MP3 One segment
This program highlights aspects of the 1999 school massacre that riveted the nation’s attention in April of that year. Two high school students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, realized a long held plan to murder schoolmates on April 20 (Hitler’s Birthday). Apparent white supremacists, they spoke German to each other, greeted each other with the “heil” salute and rehearsed their plan on video months in advance of the slaughter. Their high school (Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado) was the focal point of an earlier incident that failed to garner as much publicity as the shooting.
Teacher Al Wilder was dismissed from Columbine in 1996 for showing his senior class on debate and logic excerpts of the Bernardo Bertolucci film 1900, an historically and sociologically penetrating look at the rise of fascism in Italy. Eventually reinstated by the school board, Wilder was told that the film was “too controversial” and contained violent and sexually explicit content. The controversy drew the attention of major film directors such as Martin Scorcese and Milos Forman. Bertolucci himself testified via telephone on behalf of Wilder. Noting that a decision to sustain Wilder’s suspension would propel the U.S. down the road to “amnesia,” Bertolucci voiced dismay at the departure from traditional American values constituted by Wilder’s dismissal.
The program presents the possibility that Nazi elements (inside and/or outside of government) may have targeted Columbine High because of the controversy over 1900 (the film is anti-fascist). Attempts by the right to censor the curricula of schools have been increasing in recent years. The shooting focused national debate on the issues of censorship of the media and video games (blamed for the massacre by some observers), as well as gun control.
Program highlights Include: indications that the two gunmen may have had help; the curious behavior of the police in the case; comparisons to Patrick Edward Purdy (see Miscellaneous Archive Show M55), another “school shooter” with Nazi inclinations; the film Harris and Klebold made for a class, directly foreshadowing their killing spree (they were not able to show the film because of its violent content); two “pro-gun” bills pending in the Colorado state legislature at the time of the killing; the fact that the National Rifle Association had planned its convention in Denver at the end of the month; the contention that the real cause of this and similar school shootings was the rising tide of fascism, not guns or the media. (Recorded on 5/2/99.)