Virginia Tech Massacre

Posted on April 1st, 2007 in Commentary by EngineerBoy

In the wake of the Virginia Tech mass-murder, the failings and hypocrisy of the media and “leadership” in the US stand in plain sight. Key points as follows:

  • The killer mailed a package of pictures, videos, and writings to NBC headquarters in the middle of his spree. NBC had every opportunity to quietly turn over this information to authorities as evidence. Unfortunately, they chose to exploit it for ratings value by playing it endlessly. The other “news” outlets, of course, followed suit.
  • Many, many of these types of sick individuals have a history of glorifying and idolizing past violent killers. Where is the hue and cry to restrain the so-called “press” from feeding such idolatry? Unfortunately there’s not much to be done here, as a free press is a basic part of the structure of the United States. However, we as news consumers should become more discriminating and reject the offerings of pandering news outlets who focus on violence, gore, and prurience.
  • When these types of events happen, pundits and dogmatists are quick to point fingers at violent video games, dark music, drugs, or even the teaching of evolution in schools. However, in this case (as in many others) the killer cites Jesus as a factor in his actions – where, then, is the hew and cry to ban religion? Mothers drown their innocent babies in the name of God, but are found to be poor, helpless, sick people – but if you play World of Warcraft? The game is to blame. And if you think that religion is all about peace and love you should go back to the source material (Bible, Qu’ran, Torah, etc) and check.
  • The poor professors and counselors at Virginia Tech must be suffering from extreme angst over the fact that Cho Seung-Hui was identified by them as troubled and dangerous, but they were still unable to stop him from slipping into psychopathic action. How, then, do we modify the boundaries of acceptable actions to allow people to force obviously troubled persons to get help? Can this even be done in a free society?

That last one has some personal resonance for me, and maybe for a lot of you, too. Over the course of my life I’ve interacted with roughly a dozen people who I *knew* were a danger to themselves and/or others and needed to get help. People who needed to be *forced* to get help, involuntarily, if needed. However, none of them had done anything (that I knew of) that could justify such action under the law. Don’t you know people like that? Crazy mother****ers who just need to be taken out of society for the good of themselves and of society. Everybody who knows them knows it as well. But what can you do?

The answer is, if you’re not a qualified professional (doctor, therapist, counselor, etc) there’s almost nothing you can do if said crazy MF doesn’t actually act on any of their craziness. For example, in my past professional life I’ve been in situations where a company I worked for went through prolonged downsizing, with recurring rounds of layoffs every month or two. Over a period of about 18 months several hundred people were laid off. And there was one, and only one, layoff that caused me to be concerned about said employee returning with a gun for a violent rebuttal. In fact, I made sure I was out of the office the day of said layoff and there were discussions among us managers of whether or not we could or should warn other office staff to be on the alert, as the mental state of said layed off individual was well known to all.

And at the end of the discussion, there was no way we could do a warning. The employee had never actually done anything violent (that we knew about). Any warnings could have easily been seen as slanderous/libelous. Ultimately nothing happened after the layoff, but I have still always felt uneasy and guilty about leaving people in the office in a situation with an obviously disturbed person and no way I could take any action to help them.

In another case I was walking into a grocery store and a mother was walking out pushing a cart with a baby in the little seat and a 5-6 year old girl walking along side the cart. As they approached, the little girl raised her hand up and rested it on the handle of the cart next to her mother’s hand. The mother responded by walloping the little girl on the side of the head, instantly and viciously. The little girl simply let go and kept walking as if nothing had happened. I stared, dumbfounded, slack-jawed, and paralyzed as they walked by. My mind raced to do the math – how hard had she actually hit the little girl? Had anybody else seen it (I scanned the area but saw no other slack-jawed witnesses)? Would it leave a bruise, which would constitute incontrovertible proof to the authorities if I called them? If I confronted the mother would it shame her into reconsidering her parenting style, or enrage her to the point where it would make the little girl’s life worse?

In the end, I did nothing, other than mourn the future life I saw flash before me for that little girl and her baby sibling and feel guilty about doing nothing.

In other recent news, go here and listen to this recording of Alex Baldwin berating his 11 year old daughter:

http://www.tmz.com/2007/04/19/alec-baldwins-threatening-message-to-daughter/

A word of warning, if you are a sane human being the above voice mail message from Alex Baldwin to his daughter will chill your soul. To a normal, caring person this represents the rantings of a maniac who should a) have every parental right immediately stripped away and b) be forced into some type of evaluation and treatment. It’s sad because I’ve always been a bit of an Alex Baldwin fan, but no more. It’s even sadder to contemplate the horrible life this poor child has had and almost certainly will continue to have.

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