...we are a society that looks for answers. It's inherent in human nature. We have a question and we'd like it answered, but sometimes those answers aren't forthcoming. Especially when the question is "Why?"
As you know, earlier this week a random act of violence shattered the calm of a highly respected college campus. And the question of the moment is "Why?" Why did he do it? That's not going to be a question that I believe will be answered anytime soon unfortunately. It may never be answered, and the survivors (one of which was also a Columbine survivor), and the families of the victims may have to live with it. We still ask why about Columbine too, even with the evidence that was found afterwards.
It sucks big hairy pimply fat rear ends, but that's the fact. We, as a nation, may never have an answer other than to say "he was crazy". But that's not going to stop people from trying to assign blame and responsibility to whatever popular thing that they can.
I haven't heard anything about the gunman listening to horrid music that would have compelled him to do this as I heard almost instantly in the Columbine attack, which occurred 8 years ago today. Apparently he listened to rock, rap and classical music - nothing really dangerous in that music that would inspire people to kill. What compelled me to write this today was the news that attorney Jack Thompson, a crusader against video game violence, is on his rampage again. He was the one who went on the Today show and said that the DC Beltway sniper would probably be a violent video game player (and apparently Lee Malvo did play shooter games). He's saying the same thing now about this incident and is putting the blame on Bill Gates for continuing to let his company market Halo and Counterstrike (never mind the fact that Microsoft has nothing to do with Counterstrike other than the fact that they make Windows), saying that it's teaching kids how to commit murder. That it's a "killing simulator".
Jack Thompson should really stuff a sock in it and figure out the evidence before he spouts off on his crusade because apparently the shooter didn't have any video games in his possession. I like blaming Bill Gates for things too, but it's a real stretch to put something like this on him. But he won't be the only one because there are going to be people who blame the violence in the movies, since there were a few pictures in the shooters so-called "press kit" that mimicked scenes in some foreign films. There will be articles and blogs about violence in the media and movies that are negatively influencing our children.
There's always been violence in films, since the beginning of the industry. Horror films were very popular in the silent and early talkies era. It was all fantasy and people knew that. They know that now, as the fantasy has extended to online games and titles for our game consoles. You can't blame the video games or the movies.
Similarly you can't blame the music industry for signing death metal bands, and you can't blame the gun manufacturers for making the guns that were used to shoot people. You could try blaming the guy who sold the shooter his weapons, but he had a right to buy them. Unfortunately if his mental health issues had been reported he wouldn't have been able to buy the guns (which is a whole debate in and of itself), but then he'd probably would have thought of another way to execute people, perhaps using explosives instead (as I said earlier this week). When someone is bent on an idea, focused on it with tunnel vision, there is very little that will dissuade them from their goal.
Perhaps that too is single track thinking on my part. People are trying to look for answers and aren't finding them, so the easier thing is to try to find who to blame for it. It's not the movie makers, or the music makers, or the dreamers of dreams. It's not the gun makers or the car makers, or the computer makers. It's not the police or the medical professionals who said that this guy was ok to be released because he wasn't a threat (although I'm sure that there are angry upset individuals who want to blame them). It's not the university's fault either. And it's probably not the fault of the parents of the killer either because they did their best to raise their son and daughter. He was apparently quiet as a child, and quiet as an adult. He lived his life not really speaking to people - some folks are like that and I worry for the kids who are in school who are quiet children or quiet in high school because they may be regarded with suspicion if they're thought to be too quiet. Or that someone's rights are taken away or even just scrutinized that little bit more because they're not acting the way we *think* they should be.
That aside, today I am wearing a maroon t-shirt under my Saint Mary's sweatshirt. While I am a Gael, today I am too a Hokie, in honor of those who died and those who survived. And for those who are still asking why, I am too...
...but I'm also ok with the idea that we may never know why.