terre thaemlitz writings

On the Columbine High School Massacre
- Terre Thaemlitz

Originally posted on comatonse.com in June, 1999 (comatonse.com).

    "[Disenfranchised youth] are all over this country, and they're all being insulted, and they're all being ridiculed. All you people who are saying stuff about them, stop it unless you want another bullet hole in you, too."
- Alex Marsh, former member of the 'Trenchcoat Mafia'


At the peak of the student killings at Columbine Highschool in Littleton, CO, a student with a cellular phone who was trapped inside of the school described the perpetrators to CNN and other television broadcasters as, "a group of black-trenchcoat mafia homosexuals." The media quickly trimmed the name down to 'black-trenchcoat mafia' and kept with it, even though members of the Columbine 'Trenchcoat Mafia' clique have stated the two gunmen were not members of their unorganized social group, only acquaintances as fellow outcasts, and did not share similar views. It is self-evident that the violence enacted by Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris was cruel and extreme. At the same time, as a person who was physically and verbally persecuted on a daily basis during my own highschool years despite nothing but passive resistance on my part, hearing a fellow student's reflex characterization of the killers as "black-trenchcoat mafia homosexuals" at the peak of his own fear as a hostage (and the media's consequent desire to ignore such a deeply rooted Gay-bashing categorization) strikes me as equally disturbing, and should be heard as indicative of the types of persecution and ostracization going on in schools across the country. Violent persecutions which will inevitably trigger similarly irrational, hateful, uncontrolled and desperate retaliations.

Immediately following the shootings, school officials and district attorneys talked of "reaching out to troubled teens," but the next day when students across the country showed up in schools wearing black trenchcoats as a symbol of their own frustrations with experiences of persecution in schools, many found themselves expelled and further rejected by the system. In the media and in our streets a witch-hunt against "alternative culture" has begun. Students who were sad and lonely are now finding their miseries compounded with suspicion and further hostility. In several schools, teens with the courage to express concern and empathy for others being 'pushed over the edge' are forced to choose between mandatory counselling or expulsion, all so that the schools can show they have 'taken preemptive action' against such students in case they go on killing sprees somewhere down the line. (Meanwhile, 'normal' and supposedly well-adjusted individuals harassing 'fags' on a daily basis are shielded as innocents.) Promises of dialogue from school officials are overshadowed by acts of censorship. Movies depicting violence in schools have been removed from the shelves of Blockbuster Video. Marilyn Manson has cancelled plans for their most recent tour. KMFDM's long-standing commitments to anti-militarism, anti-racism and economic justice have been stripped of stylistic irony and characterized as neo-facist. And the Goth scene, a totally unorganized youth culture, is viewed as a Satanic legion of Nazi SS officers.

The criminal blame for the 13 deaths at Columbine Highschool lays in the hands of two boys who killed themselves. But the prevention of further violence requires that we look beyond pinpointing violence upon alienated sociopaths, and allow the mainstream of society to be implicated in the nurturing of hostility and hatred in those who are disinfranchised. Speak out when people make broad and dismissive comments about others. Expose their prejudices and your own. Encourage independent thought and behaviors that challenge the mainstream as a healthy part of expanding cultural diversity and reducing hatred. Until we all learn to rethink the mainstream, my fear is that persecution against fags and freaks will escalate until we are confronted with yet another such incident, once again leaving everyone standing in prayer with puzzled faces asking, "Why?"

We know why.

- Terre Thaemlitz, June 6, 1999


Official Press-release Issued By MSO on April 21, 1999

The following sttatement was issued by Sascha K., formerly KMFDM regarding media reports linking the band to the "Trenchcoat Mafia" website in Littleton, CO:

    "First and foremost, KMFDM would like to express their deep and heartfelt sympathy for the parents, families and friends of the murdered and injured children in Littleton," says Sascha K., founder of KMFDM. "We are sick and appalled, as is the rest of the nation, by what took place in Colorado yesterday."
    "KMFDM are an art form--not a political party. From the beginning, our music has been a statement against war, oppression, fascism and violence against others," emphatically states SASCHA.
    "While some of the former band members are German as reported in the media, none of us condone any Nazi beliefs whatsoever."