Thursday, May 03, 2007

Western Massachusetts is an area rightly proud of its many colleges, so undoubtedly the tragedy at Virginia Tech has resonated pretty deeply here among college staff and students.

Rather than concentrate on how to reconcile student privacy issues with a system that could enable college administrators to prevent such occurrences in the future, much of the nation's professional pundits have turned their sights on the gun control issues.

There have been plenty of suggestions that if Virginia had allowed students to pack heat on campuses that some of the 32 deaths could have been avoided. The right-wingers on talk radio have been having a field day saying this terrible incidence shows how soft this nation has become.

Radio host Neal Boortz wrote the following on his web site on April 17: "How far have we advanced in the wussification of America? I am now under attack by the left for wondering aloud why these students did so little to defend themselves. It seems that standing in terror waiting for your turn to be executed was the right thing to do, and any questions as to why 25 students didn't try to rush and overpower Cho Seung-Hui are just examples of right wing maniacal bias. Surrender comply adjust. The doctrine of the left. Amazing, isn't it? Even the suggestion that young adults should actually engage in an act of self defense brings howls of protest."

In Boortz's view I guess those poor Amish kids who were killed last year were "wusses," too. It really help solves problems in a society by calling the victims names, right?

I can't imagine how parents of the slain students must be feeling when they hear such a stream of hate.

The real issues in my mind, which have been clouded by the right wing media for the purpose of ratings, are the following:

How can colleges and other educational institutions better address students with mental and emotional illnesses so they will not be a danger to themselves or others?

How can colleges prepare themselves better to respond to such emergencies? Do mass e-mails or text messages do the job?

Will we as a society ever be able to defend ourselves from the actions of individuals with a mental illness who are determined to kill themselves and other people?

Is there substantial and reliable research to indicate an armed America would prevent acts of madness?

Would having a simple waiting period and background check in Virginia prevented this event from happening?

What do you think?

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

7 comments:

Marky Mark said...

Pot calling the kettle black again.

Some people genuinely believe that a horrible tragedy MAY have been shortened if another kid was packing a gun and shot Cho.

Our friend Mr B says "I hope you're proud of the 32 new notches on your belt, NRA". Implying that anyone who is for the right to bear arms is gleeful over the use of them, even by Cho to kill 32 kids.

The anti-gun people throw the hate speech around too. It's just like the left-right thing, Mikey.

I'm sure the parents of those Amish are hurt by the word wuss, but it's just a word. And it does describe a real problem with today's "can't we all just get along" passive society.

I personally think there is validity on both sides. I think it would have been WONDERFUL if a few responsible licensed gun owners were in that crowd of students, and blew Cho's head off after one or two killings.

But I don't see any need for assault weapons etc to be so recklessly tossed about.

I support the right to bear arms and protect one's self from arm-bearing psychos. But that does not make me happy about the 32 new notches on the belt.

Am I getting through here? Is this thing on? Hello???

Marky Mark said...

OK, I felt bad yesterday. You posed serious questions and I just beat you up about the "hate speech" manta.

Here are some replies to the serious questions:

How can colleges and other educational institutions better address students with mental and emotional illnesses so they will not be a danger to themselves or others?

Treat wackjobs like wackjobs. Seperate them and get them some help. Put them in a lockdown psyche ward. Stop pussyfooting around.

How can colleges prepare themselves better to respond to such emergencies? Do mass e-mails or text messages do the job?

I'd go with a loud alarm, like a fire alarm. Something you don't have to be plugged into.

Will we as a society ever be able to defend ourselves from the actions of individuals with a mental illness who are determined to kill themselves and other people?

No.

Is there substantial and reliable research to indicate an armed America would prevent acts of madness?

Of course not. Nothing can prevent acts of madness. A police state could ensure that they happen less frequently in public.

Would having a simple waiting period and background check in Virginia prevented this event from happening?

No.

SRBissette said...

Well said, Mike and Mark.

