooters and the incident in general are enough to trigger further PTSD.

I realized I was only working through my own issues, and it wasn't my tragedy and I had no right to talk about the people involved as if I knew them. I'd never go back to the school again, ever. I was invited each time but now I would politely decline. I wouldn't go to the memorial unless invited by someone who had a purpose for wanting me there as opposed to having a phone chat. I still have friends from Columbine, and I realized long ago I used that to justify my place where I inserted myself into the tragedy. After my wakeup call, I realized it doesn't matter how many people from Columbine I know... it's still not my tragedy, and I have no place discussing the people involved.

At the end of the day, people come to Columbine for their own reasons, and it's an opportunity to work through their own issues - whatever they may be. Repressed anger, repressed rage, repressed sadness, feelings of being bullied, unresolved desires for destruction... it's different for everyone. But one thing is the same across the board... in the 20 years I've been involved, everyone who makes it through to the other side is a better person because of it. An interest in Columbine is the catalyst for major life transformation. The only question is how long it's going to take for each person. We're done when we're done. But the road only leads to one place - resolution.

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PostSubject: Re: Who has the right to care about Columbine?   Who has the right to care about Columbine? Icon_minitimeFri May 03, 2019 1:32 pm

I am personally glad someone told me Columbine is not my tragedy (Randy Brown). He was speaking the truth that I couldn't hear. Gatekeeping? If you want to call it that, sure. But truth is truth. Truth hurts and makes people get defensive. But it didn't take long for me to "get it" and see that he was absolutely right.

When someone says Columbine isn't your tragedy and you have no right to feel strongly about it, it's because they feel like you're inserting yourself into their tragedy that they lived and you didn't. It's invasive. It's painful. It's obsessive. It's unhealthy. And they're expressing their pain, not gatekeeping.

Saying they're "gatekeeping" is just a way to invalidate their pain. Survivors suffer greatly when they see people like us talk about their tragedy as if we are part of it. We don't see it when we're in it. But once you get through it, the harm is absolutely unmistakable. Everyone's gotta get their on there own, though. You're done when you're done.

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PostSubject: Re: Who has the right to care about Columbine?   Who has the right to care about Columbine? Icon_minitimeFri May 03, 2019 1:51 pm

There’s a difference though in inserting your self into someone’s personal pain and feeling strong empathy and desire to learn from something going on around you. Is Columbine my personal tragedy. No. Was I affected by it on a personal scale? Yes. My empathy towards the victims and their families, what got the perpetrators to that point and their families, the effect on my classmates and people who I could see understood E&D a little too much for my comfort, that DID affect ME. The school assemblies with speakers from the Columbine community, the change in how bullying was addressed at my school, the pain of my own bullying issues. That WAS personal to me. So for someone to say, oh Columbine shouldn’t affect you, you shouldn’t care this much, well those people shouldn’t have come to my school to speak with my classmates and I. They shouldn’t be writing books for me to read where I am, through reading comprehension, forced to insert myself into their place in the tragedy. Documentaries where they speak out about what happened, no don’t do it because someone may be emotionally swayed by your story.
No.. I did not suffer personal loss on that day. But I was affected in such a way that it brought me emotional pain. I will never speak or act like I was a part of it. But I will empathize and try to understand because that’s my way of dealing with the horrors of life around me.

ETA— I want to add, my next post I went to after this one was the “American Tragedy” thread. This may not have HAPPENED to each of us. But something happened to affect us, otherwise we wouldn’t be here. So I do get a tiny bit offended when I hear “oh you weren’t involved, you shouldn’t care like you do”. ThIs truly was a national tragedy. And to assume, like Randy Brown did, you didn’t know a student involved so you can’t care as much as you do, is in one way very manipulative and it makes me feel gross and dirty for having empathy in the first place. And that’s a dangerous road to travel.
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PostSubject: Re: Who has the right to care about Columbine?   Who has the right to care about Columbine? Icon_minitimeFri May 03, 2019 2:16 pm

What many people perceive as genuine empathy ends up not being authentic empathy at all. Not that it's that way for everyone, but for many, it is. Keep an open mind. It reveals itself in time.

It doesn't have to be a battle between "my right to be affected by a tragedy I relate to" and a survivor's pain of feeling invaded. It can be both. It is both. But what's underneath the attachment to this tragedy versus any other incident is what makes it "not your tragedy" so to speak.

It's also important to recognize the pain some survivor's experience when they see outsiders on forums like these discussing their tragedy daily for years and years (for many, decades).

If you feel guilty for feeling empathy, it might not be genuine empathy. It might be pointing to something underneath what you perceive to be empathy...

