Northern Illinois

There has been another shooting on a college campus, with a gunman opening fire on a geology class at Northern Illinois, before killing himself. Early reports suggest that the safety measures put into place after the Virginia Tech tragedy all worked properly, and the response from police was as quick as could be hoped.

The word “tragedy” is badly overused in modern life, but this is an appropriate place. This is a horrible event, and my heart goes out to the families and friends of those who were killed.

I should note that this is not an appropriate time or place for political grandstanding. Comments attempting to use this to push some poltiical agenda or another will be summarily deleted. If you want to yap about the political implications, it’s a big Internet. Do it on someone else’s blog.

Comments

  1. #1 Sam TC
    February 15, 2008

    One aspect of these serial tragedies is the way that the perpetrators look for their satisfaction in killing innocent folk then committing suicide. One can understand a deeply disturbed person committing suicide to escape from a life they loathe. One can understand another deranged person murdering people they see as their tormentors.

    But why this common thread of random murderous violence then suicide? What do the perpetrators think they are achieving?

    One must feel too for the misery, confusion and chaos in the mind of the perpetrator that leads them down this awful road, and for the feelings of their own family when they discover their association with an atrocity. Of course, one naturally feels much more sympathy for the innocent victims and their loved ones. But how many more miserable people are sitting in bedrooms brooding over this sort of misdeed and only being held back by a small whiff of humanity?

    It is sad, so sad.

  2. #2 Chad
    February 15, 2008

    Actually, your worry about someone using this for political gain is one of the first things that popped into my head after I heard about what happened. I don’t know what I feel more awful about; the fact that something so terrible can happen anywhere, or the fact that many people are so callous that sorrow isn’t the only thing I feel after hearing about something so horrible.

  3. #3 Uncle Al
    February 15, 2008

    Early reports suggest that the safety measures put into place after the Virginia Tech tragedy all worked properly, and the response from police was as quick as could be hoped.

    The Authorities do not have your best interests at heart. They will now be empowered and embudgeted to inflict a massive global crackdown on (fill in the blank), forever. Are your sneakers explosive, bitch?

    The cheap and simple solution is firearm safety instruction during Freshman orientation, followed by issuance of concealed carry permits (and a hefty fee each term – but you already knew that). The few US counties that allow such have essentially zero street crime rates: no muggings, rapes, break-ins, robberies; no drug pushers and pimps; no gang problems. Support evolution – shoot back.

    Those who trade freedom for security will have neither.

  4. #4 Moshe
    February 15, 2008

    With respect Chad, and I am walking on egg shells I realize, but one honorable reaction to the serial tragedies, to the very fact they are so frequent, is to have a public discussion concentrated on prevention. Yes, some subset of that is political grandstanding, or at least could be presented as such by the other side, but I think it is a mistake to doubt the motivation of all such discussions.

    (Also, the sentiment of “let us be quiet now” can be as much political grandstanding as any other one, for example it can be used by politicians whose interest is not to shake the boat, because we all know that in 3 days everyone will be discussing Britney Spears, and not abstract concepts such as gun control).

  5. #5 Dennis
    February 15, 2008

    Seems that he was a former grad student. Perhaps this instance is more related to the Gang Lu incident than Virginia Tech?

  6. #6 Chad
    February 15, 2008

    Moshe, it all comes down to scope. I realize that there can be open discussion of prevention techniques without any grandstanding and I do not doubt for a moment that there are some people who have great ideas. My problem is with the people who take a complex issue such as this and try to say there is a simple answer, one that is meant to rile up a particular crowd. When a shooting like this occurs it should make us think about many causes: standard campus security procedures, community mental health, gun issues, etc, and what we can do to all of those issues in order to prevent more occurances. What pisses me off is that I know within the next few days I will see an interview on TV with someone saying something akin to “if we had more strict gun control laws in this country then tragedies like this wouldn’t happen.” Those discussions are meant to incite people, not change, and they make me die a little inside. I wish I were wrong about all of this, but I’ve experienced enough of it first hand to know of its inevitability.

  7. #7 Chad Orzel
    February 15, 2008

    Also, the sentiment of “let us be quiet now” can be as much political grandstanding as any other one, for example it can be used by politicians whose interest is not to shake the boat, because we all know that in 3 days everyone will be discussing Britney Spears, and not abstract concepts such as gun control

    The only reason that “everyone” will be talking about Britney Spears and not gun control is because we let them. We are complicit in the media’s push toward making society ever more jaded and superficial.

    If enough people asked for decorum, and punished the news establishment for not providing it by changing the channel, we’d get decorum. If enough people demand substantive attention to important issues over time spans longer than the life of the average mayfly, we’d get it.

    When smart and decent people bow to the supposed inevitability of the twenty-four minute news cycle, the battle is lost before it’s even begun.

  8. #8 Moshe
    February 15, 2008

    Thanks Chad, I completely agree with you, but I view this as a deeply pessimistic statement, and I am disturbed by this as well. Public discussion by itself should be a sign of a healthy democracy, but the way it is deformed and manipulated leads to prevalent pessimism about the utility of any public discussion whatsoever, a sentiment I sympathize with, but equally think is dangerous.

  9. #9 Moshe
    February 15, 2008

    Comments crossed, but I also agree with #7. Now back to the day job…

  10. #10 Thomas Smith
    February 15, 2008

    There is anthropological research on why people do things like this, in other cultural contexts. From Wikipedia (Running amok):

    The explanation which is now most widely accepted is that amok is closely related to male honor (amok by women is virtually unknown). In many cases where the background of the amok-runner is known, there seems to have been some element of deep shame which prevented the man from living honorably, as he saw it, in his own society. Running amok was both a way of escaping the world (since perpetrators were normally killed) and re-establishing one’s reputation as a man to be feared and respected.

  11. #11 Pseudonym
    February 15, 2008

    Sam TC:

    But why this common thread of random murderous violence then suicide? What do the perpetrators think they are achieving?

    Two comments on that.

    1. People who are this mentally ill are not “thinking” in the way that I think you used the word.

    2. Events of this type are a fad. It’s kind of like the spate of beheadings in Iraq a few years ago. Someone did it once, and now everyone does it.

    I really don’t like the dispassionate way I wrote that last paragraph, BTW, but I don’t know how else to say it. This was a horrible event for all involved, and I wish I knew what to say.

    One thing though. This event wasn’t a “tragedy” in the true sense. As Aristotle used the term, it refers to a play in which the protagonist brings about their own downfall. I guess that may be true of the protagonist of this event, but not for the victims.

  12. #12 Michelle Brooks
    February 15, 2008

    All i feel is pain in my heart for all involved and all those whom loved them. As a graduate of NIU it hurts to my core. I have 6 relatives currently attending and one victim was a children hood friend. Sad so Sad