What Others Are Saying

April 20, 2007

The first rule of an American tragedy: Exploit it for your own ends.

Perhaps you have an agenda, pro or con, involving guns. Perfect. Shout it out while the victims' bodies are still warm. That'll get the public's attention.

Perhaps Virginia Tech reminds you of Iraq and the fact that most Americans, in your view, are too insensitive to notice. Don't miss your chance to point out our blindness. If at all possible, thrust your moral superiority into our faces before the killer has even been ID'd. Why squander the moment?

Or maybe the massacre proves to you that U.S. institutions are failing to take security seriously more than five years after 9/11, or that Cho Seung-Hui's status as a South Korean native exposes a broken immigration system. Jump right in.

And don't, please, fumble the opportunity to denounce the Virginia Tech president and police chief as blundering fools for failing to shut down the campus in time to prevent the second round of shootings. Naturally, that's the action you would have taken without any benefit of hindsight.

Or maybe you've got a plaintiffs attorney's mentality, convinced that deep pockets must be looted after every tragedy lest the world slip out of joint. By all means go for it. After all, as one law professor exulted, "A lawsuit and a substantial jury verdict would help put all universities on notice that they must be fully prepared for such shooting incidents." They must be "fully prepared," that is, for a heavily armed maniac on a mission to murder with absolutely no regard for his own life. Sure, that's reasonable.

Don't misunderstand: All of us argue by use of examples, so it's inevitable that Virginia Tech will be cited to buttress this or that belief. But the next time something so terrible happens, couldn't our political warriors have the decency to wait, say, 24 hours before transforming it into just the latest talking point?

- Vincent Carroll

The Rocky Mountain News (Colo.)

In wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, the Summit on Media Violence took place in Indianapolis on Tuesday, where key stakeholders discussed the trends of emerging violence in the media on adolescents and teenagers. According to Newswire, Bart Peterson, mayor of Indianapolis, said, "Certainly a number of factors contribute to these disturbing trends, but a prominent concern that is increasingly capturing the attention of both researchers and policymakers is the heightened exposure of children to graphic violence in video games, television, movies and music."

While these trends are more than likely verifiable, they still do not account for the actions of a madman, whose sole purpose was to kill and inflict pain. While violence in the media is undeniably prevalent, it is something we all face and must deal with. Hostility in movies, music and television does not make someone kill. Cho Seung-Hui made his own decisions, he outlined his purpose and knew his goal. To blame this heartbreaking tragedy on anyone but Cho Seung-Hui is an insult. He is responsible; he is at fault, he is to blame. No one else is to blame for the loss of 32 beautiful lives.

- The Collegiate Times

Virginia Tech's student newspaper

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