I read Dan Savage's recent article "Clique...Clique...Bang!" [May 14] with intense interest. He makes many true-to-life points about the "casual cruelty of the popular kids" and the indifference shown by schoolteachers and administrators. I was nodding my head through and through, my interest even more intensified by the reprint of the Harris kid's suicide note. Like Savage, I'm also surprised this hasn't been printed much elsewhere.
However, it disturbed me for Savage to equate said "casual cruelty" with the massacre: "The power cliques that rule American high schools are every bit as murderous as Harris and Klebold, but their damage is done in slow motion." Every bit? Harris's note betrays it all, a kid who assimilated what others thought of him to a dire degree. Let me quote again, this time from the note: "Parents and teachers...you have taught these kids to not accept what is different....I have taken their lives and my own--but it was your doing." Their doing? The kid exculpates himself. How convenient. Not quite sane, it seems, murderous deeds or no.
For Savage to implicitly agree with this is disturbing in itself, though he points out that "I'm not saying Harris and Klebold were heroes" (But don't you admire them, Dan? Yourself in high school "fucked with enough"?) and then maintains that the "culpability of the other kids at Columbine has been glossed over." True enough, media-style, to gloss over, but Savage then concludes that at least People magazine recognizes his point of view, that fear has been properly instilled into the halls of America's high schools--Savage's so-called silver lining. Is this, forgive the deliberate allusion, the final solution? (Remembering that the killers purposely struck on Hitler's birthday.)
Perhaps the brighter lining is to teach subculturalism, so to speak. Our schools today are so frantic about multiculturalism, yet they fail to carry over the tolerance for subcultures. How about speaking louder and carrying softer sticks instead?