The Virginia Tech Shooting

Leaving the Convocation

I had no electricity for the bulk of Monday, and I didn’t realize that the shooting at Virginia Tech had become the biggest news story in the world. It took spending yesterday at Virginia Tech, attending the convocation, to figure that out. The town is overrun with media outlets. I’ve never seen so many satellite dishes in one place. If discussion on Charlottesville blogs is any indicator, people want to talk about the 32 students and professors killed two days ago, including Dr. Kevin Granata, who taught at UVa. Have at it.

(Photo: Students filing out of the convocation held yesterday at Virginia Tech.)

78 Responses to “The Virginia Tech Shooting”


  • Before this umpteenth horrendous slaughter is relegated to the “guns vs. no guns” and U.S. “Constitution is so Great” drawer, I want to say this is a societal problem that’s so deep, we can’t possibly even begin to address the true causes and issues within the American Paradigm circa 2007. Sure, the generalized availability of “guns of mass destruction” (semi-automatics and automatics) certainly is an enabling factor, but the veritable source lays in the deep dysfunction of our society.

    America is a “dog-eat-dog” civilization. What has made the USA so vigorous is also the source of so many of its problems. Despite appearances to the contrary, Americans by and large are deeply egotistical: it’s all about who can come out on top. This simplistic mentality is favorable to progress when things are raw, unstructured and there’s a long way still to go. Westward Ho! But it’s totally unsuitable for the complexities of today’s world.

    Think about this: what are the true aspirations of today’s youth and how they figure they’ll get they want to get? What are their ethical standards? American society has been modeling our kids into little monsters not because it’s how children are inherently, but because it’s out way of life and they only reflect it more openly than their more discreet elders.

    Turning this latest tragedy into a media feeding frenzy where nothing ever gets resolved except to discourage deeper introspection is our way of ignoring the signs of our decline.

  • While I don’t disagree with any of your comments, my sense is that the ‘shooter’ has been suffering from mental illness. This type of derangement is not unique to American culture, and the ‘shooter’ likely would have experienced the same emotional difficulties regardless of his geographic location. However, our society provided a more severe outcome by enabling the ‘shooter’ to obtain a violent weapon.

  • Some nutjob who should have been confined to a laugh factory murders a bunch of people and y’all can’t wait until the bodies are cold to blame America first. I’m glad that most of the folks down the road in Blacksburg are made of sterner stuff.

    This killer’s family arrived in this country just 14 years ago. They now own a business, live in what appears to a middle class neighborhood, and send their kids to Princeton and Va. Tech. Some decline.

    What other country would that be possible in? Who should we be more like?

  • Kristopher Rikken

    You can’t have it both ways. If these deadly weapons are available for “self-defence” virtually across the street from campus, than shouldn’t all freshmen be required to have Glocks as well as laptops? Wouldn’t that prevent things like this from happening? No?

    I live in Estonia. Despire the booming economy, a lot of people still live in shabby apartments. There is alcoholism and anomie. There are high schools in the countryside with outrageous levels of hazing. There is a hollow consumerist lifestyle that is a parody of the American version. But incidents like this do not occur at this rate.

    The problem in the States is that guns are legal. It takes no social skills and no emotional interaction to buy a weapon. If guns were illegal, it would not necessarily solve the problem automatically. But it would make it so much more unlikely that a mentally ill, psychopathic or disaffected people would be able to follow through. As it is right now, the system practically caters to people like Cho. A nobody (with no record) walks into a store and, maybe without even removing the emotional shield of his sunglasses or changing his expression, walks out with a gun — after a computer says it is OK.

  • guns are not the problem. society is not the problem. In a nation with as many freedoms as our country horrible tragedies will happen. In a country of 300 million with the freedoms we all ENJOY this horrible tragedy could not have been prevented and while it may make us feel better to try and find something or someone to blame because we live in a society where we only feel comfortable when we are in control, blaming serves no purpose. There are those that for whatever reason just snap and commit heinous crimes. Don’t try and solve this. Just support those that need it and cope this best way you know how.

  • While the debate seems to automatically go to gun control or not, and I’m sure we all have strong feelings and opinions about that, the old argument about if guns are illegal… etc. applies.
    Virginia has amongst the lowest state mental health spending in the nation (see http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/38/1/33 for an easily found ref.)
    Indeed Charlottesville’s own shocking and unexpected youth murder story involved a young man who doubted his own mental health and was suicidal, but was passed over by the system before committing the crime.
    (http://www.cavalierdaily.com/CVArticle.asp?ID=8904&pid=738)

    Also this: (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-cesca/its-not-about-the-firear_b_46104.html) seems to fit what I’m trying to say.

    Virginia has a longstanding tradition of turning its back on the mentally ill. I’m sure that the same is true for much of the nation. That is where “we” need to look for answers.
    -M

  • We are dealing with a psychopath. Say Virginia did make their gun laws stricter or let’s say that we even made guns illegal. Do you really think that could have stopped this guy? Stricter laws wouldn’t have prevented him from getting a gun. Making guns illegal wouldn’t have prevented him from getting access to a gun. This was a deeply disturbed and determined individual. Don’t make this a gun control issue. I do think that looking at our mentally ill institutions is a good idea. There was a story a few months ago on one of the nightly news programs that showed how a mentally ill patient slipped through the cracks for years despite his best efforts to get help, and ended up murdering a woman on a NY city subway. But even then I don’t think the odds are ever going to be in our favor of completey preventing these horrific crimes.

  • Kristopher Rikken

    It is absolutely a gun control issue. Yes, I am convinced it would have considerably cut the odds that this particular individual would have obtained a piece. A withdrawn, bitter individual with no social ties and no black market savvy. Think about it.

    I completely agree that we should “look at our mental institutions”, whatever specifically that means. Looking is a very good thing. Coming up with specific plans on what to change at mental institutions – even better.

    While we do this “looking,” there should be a moratorium on all new gun sales. No one is coming after your existing guns, anonymous. But how could anyone possibly, possibly oppose a moratorium?

  • Sympatico,

    You have no clue what you are talking about. Automatic weapons have been restricted from sale to the public since the 1930’s. You cannot go out to a gun store and buy an automatic firearm. Period. They’re long since banned. The fact that you don’t know this tells me that you have no idea what you are talking about and probably shouldn’t be weighing in on firearms any more than I should start offering my opinions on techniques of brain surgery.

    There is not a single gun control regulation anywhere in America that would have stopped this. 7 Day waiting period? He bought the guns over a month before the shooting.

    Magazine capacity restriction? He changed out magazines throughout the shootings and nobody ever took the opportunity to attack him during the very brief pauses. His victims were trapped in classrooms like fish in a barrel while he blocked the doorways. They had nowhere to run. He had all the time in the world to swap out magazines. 10 rounds or 15 rounds. What does it matter against victims who are trapped and unarmed? It takes less than 2 seconds to reload.

