4.17.2007

Virginia Tech

Thoughts go out to all of those affected by yesterday's tragedy at Virginia Tech (nice MSNBC tribute here). I hesitate to join those who have already started using the events to further their own agendas, but I'm human and I have a blog, so here goes.

Writing

It has been revealed that the shooter wrote violent stories in his English class. I wrote some pretty violent stories in English class. Lots of people do. It's not uncommon, and personally, I don't see it as relevant. Would you feel better if he wrote about rainbows and ice cream?

Blog Courage

I can't even imagine what I would do faced with that sort of situation. In my head, I would like to think I'd be the fearless hero, risking his life to save the lives of others. Who deosn't think that? But in reality, there is a very high probablility that I would freeze, hide, or do some other "cowardly" thing in the name of self preservation. That risk-my-life gene is in very few of us. Some people at Virginia Tech did have that gene, and they (or their memory) should be honored. Those who didn't have nothing, NOTHING, to feel shame for. That seems pretty obvious, right? Well, predictably, there are people like Nathaniel Blake who do indeed think those who survived should be ashamed.
Something is clearly wrong with the men in our culture. Among the first rules of manliness are fighting bad guys and protecting others: in a word, courage. And not a one of the healthy young fellows in the classrooms seems to have done that...I don’t know if I would live up to this myself, but I know that I should be heartily ashamed of myself if I didn’t.
No, Blake, something is wrong with you, and you should feel "heartily ashamed" for thinking, much less writing, that sort of pompous horseshit. But, Manly Man Nate is just echoing the sentiments of Macho Man John Derbyshire, who not only seems to think he'd confront a psychopath with two guns who is shooting everyone in sight, he also fancies himself a Rambo-like warrior who would have taken on the Iranian Military and started WWIII, unlike those British sailor pussies.

Unsurprisingly, these are the same folks who are gung-ho about Iraq, willing to send just about anyone but themselves to fight while they cheer from the sidelines. I believe they have a word for that.

My point is that these "why didn't they do this or that" scenarios are pointless, and I think they demean those who have just been through probably the most traumatic thing they will ever face in life. Derbyshire, Blake, all of your ilk, please shut up. You're making fools of yourselves, which usually I applaud, but not in these circumstances.

Islamophobia

Just as bad, we have the Debbie Schlussels of the world, who are just DYING for this to be related to a Muslim. Nothing would make them happier. They have their own racist conspiracies, but you'll hear no apologies when the facts don't support their lunatic ranting and raving. They'll just turn to immigration or some other reason to blame non-lily white America. It's what they do.

Gun Control

While bodies were still be counted, predictably, the gun control vs. arm-everyone debate flared up. I tend to be on the gun control side, but not passionatley so. I could probably be convinced that some kid with a concealed weapon would have taken the shooter out before the body count got too high. I could also be convince that having a bunch of armed students and faculy would lead to many tragedies smaller in scope, yet more frequent. It's not an easy question, and I don't think either approach would have mattered. All that's happened is that previous points of view have been hardened. The pro-gun people are more pro-gun, seeing an aremed public as a deterrent to madmen. The anti-gun crowd is more anti-gun, seeing 33 people mowed down by two not-so glamorous weapons in the hands of one not-so-sane individual. There are merits to both sides, yet each will act like the other are the craziest mofos on Earth. So it goes.

I propose we not have any debates or dialogues about guns or our "violent culture" at all. The status quo is going to remain. Nothing is going to be done, because really, short of a police state, what can be done? Atrios, as usual, has assessed the situation correctly. Unfortunately, these things are going to happen. Let's just hope that they are rare.

Bush

Liberal Brothers, please resist temptation on this one. I've seen some (well, one)left wing blogs getting their digs on Bush for, um, something. Lord knows, I am counting the days until that fraud is out of office, but to say the President shouldn't speak after a tragedy like this is heading into a zone of absolutism that I'm not comfortable with.

Bush didn't give a bad speech; he didn't give a great speech. He went, he did his best to comfort the students, and he didn't try to tie the situation to terrorism, Saddam Hussein, abortion, gay marriage, or anything else. Good enough for me.

So

What happened at VT was a tragedy. And tragedy almost always leads to stupidity. I guess it's sort of our national coping mechanism. But stupidity is still stupidity.

Here's to shutting up, to letting the dead be buried and remembered, to letting the heroes be honored, to letting the heartbroken be comforted, and to taking one's own advice.
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