Friday, April 20, 2007

A Survivor Speaks

Compelling testamony that, despite what people like John Derbyshire say, there was nothing anyone could do once the shooting began.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Pundits Call Students Cowards

John Derbyshire
Strange, John Derbyshire Reminds Me Of Someone...

In a previous post, I noted that some bloggers responding to the Virginia Tech tragedy are as delusional as the gunman himself. These people believe that if we eliminated the 30 day waiting period between buying handguns and allowed students to carry guns around, the VT murderer WOULD NOT HAVE carried out his plan sooner and easier, but WOULD HAVE, in their view, been stopped in his tracks.

The VT Killer bought his guns in a matter of minutes at a local gun shop, no questions asked (despite the fact that every person ever to meet the kid says there was something "off" about him). But according to the gun crazy right wingers, HE SHOULD GOTTEN A GUN EVEN EASIER!!!!

Can you imagine what chaos would have ensued had the cops entered the building and been faced with dozens of students running around with guns? "Which one's the shooter!?!?!" "Drop your weapon!!' "You too!!!" "No, not you!!"

Somehow, this heated Mexican standoff scenario escapes the imagination of these wackos. But then again, many of them voted for George W. Bush, so they aren't exactly rational people to begin with.

But even worse than the gun nuts (at least they have an ideology), are the keyboard warriors who claim that, if they were there, they would have gone Bruce Lee on the gunman's ass, taking him out with a few well placed karate chops. These self-proclaimed deskchair heroes blame the Virginia Tech students for letting the massacre get out of hand. Like Nathanael Blake, who writes:

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.
and John Derbyshire OF THE NATIONAL REVIEW (a supposedly legitimate publication), who writes:

At the very least, count the shots and jump him reloading or changing hands. Better yet, just jump him. Handguns aren't very accurate, even at close range. I shoot mine all the time at the range, and I still can't hit squat. I doubt this guy was any better than I am. And even if hit, a .22 needs to find something important to do real damage—your chances aren't bad.
No, John and Nathanael's comments were not a misguided attempt at humor. These guys were serious.

First off, no one in Norris Hall that day had any idea a shooting was going to take place. Unlike John and Nathanael, who know every detail about the gunman, down to the caliber of the bullets he was shooting, those sitting in their classrooms that day HAD NO IDEA WHO OR WHAT WAS OUTSIDE.

The building does not have transparent walls. And the classrooms did not have a sophisticated communications network where every movement of the killer was traced and relayed. The sound of gunshots and screams were the only knowledge anyone had about the situation. For all anyone in the building knew, there were multiple gunmen. The police themselves didn't rule out a second gunman until much, much later that day.

Secondly, although I'm glad John Dickhead has terrible aim, how is someone under fire expected to make that rationalization? Once again, for all the students knew, the shooter was a crack shot, a wacked out soldier from one of the area's military families. The human instinct is to avoid gunfire, not run towards it. Soldiers, armed to the teeth, take cover when an enemy fires upon them. Police hide behind bullet shields. Are we really supposed to expect an unarmed, untrained kid to do what even a soldier or policeman wouldn't??

One of the commenters on Nathaniel's blog says he teaches his kid to stand up for himself. That's great, when you have to stand up to a bully in the schoolyard. But when a guy with multiple guns is on a killing spree, it might be best to tell your kid to run away. That is, if you want your kid to live.

Thirdly, both Nathanael and John cite the passengers on flight 93 as an example we should all follow. There's just a myriad of problems with this. I'll name the two most obvious.

1. The passengers of flight 93 are dead.

2. The passengers of flight 93 KNEW they were going to die.

Due to cell phone conversations, the passengers on flight 93 knew the other planes had crashed into buildings. They assumed, correctly, that they were headed into a building themselves. They only had two options. Sit and die and let a bunch of other people die... or fight and maybe save themselves, but most likely, die while saving countless others.

But the Virginia Tech students had many more options available. They were in a situation where their death was not a foregone conclusion. They could save themselves by escaping, by hiding, by playing dead. And they did, and they're alive because of it. To ask one or several of them to sacrifice their own life without even knowing if it would in fact save anybody, is an unreasonable demand.

There's a good chance many more of the 32 victims (and the many injured) did rush the shooter. We've only heard of a few that blocked the door, but that's due to the fact that they're either alive or were witnessed by people who survived. Who's to say that one of those kids who died alone in the hallway wasn't rushing towards the gunman when the bullets started flying?

Both John and Nathanael have clearly never felt the paralyzing effects of fear. Maybe they've watched too many action movies, played too many hours of Halo 2, or smoked too much crystal meth. But to me, their brash, self-promoting, moronic statements are far worse than anything Don Imus said. They're blaming the friends and classmates of the dead, and the dead themselves, for a tragedy no one could have anticipated or stopped. Maybe making comments like that makes John and Nathanael feel like big men, but ultimately, their words reveal what sad, pathetic, lonely men these two really are. They declare themselves heroes without having ever done anything heroic.

