Re: Continued Virginia Tech Thread

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Posted by: orangatan | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 5:48 PM
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420 comments seems a little low for creakiness on this site, no? Do we need to take up another collection for a server ugrade?


Posted by: Brock Ladners | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 5:48 PM
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I also think that it's probably relevant that these mass shooters are virtually always men, but, hey.

Surely some biological aspect to this. Any look at violent crime demographics will pretty quickly tell you that guys in a certain age range are more likely to turn that rage outwards. And with stuff like this incident, like Apo said, it's probably not a coincidence that it's at an age when certain mental illnesses tend to manifest.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 5:49 PM
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Agreed; but I don't think that the biological explanation suffices. Okay, men of a certain age are more aggressive than the rest of us. But beyond that, aggression takes certain *forms*--military service, domestic violence, public shootings, getting in bar fights, petty crime, major crime, rabid sports fandom, etc. What channels it into X form and not Y form surely matters.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 5:51 PM
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Guys in a certain age range are far, far more liekly to turn rage outwards, but is that clearly biological? Guys in a certain age range have also been told to be tough and never to cry, etc etc. Not saying it's not biological, but that's not clear. (Is it?)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 5:52 PM
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I just don't know if we'll ever nail down much of a preventable cause. Every so often a member of the herd just goes off the deep end.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 5:54 PM
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It does seem to be mostly men. If we grant that some set of causes contribute to spree shooting in men, what is the result in women of similar causes? Simple suicide?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 5:54 PM
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2 - It's less the number of comments than the number of refreshes on the high comment pages. I took a look at the stats and there have been a lot of page views today (obviously).


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 5:54 PM
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2 - But thanks for offering, Brock.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 5:55 PM
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7- eating disorder.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 5:55 PM
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Guys in a certain age range are far, far more liekly to turn rage outwards, but is that clearly biological?

The numbers are pretty overwhelmingly males in peak testosterone ages. Doubt it's all cultural.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 5:56 PM
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It does seem to be mostly men. If we grant that some set of causes contribute to spree shooting in men, what is the result in women of similar causes? Simple suicide?

Or look at things like cutting. Weird how that's overwhelming females.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 5:57 PM
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I'll repeat my question, then:

Anyone else find it odd that three of the first ten deaths on the MyDeathSpace are attributed to dump trucks?


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 5:57 PM
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aargh, "overwhelmingly "


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 5:57 PM
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So what's the over/under on the time it takes the first family of a victim to file a wrongful death suit against the school? I'd place it at 10 days. Given the timing w/r/t to the first shooting and the annoucements, the lawyers must be swarming. Likely we'll see high settlements, even though (without the advantage of hindsight) it seems the administrators acted more or less reasonably.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 5:59 PM
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424 LB, let me clarify. A differential diagnosis would consist of a primary disorder followed by a secondary disorder. The primary is entered on Axis I according the DSM-IV. A secondary diagnosis would be listed as Axis II, and so on. What this means is that depression may be an underlying disorder but not a primary one. A primary disorder might be, for instance, a personality disorder such as narcissistic PD, OCPD, or perhaps antisocial PD. A PD is much more likely to account for such violence. Depression would be considered secondary.

427 Narcissists do experience depression. "Get over yourself" is what would be termed "projective identification."


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:01 PM
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Cutting and anorexia, while plenty awful, don't seem quite acute enough to be analogous. They're also so very much more common.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:03 PM
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I was just joking. It's funny because it's not true.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:05 PM
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11: Agreed. What I'm saying is if we accept aggression as biological, we're still left with the question of what causes some young men to pursue XXXtreme sports and others to shoot up schools.

16: So it's wrong to assume that mental illness is a contributing factor in violent mass murder, but perfectly okay to diagnose strangers over the internet. Got it.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:07 PM
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Seems like the women I have known who are more on the violent side are violent in the impulsive way, like how Apo's ex did the shower attack thing.

This kind of methodical killing, like today's shooting, and serial killers, is damn near unheard of in women.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:09 PM
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I think the one area in which women are more violent than men may be child killings, but I'm not sure.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:10 PM
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My mom just told me that MSNBC (tv) said that the shooter is a Chinese immigrant who came to the US a year ago on a student visa. California gangster boys: off the hook! Corrupting influence of American culture: we're looking at you!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:11 PM
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Oh, man. This is going to make student visas even harder to get now, isn't it?


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:12 PM
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My guess (and I'm sure I've said this before, it's a pet theory) about why this kind of violence is almost exclusively male is that it's a biological thing, but on a more obvious level and one with a lot of cultural interplay. Men tend to be bigger and stronger than women; as a cultural result of that biological fact, men generally are likely (not universally going to, but likely) to believe that if they attempt violence, there's a good shot it will work for them. Women, generally, end up with the mirror-image belief that violence simply isn't going to be successful for them.

When you've got a man with a whole lot of rage to express, killing a bunch of people is just going to seem like a much more available option than it will seem for an equally angry woman.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:13 PM
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And 21: And that would fit right in, because children are small and physically unthreatening -- even someone without a sense of themselves as capable of successful violence against an adult adversary would think of themselves as capable of attacking a child.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:15 PM
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Very detailed rumors about the identity of the gunman - click here:

http: //motls.blogspot.com/2007/04/ virginia-tech-gunman.html

[I unlinked this URL. It really didn't give any details we hadn't discussed and seemed like someone pimping his blog. If you really want to read it, cut, paste, and delete the spaces. - Becks]


Posted by: Lubos Motl | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:15 PM
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I don't buy 24. Don't these tend to be smaller guys, the ones that have been made to feel powerless (through bullying/rejection/etc.)? It's not the jocks that go on shooting sprees.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:17 PM
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25: But I can't think of a case in which a woman went out and killed a bunch of other people's children. Killing your own children suggests something different than killing strangers chosen for their vulnerability.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:17 PM
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Don't these tend to be smaller guys, the ones that have been made to feel powerless (through bullying/rejection/etc.)? It's not the jocks that go on shooting sprees.

Maybe with the high school and middle school kids, but I don't think that's the case with adults.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:19 PM
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A Symptom of our "Chain Letter Society"?

Read an analysis of the influences in our "Chain Letter Society" that may be precipitating events like the tragedy at Virginia Tech and how our focus on winning and being number one may be fostering a generation of children with fully inadequate coping skills who have a misguided sense of self-worth...here:

http ://www.thoughttheater.com /2007/04/ chain_letter_society_on_the_virginia_tech_tragedy.php

[I unlinked the URLs, treating this as on(ish)-topic blog spam -Becks]


Posted by: Daniel DiRito | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:19 PM
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19. "So it's wrong to assume that mental illness is a contributing factor in violent mass murder, but perfectly okay to diagnose strangers over the internet."

What I said was: "A PD is much more likely to account for such violence. " How did you manage to twist that one around? Your statement, "Get over yourself," is not a diagnosis but an observation of a defense mechanism called "projective identification," i.e., attributing one's own behavior to someone else. "Diagnosis" is your claim, not mine.


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:20 PM
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Goddamnit, I can't believe people are using this to pimp their blogs.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:20 PM
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Do spammers have conventions? Is it wrong to want these things to happen at said conventions?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:21 PM
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Apo's girlfriend should not be included in statistics on female violence, or as a type case, because of her unique life-situation. She was entangled in a previously unobserved relational singularity (or "black hole").


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:21 PM
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27: There's cultural interplay with the biological size difference -- 'capacity for violence' turns into a cultural component of masculinity. One of the things that differentiates men from women, culturally, is that they are probably more able to effectively be violent. For any particular man, whether or not he's small or weak, being violent is one way of expressing a culturally defined masculine capacity (which arose out of the biological difference.)

28: Oh, there are also availablity issues; the thing about killing your own children is that when you have a murderous impulse, if you're the primary source of childcare you're there, and probably unsupervised.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:24 PM
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Yeah, I don't think physical size can be much of a factor. It's probably more the persistent differences between machismo and femininity, public vs. private -- women will be more likely to turn violence inward or against closer targets because they're still not commonly raised with the kind of outgoing, conflict-oriented "warrior" fantasies that school shootings often seem to be a twisted attempt to actualize.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:25 PM
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24 LB, I don't have the statistics readily at hand to back it up, but your observation is virtually a truism. For these types of crimes, the incidence rate is much higher for men than women.


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:26 PM
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Since they walked a line between comment spam and blog pimping, I unlinked their links but didn't delete the comments. If people want to do something harsher, go ahead.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:27 PM
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Can we call them names on their blog?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:28 PM
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re: 35

There's definitely more to the biology of male aggression than just dimorphism.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:31 PM
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32: We've been Motl'd. He's a bright young string theorist but a well-known Internet crank and stalker. What can you do. Harvard had him shut up for a while; log the IP.

22: damn. that was my original working theory, because it sounded more like this than this.

Now for some self-loathing, since I had this "boo-yah! in your face with that blood-and-honor crap" confirmation rush.


Posted by: Halfway Done | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:35 PM
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35.2: Yes, but I still think "I want to kill my kids" is a very different sort of murderous impulse than "I want to kill some people" and that availability or vulnerability probably isn't the best explanation for the difference.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:35 PM
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The thing is, that I think that the difference between machismo and femininity on the physical expression of anger front does come down to size, or more precisely to internalized belief in one's physical capacity to successfully express such anger.

I'm interpersonally fairly aggressive, but I've never come close to hitting anyone in anger since I was 13 or so, when my sister and I stopped fighting. I know, deep in my bones, that if I start something physical, the other person is going to hurt me. This isn't because I don't occasionally daydream about hurting someone physically when I'm angry, it's because I know I don't have the physical capacity for violence. (Presumably if I did, then I'd move into self restraint for reasons of being a decent person, but where I am now I don't need to restrain myself; fear works fine.)

My sister is, overall, a nicer, gentler, kinder, and more feminine person than I am. She's also 6'1", and at her fittest in college (working construction, rowing crew) was as strong as a lot of fit guys. She doesn't have that same ingrained 'avoid physical conflict' reaction -- I've seen her (ages ago) get out of a car at a light to argue with another driver; come close to getting in a fight in a bar with a guy who was harassing a friend of hers... she doesn't actually get in fights (I think, ever), but she gets a lot closer than most women do because she has an entirely different sense of her physical capacities. Violence is something she chooses to refrain from (as for most men) rather than something that simply isn't available.

This is more an argument as to why women don't do violent things than why men do, but it works either way.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:35 PM
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I think when you talk about guns, the idea that women aren't on average as strong as men disappears. I also think that the issue for violent men is more often a *feeling* of powerlessness than actually being powerless.

31: Let's just agree to ignore each other, okay?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:36 PM
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I think that part of the difference between male violence and female violence may be an expression of the will to control: women are supposed to be able to control themselves and children; men are supposed to be able to control themselves and everything else.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:37 PM
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43: You may not be completely typical. [Emoticon deleted.] FWIW, I'm male and big enough that I'm not physically intimidated very often, and I haven't had any particular desire to hit anyone since about 6th grade either.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:40 PM
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40: Maybe, but I'm not convinced of it. Women I've known who have reasonably estimated their physical capacity for violence as within the ordinary male range have tended to behave much more like (ordinary, decent, generally non-violent) men with relation to violence than women.

There's my sister, there's that post of Megan's I linked on the other thread, where she talks about shoving away a man who was trying to interfere in an argument she was having with her sister. Physically pushing someone around in a moment of anger is much more ordinary behavior from a man than from a woman -- but take a woman with strength and training sufficient that she doesn't see initiating violence as a sure route to injury or humiliation, and it becomes much more likely to happen.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:40 PM
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Historically if there have been specialists in violence they have always been men. There are some societies where women also go to war, but none in which women play an equal military role, much less a greater one.

It's probably for the same reason that political leadership has usually tended to be male, since in many societies the state or other political unit is primarily violent 9war and policing).

There are exceptions of various types during various periods, but the pattern is what I said, and the few non-violent and/or androgenous societies don't seem much like ours.

A non-sexist / non-violent society is something to work for, and I think that progress has been made in some places, but past history doesn't give a lot of good examples to model the future on.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:42 PM
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Asian guy + guns + VT = Murderer!

(At least, that's what the folks at Hot Air say.)


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:42 PM
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47: Mmmmmmaybe. I'm small and not particularly strong or fit, but I've been physically and verbally aggressive, in person, with people I thought were threatening me or my kid, or sometimes just if I thought they were being assholes. Aggression is usually enough, quite apart from whether or not one's likely to get one's ass kicked if it becomes physical.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:42 PM
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46: Really? Not at all? I'm not talking about it being difficult to restrain yourself; I'm just talking about being angry enough that expressing it violently passes through your mind as something that would be attractive. You may simply be saintly and Zen-like, of course.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:43 PM
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It's probably for the same reason that political leadership has usually tended to be male, since in many societies the state or other political unit is primarily violent 9war and policing).

I've long thought that in the U.S., given our national self-identification as a country founded on revolution, we aren't going to have a woman president until women can be drafted/serve in the military. I think that may have changed, though, after Clinton.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:44 PM
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The thing is, that I think that the difference between machismo and femininity on the physical expression of anger front does come down to size, or more precisely to internalized belief in one's physical capacity to successfully express such anger.

I don't think this particularly holds within genders. The term "Napoleon Complex" exists for a reason. And what DaveL said - I think big guys are generally less likely to be mean.

Although on reflection, that's almost certainly socially constructed, as not getting beat up as a kid has to do good things for your opinion of humanity.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:45 PM
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re: 43

I'm fairly sure there's a large literature on the psychology and biology of male violence that goes a long way past 'less likely to fear retribution'.

The guy dimorphism thing, for start, doesn't explain much since other guys are just as big.

And I think BPhD is hitting on something more useful as an explanation for these particular types of events in 44.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:45 PM
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Notice that LB, Alameida, and Megan all have violent thug sisters? It sounds like the advice column classic "A friend of mine....."


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:45 PM
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re: 53

Yeah, where I'm from 'hard man' is often prefixed by 'wee'. Small-man-syndrome, etc.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:46 PM
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44 D' Accord.


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:47 PM
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49: And surely, those guys have all the latest up-to-date intelligence.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:47 PM
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I think when you talk about guns, the idea that women aren't on average as strong as men disappears.

