Tuesday, April 17, 2007

More On Blacksburg -- by J.O.B.

Personally, I think one of the best things we can do is figure out how to better ourselves and each other - very few (if any) times, do crimes like this erupt from people that are well liked and involved people of society. It's always, as has been proven again with the identity of the killer in this tragedy, someone termed as a "loaner" or an "outcast."

We can add all the laws we want and take away weapon after weapon until all we have is our fingers and people will still go on rampages of choking others to death if we don't start working on being more inclusive and less willing to not only purposefully isolate, but allow someone to isolate themselves. True, we can't force someone to be a part of society or to integrate themselves with the masses, but so often we look on someone who isn't social with such disdain and disapproval. Can we work harder at trying to realistically and honestly let these people know that they are welcome and wanted to befriend us if they so choose?

It might seem like a pie in the sky request, but anybody who has ever been a successful part of a social circle has probably at one point or another been a part of poking fun at an "outcast" or "misfit" of society. I've surely done it. Can we take that time to instead reach out and say "hello" to someone? Can we work harder at learning about people and letting them know that we respect whatever it is they're into instead of judging either by word or deed?

I think now is an opportune time for each of us to take a look at the social contract by which we live. It's not time to figure out if the right laws are in place. It's not time to figure out what video game the kid played. It's not time to look at everything else as a possible source or culprit. It's time that we each take a long look at ourselves and take responsibility to let other people in our daily path know they are respected. That they are liked, whether we choose to spend our off hours or non-productive time with them or not. That they are welcome to say "hello" and that we do want to sometimes know how their day went.

I know, not the norm from a guy that normally expresses a conservative viewpoint. But I truly believe that at the end of the day, we as a society need to look longer at how our own actions impact the mindset and perceptions of those around us.


Brown Buddy said...

Interesting. Is it realistic though? Of the families I've seen on TV and spoke with personally, most are desperately seeking something tangible....maybe not necessarily a scapegoat (though some might call it that) but for a change of some kind to be made in society.

Here are a couple of facts that floored me in the past 2 days:

1. Thanks to Virginia's ridiculously lax gun laws, not one law was broken by this kid until he planted the first bullet in the first victim. Read that again.

2. My sister went to Columbia University in Manhatten. In her four years there, never once was there a student homicide of any kind. Never once, in the middle of lower Manhatten, was a student slain on campus premises. Now, in Blacksburg, VA, hundreds of miles away from any semblance of an urban setting, you have two incidents in less than a year (don't forget the prisoner escaping last August) where people are shot to death on campus, and somehow the campus is lacking a reliable disaster protocol on both occasions? There should have been an overwhelming sense of overreaction upon the first shots being overheard! There's just no excuse. Someone fucked up.

Now this isn't about assigning blame. I just don't believe in that, it gets us nowhere. I just think that something tangible should be done that will, if nothing else, take a small step towards ensuring something like this will never happen again. (and I'm not naive, obviously criminals are going to shoot people...and sometimes you just can't do a goddamn thing about it)

So with that in mind, firing President Steger isn't a proactive step...its assigning blame. Skewering the Blacksburg PD on talk radio and CNN isn't a proactive step...its drumming up controversy to boost ratings (a whole other issue that I'm about to have a meltdown over any day now).

So maybe you're right...maybe its just as simple as everyone making a slight adjustment in their social programming. Its a great idea on paper...is it realistic?

Brown Buddy said...

And yes I realize I started and ended that last comment with the same question...without answering it either time. Bite me

Skurny said...

I think we’re all looking for something tangible in this…something we can take out of it and better ourselves. Maybe the answer is simply changing our attitude. Or maybe it’s why the Campus and Blacksburg Police Departments. Or maybe some kid just went off-the-deep-end crazy. I don’t know.

I think you’re both right. I think someone fucked up real bad at one or both of the aforementioned Police Departments. I also think that maybe if everyone was nicer to the immigrant-new kid-weird-quiet-loner gunslinger, maybe Monday wouldn’t have happened. I guess we’ll never know.

What I know is that maybe instead of picking on the kid who couldn’t play basketball I should have asked him what he liked to do…like you said, we’re all in one position or another at some point.

I don’t know what the concrete solution is yet, but studying the performance of the Virginia Tech Administration and the Police Departments would be good a good bet.

The conceptual solution is might be exactly what J.O.B. says; maybe we should be more compassionate. Maybe that would stop this from ever happening again, I don’t know.

Realistically, I want to see someone held accountable for the lack of response by everyone involved. An independent review board should evaluate them in the immediate weeks. Clearly there needs to be changes in procedure and protocol, couldn’t this have been prevented? TWO hours passed between shootings!

Theoretically, I want to see everyone show a bit more compassion to the person next to him or her. It does seem like an unrealistic goal when speaking in the context of society. However, I think if people really took the time and effort to learn about each other, we all would care more each other. You don’t have to be best friends, you won’t like some, you’ll hate others, but you will value that person’s life more. And that’s what were all talking about.

J.ust O.ver B.roke said...

I'm trying to figure out why flying cars, bionic exo-skeletons and Heather Mills competing on Dancing With The Stars is Realistic, but people making more of an attempt to at least be more human to each other isn't. I understand what you're saying BB, it's easier to laugh and point than to invite in - or is that just the jaded view that we've grown to?

I mentioned in another forum that the issue with assigning blame is that often times "burst" events are used as jump off points for many things that either make us more of a police state or closer to totalitarianism. This is the phenomena, not the norm, evidenced by why we are so quick to remember other tragedies like this.

A disaster protocol of some sort would be beneficial, but having metal detectors on the entrance of every door on the planet, affixing cameras to every light post or gating up every potential entrance kind of defeats the symbolic freedoms that maturing to the college level is supposed to represent.

From what I understood about the first shooting is that police on the scene originally thought it was a murder-suicide. This would lower there need to alarm a whole campus that a shooter was on the loose, considering they wouldn't have thought there was one.

AngryWhiteMan said...