A terribly sick young man named Cho Seung-Hui slaughtered 32 people at Virginia Tech University this week before turning the gun on himself. This is a tragedy of immense proportions that will affect both the witnesses and the families of the dead and injured as long as they live. My thoughts and prayers go out to all who lost friends and children this week.
Unfortunately the Virginia Tech tragedy has become the latest soup de jour of the drive-by media. If the VA Tech spree shooting had occurred one week earlier, Don Imus would still be working at MSNBC. Rather than honoring the victims, the story of their unfortunate demise has now been used by the media to drive home wrong-handed political agendas and other false propositions.
False Proposition #1: Poor security at VA Tech was responsible for this tragedy. Wrong. Cho Seung-Hui is the only person responsible for this event. We live in an open society that values freedom of thought, movement, and expression. It is impossible to make a college campus secure from anyone with Seung-Hui’s intentions and determination. Any University that would put armed personnel and radar detectors at every door and stage a SWAT team in front of each campus building would soon go out of business either as the result of high security costs or a lack of student enrollment. The risk of being killed on a University campus is incredibly low and it must be undertaken if we are to remain a free people.
False Proposition #2: If gun control existed in the United States, like in Europe, this tragedy would never have happened. Wrong again. Bad guys will always get guns. While it is not desirable that everyone at VA Tech should carry a gun, if even one of the students or professors in the affected classrooms had the proper training, and a permit to carry, Hui’s rampage would have been cut short and lives would have been saved. Ironically, rather than protecting lives, the gun-free zone existing at VA Tech gave Mr. Hui a wide-open field of defenseless victims.
False Proposition #3: The United States of America is a sick and materialistic society, which breeds violence and spree killings. Give me a break! Spree killings are rare, but have regularly occurred throughout history in virtually all cultures. In 1938 a Japanese man named Mutsuo Toi used a rifle and swords to kill his grandmother and 29 neighbors. In 1982 Woo Bum-Kon killed 57 people in South Korea. On August 19, 1987 in Berkshire, England Michael Ryan armed with an AK-47 and a Beretta pistol, killed his mother and fifteen others before fatally shooting himself. His weapons were legally licensed. On November 13 and 14th in Aramoana, New Zealand, David Gray shot and killed 13 people before being killed by police. Yes, the US has had its share of spree killings, but they are not unique to our culture.
False Proposition #4: College students today face far more academic and economic pressure than their parents did, which increases their stress level and their propensity to engage in violence. This is an incredibly ridiculous presumption. College students today have an unprecedented standard of living that their parents couldn’t have even imagined. They have nice cars, fancy clothes, big screen televisions, I-pods, and cell phones. Believe me, they’re not deprived of material goods. Furthermore, the academic pressure faced by today’s college students is far less than the pressure faced by their parents. Compared to their parents, today’s college graduates have many more job opportunities upon graduation. The current generation of college students face far less academic pressure than their parents, largely due to the fact that many more professors engage in grade inflation than was the case a generation ago.
There is one proposition that may have some validity, that being if VA Tech administrators and police had locked down the campus and warned students immediately after the first shooting, thirty lives may have been saved in Norris Hall. After the first two victims were discovered in a dormitory, administrators and campus police concluded that the killer had probably left the campus, not to return. This turned out to be an incorrect and tragic assumption.
Of course, every cub reporter descending on Blacksburg is a crime expert who would have done it differently. Like all Monday morning quarterbacks these reporters and critics of the VA Tech administration have 20-20 hindsight. I’ve got news for all of these reporters; when someone with a 9-mm glock revolver and plenty of ammunition comes into your University and starts shooting, you do the best you can, under extreme pressure, with the facts at hand. Unfortunately, within a few weeks, I’ll lay odds that VA Tech President Charles Steger will be forced to resign. The media and other critics of the VA Tech administration will insist that someone’s head must roll and Steger will be the scapegoat. Everyone will feel better knowing that someone has been “punished” for Hui’s crime, but Steger is not to blame. Cho Seung-Hui is the only one who deserves to be punished for this crime, and he is gone for eternity.