As someone with a passing interest in the 1999 Columbine tragedy, I can’t help but be intrigued by recent media coverage of the horrific double suicide attempt by Kristin and Candice Hermeler in Colorado this November.
As everyone who’s read a paper now knows, a series of connections have been made linking the Hermeler twins suicide pact with the Columbine High School shooting rampage of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold over 10 years ago.
There’s the fact that the girls apparently wrote to Columbine survivor Brooks Brown in the aftermath of the massacre. That they had a scrapbook containing letters from another Columbine victim Cory Depooter, as well as correspondence with members of Klebold’s direct family. That they had a copy of Time Magazine from 1999 in their luggage whose cover depicted the killers.
And police have extrapolated that both girls felt victimized and bullied as teens, and that this alienation may have contributed to the shootings which killed Kristin Hermeler on November 15th.
It’s a horrible story, posing far more questions than it does answers. Candice Hermeler may never explain exactly what drove her and her sister’s attempt on one another’s life. Life is rarely that simple. To quote the title of the book Brooks Brown wrote about the Columbine massacre itself, there are no easy answers.
But that’s not going to stop the mass media from creating some.
A sheriff’s report detailing contents of the Hermeler twins’ baggage was revealed on sites like heraldsun.com.au this weekend, under the headline “Suicide twins Kristin and Candice Hermeler had God Delusion in their luggage”.
That’s right people. You want to blame someone for this tragedy? It’s Richard Dawkins. Case closed.
I wish I could say that only the Herald Sun was tabloid-o-riffic enough to publish this garbage, but sadly variations on this story could be found everywhere by Sunday. And by garbage, I mean a full reading list including:
- ‘The God Delusion’ – Richard Dawkins
- ‘The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment’ – Eckhart Tolle
- ‘Too Nice For Your Own Good: How to Stop Making Nine Self-Sabotaging Mistakes’ – Duke Robinson
- ‘The Wisdom of the Native Americans’ – Kent Nerburn
- ‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee‘ – Dee Brown
They were questioning the existence of God and his place in the world as we know it – there’s a motive! They were reading self-help books – obviously these were 2 lost souls struggling to cope in this work-a-day society! They were reading about the plight of the Native American – umm… uhh… they felt displaced and persecuted by the… American government??? It all makes sense now!
The list of books was accompanied by a listing of CD’s in the possession of the girls, including:
- Crystal Visions: The Very Best of Stevie Nicks
- Greatest Hits – Gloria Estefan
- 1100 Bel Air Place – Julio Iglesias
- 21 Numbers Ones – Kenny Rogers
- Overcoming the Struggle – Florida Roots
- Ultimate Luther Vandross
- Very Best of Christopher Cross
- Animal – Ke$ha
I know what you’re thinking, so I’ll say it for you… CD’s? Neither girl had an iPod? Didn’t you go to exhaustive lengths to explain to us that these were children of privilege, oh Incisive McJournalist? Upper-middle class, private school education, and so on?
Oh… the point isn’t the CD’s… it’s what they were listening to…
Hmmmm… everyone was so quick to pin Columbine on Marilyn Manson, even though further investigation showed that neither Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold was a fan of either him or his music. But now we have a direct correlation between Julio Iglesias and possible suicidal tendencies… why won’t somebody do something??? Won’t somebody think of the children?!?!?
And so on.
The Hermeler twins and their family deserve better than this kind of shoddy reporting. And, as always, it made me think of me, me, me. My own recent trip. What fallacies could have been concocted had I been unwittingly involved in a tragedy akin to the Hermeler shootings?
Because I know that at one point in my recent holiday in my carry on luggage I had a copy of:
- ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ – Stieg Larsson
- ‘Generation A’ – Douglas Coupland
- ‘Slam’ – Nick Hornby
- ‘Blockade Billy’ – Stephen King
I assume this makes me a possibly Swedish skateboarding enthusiast with an eidetic memory of a drug addled near future where Baseball has become a surreptitious blood sport.
Oh, and I had a copy of the ‘Friends – Season 2‘ DVD in my bag. So I’m probably also a sociopathic, crack-addicted, serial-killing baby rapist/cannibal.
So close, but no cigar.
I’ve never tried crack.
Maybe the Hermeler twins decided to shoot one another because they were both extremely sad, depressed and saw no reason to continue on with their lives.
Maybe Richard Dawkins had sweet fuck all to do with anything.
I don’t know. I’m no Investigatory Journalist. Just a dude who thinks maybe what we read / watch / listen to doesn’t complete motivate or define who we are.