    If Cho went to a University in California and was subject to their incredibly strict gun laws, you would have had the exact same result. This has nothing to do with the laws of Virginia versus any other state.

    He had no criminal record. What you have here is a problem with the mental health system and perhaps the lack of a central database of people who have been involunatrily committed to a mental institution. The creation of such a database would allow background checks prior to gun purchases to sort out many of the people who are mentally unfit to own a firearm, rather than depending on them to answer the question truthfully. That’s my answer to this. I plan on doing everything I can to make it happen.

  • Kristopher,

    What do you mean ‘incidents like this do not occur at this rate [in Estonia]?’ We’ve never had anything like this happen on such a scale in America ever before. The closest thing would be the Columbine shootings. Which were 8 years ago. One major incident every 8 years in a country with a population of 298,444,215 is actually a pretty damned good record.

    Your opening paragraph is illogical to an absurd extreme:

    “You can’t have it both ways. If these deadly weapons are available for ‘self-defence’ virtually across the street from campus, than shouldn’t all freshmen be required to have Glocks as well as laptops?”

    There are businesses nearby that sell all sorts of things. Tractors. Real estate. Kittens. Pesticides. Cowboy boots. Why is it that the fact that something is for sale leads to your conclusion that every freshman should be required to have one? We certainly can have it both ways and we do. We have all sorts of things for sale and some people choose to buy them and others do not. Your argument is bizarre and nonsensical.

    ‘How could anyone, possibly oppose a moratorium?’ You ask. Because Cho is dead. And because we are a country of laws which stem from a Constitution that does not allow for a moratorium on any of the rights that it gives us. And because tens of thousands of Virginians buy firearms every year while only one of them has ever walked into a school here and mowed down 32 people. And because we’re not going to turn our society into a place where we take away anything sharp and pointy in case someone pokes people with it. Lots of tools are dangerous. Guns included.

    What would have happened if Cho had gone in there with a chainsaw instead? Can you even imagine what would happen if someone walked into a crowded classroom swinging a chainsaw? It would have been even worse. Let’s have a moratorium on chainsaws! And cordless power tools! *I* oppose a moratorium. As do most other Virginians. In fact, I’m so annoyed with you that I am tempted to go peruse the local gun shop after work on general principle.

    The good news is that it’s actually none of your business. Because you live in Estonia, not Virginia. You are talking about our gun laws when you clearly don’t even know what they consist of. You are talking about the experience of buying a gun in Virginia when I seriously doubt that you have ever done so. In fact, have you ever once set foot in a gun store in Virgina? Do you, in any way, shape or form, have any idea what you are talking about?

  • Kristopher Rikken

    Sounds like I hit a nerve. I’m sorry to have tempted you to visit a gun shop, hope I don’t drive you to make a purchase.

    I have not stepped into a gun store in Virginia and would not (also on general principle), but I have stepped into a pawnshop in Virginia many times. From what I understand, you don’t have to go to an actual gun store to have what you call “the experience of buying a gun.” In any event, I vote and pay property tax in Virginia, so I don’t feel I should disqualify myself from commenting on local issues. Do you?

    Count the postal and fast food incidents in the States and the rate is disproportionate.

    Considering that we all want to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future, it would not be illogical (operating under the assumption that guns are, as advertised, an effective mode of self-defence) to modestly propose that all incoming freshmen should carry concealed weapons.

    I also have a hunch Cho as a coward would not have carried out a chain saw massacre or a knife massacre. Too “hot”, not detached enough. He was in love with himself — but also with a certain iconography. Anyway, they said after Dunblane, too, that rhere would still be polo mallet and Arthurian sword massacres and massacres using whatever pointy and blunt objects are at hand there — but none of them have happened since the gun restrictions, knock wood.

    Yes, Cho is dead. Cho is a dead martyr and perfect copycat fodder. And my calendar tells me school is not out yet. So now would be a very good time for a moratorium on new gun sales. So how about it?

  • Jack wrote: “What you have here is a problem with the mental health system and perhaps the lack of a central database of people who have been involunatrily committed to a mental institution. The creation of such a database would allow background checks prior to gun purchases to sort out many of the people who are mentally unfit to own a firearm, rather than depending on them to answer the question truthfully. That’s my answer to this. I plan on doing everything I can to make it happen.”

    We already have this in Virginia. The shooter was never involuntarily committed, only held for evaluation, so he was not in the Virginia database but if he had been involuntarily committed, he would not have been able to purchase a gun legally in Virginia.

    The shooter was also orded into outpatient commitment (taking psychotropic drugs under court order), which he apparently complied with, so it doesn’t seem as if the intervention of the mental health system did much good at all and possibly did harm. What about good old law enforcement and rules of conduct on campus being enforced? At my alma mater, a student who talked to a professor the way this guy spoke to Professor Giovanni would have been at the least suspended from college for a semester and a student who committed arson or stalked fellow students would have been expelled if not arrested and charged by the college authorities.

  • Judge Smails wrote: “…Some nutjob who should have been confined to a laugh factory…”

    Nice. Because what we really need now is more prejudice and hostility and bigotry. That will help defuse tensions and encourage people who need help to seek help. Right.

  • This HokieParent thinks we should not fall into the traps of our argument culture this time. This is not a question of who is to blame, other than the shooter, but rather of the ways(plural) we can try to prevent such tragedies in the future. We must have a database which is part of the gun background check process for people who have been involuntarily committed as individuals at risk of suicide/homicide. We must stop fueling the Columbine cult by giving postmortem media focus to the killer(s) after such incidents. We musrt change the privacy laws enough to give schools more power to insist on mentalhealth care for students who are obviously at risk.We must give faculty a better process for referring troubled students. And this may sound crazy, but in the near future we must have especially cautious police procedures in place in April.

    My Hokie student is safe though I am still shaking when I think about Monday. My heart breaks for all those lost and their families- we must honor them by putting our energies toward future prevention while also treasuring our free and open society.

  • Gail,

    Although I’m skeptical whether any legal/regulatory scheme could completely thwart the kind of massacre we saw on Monday, I would support all 5 of your recommendations. I hope and expect we’ll see some or all of your suggestions acted upon in the next General Assembly session – hopefully on a bi-partisan basis.

    And I’m very glad your VT student is OK.

  • Gail said:

    “We must stop fueling the Columbine cult by giving postmortem media focus to the killer(s) after such incidents.”

    Amen.

  • As to be expected, both sides of the gun control issue will weigh in on this case to support their positions. And there will be the debate about whether or how it could have been prevented.
    This is not the worse school massacre in our history. It is the worse shooting. In 1927 in Michigan a School Board treasurer dynamited an elementary school, killng 45 people, mostly children, and injuring many more. Supposedly he was angered that increased taxes to pay for this new school had made him unable to pay his mortgage and his farm was foreclosed on.

