the day after

Brent Finnegan -- April 17th, 2007

A few links:
DNR article about two locals that were shot.
GOPHokie (a local who goes to Tech) has been blogging about it, and will likely continue.
McCloskey cartoon (I never thought a political cartoon could evoke so much emotion)
Lansing cartoon
AP pic

Not surprisingly, it seems that many people want to use the massacre as a springboard for pro-gun or antigun debates. I understand that many feel the need to make the massacre political, but I’d appreciate it if political debates on gun control took place on those blogs, not here. Thanks.

25 Responses to “the day after”

  1. Barnabas says:

    I’m so glad to here that Gil seems to be doing well.
    He and I started the same year at Blue Ridge I had every class with him that first year and I was going to take the same course as him but things happened in my life and I dropped out of school and I’m alive.
    Now my sense of failure for not finishing school is replaced with a joy of being alive today.
    Your in my prayers Gil.

  2. writergirl says:

    Don’t worry Finnegan. I think all of us here know that this is a time to mourn and comfort others…not a time to further political agendas. Those cartoons are very powerful.

  3. Justin says:

    I’m glad there hasn’t been any media slander about the shootings yet.

    So far, the only negative press this is getting (is there good press?) is from ass-clown lawyer Jack Thompson.

    He’s trying to blame the shootings on video games. It’s pretty much his career to blame things on gaming and gamers.

  4. TM says:

    It’s two parents of the same student! Technically and grammatically correct, but I have a feeling the headline was written that way for more than that reason.

  5. finnegan says:

    The Roanoke Times has some of the best coverage I’ve seen so far. They have a frequently updated stream of stories and links posted here.

    One thought that struck me last night: as bloggers and the media are sorting out facts, most people seem all too willing to pounce on leads (something most of us have been guilty of at some point — I certainly am). Unfortunately in this case, the racist fear/blame factor is prevalent. One VT student (and gun enthusiast) of Asian descent was singled out yesterday. His LiveJournal blog was flooded after Drudge linked to it. Death threats, etc. It was linked by a commenter on Republitarian as if it were gospel fact: “here’s the shooters liveblog page, he’s a chinese national…”

    Turns out it was not that kid after all.

    Reminds me of when American Muslims felt they had to go into hiding after the Oklahoma City bombing.

    …Stacking shame upon tragedy.

  6. writergirl says:

    I understand how events like this bring out the fear and blame so quickly. People are in shock, they are scared and they want answers. I just wish that adequate time could be given to the whole thing. People are still being identified. Parents may still be trying to reach their children, or sadly identifying their bodies. I just wish everyone could be left to do what needs to be done and when the smoke has cleared then we can see what has happened and what it all means.

  7. TM says:

    I know exactly what you’re talking about finnegan. Some posters on were scouring the personal websites of another Tech student based on a Wikipedia article edit that may have only existed for a matter of minutes!

  8. JGFitzgerald says:

    On 9/11, in one of the older buildings on the JMU campus, students without cell phones or those hitting jammed towers lined up in the hall to use a quaint telephone booth that has since fallen to a renovation. When someone suggested that the students might be able to call loved ones more quickly if they used office phones, two associate deans rushed into the hall to direct the students into the dean’s suite. It was a small gesture, but it was something they could do.

    None of the posts attempting to exploit or assign blame in this tragedy are a surprise. Some of it comes from people seeking support for their hard-set beliefs. (One local pro-gun blogger, for instance, posted 15 times in about that many hours, six of them in an 18-minute period.) But more than seeking attention or trying to convince doubters, many of those posting and demanding and declaiming are looking for something, anything, to do. Blaming and cursing and raging are what we can do instead of watching this tragedy go by.

    In Blacksburg, the gunman is dead. You can’t dig him up and shoot him again. But the campus president and the police chief are alive, and can be blamed. Their jobs are, respectively, to raise funds and to direct traffic at football games, but something in their job descriptions is, according to some, supposed to include predicting the actions of a mass killer, or predicting who is going to be one.

    Gun control advocates will say the problem is the availability of weapons. (Realistic cops will tell you that if you banned all handguns right now it would take generations to get them all off the streets.) Second Amendment absolutists will tell you that if more students, or teachers, had been carrying weapons, this wouldn’t have happened. (Repeat that if you want to hear a professor laugh, or cringe, at the prospect of handing back papers to armed freshmen in a critical thinking class.)

