On the Virginia Tech shootings.

I’ve been watching the news short stroke the Virginia Tech shootings since the event first took place yesterday and trying to think of something insightful to say about it, but DOF already beat me to it. So just go read what he said and add my “what he said” onto the end of it.

As for my comments on it all I can say is I grow weary of these events or, more precisely, of the aftermath of these events. Not to diminish the immensity of the horror of the event itself, but I could do without the near non-stop coverage by the news channels as though nothing else important happened that day. Especially when 99% of it is just wild speculation by supposed experts hastily assembled to toss out their pet theories or idiotic commentary by pundits on the right AND left who jump at the chance to blame the other side and grind their political axes. The self-professed political pundits would do well to shut the hell up until they at least have some facts to back up their opinions with as I’ve already seen some folks on the left calling for more gun control (the campus already banned guns) and folks on the right calling for more guns or speculating that the shooter was a “Paki” on jihad or that it’s the liberals’ fault or any of a number of stunningly stupid claims.

Just shut the fuck up for a bit unless the reason you’re opening your mouth is to offer some words of compassion to the victims and their families. Let’s deal with the aftermath and start the process of getting the healing underway and lives back to as close to normal as we can while we wait for the investigation to wind its way through all the facts. There will be plenty of time for serious discussion of the issues raised by these events once we all know what the facts are and more important things have been taken care of first. It also wouldn’t hurt to have some time to cool our heads before opening our mouths.

But that’s probably hoping for a bit much considering human nature…

13 thoughts on “On the Virginia Tech shootings.

  1. All I can say is that I am deeply saddened by this tragedy, especially considering that it happened almost eight years to the day since Columbine. My heart goes out to the victims and their families.

    The self-professed political pundits would do well to shut the hell up until they at least have some facts to back up their opinions with as I’ve already seen some folks on the left calling for more gun control (the campus already banned guns) and folks on the right calling for more guns or speculating that the shooter was a “Paki” on jihad or that it’s the liberals’ fault or any of a number of stunningly stupid claims.

    Almost as depressing as these tragedies is the documented fact that they never fail to bring out the absolute mind-numbing idiocy of the pundits. It would be nice if, for once, whatever notions of goodness these people possess could prevail instead of their usual hateful instincts.

  2. I’m glad I don’t have cable right now.  One thing I don’t miss is fucking idiots going on and on about events like these as those they have some magical insight and can see something everyone else in the world can’t.  As Les said, do us a favor andshut the fuck up.

  3. Most of the world will focus on this story, but today, in Michigan, we learned of an equally pitiful tale. We had an extremely windy day, and at a local elementary a flagpole sheared from the strength of the wind tugging at the flag. It fell into a group of kindergartners playing at recess, killing a 5-year-old child.

    Let us have a moment of silence and blaspheme the evil Christian God.

    The death of innocents and the death of innocence.

  4. SS: All I can say is that I am deeply saddened by this tragedy

    I know it’s non-feeling but to be honest I no longer really feel anything because we hear of tragedy so often, also I have no connection to anyone affected. If I should mourn this tragedy I feel I should mourn all death but I can’t stir up that amount of emotion nor afford to.

    I also feel sometimes that the dead would prefer not to sadden us, that they would prefer us to move on and be happy, which may be difficult to do but I think it’s for the best – I would be upset to know that people would be upset were I to die, so I try to get a kind of understanding of that to family.

  5. Thanks Les.

    Only days after learning the term; “Disasterbating” I now see news-creatures everywhere doing just that.  As in, “O’Reilly learned of the shooting and couldn’t wait to get on the air and disasterbate about it”  But not just the bloviating one; all the TV networks except PBS are doing it.  Jim Lehrer & company are just getting up in front of camera and reporting the news, as straightforwardly as humanly possible.

  6. I had issue with the email.  Two murders on campus, and two hour later, an “emergency” email is sent out.  As if students are constantly watching email.

    My university also has this “email is instantly read” attitude.  Profs will send important emails 2 hours before a class, then give you a “you are supposed to read your fucking email” look when you bring up that you haven’t read it. 

    In a related article over college disaster responses, one response was to text students’ cell phones.  The same phones we are required to turn off in class.  I’m not saying email and texting should not be used, they should, but to rely on them as the sole means of emergency notification is absurd in a situation like this.  This isn’t an inclement weather situation. 

    They debate over telling the students about it – supposedly, not to panic the students, but I think as much or more so not to panic the parental money train.  That attitude of “let’s not upset the children” happens at my university as well.  There have been rapes on campus that the police don’t want to tell students about.  “Oh, it was acquantance rape, no need to tell the girls living 50 feet away their neighbor was chloroformed and raped in her apartment”.

