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Requiem for a monster

In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre, I sincerely hope that one single, burning, indisputable fact remains at the forefront of any and all discussions:

This atrocity was the responsibility of one individual, one person who decided -- for whatever reason -- that this life was no longer tolerable and chose to leave it, and -- damn him to hell -- to take over 30 others with him.

This deed was not committed by a weapon, a political movement, or some failing of society. It was not carried out by a video game, a rap song, or pornography. This was, ultimately, the fault of exactly one man -- and we can't punish him for it, as he has already chosen to enact the ultimate sanction upon himself.

To deny this monster the full credit for his heinous deeds is to deny his free choice to carry it out, and to diminish the responsibility that lies at his feet, and his feet alone.

Keep that in mind when the inevitable occurs, and people start using his slaughtering rampage to argue for increased gun control, or looser concealed-carry laws, or restrictions on entertainment, or even arguing against flouridation of drinking water. Any or all of those might or might not have had any bearing on the incident, but in the end it remains that had the as-yet unnamed gunman not chosen to go on a killing spree before taking his own life, none of this would have happened.


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Comments (49)

Hate to disagree with you w... (Below threshold)
sorryidisagree:

Hate to disagree with you when you suggest that some failing in our society isn't at least partially at work here.

Virginia Tech, like most colleges, employed gun control to ensure that no students would be able to protect themselves against this deranged person. Would there be 32 victims had any of the students been given the right to defend themselves? Probably not.

The INEVITABLE fact is that someday soon, someone else is going to try the same thing. Maybe that person will merely be deranged.

Maybe that person will have a political vendetta against the United States as was the case with Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, who, lacking a gun, decided to plow into a group of students at the University of North Carolina with his SUV.

As long as we in society are FORCED by Democrats to be defenseless victims, then, well, I guess we better stock up on the body bags.

85,856,403 gun owners never... (Below threshold)
Allen:

85,856,403 gun owners never killed anyone yesterday.Granting that I made up that number,but almost all legally owned guns, (unless stolen)are never used in a crime. And yes, gun control is hitting what you aim at.

There are enough laws on the books about guns, start enforcing the existing laws, no need for new ones. Why is it only the criminals have illegal weapons, not the average law abiding gun owners? Take away guns and only crooks will have guns.

Get tough on those student ... (Below threshold)
BigCatGirl:

Get tough on those student visas!

Americans are right to be s... (Below threshold)

Americans are right to be shocked by this rare horrible suicide-murder event. Yet people in Iraq face suicide-murder attacks each and every day as a result of the 2003 Iraq War which unleashed years of bent-up secular tensions. Don't people in Iraq also become depressed and discouraged by such violence?

Individuals for whatever bad reasons justify marketplace bombings in Baghdad, just like the single individual in Virginia justified taking many lives for whatever bad reason he had. It's discouraging that some individuals reason like this and justify violence in this way.

The anti-gun lobby will say... (Below threshold)

The anti-gun lobby will say this supports their case, because, because it's unthinkable that a man willing to murder 32 innocent people would dare to violate a gun law.

Bravo and well said. ... (Below threshold)
Diaz:

Bravo and well said.

I'm one of those "bleeding heart Liberals" yet I check out this blog regularly to make sure I'm getting both sides of the argument. I don't often agree with this blog or its politics but it is postings like this one that earn my respect.

This is above politics or political agenda, or should be. Thank you for realizing that.

Bravo.

You cannot change a course ... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

You cannot change a course that has been planned, prepared and activated. Lee H. Oswald, Texas Towers, Ted Kizinski, Son of Sam, Columbine, etc. All tragedies, none preventable. It would be nice as a nation to just pray, support and mourn this display of sickness and not use this to voice any political rants on either side. ww

man i cant believe all the ... (Below threshold)
fred:

man i cant believe all the comments from Americans on various websites saying this wouldnt have happened if you were allowed to carry a gun all the time. this "if you outlaw guns only outlaws will have guns" philosophy is completely ridiculous.

Ban all guns and you wont have situations like this. Stop with the "Its our right to bere arms" defense, fact is if the guy didnt have access to a gun this would not have happened.

