The Trenchcoat Mafia
“YOU KNOW WHAT I LOVE!? Natural SELECTION!!! God damn, it’s the best thing that ever happened to the Earth. Getting rid of all the stupid and weak organisms.” Words left by Eric Harris on his website eight years ago, just days before he and Dylan Klebold went on a shooting spree at Columbine High School, systematically picking off eleven humans with their guns. And to prove he was a nice guy, Eric added “YOU KNOW WHAT I HATE!? RACISM!…
don’t let me catch you making fun of someone just because they are a different colour because I will come in and break your fucking legs with a plastic spoon, I don’t care how long it takes. And that’s both legs mind you.”
At the time, the killings were blamed on goth culture, especially Marliyn Manson – even though Eric and Dylan hated Manson (being Rammstein fans, they thought he was a fag). Last year, Kimveer Gill went on a similar killing spree at Dawson English Language College in Montreal, though he only killed one. He too was clad in black, and he too left us a message (on VampireFreaks.com): “Metal and goth kick ass. Life is a video game, you’ve got to die sometime.”
But blaming these deaths on heavy metal or video games is pretty inane. In 1989, 25-year-old child abuse survivor Marc Lépine gunned down 14 female engineering students at Montreal École Polytechnique, while bellowing out his war-cry: “I HATE FEMINISTS!” Somehow I don’t think vampires were to blame for this crime. School shootings are not the exclusive domain of troubled black- clad youths.
The ? Killer
But once again a dark and disturbed young man has gunned down humans at his school: this April, Cho Seung-Hui beat Eric and Dylan’s toll, notching up an impressive 32 at Virginia Tech University before turning the gun on himself.
Poses he left in a video message to NBC have been compared to the film Oldboy, in which the anti-hero Dae-Su, unjustly imprisoned for 15 years, goes on a rampage. But he also cited Christ as an influence: “You thought it was one pathetic boy’s life you were extinguishing. Thanks to you, I die like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and defenceless people.” Quite how gunning people down is similar to be nailed to a plank Cho does not really explore, except to add that “Jesus loves crucifying me.”
Between wearing dark glasses inside and signing his name as a ?, Cho follows the Columbine mode perfectly. He too rails against the rich and stupid with their Mercedes, their “golden necklaces” and their “trust funds”, who have “blood on their hands” for his actions. But at least Eric Harris was more honest, admitting that he loathed the weak and vulnerable, whereas Cho actually thought he was doing something to help them.
Of course, all this has to be somebody’s fault: the mental health system for not detecting Cho’s mania, the powers that be for refusing to tighten gun control, the University authorities for treating the initial killings with such nonchalance that they kept school going as if everything was normal, allowing Cho to continue after a wee lunch break. Or it could, predictably, be the fault of violent music, movies and computer games. And so the blame game begins.
But this is not necessarily a bad thing. Back in ’99 I was something of a baby bat (tweeny “goth” kid). Before the Trenchcoat Mafia massacre, we were often treated like “those little poofs with the black nail polish”. Afterwards, we became “those little poofs who might fucking kill me.” These killings gave us some handy mana; it’s just a shame the price was paid in blood.
Ultimately, one is tempted simply to conclude by following Eric Harris in asking, “Why must so many people be so stupid?” Sometimes people kill, and it’s pretty vapid to insist that there has to be a solution. But I think a better conclusion is provided by that old pantyhose jingle: “Feeling fine / dancing the columbine / looking good / and I knew that I would.” And to remind these boys that mass murder is just lame. Stop blaming the world for picking on you and takes some responsibility for yourselves, you twats.