    But pushing their causes on the heels of this tragedy has the advantage that it is something they can do. Death spurs us to take meals to the survivors, to send flowers, to visit the funeral home. But when the deaths are so enormous and so close we cannot ignore them, but are not close enough for food and flowers, there is nothing.

    Everyone wants to build a dam after a tragic flood. The alternative is despair.

  9. linz says:

    The Roanoke Times (linked from finnegan’s comment) is reporting that the gunman was also responsible for the latest bomb threat, but I haven’t seen this reported anywhere else. They even have it as their headline now. Does anyone else know anything about this?

    I wish I could join in the convocation through webcast, but it’s blocked at my work. My thoughts are with everyone despite.

  10. linz says:

    So, I was checking the latest update on the Roanoke Times and I kept thinking, “something’s different about this page.” Then I realized, their update page on this horrible event is completely ad-free. I appreciate that.

  11. finnegan says:

    Agreed. That page is basically a live blog. I like it.

    The Chicago Tibune reports:

    Cho Seung-Hui, was a troubled 23-year-old senior from South Korea who investigators believe left an invective-filled note in his dorm room, sources say.

    The note included a rambling list of grievances, according to sources. They said Cho also died with the words “Ismail Ax” in red ink on one of his arms.

    Cho had shown recent signs of violent, aberrant behavior, according to an investigative source, including setting a fire in a dorm room and allegedly stalking some women.

    A note believed to have been written by Cho was found in his dorm room that railed against “rich kids,” “debauchery” and “deceitful charlatans” on campus.

    Cho was an English major whose creative writing was so disturbing that he was referred to the school’s counseling service, the Associated Press reported.

    CT also has a list of victims. Looks like they’re from all over the US, and the world. NY, Mass, Romania, GA, Peru…

  12. eso says:

    I work ( on site, not closely) with a father of one of the boys who jumped out of a window in that engineering building. The gunman came in, shot several in that room, they jumped under/behind a table, he left, they were climbing out, he came back, they jumped. Haven’t talked to the father personally.

  13. eso says:

    With a reference to Ismail and debauchery, was he a muslim?????

  14. finnegan says:

    “was he a muslim?????”

    I have not read any reports to that effect. After reading Cho’s play entitled “Mr Brownstone” posted at AOL News Bloggers, I’d say he had more in common with Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of Columbine than the 9/11 hijackers (if indeed those plays are legit).

  15. writergirl says:

    I don’t think anyone has summed things up better than you Joe. Everyone is looking for something to do and something to say. We look to the things we do understand at a time like this. I like what you said about a college president’s job description. Nothing like this is in any educators job description or even in their scope of comprehension.

  16. Joe, you know “traditional” freshmen students would be unable to secure a concealed handgun permit. While it may be against policy, certainly one’s right to protect one’s self, to me, trumps a policy set by a whord of academic liberals.

    Students would ned to be, under Virginia law:


    Trained by certified trainers, or law enforcement/military experience

    “Permitted” by a court of competent jurisdiction (Circuit Courts).

  17. JGFitzgerald says:


    Did you know that on manual typewriters, before the Selectric, way before the word processor, you typed an apostrophe and then backspaced one and typed a period if you wanted to type an exclamation point? Did you know that a lot of educated people still call it an “explanation” point instead?

    I won the irrelevancy contest hands-down with the above information. But you gave me a hard fight.


  18. finnegan says:

    Dave, I asked everyone to keep the political gun banter relegated to other blogs. Everyone but you was gracious enough to comply.

    You often make the local blogosphere an unpleasant place to visit.

  19. Deb SF says:

    Circulating at BRCC written by Gary Lavergne, who is director of admissions research at the University of Texas at Austin and author of A Sniper in the Tower: The Charles Whitman Murders

    Before we identify and learn the lessons of Blacksburg, we must begin with the obvious: More than four dozen innocent people were gunned down by a murderer who is completely responsible for what happened. No one died for lack of text messages or an alarm system. They died of gunshot wounds. While we painfully learn our lessons, we must not treat each other as if we are responsible for the deaths that occurred. We must come together and be respectful and kind. This is not a time for us to torture ourselves or to seek comfort by finding someone to blame. Maybe as a result of the tragedy we will figure out how to more effectively use e-mail and text messages as emergency tools for warning large populations. We may come up with a plan that successfully clears a large area, with a population density of a midsize city, in less than two hours. Maybe universities will find a way to install surveillance cameras and convince students and faculty members that they are being monitored for their own safety and not for gathering domestic intelligence. All of those steps might be helpful in avoiding and reducing the carnage of any future incidents. But as long as we value living in a free society, we will be vulnerable to those who do harm — because they want to and know how to do it.