Randy Brown isn't manipulative. He gave me the wakeup call I needed to get out of the unhealthy interest. He spoke the truth. It only sounds manipulative when you're not ready to let go of the interest. I thought the same thing at the time. I wasn't ready to give it up. Then, I was forced to see it.

It's interesting the way transformation changes your perception of people who speak harsh truths. First, you hate them and think they're wrong and horrible people. Then, when it all gets revealed, you thank them and credit them for catalyzing that powerful transformation that got you out of something that wasn't serving you or anyone else. The problem was never the other people who were telling me this wasn't my tragedy. The problem was always within me, with the incorrect perception that I was just interested and genuinely concerned. I viewed their actions through that incorrect perception. When the perception changed, their actions were perceived to have been positive and life-saving.
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PostSubject: Re: Who has the right to care about Columbine?   Who has the right to care about Columbine? Icon_minitimeFri May 03, 2019 2:30 pm

I don’t feel guilty at all for being and empathetic person. I feel it’s one of my positive qualities actually. I meant, RB or anyone really, saying ‘you have no right to have the feelings you do’ makes me feel dirty. Not because I’m empathetic but because I view that as being part of the problem in the first place. I guess we will have to agree to disagree because only I know my heart and my mindset or my reasons for being affected by someone else’s pain. To state categorically that someone can not feel a sense of suffering for their fellow man is part of the problem we are trying to address by learning about this tragedy in the first place. There is a HUGE difference in being obsessed with the case, just because, and having the desire to learn, grow, and hopefully change for the better. I’m not taking ownership of Columbine, but I was/am greatly affected by it. And I will not let anyone tell me I have no place in those feelings. Am I actively trying to hurt the people I am empathizing with?? Come on now....
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PostSubject: Re: Who has the right to care about Columbine?   Who has the right to care about Columbine? Icon_minitimeFri May 03, 2019 2:42 pm

Ohh I see what you mean.

Well Randy never said that, so that's a different story. He called me out for things but never said I have no right to feel something.

I'm not disagreeing with you by any means. I think there was a lot of interpretation that got carried into the conversation, especially about Randy. Nobody has ever said to me that I don't have a right to feel what I feel. And I'm only saying that even what feels like genuine empathy can be revealed not to be.

Of course you're not actively trying to hurt people you're empathizing with. It's just the fact that it does hurt some of them, and that needs to be acknowledged. It doesn't mean you're wrong or they're right, it's about not making anyone wrong... it's acknowledging that their suffering is extended by people like us talking about them constantly...

One thing I've learned is that as long as there's a desire to discuss the details of the Columbine tragedy, there is an obsession present. Even if it's mild. Something drives each person. Most people don't think they're obsessed because they have reasons for being interested. Time will tell.
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PostSubject: Re: Who has the right to care about Columbine?   Who has the right to care about Columbine? Icon_minitimeFri May 03, 2019 2:59 pm

I think anyone who wants to be interested in the shooting in a nonharmful way has a right to be.
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PostSubject: Re: Who has the right to care about Columbine?   Who has the right to care about Columbine? Icon_minitimeFri May 03, 2019 3:17 pm

I don't think we have the right to determine what's harmful. Since people are actually being harmed (victims), that makes our declaration that we aren't causing harm incorrect.
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PostSubject: Re: Who has the right to care about Columbine?   Who has the right to care about Columbine? Icon_minitimeFri May 03, 2019 3:30 pm

I was only in eighth grade when the massacre happened, but I was already in a pretty dark place. When my grandfather died, I lost the closest thing to a father that I ever had. Then my mother went through an abusive relationship with a live-in boyfriend and we were both pretty traumatized from that. And, of course, I was going through puberty. I had severe issues due to my weight and a horrendous acne problem. These problems only got worse as I entered the high-school years. My emotional bottom came during my sophomore year.

I don't think I've mentioned this before, but I was in special ed all through my K-12 years. At first I was labeled "emotionally handicapped," but eventually I was designated "severely emotionally disturbed." (My official diagnosis was OCD, but I don't know what my "real" problem was.) So not only did I feel like a defective freak, but I had an official label.

Being in special ed was not entirely bad for me. I did benefit from the individualized attention. And I felt a certain camaraderie with the other "freak" kids. I didn't have any close friends, but I did talk to a few people every now and then, so I wasn't completely socially isolated. A lot of them were pretty smart, but everyone always called me "the genius," so I had a reason to feel some positivity about myself. Eventually I was mainstreamed for most (but not all) of my classes. I never felt comfortable around the normal kids, although I did get to know one or two of them.

