That echo you hear is history repeating itself. Last week, authorities in Albany, Oregon arrested seventeen year old Grant Acord and, based on the evidence they found in his home, charged him with attempted murder. Police found diagrams of the Acord's high school along with six home-made bombs, including pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails and napalm bombs under the floorboards of his bedroom. Authorities refer to his plan as a "Columbine-style attack."
Sure, that would be the one most people would point to. Tactically, the use of explosives for mass killing sounds a lot like the beginnings of the scheme Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had in mind way back in 1999. But something else stuck in my head when I read about Grant Acord: Kip Kinkel. Mister Kinkel was just fifteen when he murdered his parents and then proceeded on to his high school where he shot and killed two fellow students and wounded thirty-seven others. Kip's shooting took place in Springfield, Oregon, just a little further down Interstate 5 from Portland than Albany. Not far from Salem, where Kip Kinkel is serving one hundred and eleven years in the Oregon State Correctional Institution.
Ken Kesey shared alliteration as well as an home along that same stretch of highway with Kip Kinkel. Kesey wrote an article for Rolling Stone about the aftermath of Kip's killings. All that commonality didn't generate any more sense than we can make out of Grant Acord's vision for death. The older I get, the further I feel myself removed from the kind of youthful angst that would drive a young man to such extremes. They seemed like such nice boys. It's only afterward that we start to take apart the lives that lead to such fear, anger and terror and put them back together in a form that makes sense. Motives? Opportunities? Sadness. Loneliness. Rage.
Olympia Beer used to have a slogan: "It's the water, and a lot more." It would be nice if we could blame it on the water in the Pacific Northwest, but we know it's the lot more that's really the problem.