I broke down and turned on CNN to check out coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting. I see there and elsewhere, without really knowing the details from this morning’s mayhem, that the media are turning to the question of what it all means. With the help of sociologists, CNN bloviator in chief Lou Dobbs is going to scrutinize school shootings.
It’s an unspeakable tragedy, of course, and what will come to distinguish it will be the awful, heartbreaking details to be revealed over the hours and days to come. But really: does this tell us anything about any aspect of our society that we didn’t know before this morning? Or before Columbine? Or the Killeen, Texas, massacre? Or Oliver James Huberty’s slaughter of the innocents at the San Ysidro McDonald’s. Go ahead and jump in — you can all think of an incident that fits.
I’m not sure what any of these killings says, by the way, beyond the obvious: how violent the society is, how efficient firearms are at doing what they’re designed to do. But regardless of the meaning, to me, these have come part of the landscape we live in, a little like earthquakes in California. You know they’re coming; you know they could be devastating; but you never know when it’s going to happen.
Of course, unlike earthquakes, in theory, at least, there’s the hope we might be able to do something to stop random massacres. After every one, there’s lots and lots of talk; Lou Dobbs and his sociologists. Then — then we move on, till the next time.
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