Here we go again. It doesn't take long for accusations to fly: against the school, the police response, our violence-saturated society...everyone wants to know why the students and faculty at Virginia Tech weren't protected from a mad man. Well, because he was a mad man.
It is not exactly helpful to focus on how open the campus was or how difficult it was to issue a warning to a student body of more than 20,000 coming and going. And shades of 9-11: WHO would have thought a blood-bath would occur 2 hours after what seemed to be an isolated "domestic" crime at a dorm half a mile away? No one had ever considered a hijacked plane as a flying bomb before. No one thinks of our sacred home territory as a potential killing-zone. If the campus had been surrounded by 12-foot walls topped with razor-wire, or if there had only been one way in or out, where individuals were strip-searched, x-rayed and metal-detected - then and only then might we be able to reasonably anticipate thwarting a psycho with a mission.
Americans, more than any other people demand their freedoms and privileges. We demand our way of life uninterrupted - fast food, frequent entertainment and shorter lines at Wal-mart. We are true to form as we complain when things interfere with our daily routine. Like the water scare recently in Phoenix; remember all the people whining to the camera that they couldn't get their Starbucks morning latte for the few days the city water was suspect?
Even the resurrected gun control debate will not dampen our collective demand for what we love best; an open-society. We love it more than American Idol! America is defined by drive-thru McDonald's, unlocked ice coolers outside 24 hour Circle Ks and public spaces that are exactly what they promise - public.
As heinous and as shocking as the V.T. shooting is, the incident is still an aberration. This is not Tianamen Square or an IRA, al-qaeda or Hamas attack...America is still an incredibly safe and beautiful place. Not because we are 100% safe, but because we expect safety. We expect to go to places thronging with strangers and commerce and exchange and debate. We pack our sports stadiums, exulting elbow to elbow with tens of thousands of strangers all doing the same thing. We demonstrate our grievances, we form pickit lines if we feel like it, fill our court rosters with enormous amounts of litigation and pretty much expect to have "our say" about anything we please.
Occasionally (admittedly more often), we suffer the explosive 'blip' of unanticipated depravity. The vast majority of our people manage to live, work and play together without stuffing our pockets with a couple of semi-automatics and a class schedule.
As Americans, we also choose to come together and offer support and comfort in far-reaching displays of selflessness and spiritual generosity. We may not be as achingly benevolent as the Amish community last October, but they are after all, part of us too.
I hear a lot about second-guessing tactics and policies in an attempt to secure a safer future. I just don't know how that is going to work; do we really want to live in a society where we report every suspicious person to the authorities? And on what do we base our suspicions? If we were suddenly hauled in for an interrogation "in the public interest", would we not feel wholly violated? Who would be demanding what, then?
Yeah, that's what I thought, too.
May God bless Virginia Tech and all of her families, and God bless America.
Not recommended: TWISTED TRUE TALES FROM SCIENCE: MEDICAL MAYHEM - This morning, I read Elisa Gall's review of *Medical Mayhem*, a book in the "Twisted True Tales from Science" series published by Prufrock. She shared thes...
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