School violence: heat and light

Last Monday I was teaching a class at OSU when the news broke about Cho. OSU has about twice as many students as VTech. Doing a little mental math and reflecting on some of the people I’ve dealt with and the suicides I’ve heard about on campus, this story concentrated my mind.

Looking through the blogosphere and news over the past week, one can’t help but notice the pre-packaged stances people take with them to each news story. The New York Times and the foreign press lament the ease with which this crazy man got a gun, but when crazy men are neutralized by gun owners it fails to warrant much attention. Ted Nugent, Fred Thompson, and Butch point out how gun-free zones only seem to apply to sane people anyway, so what’s the use? The gun-free zone in V Tech only allowed Cho to prey more easily on his victims, they say.

There is evil in this world, and when it raises it’s ugly head it must be confronted. If we can prevent people with sick minds and evil hearts from attaining the tools they need to destroy our citizens (and citizens of the entire world), there may be some common sense restrictions for the sale of efficient and deadly tools. I’m not ready to jump on that bandwagon any time soon, however. New York City is one of the most restrictive gun-free zones in the nation, sometimes resulting in police firing on unarmed, innocent civilians.

On the right guys like John Derbyshire and Mark Steyn decried the passivity of our culture, pointing out that only the Holocaust survivor played the hero. Well, that was the first hero we heard about. Kevin Granata, a military vet. and OSU alum, locked some students in his office and went down to confront Cho only to become another victim. One of the rare occasions I’m proud to be called a Buckeye. Many students did “wait to die”. Such a sad and scary situation. I would rather go out like Professor Granata, all told, but I won’t condemn those poor men and women like Derb did.

I guess my point here is that the media, alternative and mainstream, often showed off its worst qualities by jumping to so many conclusions so quickly. It’s the VTech policemen’s fault, it’s the English dept’s fault, it’s the gun culture, video games, gun free zones, culture of passivity. How about Cho? It’s Cho’s fault first and foremost. Let’s condemn him first and foremost. He planned this for months and spent over a thousand dollars–presumably of his just-barely-middle-class immigrant parents’ money. He sought to target (presumably) white rich kids but managed to kill quite an international contingent. The Columbus Dispatch ran a photo of a casket with the body of an Egyptian graduate student. Good job, Ismael Ax, you f***ing ‘tard. (See, that’s heat, not light, but directed at Cho, the perpetrator.) Indians, Jews, Muslims, Hispanics, this Clark guy who was the resident assistant and in the band. Which of the rich, hedonistic, debauchery-seeking students are in class at 9 a.m. anyway? There was no righteousness behind this act, just evil. Let’s not make this guy bigger than he was.

The sad epilogue of the story is how much attention was given this guy, particularly by NBC news. Is it a point of pride NBC that a mass murderer shipped his videos to them? The last thing I would want as a news organization is the endorsement of a mass murderer. They say NBC stands for National Broadcast Corporation, last week it was Nothin’ But Cho. Imagine if he sent it to Fox? Was this something NBC should have exploited? Did it generate light, or merely profits? Click the link above and see what else has occurred in the last week. Cho wanted attention, the last thing NBC should have done was give it to him. They should donate the proceeds of that horrible episode to the families of those victims, or set up a fund to pay for the future killers inspired by Primetime Cho.


"Gun-Town USA" vs. "Gun-free Zone"

An article juxtaposing the success and failure of two different approaches to crime control in the towns of Morton Grove, Ill, and Kennesaw, Ga, in the early 80’s.

The statistics aren’t surprising. Kennesaw, Ga, required that every head of household own and maintain a gun. Morton Grove, Ill, banned guns for anyone not in law enforcement. The result?:

Between 1982 and 2005 the population of Kennesaw, Ga, went from 5242 to 28,189. And immediately after the “pro-gun” law was passed, crime began to move steadily down from an above average 4.3% to a well below average 2%. So population more than quintupled and per capita crime came down by more than half.

In contrast, in Morton Grove, after completely banning guns in town (“we’re just saying you can’t carry a gun IN TOWN”) crime shot up almost immediately 15% while the surrounding county’s crime only went up. It stands now at 2.3%, with a slightly lower population than it had in 1981.

It makes one wonder whether the “Gun-free Zone” status of Virginia Tech helped anyone this past Monday.

And one (and last) comment on the Virginia Tech killings: NBC’s “sensitive” handling of materials glorifying a killer makes the “insensitive” comments of Don Imus seem pretty mild. No wonder their ratings have been in the tank lately.

Update: Blog Idaho relays some Ted Nugent wisdom.