I think that's right, but I also think that if your general cultural whoosywhasit tells you generally that you're weaker, conciliatory, and non-violent, that you'll be less likely to have the idea of a violent shooting rampage hiding out in your lizard brain.

43 rings true to me. I don't know if I have a physical capacity for a lot of violence; realistically, I'll probably get my ass kicked. But I do know *what* I can do within my strength, and I'd lay very morbid odds on that I would not survive a gunman incident because my lizard brain would try to tackle him.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:49 PM
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Notice that LB, Alameida, and Megan all have violent thug sisters

Megan is the one who pushed the guy, not her sister.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:49 PM
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I think that women often overestimate the efficacy of male violence. I remember a professor once who asked why we thought men tended to be violent against women. I said "because they're stronger, duh," and he was kind of annoyed and said, no, it's because men can't have children. Whatever you think of the merits of the question and his answer, it was really impressive when I realized that I was answering the question from the pov of "why do they get away with it?" and he was asking "what is their motivation?" From our point of view, y'all being stronger is a really big deal.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:49 PM
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Something that's been in the news recently around here is the mini-epidemic of unrelated young male caretakers killing children (usually their girlfriends'). I'm not proposing that this pathology is directly linkable to mass murders or spree killings, but it does suggest to me that there are some bigger issues around socialization for young men that go beyond some armchair psychoanalytic diagnoses about goths or bullying or too much sugar in the diet.

One of the things that I thought was most disingenuos about Bowling for Columbine was the idea that gun deaths=rate of violence in a particular country. Certainly you can make the argument that boot parties thrown by European football hooligans are much less lethal than the firearm violence culture in the US, but are they less "violent"? The story in Among the Thugs about the hooligan who sucks a cop's eyeball out of its socket and then bites it off suggests a level of comfort with extreme violence that dwarfs that of a drive-by shooter.

The other thing is, I think we have to realize that all of these questions are, fundamentally, political and not merely moral, psychological or philosophical. If that's more obvious to us when we look at Iraq or Sudan or Colombia, mightn't it simply be our proximity that is impeding our understanding?


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:50 PM
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I'm fairly sure there's a large literature on the psychology and biology of male violence that goes a long way past 'less likely to fear retribution'.

The guy dimorphism thing, for start, doesn't explain much since other guys are just as big.

I'm not so much trying to explain why men do violent things as why women don't. People, generally, get angry and want to hurt other people when they get angry -- I don't know that that needs all that much explanation. The question is why do only men (mostly) do it physically, and I think a large part of the reason is that women have a culturally ingrained presumption, arising out of their generally smaller size, that physical violence will go badly for them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:51 PM
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if your general cultural whoosywhasit tells you generally that you're weaker, conciliatory, and non-violent

Oh, I think this is true, but I don't think the reason the cultural zeitgeist teaches us this is because we're by and large physically weaker. Most of us learn it way back when girls are, if anything, more physically developed than boys of the same age.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:51 PM
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51: Really. Not, I hasten to add, because I'm particularly saintly or Zen-like. More that I'm verbal enough to hold my own in the sorts of interactions I might actually care about. Resorting to force would be cheating.

Although when I think about it, I pretty much never want to just hurt someone, physically, emotionally, or otherwise. Make them see reason, yes. Hurt, no.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:52 PM
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64: You don't think it flows downhill to little girls from adolescent and adult women who are usually looking at a strength/violence differential?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:54 PM
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58: What do you mean? Asian PLUS guns PLUS VT, or can you not read?


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:54 PM
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One of the things that I thought was most disingenuos about Bowling for Columbine was the idea that gun deaths=rate of violence in a particular country. Certainly you can make the argument that boot parties thrown by European football hooligans are much less lethal than the firearm violence culture in the US, but are they less "violent"?

Oh yeah, I think you'll find that for everything except gun deaths, the US isn't really that violent at all -- which actually aids the gun control argument, I'd have thought. I'm often struck by talking to US grad students and the like how free their lives have been from violence [although that's obviously confounded slightly by class issues].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:55 PM
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re: 63

There's certainly an argument that women aren't less aggressive, they just express their aggression differently, in ways that don't involve physical violence. Maybe the dimorphism thing is part of that, but I'd add in testosterone, possible neurological differences, and a big hefty wad of socialization.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:57 PM
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I have to say that violence really is a discontinuity in life since it involves breaking rules which are second nature for most people, including most men. A certain number of men are pre-conditioned for war by local traditions, etc., and many or most men have some capacity for violence, but war is off the chart in terms of what people do. And within the military you have these brutal hierarchies where the officers systematically bully the men, and the higher officers bully the lower ones, and where men of the same rank, especially among the officers, compete bitterly with one another.

Anyway, it's quite a horrible world within which many men have trouble functioning, and for very good reason, even though men are probably relatively predisposed to violence more than women are. To me this all puts a big crimp in the idea of women in the military as a kind of job frontier. (It also really makes the idea of a volunteer army somewhat implausible). The military, in a lot of ways, isn't very much like a job. In battle you can be ordered to face near-certain death, and until fairly recently (seldom now) you could be executed if you fail or refuse to do your duty.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:57 PM
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unrelated young male caretakers killing children (usually their girlfriends').

This is an interesting thing, because on the one hand, it happens in all sorts of animal groups and has obvious natural selection type explanations, but on the other, I have no doubt that it's also socially constructed. Not entirely, but to a great extent.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:58 PM
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Megan pushed the guy because her sister was inviting thugs into the house. But yeah, Megan is an "out" thug.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 6:59 PM
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confounded slightly by class issues

I'm assuming the "slightly" is a little joke.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:00 PM
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68: I've had other British friends say that. We're also much less violent (in terms of frequency of violent interactions, I don't know about deaths) I'd guess, at least in the middle class, than we were in the US a half century ago. When my father was a young man, getting in fights with other groups of young men was something that had to be planned around and avoided (given that he was a peaceable sort). Guys my age, on the other hand, might worry about crime, but really don't worry (or didn't in the late teenage early twenties age where this happens a lot) about getting into fights with their peers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:00 PM
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re: 73

You can think of it as wry understatement.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:01 PM
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66: Yes, but only inasmuch as we (and men, too, who also warn girls how to "stay safe") exaggerate the strength differential and how important it is. In other words, what I'm saying is I don't think it's a rational thing--trained women can kick the asses of even trained men, because fighting is as much about technique and aggression as it is brute strength. I think it's much more about social constructions of what's appropriate for men (violence) and what's appropriate for women (self control, in part to avoid violence).


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:01 PM
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69: I'd say the dimorphism explains a lot of socialization, and I'd take the testosterone and neurological difference with a grain of salt until the science gets better pinned down.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:02 PM
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re: 74

Yeah, although I think Britain is something of an out-lier by any standard.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:02 PM
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63: The question is why do only men (mostly) do it physically

That seems like the wrong question, since what's at issue is why violence manifests differenly among women, not whether it manifests at all. 64 seems right to me; the different kinds of male violence that manifest themselves in phenomena like the serial killer or the shooting spree don't seem explicable by dimorphism or social effects springing therefrom. (And AFAIK women aren't statistically underrepresented in up-close-and-personal kinds of violence like domestic assault, where the supposed effects of a "strength/violence differential" should be expected to manifest.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:03 PM
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Can I say the more I think about this the more I'm annoyed that VT didn't sound the alarm because it was 'just a domestic violence shooting'?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:04 PM
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76: I would agree that you're right that the strength differential is sytematically exaggerated socially, but I think you're overestimating by how much. The size/muscle mass difference between the average man and the average woman is big enough that you'd need a really very substantial difference in aggression and training to make up for it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:05 PM
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trained women can kick the asses of even trained men, because fighting is as much about technique and aggression as it is brute strength

I've argued in another comment thread, at length, that that is out and out bullshit. Size and strength pretty much wins, every time. It'd be nice to believe otherwise, but it'd be generally wrong.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:05 PM
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I don't think that we should talk about non-physical violence. Physical violence is what we're talking about. There may be not-nice behaviors which are not physical violence (sarcasm, denial of love, betrayal, litotes) but we shouldn't call them "violence".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:06 PM
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82: Since what I know about actual physical fighting is pretty much nothing, I'll concede the point.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:06 PM
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82: All other things being equal, size and strength win every time. But in real-life physical conflicts all other things aren't equal all that often.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:07 PM
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80: Oh, you betcha. "He just wanted to kill his girlfriend. Probably not dangerous at all, otherwise." Feh.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:07 PM
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80: Initially, I was; the more I think about it, though, the less I am. I mean, they'd secured the crime scene, were canvassing the neighbors, and had started looking for the boyfriend, as he was a "person of interest." There's no way they could've anticipated what would happen next -- if, indeed, the two events are related. They could still be unrelated; not in a statistical-anomaly sense, but in a "when he/she died I snapped." (We are talking about mental instability here, right?)


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:07 PM
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Technique helps, but a surprise fight isn't about technique, and reach and strength can settle it long before the woman can go all Buffy on his ass.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:07 PM
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I agree with ttaM. A skilled boxer can beat larger non-boxers, but a boxer who can box even 30 pounds above his class is a great boxer, if the people he's boxing have any skill at all. Same for all the martial arts, I think.

Martial arts teachers mystify their arts a lot.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:09 PM
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80, 86: I see, it's the wording. I think what they mean by "just" there is "we can limit the scope of the crime based on the available evidence," not "she was just a dead girlfriend."


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:09 PM
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Martial arts teachers mystify their arts a lot.

Oh yes. Lots of sensible business reasons to do so, as well. And a fair bit of self-deception.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:11 PM
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82, 89: Yeah. Bitch has a point in that we socially expect there to be less overlap between the actual size and strength of the sexes than there is -- the difference in the averages is quite large, but there's some overlap, and we tend to assume that there's almost none. A fairly strong woman is going to be stronger than some men; and that's surprising to a lot of people.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:12 PM
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87, 89: Agree.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:13 PM
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90: Still. A gunman comes on campus, kills one, wounds another, they figure out it was the boyfriend of someone *not* currently dead or wounded, he's at large and they don't bother to notify anyone until the second shooting starts.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:14 PM
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the boyfriend of someone *not* currently dead or wounded

Not to defend the administration, because I think they screwed up, but I'm not sure that part is true.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:16 PM
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92: I think I'm also coming at this from the fact that I honestly *never* find myself thinking about whether or not men are stronger than me. I mean, sure, it could all be subconscious, but my sense of my caution about men is more about aggression per se than it is about strength differentials. Every time I've ever gotten into a wrestling match with a guy, I've been surprised that it's not more evenly matched.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:16 PM
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90, not 89, although 89 looks plausible enough too.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:16 PM
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94: No need to alarm the campus, any more than they alarm an entire city of 30,000 people when a murder (or double-murder) occurs. I think the emotion's amped up because it's a university, but I think normal protocol suffices. You can't expect the unexpected after all, unless you want to live in a police state...

...wait a minute!


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:17 PM
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And within the military you have these brutal hierarchies where the officers systematically bully the men, and the higher officers bully the lower ones, and where men of the same rank, especially among the officers, compete bitterly with one another.

Dude, stick to what you know. Your cartoonish imaginings of what the modern military is like are just silly.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:17 PM
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I think they screwed up, but largely I think that in hindsight. If I were a student somewhere and some disgruntled boyfriend shot somebody in their room and the entire campus got locked down, I'd think it was an extreme overreaction, to be honest.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:18 PM
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95: Possibly. I'm wanting to cut them some slack. On the other hand, I'm having a hard time imagining the rage I would feel had a sister or someone I loved been shot, knowing she always checks her e-mail before class, and that they knew there was a gunman on the loose and didn't bother to let her know.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:19 PM
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(sarcasm, denial of love, betrayal, litotes)

Very nice.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:20 PM
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Can I say the more I think about this the more I'm annoyed that VT didn't sound the alarm because it was 'just a domestic violence shooting'?

The more I think about it, the more forgiving I am (although I went through a 'more annoyed' phase earlier). Hindsight is 20/20, blah blah blah. You really can't assume that everyone who shoots their girlfriend and runs off is going to pop up an hour later and commit a massacre. It just isn't practical. What's more, you can hardly consider the first shooting to have been a clue about the massacre, since people who shoot their lovers go into hiding rather than go out in a blood orgy; and people who commit massacres don't usually give themselves away first by shooting their lovers!


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:20 PM
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100: Yeah, these are my current sentiments, also.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:21 PM
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88: Near as I can tell, surprise plus the employment of sufficient mass will always win, tho' there's no difference between the stainless steel cookware and the copper-bottomed stuff.

IMX the problem with martial arts training for women is often the guys tend to hold back and go with. That gives a false sense of confidence.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:22 PM
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Cities aren't the same thing as campuses, though I'll admit I don't know the layout of VT.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:23 PM
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Although. I would definitely expect in a d.v. killing that the dorm would be locked down or at least have a very heavy police presence. I'd expect the same thing in a city neighborhood.

And I realize both these expectations are usually unfulfilled.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:23 PM
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It's a school with a gunman who has already killed two people on the loose. How can you not lock it down? It has nothing to do with expecting a mass murdering rampage. Someone who just shot people and is looking to escape is, as they say, armed and dangerous, and a school campus is full of targets (for whom the administration is responsible).


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:23 PM
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And certainly--at least, hopefully--after this d.v. killings *will* be seen as reasons to expect a possible subsequent murder spree and take appropriate action.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:24 PM
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I agree with 103. We don't know enough to say that the alarm should have been sounded for all 30,000 people or so on campus to go into hiding, and from what we DO know, it seems like a virtually unique situation that nobody would predict would escalate.

If somebody shows up at his/her ex-lover's house, tries to kill her, and then drives away, do you tell everyone else in the neighborhood (mostly or entirely strangers) that there's an indiscriminate killer on the loose? There was no sign that it was a spree.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:24 PM
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Almost everyone is stronger than I am -- I often think of what a fantastic superpower physical invulnerability would be. How different my world would be!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:24 PM
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Screw you, Idealist, especially if you were in the peacetime army. I know a fair number of Vietnam Vets around here. Some are wrecked and some are doing fine, but that wasn't "a job". People have told me about basic training, and the systematic bullying and abuse there was far beyond what anyone would go through in any other job. Sure, I wasn't there, but people who were there can talk.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:25 PM
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107, 108, and 109 to 110, I suppose.

