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April 17, 2007

Shaming and blaming Va-Tech victims and their co-ed dorms

Oh, look...The chickenhawks are pecking at the Va-Tech victims.

John Derbyshire:

As NRO's designated chickenhawk, let me be the one to ask: Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy? It's not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for  goodness' sake—one of them reportedly a .22.
At the very least, count the shots and jump him reloading or changing hands. Better yet, just jump him. Handguns aren't very accurate, even at close range. I shoot mine all the time at the range, and I still can't hit squat. I doubt this guy was any better than I am. And even if hit, a .22 needs to find something important to do real damage—your chances aren't bad.

Yes, yes, I know it's easy to say these things: but didn't the heroes of Flight 93 teach us anything? As the cliche goes—and like most cliches. It's true—none of us knows what he'd do in a dire situation like that. I hope, however, that if I thought I was going to die anyway, I'd at least take a run at the guy.  [NRO]   

Nathanael Blake:

College classrooms have scads of young men who are at their physical peak, and none of them seems to have done anything beyond ducking, running, and holding doors shut. Meanwhile, an old man hurled his body at the shooter to save others.

Something is clearly wrong with the men in our culture. Among the first rules of manliness are fighting bad guys and protecting others: in a word, courage. And not a one of the healthy young fellows in the classrooms seems to have done that. [Human Events]

[Via Think Progress.]

I knew it wouldn't be long before some wingnut blamed the co-ed dorm. Carol Iannone:

And I'm sorry, some will really think me foolish, but I don't think dorms should be co-ed, so that crazed, jealous boyfriends can enter their girlfriends' dorms and kill them and the innocent young men who come to their aid.  If it had been a single-sex dorm, the killer might not have been able to enter so readily.  There aren't enough difficulties getting young people through college these days so that we have to deal with "domestic disputes" in their dormitories as well? 

And, sorry again, but thoughts also arise on the killer's being an English major and on the spiritual emptiness of much education nowadays.  [NRO]

Other suspects fingered by wingnuts: evolution and atheism and crypto-Islamic terrorism by gun-hating Asian immigrants. That and our failure to put weird people under preemptive surveillance...


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--Phantom, maybe you've had the displeasure of going into a morgue and identifying your sibling with half a head. If so, I feel deeply for the depth of pain you suffered. But if you haven't, I encourage you to use another thread - any other thread - to make your points about Michael Moore.--

I am sorry for what you've experienced, but you'll not be pulling rank on me. I had many, many losses of my own over five years ago, as a direct consequence of the plane crashes, the passengers of which the execrable Michael Moore mocked on the stage in London.

If you want painful detail on some of these deaths, sorry I won't help you.

Sorry if I interfered with the reverie about the "crazy right-wingers" being the only ones saying horrible things.

Oh, and --I completely support gun control. Sorry if that interferes with anyone's preconceived notions also. Always have. Posted about it last night.

There's a reason why the rate of murder is vastly higher in the US than it is in other advanced countries.

So what is so unspeakably awful about wishing some of the students in that classroom had helped their teacher?

Because it's just a round-about way of saying "they did the wrong thing." Which is saying that you know what the right thing to do is.

It would have been great if this guy had been stopped before he could harm people, but we weren't there. I haven't got a clue how I'd react in a situation like that, and I don't know that it does anyone any good to start second guessing the survivors in a case like this.

Especially when people have barely started to really grieve for their lost loved ones.

I'll remember to submit this thread in the "how to aid and abet a pointless derailing" contest, assuming one exists.

Well, I had my money on "Fitz/in the library/it's-all-because-of-teh-gay," but "Phantom/in the ballroom/Michael-Moore-said-something-distasteful-four-years-ago" is pretty impressive.

Is anyone here defending that quote? - PersonMan

I'll be the strawman liberal here and defend that quote. Pace what the Phantom has said, the two situations are very different. Pace, the Derb, handguns are not that inaccurate, and people would rather not get shot. OTOH, if it were true that all the hijackers had were small knives or such, while they could do a lot of damage, people would tend to figure "heck, it's just a small knife and even though they've told us not to do anything stupid in a hijacking, I'm pissed off ... f$%& this S#@$".

