Friday, April 20, 2007

Virginia Tech

There really isn't much you can say about the tragedy at Virginia Tech, other than it should have never happened. But in light of the sensationalist reaction from every relevent news and media outlet in the wake of this calamity, it should hardly come as a surprise that this type of misery has become almost routine. We've come to expect it. It's no longer a question of if?, but rather when? it will happen again. And it should have never become this way. But the path which brought us here can be fairly easily illuminated.

Because you can chalk it up to a lack of gun control (part of the reason), the culture of fear inherent in the U.S. (some of the reason), violence on TV and in the movies (negligible); but after observing this latest tragedy from a distance (I haven't been glued to the T.V. in numbed disbelief like I was during the Columbine masacre), I can honestly say that it is the media's reaction to this latest incident, just like their reactions to the incidents leading up to this past week's, that needs to be held accountable. Maybe there really is something to this kid's claim. Because maybe there really is blood on their hands.

Which is precisely the problem. Because we never should have known what this highly disturbed kid's issues were. It should have never occurred to him to mail in video recordings and his manifesto to NBC, and NBC most certainly should have never revealed his ramblings to the public. This should have never been news in the past, and it should not have been news this week. Because in my mind, playing his video recordings and showing his picture and reading his manifesto and printing his name is tantamount to giving in to a hostage taker's demands. And from every big-time Hollywood feature I've ever seen, I've been under the impression that the U.S. has a policy to outright refuse all terrorist demands, no matter what the reprecussions, for fear of encouraging future hostage situations. Which makes perfect sense. Because if you give a terrorist what he asks for, all potential terrorists will take it as an invitation to take like-minded action.

But this is apparently what we're prepared to do in this case. Because all this psychotic kid wanted was attention, and the attention he is currently recieving would have probably exceeded his wildest dreams. And we should be ashamed of ourselves for granting it.

Because think about it. If you're a borderline nut job, and you're life isn't worth living anymore, won't the fame this kid is receiving maybe get you to thinking, "hey, my life sucks and I'm gonna kill myself anyway, I might as well bring down 32 innocent people with me and make a name for myself"? Maybe not. But maybe. And then maybe next time it won't be 32 innocent people, because 32 won't be enough. Maybe next time it'll be 37, or 42, or 200. Something to really give people a reason to remember him by. A reason to print his name and show his picture and listen to his bitching about how unfair life is... The way this story has been handled has been nothing short of sickening.

I have no idea about who the murdered were. I don't know a single name. I don't know where any of them were born, or what they majored in, or whether or not they were quiet or if they read their twisted short stories in a deep and deranged voice. I don't know whether or not they'd had a rough childhood because they're english wasn't very good, and I don't know if they used to sign their names with a question mark or any other punctuation symbol. I don't know any of those details about the murdered. But I know all of these trivial details about the murderer. And this fact is an inexcusable disgrace.

Because it is the innocent who are the truly martyred, though you would never guess it by their representation in the media. They have been martyred for the sins of the sensationalist media representation that not only opens the door for, but actually encourages greater future tragedies. And they have been martyred for our sins, as we are the ones who crave this type of coverage. We are the ones who put up with it. We are the ones who endorse it.

I just pray that the deaths of the 32 innocent victims are not in vain. I pray that the next time something like this happens, we find the strength to do the right thing, by refusing the temptation to gawk. By refusing to grant the murderer his wishes. And in so doing, preventing this type of tragedy from ever happening again.

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