Please use this tragic event to change the gun culture of your country. In Australia guns are like vampires or aliens, just an imaginary thing you see only in movies. Ive never even seen a real gun in my life and i hope it stays that way.

I send my condolences to all the victims and their families.

You cannot simply disregard... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

You cannot simply disregard the constitution. That would be an even bigger tragedy. ww

One truism to another. Thi... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

One truism to another. This man may have had a free choice (unfortunately) to do what he did. But everyone sure as hell wants to know what were the factors, and pre-conditions which caused him or trigggered him to go berserk. And then we would like try to minimize the chances of this 'lethal cocktail' happening again.

Ban guns and the deranged w... (Below threshold)
Buddy:

Ban guns and the deranged will build pipe bombs or spears or come armed with swords. Shall we ban sharp pointy sticks?

Right on!And while... (Below threshold)
Nukem High:

Right on!

And while we're at it, why not let everyone buy a personal thermonuclear device for their own defence, after all, it's not nuclear weapons that kill people but the person who pushes the button.

Actually, I really can't think of a single item that people shouldn't be able to buy over the counter at Wal-Mart... heroin, arsenic, toxic sludge, anti-air guided missile systems - it's not like any of these inanimate objects ever simply wake up on the wrong side of bed one morning and just up and decide that today's the day to do a bit of casual murder, no sir! In every case it's the crazy psycho who actually decides to *USE* these things who's actually at fault.

Having the right to kill tens, hundreds or even hundreds of thousands of people is just one of those things that no one should be taking for granted in a free society!

Classic over-reaction and s... (Below threshold)
Buddy:

Classic over-reaction and strawman, Nukem.

Steve, You are wron... (Below threshold)
James Brewer:

Steve,
You are wrong about free choice. That would imply the existence of a soul; the existence of good and evil. Just ask any Darwinian (liberal), they will tell you this was purely biological in nature - just mis-firing of neurons. To adopt a moral standard means there is an absolute somewhere which morals can be drawn. To claim morals evolved biologically creates a circular argument that brings you back to mis-firing of neurons.

As much as you would like t... (Below threshold)
headzero:

As much as you would like to say there was nothing to blame, people will, simply because they cannot fathom that a person of their own free volition could commit an act of atrocity.

And so, in this rut that always happen, I cast the blame, but not at the old tired reasons that have been used in the past, but the new evil.

WiFi.

It's killing the bees, it's been blamed for brain cancer. People living out of shopping carts and wearing tinfoil hats have known for years.

It's the mind control rays. With the spread of WiFi hotspot at every Starbucks and McDonalds, there is simply no where left to hide.

Throw away your Cellphones and Blackberry's! It's the only way to remove the electronic concentrator of the mind rays that infest society.

The only safe alternative is using the Apple IPhone (shameless product placement leveraging tradgedy). The cult of Steve is the only way to protect yourself against the mind rays. Only by becoming a mindless Apple drone, not having any free thoughts, can you escape the horrors of this new electronic plaque. It's already spreading in Pakistan and Afganistan, being transmitted through cellphones directly into the brains of peaceful Arabs, making them seek out fundamentalist mosque to join Al-Queda.

Be patriot, defend yourself, renounce technology - except for Apple, you know.

There - the mindless rant of blaming something instead of the individual is now out of the way.

Ban all guns and you won... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

Ban all guns and you wont have situations like this.

How well has banning recreational drugs worked out ? Whenever there is a demand for something, people find away to acquire it.

Well said Jay.... (Below threshold)
groucho:

Well said Jay.

Multiply the number dead at... (Below threshold)
USMC Pilot:

Multiply the number dead at VT by one million, and you have Hitler and 1940. No one can predict when, or where, these events will happen. The only thing that an individual can do, is to stay alert and prepared to defend themselves or flee. This is not a tme to discuss banning guns, or turning every grandmother in to a "pistol packing momma". Each person must do what they are most comfortable with.

BTW - Paul Hooson: It's great to see that you have found this site. I've missed your slightly left, but intelligent comments.