  • WCAV’s Jummy Olabanji has done a remarkable job reporting from Virginia Tech. She’s an alum of the school. It has put Jummy in an interesting position since she attended the same high school and college as the shooter and as many as three of the victims.

  • Two questions I have after all this:
    1) If involuntary psychiatric (or is it psychological?) counseling would have prevented him from [legally] getting his hands on a gun, why not make voluntary counseling a part of the record, too? In my opinion, it’s not about WHO thought a person needs help, rather it’s that someone thinks it period.

    2) What is the need at all for semi-automatic (or automatic, for that matter) handguns…outside of police and/or military perhaps?

  • What is the need at all for semi-automatic (or automatic, for that matter) handguns…outside of police and/or military perhaps?

    There’s no such thing as an automatic handgun — the term is “machine pistol,” aka a submachine gun. 1986’s Firearm Owners Protection Act banned the manufacture of these weapons for civilian purchase, making the value of the small number of older weapons available to purchase skyrocket. Mac 10s (the weapon that you likely envision when you hear the term “submachine gun”) can be had for $5k, though all other such automatic weapons start at $10k. Machine pistols are enormously difficult to control; they make aiming all but impossible, and they’re simply not useful for actually hitting any sort of a target.

    I am a gun owner (I have a Mossberg .22 and a 1948 Turkish Mauser that fires 7.92mm rounds), and I generally support the right to bear arms. But I must admit some uncertainty in the realm of handguns. The only utility of a handgun is to kill a human in close combat. I’m not convinced that’s something that we should continue to manufacture for civilian ownership.

  • “If involuntary psychiatric (or is it psychological?) counseling would have prevented him from [legally] getting his hands on a gun, why not make voluntary counseling a part of the record, too? In my opinion, it’s not about WHO thought a person needs help, rather it’s that someone thinks it period.”

    That would dissuade a lot of people from seeking treatment, which might lead to more deaths than it prevents. It would also violate any number of laws and legal principles concerning the doctor-patient relationship.

    Perhaps there could be better ways of screening out dangerously mental ill people who try to obtain firearms, but a blanket policy turning doctors into snitches is a bad idea.

    “What is the need at all for semi-automatic (or automatic, for that matter) handguns…outside of police and/or military perhaps?”

    What is the need for a car that goes 175 mph? What is the need for hard liquor? What is the need for cell phones?

    All of these things are responsible for people getting killed, and none of them is strictly necessary to anyone. Why don’t we ban them? Why not ban box cutters?

    And if isn’t worth scrapping one part of the Constitution to save 3,000 lives, why is it worth scrapping another to save 32?

  • Kristopher Rikken

    Totally agree, Cvillenewser. The voluntary admission should have come up as a red flag.

    I looked at Jack’s good blog and have to say he knows much more than I do about the procedures for buying firearms, including nuances related to pawnshops and mail orders.

    I\m still confused and quite uneasy — is everyone a gun collector in the States? Even Waldo owns guns? What the hell is going on? Perhaps I have been in Europe too long, but this is very disturbing and weird.

    If gun ownership is so ingrained (an addiction?) in these parts, I do think it is all but certain there will be more incidents. And that is sad.

  • I know a guy who was at a fancy dinner party in Paris not long ago. The subject of guns in America came up. “Why do so many Americans own guns?” asked his host.

    “Many Americans own guns because many Americans like to own guns,” replied my friend.

    “Well,” sniffed his host, “Many people over here would like to own guns too, but they don’t.”

    “Exactly,” replied my friend.

  • I agree it would be a good idea to have all types of commitment for mental health reasons in the database for checking potential gun buyers.
    But given Cho’s previous behavior, the stalking, the fear and unease he produced in others,its hard not to ask why was he not confined, instead of just “urged to seek counselling.”

    Waldo, there are other reasons to own a handgun, besides that of self- defense against other humans.
    There is target shooting of course, and there is also a large number of hunters who prefer the additional challenge of hunting with handguns, much as some prefer bows or muzzleloading firearms.
    Not all handguns are not suited for hunting, most handgun hunter use large-caliber revolvers chambered for rounds like the .44 Magnum. Others use single-shots which can be chambered for a variety of rounds, including rifle loads like the 30-30.
    For small game like squirrels there is the challenge of using a .22 pistol. And some rifle hunters like to carry a sidearm for use around camp, like a close encounter with a rattlesnake, or in case a bear decides to poke its nose into your tent looking for a meal -you. I’m not being paranoid,there have been cases of predatory behavior of this sort by bears.Black bears, not grizzlies.

  • Waldo, there are other reasons to own a handgun, besides that of self-defense against other humans.

    The reason that you describe (the challenge of hunting with a handgun) is nothing more than evidence that a handgun is totally unsuited that a handgun is for hunting. As I wrote:

    The only utility of a handgun is to kill a human in close combat.

    Note the use of the word “utility.” You can, in fact, hunt moose with a claw-footed bathtub and a small crane, but that doesn’t make it a part of a bathtub’s utility. Likewise, though it’s possible to hunt with a handgun, its utility is to kill people.

  • I\m still confused and quite uneasy — is everyone a gun collector in the States? Even Waldo owns guns? What the hell is going on? Perhaps I have been in Europe too long, but this is very disturbing and weird.

    Why do you find it disturbing and weird?

  • After days of talking about this with others, one conversation keeps ringing in my ears.

    Two people talking about Liviu Librescu said the following:

    “that professors survived the holocaust to only be killed by madman while he (Librescu) held the door, how does that make any sense”

    “Maybe that’s why God spared him 50 years ago, so he could save those students.”

    “and on holocaust remeberance day too”

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about this- sometimes it gives me hope that the last lesson Librescu taught his students can teach help teach us all.

  • RE: Judge Smails’ Paris dinner party anecdote, wherein the Frenchie “sniffs” “Many people over here would like to own guns too, but they don’t” and the clever American replies “Exactly.”

    I think the anecdote is supposed to show the superiority and wisdom of American society, in which people can own what they want to own, and (implicitly) societies in which we people don’t own something they want to own are less good than ours.

    To me, though, this is just glib and unconvincing. There might be good reasons for Americans to own guns, but “because we want to” seems pretty weak. There are lots of things Americans would like to own but they are not allowed to own–fully-automatic machine guns, for example.

    Just wanting a thing is not a good reason in and of itself to allow people to own a thing.

