Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A True Judge is a Rare Character

"Campus Carnage". "Monday Massacre". Journalism is powerful, eh? I don't know who hasn't heard of the school shooting in Virginia, but if you haven't, CNN for one, is your friend.

I must admit, I wasn't all too shocked when I first heard of the shootings. C'mon, it's like an annual occurrence now. Somewhere, someone out there is pissed off and has a loaded weapon. And somewhere out there, there will be an unfortunate group of people who will be caught in the crossfire. I don't mean to downplay yesterday's situation, because it is bad, but everyone needs to calm the fuck down. What with little information to go on, everywhere I turn, someone has some sort of opinion over the situation even though it had happened less than 24 hours ago.

"The shooter was Asian." (I admit, that is new. New to North America, at least)

"It was a domestic dispute."

"Why didn't the administration shut down the school?"

"Parents call for firing of Virginia Tech president for mishandling situation." (Already?!)

My sister told me last night that apparently people even went on to Xanga (I didn't know this still existed) to look for any guy that fit the profile of the shooter. Asian, of course, and one who went to Virginia Tech. What a profile (it's just as useless when they try to describe a criminal on the news as "white, 6'0, brown hair"). What else could they go on? Apparently they found some guy and left him a lot of death threats. It turned out that he wasn't the guy because the guy responded to the messages. Death threats to a guy who committed suicide? If this isn't a blatant example of people over-reacting, then I don't know what is.

And I'm not saying all this now because the shooter is Asian and I have some sort of sympathy for him. I don't have sympathy for him because he's Asian. I sympathize for him because 9 out of 10 these kind of killers have had problems, problems that perhaps weren't entirely his fault. Maybe they were partly his fault. Before I read the latest news today, I had already assumed that this guy was probably a loner and had taken extreme measures to perhaps render his relationship status (the domestic dispute at the dormitory). It's his fault that he didn't know how to handle the situation. It is perhaps society's fault that he probably had real low self-esteem and had all that anger (after all, he had to be mad at someone/something). This is what happens when people lack compassion. They are too self-absorbed to realize what is going on around them and by the time it's too late, they are still too self-absorbed to pick out the sentiments of the situation to even begin to rationalize. Of course, you cannot force people to be compassionate, even in the slightest. This brings about 'lifeboat ethics' and in turn, stuff like random shootings, are just a fact of life (oh, I can just see people now, marching to my door with torches to put my head on a stick).

Of course, I am not speaking specifically of this Virginia Tech shooter particularly (allegedly he was a South Korean student, although that is entirely irrelevant). If you look back on previous school shootings, and even terrorist attacks, most of the them shared the same M.O.: loners, mad, depressed, ignorant, vengeful, hurt, etc., etc. It's so easy to get mad at the Korean guy, the Columbine guys and yes, even those disgruntled postal workers, but we still have to remember that they were humans just like any one of us. I am in no way condoning their actions from a result of their emotional instability, but they were brothers, sons, sisters and daughters, just like anyone of us. They had families and they also had some sort of livelihood. These people are/were still your fellow human beings and it would be ethically questionable to judge them for their actions but not even try to understand what must have been going through their heads. After all, what good does it do to exert your anger towards that person on their Xanga, Facebook, family, religion, nationality or sex? Nothing. Those victims won't come back, problems are not solved, wars are still going on.

I guess that's all I have to say on this subject. Oh, but I will note that I am in awe of how survival instincts work in times of crisis. I must applaud those four survivors because not everyone would have done what they did. That, I find, awe-inspiring and truly worth acknowledging because most people would not act rationally in those situations.

I just reread what I've written and judging from this, I think I am too liberal. Oh well. Everyone has a fault, I guess. It's probably easy for me to justify my thoughts on this because I've never lost a friend/family member to something like this. But does that make my point meritless, or am I perhaps being hypocritical in saying all this without having experienced such a loss?

This is also a message to everyone that no one should send me invitations to Facebook groups or chain letters regarding 'condolences to the victims' or 'hatred to the shooter or his family' or to otherwise acknowledge this situation as extraordinary. All you'll get back from me is pity because this is anything but out of the ordinary.

1 comment:

Paul Kishimoto said...

Too liberal?

From anywhere on the political spectrum it should be apparent that jail sentences and executions are reactions to crime, while an individual in a nurturing and inclusive community is unlikely to commit one in the first place.

I was speaking to Bob, and we realized that the first thing we both thought upon hearing of the shootings was "So? How many died violently in Iraq today?"

The Gun Owners of America mourn the dead as "victims of a disarmament zone"; the stated conclusion is that other students should have been equipped to stop the shooter — that is, armed themselves.

In Iraq, "tough love" is prescribed, without consideration of the effect of conflict on youth who may become extremists and fighters. To suggest otherwise is cast as "un-American" and "harmful to the troops." A similar rhetoric is being developed around the war in Afghanistan.

Tragedy should not be a nail to hang one's political beliefs on. If conservatives (many of whom are gun owners, or warhawks) do so, they should be loudly denounced for doing so. However, answering on their terms ("As a liberal, I believe this means...") makes a falsely partisan issue of a very simple desire: wanting fewer people to die from violence.