That might be the best post... (Below threshold)
Paul:

That might be the best post you've ever written.

I beleve that Israel has on... (Below threshold)
ted:

I beleve that Israel has one of the very lowest domestic murder and crime rate, yet practically everyone there has guns around.

OMG, what a terrible traged... (Below threshold)
Sad and Tired :(:

OMG, what a terrible tragedy. I just thank God he wasn't armed with a sharp pointy stick... just think of how much damage he could have caused then. :/

James Brewer..I suppose thi... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

James Brewer..I suppose this is becoming I'm a philosophical conversation. How about a compromise between a soul and ectoplasma..Would you accept that the defining moral/and cognitive characteristic of human beings is that the universe becomes conscious of itself? I'm not sure I follow the other conversation about only blaming the individual..headzero.Ultimately it is the individual's decision, but no one lives in a vaccum..Otherwise, why all the attention on this site, given to the power of Islam on susceptible people..If the shooter as it turns out was in the grip of some horrible cult for example, total blame should still be placed only on him...Jim Jones by your reasoning, was only responsible for one death.. his.

Sad:Poison Darts, ... (Below threshold)
Buddy:

Sad:

Poison Darts, anyone? Bow and Arrow? IED? Guns are not the cause, just the tool. There are plenty others that deranged people can improvise into generating just the same, or even greater, damage.

See Iraq.

>In Australia guns are like... (Below threshold)

>In Australia guns are like vampires or aliens, just an imaginary thing you see only in movies. Ive never even seen a real gun in my life and i hope it stays that way.

It probably will- from what I see in the news, Australia will be an Islamic country in our lifetime, and you'll be taking orders from robed imams

If someone on the VT campus had been carrying a legal concealed handgun, they would at least have had a fighting chance. But the Virginia legislature, in its wisdom, decided the 2nd Amendment does not apply to the campus of VT, and now 32 students and teachers are dead.

Not all people who subscrib... (Below threshold)
DarwinianConservative:

Not all people who subscribe to Darwin's findings are liberal -- or at least I hope I'm not the only conservative who thinks creationism is an interesting, and possibly even entertaining, fiction. Come on. You diminish the cogency of your argument when you take potshots at your adversaries using gross generalizations such as "Darwinian (liberal)".

These deranged people don't... (Below threshold)
VagaBond:

These deranged people don't open fire in a police station or at an NRA convention or at an Italian restaurant in New York. I wonder why?

This deed was not commit... (Below threshold)
civil behavior:

This deed was not committed by a weapon, a political movement, or some failing of society. It was not carried out by a video game, a rap song, or pornography.

I respectfully disagree JT.

Violence perpetuated by all of the above shoulders a great deal of the blame for this and other acts against humanity in todays world. It is the solution that too many seem to feel will rectify all the ills of the world. The glorifying and sensationalizing of violence has numbed the populace into believing that violence can only be muted by more violence. For proof just reread most of the posts by your very own gun bearers at Wizbang.

I suspect you are valiantly seting up strawman arguments by using flouridation of water as a reason to defend what has become the warriors battlecry.

Individuals in all horror stories certainly make a choice to possibly include their own death (i.e this case, suicide bombers etc)others do not (i.e Ted Bundy, Lee Harvey Oswald, Green River, etc)but in all cases the violent intent seems "normal" to them. You need to ask yourself, why is that?

The less society accepts this as part of the cultural infusion of necessity, meaning in order to sell records, tv shows, videos, or yes, even a political movement, the better off we as humanity will be.

I realize it is very diffcult to "imagine" as most are taught that no matter what, it is NOT possible to do so, but, imagine a world without guns. Just bread for all,clean water. Hospitable living conditions and even some dignity accorded the dysfunctional under controlled conditions. Imagine what the world would be like. At that point I'd accept your argument for the one abberant, individual who goes bonkers. Until then, expect more not less of what happened yesterday at Virginia Tech. Violence is only on the rise.


fred:do you often ... (Below threshold)
marc:

fred:

do you often talk our of your butt?

