Friday, April 20, 2007

Afterthoughts: Virginia Tech

It’s hard to imagine that there’s anyone who even tries to be informed about anything outside of their personal experience who hasn’t thought about the Virginia Tech shootings that occurred earlier this week. Here’s some of what’s been going through my mind.

  • I have a lot of sympathy for everyone involved, including the deeply disturbed young man who was the cause of the carnage and his family. It seriously pisses me off to hear people are grieving 32 deaths at the campus when 33 lives were lost. To completely dismiss the loss of his life and disregard the pain his family is experiencing is nothing less than a disgrace.

  • Fuck the NRA for fighting even the most reasonable gun control regulation and, in this case, fuck the state of Virginia’s government too. The strict interpretation of the Second Amendment and “hunters’ rights” justification of why anyone, anywhere should be able to buy a gun at anytime, and the policy that allows gun sales records (if there are any accurate ones kept) to be destroyed in 72 hours is unmitigated crap. And don’t get me started on my rant about why anyone who is not a member of a highly regulated government-run militia should be able to own a Glock 9mm semi-automatic handgun, one of the weapons used at VA Tech (and that one was purchased over the Internet and picked up at a pawn shop). WTF is up that more people aren’t livid about this?

  • And another WTF moment: why will we hear about every funeral and memorial for 32 of the 33 lives lost this week, and see countless photos of the injured and dead but, unless you live in their hometown, seeing the names and photos of the soldiers killed and maimed in Iraq and Afghanistan on broadcast news is as rare as a seeing a hummingbird in a blizzard? “We honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice” loses any meaning when their deaths are swept under the rug and acknowledged only as additions to aggregate dead and injured numbers. (Just saw Bill Maher ask Bill Moyers agree with this sentiment on the April 20th “Real Time with Bill Maher.” I’m proud to be in such esteemed company.)

  • I find it interesting that, with all the talk about the so-called war on terror, I haven’t heard one mention of the worst act of American on American terrorism, the Oklahoma City bombing, this week. The 12th anniversary of that horrific event was on April 19, the same day as Columbine.

  • Finally, I have grave fears that the tragedy in Virginia will trigger an all-out assault on the rights of people with mental illness. I can easily foresee a push to allow the government to force people with mental illness into in-patient treatment against their will, to take medications regardless of how bad the side effects, and/or to allow the “authorities” to track the whereabouts the folks with mental illness or otherwise invade their right to privacy. There's already been talk of banning anyone with a history of depression or other mental illnesses from living in campus housing. Yeah, that's brilliant -- let's isolate folks like Cho and the Columbine shooters duo, who already feel alienated and outside of the mainstream, even more. That's sure to prevent another tragedy. (~Rolls eyes~)

(Written on April 20, 2007)

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