Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 people at Columbine High school in 1999. As well ruining the lives of those who lost loved ones they also left an ongoing legacy of fear and mistrust for other people who were nowhere near Columbine. It meant goths and fans of other alternative music were blamed for murders that were no responsibility of theirs and every time the media mention Columbine the connection is frequently repeated. This legacy owes much to poor media reporting.Why did this myth develop? Because inaccurate reports were made just after the attack as this key examination of the events based on the report of Sheriff's investigation makes clear:
Investigators also criticized the media for propagating the myth that the pair were Goths. Apparently it took nothing more than reports of black clothing and eyeliner among the unrelated Trench Coat Mafia for much of the national media to label them Goths. "That became a whole issue for a week," one investigator said. "Marilyn Manson canceled his concert."
ABC's "20/20" aired a particularly ignorant "report" the night after the tragedy, linking the killers to the scene with alarmist messages about Satanism and cults. Aside from the fact that the report completely misrepresented and maligned the movement, neither Marilyn Manson nor the Goths had anything whatsoever to do with the killers, who had nothing but contempt for the music.
The media even got the idea they were part of the Trenchcoat Mafia (some of whom were goths) wrong:
Harris and Klebold are still routinely referred to as belonging to the Trench Coat Mafia. As recently as Wednesday, in a report on Sears' decision to stop selling a trench coat-wearing action figure, CNN Headline News was referring to "the two Trench Coat Mafia teens who were responsible for the Columbine High School massacre last April." But sources unanimously and unequivocally confirm that the group had nothing whatsoever to do with the murders, and very little to do with Harris and Klebold.
Some of the confusion concerning a wider conspiracy lies with premature remarks made by Sheriff John Stone the morning after the massacre. But the department has since ruled out the possibility that the killers were connected with the group of Columbine outsiders known as the Trench Coat Mafia.
"Harris and Klebold were never part of the Trench Coat Mafia," one investigator said. "They were kind of friends of fringe members." Battan scoffed at the notion of any significant association: "They were outcasts in that!"
By the time of the murders, most of the Trench Coat Mafia had graduated or dropped out, and the term was almost an anachronism, investigators explained. That didn't stop a flurry of would-be terrorists from latching onto the name. "Suddenly, there were thousands of Trench Coat Mafia all over the country," Davis said. "I get Internet threats from, like, Iowa that they're the Trench Coat Mafia," Battan laughed. "Well, there is no Trench Coat Mafia!"
That didn't stop anyone associated with the group from being ostracized. They went virtually unseen at the innumerable memorials and grief ceremonies, and some students even threatened "retaliatory" violence should they show their faces in nearby Clement Park, which became the site of impromptu memorials last spring.
It was widely reported that students associated with the group were effectively prohibited from finishing the school year with their peers at Chatfield High School. However, district spokesman Rick Kaufman says it had nothing to do with the Trench Coat Mafia per se. Eighteen students were identified as acquaintances of Harris and Klebold, he said.
They were offered alternatives such as home-based tutoring, "because of the raw emotions, the strong feelings that existed right after the tragedy." "Twelve of the 18 said, 'Thanks but no thanks,' and returned to school," he said. "Six of the 12 accepted the offer. There was only one student who we were not going to allow back to school."
As far as trench coats themselves, Klebold was known to wear one occasionally. However, "No student can recall ever seeing Eric wear a trench coat, other than once, this past fall , other than the day of the shooting," Kaufman said.
Inside the Columbine High investigation Salon.com Sept. 23, 1999
Everything you know about the Littleton killings is wrong. But the truth may be scarier than the myths.
Certainly Harris was a big fan of German Industrial and Techno especially KMFDM and Rammstein which has some cross over with the goth scene, but there is no evidence he had any interest in any more gothic bands. Kebold's favourite music included The Smashing Pumpkins, Orbital, The Chemical Brothers, KMFDM, Nine Inch Nails, and Rammstein. Moreover they did not dress in a goth or any other alternative style, hang round with the goth group in the school and their interests in guns, baseball, and computers were perhaps more significant to them than music. You can see more about Harris's musical interests here Music.
Man's greatest fear is chaos. It was unthinkable that these kids did not have a simple black-and-white reason for their actions. And so a scapegoat was needed. I remember hearing the initial reports from Littleton, that Harris and Klebold were wearing makeup and were dressed like Marilyn Manson, whom they obviously must worship, since they were dressed in black. Of course, speculation snowballed into making me the poster boy for everything that is bad in the world. These two idiots weren't wearing makeup, and they weren't dressed like me or like goths. Since Middle America has not heard of the music they did listen to (KMFDM and Rammstein, among others), the media picked something they thought was similar.
Responsible journalists have reported with less publicity that Harris and Klebold were not Marilyn Manson fans -- that they even disliked my music. Even if they were fans, that gives them no excuse, nor does it mean that music is to blame. Did we look for James Huberty's inspiration when he gunned down people at McDonald's? What did Timothy McVeigh like to watch? What about David Koresh, Jim Jones? Do you think entertainment inspired Kip Kinkel, or should we blame the fact that his father bought him the guns he used in the Springfield, Oregon, murders? What inspires Bill Clinton to blow people up in Kosovo? Was it something that Monica Lewinsky said to him? Isn't killing just killing, regardless if it's in Vietnam or Jonesboro, Arkansas? Why do we justify one, just because it seems to be for the right reasons? Should there ever be a right reason? If a kid is old enough to drive a car or buy a gun, isn't he old enough to be held personally responsible for what he does with his car or gun? Or if he's a teenager, should someone else be blamed because he isn't as enlightened as an eighteen-year-old?
