When I first heard of the VA Tech shootings, my response was sadness tinged with horror. Knowing full well the tendency of the Mass Media Podpeople’s Hivemind and politicians *spit* to descend on such events as packs of jackals and hyenas (you choose which class is characterized by which animal–I’ve made my choices *sigh*), I decided to severely limit my exposure to pronouncements made or promoted by those creatures. Still, whiffling around the fringes, reading commentary by folks I do have some degree of confidence in and respect for, I’ve arrived at an interim position on the shootings. (My “final” position–itself subject to change based on more information–will not firm up until a more settled set of information’s available.)
Some perspective in advance, if you’ll follow along. Yes, the shootings were horrible, eveil acts, but they are certainly not the first such, nor are they the most horrific acts of a single person in mass murder in this country’s history. Not even the most horrific acts of mass murder by a single person against students and teachers. Far worse was the school bombing in Bath, Michigan in 1927 that claimed 45 lives and wounded 58 other people, an act planned, apparently over the course of a year, and carried out by one man, Andrew Kehoe, acting alone. In that instance, there was little, compared to today, media ravaging of the victims’ families and the community, and the only politicians I find mention of were local officials, with the exception of the governor, who worked carrying rubble away during the rescue and recovery operation–behavior we’d cscarecely see from our political rulers today (Do something useful? Not on your life!).
A horrible event in the early 20th century that is one data point in perspective on the VA Tech shootings.
But what of the larger setting wherein the VA Tech shootings took place? What of our society today, and particularly, the subset in our nation’s colleges and universities? Consider the contrast between mass shootings in schools and other violent deaths:
Fatal mass shootings in our nation’s elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and colleges number just over 250 killed in the past 80 years. While shooting violence is worsening, it does not approach the toll of other violence on our college youth.
We all seem unable to assimilate the fact that thousands of college students are dying violently each year. About 1,100 students each and every year will commit suicide, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and four of every five young people who attempt suicide exhibit clear warning signs.
The rate of drug overdoses among teens and young adults more than doubled over the five-year period from 1999 to 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. And each year, on average, there are 1,400 drinking-related deaths among college students nationwide, according to the Task Force on College Drinking. The Task Force estimates that binge drinking by college students also contributes to 70,000 cases of sexual assault or rape each year.
Placed in this setting, almost 80 times as many college and university students are killed each year as a result of our sick society as were killed in the VA Tech shootings. Almost 80 times as many.
Let that sink in. Is that a sign of a sick society or what?
From the same article cited above, this:
Richard Arum, professor of sociology and education at New York University, offers one opinion on the root causes: “I would argue that discipline in our schools earlier is not working. And young men, in particular, are not internalizing the norms and values of our society. And periodically, you get acute manifestations of this, as in these rampage school shootings.”
Well, Richard Arum is wrong. It is precisely because young men are internalizing the norms of our contemporary society that these things take place. Both from the perspective of the perpetrators of these horrific acts and from the perspective of responses to these horrific acts. Youth culture is pervaded with celebrations of nihilistic, brutal, degrading violence. Just listen to all the hip-hop or rap you can stomach if you don’t believe me.
Contemporary youth culture is also pervaded with the “no responsibility” ethos. WATCH others being shot (knowing full well you could be next) and do nothing except perhaps run away or hide. Imagine that happening in a college or university filled with young men back from WWII or Korea. Not an easy task, eh? (Well, it’s not easy for folks who were there in that day to imagine… )
A different school shooting in a different Virginia institution of higher learning five years ago turned out quite differently… perhaps because two students there went to their cars when they heard the first shots… and returned armed.
Let me take this a step further. I can NOT imagine ANY “gunman” entering the west Texas schoolhouse where my grandfather and eight of his brothers were in class, succeeding in getting off more than a couple of shots before being put down. In fact, any “gunman” entertaining such thoughts would be doing so with nothing but suicide in mind from the get-go. Sure, the boys’ long guns would all have been stored in the back of the room, but I have no doubt whatever that even the youngest (whose hunting knife I still have and treasure) of the brothers would have been all over such a suicidal “gunman” even if armed with nothing so much as a writing slate. And as for them dutifully lining up like sheep for the slaughter? Not a chance. Not a snowball’s chance in hell.
After all, each one of them was in training to be men.
Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, Right Pundits, 123beta, Maggie’s Notebook, basil’s blog, The Pet Haven Blog, Shadowscope, MONICA, Stuck On Stupid, Phastidio.net, The Amboy Times, Cao’s Blog, Leaning Straight Up, Conservative Cat, Conservative Thoughts, Pursuing Holiness, Pet’s Garden Blog, Faultline USA, Sujet- Celebrities, Woman Honor Thyself, Stageleft, , stikNstein… has no mercy, Blue Star Chronicles, The Pink Flamingo, and Dumb Ox Daily News, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.