My dad -- the kind of person who used to be considered an ultra-conservative but who now is considered a radical leftist (thanks to the cooption of the conservative movement by glibertarians, neo-manorialists and religious reactionaries) -- in fact, has said pretty much the same thing as Moore ... but with a follow up: "all the hijackers had were box-cutters? how come nobody took them down then? ... it seems to me they must have had some pretty big knives at least or more likely guns: and how did they get those on the planes? -- even pre-9/11 our security wasn't that lax".

I'm too lazy (and theoretically too busy) too read the link -- was Moore perhaps making the same point?

It would have been great if this guy had been stopped before he could harm people, but we weren't there. I haven't got a clue how I'd react in a situation like that, and I don't know that it does anyone any good to start second guessing the survivors in a case like this

Some friends and I were once confronted by a gunman; I punched him in the nose and he ran away. This did not represent any great heroism on my part, but rather a certain slowness in appreciating what was happening--only in hindsight did I fully understand that the metal object he had in his hand was a gun. Things worked out well, I guess, but they might not have--I might have gotten myself and a couple of bystanders killed to no purpose. So the notion that you ought to fight reflexively in these situations rather than flee is just foolishness.


The 9/11 hijackers said they had bombs which they would set off if the passengers fought back.

In a situation where a threat suddenly appears people do not have time to assess the best course of action. They have to go on instinct. The difference between the students and Prof Librescu is that the professor had life experiences that enabled him to quickly and accurately assess the situation and choose a course of action, while the students did not.

Note also that Librescu's students survived not just because he held the door closed, but also because some of them took initiative in helping their fellow students escape through the window. According to the reports I've heard Librescu urged everyone in the class to bail out through the windows. I've seen no reports that he asked for help in securing the door.

Expecting people to think clearly while being shot at is just plain stupid. The fact that some people are able to do it without training is remarkable. Panic is the normal response to suddenly being confronted with a lethal threat. There is a damn good reason that soldiers have to go through extensive training in order to make them effective fighters, and it's not the complexity of the equipment.

Eric Jaffa: "The 9/11 hijackers said they had bombs which they would set off if the passengers fought back."

Also, didn't the hijackers initially tell the passengers that they weren't going to crash the planes, only land them somewhere else? I have always assumed that the passengers were told everything would be OK if they didn't resist, which led them into a false, fatal sense of security.

I may be wrong about this; if anyone else knows, feel free to clarify!

The situation on United 93 and what happened the other day were totally different situations. Keep in mind that the passengers abord that plane knew the fate that awaited them if they didn't fight back. They had nothing to lose (which is not to deminish their heroism). The passengers on the earlier planes had no idea that the planes were going to be used as suicide bombs. Cooperating is usually the best way to stay alive in a situation like that. But in some people's eyes the United 93 passengers were "heroic" and all others were "cowards"

The assholes who wrote the articles that Lindsey is citing would most likely shit their pants and then run if faced with a crazed gunman! It's very easy to say what you would have done (Ida murderlated them, I tells ya!)

Reminds me of times I've seen two men going at it in the street, with the smaller man very intimated, until the bigger man walks away, at that point the little guy almost always will scream out "Oh yeah! Come over hear and say that to my face!" 'Cause the danger is gone, and now they can be big, brave men!

The killing of American college students was fatuous before it even happened; the killing of Iraqi or Afghani civilians by terrorist American troops is not fatuous.

All I can say is wow. Though I will admit it was wrong for the American military to be in Iraq, to go so far as to call them terrorists is over the top. So are you making a pretty rude attempt to trivialize the massacre? The two situations are incomparible - and a majority of the tragic deaths caused in Iraq today are not by the American military, they are by Iraqis and other foreign insurgent groups. The only diffence being that it's a daily tragedy there, where here it's not for good reason.

The former is an imitation of itself; the latter rends fresh blood as we speak into an eternal, future present.

A massacre is an imitation of a massacre? That sense, sorry. And the later is somehow more relevenant because it happens on a daily basis? I disagree. They are both relevant and important for differing reasons.

Anyone who participates in this saccharine tear fest in light of the American state terror demeans the former

Ok gotcha, you're anti-American, not like I couldn't tell. Hey, if you are completley unsympathetic to the VT killings, well that's your perogative. I think it's a little, should I say sadistic, to be so overjudgemental of peoples grieving. I think you do have a point somewhere in your horrible attempt at rhetoric, which was that Americans seems oblivous to the daily massacres in Iraq until something like the VT massacre happens, which causes an outswelling of sympathy. We're not - many of us are hoping someday it will end, and I feel very bad for all the things that have happened there.

