Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It's been over a week and thus time for me to comment on the Virginia shooting.

1) I am a BIG gun advocate. I love guns. I own many of them. I think they do more good than harm. I’m all for protecting the second amendment. But, even I have to wonder, how on earth someone once declared mentally ill walks into a gun shop and legally purchases a gun within half an hour? We have all these gun control laws to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, and yet no one thought to include the mentally ill on that list. Seems to me like the gun control lobby is barking up the wrong tree. You’ll never keep guns away from criminals, they simply know too many people who know too many ways around the law. But the mentally ill? This is where gun control laws can do some good. The Brady Bill itself came about as the result of a mentally ill lunatic with a gun, not a convicted criminal. Shouldn’t we include mental health checks as part of our background check before selling someone a firearm? Shouldn’t we include “not crazy” as a prerequisite to purchase a gun in this country? That’s a check box that we all should have to fill….Have you ever committed a crime – check; Have you ever served time in prison – check; Have you ever been declared mentally ill and an imminent threat to self or others – check. Stop me if I appear out of line in demanding that mentally ill people should not be allowed to purchase firearms. This is so fundamentally sound that the fact that we aren’t doing it represents a breech in the government’s responsibility to protect its citizens…and it should change immediately.

2) At what point were we going to recognize that this kid might be dangerous? In 8th grade he put together a “death list” of people he wanted to kill. This included classmates and teachers. He was suspended for a month. In college, one of his creative writing teachers was so disturbed by his work that she threatened to resign if action was not taken to intervene. One of these writings was a play about a distressed father and son where one of them eventually goes on a shooting rampage. He had multiple complaints filed against him for stalking girls on campus. He was declared mentally ill and an “imminent threat to self and others” by a court order, and was ordered into mental health treatment. How many flares does this guy have to send up before we realize that he might be dangerous? And what on earth was this kid doing in a college dorm? I understand the right to privacy when it comes to mental health, but at some point that right to privacy begins to infringe on the rights of others…like the right to NOT be murdered by a raging Korean lunatic while taking notes in German language class. Eventually, we have to recognize the potential for danger in people like this and maybe do something to prevent them from a shooting rampage. Just a thought.

3) I’m all for the freedom of the press, but I think airing this sicko’s whiny, self-gratifying video is despicable. This is not news. Just report that the maniac sent a video to NBC news that was turned over to the FBI and then promptly destroyed. Don’t give anymore airtime to this kid. That’s exactly what he wants. In doing this, you’ve just made him the hero of self-pitying homicidal maniacs all over the country. He idolized Kliebold and Harris. Now, there will one day be a kid who does something similar with admiration for Crazy Cho. Not that I’m surprised. NBC is slowly becoming the Globe of network news. I wouldn’t expect them to do anything that requires character. They don’t bat an eye at wallowing in the mud when it comes to reporting the news, and this is no different. I think it’s horrible that these families are grieving their loss and at the same time have to endure this idiot’s mindless rants about how much of a loser he is and how much his life sucked....boo-friggin-hoo. Yes, another network would have likely aired the video, so what. At least take the high road and say that NBC news refuses to gratify maniacal whiny murderers. How much better would NBC look after that? Give it a rest. Have a little respect for the families. Don’t send that message to future would-be whiny ass killers. Don’t air the video.

4) At some point we as a society have to acknowledge that our culture has become one that does not respect human life. I challenge anyone to argue that point. Whether on the radio, at the movies, in video games or on primetime television, we have become a culture that no longer recognizes the humanity in human beings. Go to a movie theater and you can buy a ticket to any number of movies that show murder, rape, incest, dismemberment and extreme violence that, in many ways, glorifies those committing the violence. Take a random pick from the Hip-Hop shelf at the local record store and you’ll hear about shooting cops, beating women ( or Ho's as they are affectionately called), punching pregnant women in the stomach and killing rival gang members. You can buy a video game that allows you to go on an urban killing spree while earning points and bonuses in the process. Get pregnant, and an abortion is just a phone call away. And don’t even get me started on fetal stem cell research. We are a culture that views human life much differently than we did 50 years ago, and the problem goes way beyond the availability of guns. We’ve had guns for centuries. We’ve only had school shootings for a few decades. We have lost our respect for each other, and we’ve lost our respect for the precious gift that is human life. Now, we see this reflected in our children and we are all paying dearly for it. Yet, we seem to think that bullying is a problem...what!? There isn't a person alive who wasn't bullied at some point. The difference is that prior generations grew up knowing that taking a gun to school and murdering your classmates was actually wrong. Somewhere along the line we forgot to cover that one with this generation. Now, any 6 year old can simulate murder on their X-Box to get to level 4 of Grand Theft Auto. But that's OK. It's freedom of the something that allows this so it must be good for us, right? Oh, but it's a gun problem, or a bullying problem, or a failure to properly express ourselves problem, or a lack of counseling problem? Our heads are buried so deep in the sand (or some other dark orifice) that by the time we grasp the concept that a culture that doesn't respect life is a culture that embraces death, it will be too late.

Tomorrow's post will address another aspect of this tragedy. It's something that I noticed the day after the shootings and it has me a little disgusted, and a lot disturbed. I promise it will be controversial and I'm sure to catch A LOT of flak over it.

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