A Few Thoughts About VA Tech

During my commute I either listen to sports talk radio or play CDs. Every now and then I’ll flip over to the news or your run of the mill talk radio. I do it because sometimes I need a break from the news. I spend hours connected to the net and manage to read most of the newspaper so I don’t feel the need to drown myself any further in news.

But on special occasions I’ll give up listening to Ray Charles or Laker Talk to hear your standard radio broadcast.

It didn’t take long for pundit and person to begin trying to come up with reasons why this happened and ways to prevent it from reoccurring. That is not surprising and I am not issuing any sort of criticism or judgment.

In light of the tragedy it makes perfect sense that people would try to focus on things that they can control. But the problem here is that this goes beyond the scope of control. It is not a simple fix. There is no simple solution.

Apparently they have found that the gunman had been identified by university teachers and other students as being troubled. This information was enough to convince a few of the callers that the massacre could and should have been prevented. Their rationale was that someone should have alerted the authorities to his behavior.

If only things were that simple. People say a lot of things. People write a lot of things and quite often never follow through on any of it. Do we really want to live in a police state where your thoughts are enough to get you jailed.

Certainly it is true that free speech is not unlimited. You cannot yell fire in a theater, advocate for the violent overthrow of the government etc. Nonetheless the reality is that for the most part you can say some pretty outrageous things and have nothing happen to you. Personally that is how I want it to stay.

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  1. Jack's Shack April 22, 2007 at 6:48 am


    We need campaign finance reform, but that is a post for a different day.


    I hear you.

  2. Annie April 19, 2007 at 2:54 pm


    thanks for posting on this. It frustrates me when people talk about how things could have/could not have been prevented. I watched the CNN coverage of the tragedy (waiting to see the list of names) and it actually made me feel sick.

    Really you have to ask the kid who survived the slaughter of his German class to tell you (and the nation) exactly what it was like? Over and over again? I don’t want to be able to imagine the last moments of those students. It was horrific. And making that poor student repeat his story is just cruel, especially since he hasn’t been able to speak to a counselor yet.

  3. The Misanthrope April 19, 2007 at 1:09 am

    Writers like actors assume personalities, so someone’s crazy rantings don’t concern me as much as a desparate need for gun control, but unfortunately it will never happen.

  4. Jack's Shack April 18, 2007 at 10:03 pm


    It is tedious listening to all that crap.


    No we most certainly are not.


    Actually I have heard from more than one caller on the radio suggesting that we closely monitor the writing/words of everyone.

    I recognize that these people are upset, but in the wake of tragedy it is all too easy to see other terrible things happen.

  5. Stephen April 18, 2007 at 7:46 pm

    No one is talking about imprisoning someone for writing a violent story. They’re talking about intervening to support someone who has an obvious mental health problem.

    The question is, Did this kid have an obvious mental health problem? We won’t know until further details emerge, but there’s some reason to believe he did.

    If the university administration has its way, the facts won’t be coming out anytime soon. This could get interesting. In other words, I think you’ve leaped to a premature conclusion.

  6. Paula April 18, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    I agree, Jack. People are trying so desperately to create an illusion of control, but I doubt we’re prepared to throw every Stephen King wannabe in prison.

  7. Richmond April 18, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    In a free society that level of control cannot exist. I is at polar odds with freedom itself…

    But I have a feeling we are going to be hearing “wouldda, couldda, shoulddas” from talking heads for some time to come.

    I have had to unplug already…

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