I Read The Columbine Papers

Last night, I read through the 900+ pages of the documents released by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. If anyone’s interested, you can find them here. (Warning: huge PDF.)

The mass of documents includes Eric Harris’ fathers records of their disciplinary efforts with their son, diaries left behind by the shooters, their plan logs, diagrams and their school papers. It was sort of incongruous to read the rants of one of the boys, followed by his report card. (And, honestly, there were a lot of duplicates and blank datebook pages which could have been eliminated.)

It was hard reading. The boys’ handwriting nears illegibility at points, but working in a museum, I’m used to deciphering bad handwriting. [When I quote passages, I’ve cleaned it up a bit for readability.]

The diary of Harris is more interesting from an investigative standpoint, because his is a narrative of the plans and their implimentation, but it also includes complaints you would hear from any kid: “Why can’t we learn in school how we want to? Why can’t we sit on shelves and and desks and put our feet up and relax while we learn? cause that’s not ‘what the real world is like’. Well, hey, fuckheads, ther is no such thing as an actual ‘real world’. It’s just another word like justice, sorry, pity, religion, faith, luck and so on. We don’t like something we have the fucking ability to change! . . . When I go NBK [the school assault] people will say things like ‘oh, it was so tragic’” but people should think without their beliefs that violence is automatically wrong.

"I could get shot by a cop after only killing a single person, but, hey, guess the fuck what! I I choose to kill that single person so get over it! It’s MY fault! not my parents, not my brothers, not my favorite bands, not my computer games, not the media. IT’S MINE! . . . " Toward the end of the documents, he says, “don’t blame my family because they had no clue and there is nothing they could have done. They brought me up just fucking fine . . . don’t blame [stores] I don’t want any laws banning people from buying PVC pipes. We’re kind of a select case here so don’t think this will happen again. Don’t blame the school, don’t put cops all over the fucking place. Just because we went on a killing spree doesn’t mean everyone else will and hardly ever do people bring guns or bombs to school anyway, the admin. is doing a fine job as it is. If there’s any way in this fucked up universe we can come back as ghosts or what the fuck ever we will haunt the life out of anyone who blames anyone besides me and V [Klebold.]” In a forshadowing of 9/11, they say that if they somehow manage to escape, they’ll hijack a plane and crash it into New York City just to cause as much devestation as possible. By this, they hoped to make a mark on the world.

“Someone’s bound to say, ‘what were they thinking?’ when we go NBK or were planning it so here’s what I’m thinking. 'I have a goal to destroy as much as possible . . .” and if feelings of pity or mercy begin to interfere with their plans, they’ll just consider the victims to be zombies like in the game Doom. (Both boys thought that they were more “self-aware” than everyone around them. Their most frequent term for other people is “zombies.”) “I want to burn the world, I want to kill everyone except for about five people who I will name later, so if you are reading this you are lucky you escaped my rampage because I wanted to kill you.”

Klebold’s diary is mainly an excrutiatingly tedious explanation of his philosophy, but delves heavily into his love for [name redacted.] He writes of his aching love for her (complete with drawings of hearts and poems made from her name like one would find in any lovestruck teenager’s notebook).

Kelbold writes: “It’s interesting when I’m in my human form, knowing I’m going to die. Everything has a touch of triviality like how none of this calculus shit matters the way it shouldn’t. In truth, in 26.4 hours, I’ll be dead & in happiness. Oh the little human zombie faggs will know their errors and be suffering and mournful. HAHAHA! Of course I will miss things. Not really.” A page or so later, he bings to write a will, but gives up after a few lines.

One of the most poignant things for me was his love letter to her (page 493). In writing it, you can see that he was uncertain of whether it would be given to her posthumously or not because he talks of putting it into her locker and waiting for a response. There are several versions of it (false starts, I presume.) “The reason I am writing to you is that I’ve been caught for the crimes I comitted & I want to go to a new existance. You know what I mean. (Suicide.)”

Their hate is almost palatable. Harris wishes he were God or had more powerful weapons, so he could kill everyone on earth except for those he chose to live. He’s fully convinced that he is superior enough to the majority of people to be fit to make that designation. They hate everyone, especially stupid people.

Harris felt that humanity as a whole should be scrapped because it was “so corrupted and full of opinions.” He says that if he doesn’t like people “they should change or die.” “They will know when gods get pissed off . . . the little pussies will feel the shotgun shells and bullets. They need to die sooo bad and soon they will.”

They made detailed maps of the school, complete with attack plans, but spent more pages on their drawings of the costumes they would wear, and where their spare ammo would be attatched to it. They made timelines of when the lunch room was most crowded.

It was strange reading their datebooks, mostly devoid of any social activites. Mostly bank, actually, but on occasion you see a note related to bomb-making or buying ammo next to the notation “chem test.” Interspersed with all of this are some of theis school papers, a report on Our Town and Singapore. It’s striking because you read the diaries and their rants and start despising those imperious little monsters but then you see a book report Tess of the D’urbervilles and realize that they were just kids. Fucked up, sad, angry, lost and dangerous kids.