Mark, the NRA issue is a complex one; the bottom line is, though, that for the sake of escalating sales of guns, the NRA has successfully lobbied under the pretense of Constitutional rights to inflate gun sales in the US -- it's a manufacturer's lobby group, mounted to counter once-traditional "father passing rifle down to son" values that meant guns WEREN'T selling in the numbers the gun manufacturers required to survive. Hence, promote guns -- and as of 2007, we have more guns per capita, including 21st Century high-tech rapid-fire hardware that exists solely to blow holes in human beings.

I grew up in a hunting family; I'm comfortable with guns, personally, but also know the statistics for injuries and fatalities caused by simply having a gun in the home. They don't protect most folks, they kill 'em. The NRA has shamelessly promoted this gun culture to insane proportions, and we are periodically reminded of its consequences when something truly horrific like this happens, having grown complacent with the mere local tragedy stories (we've had two such stories -- friends shooting friends while 'playing' with guns that turned out to be loaded -- in our new home just since January).

Rational gun culture simply no longer exists -- like so much else in US culture of late, dualistic and conflated "right/left" rhetoric kills the long-overdue debate. As is well known, the Amendment the NRA touts as their centerpiece involves keeping an armed militia to TAKE DOWN THE GOVERNMENT should it grow tyrannical -- clearly, that's never going to happen in this reality stream. The firearm manufacturers and NRA have successfully argued on Constitutional grounds that they have a right to manufacture and sell guns at any cost -- including human lives lost.

That free speech issues are usually taken less seriously in this country than gun control issues is self-evident: whenever we see a tragedy on the scale of Columbine or Virginia Tech, it's violence-in-media issues that are immediately tossed around as if they're the core issue (and never the most transparent one: as FBI forensic experts note regularly, news coverage inspires more 'copycat' crime than any fictional or imaginative media ever has or will).

THE MATRIX or OLDBOY didn't blow holes in anyone -- firearms designed to ravage this frail bag-of-blood we each inhabit do. And the conceit of those villifying the natural human reaction to being confronted by such overpowering firepower to seek to hide -- rushing someone with a rapid-fire handgun or rifle is likeliest to get you cut in half before you get within ten feet of the shooter -- is indeed repulsive.

About as repulsive as the whole "why can't the Iraqis salvage their own war-torn country?" after we so helpfully blew every extant societal infrastructure to kingdom come.

But, hey, logic, much less compassion, was never the strong suit of idiots like Neal Boortz. You may call it "pot calling the kettle black," Mark, but the fact is a LOT of us are sick and tired of this kind of bullshit dominating broadcast, airwaves and media. Enough is enough; turning the other cheek got us eight years of the most destructive President in my lifetime; complacency in the ongoing lobbying of the NRA has brought us all once again to another national horrorshow and no way to address the core issue.

SRBissette said...

PS: "in our new home just since January" should read "in our new home town just since January" -- in deleting part of a sentence in final edit, I inadvertently deleted that critical word "town."

Marky Mark said...

Sorry, I'm gonna have to call you on that.

The right is not dominating the hate speech.

For every Neal Boortz you chastise I'll trump you with a Randi Rhoades or a Steve Bissette.

Mike Dobbs said...

Mark: I know you would want me to reply, but there are times that we are just so far away from one another on an issue that there is no common ground.

You fall back on calling me being a "hater" quite often, yet I think you know that I am actually someone who does try to have a dialogue with people.

Of course, maybe that's my self-image which is not reality. Maybe I am not better than Rush, or Savage or Boortz...a hypocritical media type who make his living offers criticism rather than constructive suggestions....NAW! I am better.

Marky Mark said...

Nah, you personally are not a hater, Mikey. You are a sensitive assumer. I never said YOU spew. You're like ME, one of the rational ones.

I'll never understand why you think everybody is always picking on you. And I'll never understand why you can't admit that the "left" is just as odious as the "right".

But I will always be there for ya, buddy!