  • Waldo – the handgun can have great “utility” as both a deterrent and a protective device. That said, as a point-and-shoot weapon, it’s not very good.
    I am of the opinion any kind of automatic – even semi-automatic – firearm should not be sold to the general public without a license involving official training and registering. I personally purchased an autoloading Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle (http://www.ruger.com/Firearms/FAProdView?model=5814&return=Y) with great ease. It is quite a deadly weapon and is the most any average person should own without unusual or professional needs. I’m an Army vet and have shot with many Assault Rifles that are barely more deadly. I also feel it should be not be just sold over-the-counter as it is. It’s all just too accessible.

    That said, I knew this event would turn into a Gun Control debate or “Cho was just a nutcase and America is Great” bullshit. There is something going on within our loins, folks. If you can’t see the signs of decline, then we are doomed to a gradual – yet numbing – decline of our civilization.

  • the handgun can have great “utility” as both a deterrent and a protective device.

    And, again, that utility derives from the fact that its purpose is to kill humans.

    FWIW, both of my rifles are bolt-action. I don’t own a semi-automatic, and I don’t particularly want one. Having to manually reload makes me a better shot.

  • Walso, you can scare away or kill a mountain lion with a handgun… as far as I know, wild animals are not humans.

  • Sympatico, I generally agree with your assessment of American culture. I tend to think that deep egotism is a biological trait of the species rather than something unique to the U.S. That said, I do think that U.S. culture does very little to rein in or refine that deep egotism, and indeed caters to it.

    That said, I think Cho’s rampage had more to do with more specific phenomena, namely the glorification/pornographicization of violence and possibly also the lousy hand we deal men who feel/are made to feel that they don’t measure up to (really narrow and primitivistic) prevailing standards of manhood.

    I’m really disturbed that Cho’s video & images (the ones he sent to NBC) have been broadcast. That to me is catnip to the next shooter, wherever and whenever he pops up. Sure, the networks belatedly decided to exercise some restraint and have started to limit their showings of that material, but that horse is out of the barn. It’s on YouTube–it makes me sick to think that disturbed young people can have their own personal copy of that video to play over and over again to their heart’s content.

  • I would like our leaders to call for a cultural change in America. This is the start and the end. Put aside your political talking points. Help me find a sound byte for this idea; a paradigm shift to a violence free america. Ask yourself, every american, what can I do to curb violence in america? What can I do to make this an unnacceptable outcome? A sea change is needed. Violence in games, recreation, music, movies, television, conversation, comics, icons, news, re-news, post-news, analysis, historical emphasis – there is a love affair with violence in all of our culture. Stop buying it, stop watching it, teach your children it is not acceptable as entertainment, or jokes. Let these industries change or die. Treat violence only with somber and serious consideration, or study; war, defense, law enforcement, history – terrible but necessary facts – and not for continual use in the media machines. How many of us can give up “the matrix”, or CSI, anime, violent rap, etc., etc.

  • “Have at it”???

  • Cecil – I couldn’t agree with you more. Americans are not genetically more “mean spirited” than any other peoples. It’s our culture of ultra-competitivity that’s started to yield negative returns due to the size and complexity of the world we live in today. Simplistically put, Americans (normalized viewpoint, does not deny exceptions) cannot be “content” unless they better their neighbors. It’s the run on bigger houses, bigger cars, more “stuff” all the time. The ultra-consumerism is stoked by Americans need to have more and “be more” than others. So what happens with those that either don’t “have what it takes” or aren’t offered the same opportunity? Well, most pretend they are going to be multi-millionaires while they wait tables for a few months before they move on to the next illusionary state-of-mind. But more and more, we see outbreaks from the disadvantaged or neglected. And our culture of glorifying violence and WINNERS leads the way to unacceptable resolutions and outcomes. Add to the mix the “them against us” mentality that is nourished by our very leaders and you get a human Molotov Cocktail ready to explode all over the place. Action = Reaction. We’ve taken out all our equity and conveniently “forgot” to building our base but spent it all on crap.

  • I can’t believe you’re trying to pin this atrocity on society or poverty with your talk of the “disadvantaged or neglected.” This murderer had advantages most people in the world, and indeed most Americans, could only dream of. He was a crazy man. A bad seed.

    This reminds me a lot of 9/11 and all the hand-wringing over “why do they hate us so much?” They, like this guy, are just assholes. I realize that’s not a very sophisticated analysis and that it won’t be accepted as a sufficient explanation by the Newshour/NPR crowd, but sometimes the answer is just that simple.

  • Looking back in history, one quickly sees that the present day is not unique when it comes to violence and brutality. The only difference is that out technology is arguably more destructive.
    The Assyrian and Roman Empires were built on slaughter,as was the conquest of the New World. And how about the Middle Ages with its Viking raids, crusades, religous wars, peasants butchered in uprisings.
    Ever since there have been cities, there has been urban crime. And closer to our own day, there is the lawlessness and lynching epidemic of the latter half of the 19th and early decades of the 20th centuries. And the bloody battles between capital and labor in places like Kentucky? Go through old newspaper archives and you can find almost any atrocious crime that you see now. There be a lack opf school shootings simply because fewer people were involved with the education system in years past. But school violence has been a concern at least since the 50s.Schools are part of society, of course they are going to be touched by violence.
    People may point to other nations that do not a tradition of private gun ownership like America. But they have their own problems. China forbids private ownership of firearms.
    Take your choice, be shot by a deranged criminal or shot by your own government.
    It comes down not to guns,or violent TV,or countless other examples of the “cause” that are trotted out,but to the human mind,human nature. There are some of choose the path of evil. When we can figure out Why perhaps we can begin solving some of ourt societal problems. Yes, we do need to ask “Why are we turned outing alienated,anti-social,violent people,like Cho and so many others.?
    Oppression of some sort? Others have been oppressedbut do not lash out like that. Something to think about: None of the high school shootings have involved African-Americans.
    Yet our perception is that young black males are the most dangerous element of all,in part because of their “violent culture” of rap music and portrayal of the “thug”lifestyle.

  • “They, like this guy, are just assholes. I realize that’s not a very sophisticated analysis and that it won’t be accepted as a sufficient explanation by the Newshour/NPR crowd, but sometimes the answer is just that simple”

    I’m sure I’m a “asshole” too, right? Just that simple.

  • “Looking back in history, one quickly sees that the present day is not unique when it comes to violence and brutality. The only difference is that out technology is arguably more destructive.
    The Assyrian and Roman Empires were built on slaughter,as was the conquest of the New World. And how about the Middle Ages with its Viking raids, crusades, religous wars, peasants butchered in uprisings.”

    Oh boy, that’s the argument that comes back time and again. :rolleyes:

    …but, I though the “American Revolution” was all about something else than being an empire? In case you haven’t noticed, none of those empires survived their own decadence.

    …now comes probably the after-argument: “Well, so be it! We can’t be on top forever!”

  • No, I never said that. We just disagree. It’s all fun and games until someone hijacks your airplane and flies it into a building or gets a couple of guns and blows away a bunch of strangers that the fever swamps of his diseased mind are convinced are persecuting him.