All indications were that he had already fled the dorm in question - why should it be the one locked down?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:26 PM
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108: It sounds like you have a stronger sense of the role of school administration in loco parentis than I do. At a K-12 school, absolutely. A college or university campus? Less so.

Like I said, in hindsight I think this is a mistake.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:26 PM
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Screw you, Idealist

No, but thanks for the offer.

People have told me about basic training

See, this is huge part of your problem you are making generalizations about life in the entire military from what sometimes happened to recruits in an 8-week course 40 years ago.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:29 PM
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110: Again, a campus isn't a neighborhood street. Chances are your neighborhood street doesn't have its own private security force or a shared dorm, either.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:29 PM
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As well as the actual war in Vietnam. And what I hear about the actual war in Iraq. Or any other actual war.

Most of the people I'm thinking of were draftees, and I doubt that one of them rose as high as sergeant. I suspect that you had a more favorable view. And some of them don't want to talk about it, and some do, but a lot of them speak about it with horror, as if they were trapped in hell.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:32 PM
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a campus isn't a neighborhood street

Right, and schools are full of publicly accessible enclosed spaces, ie, potential shooting galleries.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:32 PM
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117: "Draftees were treated like shit, which makes the idea of a volunteer military kind of a joke?" Even someone fresh off the turnip truck like me can see the flaw in that "reasoning".


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:36 PM
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If reports are correct, the school authorities elected not to lock down the campus based on their assumptions that the crime was done and that the killer had fled. An equally good assumption -- and yeah, hindsight blah blah -- would have been that an armed gunman might have gone on killing, taken hostages, what have you. It's not as though it hasn't happened many times before. 108 gets it right -- that they didn't lock down is incomprehensible to me.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:43 PM
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Soldiers are treated like shit, and war is hell. Look, imagine that you're a PFC in Iraq right now. What's your life like? Until Bush decides you can go home or you are killed or incapacitated, you do what you're told, and it often involves risk of death or the duty to kill whomever needs to be killed. What you think about anything makes no difference whatsoever and wn't until you're back in the states. (The reports I see are that soldiers are being sent back to battle when they're physically or mentally incapable of functioning.)

That's what war is, and that's what armies are for. And my main point was only that this is not really a job in the normal range of jobs that a guidance counselor lists on his bulletin board, and that there are a lot of people couldn't handle this job. It's sort of a lottery on losing your life or your sanity for a fairly moderate payoff.

Whatever reforms there have been since 1973 haven't changed the nature of war, and reprts from Iraq confirm that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:44 PM
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"Draftees were treated like shit, which makes the idea of a volunteer military kind of a joke?" Even someone fresh off the turnip truck like me can see the flaw in that "reasoning".

Get back on your turnip truck, you're too "smart" for "me".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:46 PM
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120: But it's not an equally good assumption. People kill people they know with great and dismal regularity. Mass shootings of strangers are very rare. It's a judgment call, but locking 20,000+ people down for an extended period is not a trivial thing.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:47 PM
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I don't actually know the details, but I'd have been more concerned by the fact that the gunman killed a bystander (the RA) and fled. At that point, (unless the RA did something like fling himself between the girlfriend and a bullet) you've got a guy who's killing people who weren't his initial targets.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:49 PM
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Joshua Key describes something of the culture of the American military in his book, and FWIW his description doesn't appreciably jar with what Emerson is saying. (He doesn't directly touch on the subject in the linked interview, unfortunately, which is more concerned with alleged war crimes.)


Posted by: Doctor Slack | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:51 PM
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Soldiers are treated like shit, and war is hell.

What we disagree on is the first proposition. The second is obviously true, and is the current one is the most hellish for enlisted men and junior NCOs.

And my main point was only that this is not really a job in the normal range of jobs that a guidance counselor lists on his bulletin board

I agree.



Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:51 PM
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Joshua Key describes something of the culture of the American military in his book

Oh well, if a deserter says it's so, it has to be true. Because really, he would have no axe to grind or anything.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:53 PM
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OK, next time you want to agree with me don't start off by being an asshole.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:54 PM
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Yeah, Idealist, and the guys I know are losers too. Not like you. Once a grunt has done his job, he's garbage.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:55 PM
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123: LB beat me to it, but the gunman had already killed at least one stranger (and the authorities leapt to an assumption about the relationship of killer to victim). You're right, it's not a trivial thing, but in light of a double murder and a gunman on the loose, locking the place down doesn't strike me as an excess of caution.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:55 PM
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124 is a valid point, but it's worth noting that the administration may well have been getting garbled information too. I'm not wedded to defending their judgment, but some of the condemnations above are way too strong for the amount of information that's come out so far.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:56 PM
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127: You'll understand if failed sarcasm doesn't carry much weight as a response, right?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:57 PM
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130: killer to victim s/b killer to the female victim


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 7:57 PM
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I'm not getting the hostility toward Idealist here. He's been pretty temperate.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:00 PM
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I was reading Wikipedia's coverage, and then followed this link from the "Historical Context" section at the bottom, which describes the worst civilian shooting in U.S. history. I get the feeling that the second sentence has been recently edited.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:00 PM
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Astonishingly, the vandalism has already been fixed.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:02 PM
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His opening statement was "Your cartoonish imaginings of what the modern military is like are just silly."


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:03 PM
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People aren't really criticizing school administrators because they failed to act after the first two shootings. They are criticizing the administration because it failed to act *before* the rest of the shootings.

If the shooter had done like every other similar shooter we've ever heard of, he would have either a.) left the scene after the first shootings or b.) immediately started shooting the joint up. This was a weird case, and absent its unique attributes, nobody would be griping about the school's reaction.

Observers of a calamity will always look to criticize people involved who are behaving perfectly prudently and decently. Targets in this case seem to include school administrators, cops, the media, the racial idenfitication of the perpetrator and MySpace - really anybody or anything who touches the situation.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:04 PM
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Well, the snark in 132 was basically just a response to Idealist's attempt to imply that the citation of Key amounted to uncritical endorsement. It should not be interpreted as hostility to Idealist tout court.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:05 PM
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I don't think that's right, politicalfootball. This isn't just hindsight talking.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:07 PM
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At this point, with the information I have, I'm fairly sympathetic to the administration's decision. For one thing, they probably had no idea who died or why. That sort of determination takes a little while. If you rush that process, you risk totally screwing up a prosecution, which would seem much more likely than a gigantic spree killing.

For another, the campus is probably fairly spread out and unsecurable. (I've attended one of the most prison-like universities in the world, and it would have difficult to catch a fleeing killer in the first hectic minutes of confusion.)

And then it would have been logistically nightmarish to find and notify enough students and professors for the "lockdown" to have an impact. It's not as though universities have a procedure for that sort of thing; my NYC university, like many, chose to stay open during 9-11 at least in part because it was easiest---though adminstration came up with a high-minded reason afterwards.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:08 PM
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137: OK, having maybe overreacted to a similar line myself earlier today, I can see that, but you were pretty over the top in your original comment on military culture. From my limited experience, today's military really is very different from stories one reads or hears about the Vietnam era.

139: OK.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:10 PM
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Maybe. I've gotten faster e-mails from campus security when a student's been mugged.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:11 PM
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140.--ogged, the top hits there are all high schools or elementary schools. There are a couple of differences: 1) those schools tend to be single-building, 2) universities have a whole lot more violence not related to crazy intruders.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:12 PM
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Plus, VT has very recent experience with a murder-related lockdown.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:12 PM
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Feel free to substitute "college" for "school," JM. Still plenty of stories.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:13 PM
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145 to 138, 144


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:13 PM
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The peacetime army is different, but war is war. the reports I get out of Iraq are similar. In a wartime chain of command, the guy at the bottom of the chain is in a world of hurt. If he joined the military in order to get college money, he made a big mistake. And that's one of the ways they sell the volunteer army.

Some men do well in that world. Most don't. I have my doubts about women going into that world.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:14 PM
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It can take a while to send out 50,000 emails, especially if you're using crappy software.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:19 PM
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141: I'd agree, but when they thought someone *sighted* the escaped convict dude at the beginning of the school year, they cancelled classes. What I can't get is the security rationale that would cancel classes for that, but not for an escaped murderer who's already shot two. There's no way they could have known about the spree, but cancelling classes doesn't seem like overreacting.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:20 PM
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And email isn't the only way to lock down the school. Presumably it has its own police force, with fancy police cars with loudspeakers. And I see that now a lot of the news coverage is turning to "why the hell wasn't the place locked down?"


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:22 PM
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NYT's current story includes a detail I hadn't seen before: police had identified someone they wanted to talk to based on witness accounts from the dorm and were questioning him off-campus when the shooting started in the classroom building.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:23 PM
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By far the most damning part is the half-steps the school seems to have taken. They send out a blast email saying not to leave the dorms, but then hold class as if nothing had happened? Either there's a security situation or there isn't, and if they're acting as if there is one but then not following through, that looks really bad.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:24 PM
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140: Va. Tech has something in excess of 20,000 students - of course most probably aren't on campus at a given time. But making a decision to disrupt that many people - and then implementing that decision effectively - is different from locking down a high school or elementary school. When should these lockdowns apply? What if two people are shot in a bar fight a block away from campus?

I think the answer is that a bar fight double-homicide would result in identical criticism - if the shooter got away and came back several hours later and blew a bunch of people away. Otherwise, not so much.

Most of your search examples seem to be pegged to guns being spotted - not even someone being shot. Again, you can do that for elementary schools - and places where gunplay is wildly out of place. Seems to me, though, that a lot of universities couldn't do business at all if they shut down every time someone was shot nearby.

Admittedly, if you substitute the word "university" for "school" in your search, you get situations that are more on-topic, and more supportive of your point. Still, lockdowns seem to occur only in open-ended situations, and it's pretty easy to imagine that the cops had reason to think they understood this situation as involving specific targets.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:27 PM
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Difficult to judge if this were the right call, according to students on campus. In the future, to be sure, this will become standard procedure.


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:28 PM
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And now a break for some batshit insanery


Posted by: MJN | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:28 PM
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Argh, not Schlussel. Enough with the bottom feeders.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:29 PM
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Can I also just say that I'm very glad the shooter isn't thought to be Muslim?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:35 PM
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131: Given that DaveL and I stumbled into a little tiff earlier, my seconding of his post should carry extra weight here.

comity!!!

Unless something really egregious emerges, I can't see how a university can be expected to have a perfect response ready for something this extreme and unusual. And having been a student at a sprawling 25K-ish school myself, I'm not even sure what a useful "lockdown" could possibly entail.


Posted by: orangatan | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:36 PM
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Yeah, I know, but it's the perfect storm of WTF? We, uh, shouldn't give student visas to these Chinese commies who are highly trained killers and who will force litigation against gun makers. Or something. Oh, and there are Saudis.


Posted by: MJN | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:38 PM
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153. They send out a blast email saying not to leave the dorms, but then hold class as if nothing had happened?

I read my university email more regularly when I was teaching, but if I had a 9am class, I rolled out of bed and trundled over to the appropriate room without checking anything. Not the weather report, not the news, not my email, and certainly not information from the university listserv, most of which was lecture notices, bills, heartfelt messages from the dean, and other spam. In my dim, blackened memory of being an undergraduate, I recall having been even less functional in the early morning.

Which is to say that, in my opinion, in order to prevent a lot of people from going to class, the administration would have had to send out police cars with bullhorns. Maybe a sober analysis of the first shooting will determine that there was enough there to warrant that response.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:47 PM
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I don't know to what degree VT is a commuter school, but mightn't continuing with classes as scheduled been a better way to get students - who were already on or on their way to campus - into a controlled location in case something did happen, than announcing that the school was locked down and go away now?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:50 PM
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They send out a blast email saying not to leave the dorms, but then hold class as if nothing had happened? Either there's a security situation or there isn't

Most of the big campuses I'm familiar with have the dorms quite some distance away from the classroom buildings.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:52 PM
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Hi. Just came into the office in Tokyo and saw this shooting all over the news.

Yes, I know it is a sign that I have been brainwashed by our action-movie culture, but one of my first reactions was, "Why didn't somebody, or several somebodies, rush him during the minutes-long breaks while he was reloading?" (Of course, if several sane people had been armed, instead of only one crazy one, this could have ended differently, too, but concealed carry on campus is probably too much to hope for.)

I know the students were terrified and yeah, I would have been, too. But, man, I really wish somebody had rushed the shooter and whomped the tar out of him, just like I wish the passengers on Flight 93 had beat up the terrorists in time to save the plane.

The fact is, if a classroom of students rushed the shooter, he could have killed one or two or three of them, maybe, but not 33, before the mass of them tackled his ass to the ground. After 9-11, we saw several incidents of passengers ganging up on potential terrorists and subduing them before anything could go down. Is it possible something similar could happen in regard to shootings like this? I dunno; just wondering.

You may now commence mocking.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:52 PM
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I thought about what GB did. The guy had two guns which both held double-digit clips, and maybe he was able to reload one-handed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:55 PM
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The thing is, even if he was shooting a full clip on semi-auto, you can't kill 33 people who are in the same room with you if they all pile on you. Maybe one or two, and then they've got you. Hasn't anyone here ever played Resident Evil?


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:57 PM
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"Why didn't somebody, or several somebodies, rush him during the minutes-long breaks while he was reloading?"

I don't know, and at this point, I doubt anyone knows.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:58 PM
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Tweets: I don't know to what degree VT is a commuter school

B: the dorms quite some distance away from the classroom buildings

In my experience—I've visited Tech a handful of times—many non-first-year students live off-campus in apartments and drive or use public transit to get to campus, then walk to class. But I also hesitate to get into all this speculation absent many facts.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:59 PM
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To correct my earlier impression, they didn't send out the email saying not to come to campus until after the shooting, the email about the dorm shooting didn't signal any state of caution, and the only people who were told not to leave their dorm were the people in the dorm where the shooting took place, which seems perfectly reasonable to me.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 8:59 PM
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Also, you might think no one would want to risk his (I'm assuming it would be a dude) life to rush the shooter. But just as some guys do wacky stuff like shoot dozens of innocent people, other guys do wacky stuff like save lives at great risk to themselves — remember the guy who jumped on the subway tracks in NY to save somebody?


