Rick Santorum supports Kim Davis by repeating long-debunked myth about Columbine.

Rick Santorum Supports Kim Davis by Repeating Long-Debunked Myth About Columbine

Rick Santorum Supports Kim Davis by Repeating Long-Debunked Myth About Columbine

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Sept. 16 2015 7:53 PM

Rick Santorum Supports Kim Davis by Repeating Long-Debunked Myth About Columbine  

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Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk of courts, on Sept. 2, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky.

Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images

During the first Republican presidential debate of the evening, Rick Santorum consistently emphasized the importance of his religious commitments. In the process, he proclaimed his support for Kim Davis' defiant refusal to marry gay couples. As if to emphasize the point, he repeated a story about Cassie Bernall, a young woman killed in the Columbine massacre in 1999. Santorum didn't mention Bernall by name, but he said, "16 years ago this country was tremendously inspired by a young woman who faced a gunman in Columbine and was challenged about her faith, and refused to deny God." That seems to be a pretty clear reference to Bernall, whose mother went on to write a book called She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall.

It’s a powerful story, one that has circulated for years. The trouble is that it’s a myth, long since debunked by investigators. It was not Bernall, but another student, Valeen Schnurr, who “said yes.” Schnurr survived and would eventually help tell the correct version of the story. Dave Cullen, author of a definitive history of Columbine, responded with bafflement to Santorum’s insistence on the disproven version of the story.

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If, as Cullen subsequently proposed, Santorum must have know this myth, he gave no sign of it as he spoke. Santorum spent much of his remaining time addressing his concerns about religious extremism in the Middle East.