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Virginia tragedy

Original post made by Gina Channell-Allen, publisher of Danville Express, on Apr 19, 2007

I am horrified by the events surrounding the tragedy in Virginia. And that includes everything from the failure of the administration, parents, classmates to stop the killer at the first of many warnings (his writings, for example) to the lack of warning that allowed students to continue to classes, to the massive news orgy this has become. I mean, with his digital "manifesto" as it's being called, this murderer has received television air-time, Internet time and more ink than is respectable.
Am I the only one who feels this way?

Comments (4)

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Posted by Natalie O'Neill
a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2007 at 12:06 pm

It's true there is a "news orgy" surrounding the tragedy, but as to whether it's wasted ink, I'm not so sure. It depends on the news source's intentions. Are they earnest in searching for "the why" of the story - for the purposes of preventing catastrophes like this from happening again? Or are they jumping on the media bandwagon because they know America is hooked on clips of the massacre's aftermath?

In beating the issue into the ground, some good things do come. We've got campuses everywhere taking note to lock down, lock down, lock down if there are any reports of guns. We've got journalists digging up clues that could make college professors and students more sensitive to, or at least more cautious around the next quiet disturbed kid. And we've got editors writing columns on how it shouldn't be so easy to acquire a gun - especially with a history of mental illness. These things can bring positive change.

It's human nature to fixate on things out of the ordinary. Some might say that's why reporters like me and publishers like you are able to put food on the table. I just hope all the hoopla leads to something good.


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Posted by Hal Bailey
a resident of Alamo
on Apr 19, 2007 at 12:23 pm

Dear Gina,

The ability of media to feed over-exposure of criminal behavior has been a part of everything from 9/11 to the VT criminal acts. Such coverage leans toward the sensational rather than equally savage events. War, Cigarettes and Drugs kill more people each year than all sensationalized criminal acts including Littleton CO, 9/11, and VT. But those stories do not have immediate, sensational value to news entertainment such as Fox News, CNN and other FAUX news operations.

Sensational news entertainment has allowed the course of our culture and humanity to be altered. Such sensationalism breeds fear, revenge, prejudice, further violence and dogmatic, ignorant arrogance that is opposite to our culture and humanity. As such sensationalism finally and illegitimately elected George W. Bush President in 2004, we are now a nation conditioned to violence, openly prejudice, and far from our former humanity.

We need to quietly greive with the families of ALL the dead at VT and not seek "video game" news sensationalism in the media.

Excellent point, Thank YOU,

Hal Bailey


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Posted by Jordan
a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2007 at 2:47 pm

I don't think the shootings or the media circus at Virginia Tech is surprising. Frankly, the fatal events at Virginia echo the current tempestuous times, which are engulfed in a swamp of overindulgence, apathy, individualism and excessive materialism.

When one paints the Virginian events into a global picture with how government operates; with how people use religion, politics, economics and sexuality as excuses to divide themselves; with popular culture advocating: "I want and I feel, therefore, I must act;" with the decline of family structure and the increase of divorce rates, with the flagrant disrespect and arrogance expressed by many current youth; with the bellicose and belligerent conflicts in the Middle East, with the unbridled chaos that pummeled New Orleans; with oppression and suppression circumventing - whether subtle or blatant -in many nations, with the catastrophic tidal wave that swallowed thousands of lives in the Indian Ocean; one can see that the killings in Virginia are merely symptoms of world that is crumbling and decaying into oblivion.

Additionally, I think it's unfair to place responsibility or blame on school administrators for failing to catch the suspected shooter at Virginia Tech. One often cannot really predict human behavior due to its nebulous and erratic nature.

What I find interesting is how advanced technology is prevalent but how little attention or time is given to human development - or human interaction. Until the world in general learns to discover themselves in who they really are and meant to be and connect with each other in a unified and loving fashion, people hurting or destroying one another will continue to persist.

Just my one cent and half about this subject.


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Posted by B. Lynn Goodwin
a resident of Danville
on Apr 23, 2007 at 9:49 am

Curled quietly in a corner of Norris Hall, I am a voiceless witness to the massacre at Virginia Tech. I have no hands, no feet, and no power. I am a snake.
In the midst of violence, you don't think or process. You see yellow flames at the end of a long, metal stick. The noise blasts you off your feet, if you are lucky enough to have feet. Maybe you wonder why a shoulder or a thigh is burning and when you spilled nail polish on your shirt or paint on your pants.
I slithered through blood, alive. Cho Seung-Hui was not after me. His targets were humans. Some would say that he and I have much in common, but they are not looking beneath the surface. Even snakes are God's creatures.
My ancestors got a bad rap in the Garden of Eden. Well, who doesn't have an evil relative or at least a quirky aunt? I am not responsible for my past. I, personally, am not a symbol of evil, nor was Cho a symbol of all mental illness.
As I slithered through the blood spilled on the floor of the classroom that day, I'll admit my first thought was of me. If they find all this blood on me, will it be used as evidence in a court of law? When I slid next to the muscle-bound arm of an engineering student, flopped across the pool of blood darkening the carpet, something shifted. He wasn’t cold yet, but he wasn't warm either. As the life drained out of him, I understood 'earthly remains' in a new way.
Breath is life. A heartbeat is life. A heart, mind, and soul are all life, and life is fragile, sustained by air and a pumping heart and blood that stays within its vessels. Blood is meant for the body, not for rivers across a classroom. Blood has boundaries.
I slithered into the hall and watched as shiny black shoes and tan pants raced past. Wails of sirens. Wails of people. The ratta-tat-tat of gunfire bounces through every brain, drowning out cell phones and cries. It haunts survivors. My slimy underbelly mixes with blood, and I feel the presence of dead ones. We are equally bewildered.
Going to sleep is a peaceful way out. You cannot watch yourself do it, so I watch your eyes close and your muscles relax. I watch your breathing slow until it stops. I want to reach out and wrap my body around yours, knowing you will not scream, 'repulsive thing' or flail.
I see the course of history altered as one life after another is snuffed out. Roommates will not make it home. Faculty positions will need to be filled. Children will not be born. The ripple effect is amazing.
Thirty-three dead, including the sniper.
In Baghdad two days later, one hundred ninety-nine people were killed 'in a series of roadside bombings.' Over six times more people died there, a world away, but the daily death toll flowed past numb ears. It is a familiar refrain.
'How many were Americans?' someone asked.
'Who cares?' I wanted to say. Labels don't matter. Death is too frequent and familiar, wherever it occurs. Even a snake like me has to wonder what Cho's mental illness taught the terrorists about the soft underbelly of America.


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