    I think a lot of time and energy are going to be wasted searching in vain for a satisfactory explanation to Monday’s massacre. I think even more time will be misspent
    fine-tuning a regulatory scheme that seeks to insure it won’t ever happen again. IMHO, it’s a fool’s errand.

  • From the WPost “If we are going to look for a political issue here, the more relevant is not gun control but psychosis control. We decided a half a century ago that our more eccentric and, indeed, crazy fellow citizens would not be easily locked in asylums. It was a humane decision, but with the inevitable consequence that some who really need quarantine are allowed to roam the streets.”

  • I believe that it must become socially unacceptable for American media to give more than basic identifying info about shooters in mass murder situations. We have recently seen that making racist remarks can be a career destroying move (which it surely would not have been within living memory of many of us). Perhaps, the horribly misguided decision at NBC to air some of the shooter’s package, will begin to nudge us in that direction. Sadly, we may have to endure another round of derivative crimes because of that decision. However, I need to hope that eventually it will be totally unaccepatable to give killers a media platform, thereby eliminating at least some of the motivation for such crimes.

    On another note, can anyone out there share how they are comforting Hokie loved ones? This is so beyond my life’s experience.

  • I believe it must become socially unacceptable to make derogatory remarks and use nasty names for people with mental illness because right now people with mental illness in this state (and by prevalence rates that will include some current students at Virginia Tech.) are being scared and traumatized by the backlash against all from the actions of one. Do people want more people to be afraid to seek psychiatric help because of fears of being on a list/database and fears of the prejudice and fears of losing their job or their home or their friends? Stigma is already the number one barrier to folks seeking psychiatric help, what I have read on the comments on this blog would make anyone think twice about seeking treatment and certainly about sharing the fact that they are in treatment with anyone at all.

    http://hymes.wordpress.com/

  • This is NOT a gun issue. It’s a mental health issue. This person was obviously troubled, for years – and society just let him go off the deep end.

    To all those who mock and made fun of this person for years, you have blood on your hands. Yes, you do. His experience as a young adult in this country had FAR more impact on what he became than his “easy” access to guns.

    I don’t think anyone is arguing in favor of troubled folks like this guy running around with gun or anything dangerous for that matter.

    As for the guns … for those unfamiliar with the Constitution I’ll remind you of the REAL reason why we have the RIGHT to keep and bear arms. It’s to protect ourselves from our own government. The Founding Fathers were terrified of a strong central government with a powerful standing army. Remember the British?

    OK, now to provide the citizens with some sort of power to resist the goverment, they wanted to provide for the right to keep and bear arms. Anyone who thinks the 2nd Amendment has ANYTHING to do with duck hunting or being (I love this one!) “allowed to serve in the National Guard” is an idiot.

    If you cannot see the importance of the populace having some ability to protect themseleves from the government, then I can’t help you anyway. Go back to your socialist, New World Order Kool-Aid where the government is always nice an looking out for you.

    As a result of the 2nd Amendment, we are provided with the means to protect ourselves from those who wish us harm. We have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, remember? Thus, we have a RIGHT to protect ourselves. I do not seek nor do I require anyone’s permission to do so, by any means within my power. If I were a VT student I would have been carrying by virtue of my permit all along, regardless of the “rules.” It’s my right. Period.

    I possess a CCW permit. I carry everywhere that it is legal to do so and avoid places where it is not out of principle. Carrying on VT is not against the law for anyone. Private citizens can carry there right now. Students and faculty can be expelled or fired respectively, but not charged with any crime.

    There is no way to know if a CCW holder was involed at VT if the outcome would have been any different. However, statistically permit holders providing an armed response to a deadly threat are much more likely to allow for a favorable outcome (bad guy dead) then hiding under your desks. It’s not a given – but it evens the odds. A properly employed firearm allows persons normally less capable to protecting themselves to do so on an even keel with the bad guy. I know many anti-gun folks would rather have victims than heros, but I’m sorry some of us just will not allow that. I’ll also note, that nationwide nearly every state now has some sort of CCW law. And in NO case does any state report any incidents of shootouts in the street or tempermental permit holders unleasing a hail of bullets on cashiers at McDonalds because their Big Mad had onions on it. Overwhelmingly, CCW holders are law adiding, honest citizens who simply take it upon themselves to try and provide protection for themselves, their loved ones, and if necessay an innocent bystander.

    The police show up after the fact to do the paperwork and clean up the bodies. Whent he incident is going down, the only people there are you and the bad guy. He’s going to be armed regardless of your anti-gun laws. With something. What will you have?

  • So was the killer on antidepressants or not? I read Ariana Huffington’s headline on it, but I haven’t had the heart to read deeply into the news of this killing.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/virginia-tech-aftermath-_b_46280.html

    The effects of antidepressants are completely unpredictable and at their worse seem to be linked to school shootings and other violence. At their best they help people, no doubt. What makes them dangerous is the unpredictability and the lack of biochemical assay on patients – impossible since the mechanism is not understood, beyond a chicken-and-egg scenario of brain chemicals, affect and behavior. Hell, meditation does that.

    Also, a suite-mate said the killer had recently started working out at the gym, so why not ask if he may have been taking other substances?

    I wonder if John Woo read Stephen Hunter’s piece in the WP.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/19/AR2007041901817.html

    Another interesting tidbit in the NYT: Virginia has added more names to the federal gun-control registry based on mental incapacity or illness than any other state.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/21/us/21guns.html

    I’d like to get to the bottom of what happened before blaming guns, no guns, college presidents, police officers, movie makers, craziness, lack of craziness, modernity, technology, suburbs, money, no money, wars, presidents in flight suits, bullying, coddling, etc.

    Obviously people are going to avoid mental treatment if it is likely to so easily generate a law enforcement record. Don’t need to investigate that bit of common sense.

  • Kristopher Rikken

    Jon, I’m not sure why I find it disturbing and weird that so many people own guns. I think one reason is that I didn’t realize that Jackson and Waldo were related, and all of a sudden it seemed like a representative sample of the population was coming out and saying, by way of introduction, “Hi, I’m so-and-so and these are my guns.” Kind of like finding out your Dad, who’s always been a normal guy, has a Confederate sword or Reichstag china in a locked cabinet.

    And then there was the fact that many people (not just on this blog) were opening their comments with “now, a lot of people are going to make this into a gun control issue”, as if saying so proved that it wasn’t a gun control issue. It reminded me of working with substance abusers who want to theorize and obfuscate but not address the obvious.

