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December 26, 2012 8:18 pm

Eric Harris, Adam Lanza and Evil

avatar by Elad Nehorai

Email a copy of "Eric Harris, Adam Lanza and Evil" to a friend

The Columbine killers Eric David Harris and Dylan Bennett Klebold. Photo: Wikipedia.

As reports of the Columbine shooting spread around America and soon took it by storm, the country began a process of investigating the motives behind the killers. Just as with Sandy Hook, the how was much more obvious than the why.

And so reasons began to surface. Reasons that were later disproved, but nevertheless held the public imagination.

For example, the Trench Coat Mafia, a title that became a household name, was used as a representation of the kind of world Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold occupied. They were described as loners who hung around in black trench coats getting bullied by the jocks and quietly planning revenge.

As Dave Cullen writes in his book, “Reporters quickly keyed on the darker force behind the attack: this spooky Trench Coat Mafia. It grew more bizarre by the minute. In the first two hours, witnesses on CNN described the TCM as Goths, gays, outcasts, and a street gang.”

None of this was true.

There was such a thing as the Trench Coat Mafia but Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold weren’t a part of it.  Eric and Dylan weren’t outcasts, and they were hardly ever bullied. In fact, if anything, Eric was a bully himself. They weren’t goth, they weren’t gay, and they weren’t outcasts.

Eric Harris was described as charming and good looking by some of the girls in school. He dated a 23 year old when he was 17.

So, if Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold weren’t these outcasts, and they weren’t trying to get revenge, what was really happening?

Let’s start with Eric.

Eric Harris

Often, when people talk about school shooters (and this is already happening with Adam Lanza), they imagine a person who quietly led a life of desperation, until he finally snapped and killed the people who had tormented him.

Eric Harris was never quietly suffering. In fact, from a young age, Eric was exhibiting signs of being a born killer.

As Cullen states, “Before he devised his massacre, Eric settled into a life of petty crime. Earlier still, even before adolescence, he was exhibiting telltale signs of a particular breed of killer.”

Eric started off doing vandalism at a young age. He then grew into theft, weapons, and more. And not only was he obsessed with these criminal behaviors, but he relished them, and loved fooling the people around him into thinking he was a good kid.

As he wrote in his diary, “I lie a lot. Almost constant, and to everybody, just to keep my own ass out of the water. lets see, what are some big lies I have told; ‘yeah I stopped smoking’ for doing it not for getting caught,’ ‘no I haven’t been making more bombs.'”

Eric would get caught for the things he did, then brag about how he weaseled his way out of trouble in his journal. He made a website that mocked all the people around him, one that spewed hate constantly.

Eric’s most beautiful dreams were about a world where nobody except himself existed. He wasn’t against any particular group of people, but rather imagined a world where all of us were dead and he was lord over everything.

In fact, one of the most pervasive myths about Columbine was that it was a school shooting. It wasn’t. It was a failed bombing. Eric and Dylan had planted bombs throughout the school. Their plan was to massacre as many of the students and faculty as possible, with no specific group in mind.

Had the propane bombs detonated, they would have incinerated most or all of the inhabitants of the commons. They would have killed five hundred people in the first few seconds. Four times the toll in Oklahoma City.

In other words, there were no targets.  The plan was to kill everyone, and then torment the country for years, much in the way any other terrorist attack is committed: with the audience in mind, and with mass pain inflicted.

Eric’s dream wasn’t to kill jocks or anyone else.  His goal in life was to make as many people suffer as possible, as painfully as possible.

As Cullen explains, “Eric was always a dreamer, but he liked them ugly: bleak and morose, yet boring as hell. He saw beauty in the void. Eric dreamed of a world where nothing ever happened. A world where the rest of us had been removed.”

In case you’re wondering, all this adds up to a particular kind of murderer. Eric Harris wasn’t insane and he wasn’t a victim of any sort.  He was only interested in power and control, and when he finally decided to fulfill his plans of massacring his schoolmates, he planned for over a year to make sure it went off without a hitch.

So how do you describe such a person? There’s only one word. Eric Harris was a psychopath.

What is a psychopath?

A psychopath is not insane. According to Cullen, “Eric was neither normal nor insane. Psychopathy… represents a third category. Psychopathic brains don’t function like those in either of the other groups but they are consistently similar to one another. Eric killed for two reasons: to demonstrate his superiority and to enjoy it.”

In other words, a psychopath is normal in his own universe. A psychopath can think logically, understands morality (in an intellectual sense), and can live a completely normal life if he so chooses.

Psychopaths, put simply, as the FBI said in a report, “lack a moral compass—a conscience—and go through life taking what they want.”

