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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Three kinds of stupid

What is it about tragedy on a large scale that brings out teh stupid in so many people.

Reading news reports yesterday about the mass murder on the Virginia Tech campus, i wondered about the 2 hour gap between the first pair of killings in a dorm at 7 am, and the larger slaughter in the classrooms. I didn't say or write anything at the time, because it was possible that in the confusion that surrounds these kinds of events, facts can get jumbled. And i was pretty much too numb to think about the meaning of that two hour break. See, i have a daughter getting ready to graduate from college in a couple of weeks (not at Va. Tech), and i kept thinking about all those young lives on the brink of their great adventure suddenly snuffed out.

But today, it comes out that University officials, as well as campus and Blacksburg police acknowledged that after the first shootings in the dormitory, they assumed the shooting was "domestic in nature" and saw no need to take any protective measures for the rest of campus.

Ahem. These people are professionals?

Words fail.

But, compared to some other folks, who had the time to actually consider their words and decisions, that's only minor league stupidity.

Consider, Debbie Schlussel and other conservative bloggers who are using this as a call for greater gun ownership on campus. (In keeping with this blog's policy of not linking to morons, i invite you acquaint yourself with Google). The theory goes that if one or more of the students in the classrooms being shot up were in fact armed, many lives could have been saved. Of course, this conclusion is based on careful observation of the behavior of large numbers of human beings in urban environments where gun ownership and possession is nearly universal. Anyone with half a brain can see how safe it is to walk around in Baghdad, for example, and how low the crime rate is there.

But even Schlussel and her ilk are only Triple-A material compared to a real league leader like Nathanael Blake. Blake raises stupidity to high art.

Something is clearly wrong with the men in our culture. Among the first rules of manliness are fighting bad guys and protecting others: in a word, courage. And not a one of the healthy young fellows in the classrooms seems to have done that. . . .

Am I noble, courageous and self-sacrificing? I don’t know; but I should hope to be so when necessary.


Well, since Blake appears to be a 20-something, recent college graduate hiding behind a keyboard, we know that, when his country needs him in Iraq, he's anything but noble, courageous and self-sacrificing. Perhaps there are a few too many people with guns in Baghdad for this prime example of chickenhawkitude.

Over thirty people are dead in the span of about 5 or 10 minutes, and all this asshole can think to say is it's their own fault?

That's a level of stupidity that can only be attained by a rare few.

4 Comments:

  • Agreed about the idiocy of the wingnuts in the blogosphere. I've seen this same argument, too. The crazies have always been with us, but now they just sound louder.

    Not sure I can agree in re the VT police response. I mean, the sudden violence... the appearance of a domestic conflict... a suspect/person of interest (reportedly) in custody. Who would think someone would commit this crime, cease and flee, then wait two hours and start again?

    That said, what is "normal" for how campus police respond to something like this is going to change a great deal thanks to yesterday's tragedy.

    By Blogger Kevin, at 7:32 PM  

  • Here's why i think the University and the police have to come in for criticism.

    First, there are two possibilities for a "domestic" dispute. One is the murder/suicide. The absence of a weapon should have ruled that out completely and immediately.

    So the second possiblity is that there's at least one man with at least one gun who's just killed two people in a very public place.

    If a disgruntled ex-boyfriend walks into my office building and tracks his former girlfriend down and kills her and her supervisor who tries to intervene, and then leaves the building, i would certainly hope that until the Hillsborough police have more than a "person of interest" in their hands (ie - they've got the guy and the murder weapon) that they are letting everyone in Hillsborough know that there's a murderer on the loose.

    Transfer those circumstances to the relatively insulated environment of a university, and not alerting the campus community immediately was the height of unprofessionalism. Law enforcement personnel especially know that things are not always what they seem. Making the assumption that the "person of interest" they were speaking to at 8 o'clock or whenever was just flat out stupid. And that should have been apparent without the benefit of hindsight.

    By Blogger Barry Ragin, at 7:55 PM  

  • Kevin, i think today's recent developments make the University and Blacksburg law enforcement officials look even worse than they did earlier.

    To just assume, based on a statement from a roommate that the first victim's boyfriend owned several guns, that those killings were a domestic dispute, is incomprehensible. From what i can tell, there was no eyewitness identification of the boyfriend at the site.

    And this news about the killer mailing the package to NBC news? Man, if the University and police had responded differently . . .

    By Blogger Barry Ragin, at 5:37 PM  

  • There's no question this is a horrible situation. My wife and I talked a lot about this on the news last night, particularly after hearing more about what the roommate told police concerning the ex-boyfriend and the guns.

    Would an abundance of caution have been better? Yes, absolutely, from an outcomes perspective. But if I put myself in their shoes, I can see how they, legitimately, could have made this mistake.

    One part of this that gives me a great deal of pause is the fact that in my previous job at Harvard, I carried a cell phone 24/7 for certain IT emergencies. One of these was when campus police or the deans needed to send out a mass announcement -- in the case of a student suicide or death, or due to a campus safety issue. We were at the ready to mass email, but 2-3 years back, we had no provisions for text messaging or outbound calls to students. No one, to my knowledge, even thought of that. And emails took a while to go out.

    There was nothing as creepy to me as gettng a call from the public information officer with HUPD -- and knowing from the Caller ID that somewhere, something terrible had happened to a student.

    As I mentioned above, I think universities are going to take a laser light approach to SOP and response to these events. Frankly, after Monday... I'm glad I don't carry that cell phone anymore.

    I know this whole incident

    By Blogger Kevin, at 8:35 AM  

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