Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Dave Cullen's Columbine (New York: Twelve, 2009) marks the 10th anniversary of the Columbine High shootings. Initially, it seems like one more attempt to capitalize on the tragedy. Of course, if that were all the book represented it would not bother me at all. Oprah is dedicating a week's worth of shows to the Columbine, so why shouldn't Cullen make some money off the shooting as well? Far be it from me to get all self-righteous about some people's attempts to make money in such a way. If there is a demand for these books and TV shows, there should definitely be a supply of them.

What is really scary, though, is the explanation Cullen provides for the Columbine massacre. Don't blame the bullies, he says. Forget about blaming the shooters' parents. Don't even think about analyzing how the gun-loving and violence-extolling culture might have influenced Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. According to Cullen, the real reason behind the tragedy is simple: some people are just born bad.

So, relax, my friends. Don't look for clues that will allow you to prevent similar tragedies in the future. Stopping school bullying, limiting access to guns, talking to teenagers to see what might be bothering them - it's all useless. Some people (like Eric Harris) are "born psychopaths." They are especially good at leading people to believe they are nice. They can neither be spotted nor helped. Let's not waste our time trying to change things. Let's just sit back and wait for more shootings to happen.

This is one more example of how pernicious this "brain hard wiring" ideology is. It promotes passivity and lack of social accountability. Some people are born good, some are born bad. Some people are born smart, some are born stupid. It makes no sense to try and change anything. You are "hard wired" this way. I already wrote about the utterly fictitious and ideological nature of this "hard wiring" mystique. Now we are seeing how it manages to pervade all aspects of our lives.

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