    If Virginia Tech’s next 40 years resemble Austin’s experience since 1966, the university will struggle with how to memorialize the victims and remember what happened. Until recently the University of Texas had no plaque or historical marker reminding people of what happened on August 1, 1966, and perhaps that was best. Charles Whitman should not be allowed to turn the University of Texas Tower and South Mall, where entering freshmen dance and commencement ceremonies are held, into an area that reminds us of murder. Critics accused the university of insensitivity toward the victims and even of institutional denial. University leaders and administrators continue to struggle with questions about how to remember such events without romanticizing those who perpetrate them. That is not an insignificant challenge Virginia Tech faces.

    Time will not erase the horror witnessed on the Blacksburg campus. But in time the university will return to its work of granting degrees to thousands of individuals who lead us to better lives. That, after all, is what magnificent institutions like the University of Texas at Austin and Virginia Tech do.

    What is Charles Whitman or Cho Seung-Hui compared with that?

  20. David Miller says:

    Deb SF

    Thank you especially for your second paragraph. “as long as we value living in a free society, we will be vulnerable to those who do harm — because they want to and know how to do it.” Being my favorite quote of all. Some in our society have forgotten this terribly difficult truth. Thank you for mentioning it!

  21. finnegan, I think Dave was actually responding to JGF’s statement about the idea of “armed freshmen” making professors cringe and/or laugh.

    I think his intentions were to clarify that point. I took JGF’s comment in jest, but maybe I was wrong in assuming that I took it the way it was intended to be taken.

    In my opinion, gun control has little to do with this entire incident, anyway.

    We should be looking at the mental health of your average college student. A friend of mine, who works at a college as a counselor/advisor, thinks that the mental stability of the average college student is alarmingly bad.

    Maybe that’s what we should be looking into, instead of gun control debates.

    Deb SF…great post.

  22. JGFitzgerald says:

    When I went to read this column linked from the post about the Guard,

    I found this one
    from the day before the shootings. I hope the writer follows up.

  23. David Miller says:


    Scary ending to his “Alas” essay. Its sad when smart skeptics are proven right. Thank you for pointing me towards these columns.

  24. ktr001 says:

    Phil, I could not agree with you more. Several things have bothered me about the news media’s handling of this tragic event, but none more than how they have reported on Cho. The day after the massacre, while everyone was trying to sort through the facts as they rolled in, CNN, MSNBC and all the other major news stations were reporting on Cho, interviewing his roommates, digging up his health records, putting his plays on the internet. I’ve heard him called “crazy,” “a loner,” a “stalker.” I have to wonder what good reporting any of those things does!

    I thought the lowest of low had been reached, but sure enough, news stations were all too willing to broadcast the disturbing photos and angry videos that Cho sent them. Once again, what good does that do?

    I have also been told, though I don’t know if it’s true, that Cho’s family’s address was put on the internet for everyone and anyone who wants to see! In the aftermath of all that has happened, we have lost sight of the fact that the families of the victims are not the only ones suffering. I doubt very, very much, that Cho’s parents and sister had the slightest inkling how much inner turmoil this boy was stewing in because any parent would never let their child hurt and suffer if they knew about their child’s anguish. Cho’s family, along with 31 other families, are mourning the loss of someone they loved, someone they thought they knew.

    Though I clearly don’t know, it is likely that Cho suffered from a mental illness of some kind. No one knows what a person in that position is thinking, feeling, going through, so while we all sit back and blame him for not getting help, we’re talking about a situation we have NO grasp on. Had he felt like he could go see a counselor, let himself be put on medicine, even been shown more kindness, things might have been different. We may never know, but I do know that the media’s reckless, irresponsible reporting on Cho is a setback for the mental health field. People in Cho’s position, feeling hopeless and on the edge, are unlikely to feel comfortable seeking help for themselves, with the media airing anyone who will talk about how crazy the shooter was, meaning anyone with a mental disease is “crazy.” The simple fact is that people suffering from these disorders can be healthy, functioning members of society when they receive the right help. If you had diabetes, you’d take your insulin everyday or you’d have liver failure…depressed people, bi-polars, schizophrenics who take their medicine everyday are as healthy as you or I.

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