That post doesn't really reflect the depth of my thoughts and feelings about the incident and was probably more a reaction to having just watched some wretched network news coverage of the killings .. I mean the "MASSACRE at Virginia Tech™," which is now its official name, according to NBC, complete with official Massacre at Virginia Tech logo:
I wonder if they issue staff ball caps and jackets bearing the logo so they can be distinguished from CNN's "Massacre at Virginia Tech" team ... OK, I admit, that was flippant. But that doesn't mean I'm not appropriately saddened and horrified. It's just that I quickly get into sneering/cynical mode after watching a few network anchors wearing their Serious Tragedy Faces (Stone Phillips has the
Virginia Tech and Blacksburg are very dear to me, though, and the thought of these things happening there just breaks my heart. I also get a lump in my throat looking at the photos of the people killed and thinking about how the obviously delusional and probably paranoid kid who shot them completely slipped through the cracks ... despite what appear to be lots of warning signs.
I remember that Blacksburg always felt a bit like a parallel universe--it really is sort of out in the middle of nowhere (maybe less so now than when I was there--we had no internet back then) and nothing really big ever seemed to happen there. It has grown a lot since I lived there--it looked quite different when I was back there last August and had lost a lot of its small-town feel, but it still seemed rather cozy.
So I guess I can understand why people would say that Virginia Tech was not a place they would expect this kind of thing to happen, because it did seem rather remote from such real world problems when I was there. But then again, where in the hell DOES one expect such things to happen? OK, the Post Office, maybe, but other than that, is there anyplace you expect some kid to just open fire on people? Should we even expect such a thing? But we do sort of expect it--even classmates of the most recent shooter, Cho Sueng-hui, speculated about whether he was the type to become a "school shooter." And I must admit that I have had similar conversations with co-workers about whether one of our own was likely "go postal," and which one of us he (it's always a he) would be likely to take out first (me, probably because of my flippancy.)
So I have sort of come to expect mass shootings, as Tim Rutten points out in the L.A. Times,
"... the readily accessible databases that now comprise the news media's collective memory contain a category of atrocity labeled "school shooting" with enough entries to make comparisons relevant. (Ultimately, the Virginia gunman would nearly double the previous record, which had stood since the 1966 bloodbath at the University of Texas at Austin.) There's nothing sinister or even particularly callous in this. This country's recent history is what it is, and the parsing of tragedy is one of the journalist's unavoidable obligations. And yet it's hard to escape the suspicion that a practiced news media's routinization of atrocity has made it easier for all of us to rationalize as unavoidable something we all ought to hold as horrifically aberrational."
Anyway, I'd say more but I've gotta go. Radio. 8-10 pm. 88.7 FM if you're local wxdu.org if you're not.