    I didn’t think about the gun control issue until a day later, since most of the news I read yesterday focused on the student response to the how the college handled informing them.

    I didn’t even bother turning on the news channel.  Fuck it, I could get the same video from YouTube about the same time they did.

  7. My university also has this “email is instantly read” attitude.  Profs will send important emails 2 hours before a class, then give you a “you are supposed to read your fucking email” look when you bring up that you haven’t read it.

    That used to drive me nuts when I was in school.  Lecture for the day gets canceled, nobody there knows except the one guy who happened to check his email right before class and thankfully comes anyway to let the rest of us know.  How bout posting a piece of paper on the door?

    They debate over telling the students about it – supposedly, not to panic the students, but I think as much or more so not to panic the parental money train.  That attitude of “let’s not upset the children” happens at my university as well.  There have been rapes on campus that the police don’t want to tell students about.  “Oh, it was acquantance rape, no need to tell the girls living 50 feet away their neighbor was chloroformed and raped in her apartment”.

    To be honest, even if there was a murderer afoot, shutting down the university would basically be like quarantining a small town.  It’s just not going to happen.  People get killed within a mile of me on a semi-regular basis, but I don’t expect to be evacuated or even informed by the authorities.

  8. Sending a message to cell phones might reach a lot of people, but your limited to what can be said.  Email has similar issues in that not everyone checks their email all the time, and you still have students that are in class that would likely not see the email.

    The solution, which there will never be a true solution, might be to train teachers on emergency codes and then you create a system to delivering those codes to teachers when needed.  Code red might be a terrorist threat or a gunman on campus.  Etc.  And then you also send out an email and a text code.  This may reach a wide sweeping number of people on a given campus.

    Either way I am not going to think to much on this one cause there will never be a perfect system.  Someone will find a way around it.  What you have to do is live your life according to basic risk assessments. 

    The likelihood of something like this happening on my campus or any other campus is small (statistically speaking).  And the likelihood of me dying from one of these events is even smaller.  So rather than worrying about something like this happening to me, I am going to instead worry about things I can control.

  9. Notification of a population and getting them to behave in survival-oriented ways is a very different problem on many levels.  From New-Orleans (which had plenty of warning about Katrina, plus over two decades of warning about the risk) to the tsunami, where many lives would have been saved if only people knew the right thing to do, this is a tough nut to crack. 

    For instance, someone might think; “Hey, it’s a gunman, I’ll pull the fire alarm” immediately filling the halls and creating a target-rich environment for the bad guy.  Completely understandible but wrong thing to do.

    Education ahead of time (if there’s a shooter, put up as many barriers, locked doors, etc. as you can and stay out of the hallways) and multi-modal notification (piece of paper for cancelled class, and every modality available at once for shooters) might need to be developed in disaster planning.

  10. Oh and Webs, I forgot to mention: as you say, the likelihood of it happening on your campus is small.  The likelihood of it happening on some campus, somewhere, sometime, is nearly 100%.  A big question for policy planners is how much resources to devote to the event relative to how common it actually is, and how big the lawsuits are if they don’t take “preventative” measures no matter how ineffective they are.

  11. To be honest, even if there was a murderer afoot, shutting down the university would basically be like quarantining a small town.  It’s just not going to happen.  People get killed within a mile of me on a semi-regular basis, but I don’t expect to be evacuated or even informed by the authorities.

    It did happen.  Virginia Tech closed down when an escaped murderer was in the area near campus recently. 

    I don’t expect to hear of a deal gone bad, or domestic disputes that turn deadly in the neighborhoods just off campus.  I wouldn’t expect a workplace murder in one office building to cause evacuation of neighboring buildings – at most a notice to building security if the suspect is at large. 

    I’m talking about being informed of on-campus happenings where the criminal is still at large.  Crimes that happened in distances away from your usual routine measured in feet.  Situations you may find yourself in.  Even if they don’t shut down, students should be informed so if they decide it’s too much of a risk, they can make that choice.  I can understand they thought the two dorm murders were thought to be a domestic type murder and didn’t move to shut the university down, but I think they should have put the word out immediately, since the suspect was at large on campus. 

    What you have to do is live your life according to basic risk assessments.

    And part of that is knowing what is happening around you.  When the admin decides to withold crime info b/c of their PR worries, it affects your assessment of risk.

  12. Its all Bushes fault, I can’t believe he would do this to our country, first gas prices are super high and now hes killing our college students. Damn him.

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