A psychopath is a person with hardly any emotion or empathy, who is only concerned with his own wellbeing. A psychopath isn’t normal, and can hardly be called human in the sense we think of. They are manipulators, they lie, and they take advantage of the humans who are used to normal interactions with the world around them.

They take particular joy in lying, just like Eric Harris. They love fooling people, they love manipulating them and then having complete power over them.

The reactions of psychopaths to the damage they inflict most likely will be cool indifference and a sense of power, pleasure, or smug satisfaction, rather than regret or concern.

This is the life of a psychopath, and this is the only way to understand Eric Harris and the attack on Columbine.

Accepting evil

In all the discussions since Columbine about school shootings, discussions that have now been revived with the tragedy at Sandy Hook, people have been avoiding blaming the killers. After Columbine, over 80% of the nation blamed the parents for the attack. That number has held steady. Still others have blamed violent video games, movies, and more, even though there is little evidence of their effect on killers of these sorts of attacks. People have blamed bullies, teachers, and just about everyone and everything else for these attacks.

The ultimate sin of “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother” is that it spread the rumor that no killer is responsible for his own actions, that every killer is mentally ill and unable to think rationally.

It is time we revive a word in our society, it is time we talked honestly about something we all know exists but are afraid to confront.

It is time we bring back the word evil.

We use the word “psychopath” to describe people like Eric Harris, and it is an accurate enough word. But if anyone looks at the checklist of what it means to be a psychopath: “charming callous, cunning, manipulative, comically grandiose, and egocentric, with an appalling failure of empathy”, the description sounds an awful lot like what most of us think of when we think of the word evil.

Unfortunately, we have been conditioned to immediately assume there must something more to a story when we see killers like Eric Harris and Adam Lanza act out. We want to imagine that these killers come from the same background as us, because then we can understand their actions.

And, most importantly, we can control them.

We want to believe that we have control, because when someone is simply bullied, all we have to do is stop bullying. When someone is insane, all we have to do is cure them of their insanity. When someone is a loner, we just have to make sure they get more social.

In other words, there is a solution.

But, in a case like Eric Harris, there is no obvious solution, no way to control his destiny. His father tried very hard to discipline him, but was often fooled by Eric’s charm and lies. Most people around him were completely unaware of his dark side.

When we discuss the situation with Adam Lanza, we at least have to admit that it is possible he was motivated by evil. We must stop assuming that he was some sort of victim, whether of other people, or of his own “insanity”. As far as anyone can tell, he seems to have only been afflicted by Asperger’s, something that has so far shown absolutely no correlation to violent inclinations.

When we don’t admit the possibility of evil, we begin to prematurely convict innocent people. We imagine that everyone who is a loner, has trouble with bullying, or has mental issues, is a born killer. This is another problem with the “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother” article. It makes a false comparison, and imagines her son to somehow be in any way connected to Eric Harris and Adam Lanza. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Eric Harris wasn’t out of control. He was perfectly in control.

It’s not yet clear whether Adam Lanza was evil or not, but the fact that he was able to kill with such deadly accuracy, shooting each child 4 times to make sure they were dead, does not indicate a person who was out of control.

We shouldn’t jump to conclusions, but we also shouldn’t prematurely rule out conclusions either.

The implications of ignoring evil

Our society right now is suffering from a lack of acknowledgment of the existence of evil. As our society has progressed, we have become more “understanding” of evil. This in turn causes a sympathy for those who don’t deserve it or need it, and an almost bizarre attack on those who clearly aren’t evil.

Just as our nation has condemned loners, those with mental illness, and more, into now immediately becoming murder suspects, we have now begun condemning others around the world for being victims or bystanders of evil.

The more we ignore evil, the more we condemn ourselves to ignoring the obvious. To ignoring a sizable amount of people in the world who want nothing more than to watch the world burn, or at least to control it ruthlessly. It is this attitude that allowed people like Hitler to rise to power, and it is this attitude that puts us as a nation dangerously in peril.

It remains to be seen whether Adam Lanza was evil. But if we don’t admit the possibility that he could be, we are condemning ourselves to a world of ignorance.

Elad Nehorai blogs at Pop Chassid. You can find him on Twitter as @PopChassid and Facebook.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • starviego

    Most of the mass shooters are just MK-Ultra mind-controlled patsies, programmed to detonate by the covert operators. All to create anti-gun hysteria to destroy our civil liberties and get us defenseless before the New World Order.

    btw, there were at least seven shooters at Columbine, not just the two you keep hearing about.

  • Mike W.

    I think Eric was a Sociopath. A psychopath wouldn’t have killed himself. Psychopaths are born, Sociopaths are made. Big difference.

    • Niamh Doyle

      Your so inspirational wow, teach me your ways of knowledge.