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:01 PM
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"Why didn't somebody, or several somebodies, rush him during the minutes-long breaks while he was reloading?"

I don't know, and at this point, I doubt anyone knows.

I'm assuming it's because they were scared shitless, and I don't claim I would have acted any differently. (Although I like to imagine I would have. You never know.)


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:02 PM
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170: Looking at the MySpace of the RA who was the first guy to die, I immediately wondered if he might not have died trying to subdue him.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:04 PM
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The hard thing is that it's hard to coordinate, right? The plane full of people had time. Students rushing one at a time just all get killed faster, and who wants to be the one to lead it off?

Of course, if several sane people had been armed, instead of only one crazy one, this could have ended differently, too, but concealed carry on campus is probably too much to hope for.

This is pretty unlikely, but I shall not mock.. both to hope for it, and to hope that the armed citizen ® would be in a good position to take down the gunman without hurting anyone else. Think about it. First off, presumably concealed carry has a residency requirement; going to be hard for a college student to swing that. Most students won't be carrying. Second, you have to be able to get to your gun; write off most of the girls, who if they were armed would probably have their handgun in one of those purses, and since they're not having them slung over their shoulder while taking notes, the bags are probably under the chair. Actually, write off most of the students; would you carry your gun in daylight to your calc class? Third, the student has to be able to have a clear shot, &c, and not get mistaken for a perp himself by other students. Fourth, you have to hope that 'concealed carry' and 'sane' overlap.

I think it's reasonably plausible to suppose that had VA Tech had a concealed carry policy, that the events would have gone down today exactly the same. But you'd have more guns on campus, and in case you haven't been on a campus lately, undergrads, future leaders though they may be, are immature, prone to depression and suicidal thoughts, and just plain dumb.

Drunk stupid fratboys are far more likely to get into trouble with a handgun than they are to have their Jack Bauer moment.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:05 PM
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166: The story seems to be that the shooter was in the hallway and the students worked to barricade him out of their rooms, of which he went to at least two, I don't know how many. Plenty of time to reload in the hall. You can't blame the people hearing nearby gunfire for staying where they were rather than fleeing towards it, although that may wind up becoming the common wisdom about what to do if you hear shooting next door.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:06 PM
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Students rushing one at a time just all get killed faster

Not if the gunman is reloading.

and who wants to be the one to lead it off?

That's why some people are heroes and most people aren't.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:06 PM
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164: I'm guessing that 'Diffusion of Responsibility' kicks into overdrive when the issue is "who gets to rush the heavily armed madman" instead of "who's going to stop to help the poor shmuck on the side of the road."

But yeah, it definately seems odd that so much mayhem was caused with "only" pistols.


Posted by: orangatan | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:07 PM
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164 -- Passengers on a 9/11 plane had no safe option: Passively hoping leaves you just as dead of long shot heroics. This is completely different from facing a guy who is walking down a hallway, looking into random classrooms, and getting off a dozen shots before moving on.

These mass shootings come along every now and then. Even if this guy might have been stopped after killing "only" 10 people, you have to think about the 20 other gun deaths that would occur over the course of the ensuing 5 years, spread out over all US colleges, were college students now armed as a matter of course.

(I kind of lost my temper about this a little earlier in the day at another site. People I work with have kids at that school. I have family members that have attended that school. I have a kid in college. Don't fucking tell me we need more goddam guns, and certainly don't talk about responsible gun handling at the same time you're talking about a mass of college age boys . . .)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:08 PM
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I won't mock and I don't want to get into it, but I always find versions of the "why didn't they fight back?" question kind of offensive.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:09 PM
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175: Also worth pointing out that Flight 93 knew they were on a doomed plane; they knew what was going on. On the other flights, no one rushed.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:10 PM
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I don't think that reloading was a factor. IIRC the combined capacity of his pistols was close to 30 shots, and he only shot 60 people. So he only had to reload 2 or 3 times, which he could have done between rooms.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:11 PM
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Not if the gunman is reloading.

Yes, I think that if you can tell that the gunman is not going to be able to fire in the next few seconds, you have a duty to rush him.

Speaking as someone who would not be able to tell that, of course.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:11 PM
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#174: I don't blame any of the students for seeking safety.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:11 PM
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G. Biker - I realize you're not being critical, per se, but this is what I mean when I gripe about hindsight. Your query reminds me of something I once read about Ghandi.

(Caution, I have no idea if this story is true.)

Ghandi, defending the near-universal applicability of nonviolence as a tactic, was invited to address the hopeless situation of the Jews in Warsaw Ghetto. His response was that if they committed mass suicide, they would have made an impression on the world and essentially lost nothing, since they were almost all exterminated anyway.

Yes, if people know the outcome, and then have time to organize and plan, they can rationally act on a grim outcome (these are the conditions that prevailed on the 9-11 plane). Otherwise, people can't coordinate. It's not possible.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:12 PM
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This is conspiracy theory stuff, but we don't really know what happened to flight 93. Shooting planes down was discussed, and orders to do so may have been given by Cheney -- this is or was the official story, IIRC. People say that the evidence is consisent with the plane having been shot down, but I haven't followed up.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:14 PM
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As I recall my early college self, I would have had to have been exceptionally alert to have thought to hide at nine am, let alone mount a fullscale assault on an armed lunatic.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:14 PM
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Question: Why do people assume that nobody attempted to rush the gunman? Anyone have any opinion on what the most likely result of such bravery would be?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:14 PM
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I think that if you can tell that the gunman is not going to be able to fire in the next few seconds, you have a duty to rush him.

Really? Wow. I think it's a bit much to say that someone has a duty to rush a man holding a lethal weapon, under any circumstances. I don't think the cops even do that.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:15 PM
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#180: I read several news accounts of students saying stuff like "Well, he was shooting bang, bang, bang, one after the other, and then there was a minute-long pause, and then more shooting."

Of course, you don't know how long the pause is until he starts shooting again. I am absolutely not blaming anyone for failing to turn into rush the shooter. Nor do I claim I would have had the presence of mind, and the courage, to do so myself. I just wish someone had done it. Selfish and unreasonable? Maybe, but there it is.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:16 PM
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This ABC News report brings up something I had forgotten about: "It is unknown at this time if the guns had standard or extended clips, which can fire as many as 30 shots before the gun has to be reloaded."

In which case he would have had to reload once, if at all.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:16 PM
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184: My understanding is that Cheney didn't give the order until after the plane had crashed.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:16 PM
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pf, that appears to be a legend, and one fostered by nemeses of the good and true.


Posted by: Clownaesthesiologist | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:16 PM
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Oh wait disregard 191 -- I am not thinking straight.


Posted by: Clownaesthesiologist | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:18 PM
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In which case he would have had to reload once, if at all.

Well, he killed 33 people, so, even assuming every single bullet killed a different person, he would have had to reload.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:19 PM
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One of the things I read somewhere sometime today estimated between 80-100 rounds. So, probably one or two reloads.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:19 PM
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187: I think 181 was sarcasm.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:19 PM
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164: People generally have to be trained to react quickly and hyper-aggressively, the prevailing cultural training is to not react that way. How many people would react like that guy in the jack-in-the-box video someone linked to a while back? Not many, I think.

I've been in restaurants with my family where any three robbers would have been out-gunned and instantly looking like colanders, but not everyone is as nutty as we are.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:23 PM
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As I recall my early college self, I would have had to have been exceptionally alert to have thought to hide at nine am, let alone mount a fullscale assault on an armed lunatic.

In high school, I used to daydream that terrorists kidnapped the hottie in my class and I rescued her. So I would have been mentally prepared in this situation.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:23 PM
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But in your daydreams you probably had a gun, cool gadgets, and a chance with the hottie. (zing!)

(pendulous drupelets.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:25 PM
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#198: No, I took them out bare-handed, of course.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:26 PM
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187: I think there's been some court decisions indicating cops have no duty to protect any *specific* life. They don't have to take a bullet for you, it's all situational.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:26 PM
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Wow. I think it's a bit much to say that someone has a duty to rush a man holding a lethal weapon, under any circumstances. I don't think the cops even do that.

If you happen to be the person in the room who can TELL that he is momentarily powerless because he won't be done reloading for a while, then you're the one who can take the lead in subduing him, because you know that the risk is limited at that time. Maybe that didn't happen in this incident, I have no idea.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:26 PM
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No, I took them out bare-handed, of course.

Er, I meant only the bad guys. Not the hottie


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:27 PM
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So why are you even agitating for concealed carry? If the proper thing to do is to bum-rush the terrorist and take him out bare-handed.


Posted by: Clownaesthesiologist | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:27 PM
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I used to daydream that terrorists kidnapped the hottie in my class and I rescued her.

As Quail-Man, of course.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:28 PM
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What is Quail-Man's super power? He quails before his opponents' might?


Posted by: Clownaesthesiologist | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:30 PM
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There are some things I could never see myself doing. Like that guy who jumped in front of the subway train. I could never even imagine myself doing that. I mean, come on, it's a frickin' train.

But with a shooter, it all depends on the situation.

If you're holed up in your dorm room and can't see what's going on in the hall outside, and all you hear is gunfire, I can see not wanting to poke your head out and survey the situation.

On the other hand, if you're in a classroom with the shooter, and you're, like, hiding behind a desk or something, and then you hear a long break in the shooting along with reloading noises, I think it might make sense to rush him at that point rather than let him reload and keep shooting at you. And if I ever find myself in that situation, I hope I have the guts to do it.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:33 PM
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sometimes Biohazard scares me.

But, Biohazard gets my vote to be stuck with in a classroom with a crazy killer loose.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:33 PM
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sometimes Biohazard scares me.

But, Biohazard gets my vote to be stuck with in a classroom with a crazy killer loose.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:33 PM
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So why are you even agitating for concealed carry? If the proper thing to do is to bum-rush the terrorist and take him out bare-handed.

That's only the proper thing if no one else is armed. If they are, obviously the proper thing is to shoot him dead.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:34 PM
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Also many years ago, I talked myself out of danger at the point of a couple of guns.

The patience runs way short.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:35 PM
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As Quail-Man, of course.

Fuck you, let me enjoy my daydreams.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:36 PM
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210:

Yes, but you don't think those DOJ lawyers would have actually used the guns, do you?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:37 PM
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If they'd gotten through the paperwork.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 9:39 PM
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Hero exhorters, you're talking crazy. A duty to rush the guy? That's effectively a duty to sacrifice your life for some probability that you'll save other people. There's no such duty in our society. So at most you can say something like "wouldn't it be neat if we had a society in which..." but then that society would probably have other "for the good of the group" mores that you wouldn't like so much.

As for having guns on campus, that's really not even worth discussing. Mass casualty events like today's happen every five or ten years. How many people do you think would be killed accidentally by guns if they were common on college campuses? Add in the people killed deliberately and you'll have many more people dying if there are more guns at college.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 10:00 PM
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God save me from being stuck in crossfire between a crazy shooter and some guy with hero fantasies and a gun.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 10:01 PM
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This is one of the most commo questions asked of me:

"If I see a bad guy at a bank, can I shoot him?"

Me: NOOOOO! You will pobably make it MUCH worse.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 10:04 PM
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common not commo or even commie.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 10:05 PM
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215: B, meet Clayton Craymer.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 10:08 PM
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Wait, that Craymer post is totally sane.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 10:13 PM
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That's because it's not by Cramer. Gotcha. I see the comment you meant.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 10:16 PM
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217: What a charmer.

Shortly after Patrick Purdy went on his murder spree in a Stockton schoolyard in 1989, elementary schools where I lived in California started teaching students what to do: lie on the ground flat. What? What Bart talked about--the tendency in some circles to assume that all you can be is a victim--certainly was showing in those instructions.

Someone should have taught those elementary school children that they had a duty to rush armed gunmen.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 10:18 PM
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214: Hero exhorters, you're talking crazy. A duty to rush the guy?

I never said anyone had a duty to rush the guy. Generally, if you are fully and reasonably expected to do something, you're not a hero for doing it. (Troops in the military are fully expected to do a lot of heroic stuff, but they never had a duty to sign up in the first place.)

215: God save me from being stuck in crossfire between a crazy shooter and some guy with hero fantasies and a gun.

Note to all heroes: Let the shooter get B first, then take action.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 10:23 PM
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In 1991, the U of Iowa had a similar, but smaller scale massacre by a physics graduate student, Gang Lu. It was the year I finished my own Ph.D. in physics, and I remember that even those of us not at Iowa were shaken. Jo Ann Beard published a deeply moving piece in the New Yorker some years later that caught the incomprehensibility for those directly involved. Now, as an administrator, I can only be terrified by the impossibility of any campus being prepared for such an event.


Posted by: astronomer | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 10:45 PM
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And then there's Theodore Streleski, the Stanford ball peen hammer man, who only did in his dissertation adviser.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 10:52 PM
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214: Yeah, there'd be an huge spike in shootings. It's a self-limiting solution and problem tho', like Ebola and putting 55 gallon drums of crack on every street corner.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 11:21 PM
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For what it's worth, even in `crazed gunman' situations, I think it's a pretty strong assertion that on average fewer innocents would be killed if it were likely that some students were carrying.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 04-16-07 11:48 PM
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After 9-11, Michael Moore sniffed that the odds of any of us dying in a terrorist attack like 9-11 were very low, so it would be foolish to give up any of our rights and freedoms in a vain attempt to become more secure.

Will we hear that same refrain from him with respect to this highly unusual shooting incident, and the right to bear arms? I doubt it.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 1:43 AM
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Well, your odds of being shot are several orders of magnitude higher than those of dying in a terrorist attack.

And it's not as if Moore is being inconsistent. He clearly doesn't think that the right to bear arms is a legitimate right to have. You can disagree with him about that, but there's nothing hypocritical about believing the solution to some problem or other is to take away some right you believe to be a non-right and believing that the removal of some other right, one you believe to be crucial, is not a solution to some other problem.

It essentially comes down to which picture of rights you have. That's a substantial debate, and there are arguments to be given by either side, but there's nothing inconsistent or hypocritical about Moore's position.

Unless of course you believe that the US bill of rights exhaustively defines rights for all time, in which case, pffft.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 2:50 AM
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If people are going to take the debate in this direction, it would pay to look at a comprehensive study on the subject. In particular, the section starting on page 114, (with an interesting table on 115) "EFFICACY OF SELF-DEFENSE WITH A FIREARM".

