- Why so much turnover in mayor's office?
- Hearing on the Ruby Hill towers
- Let freedom ring
- Promoting socialized medicine
- Immigration Laws or Lack Thereof
- Atheist Diversionary Tactics
- The "Melting Pot" is unique to America
- Many mighty hearts covering the world
- Roan Drilling Bad for Colorado, country
- Americans entitled to universal health care
Unfortunately, Judge Lewis T. Babcock's decision on Monday to block access to important records about the attack in 1999 at Columbine High School will hurt ongoing research about school shootings. In his ruling, Babcock banned, for the next 20 years, all access to the statements made to the police by Eric Harris' and Dylan Klebold's parents. The decision is disappointing — the transcripts might have helped clarify the role of computer games in the attack.
In researching the Columbine shooting, what is surprisingly clear is how obsessed the two killers were with computer games. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold enjoyed their "virtual" lives on the computer more than they liked their "real" ones. The computer was where they felt most powerful, expert, and alive. As a result, their relationships with their computers were remarkably important — think of how you feel about your best friend or lover and that was probably how the killers felt about their computers.
For example, Harris believed he had a unique relationship with his computer and the games he played there. For one class, he wrote of his "…love for a computer game called DOOM.... I know almost anything there is to know about the game, so I believe that seperates (sic) me from the rest of the world." In another paper, Harris noted, "Doom is so burned into my head my thoughts usually have something to do with the game…What I cant (sic) do in real life, I try to do in doom." While Klebold was less prolific, he was also entangled with his computers. In college, he was going to major in computer science. After the Columbine attack, three computers were found in his room.
My research has led me to believe the following happened to the teens: Starting in their sophomore year, Klebold and Harris began getting into trouble at home and school. In an escalating pattern, they were disciplined by their parents, principal, and, ultimately, the law. One way they were punished was to ban them from using computers. Unfortunately, doing so also cut them off from the most important relationship in the two adolescents' lives.
In addition to being the best of companions, their computers also served another purpose. The computer games they played defended others from the two teenagers’ anger. Initially, rather than hurting others, they killed virtually. As a result, the games probably hid and delayed the teen's homicidal and suicidal tendencies. After getting banned from their computers, the two teenagers’ rage erupted. They became quite dangerous and they began plotting the attack on their school.
Why is this important? Since the attack on Columbine, computer games have become vastly more popular and immersive. Tens of millions of people play computer games each day — one game alone, World of Warcraft, has well over 8 million subscribers. Like Harris and Klebold, many people play games, much to the exclusion of other activities. In my clinical practice, I have seen numerous players who have logged over 3,000 hours in a year on just one game.
The real risk of computer gaming has little to do with the content. Instead, we need to worry about how gratifying the virtual can be. Abruptly prohibiting or discontinuing someone's computer use may inadvertently release unanticipated emotions that might result in tragedy, as happened at Columbine. Because of Babcock’s decision, we will have to wait another two decades before learning exactly what the parents saw when they tried to stop the teens from using their computers. To anticipate and prevent other such attacks, such information is needed today.
,I.Dr. This is the same argument as is going on about wiretapping, library records, eminent domain and racial profiling. The killers' parents have civil rights. Where do we draw the line on individual freedoms?
This is the same argument as is going on about wiretapping, library records, eminent domain and racial profiling.
The killers' parents have civil rights. Where do we draw the line on individual freedoms?Posted by Yaakov Watkins on April 8, 2007 08:25 AM