Twelve years have passed, but very few Coloradans have forgotten the name of Columbine High School. I spent the days after the April 20, 1999, Columbine school massacre with my brother priests, burying the dead, visiting the families of victims and trying to make sense of the violence to the wider community. On May 4 that year I spoke to a special session of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The Committee’s focus was “marketing violence to children.” Among my comments were these:
The reasonable person understands that what we eat, drink, and breathe will make us healthy or sick. In like manner, what we hear and what we see lifts us up – or drags us down. It forms us inside. Pornography degrades women. It also coarsens men. I don’t need to prove that because we all know it. It’s common sense . . . The roots of violence in our culture are much more complicated than just bad rock lyrics or brutal screenplays . . . But common sense tells us that the violence of our music, our video games, our films, and our television has to go somewhere, and it goes straight into the hearts of our children to bear fruit in ways we can’t imagine – until something like [Columbine] happens.