Myth Of The 20th Century – Episode 18: Columbine, Culture Of Violence

Welcome to the Myth of the 20th Century. The podcast airs on Fridays.

— Brought to you by —

Alex Nicholson, Hank Oslo, and Nick Mason


On April 20th, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold bombed, shot, and killed 13 classmates and injured wounded 24 others at Columbine High School, Colorado. The shooting sparked a nationwide debate over the causes behind such a massacre and led to several changes in American culture, education, and security practices.


– Natural Born Killers, Stone (1994)
– Bowling for Columbine, Moore (2002)
– Elephant, Van Sant (2003)
– Columbine, Cullen (2009)

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  1. Christian G Larsen May 12, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Thanks (I think) for illuminating a dark corner for me. I was an adult in the late nineties and remember the BS the media was smearing over Columbine murders to avoid the real issues. You lay them out very clearly: planned and directed violence for no reason but personal evil.
    Violence is the problem, we don’t know why it manifests itself like it does in the US, perhaps we have the “right” genetic combinations for evil. Our social institutions keep looking for the easy answers: gun control, video games, music, etc. Anything but ourselves.
    I think we agree that violence is innate in humans and that our social systems are the way we keep out of slipping into barbarism. That’s the change we need.

  2. The Marble Man May 12, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Another great podcast. I’m around the same age as Klebold and Harris and so much of what I remember of the narrative surrounding the shooting, it turns out is completely false.

    Just a quick tip: there’s a slight echo in the background when Hank is speaking. It’s not enough that it’s unlistenable, but something you guys might be able to tweak easily enough.

  3. Societies all through history had institutions had channeld the urges for destruction into something that allowed the society to productivly used this violance. This doesn’t exost anymore today. The Military wants specialists, every expensive soldiers, not cannon fodder. Today Eric would more likely become a Jihadi and fight in syira, but that wasn’t an option back then.

  4. Rational Stirnerist May 13, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    Columbine done, now I’m waiting for Unabomber episode.

    1. Chiraqi Insurgent May 14, 2017 at 8:46 am

      That would be epic! Have you read his manifesto? It was highly enlightening.

  5. Well, the only thing I have expertise on is medical stuff.
    You guys are hitting it pretty good on the increased suicide risk 1st 2 weeks on SSRI (selective serotonin REUPTAKE inhbitors),especially with teenagers. Since it inhibits reuptake of serotonin, more serotonin is available at neural junctions. Serotonin is an inherently inhibitory neurotransmitter. The drug however increases serotonin amounts at different locations in a neural stream until reaching steady state every where.

    Somewhere downstream in some neural tract, we have a neuron that inhibits “suicidal activity” at baseline. However, when we first start an SSRI, it likely hits a neuron UPSTREAM in that neural tract. That neuron then essentially INHIBITS the “inhibitory baseline.” Think -1 x -1 = 1, but with starting SSRI it becomes -2 x -1 = 2. Over time, with enough saturation of serotonin, it just “inhibits” the final “positive activity” neuron in the chain so it doesn’t matter.

    There’s more complexity like the numerous kinds of serotonin receptors and their potency etc. However, this is a starting point of basic SSRI understanding.

    Hopefully my explanation helped give you guys some extra info. If you want more, DM on twitter, @angrymidwestern

  6. I don’t know what to say about people who think the military is where psychopaths belong. Bergdahl was bad enough. Please.

    I remember Columbine as being the event that got RPGs off the hook and were replaced by first-person shooters. Just like RPGs replaced comic books, although I have no idea what RPGs were associated with that matches Columbine.

    I really don’t buy the idea that the parents can be exculpated. Depending on the progressive all-knowing all caring system to straighten your kids out? Vandalism and petty theft are just boys being boys? Dindu-nuffin? This reminds me of the drug-addicts I had to go school with not far from Columbine, and they were openly contemptuous of their parents and the system in equal parts. They used to go on about how they went to assemblies at other schools and pretend they were straightened out. I guess it’s a blessing there haven’t been as many more of these events as there have been.

    Clearly, when they had someone buy ammo for them, they knew there was a chance they were under observation. That wasn’t a oversight.

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