My heart goes out to all those in mourning. And to anyone made to feel guilty about all this, remember that we can't spend the present trying to predict the future and change the past. No one could have known what was going to happen, and no one can change what did. The only thing we know for sure is that we have today, and it goes by too quick to waste it on should haves and could haves.

And to John and Nathanael, I hope that one day, you'll get to follow your own advice and run straight towards a guy firing bullets at you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Media Using Facebook To Exploit Learn More About Tragedy

From A Facebook Group

Media outlets at home and abroad are employing social networking technology to gain insight into the Virginia Tech tragedy.

The name of the Virginia Tech murderer (which I will not use here) has been released to the media, as have the names of the first few victims. In this digital age, where more and more people have online profiles, it was only a matter of time before curious individuals looked up the killer's and victims' Facebook and MySpace accounts.

The killer does not have an online profile, but his first victim does. His alleged girlfriend A freshman English Major at Virginia Tech. A facebook tribute group to her was created by two boys at different schools, who apparently knew the girl from high school. The group's message board, in addition to featuring memories and words of support from friends, contains messages from individuals claiming to be from large media organizations.

Matt Davidowitz, from Hofstra, writes:

I am writing as a member of Inside Edition, the television news magaziine [sic]. I know that this is a difficult time for everyone who knew Emily. It seems as if anyone who knew her was the better for it. If anyone would be willing to talk about Emily and everything she was a part of, please call me at (212) 817-5458. We have people on the VT campus who would can go where ever you would need them to. If you are hesitant, and haven't decided whether to talk to the media yet, please call me and we can discuss it further. Thanks.

James Clothier, from London, writes:

I know it's a difficult time to hear from journalists, but over here in England it's the only thing people are talking about. Were any Brits out there who want to talk?
I'm writing from The Sun, in London. Phone is 0044207 782 4104.
In a different Facebook group, dedicated to all the victims, Bradley Olson from UPenn writes:

My name is Brad Olson and I'm a reporter for the Baltimore Sun. I'm trying to write a story putting together accounts from many people about what happened yesterday. I know this isn't easy for anyone, but we're trying to something that explains what went on, and how everyone is coping. Anyone who wouldn't mind writing me what happened to you on 4/16, or speaking to me about your experiences for five minutes, please e-mail at
Clearly, the media is realizing that social networks, Facebook especially, can be a useful resource when tragedies on college campuses occur. The student body is immediately accessible, and if a reporter has a Facebook account based at Virginia Tech, the detailed profiles of the victims are available to be viewed and to gather information from. There's a disturbing voyeuristic quality to it all.

Brad Olson apparently uses web forums for stories often. A story he wrote about a Naval Academy spring break trip got this response from a reader: "Your newspaper's standards have reached a new low. Bradley Olson has taken unsubstantiated rumors confirmed by anonymous Web site forum sources and, with no facts, has attempted to smear the academy."

That said, Brad isn't alone in using public forums on the web to gain insight into breaking news events. But that criticism should serve as a warning to reporters that may decide to rely on information gleaned from Facebook profiles when writing stories about the victims. The information Facebookers post on their profiles isn't always true, and isn't always what they'd like known by those outside their circle of friends. One can only hope the media is responsible and doesn't tread too much on the personal space of the Virginia Tech victims and their friends and families.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Gun Nuts Relish VT Tragedy

Gun Lovers Fail To See How The Above Is Insane

While most sane individuals would view what happened today at Virginia Tech as evidence that current gun control laws are ineffective, there are others who feel the whole disaster could have been averted if there WERE MORE GUNS.

[Update] John Derbyshire says it's the victims' own fault they're dead.

According to these wackjobs, if everyone at Virginia Tech had a gun, then they could have shot the gunman before his rampage got out of control.

Yes, the gaps in logic astound. A student with a gun killed 33 people. So the solution is... make it easier for students to get guns??? So every crazy kid with a revenge fantasy can bring his hand cannon to biology class? It's ok, as long as some of the good kids have guns. Let the bullets fly and let God sort em out!!!

Back in the place where most of us live--Reality--more access to guns doesn't mean more good people defending themselves with guns. It means more bad people can get guns easier.

If Columbine and today's massacre at Virginia Tech have shown us anything, it's that existing gun laws have not prevented insane kids from obtaining firearms and using them to slaughter innocent people. The Columbine kids got their weapons without so much as a background check. How easy was it for the gunman of today's shooting to get his gun?? If you're a law abiding citizen with no plans to murder somebody, shouldn't you be willing to endure extra security hurdles to buy a gun? Shouldn't you be willing to be held responsible if your weapon is stolen or used in a killing? Maybe that would make you lock it away a little better. Maybe gun sellers would think twice before selling a gun to a shady buyer.

Until we make gun sellers, gun manufacturers, and gun owners responsible for the devastation their weapons may cause, tragedies like this are inevitable.

Stay Strong VT

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