17 April 2007

Virginia Tech.

Yesterday's shootings at Virginia Tech may never be properly understood. In so many ways, there's no understanding the coalescence of factors that created that shooter, now identified as Cho Seung-Hui, a dorm resident and English major. What makes someone snap, and moreover, what makes someone snap in a particular way so that he or she (usually he) decides several people must die in the process?

It's quite true we have a violent video game culture, yet nearly all people who play those games (let's say about 99.99%) understand they're playing a game, and while some may become desensitized to violence, they don't turn into killers themselves.

It's quite true that our gun culture -- from the fanatic NRA, to right wing talk radio, to our movies and television products -- valorizes the gunslinger, yet nearly all of the people who watch "24" or some cop show aren't going out to turn themselves into Travis Bickle.

I'm just guessing that the above two factors will be much discussed in the coming weeks. Michael Moore dissected the latter in his excellent Bowling for Columbine. Let's just say we have a culture that facilitates violent acts, should one be so inclined. But what, in the end, makes one so inclined?

There is no effective explanation for the men and women who were murdered by this student, for their parents, their classmates, their lovers. There is nothing but memory's torn fabric and futures left unlived.

I can't say how horrible this makes me feel.


Momentary Academic said...


mysterygirl! said...

The more I read or watch about this, the sadder it is. Salon has posted some info about the shooter, who I see had been referred to counselors by one of his creative writing teachers. What does make someone snap like that? How terrible.

(and on an incredibly un-serious note, I'm very sorry that you didn't win the contest, although I did laugh out loud at your entry. I could hand-deliver you a piece of candy, because I think we live in the same 'hood)

cuff said...

If you live in or near the Reed-Cooke neighborhood, then indeed you do. Just tie it to a brick and throw it through my window.

Reya Mellicker said...

One of the reasons I left the spiritual community I was a part of for many years is because they began, a few years ago, to incorporate physical violence into their public rituals. None of this violence was against people, but it was still very intense - breaking chairs, tearing up altars, etc. That kind of behavior brings blood to the mouth, if you know what I mean.

As part of my exploration of why these nice women would begin to bring such brutal behavior into rituals, I sat down a few times with the remote and clicked through every one of the 70+ channels on TV. More than 60 channels, every time I did a random check, were broadcasting something violent - shooting, car crashes, explosions, punching, stabbing, torture, women tied up while being threatened, etc. Try it on your own TV. It's incredible in the most awful way.

We see it all the time. There's so much violence in films, tv and vid games, it becomes normal. My British friends tell me that when little kids play with guns, they affect American accents. Isn't that sad?

It's easy to kill a lot of people with a gun. Add to this a questionable temperament, and boom. I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often, actually.

Glad to read your intelligent thoughts on this, and those of your readers. Sorry I went on and on.