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The Boston Globe

Opinion

Juliette Kayyem

Details are a distraction in Newtown killings

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the killers from Columbine High School, were not members of a “trenchcoat mafia.” They did not listen to goth-rocker Marilyn Manson. They were not bullied by the popular jocks. They were not outcasts. They were not known racists or anti-Semites. They did not ask classmate Cassie Bernall if she believed in God, and then kill her, execution-style, when she answered yes. Yet all those myths live on.

Harris and Klebold, we now know, had an active social life and took advanced classes. Harris was adored by adults; he was a phony who would charm his friends’ parents and then eviscerate them on his webpage. Klebold was from a loving family who were doing everything to try to give confidence to a boy who viewed his life as a failure. And, had the two lived, they would have been disappointed by going down in history as vicious murderers: in their minds, they were martyrs.

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