Also, if any Lott fans show up, chapter 6 might be instructive. Long story short, results in the data regarding crime rate and concealed carry are all over the place depending on what controls are used. So while it's not clear concealed carry increases crime, it's also not clear that it reduces it either. Lott is full of shit.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:01 AM
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"And within the military you have these brutal hierarchies where the officers systematically bully the men, and the higher officers bully the lower ones..."

So in the US army, captains (for example) are systematically bullied by lieutenant-colonels? That's an image that's going to stick with me.

"...and where men of the same rank, especially among the officers, compete bitterly with one another."

Competition between people of the same rank? How very unlike any civilian working environment!


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:07 AM
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(coming in very late on 74)
LB: When my father was a young man, getting in fights with other groups of young men was something that had to be planned around and avoided.

In the last 10 years this has become a huge issue in Ireland. I wonder if there's an explanation for this at the nexus of demographics and prosperity - we had our big baby boom in the 70s and 80s, and everyone in their late teens/ early 20s has full or part-time jobs to provide them with drinking money. Your dad's age cohort may have been in a similar position. (However they probably didn't do the "continuing to kick when the person is down" that's made the fights here so seriously dangerous.)


Posted by: Emir | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:10 AM
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re: 231

I don't know, my Dad grew up in Glasgow in the 60s during the height of the razor gangs and the tongs. While Scotland is still a relatively violent country, I don't think you could argue that it's really gotten any worse.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:22 AM
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Well, your odds of being shot are several orders of magnitude higher than those of dying in a terrorist attack.

Gun control advocates are going to be pointing to this horrible, worst-ever incident as proof that we need tougher gun laws. But your chances of dying in a headline-grabbing massacre like this one or Columbine are probably lower than your chances of dying in a terrorist attack. The Columbine killers claimed 12 lives; this Virginia Tech guy killed 32. But hundreds died in the Oklahoma City attack, and thousands died on 9-11.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:25 AM
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Come on, by any rational calculation, your likelihood of being shot vastly exceeds your likelihood of being killed in a terrorist attack. Concentrating on one particular type of shooting -- the headline grabbing massacre -- somewhat biases the argument.

For what it's worth, and being fair, even in the UK, your chances of being shot vastly exceeds your chances of being killed in a terrorist attack.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:28 AM
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233: Not to be snarky, but you're aware that Columbine and V Tech were not the only two shootings in the past dozen years?


Posted by: Anarch | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:38 AM
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Seriously GB, I loves me some guns, but this is a horrible argument.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:40 AM
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you're aware that Columbine and V Tech were not the only two shootings in the past dozen years?

I'm guessing that all the "massacre" shootings from Columbine onward don't add up to Oklahoma City plus 9-11.

But, you say, let's not focus just on the rare "massacre" shootings; let's focus on all gun deaths (excluding, one presumes, killings in self-defense or by law enforcement officers), because the most important thing is saving lives. In that case, you'd be better off banning personal cars, and leaving the driving to trained professionals.

Firearm deaths (of all kinds) in the US, 2004: 29,569
Motor vehicle accident deaths in the US, 2004: 45,113

(Source)


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:07 AM
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Stop trolling Biker. If you really are a biker, which I doubt.

Gun rights activists often offer arguments on the same level as creationists. It's truly pathetic.

Of course, gun control people often do the same, but at least it's way less annoying.


Posted by: Willy Voet | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:04 AM
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Guns per capita versus cars per capita would make give a better understanding of those not particularly enlightening numbers. I use a car every day, several times a day. So does nearly everybody else I know.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:22 AM
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237 is remarkable. Really. I am assuming it's not satire.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:32 AM
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237: Gun deaths are a lot higher than I thought. Is that thought of as a pro-gun statistic? Because guns are useless or harmful almost all of the time, whereas automobiles are a functional necessity for most people and have a myriad of uses. Almost everyone spends some of their day in a car (even people who try to avoid it, such as me) whereas the majority of households don't own guns, only perhaps 2 million individuals need guns for work, and a high proportion of gun owners don't hunt.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:37 AM
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As long as we're tossing around meaningless statistics, another thing that strikes me about the numbers coming out of Blacksburg is that, as awful as they are, it's a *completely average day* in Baghdad. Day in and day out.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:39 AM
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Re: Guns vs cars.
I'm not sure per capita ownership would tell you much, since we have hundreds of millions of guns AND cars in this country. But car miles-driven per capita vs guns-fired per capita might yield more useful results. And, of course, for most people in this society, the point of automobile usage is transportation and to a lesser extent, status marking. By contrast, the purpose of gun ownership involves putting bullets into things.

However, since the comparison has been drawn, I think its useful to point out that with both car deaths and gun deaths, many other properly social concerns such as design, planning, cost, access etc. come into play. One of the major issues for both types of premature death is substance use. If there was significant change in our use of alcohol and the various stimulants, both of those numbers would probably be altered, even though there are many instances that wouldn't materially change.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:44 AM
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237: Almost thirty thousand people shot dead per year? Good grief. That's immense. That's almost a hundred a day. So yesterday wasn't a particularly bad day, just unusually geographically concentrated.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:44 AM
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Apparently, wanusmaximus is not the shooter. From his livejournal:

Coming out. I am not the shooter. Through this experience, I have received numerous death threats, slanderous accusations, and my phone is out of charge from the barrage of calls. Local police have been notified of the situation.

My original intention was to wait until I got AdSense on my site and donating all the proceeds to Charity. However, this situation has now spiraled out of control. I am now confirming that I am not the shooter. I will be available for interview by a news agency to clear my name, talk about the experience, and give my opinion on how the situation could have turned out better if other students were allowed to be armed. I will speak with individuals who are interested in donating to charities resulting from today's events. Please e-mail all correspondence to null@vt.edu

Note the email address.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:21 AM
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Per capita gun ownership is misleading, since many collectors own 10-20 guns. A little fewer than 40% of households include a gun owner, and one would guess that the actual gun owners were about 20-30%.

Gun owners have achieved amazing solidarity, where the guys who own shotguns to hunt ducks are at one with the guys who do commando exercises in the woods and study assassination techniques. Probably it's the vegan wing of liberal culture makes the approaches to hunters unlikely to succeed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:35 AM
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241: 244: More than half of those are suicides (16,750 in 2004) according to the CDC.

http://webapp.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/mortrate10_sy.html

I'll agree that using a gun to commit suicide indoors is rude, inconsiderate, and dangerous. I don't think it's any sort of "cry for help" tho'. By the time you get around to staring down a gun barrel you really mean die or not die.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:45 AM
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237: I think the gun enthusiasts and the gun control folks could find some common ground here. Can we all agree that every gun owner and every firearm should be licensed the way every car and driver are?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:49 AM
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"A little fewer than 50%" is more accurate. That's the high estimate.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:50 AM
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re: 248

No, they can't. A lot of gun enthusiasts believe that even the requirement to produce ID when buying a gun is an infringement too far.

In fact, the BBC news were interviewing someone last night from one of the gun advocacy lobbies and the journalist asked him that very question and the guy was adamant that anyone should be able to buy a gun, cash, over the counter, no questions asked.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:51 AM
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Wow, cars sure are dangerous! Maybe we should require people who drive to pass a test and get a license, register their vehicles with the state (which keeps a database of them), and get insurance to cover the medical costs of people they injure in accidents....oh wait.

Seriously, what a stupid argument. On top of what everyone else has said, the NRA would pitch a complete fit before they allowed guns to be as stringently regulated as cars.

I don't even care that much about gun control, I don't know how effective it is on a scale that's remotely politicqally feasible, but the pro-gun lobby is so bloody irritating.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:05 AM
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ttaM is right. The NRA is pretty much all or nothing. They made a few tiny compromises awhile back, and they lost significant membership.

It's a national pathology that causes smart Americans say incredibly stupid things. Personal hero fantasies meld with unrealistic revolutionary fantasies, and fearfulness about social reality gets folded into the mix.

It's not at the top of my list of issues, and it's a losing battle, but Second Amendment absolutists are up there with fundamentalist Christians on the list of people I try to avoid having discussions with.

For me the bottom line is that people want guns to make them safe, and Americans do have guns, but Americans aren't safe.

I've also done a lot of reading about places where male gun ownership is universal so that everyone is able to protect himself and his family, and the gist of it is that you don't want to live in any of those places. If you want peace and security, you want to live in a place where the government ensures order.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:10 AM
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250: I'm with 248 for everyone else. My particular views were formed early on by WW2 pictures and stories, and by debates about compliance vs resistance on the part of the adults I listened to. So, the constitutional and practical arguments are almost irrelevant to me. I'm retaining the option to die on my own terms no matter what laws are passed.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:12 AM
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A lot of gun enthusiasts believe that even the requirement to produce ID when buying a gun is an infringement too far.

I bet this changes if it's determined conclusively that the student shooter was...foreign terrorist and could have been a jihader you know it'll be the Saudis next.

237: Come now, GB, if you're going to play around with stats, manage it as a percentage of shots fired versus miles driven or something. Or acknowledge that in the case of dangerous cars, we require training and licensing and allow for the removal of such a license in the event of alcohol-related convictions.

I'm relatively anti-restriction on a scale of things, but it's hard to hold that seriously when NRA-types keep presenting stupid arguments.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:24 AM
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BH, a lot of suicides are very indecisive. Some of them dabble in suicide attempts or think constantly about suicide for years. Guns tend to make the decision easy.

I don't think that "If they want to, they'll find a way" is true either for suicides or for murderers. Guns were designed to make killing quick and convenient (and ideally, with a shot to the head, neat and tidy). If killing is what you want to do, every other method is worse.

There's a lot to be said about making certain things less convenient. Sweden has a lot of drunks and a lot of teetotallers. When the goody-goodies take over government, they take all sorts of steps to make vodka harder to get (limiting sources, limiting times of availability, raising costs). You might think that alcoholics will find their booze no matter what, but these steps do have a significant effect.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:35 AM
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247:the fact that half the firearms deaths that happen were suicides does not imply that lower gun ownership would not help to prevent them. Making it more difficult for people to kill themselves actually means that fewer people will kill themselves.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:36 AM
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GB: I think it's one thing to quietly suppose that you yourself might do something in a situation like this one. But if you know anything about what one might do, you know it would all depend a great deal on circumstance, that you cannot decide in advance that you will master all circumstances. There isn't any training or will or attitude that permits that. But I think it's fine to think about what you yourself aspire to do in any given circumstance that might confront you in your life. I think largely such reflections are and ought to be private and introspective.

I think it's another thing to ask why anyone else didn't do something in an actual circumstance where people died. By another thing, I mean it's serious douchbaggery.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:38 AM
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WIS: "The Virginia Tech Police Department is identifying the campus gunman as Cho Seung-Hui, 23, a student and native of South Korea. The university says he was a senior at the school."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:47 AM
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My particular views were formed early on by WW2 pictures and stories, and by debates about compliance vs resistance on the part of the adults I listened to. So, the constitutional and practical arguments are almost irrelevant to me.

I'm not sure how to read this charitably. You mean something like "I don't care that my beliefs lead to pragmatically bad consequences because war movies make me want to own guns"?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:02 AM
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ttaM - I'm helpless to communicate online without emoticons. 248 was intended as sarcasm. (For those keeping score, I claim pwnage of Katherine's 251.)

Emerson sez:
"It's a national pathology that causes smart Americans say incredibly stupid things. Personal hero fantasies meld with unrealistic revolutionary fantasies, and fearfulness about social reality gets folded into the mix."

This also comes fairly close to describing American involvement in Iraq. Are we approaching a unified theory of violence-promoting policy choices?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:03 AM
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I note with interest but without comment that WW2 movies made Bio want to own a lot of guns, rather than, say, making him want to join the 101st Airborne or volunteer for the RAF.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:10 AM
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An English major.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:27 AM
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The Koreans are definitely the team to beat when it comes to spree killings.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:30 AM
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Credit where credit is due people. Ogged specifically mentioned Koreans and Vietnamese.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:41 AM
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264: Ah, but Ogged was talking about Koreans who grew up in the US, not recent immigrants.

As for this:

After 9-11, Michael Moore sniffed that the odds of any of us dying in a terrorist attack like 9-11 were very low, so it would be foolish to give up any of our rights and freedoms in a vain attempt to become more secure.

Will we hear that same refrain from him with respect to this highly unusual shooting incident, and the right to bear arms? I doubt it.

I honestly had no idea what he was talking about until he clarified. My sense of what the result of this will be is that the guns-for-all lobby will get a whole lot more powerful and start insisting to everyone that this could have been prevented if the campus was full of law-abiding citizens carrying guns, while the few gun-control advocates whom the press listens to, if any still exist, will be pressured into apologizing for the now-proved-idiotic system by which certain places exist where packing heat is not permitted.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:50 AM
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Yep, that second-to-last paragraph should also be in italics.

Is there some program at this site that prevents you from quoting more than one paragraph, or do I just keep making the same mistake over and over?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:52 AM
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All credit to Jake in the last thread.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:55 AM
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Line breaks end formatting. If you use <p></p> tags (or <br>) to break paragraphs instead of hitting return within an italicized or blockquoted section, it will preserve formatting.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:55 AM
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Emersons' 262. An English major at an engineering school.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:57 AM
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Plenty of people listen to the gun-control lobby. But when you have a large-ish group of people who feel very strongly about being able to carry guns, and who believe that (somewhat reasonably) any further encroachment on these right is intended as the first step to make it easier to take all guns out of private hands and so much be bitterly fought, guns will stay legal. It is, in some respects, a democracy.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:57 AM
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259: 261: Interesting. I said "pictures" and you two are talking about "movies". I'd link to a bunch of reality for you but I'm not going to waste my time. Fuck you both, you're got the same grasp of intellectual honesty as Rove and the Bushies.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:58 AM
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Picture of the shooter. They always do look crazy.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:59 AM
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267: Feh. I was just trying to defend my engineering bretheren against what I thought was a particularly poorly thought-out slur.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:01 AM
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272: do they always look crazy, or do the media people always look for the craziest looking pic they can find?