Ban all guns and you wont have situations like this. Stop with the "Its our right to bere arms" defense, fact is if the guy didnt have access to a gun this would not have happened.

(Australia)

HALF a billion dollars spent buying back hundreds of thousands of guns after the Port Arthur massacre had no effect on the homicide rate, says a study published in an influential British journal.

The report by two Australian academics, published in the British Journal of Criminology, said statistics gathered in the decade since Port Arthur showed gun deaths had been declining well before 1996 and the buyback of more than 600,000 mainly semi-automatic rifles and pump-action shotguns had made no difference in the rate of decline.

The only area where the package of Commonwealth and State laws, known as the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) may have had some impact was on the rate of suicide, but the study said the evidence was not clear and any reductions attributable to the new gun rules were slight

Oops

Thanks Jay.The usu... (Below threshold)

Thanks Jay.

The usual suspects beating their political drums make me weary.

fred:do you often ... (Below threshold)
marc:

fred:

do you often talk our of your butt?

Ban all guns and you wont have situations like this. Stop with the "Its our right to bere arms" defense, fact is if the guy didnt have access to a gun this would not have happened.

Sunday morning Herald (Australia)

HALF a billion dollars spent buying back hundreds of thousands of guns after the Port Arthur massacre had no effect on the homicide rate, says a study published in an influential British journal.

The report by two Australian academics, published in the British Journal of Criminology, said statistics gathered in the decade since Port Arthur showed gun deaths had been declining well before 1996 and the buyback of more than 600,000 mainly semi-automatic rifles and pump-action shotguns had made no difference in the rate of decline.

The only area where the package of Commonwealth and State laws, known as the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) may have had some impact was on the rate of suicide, but the study said the evidence was not clear and any reductions attributable to the new gun rules were slight

Oops

Perhaps it's a function of ... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Perhaps it's a function of media coverage, but it seems that these kind of tragedies are more common in the United States than elsewhere (?)

If that's true, and these acts are somehow facilitated or fostered by our culture or laws, etc. we may be able to figure out what's behind it and take corrective action.

Have to disagree. This was... (Below threshold)
Gary:

Have to disagree. This was a huge fault of a society that insists on disarming itself in the wake
of past attacks just like this one.

We cannot control what a lunatic will do. We can only control how we can react on an individual basis. All of the dead obeyed the "gun free" school
policy. Great policy.... it was a 99.99% gun-free school. Almost perfect!

My thoughts and prayers go ... (Below threshold)
Chip:

My thoughts and prayers go out to those that were affected by yesterdays tragic events. That being said, I understand that the pro gun control lobbyists aren't advocating actual control as much as a total ban. The anti gun crowd want to remove all guns from our society, noble as this is, here is a serious question. If we can't keep millions of illegal aliens or billions of illegal drugs from entering this country, how on Gods green earth do any of you propose we actually keep guns from coming into the country?

The same incompetent "Admin... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

The same incompetent "Administration" at Virginia Tech that had ASSURED the students they were perfectly safe at VT...since they had banned guns...is the same one that spent TWO HOURS with its thumb up its collective ass between the shootings trying to figure out what to do.

If the students and faculty had acted more like the passengers on Flight 93, and LESS like the Eloi in H.G. Wells "Time Machine" then maybe more of them would be alive today. But since the students had been conditioned to behave like the Eloi, it is hard to blame them.

And the road to Hell is pav... (Below threshold)
Robert the Original:

And the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

And so we say: "Friends, I'm mad as Hell and I'm not going to take it anymore. This is our darkest hour. We cannot stand by and let our children be murdered. We have to do something. We must do something. The future of civilization compels it".

And so we pass laws making it illegal. Fine, great, wonderful. But this is not enough we know, we must step up enforcement, we must have searches and warrants and stops and raids. We have to have more cops, and involve everyone in law enforcement from security guards to the Coast Guard. We have to build more jails and dedicate a majority of our criminal courts to this pursuit. We must mount paramilitary operations against the countries known to be suppliers. We need still more jails.

And we stop, search and prosecute, and make the laws tougher and tougher - but the only thing we really do is spend trillions just to raise the black market price of the bad things, which causes more crime not less.