    Personally I have no interest in guns and don’t know anyone who owns one, except for a Makarov pistol that was parked overnight in our apartment before wife delivered it to an Estonian National Guard exercise. I realize there are atavistic reasons for owning guns (to prevent genocide etc). I realize they can be thrilling/aesthetic on some level. And there is the self-defence aspect. But all of these to me are at least somewhat flawed. And then you have something like this happen, and people are still not ready to even concede there is at least a correlation, if not outright causation, in the fact the only country with such liberal policies on gun ownership has many gun-related deaths.

    It really sounds that people have their values wrong.

  • Kristopher Rikken – If you go into a bathroom and you see there’s a whole squadron of flies, you conclude the toilet must be filthy and is the root for all the insects. But in fact, upon closer inspection, there’s a dead and decaying rodent that is caused the real source of the outbreak.

    So too is your superficial analysis that:
    […America Guns = More Killings Than Elsewhere…]
    I think that more gun control could help, but it’s not a cure for our inbred violence.

    btw, “atavism” is a characteristic of or an emotion towards one’s ancestors. Not sure if that’s what you were meaning there is relation to genocide…?

  • Waldo – somehow, it’s weird, but there’s typos and words that seem to disappear from my posts after I click “submit”. I’m sure it’s just an illusion, but the means of entering a decently formatted and accurate post are sorely needed…

  • This has been an unreal week, thanks to all, specifically the University of Virginia community for your support. It helps alot to know that we can lay down our differences and stand together.

    Indulge my inner-hillbilly if you would: You could beat this little shit for 3 weeks and it still wouldn’t justify or explain what he did. He was a loser and demanded that others take the blame. But he was not insane. He wasn’t a poor misunderstood kid.

    What “hell” did he endure? People didn’t like him? He didn’t get the girl? F his problems, being lonely doesn’t make you more important, it makes you human.

    He prepared a press-kit mid-massacre for chrissakes! As someone said yesterday, thank god he wasn’t taking flying lessons at Virginia Tech. We can talk about changes to gun law, but we must also confront school policies that allow miscreants to remain in our universities. What DO you need to do to get thrown out of University?

  • Kristopher Rikken

    Sympatico:

    You’re right — sloppy writing on me. “Relict”, not “atavistic.” As in once had a purpose, but it continues to exist even now that it no longer does. Of course, reasons for owning a gun may be atavistic as well, but I confess, that’s not what I was thinking. I’ve noticed the same thing with typos and switched words though.

    If you read my postings, I don’t think I ever said more gun control would be a cure. But I think that if it helped or even could help, it is something that could be tried. If Bush is able to issue decrees for logging of wildernerss, I’m sure he could issue an executive order for a moratorium on new weapon sales, until we get this sorted out. It would send a powerful message. Call it naive.

  • Well Kristopher, a presidential “executive order” to end gun sales would be a violation of the United States Constitution, and result in the unilateral dis-arming of law-abiding citizens. Virginia Tech actually bans the “unauthorized possession, storage or control” of firearms on campus, violation can get you thrown out of school. While that may be a potent threat to serious students, we have seen what that threat meant to this student.

    After a recent attempt to legislate the campus gun ban was voted down, VT’s spokesman said, “I’m sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly’s actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus.”

    Uh huh

  • From the DP:
    It was 7 a.m. Tuesday when the phone rang at Rabbi Shlomo Mayer’s home in Charlottesville.

    The call was from Israel.

    On the other end was a rabbi close to the family of Liviu Librescu, the Virginia Tech professor killed less than 24 hours earlier while protecting his students from the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

    We need your help, the Israeli rabbi said. Can you help us?

    Continued >>>

  • Walso, you can scare away or kill a mountain lion with a handgun… as far as I know, wild animals are not humans.

    You can also scare away a mountain lion with a pot and a spoon but, again, a pot’s utility is for cooking. I could use a handgun to open a jar of pickles, in a pinch, but its purpose is to kill humans.

    “Have at it”???

    That’s right, have at it. To repeat:

    “If discussion on Charlottesville blogs is any indicator, people want to talk about the 32 students and professors killed two days ago, including Dr. Kevin Granata, who taught at UVa. Have at it.”

    If I were a VT student I would have been carrying by virtue of my permit all along, regardless of the “rules.” It’s my right. Period.

    It’s important that you understand, though, that doing so would get you tossed out of Virginia Tech, and that you would need to accept that as the result of carrying on school grounds. You might believe that you have the legal right to carry, but they have the right to toss your butt out of school. When engaged in civil disobedience, one must always be prepared to accept the inevitable punishment with very little complaint.

    Waldo – somehow, it’s weird, but there’s typos and words that seem to disappear from my posts after I click “submit”. I’m sure it’s just an illusion, but the means of entering a decently formatted and accurate post are sorely needed…

    If you’ve found a way to make typos automatically disappear from your posts, I’d like to hear about it. :)

    The area where you type in your comments is a simple textarea, which means that how it appears and functions is entirely up to your web browser. You’re looking at a bug within your browser, in all likelihood, rather than a bug on cvillenews.com.

    perlogik, that’s a great story from The Daily Progress that you’ve provided, but it’s actually copyrighted by Media General, who can be rightly defensive of their copyright. To that end, through the wonders of the DMCA’s brilliant safe harbor provision, I have removed the bulk of the text of the article in your comment and added a link for people to read the rest of it on the DP’s website.

  • Damn Waldo, I didn’t think of the pot and spoon defense against aggressive wild animals. Maybe you could teach me how to use them more effectively than a handgun! In the meantime, type in “mountain lion attacks” in google and see what you come up with. I didn’t find any suggestions of cookware for protection, but maybe you could start a Wikipedia on the subject… Also, some aggressive species, even many belligerent humans, can be scared away by shaking tinfoil frenetically up and down, then back and forth. ;) It didn’t work for the guys in “Deliverance”, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done!

  • I’m the mother of Waldo and Jack, and I can tell you that we didn’t even allow them to play with toy guns as children. And my husband (their father — how bizarre that it’s necessary to say that) belongs to the Charlottesville Quaker meeting. But we also taught them to question authority and to think for themselves.

    I agree with Judge Smails that trying to fine-tune a regulatory scheme that seeks to insure it won’t ever happen again is a fool’s errand.

    If another paranoid schizophrenic wants to destroy a lot of people, I suspect he’ll find a way.

    (And, come to think of it, I have no reason to think that Quakers would be averse to owning a gun for hunting purposes. I don’t think William Penn or George Fox were vegetarians.)

  • My apologies Waldo, you may remove it or simply link it. My HTML skills in this area are lacking, It moved me and I just wanted to share.

  • Well, I am the mother of Nikolas who was shot at in Norris 205 and I want to ask EVERYONE who reads this to write to their lawmakers and insist that we immediately begin to enforce the laws regarding gun purchase weapons checks. NOW. And do not tell me that we must put the civil rights, of that small subsegment of people with mental illness who have been involuntarily committed, first because I don’t want to hear it. This is not a time to take an attitude that we cannot make a difference.