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:01 AM
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He doesn't look that crazy, just sullen.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:02 AM
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I'm more interested in seeing a picture of the reportedly Boy Scout-ish outfit he was wearing.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:02 AM
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259: Hmm... I'd charitably interpret it as "My grandfather / father's best friends / etc. went along peacefully, and all it got him was a shower full of cyanide. I'm not going that way."


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:03 AM
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It's not an engineering school. The English department has 97 faculty, that seems like a pretty significant department to me.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:04 AM
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I'm more interested in seeing a picture of the reportedly Boy Scout-ish outfit he was wearing.

Gay.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:05 AM
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and who believe that (somewhat reasonably) any further encroachment on these right is intended as the first step to make it easier to take all guns out of private hands

Jake, I live in a very blue city in a blue state and grew up in another blue state, and I have never met a single person who believes that all guns should be taken out of private hands. Not one.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:05 AM
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Are they going to tear down that lecture hall or what? I can hardly imagine holding classes in these same rooms just a few short months from now. Yech.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:07 AM
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I must say that I usually assume that places with "Polytechnic Institute" in the name are primarily engineering schools, but I guess when a school grows and grows it starts doing other things.

280 gets it right, also.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:08 AM
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281: Tear down a lecture hall, but not the rest of the building?

Maybe the rooms where the massacres occurred should be retired from classroomage and used for storage or something if their names become bywords for creepiness, but tearing down the whole building would be ridiculous.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:09 AM
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280: *shrug*. I live in San Francisco (which I'd qualify as a blue city in a blue state), which just tried to ban handguns. While a bunch of my co-denizens might make an exception for black powder rifles or some such, "guns are dangerous and people shouldn't be allowed to have them" is not an uncommon theme by any means.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:11 AM
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I have never met a single person who believes that all guns should be taken out of private hands. Not one.

San Fran was getting pretty close. Prop. H prohibited "the sale, distribution, transfer and manufacture of all firearms and ammunition."


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:13 AM
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271: Biohazard? I misunderstood you exactly the same way. If what you meant was what Jake said in 277, I can completely understand your being angry at having been misinterpreted, but I'm very certain that the misinterpretation was in good faith.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:14 AM
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Who believe that (somewhat reasonably) any further encroachment on these right is intended as the first step to make it easier to take all guns out of private hands and so much be bitterly fought, guns will stay legal.

No, not "somewhat reasonably." Those people are paranoid and absolutist and have a sick attachment to their guns, and reasonable gun owners follow the lead of the loonies.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:14 AM
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I'm pretty sure VaTech is a top-25-public general university, regardless of its name, although I'll bet that the rankings of the PhD programs probably still reveal its tech preference.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:16 AM
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re: 271

I read 'pictures' as 'movies' -- it's largely how we use the word where I come from. I didn't realise you were talking about still photographs.

Not that I really need to explain.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:17 AM
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Even Prop H did not take guns out of private hands -- only handguns. It doesn't restrict the private ownership of shotguns or rifles. This seems pretty reasonable to me; handguns are clearly responsible for the vast majority of gun crime, a distinct minority of hunting, and I wouldn't be too surprised to find that shotguns were more effective at stopping robberies. But this is beginning to look like a digression, so I will reiterate, even Prop H did not take guns out of private hands.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:19 AM
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Although it did help eliminate that burning sensation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:20 AM
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Painting yourself blue is another good way to avoid the cyanide bath, but whatever works for you.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:20 AM
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Even Prop H did not take guns out of private hands

No, but it did ban all firearms and ammo sales. It's not crazy to think that a total ban was the ultimate goal.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:23 AM
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"I'm pretty sure VaTech is a top-25-public general university, regardless of its name, although I'll bet that the rankings of the PhD programs probably still reveal its tech preference"

No way. I'd have the check the rankings, but I do not think it is even close to top 25.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:25 AM
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That was a badly written proposition. Neither handgun nor firearm was defined.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:25 AM
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284, 285: I don't dispute that such people exist. What I dispute is the claim that the fear of total disarmament is reasonable. It's not. It's a fringe absolutist position supported by a tiny minority of the country, prop H notwithstanding. And I'll bet that a majority of NRA members who point to prop H in support of their intellectually dishonest arguments also point to other SF initiatives, passed or not, to demonstrate how far out of the mainstream the city is. I stand by my point.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:26 AM
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Top 25 public.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:27 AM
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I'd doubt the top 25 too. It's #2 in Virginiaand there are a lot of excellent state universities.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:29 AM
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Enh, alright, I'm wrong.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:30 AM
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The use of the word "lockdown" upthread got me wondering: Why is a term and a technique developed in prisons being used in schools? I find it a tad worrisome.

I can imagine the news report: "After a riot food fight broke out this morning in the cafeteria, security personnel were sent in with water canon and tear gas. All the inmates students are now back in their cells dorm rooms."

For high schools and below I can see that the school would have the authority and the ability to confine students. For a college to attempt to temporarily imprison 20,000 adults seems excessive. Is that what we're talking about when we say "lockdown"?


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:31 AM
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Not by much, though: it's USNews #77 overall, which probably means it's top 40 public. I'm too lazy to count, though.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:32 AM
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Tied at #34


Posted by: Flake J. | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:33 AM
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But it's top-5 among public universities which have the word "Tech" and the name of a state in their names. Behind only Georgia Tech perhaps.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:34 AM
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Last US News has them 77th overall, 34th among public schools. Though, y'know, USNews.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:34 AM
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Yeah, just found the public rankings:

Vatech tied with Boulder for #34.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:34 AM
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That's way higher than I expected. Call the argument a draw.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:34 AM
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Although it's only a twist of fate that made Purdue not be called "Indiana Tech".

Also, William and Mary is a public school? Then why is it so small and full of rich people and preppies?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:37 AM
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303: And California. Although the thought of a Caltech student on a murderous rampage is a scary one.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:38 AM
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Wouldn't someone from Caltech just build a robot to do it?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:39 AM
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Here's a good trivia question: there are five Division I schools that do not have the words "university" or "college" anywhere in their official names. VT is not one of them (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). Can you come up with them?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:41 AM
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While we're on the topic of rankings, I had no idea that Wash U in St. Louis was regarded so highly. My goodness. I knew that they had kickass grad programs in the biosciences, but, wow.

William & Mary is owned by the state, but was founded in 1693 so doesn't really have the same vibe.

I met some tools from James Madison once who bitched about not getting into W&M.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:42 AM
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Wait, I think it's only four Div-I programs.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:43 AM
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William and Mary is one of the oldest schools in the country (1683). It's called a "public Ivy" though I think that's a PR term.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:43 AM
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Rice Institute.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:44 AM
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Air Force, Annapolis, West Point, (not the Coast Guard, hence your 5-->4)...?


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:45 AM
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Georgia Tech? VMI? Citadel?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:46 AM
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No, I think it's 5, but I cheated.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:47 AM
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314: No.

315: Yes, the three academies are the ones that trip up most people.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:47 AM
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Aha. To answer Brock's question from last thread, the weapons were a 9mm Glock 19 and a .22 cal Walther P-22.

I'm going to take for granted that everybody killed yesterday has a myspace.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:47 AM
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It's very very old.

300: I don't know why people are using the term "lockdown"; probably because the eventual e-mail asked students to stay in their dorm rooms away from windows. But they've managed to cancel classes for a manhunt before; surely double homicides in dorms aren't so common that doing so would constitute a huge inconvenience.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:48 AM
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309: Killer robots don't freak out and kill themselves when things look hopeless. I'd also not put it past them to make a small nuclear bomb.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:49 AM
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Don't forget the New Jersey Institute of Technology, which I only know because it was given the Big Bear Solar Observatory after Caltech mismanaged it...


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:50 AM
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"Cho Seung-hui"

Why do these rednecks always have three names?


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:50 AM
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Georgia Tech is the fourth. Now I think it's five too, but believe I may be misremembering the trivia question, or just can't recall the 5th.

Citadel is officially The Military College of South Carolina, and I don't think VMI is Division I.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:51 AM
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a helluva, helluva, helluva, helluva, helluva engineer!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:53 AM
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VMI and Teh Citadel are both Div-I, and I-AA for football. Surprisingly they aren't in the same conference, though.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:55 AM
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The South Korean gunman who killed 32 people and himself at Virginia Tech university had lived legally in the United States with his parents for 14 years, a U.S. immigration official said on Tuesday.

That's not even as satisfying as my Japanese co-worker saying "This is why the Japanese and Koreans don't get along."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:56 AM
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Poor kid. I wonder what made him snap.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:57 AM
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God, his poor parents.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 10:01 AM
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The real name is the Rice Institute. I do not recognize this travesty.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 10:08 AM
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His poor ex-girlfriend, too.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 10:08 AM
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They've branched beyond rice-rocket engineering, John. They need a less niche-driven name.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 10:14 AM
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Similarly, it's a travesty that the "Harvard of the West" is no longer referred to its proper appelation, Leland Stanford Junior University.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 10:15 AM
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331: I thought I heard that his ex-girlfriend was killed?


Posted by: sam k | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 10:17 AM
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Go to the Rice Wiki and check out where the money came from. It's soap-opera noir. (The school comes off looking good, but they were lucky to get the money).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 10:19 AM
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The Myspace I linked above is the girl killed in the dorm. It may have been his ex-girlfriend or her roommate.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 10:20 AM
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Shaha Ali Riza is really dog-faced for a femme fatale. I guess if you groom yourself the way Wolfowitz does you don't get the Scarlett Johannsons.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 10:21 AM
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Among the most prominent professors killed in the shooting was Liviu Librescu a 75-year-old Israeli professor of Romanian origin, who at first tried to block the door to the classroom and then used his body as a shield in order to let his students escape through the windows.

Librescu was teaching his class in Norris Hall when Hui entered the building randomly unloading his gun in class rooms. The Mechanics and Aeronautics professor stayed behind the door to stop the shooter from opening it. When the attacker finally got into the classroom, threw himself in front of the gunman, a surviving student told Israel's Army Radio.

'He himself was killed but thanks to him his students stayed alive', the student said.

Librescu, a Holocaust survivor, was born in Romania, he has Israeli nationality but had lived in the US with his wife for the past two decades while both his sons live in Israel.

Via


Posted by: sam k | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 10:33 AM
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I saw that story, sam, and I think this is what really annoys me about the "If only someone had..." speeches. It's not that they're second-guessing a situation that they weren't in, but that they're assuming that heroics didn't happen, that nobody did a brave thing and saved lives. That's what's really unfair to the people involved -- to deny any heroism just because nobody pulled off the action-movie sequence that you wish they had.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 10:40 AM
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271: Interesting. I said "pictures" and you two are talking about "movies". I'd link to a bunch of reality for you but I'm not going to waste my time. Fuck you both, you're got the same grasp of intellectual honesty as Rove and the Bushies.

Given this sort of outburst, Biohazard certainly should not be allowed access to firearms, or to anything more lethal than a stuffed chicken on a spring.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 10:48 AM
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The South Korean gunman who killed 32 people and himself at Virginia Tech university had lived legally in the United States with his parents for 14 years, a U.S. immigration official said on Tuesday.

De/bbie Schl/ussel must be so disappointed. Incidentally, if you'd like a horrifying glimpse into the abyss, you should read the comments on her site about this.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 10:49 AM
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338: Man, that's a life. Surviving the Holocaust as a kid, and then dying saving your students from a maniac at 75? His children and grandchildren should be very proud.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 10:53 AM
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341: Goddam, McQueen.


Posted by: sam k | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 11:03 AM
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My hat is off to Librescu. It would be so easy and so justified to rush to save yourself.

I raise a toast in his honor.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 11:03 AM
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Incidentally, if you'd like a horrifying glimpse into the abyss

Thanks. But I'm trying to keep it down to one abyss a week.

LB is right. A 75 year old man blocking a 20-something gunman? The man's a hero just for that.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 11:08 AM
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The gunman suspected of carrying out the Virginia Tech massacre that left 33 people dead was identified Tuesday as a English major whose creative writing was so disturbing that he was referred to the school's counseling service.

Link.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 11:09 AM
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305: Hah! We beat 'em outright in college ranking and number of spree killings.

Although I shouldn't count my chickens. There's some pretty close-to-the-edge kids here.

Goddamn science and technology schools.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 11:12 AM
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311: It was a consistent refrain among Wash U undergrads that the administration valued raising the school's U.S. News ranking over the lived experience of the student's. I'm actually not sure we had much of a basis for thinking this though.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 11:28 AM
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Perhaps they'll treat us creative types with more respect now.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 11:30 AM
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From Ogged's link in 272:
[VA Tech president] Steger also said he would not step down

Unrelatedly, per 348: College Presidents Plan 'Us News' Rankings Boycott"


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 11:35 AM
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348: Reed dealt with that problem by publicly opting out of the U. S. News rankings.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 11:39 AM
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That story about Professor Librescu is making me cry. One of my good friends is the son of Romanian Holocaust survivors, both technical professors-. At his wedding his uncle's toast about how they had survived so much and come so far was intense. This story makes me want to find each and every one of my beloved professors and give them a hug. . .


Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 11:48 AM
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Classmates said that on the first day of an introduction to British literature class last year, the 30 or so English students went around and introduced themselves. When it was Cho's turn, he didn't speak.

The professor looked at the sign-in sheet and, where everyone else had written their names, Cho had written a question mark. "Is your name, `Question mark?'" classmate Julie Poole recalled the professor asking. The young man offered little response.

Cho spent much of that class sitting in the back of the room, wearing a hat and seldom participating. In a small department, Cho distinguished himself for being anonymous. "He didn't real out to anyone. He never talked," Poole said.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 12:42 PM
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Meanwhile:

Paoli High School was under a lockdown at 1:30 p.m. this afternoon, according to police and school officials.

A student at the school, believed to be suicidal and with possible access to firearms, "ran away from the school and may be suicidal," said Superintendent Alva Sibbitt Jr.

I suppose if you have to treat every "domestic incident" as a potential massacre, certainly you have to treat every goth playing hookey as a potential massacre. But I think this is stupid.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 1:09 PM
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Day Two brings to light some facts about the shooter: A quiet loner who spoke angry words about "debauchery" and "charlatans," submitted disturbing papers to class, and was referred to the school counseling center and treated for depression.