- as almost something to be wished for- if only to confirm and display the dreadful solipsism endemic to Americans.

I find that to a a gross over-generalization, only because you want to believe it's true. I think anyone who uses generalizations to characterize a society is a sychophantic moron, too egocentric to look deeper.

Just as for Iraq, no one cares-only there Americans don't even pretend to.

Again, an incorrect and baseless assumption. I'd say when 70% of the American public believes we shouldn't be there, and wants the American troops to leave, that's a pretty grounded realization based on caring.

What is worse is the pretense, rendering all these tedious paens of concern vulgar in the extreme. Just like 9-11.

So you find it unhelpfull to grieve or for others to grieve, yet I find it more vulgar for someone to critize what emotional turmoil those involved might be going through. I think it's quite pathetic for you, from the anonimity of your home to have the gaul to all their suffering false, or that of those from 911. You must be quite small and hatefull to feel that for people whom you do not know, for a society you don't know.

The difference between the students and Prof Librescu is that the professor had life experiences that enabled him to quickly and accurately assess the situation and choose a course of action, while the students did not.

I had a similar thought: Liviu Librescu survived the Holocaust as a child, and then lived for years under the brutal Ceausescu regime. He was well-acquainted with evil, and this was almost certainly not the first time he'd stared mortal danger in the face.

What he did was, by all accounts, truly heroic. His students rewarded his heroism by doing what he wanted them to do -- surviving.

We venerate heroism precisely because it is rare. I'm pretty certain I would have been one of those cowering under a desk or leaping out the window.

Well, I would say that if you don't have the choice to be ready for an event like this, they need to treat school like a courthouse and have metal detectors at every entrance. I have no problem with locking down the schools. That is perfectly fine with me also.

Some of these Derbyshire types must run a continuous parallel universe in their brains, every moment of every day, in which they stand tall, act heroically, remain taciturn except for their always perfectly-timed words of wisdom, and inevitably this parallel life spills over and the rest of us have to dodge the splatter. I think Derbyshire's parallel world must come with foreshadowing and a soundtrack that punches up "ominous" and "foreboding", enabling him to immediately identify when and how to act to save the day.

But damn, outside of such a fantasy world, events don't cooperate. You don't suddenly just know that a horrific event is underway; it doesn't splice into your life like that. It's terribly disorienting, and you don't have solid information. I figure that if I'd been in one of the Trade Center towers, I'd probably have started to evacuate, and then I'd have heard the P.A. announcements advising me to stay in the office, to remain in place and not panic. I wouldn't have been sure what to do, but staying in place might have seemed to make some sense, so I'd have probably done that, and died, and at some point, someone somewhere would have scorned me and my fellow dead people for being sheep-like and wimpy.

Well, you just don't know. Survival is a matter of luck, instinct, help from the person next to you, and did I mention LUCK?

I understand that at the University of Florida in Gainesville, one of the security measures they've had in place involves electric signs throughout the campus, similar, I think, to the kinds of signs on freeways which announce upcoming traffic congestion or hazards. This seems like one of a number of sensible measures to take, and which I'd have thought would have been a huge part of Homeland Security's projects.

I don't know enough, and I can't lay blame on anyone at Virginia Tech, but I have to say that in general, we as a country supposedly at war with an enemy who supposedly wants to fight us over here remain as disorganized as we've ever been, as hampered by inter-agency communication problems and jurisdictional ambiguities as ever. No level of preparedness can eliminate the threat of a shooter like the one at V-Tech. But better preparedness might mitigate the damage, just as it could in the event of a chemical spill or an imminent industrial explosion, or a huge storm surge.

So where's all the Homeland Security money going? I don't feel safer. I feel more precarious financially, and more uneasy when I look around and see how this country's infrastructure is fracturing as it's bled dry. And yes, I do think this is totally on-topic.

Hey Cfrost....
Your far fetched worst case scenario sounds better than 1 crazy guy walking into a school and killing 32 people. How

The stupid thing about these complaints is that plenty of people fought back. Gaijin Biker mentions Prof. Librescu. Students Zach Petkewicz and Derek O'Dell are also both reported to have charged the attacker. In their own accounts, they describe themselves as working in groups.

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