By now, I imagine everyone reading this will have heard about the shootings at Virginia Tech, perhaps ad nauseam, as I'm sure CNN and such are giving nonstop coverage. J & I stayed away from the news channels tonight, opting instead for the 1974 Benji movie.
My cousin Blake is fine, although we don't know if he had any friends among the shooting victims; likewise my friend Jennifer's son and Claire's friends. Given Tech's proximity to Lynchburg and the number of kids who go to Tech from Lynchburg, Nelson County, and Charlottesville, it's altogether likely that someone I know lost a friend or a relative.
But that's not the only question here. I'm not the first to ask these, but they're worth asking ceaselessly and polyvocally.
First, how did the shooter get the gun? Or rather, we all know how he may have gotten the gun--he could very easily have walked into a gun shop in Virginia and bought the damn thing. Why is that possible? Why did he choose a shooting spree to express his anger, pain, frustration, or whatever emotions he needed to vent?
And why are college (and high school) campuses becoming places where angry gunmen regularly kill students and staff? Because it is a regular occurrence now.
Plenty will (and probably already are) blaming the gunman's youth, video games, heavy metal or rap music, violence on television, and all those usual things, and I'm sure Jerry Falwell is having a field day from his perch up there on Liberty Mountain, a mere two hours away. Y'all know I don't have any time for violence on film, and yes, in my mind violence on film is doing no good--but how about our government's own disregard for innocent Iraqis, sketchily charged detainees at Guantanamo, and immigrants within our own borders? There's a whole political rant to be had here, and I'll leave that to those with more details than I have--but I have two words: "preemptive strike."
In days to come, we'll hear plenty of words being shoved around like cold peas on a plate, mine among them. In the meantime, academia and the public sphere have a lot to think about--and I don't mean state-of-the-art metal detectors and security guards at every entrance.
P. S. I know I'm going to get a lot of Google hits about this in the next few days. Spare me the hate mail about my politics, please. Nobody needs that right now, and I'll just delete it.