The "quiet loner" is certainly no surprise; it fits the profile of a random shooter. The history of depression is interesting but misleading. Let me explain:

It is often said that aggression and depression are two sides of the same coin. When aggression is turned inward and has no other means of escape or expression, it results in depression. In other words, depression has a component of suppressed anger and rage. Extreme anger would cycle into depression but, in this case, depression would not be considered the primary Axis I disorder; it would be secondary. As mentiond earlier in this thread, acts of rage or suicidal ideation do not occur during depressive lows; subjects are usually too immobilized by depression to act. Violent behaviors occur, not at the bottom, but during the upswing when the subject cycles towards a more normal mood. In this case, depression would be considered a "feature" of a primary disorder. If not depression, what would be the most likely primary disorder driving this behavior?

Bipolar, personality, and schizophrenic disorders have been mentioned. Bipolar I and II disorders have features of depression and hypermanic/hypomanic states, but rarely would these result in violence towards others. The expansive moods of Bipolar I and II lack the rage component. Schizophrenic disorders are driven by delusions or hallucinations, sometimes violent, but lacking the component of rage. Assuming the Vtech shooter visited the counseling center, it may be inferred (but not necessarily) that signs and symptoms of a bipolar or schizophrenic disorder were not observed.

That leaves the personality disorders as remaining candidates. Features of grandiosity, all-or-nothing thinking, depression, rage following abandonment, and a tendency to lash out characterize some of these disorders. These would be a reasonable guess.


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 1:34 PM
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Kenneth Eng was ordered to go to counseling and was found to be schizophrenic, and it didn't stop him from shooting (his mouth off in a free weekly publication).


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 1:37 PM
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Swampcracker, do you have some mental health background that isn't apparent from the profile on your website?


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 1:42 PM
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Oh God -- look at this:

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.

This walks right over the 2nd-Amendment stuff to win the crazython.


Posted by: Clownaesthesiologist | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 1:43 PM
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357 PsyD


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 1:44 PM
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358: From the same post - "And, sorry again, but thoughts also arise on the killer's being an English major and on the spiritual emptiness of much education nowadays. "


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 1:47 PM
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339: gets it exactly right. It's a pretty stupid assumption, even if it turns out to be true (which, it seems, wasn't the case here). I think it's tied up in the adolescent sort of cartoon-hero projection that makes it difficult to imagine yourself trying such a thing and failing (If *I* rushed the gunman, clearly I'd save the day ==> nobody saved the day, so nobody rushed the gunman).


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 1:48 PM
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358: No reaction except "Go fuck yourself" to the author. "Thoughts also arise." Take some responsibility for your thoughts and a couple English classes while you're at it.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 1:50 PM
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A closing thought on the use of anti-depressants: These treat merely a symptom, not the primary disorder itself. Food for thought.


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 1:53 PM
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Thanks, Jack Handy.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 2:06 PM
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Here is the english major's crazy play:

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2007/0417071vtech1.html


Posted by: joeo | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 2:23 PM
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I have two reactions to 365:

Man, what horrible person sent a dead student's coursework into the Smoking Gun?

God almighty, that's an awful play.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 2:34 PM
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Smoking Gun is down. Whoops!


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 2:40 PM
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Wow. That's some play. What the hell are we going to find out about this kid's home life?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 2:41 PM
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It works for me.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 2:41 PM
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Pervert.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 2:42 PM
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Somebody should adopt Richard McBeef as their pseudonym and challenge Robust McManlyPants to a butch-off.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 2:43 PM
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Worked for me after a few minutes of "exceeded traffic" errors.

Not a good play.



Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 2:44 PM
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Winner gets Armsmasher in the finals.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 2:44 PM
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JOHN: Bullshit! Are you always full of shit, McBeef? I can see that you are by the extra fat you have packed on! You MURDERED my father and covered it up! You committed a conspiracy. Just like what the government has done to John Lennon and Marilyn Monroe.
RICHARD: (Frowning, he catches a glimpse of an old tabloid titled "The Cover-up of Marilyn Monroe and John Lennon!!")

Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 2:50 PM
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Man, what horrible person sent a dead student's coursework into the Smoking Gun?

I can't believe it was the professor. That's just too unethical. Maybe the prof shared it with his/her blog-friends, and one of them wasn't so scrupulous?


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 2:50 PM
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It's possible the class had some sort of workshopping component, and the play was available to the other registered students.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 2:53 PM
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Likely the kid shared his play with friends. Or, even more likely, if it was a seminar-type class, copies of everyone's plays were distributed to everyone else in the class for discussion purposes.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 2:53 PM
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Wow, bad play. More than anything it reminds me of poorly translated video game disses. "Are you always full of shit? I can tell you are by the extra pounds you have packed on!"

I'm going to hazard that his parents are divorced and his mother married an American man.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 2:55 PM
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It's not that unlikely that the kid had it posted somewhere else already.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 2:57 PM
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it reminds me of poorly translated video game disses

I'm in ur house
givin it to ur moms.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 2:57 PM
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the source. Classmates.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 2:58 PM
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Man, what's his hangup with cereal bars?


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 2:59 PM
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Does the NYT's style normally flip the surname/first name order when someone's from a country where the surname comes first, or did they get his name as Cho Seung-hui, publish it as that, and then realize that they should have flipped it?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:02 PM
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His other play is even worse, though page 5 is a keeper.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:04 PM
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Wow again. Not a happy camper, that guy.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:16 PM
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So, seriously, I'm a terrible person: all morning I've been thinking "do his roommates still get the automatic 4.0 for the semester?"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:18 PM
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384: Big ups on his use of "boating accident," though. That always sells.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:19 PM
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Question: anger or pity toward the shooter (or a mix)? I saw some politician (IIRC) quoted in the paper this morning to the effect that he hopes the guy is burning in hell forever. Am I a major outlier in seeing him as more sad and pathetic than evil and frightening? What he did was evil and frightening and a couple of dozen other adjectives, but the guy himself?


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:27 PM
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388: Given the info we have right now, just grief on everybody's behalf. It's not unlike the war. Miserable outcomes for everybody concerned, and no clear sense of how to fix things in the future to avoid such events.

(Well, some ideas for the war, but I don't want to threadjack.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:36 PM
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360: Guns don't kill, liberal arts do.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:38 PM
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Just sad that our world's one where this stuff happens, and this guy wasn't reachable before he snapped.

From the writing-class classmate's description, I'm amazed someone with as little affect as him had a girlfriend to begin with. Is it confirmed that the dorm girl was?

Anger's a normal reaction, though, and if the idea of Hell helps get a relative through the night, I've got no problem with it.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:38 PM
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put me in the sad and pathetic camp. so it always is, I think, if we know enough.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:42 PM
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I'm probably just projecting the murderers I've personally known onto this guy's tabula rasa, but I've wondered if it was his girlfriend or just the woman he desperately wanted to be his girlfriend.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:46 PM
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355: acts of rage or suicidal ideation do not occur during depressive lows; subjects are usually too immobilized by depression to act.

Swampcracker, do you even know what "suicidal ideation" means? It means someone is thinking about suicide, which doesn't actually require any energy whatsoever. You can lie in bed and stare at the ceiling for days while contemplating suicide just fine.


Posted by: alif sikkiin | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:53 PM
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rasa + McBeef = not quite so rasa


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:54 PM
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355: acts of rage or suicidal ideation do not occur during depressive lows; subjects are usually too immobilized by depression to act.

Swampcracker, do you even know what "suicidal ideation" means? It means someone is thinking about suicide, which doesn't actually require any energy whatsoever. You can lie in bed and stare at the ceiling for days while contemplating suicide just fine.


Posted by: alif sikkiin | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:54 PM
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355: acts of rage or suicidal ideation do not occur during depressive lows; subjects are usually too immobilized by depression to act.

Swampcracker, do you even know what "suicidal ideation" means? It means someone is thinking about suicide, which doesn't actually require any energy whatsoever. You can lie in bed and stare at the ceiling for days while contemplating suicide just fine.


Posted by: alif sikkiin | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:55 PM
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393: I agree, but we have at least one overlapping murderer. I'd give even odds she was the girlfriend of fantasy.

Somebody should adopt Richard McBeef as their pseudonym and challenge Robust McManlyPants to a butch-off.

I'd probably try to play the hero and rush him. I hear that's a good strategy.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 3:55 PM
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393: I had the exact same thought.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:00 PM
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I'd probably try to play the hero and rush him.

You're supposed to be taking the fucker out, not getting him to join your pansy-ass fraternity.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:00 PM
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And how creepy and sad to not only be killed by your stalker but be identified in the press as his girlfriend.

109: They should have figured out that one forty years ago.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:00 PM
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You can lie in bed and stare at the ceiling for days while contemplating suicide just fine.

Or posting about contemplating about suicide, apparently.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:00 PM
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I'd probably try to play the hero and rush him.

You're supposed to be taking the fucker out, not getting him to join your pansy-ass fraternity.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:01 PM
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I'm betting fantasy girlfriend, too. And how creepy and sad to not only get stalked but murdered by a guy and then get associated with him in the press as a possible girlfriend.

109: They should have figured that one out forty years ago.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:02 PM
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Damn.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:04 PM
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402: You know, having been suicidally depressed myself, it really wouldn't take a lot of fucking energy to swallow pills or even let yourself fall out a window or even slit your wrists in the damn tub. What takes energy when you're at that point is *not* doing it because you know it's crazy and would fuck up your kid.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:13 PM
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sympathies, B, for what that's worth.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:15 PM
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402: Excuse me?


Posted by: alif sikkiin | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:18 PM
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406: Oh, it's cool. I'm taking drugs now and I live in sunny So Cali. Chipper is my middle name.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:22 PM
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408: I was making wit re: your posting intriplicate.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:24 PM
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Cali or SoCal, B, not So Cali.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:27 PM
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I remember when it would take a week for Google's database to update. Now, I'm getting 8 hits for "Richard McBeef" where there were zero just an hour ago. Progress!


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:28 PM
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Swampcracker, do you even know what "suicidal ideation" means? It means someone is thinking about suicide, which doesn't actually require any energy whatsoever

I read him as saying not that 'depressed people aren't suicidal', but that if you take your average severely depressed person, they are more likely to have suicidal thoughts when they're improving than when they're at their most depressed. So if you drew depression like an upside-down bell curve, the ideation wouldn't be at the bottom of the curve, but somewhere up the side a little bit, maybe after the person's begun treatment but before they've recovered.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:30 PM
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And to continue, I think the idea is supposed to be that when you're really at the bottom, you're too apathetic to do much of anything.

When you feel incrementally better, the first thing you get back is your sense of agency, which isn't necessarily good if you're still depressed.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:33 PM
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Cala, you're using a lot of big words, but if what you're saying means that we don't get to beat up swampcracker, I'm against it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:36 PM
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That is a downside.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:38 PM
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Some dumbass called in two bomb threats to my sister's high school for Thursday and Friday; they're figuring prank, as someone called in one last week, too. But way to make a bunch of kids jumpy.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:44 PM
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He called them in in advance?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:46 PM
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411: The Southland!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:48 PM
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Yeah. Well, one was spray painted in a hallway last week. Now there's been what they're thinking are a couple copycats calling in for an April 19th scare. They've cancelled school activities and are locking down the building to search it tonight, but parents have the option of keeping their kids home on Thursday and Friday if they want.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:50 PM
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Gah. I don't if there's just more coverage or an actual rise in crazy school stuff after an incident like yesterday's but that sucks, either way.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:52 PM
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413 - 414 Cala gets it right. But if you look at depression as another form of aggression, the upswing is when rage re-emerges and the tendency to lash out. A clarification about anti-depressants: These treat merely a symptom, not the primary disorder. Consider the controversy surrounding Prozac and other anti-depressants: once the depressed mood lifts, the subject is less immobilized and more likely to act aggressively. And that is exactly what has been observed in case studies (and argued in court). Implication: the driving disorder needs to be treated, not merely the depression.


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:53 PM
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I think the idea is supposed to be that when you're really at the bottom, you're too apathetic to do much of anything.

I understand that. Suicidal ideation, however, is not affected by apathy or lack of energy. Suicidal ideation can be present throughout the course of the depression, but people are more likely to act on it when their energy improves. Which is why you're supposed to closely monitor people who've started a new medication for a few weeks.

And, in any case, very many cases of depression don't fit DSM-IV diagnostic criteria. Someone can be wicked depressed, but agitated instead of apathetic.


Posted by: alif sikkiin | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:55 PM
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422: Would you say that depression is not usually the primary disorder, or only that it's not in cases like these?


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:56 PM
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"agitated instead of apathetic"

Or both.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:56 PM
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Some details emerge.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:57 PM
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423: God knows I don't know anything about the research end of it, but surely it's not unlikely that even the suicidal ideation isn't constant, and paradoxically shows up less (statistically) at the 'bottom' of depression than on either the slide down or the recovery?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 4:58 PM
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"I remember one of them very well. It was about a son who hated his stepfather. In the play the boy threw a chainsaw around, and hammers at him. But the play ended with the boy violently suffocating the father with a Rice Krispy treat," she said.

In the version of the play I read today, the boy doesn't throw a chainsaw around and the last thing that happens is the stepfather striking the boy.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:02 PM
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Maybe they workshopped it, w/d.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:07 PM
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And, "Ismail Ax"? Whiskey tango foxtrot, over?

There's the Islamic connection to make the Schlussels of the world happy.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:09 PM
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"John Markell, the owner of Roanoke Firearms, said that Cho paid $571 for the Glock and 50 rounds of ammunition. He had shown three separate forms of identification, as required by law. A background check revealed that he had no conviction.

"He was a nice, clean-cut college kid," Mr Markell said yesterday. "We won't sell a gun if we have any idea at all that the purchase is suspicious." He added that it was not unusual for college students to buy guns at his shop."

Time to get away from the computer! It's beer o'clock.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:11 PM
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423 A confusion arises when "Clinical" depression is the disorder itself, versus depression as a feature of something else. Alif is right about signs and symptoms that don't fit standard DSM criteria. The term for it is "NOS," meaning "not otherwise specified."


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:12 PM
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These treat merely a symptom, not the primary disorder.