  • Michael Fullerton

    Dave Cullen’s book contains a lot of misinformation so I’m always surprised when it is used as an “authoritative” source. Both Harris and Klebold took anti-depressants. Harris for obsessive compulsive disorder and Klebold for depression. As noted, a defining characteristic of actual psychopaths is the complete absence of any such “mental illness”. How then can Harris have had a serious anxiety disorder when it’s impossible for psychopaths to have such disorders? Because he wasn`t a psychopath as any competent psychologist would know.

    The psychiatrist Peter Breggin has stated that the two anti-depressants Harris had taken, Zoloft and Luvox, could have contributed to his violent actions. According to Breggin, side-effects of these drugs include increased aggression, loss of remorse, depersonalization and mania.

    This is another trend of these sort of shooters. They all tend to be taking anti-depressants or other power anti-psychotics. Why don’t we see more articles covering this angle? Lanza was reported to have been on Fanapt which can also cause violent behavior.

    • Saying that his book is misinformation is a huge disservice to the one person that actually worked his butt off to get accurate information about Columbine.

      If you read the book, you would note that Dave Cullen specifically addresses the issue you bring up. Eric Harris was taking the medication as a way to throw off the people around him. He writes as such in his journal.

      Not only that, Harris was planning these attacks far before he took the medication. And to say someone becomes a mass killer from taking anti depressants is perhaps the most radical far-reaching attempt to rationalize murder I’ve ever heard.

      • Laawi

        Oh please this guy is a journalist and thus obsessed with fame and audience. He’s not a academical researcher not even a psychologist. His work is only his interpretation of the 22k report which is where he took everything to make his “book”. The 22k report is available to everyone.

  • young rookie

    I enjoyed this article. Evil was involved. To recognise evil is very easy. To know what evil is, one must know what true love is. True love is not self-ceonceited and is not proud. Love is selfless. This is Agape Love. Eros Love is based on attraction, and is not selfless. It is selfsih. Agape Love will never harm others, or do what is contrary to love. It is a love a mother has for a child. When you see what is opposite to agape love, you can begin to understand what evil really is. Evil is the glorification of self, and the refusal of love, or the concept of life. It always involves malicious intent, envy, malice, anger, rage, selfishness, etc. It always includes manipulation and control and intimidation. It forces its way into lives. Love can not be handled physically, however felt. Evil can not be handled physically however felt. So then, a soul (mind and emotions) can have evil manifest in different forms, spirits, mind attitudes and emotional problems. So then, is it right to say that evil was to blame, the same evil that these kids got themselves into. What we choose to get into, gets into us. Why is it then difficult to believe that slow mental conditioning from violence in games and movies, along with an accepting heart and evil mind, that it was part and parcel? After all, you can feed a plant water or poison and it will either live or die. In the same way, our minds in society is subject to slow subliminal conditioning, however an evil mind accepts the conditioning because there is no love to resist it. Adam Lanza had a sick and twisted aim to get into everyone’s minds, and to make everyone wonder. It was like a suicidal emotional mind game that he is playing with all of us, to demand our attention. This is what it is. SELFISHNESS. And self-gratification is taught in society, and that lines up with what is being taught in pagan circles. ‘Do what though wilt’. Self-preservation is taught from the outsider occult circles right to the core. And we question why society is so confused? It is because instead of submitting to the Principles of Love, it submits to self-preservation. Self-preservation does dot lay the foundations for a moral compass. Love does.

  • Evil exists: Adam Lanza…Eric Harris…OJ Simpson…Hitler…Eichmann..the Grand Mufti…..the Sept 11 highjackers…It is simple: Evil exists ….and either you kill the evil people first or they will kill you AND your children!

  • Mettilda Jacob

    Dear reporter,
    The Sandy Hook incident shook me. I was upset for almost one week. I kept reading the internet as to find out the reason behind Adam Lanza doing such a shooting. Please find below my findings on the incident and the proposed solution to eradicate such type of incidents. We require a revolution, a revolution of love. Our society also is tending to be that of yours. When I started the revolution from side only, I felt peaceful. A lot is required from our side and ultimately we will be peaceful a and the people around us. Please read below for the findings and the solution in detail.

