Did Cassie Bernall confess her faith in God moments before Dylan Klebold shot her? Did he, in fact, even pose the question--"Do you believe in God?"--that allowed Cassie's "yes"? Ever since the online magazine Salon.com ran an article subtitled "Everything You Know About the Littleton Killings Is Wrong" (Sept. 23) in which Dave Cullen attempted to debunk popular perceptions of the Columbine massacre, skepticism has mounted about the veracity of the alleged exchange between Cassie and her killer.
But the larger question is this: Why has Cullen's dubious assertion, based on incomplete reporting, so captured the imaginations of the media?
According to Cullen, investigators from the Jefferson County Sheriff's department encountered conflicting testimony about Cassie's last minutes, and they have expressed doubts that the question was ever posed. "A far more likely" scenario, Cullen wrote, has victim Val Schnurr's story "apparently misattributed to Cassie." The media seized upon Cullen's speculations, and the controversy took off.
The Washington Post's Hanna Rosin (Oct. 14) dismissed the encounter as a myth, then made the leap that "myth" alone is sufficient to animate the religious fervor of evangelicals, regardless of whether it is true. "It's the power of the story that counts," she wrote. "The truth is a trifle. … Should believers accept the literal truth, they'd be left with a hopeless equation." Mary Schmich and Eric Zorn echoed these thoughts in the Chicago Tribune (Oct. 20). "I suspect history will ultimately favor the Bernall myth over the Schnurr facts," Zorn wrote. "I'm not surprised," Schmich replied—conceding that She Said Yes, mother Missy Bernall's tribute to Cassie, is "an interesting little book, even ...1
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