The shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO took place 10 years ago today. Since that time the public has assumed many things to be true, however, as with most accepted public knowledge, much of it is not factually correct. It has taken all that time for someone to come forward, look at all the many claims, assess their veracity, and finally try to debunk the mythology, as CNN reports:

If you recall that two unpopular teenage boys from the Trench Coat Mafia sought revenge against the jocks by shooting up Columbine High School, you’re wrong. …

Journalist and author Dave Cullen was one of the first to take on what he calls the myths of Columbine. He kept at it for a decade, challenging what the media and law enforcement officials reported.

The author challenges a number of popular notions about Columbine, including some of the most-accepted and frequently-stated ones:

Cullen concluded that the killers weren’t part of the Trench Coat Mafia, that they weren’t bullied by other students and that they didn’t target popular jocks, African-Americans or any other group. A school shooting wasn’t their initial intent, he said. They wanted to bomb their school in an attack they hoped would make them more infamous than Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Among the myths Cullen debunks is one which is dear to Christians and made a martyr out of one of their own:

[M]any in the media initially reported that 17-year-old Cassie Bernall, a Christian, answered “yes” when asked if she believed in God before she was shot to death. She became a poster child for the Evangelical movement after her death. But investigators and student witnesses later told Cullen that it was another student, Valeen Schnurr, who avowed her belief in God as she was shot. Schnurr survived.

Christians have a particular (and pathological) love of martyrdom; they have almost since the start of their religion, and even when there is no pressing danger to Christianity, they frequently delude themselves into believing they are oppressed for their beliefs. So they were eager to report the death of a girl who declared her faith. It didn’t happen that way … but that probably doesn’t matter much to them.

Cullen took on a topic which is naturally piled high with emotion and sentimentality, but punctured it anyway. He’s to be congratulated for doing so.

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