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A Columbine Parent Speaks Out

by Ron Tognetti

I am a parent of a Columbine High School freshman. My son and all of his close friends escaped uninjured, even though friends of friends were injured and in a pair of cases killed.

Point by point, here's how I see it:

The media attention that many deride was to be expected. It was, by the nature of that industry, overdone and overreaching, and is at its best/worst when every talking, sympathetically cocked head attempts to "grieve" with us here in Littleton. Coverage increasingly became more overdone, more condescending, presumptive, liberal and out of touch. Given that the media is a liberal haven, each and every pronouncement of how "something must be done", along with the rapidly-produced stories and reports about guns and our violent culture -- well, they disgust me almost as much as the original event.

Too many of our public figures - I can't bear to call them leaders any longer -- they know where the cameras are, and the exhortative nature of the coverage provides fertile ground for establishing self-serving agendas and plans. As you know, these inevitably produce more irrelevant regulation and control of our lives.

It is easy to get caught up in the details of the tragedy and speculate about it -- or allow someone else to speculate about it for you. Most of us here in Littleton, myself included, very much enjoy the suburban lifestyle that the Columbine neighborhood provides. A few will conclude that it is time to move on in order to escape this sort of thing. What I've come to realize is that the presence of faithful and good neighbors who I have seen and heard from recently, these neighbors could not
be surpassed anywhere in this country. The depth of their strength and grace -- especially the victimized parents and youths -- is amazing and humbling.

Yet, it is a crisis in two related ways. First, the absence of any moral substance in the two killers is what the tragedy was built on.  Second, our un-representative but domineering culture considers and equates every value/non-value with any other, and 15 more lives were sacrificed to this twisted notion at Columbine. Many Coloradans know this and many more may suspect it's true.

Other associated influences make it look bad from many angles -- miserable inattentive parenting, school systems which mainstream the worst of youth with the best, making no attempt to separate the rotten apples on a moral basis, a means of protection which you and I would have no problem justifying.

Current state law creates a communication fiasco between law enforcement and school districts. Schools must request info from police reports or court records which might indicate dangerous activities which youth engage in.

Neither the school district or the principal's staff were that curious in this case. The two youths appeared to be able to maneuver inattentive adults at every turn, even gaining enough confidence of a drama teacher at the school to hold and probably duplicate her keys in order to gain access to the building.

That may seem like a small detail, but the County's judicial system also gave the same two a virtual free ride, allowing a breaking and entering charge to be written off without even knowing of or checking for the deadly threats and bomb-making which the two youths were beginning to indulge in at the time.

If you knew this process were at work in your neighborhood or county, you would be disgusted and ashamed of the performance of so many of your public officials -- the ones who aren't out catching bullets. Now, I have found that it is true in my own county.

I haven't grown overly pessimistic about this, because true crises help good people to produce results and force changes in ways that more pacific times do not. The fact that He watches over us and provides for us has never seemed more obvious.

Those of us who disbelieve in the cultural rot will eventually have our say.

It will first add up in our moral register and then become fact in the polling booth and at school board meetings, away from the klieg lights and microphones, with the yellow crime scene tape and the stunned look of our figureheads and experts still fresh in memory.