And the black market brings in all sorts of new mafias, bad guys, killings and Young Boys Detroit. Islamic Jihad and the IRA use it as a fund-raiser. And we redouble efforts over thirty years and the only thing we have to show for it is clogged courts, clogged jails... and failure. Total, abject, complete and utter failure.

And, after all this effort, you can still buy the stuff on any street corner, in any city, at any age. There may be circumstances to violate the Constitution, but this is not one of them.

And the boys of Columbine also used homemade bombs, and we didn't outlaw movies after "Taxi Driver", Columbine, and Hinckley - and it wouldn't have stopped the crazy people if we had.

"Perhaps it's a function of... (Below threshold)
SShiell:

"Perhaps it's a function of media coverage, but it seems that these kind of tragedies are more common in the United States than elsewhere (?)"

You right, Lee - It is a function of media coverage.

And even more unfortuantely, it is a function of the western industrial world. A schoolhouse in the Ukraine was the site of the massacre of hundreds of elementary and kindergarden age school children, and it was almost an afterthought for our news cycle.

Similar actions have occurred outside of the industrial west that we have not even heard about. Why? Good question. I wish I had an answer.

I know this is probably ins... (Below threshold)

I know this is probably insensitive of me, but I am more pissed off at the way the media is covering this tragic event than I am with the Shooter, the Police Chief or the Dean of Virginia Tech.

I know all the stay-at-home Mommies are glued to their TV's right now, playing armchair quarterback with Diane Sawyer or Matt Lauer. With too much time on their hands, they are obsessing over how to prevent this happening to their own children and demanding answers along with the indignant Andrew Cuomo. Our media plays right into this, narrating this tragedy the same way a tort attorney will someday argue the case in court. As if you can prevent anything and everything from happening -- no matter that their children are more likely to die in a car accident caused while they are gossiping on their mobiles with their friends!

Seriously, do we have to personalize this so much? Why does the press play to our society's desire to pretend that our wealth, comfort and privilege protect us from the senseless things that happen every day through out the entire world? I can understand obsessing over their potential fate of your children if you live in Sudan or the Chechens, but we live in the safest place in the world, and no amount of blame placing is going to change that!

langtry, how lovely of you... (Below threshold)
SAHMmy:

langtry, how lovely of you to take this particular moment in time to diss SAHMs. How perfectly logical and appropriate for you to do so.

Most SAHMs are rational conservatives, doofus. The only people I see who wring their hands about tragedies like this and talk about legislating such events out of the future are liberals. Most liberal women plunk their children in daycare, so you're talking out of your anal orifice.

Explain to me where a SAHM actually gets "free-time" let alone too much of it. Having been a SAHM for 14 years, I'm wondering how I missed such a wonderful thing.

Twit.

And for the record? There ... (Below threshold)
SAHMmy:

And for the record? There is nothing on this earth that could force me to watch either Diane Sawyer or Matt Lauer.

Since this thing happened I have yet to turn on the TV news to hear their reports. They get most stuff wrong and prattle on for hours with the same old info so I stopped bothering with all of them after the Katrina reporting.

You make too many assumptions about people you obviously know noting about.

Fuck, can you gun rights mo... (Below threshold)
jack:

Fuck, can you gun rights mother fuckers get off the subject for one fucking day?
Can the Bush administration not bring up gun rights in the first hour of the nation's largest mass murder ever?
Can you think about anything else right now than your god-damned rights to carry that shiny black thing?
Fucking psychopaths.

Jack, I am a supremely peac... (Below threshold)
SAHMmy:

Jack, I am a supremely peaceful person. I never even spanked my kids. The only time I feel any violent urges though, is when stupid liberals speak.

Like you did.

Just now.

Guns don't kill people, people kill people.

Peace, man.

just one day, moron. stop t... (Below threshold)
jack:

just one day, moron. stop talking.
Put the gun away, go hug your kids who you're so kind not to beat, and stop talking about guns.
doesn't take much for those violent urges to strike does it?
you idiot.
wrap yourself in the confederate flag and slither back to the swamp.

