After two high school students in Columbine, Colorado, committed one of the most notorious massacres of the 1990s, slaughtering 12 teenagers and a teacher, baseless speculation and scapegoating immediately clogged the airwaves. With no evidence but their prejudices, pundits and advocates blamed the murders on movies, music, video games, goths, gays, drugs, the Internet, the radical right, trench coats, even irony. The pundits weren’t reacting to Columbine so much as they were using it as an excuse to proclaim whatever they would be saying anyway.
Thirteen years later, writes Jesse Walker, those initial speculations have been discredited. Did anyone learn anything from the experience?