I don’t have any desire to delve into the political issues arising from the shootings at Virginia Tech beyond the issues I already discuss here. With that in mind, two issues are driving me nuts from the fallout.
Told to express emotion for a creative-writing class, high school senior Allen Lee penned an essay so disturbing to his teacher, school administrators and police that he was charged with disorderly conduct, officials said Wednesday.
Lee, 18, a straight-A student at Cary-Grove High School, was arrested Tuesday near his home and charged with the misdemeanor for an essay police described as violently disturbing but not directed toward any specific person or location.
Such a story might signal a problem that will lead to mass murder. Ban it. Are people really this stupid and oblivious to the evidence that violence in literature and movies and television and theater overwhelmingly does not lead to acting out that violence? The answer appears to be yes, which is a reflection of our desire to ban anything and everything that might be bad, no matter how small the risk actually is. We’re only two weeks beyond the tragedy, yet we’ve already learned the wrong lessons. Brilliant.
I know what happened at Virginia Tech will always follow the school, no matter how much good happened before or happens in the future. It’s human nature to remember the awful more than the good. I realize that my years of happiness with Virginia Tech and being a Hokie are personal, not national. I accept that and won’t try to fight human nature. But I’m not ready to idle away as pontificators misuse language for their agenda.
For example, last week, the editors of the Wall Street Journal analyzed “Blacksburg’s Silver Lining”:
In the wake of an event such as Virginia Tech, our system moves heaven and earth to figure out what went wrong and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again. This of course is what we did after September 11 and after the botched response to Hurricane Katrina.
Here’s what’s really unnerving about this inevitable “process”: In June 2000, the Bremer Report of the National Commission on Terrorism described virtually everything we needed to know about preparing for the kind of attack that occurred in September 2001. Similarly–and you can guess what you’re about to read–in 2002 the Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative, conducted by the Secret Service and the Department of Education, told us virtually everything we need to know to prevent a Virginia Tech.
…for the purposes of stopping another Virginia Tech…
Virginia Tech is a school, not an event. Blacksburg is a town, not an event. The murders at Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, were the event. If you can’t get this right, I won’t listen to anything else you have to say. (Not that the editors provided anything worth adopting, choosing instead for the expected dismissal of rights in favor of the appearance of safety.)