I told myself I wasn’t going to comment on the events at VT. I didn’t want to add to the growing noise “they should have done this” or ” I would have done that.” I wanted to give this situation space and give some silence to the noise. I guess, I’m just adding it to however. Today I was reading “The New Republic’s” article “The True Roots of the Virgina Tech Massacre: Generation Columbine” and while this will mostly like be regurgitated wonky news, I felt after pelting my brother and friends with questions, it was time to put out there.
This grabbed my attention. Mostly because I had been talking to my brother about it the other day.
But the Virginia Tech massacre is not about gun control, suburbia, or even human heroics; it’s about delirium. Just as in 1999, we are asking all the wrong questions.
Gun control is an emotional weapon. Each side is wants to be the first to pick and point and tear apart their opponents.
Suddenly, the utilitarian approach to gun control supersedes reality. Yet it is too easy to blame external elements–elements we could perhaps change. Not that gun control isn’t a worthy issue, but 32 innocents didn’t die only because there are too many guns in the world; they died because Cho decided to kill them. And if the cause wasn’t too many guns, then there were plenty of other influences–and plenty of other sources for reporters to harangue: the violence-in-media people, the psychoanalysts, the criminal profilers, and the pharmaceutical companies (Cho was taking an antidepressant). But these are just aspects of this melancholy crisis; they’re quite different than the cruel ambition to kill. It is that wicked impulse we should be trying to figure out.
And then media, whatever role they choose to fit (or don’t fit) come in as a soundtrack. They tell us what is going, the put the pieces together.
The stunned commentators talk about how “this sort of thing” doesn’t happen in this kind of small community–as though crazed mass shooters are the sole provenance of an urban environment. But to conflate a maniacal, armed college student with the perils of the inner city is to misunderstand. This isn’t gang warfare; this isn’t a drive-by or a drug deal gone bad.
There aren’t words left, the news has taken care of that. There really isn’t much left to say. I don’t know how long I’ll leave this up. But I suggest reading the entire article. As for this writer, who was in late high school after Columbine, I leave this.
What does the world look like to a generation who has grown up with the frightful knowledge that killers can lurk in classrooms? I doubt their first concern is gun control.