First time here...some inte... (Below threshold)
Carole:

First time here...some interesting comments -- some pretty stupid also. Gather you're all youngsters, at least compared to me. I'm a little old grandma from WI. Errored onto Rosie O'Donnell ranting about gun control and the Evil Devil President's early visit to VT. Can someone opine about what the heck has happened to this world? Can't pick up a newspaper or turn on the news (don't ever watch mainstream anymore) without hearing about murders, child molesters, mass killings, President haters, America haters etc. Things were nice when I was growing up. Honest. I actually feel sorry for my granddaughter who has to grow up today. The world has turned ugly and visicious. I'm trusting on you "kids" to make it right again.

Jack,Do you kiss y... (Below threshold)
SAHMmy:

Jack,

Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?!

So many assumptions you've made here, so little time to debunk them.

Don't worry, I won't bother. Facts and liberals just don't go together so well.

Now go wash your mouth out with soap and call your mother. Or, get up from the computer, go upstairs to the kitchen and give her a hug. Maybe she'll make you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You seem to be badly in need of her attention.

man i cant believe all t... (Below threshold)
Lysander:

man i cant believe all the comments from Americans on various websites saying this wouldnt have happened if you were allowed to carry a gun all the time. this "if you outlaw guns only outlaws will have guns" philosophy is completely ridiculous.

Ban all guns and you wont have situations like this. Stop with the "Its our right to bere arms" defense, fact is if the guy didnt have access to a gun this would not have happened.

Please use this tragic event to change the gun culture of your country. In Australia guns are like vampires or aliens, just an imaginary thing you see only in movies. Ive never even seen a real gun in my life and i hope it stays that way.

I send my condolences to all the victims and their families.
Posted by: fred at April 17, 2007 08:12 AM

I was there when that ban went into place - just as Australia won it's first gold medal at the '96 Olympics - for marksmanship. Made you feel good, didn't it, when your gold medal winner got home and the AFP sawed his prize-winning rifle in two? Or better yet, the knife ban in 1998? Please, Australia has good points, but don't blow smoke about pure BS.

Oh "fred", You opi... (Below threshold)
Chris:

Oh "fred",

You opined that "Ban all guns and you wont have situations like this."

No, you'll have situations like this:

Per Capita Burglaries: Australia, 21.7454/1000 persons; USA, 7.099996/1000.

Per Capita Car Thefts: Australia, 6.92354/1000 persons; USA, 3.8795/1000.

Per Capita Rapes: Australia, 0.777999/1000 persons; USA, 0.301318/1000.

To be fair, we do have a few more robberies per capita than Australia: 1.38527/1000 vs. 1.16048/1000.

But--is it worth accepting TRIPLE the burglary rate, DOUBLE the rape rate, 78% greater the car theft rate, and having 1 out of every three Aussies be a victim of crime--just to cut down the murder rate by firearms? It's interesting to note that Australia has 1/10 of the USA's murder by firearm rate--but the total murder rate is only 65% less.

Please see the Penn and Tel... (Below threshold)
mathman:

Please see the Penn and Teller video on guns which is posted on Google videos.
The video should receive the WIDEST distribution, although it was made before the VT madness.

Australia guns are like ... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Australia guns are like vampires or aliens, just an imaginary thing you see only in movies. Port Arthur Historical Site,Tasmania , Australia April,28 1996 wasn't a movie set...35 people were gunned down by one man with AR 15 rifle in one of the worst if not worst killing sprees of the world.

Grandma Carole:Rea... (Below threshold)
epador:

Grandma Carole:

Read the Bible. Lots of murder, rape, massacres recorded there. Nothing new but the immediate mass media propagation and dissemination of such information.

Everyone Else:

He chose guns, but I bet he'd have been able to do similar damage with swords or hatchets with a little physical training beforehand. Or he could have chained the students in and doused the place with gasoline, then lit it. Or rigged a canister of LPG or two.

The "insurgents" and Hamas "freedom fighters" take this many or more people out daily 9 time zones away.

Lets get a little perspective here folks.




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