  • Oh Fay, I am so sorry for your loss.

  • Oh, thank God. (Very happy to be wrong!) Thanks for setting me straight.

  • My point wasn’t to say that we can’t make a difference (and yes we should enforce the laws we already have). Just that there’s a limit to how effective we can be. We could create a police state for ourselves and have little violent crime (if, for instance, we turned all our schools into armed fortresses). And still, if someone with a serious mental illness who had not yet harmed anyone wanted to plan an elaborate spree, he could probably make it happen.

  • Hello Mrs. Jaquith!

    You’ve done a great job with your son Waldo! Even though he and I butt heads all the time on issues, he does a bang up job keeping this alternate news source and citizens’ forum up to date.

    My take on this and simiar/derivative problems is that we are always quick to discuss the “band-aid” solutions (gun control), but not the real sources. Those that can’t compete are too quickly assigned the despised “loser” stigma. There needs to be value creation and acceptance of lesser positions in our society. This is not a good way of life. Rewarding success – and by consequence anyone with the appearance of success, i.e rich folks and their descendents – is at the root of dysfunction. Check out William Gates Senior for his positions on these and other subjects. For a tiny video snippet to get you interested in this man:

    http://www.c4ej.org/wgs.html

  • I meant to write “rewarding ONLY the appearance of success” in the above post… MY bug…

  • Kristopher Rikken

    The loser stigma is a tough nut to crack, and unlike liberal gun laws, I’d be really naive to say that it only exists in the States.

    One reaction I have when an event like last week’s happens is boy, I’d love to go back in time, not to throw my body in the way of bullets or anything, but to “befriend” Cho — months, years before the fact.

    I remember I was asked by my middle school principal to befriend a person who was the object of exclusion and who might in this day and age be considered on the fast track to shooterdom.

    At the time, I already had a fairly spontaneous sensibility toward life — not that I would have been able to label it as such, but I did wonder out loud how I would go about making a friend like that, artificially, and without revealing that the principal had asked me to. Anyway, I complied best I could. No lasting bond was formed but it led to other social contacts. I think he turned out OK. Probably would have in any case.

    It occurred to me later that I might have appeared pretty much an outsider, too, at that point, quiet dreamer kid or something. Maybe the principal had the exact same conversation with the other kid as well — asking to befriend me. This seems so ingenious to me right now — making the problem a part of the solution, getting the student involved, saying “we need your help to help others”.

    Anyway, my conversation with the principal stands out — because up until college, I don’t remember any other one-on-one contact with school administration figures that was not just procedural. But this guy seemed to know what was going on at his school. I don’t really know if this is the norm or not, but a lot of people (most memorably Gus Van Sant, loads of journalists) have made adult neglect or non-interest an issue, in events like Columbine etc…Rather than pursue the gun topic to death, thought I’d pass that on.

  • Kristopher Rikken

    Naturally, if I were able to go back in time and the time machine broke down on April 16, I would do my damnedest to save everyone (I hate to even consider how much poorer we all are) and forget about Cho. In case that isn’t clear.

  • I believe that existing gun laws WERE followed. Virginia Law only bans someone from owning a firearm if they are INVOLUNTARILY committed because of mental illness. If someone VOLUNTARILY commits themself, they are in the clear.

    Again, I’ll say that I don’t believe any SANE person thinks that this individual should have been allowed to own a firearm. However, by all indications the letter of the law was followed. If this is indeed the case, then we have unfortunately found an area where the law needs to be tweaked to prevent this sort of tragedy from occuring again.

    A bill is already being re-floated in Congress to improve the communication of mental health issues from the States to the Federal Government in regards to criminal background checks for guns.

    However, let make several things VERY clear.

    1) This person, it seems, was mistreated by his peers for years. Now, I believe he is still responsible for his actions. HOWEVER – just as in previous shootings of this type, why is now one asking WHY people are allowed to do this in out public schools to their fellow students? I do not believe for a minute that parents and teachers are totally oblivious to what the kids are doing. Why is this, years after Columbine, still acceptable? Virginia has at least acknowledged a problem and passes the “Bully Law.” But parents are still not teaching their kids that mocking people and bullying them is UNACCEPTABLE behavior. My 7 year old had better not me EVER catch him making fun of anyone. We allow this to go on for years and then act all apalled when a young person goes off the deep end.

    2) The NICS check for firearms purchases is a good thing. As an avid gun owner and one of the staunchest 2nd Amendment supporters you will ever meet, I don’t want the “wrong” people to have guns. The danger is in determining who the “wrong” people are. If you listen to the Brady Bunch, it’s pretty much everyone. Again, violent criminals and “mentally ill” people predispositioned towards violence should be off limits. However, I don’t want to get where we strip a woman of her 2nd Amendment Rights because she suffered post-partum depression years back. I think that would be wrong. We tend to paint “mental illness” with a pretty broad brush in this country, and we do not want to get out of hand with denying people their rights. That said, this individual certainly fits my definition of “wrong people.”

    3) Let’s make sure we place blame where blame is due. Obviously, the shooter is responsible for his actions. But soeciety as a whole, like stated above, continues to ignore bullying and mocking of children. No one wants to stand up for the “loser” kid or the kid that is weird or different. Society cannot absolve itself of some responsbility when things like this happen when it’s obvious how we got there and how little was done about it along the way. What can we do about that? This is NOT about gun control – it’s about how we treat, or fail to treat, the mentally ill in this country. Plain and simple. This guy could have just as eaily tossed a pipe bomb into a classroom if he didn’t have guns. Treat the CAUSE before the tragedy occurs – anything else is a half-assed feel-good effort to win votes.

  • Bubby – getting him thrown out of the University would accomplish nothing except change the headline to read “32 Dead at workplace shooting.”

    The very fact that you call him a loser is part of the problem. Even if it’s true, we cannot allow kids to pick on other kids like that, for years, and then act all suprised when someone goes off the deep edge and lashes out violently.

    Make no mistake about it – we are ALL capable of such violence. It’s in our blood. We’re ALL capable of being pushed so far as to resort of violence.

    Even if the reports of his hard child hood are bogus, trumped-up, or whatever – he certainly seemed to FEEL that way. Whether it’s true or not doesn’t mean crap when he’s killing people.

    The fact is that people should have seen the writing on the wall and done something. I admit to not knowing what the “something” is off the top of my head.

    Saying “F his problems” is you’re option. But if not for anything other than self preservation it’s smart to deal with these folks befor they start shooting up the place, isn’t it?

  • Endless debate is a problem.

  • I think we’re getting closer to the real issues: it’s really not about gun control, which is only the last leg of the marathon, but about our “less than perfect” members of society, the overwhelming majority of people. How can we encourage excellence for the greatest portion of the poplulation, all at their own level?