    I am an Indian mother working in Oman, having two children of Adam’s and Ryan’s age. This incident shook me. For the initial one week after the incident, I was so much worried and was thinking as to why he did so. Adam was a genius. True, he had some problems moving in the society.
    In US, people divorce for small Issues (?, I don’t know exactly),which affect the children too much. Also, enough support will not be there from anybody for upbringing the children after divorce. And for small mental problems, you start giving medicines to children, which we do not do. Those
    medicines, finally cause severe mental problems, as reports say.
    And nobody cares the persons, who are mentally upset. The lack of love, recognition, care, etc. to a person who are socially introvert worsens the situation.
    Even though Peter left the family as early as 2001, Adam would have had a hope that he would come back one day. His withdrawal to himself after 2009 reveals that the divorce shook him too much.
    You can get another husband after divorce, but you will not get a father.
    And when Peter remarried, the remote hope of his father’s coming back might have been completely lost. May be that’s why he didn’t speak to his father afterwards.
    He showed his interest to join army, but Nancy did not allow. (I don’t know whether I would also have allowed him if I were in her position).
    It is reported that Adam had Asperger’s, nowhere it is reported that he was given assistance in the school as is normally given in US. May be this was the plan of school authorities, for which Nancy was not in agreement and pulled him back from school. It seemed he was not given the right attention he wanted.
    It is reported that Nancy was a strict mother. She would have supported him a lot. She used to take him to hair dressers, but Nancy was giving all instructions. He would have been trained to communicate rather than Nancy taking over his roles. And the reported “too much of supporting mother” used to roam around on her own in the town and was taking frequent vacations for few days leaving Adam alone at home. It seems the over projections of Nancy also are not that correct.
    Nancy was giving instructions to the hair dresser, Adam was always looking down. His hair style was the same throughout, without a little bit change. Nancy wanted it that way, just like a small boy. She would have a role in selecting his dresses, and in his dressing, the colour of his dress and which dress he wanted to wear,.. She might have had full control over him. It is reported that he would listen to her even when nobody ever could make him moved. She might have felt that one day he will be alright. However, she didn’t succeed in training him to be on his foot. He might have been totally depending on her because she was always there to support her. He might have thought that she would be there always, but when she started taking small vacations, he might have thought that she was also planning to leave him as his father did. He could not have tolerated this.
    It is reported that Adam had a problem in physically sensing pain. And teachers were taking special care for him in lab and when he was playing. He might have been given instructions by mother that when somebody comes in front of him, he should give way, so that he would not get hurt. This might be the reason he was always moving to the wall when he found somebody in front of his way.
    Her plans to send him for mental treatment would have also made him upset. He would have felt the deteriorating after effects of the medicine he was using. See how smart and good looking he was when he was around ten. See the difference when he grew up. The physical change in his appearance also might have been attributed by the medicines he took. Being a genius, interested
    in computers, history etc, he would have understood the after effects of the medicine which he was taking and would have understood that the next treatment proposed to him would worsen his situation. He could not have been able to accommodate this.
    Nancy had gone for vacation for 2-3 days leaving Adam alone, when she herself felt that his condition was poor. She used to go like that earlier also.
    I think, the divorce, the medicines (Fanapt) taken by Adam, the don’t care attitudes of the society and the over pampering by Nancy (she might have done this thinking that it is good for him), remarriage of his father, Nancy’s strict nature, Nancy hiding the problems rather than solving it, Nancy not allowing him to join the army, Nancy’s intentions to send him for mental treatment and her short vacations leaving him alone in the house, all these together might have led to such a crisis.
    It is high time to think about how the family bondage can be made stronger. The parents should be mentally healthy enough to look after the children rather than giving medicines to mentally affected children because of separation of parents. Parents should be treated rather than the children.
    Please think why so much of children who are affected by Asperger’s are there in the society. Are we communicating with the children properly? The moment children are able to play on computers, parents only give them computers so that it is easy for them to look after the children. Then how can children communicate with other children. They are used to communicating with imaginary people in computers. Please think aloud, why so much of children are affected by this disease.
    Rather than blaming Adam Lanza for doing this, this incident should be an eye opener to think of what is wrong with the present society and how it can be corrected. He was a victim of the society’s drawbacks. Our society also is becoming like that of yours.
    Let this incident be a stepping stone for a renovation.
    Apply the “Glasnost” (openness) and “Perestroika” (restructuring) applied by Mikhail Gorbachev in Russia when Russia underwent an economic crisis.
    Nothing happens without the knowledge of GOD. GOD allowed this to happen for the good of the future generations.
    I convey my condolences and prayers to all those who got affected because of this incident. I also pray for the souls of all who died including Nancy and Adam (of course. He was a victim of the present US society). I do not want to blame anybody, but pray that a conscious move to eradicate such incidents in future may be taken by all people around the world including
    This can be achieved only by loving each other. Let it start from home, the spouse, the children, the parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and the society. Nothing is impossible for man, if he wants, with the grace of GOD. Let it be revolution, a revolution of love. I have started the revolution. Join me.

    • Adam Lanza was not a victim. Evil exists. Living in denial of the existence of evil does not make it go away. Remember the Belsen slaughter of hundreds of school children in Russia. There are evil people who enjoy killing children. The killers are evil…they are not victims.