Virginia Tech: Why So Much Violence?
Note: I wrote this entry before news came out that Cho Seung-Hui was the shooter. In light of the recent information about his motives, I feel what I wrote below is eerily on target, but perhaps just scratches the surface of the psyches of society's more psychologically disturbed "throwaways."
Back in 1990, I took part in a protest on the University of Michigan campus as a student. The campus was going to let security guards carry guns, and students weren't happy. I can honestly say I didn't think too carefully about the issue, but being anti-gun I was happy to join the protest. We had a sit-in at the campus administrative building...ironically built with slender, vertical windows as protection from gunfire and riots after the turbulent 60s.
We were even on the news. (There I was, in the background, sitting on the floor.) Years later, I don't recall what the outcome of our protest was, but I do think back to how sheltered and naive we were to believe that armed security guards weren't necessary.
Now, with the massacre at Virginia Tech, the question isn't so much should we arm security guards, but should we have closed campuses, complete with gun detectors and security checkpoints, like the ones we have now at airports?
What has happened in the almost 20 years since I first went to college? Why are people flipping out in such horrible, violent ways?
Could, in fact, the media be responsible? Are violent films and video games desensitizing people?
I don't like to ask these questions, since I actually enjoy playing video games, and yes, even the very violent ones. But I'm a sane person, with no desire to hurt or maim anyone. What about those people who are already on edge?
I feel, however, that there's more to the story than just violent video games. Our society has gotten shallow. We care about the size of our cars and our wallets but not the size of our hearts.
We're not a kind nation, sometimes. I have to figure...if you live in a world where homeless people are regularly seen, living in filth and squalor while we just step over them on the way to the opera, that this, more than a violent video game, is what desensitizes people. When we let the mentally ill roam around on the street without any help, this is what desensitizes people. When we turn a blind eye to the violence in our inner cities, this is what desensitizes people.
Look around you. Look at the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots. Is it that hard to understand why some people get so deeply angry?
When we as a society encourage the creation of entire classes of throwaway people, then it is not hard to understand that sometimes, those "throwaways" will try to turn the tables.
No easy answers, just more questions.