Feature Story Tales out of school
This is a compelling essay on how journalism damages education with bad information. Although I've only posted the portion pertaining to Manson, I highly recommend reading the entire article, which can be found on the site linked below.
"...Then came Columbine.
To all the false data that had been produced by the earlier shootings, Columbine news coverage added a jackpot of misinformation. Nearly every major piece of information we “know” about Columbine is wrong, even including its location. It didn’t happen in Littleton, Colo. During the long hours when the school was closed off, journalists put any and all information on the air unscreened and uncooked.
It is now known that the two perpetrators were not loners who targeted jocks. There was a “trench coat” group at the school, but it was made up of good kids, and the two shooters weren’t among them. Those killed were not the targets—the entire school was, because it was planned not as a school shooting but as a bombing. The shooting began when the bombs failed. Diane Sawyer reported without any evidence that “some of these Goths may have killed before.” Charlton Heston said the tragedy could have been prevented if there had been a guard with a gun. There was.
It took years for the truth to come out about what actually happened at Columbine, and there was a costly consequence. Legislatures started passing punitive new laws and school districts started diverting money to security before getting good information.
Jody Ruggiero, a Reno parent and school board member. She had already been proselytizing the notion of some kinds of music as moral evils before Columbine. After that tragedy, she quickly hopped on the bandwagon of folks who blamed the influence of Marilyn Manson music on the young killers for the massacre. She led an effort to cancel a Reno Manson concert. “I don’t care what your religion is,” she said. “This is not about censorship. This is about public safety.” Even Gov. Kenny Guinn, who in other disaster situations resisted panicky actions, reluctantly joined the effort to stop the concert. In the end, the concert was cancelled.
There was one problem with all this. The two Columbine killers disliked Marilyn Manson music. The linkage between Marilyn Manson and Columbine was all in the heads of Ruggiero and her allies.
That linkage of pop culture with the school shootings along with pop psychology proved to be an unending source of what had become harassment of students for their habits. Playing Dungeons & Dragons could get kids in trouble with parents or schools. In Clark County, girls in two schools were arrested for writing lists of people they disliked..."