In a way Columbine attribution to goth has similarities to the famous blood libel attributed to Jews, the claim used from the middle ages onwards that Jews killed children in bloody sacrifices and that were used to spark pogroms. Of course the Blood Libel was untrue but that was what people wanted to think. After the shooting bullying and hassling of alternative teens increased across the USA.
In scattered reports from around the country, high school students who dress defiantly, or who are computer lovers, or who qualify in any way as outcasts, say that since the killings in Littleton, Colo., last week, they feel as if they have become perceived not only as different but as threats... The messages pouring in to Mr. Katz have included reports of students being expelled or suspended from school for "antisocial" behavior or sent home to change clothes similar to what the killers wore; of clampdowns by parents on computer use; of increased scrutiny and determined offers of counseling from adults, especially when students say that though they do not condone the shootings, they can understand what motivated them, and of more hostility from other students.
Carey Goldberg " TERROR IN LITTLETON: THE SHUNNED; For Those Who Dress Differently, an Increase in Being Viewed as Abnormal" New York Times - May 1, 1999
In the past twenty years, the Goth subculture has become its own culture, generating many subcultures within itself. I am acquainted with several young people who are part of this. They share my concern at the media's portrayal of Harris and Klebold as Goths. Several have been harassed on the street since the Columbine incident. Yet the truth is that violence is anathema to most Gothic lifestyles. And Nazism is not glorified by Goths. How could it be, my friends ask, when Goths would be among the first persecuted by Nazis today? They fear for younger "quiet freaks" still in high school "who wear black, tint their hair, have multiple piercings, write dark poetry--and aren't ever going to hurt anyone." So do I.Another good article is here:
And then onto more recent times as these articles shows anytime a new attack occurs a link to Columbine is repeated:
Dark days for Goths Emily Sweeney The Boston GlobeOct. 15, 2004 12:00 AMThe same thing still goes on and on. Through all this Harris and Kebold's evil acts live on tainting the lives of the innocent. Simply check out other reports mentioning Columbine in this blog found here. There is simply no connection between goth and any other form of music and the killings at Columbine. If you are looking for reasons the murders occurred because the teenagers were full of hatred and had easy access to fire arms.
Sixteen-year-old Sonya Feinn usually wears black clothes, thick eyeliner, and dark lipstick. She listens to Sisters of Mercy and Nine Inch Nails. She is accustomed to people glaring at her Gothic-inspired outfits, so she wasn't surprised when journalists described a Marshfield, Mass. teen accused of plotting a school shooting as a Goth.
"I've rarely seen Gothic figures portrayed in a good light in the news, the media, and the movies," Feinn said. "We get such a bad rap."
In middle school, Feinn's classmates called her a "Satan worshiper" because she wore dark clothes. Ironically, Feinn left that public school to attend an all-girls Catholic high school that requires school uniforms. More recently, Feinn's high school classmates gave her friend Mike the nickname "Columbine" because he wears long trenchcoats - an innocuous article of clothing that became synonymous with school shootings five years ago.
Those notorious long coats and the term "Goth" made headlines in 1999 when two Colorado teens attacked their high school, shooting to death students and teachers. Authorities initially described the gunmen as Goths, because they often wore black clothes to school and dubbed themselves "The Trenchcoat Mafia." Media coverage of the Columbine High School massacre thrust Gothic subculture into the national spotlight, and almost overnight the G-word became inextricably linked to school violence, even though the Columbine killers shared no attributes found in the Goth subculture, with the exception of dark clothing...
Life wasn't easy for him and his darkly dressed cohorts at Lexington High. Classmates would call them homophobic slurs and throw empty plastic bottles at their heads. "To be a guy dyeing your hair black and wearing makeup, you were under constant scrutiny by your peers," said Usmani. "You couldn't walk around town with black dyed hair and eyeliner without being profiled by shopping clerks or having a couple of kids try to start with you." Usmani added, "After Columbine, (Goth) kids were put on the spot more than before."
Feinn has grown accustomed to being scrutinized because of her self-expression. She said her outfits usually draw interesting reactions from passersby. She recently walked into a bagel shop in her hometown of Reading and witnessed a young mother try to shade her child's eyes from looking at Feinn's Goth outfit. In middle school, her classmates called her devil worshiper, or referred to her as Satan. "I was treated so badly (in middle school)," Feinn said. "People in this town aren't comfortable with (Goths)."
She finally decided to leave the Reading public schools and attend her high school, where, thanks to the required uniforms, "no one can judge you on what you wear."
[This next article sadly only one of the many exampls of the Columbine goth myth in action. Virtually everything mentioned in this article about Columbine is wrong 6 years after the killings.]
Eerie Parallels Are Seen To Shootings at Columbine
New York Times - Mar 23, 2005
He is said to have worn a trench coat and listened to Marilyn Manson, the Goth icon. He expressed his admiration for Hitler on a neo-Nazi Web site. And in the midst of a murderous rampage at his high school, Jeff Weise asked a classmate if he believed in God, then shot him, one student recounted in a local newspaper.
As details begin to emerge about Mr. Weise's shooting spree on an Indian reservation in northern Minnesota, there are eerie echoes of the nation's most infamous school tragedy, six years ago at Columbine High School near Littleton, Colo.
At Columbine, the killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, belonged to the ''Trench Coat Mafia'' and loved all things Goth. They sometimes did a Nazi salute while bowling and planned their attack for Hitler's birthday. Before killing one student, witnesses said, one of them held a gun to her temple and asked if she believed in God.