The social dynamics at my school were different from those at Columbine. It was an upper-middle-class public school, and there were lots of snotty "rich kids" who had their lunch delivered from expensive restaurants, but there was no real equivalent to Rocky Hoffschneider and his "steroid poster boys." Also, the demographics were different. My school was more diverse than Columbine. Even the white kids were different - for one thing, most of them were Jewish.

My initial spark of fascination about E&D's crimes was probably due to the fact that here were two kids who were seemingly taking charge of their lives, refusing to allow the world to kick them around. I identified with the idea of two outcasts who said, "Enough is enough." And I formed an emotional attachment to them based on this sense of shared suffering.

When Dave Cullen's book came out, I was so angry, because I felt that he was trivializing Eric's suffering by writing him off as "crazy." That anger is what prompted me to start posting on a predecessor of this board. Then I just went crazy. For a number of years, I spent almost all of my free time on this board. When I wasn't posting on the forum, I was PMing with various members.

Like I said, I don't regret spending so much time thinking and writing about NBK, but I do realize that it was never about anyone but me.

There were a couple of times when people who went to the school - people who had a right to feel strongly about it - told me that they were offended by various things I had written. One of them was a football player who resented the implication that jocks bullied E&D to death. He said, "You tell yourself you are defending the weak, but what you are doing is no different from what any bully does." And I have to admit that, while I didn't agree with everything he said, that statement did prompt me to take a long, hard look at what I was doing.

And, of course, Dave Cullen once told me that I was hurting him with my incessant ad hominem attacks. I don't apologize for pushing hard against his book, because I really do believe that he got Eric dead-wrong. But I have to admit that I went too far at times. There were many times when I acted ... less than honorably.

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PostSubject: Re: Who has the right to care about Columbine?   Who has the right to care about Columbine? Icon_minitimeFri May 03, 2019 3:35 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wow, thanks for sharing all of that so openly. I think your story is something a lot of people can relate to, even if they only lurk and never comment. Like a Star @ heaven
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PostSubject: Re: Who has the right to care about Columbine?   Who has the right to care about Columbine? Icon_minitimeSat May 04, 2019 2:03 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] I don’t know how to quote yet, but I wanted to reply again.. I think I may have misunderstood what you were saying in regards to Randy. Reading too much between the lines so to speak. But I appreciated your reply and see where you are coming from. And I agree with your obsession statement, to a degree. Because I think think that the obsession doesn’t necessarily have to be rooted in Columbine as a whole, but some facet of it. Me, I’m really into mental health and why it makes different people react in drastically different ways, but I also love learning about investigations, mistakes made/facts withheld/evidence collection/etc. I also find victim stories very impactful and like to look at things in a ‘where do we go from here - how do we change X in society as a whole’ and Columbine has a whole lot of all of that. Hope that mishmash made sense 😳
And [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] thank you for being so candid with your story.
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PostSubject: Re: Who has the right to care about Columbine?   Who has the right to care about Columbine? Icon_minitimeSat May 04, 2019 2:21 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] that totally makes sense!

Back in the day, not everything Randy said to and about me was true (he accused me of trying to steal his research when I asked him to cite his sources for claims that he never substantiated; he also accused me of trying to profit off of Columbine since I was selling items from the school that I got from Rebel Corner, but he didn't know I was selling them at cost and the CDs I sold were literally just the cost of shipping, and I had already spent $15,000 on the whole thing - plus, he accused me of lying about his son to ruin his reputation - I was the first person who outed his son for sending indecent photos to 'Columbiners' back around 2005 since I was the recipient of such photo over AOL, which Randy denied ever happened so I posted the photo to prove it which was not the best decision). But he also called me out for being a total jerk and that was true. Even though most of what he said to me wasn't true, it still made me think hard.

I have a lot of respect for Randy and the work that he's done. He carries a lot of guilt no doubt, for not being able to do more to stop Eric.

Yeah, the obsession definitely doesn't have to be rooted in Columbine itself... a lot of people are into crime scene investigation and mental health, like you said. The "where do we go from here" part is so important, too.

For me, in the beginning, it was about the case itself. But I also love details and data, and criminal investigation, so when the documents were released it was far more interesting. I'm still organizing the released data to this day on a new research website, although now it's more of an interest in literally organizing large quantities of data rather than the details of the story. But I know the details are important to others to get answers so I'm interested in organizing it in a way I only wish it would have been organized all those years ago.

Obsessions do evolve. They're not all unhealthy. Obsession drives excellence in many people's lives and makes people develop skills to the point of mastery. Some obsessions aren't so healthy. It's just a matter of time before the unhealthy ones wear down.
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PostSubject: Re: Who has the right to care about Columbine?   Who has the right to care about Columbine? Icon_minitimeWed May 10, 2023 9:28 am

LMFAO

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