    Getting government regulations involved to legislate the “crazy” is the wrong direction to go. Perhaps our most bright thinkers are a little but “nuts”! We have to develop systems to allow everyone to become the best they can be and to encourage access to approprate opportunities. This would require a sea-change in our mentality!

    As long as horror movies, violent videogames, ulta-competitive TV shows and other media consistently top the charts, we can safely assume the true cause of our adversarial and violent culture is in each of us rather than in the hands of legislation or other “after-the-fact” entities.

    The solution to this problem is in understanding and nourishing the HUMAN FACTOR, as Kristopher Rikken is alluding to. Let’s stop aggressing everyone that doesn’t fit into our narrow mold, but rather truly embrassing diversity. We claim to be a “melting-pot” but we have become rather exclusive. This is pervasive throughout our culture.

  • Maybe the “anti-bully” training DID work…for the room mates that overlooked his odd isolation and refusal to respond to his own name – insisting on being called “question mark”. For the young women that refused to press stalking charges. A person allowed to fester and stew in his hatred while his room mates thought him “shy”, despite known stalking incidents. What if they had been allowed to develop the standard human perception skills and would have told the police, “he’s scary weird”, instead of ignoring the problem? Had their instincts been so numbed by their anti-bullying training, and an attempt to overlook bad behavior?

    I’m inclined to implicate the whole culture that refuses to acknowledge that there are winners and losers. The muddy equivocation of right and wrong. Everything about the behavior of this individual was wrong, antisocial, menacing, and ultimately homicidal. Yet room mates showed ambivalence, victims of his menace refused to press violations, and faculty were encouraged to give him another chance. He was allowed to return to his campus residence. All in a vain attempt to deny that he was a loser. A loser of his own making.

    Every win has brought me elation, but losses have brought me growth and improvement. Losses are the “teaching moments” of life. They are the chance to confront your previous notions and chart a new course. Loss brings humility. When confronted by loss, this little shit refused to accept his part in a failure to connect with his studies, his class mates, the opposite sex, and his community. Instead he blamed them. Nothing was HIS fault. I guess I’m just not educated enough to accept such nonsense.

    He was the one of the greatest losers in all of American history – squandering one loss after another until he ultimately made himself a monument to missed opportunity and loser-dom. And now, some ask that we understand his being bullied as some justification for this unspeakable selfish evil? How about we consider that not having any consequences for a history of anti-social behavior allowed a sick homicidal rage to bloom into a complex intellectual excuse for murder?

    People like this should not be a part of the university community. Their refusal to integrate into a community is proof that they don’t have the skills, aptitude, or demeanor to learn. And make no mistake, this guy took his loathing of the university to a high, and very overt art. If society wants to “mainstream” this sort of miscreant then at least do so with notification and within a community that is afforded the ability to defend themselves against his threat.

  • Bubby – I don’t disagree with you. There are a few winners and a whole lot of losers. I am on board for acknowledging that fact – and like I said he is primarily responsible for his actions.

    Had the University acted more decisively early on, had stalking charges been pressed, we not be having this conversation. The very fact the this individual was “babied” by society did him no service whatsoever and ultimately hurt him and everyone affected by his actions.

    This guy was in need of an intervention, but a society bent on second, third, fourth, and fifth chances chose to do nothing.

    Regardless of his behavior – bullying is still not called for, if in fact that did occur. We’ll probably never know the truth.

    Not to digress, but I personally think that the best solution to bullies is to encourage their “victims” to stand up and kick their ass. It does wonders for self esteem. :)

  • From Harper’s Index, April 2007:

    Percentage of American adults held in either prisons or mental institutions in 1953 and today, respectively: 0.67, 0.68

    Percentage of these adults int 1953 who wer in mental institutions: 75

    Percentage today who are in prison: 97

    fwiw, after perlogik 4/20 2:13pm.

    -M

  • hmm, but of the people in mental hospitals in the ’50’s, @ 50% were white women, whereas of the people in prison today, @ 95% are African American men. So it isn’t the same people moving from one institution to another or you would have a much higher number of white women in prison.

    http://hymes.wordpress.com

  • Sympatico – ditto

    Bubby – Ousting loners in school is a tricky business -cold, and ruthless. Anyone with a bit of hard life experience has trouble relating to a bunch of spoiled kids with nice cars and credit cards from Daddy. If college was more a place of learning, and less a fancy club for the weaning, fleecing, and idealogical integration of america’s children, the mix might not be so sour. As it is now, there are fewer places on earth that bring together such diverse people, and make almost no attempts to integrate them. Quite the opposite happens usually, and the dodging administration, and our cold culture leave everyone to their own devices. (Here’s a interesting opinion piece by Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal -http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110009962)

  • Thanks 2cent, thought provoking opinion piece.

    I don’t believe you know Virginia Tech. Mercedes Benz’ and spoiled rich kids are not a feature of campus life. Most students are just what you saw on TV, regular kids, studying hard, riding on student loans, while their parents work hard at home.

    Don’t get sucked into He-With-No-Name’s description of campus life, they were, after all, “The self-serving meanderings of a crazy, self-indulgent narcissist” as Ms. Noonan noted.

    University is a forum to meet and integrate YOURSELF into a community. You don’t get to bring your mom (or a nanny). Everyone experiences anxiety and trepidation in the context. The difference is how you adapt, or don’t. And if you can’t integrate into your college cohort then you have larger problems, and don’t need to be there. Because it never gets any easier.

  • Bubby, your comments are some of the most perceptive I have seen here. All too often we fall into the “its all somebody else’s fault” pattern instead of insisting that everyone is ultimately responsible for his oor her own choices.
    For the record,I was a rather sickly, shy kid who was subject to what we would call “bullying” when I was in school. I was also subject to emotional abuse in my home life. I was a “loner” not really caring for what most of my classmates were interested in. A total disaster when it came to playing sports. I was sometimes I admit filled with rage over my lot in life.
    But I did not become a serial murderer, a rapist, a psychopath. There were some positive influences in what was an unhappy youth that steered me own a positive path. But in the end it was me and me alone that made the decision not to “go to the bad.”

  • Good for you Hollowboy! Things are never as bad as they seem. Loss can be an opportunity, and anger can be a catalyst for change. May everyone find their light and let it shine.

  • I think most of us agree that people are indeed ultimately responsible for their own actions. However, some folks, for whatever reason, are not “making the grade” socially. We DO need to decide what to do with these folks regardless of how we may or may not feel about them.

    Can we say with any degree of certainty that this fellow was bullied as a kid? I have read some reports that suggest that the reports may be a little over-blown.

    Hopefully we can also all agree that bullying should certainly should be discouraged, regardless of the bullying status of this individual.

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