4.17.2007

Not even 12 hours had transpired...

and I watched that uber-American pastime unfold: the blame game. Fox News had a healthy dose of "finding blame" during its coverage yesterday evening. And last night I read this article. Good thing I didn't post what I originally crafted last night.

Chris Rock said it best after the Columbine shootings - what ever happened to crazy? Why do we need to find blame, understanding, etc? Occam's Razor suggests that the "blame" for yesterday's tragedy lies with the perpetrator. That's it. Not with the University President. Not with the campus police. Not with laws preventing conceal carry on college campuses in Virginia. Not with Hollywood violence.

And I always, always find it amazing that the same media sources that cry foul about privacy are the same ones that expect things like yesterdays shootings (or, say, 9/11) to have been prevented. You can pick two of privacy, freedom, and security. But not all three. Choose which one you are willing to give up (I personally prefer to give up privacy... I like freedom and security). Reagan's Theorem. And my corallary... the media likes it that way - always something to bitch about.

2 comments:

Jay said...

I think there are two kinds of blame:

A) The blame for the act
B) The blame for not preventing it

Yup, you are right, A) falls sqarely in the court of the perpetrator. But then there is B)...

When I look at all the warning signs that were either overlooked, dismissed, or disregarded, I feel nauseous! I liked it to really, really crappy code design in our days back at W. If we had a bad coder, then the coder was at fault writing bad code, but we were at fault at letting him contribute to the code base! A (or do you say "An" here, sounds weird???)university has the obligation to its students to keep the campus and class rooms save. Full Stop. So this is not blaming in my mind, this is a healthy process of public scruteny on how to prevent such acts in the future. Believe me, here in Germany, we would benefit from such discussion. MUCH BETTER than pushing it under the rug (the German way)...

James V Reagan said...

As always Jay I enjoy your perspective from the other side of the pond.

I do absolutely think its imperative to ask the question "what could have prevented this?" And think through it. And answer that question in a reasonable way.

However, that's not what is happening here. People are calling for the President of the University or the campus chief to resign. That's French for "find a scapegoat," not "let's improve our society."

I don't agree that warning signs of a mass murderer were there. Definitely a troubled youth, but not a mass murderer (just how do you spot a mass murderer, anyway?) Shoot, I fit 75% of the description of the perp. While that might make be a bad husband, father, son, brother, neighbor, friend, employee, or citizen, to suggest that my lonerism and anti-socialness might result in a criminal act is laughable. Despite my spending way too much time on first person shooter games, I've never touched a gun in my life, and have had plenty of opportunity to do so (my uncles and cousins have even taught Amy how to fire their funs). And I am guessing there are plenty of people out there who fit the profile of Cho that pose zero threat to society. That's where my privacy/security/freedom analogy comes to play. Sure, we can probably prevent events such as this, at the expense of freedom. What are we willing to give up?

This is a deep, complex subject, made more complex because the answers are dependent on a context and environment that, IMHO, creates more problems than it solves in the first place. For example, I believe that campuses in Virginia are gun-free zones, despite the fact that Virginia is a right-to-carry state, is an contributing factor. Others don't. Where do we attack the problem? Do we attack it at the parent responsbility level? Do we attack it at the gun-owner level? Do we solve it at the property owner level? How about tougher penalities for criminals in the first place?

No easy answers, and that's because (IMHO) the bottom line is that in a free country I don't think you can ever prevent someing like the Va Tech massacre from happening. Bad people are going to do bad things.