4.17.2007

I've seen your flag on the marble arch and love is not a victory march

This is a little disjointed -- but I have about a million different thoughts running through my head at the moment, so for now, I have this.

Before I get started on this, heck I have been writing and rewriting this for over 2 hours -- I am going to include a disclaimer. It goes against my first instinct, I should be able to state my opinion without (hopefully) giving anyone the impression that I condone killing, that I hold anyone who takes the life of another human being in any sort of regard. It shouldn't be necessary, but I have been alive through enough of these sort of incidents to know that people react with their gut and I understand people are not going to agree with me.

A couple facts about myself and my experiences that play into what I am going to say. I am a gun owner. I own a semi-automatic 22 pistol, and I have gone to shooting ranges with my dad several times. I am a damn good shot, and I have experience loading and shooting my dad’s 9mm semi automatic pistol, a 22 pistol, as well as rifles. I know how easy it is to expel an empty clip and reload. It’s quick, with any practice at all, it’s almost instantaneous. I also know how much ammo that man had to be carrying. A standard 9 mm clip carries 15 rounds which means he was carrying several, all preloaded. He had thought this out. I do not think guns are inherently evil, nor do I think that law-abiding citizens should be stopped from purchasing guns.

I have also been the kid who wrote violent pieces for class. In the 6th grade for a book writing/binding project, I wrote a violent book. It included murder, revenge, hell I beheaded a fellow classmate with an axe and then ended up destroying her reanimated body and setting it on fire before being locked away in a mental institution. I was 12. I know were I in school post-Columbine, I am sure it would have been seen as more than a creative project. I also take anti-depressants. Add those up without any other details -- I probably fit the profile.

My brother went through elementary school and junior high being tortured by other kids.
I am not talking about teasing. Yes there was that, but it went much further -- he was pushed, shoved and harassed. Not good natured ribbing. Yes, he was a nerd, yes he was smart and stood out because of that. He is know a Phd teaching early American Literature at a university and he’s a father of 2. He wrote pieces in junior high about suicide.

My sister wrote a piece in high school (a play I think) about killing her band teacher. She now has her Master’s in percussion and is a lawyer.

I wish there was a standard answer to why things happen. I wish there was a quick answer as to why some people go on to hurt others. Frankly, no matter how badly we want that, there isn’t.

This is one of those things that every one writes about when it happens. A thousand different experiences and thoughts. I do not know any one who attends or has attended Virginia Tech. I haven't been a college student in over 10 years.
What bothers me about situations like this is the debates that re-ignite when it happens. You have a "loner shooter" they are quiet, no one knows them, they have no known group of friends, except people find something about them "disturbing."
I am no expert on anything. I don't claim to be. I have read the "violent plays" that are now over the internet that supposedly point to a disturbed person. I have read that his writing teacher suggested he go to counseling. Here is my thought on this -- regardless of what we think, this person was an adult. You cannot force anyone to go to get help. You also in my opinion, cannot expel someone for what they write. To me, to start talking about this kind of thing, starts to smack of thought crime. You cannot decide that someone is disturbed, potentially violent without something more than a badly written violent play. We cannot start following people around waiting for them to do something. We cannot fit people into a “profile” if they take anti-depressants, express anger or anything else for that matter through writing. I certainly don’t want my personal things monitored in “case” I might go off the deep end. We run the risk of alienating even more people and keeping those who need help from getting it because of a stigma that frankly already exists. If only it were that easy to see who was going to turn out a certain way.

My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones. I am honestly sorry they are in pain. I just hope that we don’t create reactionary “solutions” that will give a false sense of security until it happens again.

7 comments:

This and That said...

I am not sure what "solutions" may come from this. Sounds from your post you are more upset with possible 'profiling" coming from this. Who hasn't been depressed, thought of suicide, had irrational daydreams of violent acts, etc. But I do believe that the teacher recommending some counseling when his compositions were troubling and he showed some outward instabilities, such as stalking...isn't a bad thing and should be done more often...and he is/was an adult and didn't go. Would it had stopped this act...not sure, but I think Columbine and this can bring about necessary awareness, not profiling. (Just like when working with kids, signs of animal cruelty is a big tipoff) I also am writing this having not watched a lot about this because it is too much for me as a parent to hear about it and see the images. The fact that this happened in a school setting makes me cringe because I cannot help but think about my kids. My first reaction is just to hug them a little bit more knowing I cannot control things and have to surrender to that realization.
Gun control is not going to happen or be raised beyond this week and the immediate reaction. It is a dead subject (no pun intended) because it is a losing battle for those, like myself, who believe that there should be more restrictions.
You, and your siblings may have turned out with PhD's, masters, etc but wouldn't it had been nice to have a safe place and person to talk to while living through the hell that is middle school. And that is what I hope comes out of this. Seems to me that most mass murderers have been very intelligent. That isn't saying if you are more intelligent you have a predisposition for violence, it is just a stat...and we all know how reliable stats can be.

merf said...

Most definately we had a safe place to come home to, which I am forever thankful for. My mom was at home and I think it made a world of difference to my brother's growing up. Every day he came home crying having been dumped head first into a trash can, she was there to tell him he was a fantastic person. However I cannot say that every woman should stay at home while her kids are in school. It could have easily been different regardless if she had been a stay-at-home mom or not.

Absolutely I agree that animal cruelty is a definate sign. It's also a crime. What I worry about is that such vague things such as disturbing writing is unfortuantely not enough, and this kid had no other real evidence of trouble. He wasn't stalking as far as anyone knows, or had reported, again, with a real crime there could have been intervention. In this day, I could have been suspended, my brother could have, and it wouldn't have affected anything except our own growth. At the same time, maybe I could have started anti-depressants sooner or maybe killed some of the stigma of being "a crazy person" LOL

It bothers me when we try to pin it on something as the ultimate sign and unfortunately, there isn't always one. I think his teachers did the right thing about suggesting he gets help -- however you cannot force someone to get it. One of the professors suggested they should have forced him to get help -- unfortunately it's not possible.

I honestly don't think there will be profiling or we will be soon living in the world of "Minority Report." My concern is that people look so earnestly for something definately to say "this is it...this is the reason." It's natural when dealing with grief. I've done it. Watching people I care about wither away and die. Maybe that is why so many people get strength and comfort from the idea of god.

Eventually this event too will be a faded memory except for once a year. I cried a lot the last couple of days. I am going to be a parent soon and I am terrified because the world is different from when I grew up. Like I said, the post is just some of my own rambling thoughts. I will different ones tomorrow I am sure.

this and that said...

"It could have easily been different regardless if she had been a stay-at-home mom or not."

did I imply that that was a feeling of mine??? I hope not. Believe me probably would have gone postal if my mom decided to stay at home...or even stay in our home...she left when I was 6.

merf said...

Oh no! I wasn't saying you made that impression at all. I was saying that our mom was at home, and I think it helped my brother not end up killing himself or completely withdrawing.

However, I cannot say that it couldn't have been different if she had stayed home or not. It could have turned out differently for us either way. Does that make sense? I am just trying to say that even with her at home (or if she had worked or whatever) it could have easily turned out badly.

Anonymous said...

Actually the police were called to his dorm on two separate occassions from girls that had reported him for stalking.

merf said...

I did see that, posted it yesterday.

Ula said...

This is great info to know.