What are you, a fucking scientologist? Or are you under the impression that talk therapy is more effective than antidepressants? Or what's the treatment for the primary disorder? While there is an argument for the value of talk therapy in conjunction with antidepressants, it's far less effective alone. Also your generalization about bipolar disorders and anger is really silly. Though a bipolar person is probably not likely to be organized enough to carry out a mass killing, such persons can be plenty angry, depending on personal circumstances.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:24 PM
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Sorry to get bent out of shape. This subject seems to be focusing a lot of stray anger.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:27 PM
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433: I'm not sure 359 matches your scientology hypothesis.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:27 PM
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Guess not.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:31 PM
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Isn't he a clinical psychiatrist? Am I missing a key subtext here? because I'm seeing some non-controversial things: that suicidal thoughts correspond with an improvement in a depressed person; that depression can be a symptom of an underlying mental disorder, and people are jumping on him like he said depression didn't exist or could be cured with sunshine and fairies. Isn't the Paxil affect pretty well known, and isn't it true that things like ADD can lead to depression?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:31 PM
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433 "Though a bipolar person is probably not likely to be organized enough to carry out a mass killing, such persons can be plenty angry, depending on personal circumstances."

Actually, irritation/agitation are the signs of Bipolar II in the hypomanic state, a serious complication.


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:42 PM
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411: I'll call it what I like, immigrant.

437: Depression can be a symptom of something else, but I think it's a bit much to say definitively that depression always manifests like x or y. I'm not a psychiatrist, obvs., but I'm *pretty* sure that our understanding of mental illness isn't yet quite that clear cut.

Shit, I'm pretty sure that even things like heart disease have been known to have varying symptoms.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:44 PM
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Actually, I was bothered by what Swampcracker said about bipolar types being nonviolent. That wasn't my experience, personally, and I have a friend who showed up with bruises after a bipolar relative of hers had stopped taking his medications and had a manic episode. I could accept that they were misdiagnosed, but the medications typically prescribed for bipolarity helped both people very much.

If I can only find one more person who has experienced this, I can write an article for the NYT style section.

I would also seriously like to know what Swampcracker considers the optimum treatment for depression, because in my limited experience I've never seen anything but drugs, electroshock therapy, or time make a noticeable difference.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:50 PM
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Glancing back at 355, I see a lot of "usually," "rarely," "but not necessarily," etc. I think swampy is trying to generalize based on available data; I seem to have missed the comment in which he stated that he had a complete psych profile and treatment plan ready to roll.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:52 PM
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Hm, crossposted with 438.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 5:52 PM
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338: I just saw that story. What an awe-inspiring decision he made.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:00 PM
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441 Thanks. That is exactly what I am trying to do: share available data in a generalized way to aid understanding. What often concerns me is the lack of clinical data when considering new legislation, regulations, or policy. That is why, I believe, our criminal (so-called) justice system is so ineffective; it is too punishment-based and fails at rehabilitiation.


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:03 PM
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Cho's roommate says he didn't appear to have a girlfriend, so 393 again.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:06 PM
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MCMC, for the most part, those with Bipolar I or II are very fragile; also many are intellectually gifted. But trust me, I have experienced irritation/agitation first hand and know what it is like. That does not change my description, which I am trying to keep true to the literature.


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:08 PM
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The more I think about the Librescu story, the more I'm pissed that an entire class full of healthy young college students jumped out the windows while their 75-year old professor sacrificed his life for them.

The AP reports:

Joe Librescu [Liviu's son] told CNN that one of the e-mails was from the last student left in the room. The student said he looked back and saw his teacher struggling to hold the door, and "he was torn between jumping out the window and coming and helping my dad."

Not torn enough, evidently.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:25 PM
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444: Just to be clear where you're coming from, you have a terminal degree in psychology but are a photographer and conservationist, not a clinician? I don't mean to go all stalkerish, but you're coming on pretty strong with the authoritative stuff and it might be helpful to clarify whether that's based on having provided treatment rather than some combination of education/outside reading/dealing with mental health issues in family members or self like the rest of us. (Which is not to suggest that the degree doesn't represent a lot more expertise than a couple of courses or books or whatever.)


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:26 PM
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447: Counter-evolutionist.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:26 PM
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447: GB, are you just looking for something to be all morally righteous about here? Because at the very least, I'd suggest trying the killer, rather than the victims.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:30 PM
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#450: Of course this is all the killer's fault. I still wish someone had helped out Librescu , and that he didn't have to die for his heroism.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:46 PM
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Yeah, and if someone had and they'd gotten killed then you'd be mad at the students who didn't help *them* and so on and so on.

The killer is the person who killed Librescu. Not the students.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:48 PM
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Whatever. If someone is coming through the door to shoot you, and your 75-year-old father holds the door to buy you all time to jump out the window, it's impolite to stay behind so that both of you can get shot.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:50 PM
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The dude probably figured he was the only one who couldn't survive a jump out the window.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:52 PM
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Also, in the absence of a means to treat the root cause (because we have no idea what the hell the root cause of "depression" is), disparaging things that do in fact treat the symptoms is pernicious idiocy.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:52 PM
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The killer is the person who killed Librescu. Not the students.

I never said otherwise.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:52 PM
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53: You misread in the same way I did, at first. Librescu's son was not present. He received an email from the last student out.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:56 PM
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455: Wtf does "treat the root cause" mean as opposed to "treat the symptoms" anyway? If you have hbp and you take medicine that lowers your hbp, are you merely "treating the symptoms"?

456: No, but it's inappropriate to be angry at victims because they didn't do something that you, in hindsight and safely behind your computer, like to think you would have done. Have some humility, man.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 6:58 PM
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If someone is coming through the door to shoot you, and your 75-year-old father holds the door to buy you all time to jump out the window, it's impolite to stay behind so that both of you can get shot.

Now we're bringing family into the equation? Assuming my father couldn't manage a jump out the window, I'd stay there with him and save him or die trying. I wouldn't be able to live with myself otherwise. I'm quite sure about this; it's not a macho "Die Hard" fantasy.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:00 PM
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GB, good for you.

If I were holding the door to buy my son time, I'd goddamn good and well want him to jump out the fucking window. Ditto my students, though obviously less so.

I'm not saying I'd do that--I really don't know if I'd be so brave. But you might consider that Jake has a point. Maybe the old man said "goddamnit, jump out the fucking window, you idiot."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:04 PM
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In case 453 was confused by 447, Librescu's son was not in the room with him. The son was describing emails students had send about his father's actions.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:04 PM
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GB, this ghoulish bloviating about how heroic people were or should have been, or how heroic you would or wouldn't be in similar circumstances, really needs to stop.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:08 PM
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Indeed. It's not a video game.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:11 PM
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GB, this ghoulish bloviating about how heroic people were or should have been, or how heroic you would or wouldn't be in similar circumstances, really needs to stop.

Indeed. It's not a video game.

True, it's not a game. Librescu is dead for real. In what twisted world view is regretting someone's death "ghoulish bloviating"?


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:14 PM
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459: I thought it was his son. But regardless. Snap decisions have to be made with the information you have and second-guessing is unfair. I don't know how I'd react if I was a college student in a big classroom that some guy was trying to break in to shoot people; probably with an unattractive amount of self-interest.

But if I was 75 and had lived through the holocaust and was trying to block the door while my undergrad students jumped out the window, I would be happy for each one that made it out, and profoundly irritated at any who got killed trying to save me.

In short, I really disagree with you on this one.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:21 PM
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Regretting someone's death isn't. Opining on what should have been done to save him is. And that wasn't the only comment you've made along similar lines.

It's understood that all kinds of stuff comes to mind when something like this happens and that people often want to talk about whatever their particular reaction is. But decency requires keeping some sorts of reactions to ourselves, and maybe even reflecting on why we're having those reactions in the first place.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:22 PM
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I am with Jake. I'd be pissed if I was holding the door to save others and some dumbass stays behind so he can die with me.

WTF??!?!?!?! IF you were going to stay, you should have told me so I could escape!!!!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:24 PM
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DaveL, the Internet's Decency Monitor.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:25 PM
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I'm not the only one who's reacted that way. Just stop acting like an asshole and people will stop calling you on it.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:27 PM
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468: Last time it was you. WE rotate the role periodically.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:28 PM
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My supposed "indecency" is not personally directed at the other commenters here. Your kind always is, as 469 demonstrates. At least my expectations have been lowered sufficiently so that I'm no longer surprised by it.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:33 PM
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#467: At the risk of offending DaveL's sensibilities, I think the question here is whether staying behind and helping could make a difference.

Say a coal mine is caving in, and one guy props up the tunnel joists long enough for the others in his group to escape. No matter who else stayed behind with him, the tunnel would have eventually caved in, killing them all. In that case, there's no point in extra people dying needlessly and diminishing the value of the one person's sacrifice.

In the case of an old man blocking the door against a guy with a gun, the outcome could very well depend on whether anybody helps him.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:34 PM
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I didnt find what Gaijin said to be offensive or macho.

How can you not wonder what you would have done or not done? Or what people did or didnt do?

As a Virginian with lots of friends with kids at Tech, I havent been abe to think of much else.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:37 PM
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Oh, heavens, I've triggered GB's naughty word fetish. So, so sorry. The "what I would do if" fantasies are still unseemly, and the "what people in those classrooms should have done" stuff is a whole lot worse. You'd like to believe that a proper red-blooded American male could find a way to be manly and assert control in a terrifying and chaotic situation like the one in those classrooms. Noted. Now can we please move on?


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:39 PM
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"What would I do" is not unseemly, but realistically speaking is not of interest to anyone else. "Can thinking about this situation help me should I end up in the situation myself" is helpful, and interesting to some. "These people, who are in an actual situation of life and death, should have acted differently", is unseemly, IMHO.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:43 PM
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DaveL:
You don't see this situation and wonder whether you would have had selflessness to try to save others? How do you not read about this tragedy and wonder about the horror that those people went through?

I think that is different from saying "Wow, what a bunch p----ys who didnt help out." I didnt read it that way.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:43 PM
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I'm just reacting to "The more I think about the Librescu story, the more I'm pissed that an entire class full of healthy young college students jumped out the windows while their 75-year old professor sacrificed his life for them."

I read that as pretty close to "Wow, what a bunch of pussys who didn't help out."


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:45 PM
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473: will, you poor ignorant fool. It's wrong to speculate about anyone doing anything heroic, ever, because:

(a) you're a gung-ho chickenhawk! If you like fighting so much, why didn't you go to Virginia Tech and get shot, huh?

(b) suggesting that direct physical action, quite possibly by men, might have had a positive effect on the situation is obviously wrong, since violence is bad, men are part of the oppresive patriarchy, and all problems can always be solved by talking, or, preferably, by blogging.

Shame on you, comrade. Report to reeducation center #407G immediately.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:46 PM
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471: Didn't you yourself say "fuck you" in a thread yesterday? In fact, I know you did. I recall typing a comment pointing it out, and then thinking better of it.

Because you know, DaveL's right: you really don't have to say everything that pops into your mind.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:46 PM
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Nobody in Librescu's class got shot besides Librescu, did they?


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:47 PM
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478: Nice li'l house of straw you've built there, piggy.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:52 PM
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Jake:

I just didnt read it that way. I raised a glass tonight in Librescu's honor at dinner with my family. I hope that if my son or I were ever in that situation that he or I would be willing to save others, just as I hope that there would be a Librescu to save his or my life.

I cannot judge anyone for saving themselves, but I will admit that I would be disappointed if no one stepped forward to save others at the risk of certain death to themselves.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:52 PM
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#479: Yes, I did. I thought it was obvious that I was being tongue in cheek. The line in question was, "Fuck you, let me enjoy my daydreams."

I took a chance that the lightheartedness of that line would be obvious and that it wouldn't be personally offensive to anyone; perhaps I misjudged. If so, I won't use similar tactics in the future.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:53 PM
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483: "Enjoy your daydreams" on a thread about a serial killing? That's kind of exactly the point DaveL is making. You see.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:56 PM
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476: Not really, no. I recognize that it's a natural reaction, but the brain seems to function differently enough in high-stress situations that I don't see a whole lot of percentage in trying to predict what an adrenaline-charged me would do in a room like that. And I try not to let myself get too deep into the personal experiences of the people who were there, or in similar circumstances. For me, that feels closer to voyeurism than empathy, although I wouldn't argue with someone who saw it differently.

But did you read GB's 447? That one was pretty egregious, and it's not the only comment he's made along similar lines.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:56 PM
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One thing I can be pretty sure about is that we're kidding ourselves if we think anybody did what they did yesterday with any forethought or an awareness of what the situation was.

GB's comments seem to me to have a core of truth to it, the thought that there should've been someone there to do something. It seems to be rather unfashionable to point it out, but there was a contingent of heavily armed people present on campus, physically trained and ready to confront a crisis, and they were cops. And they were all over the place. Which is odd, because looking back, it doesn't appear that they did much of anything until afterwards.

I'm not blaming any individual cop, of course; obviously, their rules of engagement or whatever don't call for them to have gone in. I question this, though. What's the deal with them getting all this military hardware and SWAT teams and stuff if they're just going to stand around outside the building listening to the gunfire?

I don't know, maybe it happened too fast, maybe there were cops in the building, but rather than second-guessing what any of the groggy students should've done when somebody popped in their class and started shooting, I'd look at the people who are supposed to have been protecting them.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 7:59 PM
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485:

Of course you cannot predict how you would react. The best odds are that you fall to the ground and weep like a baby.

447 might be a bit much, but when did Unfogged become a place where you could not express frustration and exasperation?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:01 PM
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Neil:

For some reason, I think that the rules of engagement in cases like this suggest that the best course is to charge in immediately to prevent a slaughter. But I could be wrong.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:03 PM
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when did Unfogged become a place where you could not express frustration and exasperation?

Frustration and exasperation are one thing; more-studly-than-thouness tends to get taken down pretty damn fast. And rightly so.

Unless, of course, it's my studliness we're talking about, in which case no one dares.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:05 PM
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487.1: If that's true, why the hell spend time on "what would I do" stuff? And I don't think it is true. People's reactions to horrible stuff are all over the place, but my impression is that freezing up and crying isn't at the top of the list.

447.2: The problem is the part about being frustrated and exasperated at people who jumped out the window to get away from someone who was trying to kill them because you think they should have stayed and tried to save the professor who was trying to save them. You just don't run around sniping at stuff like that.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:09 PM
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I don't trust my instincts because they're entirely formed off of movies, but I also would think they should've charged in. It's very possible that it all went down in less than five minutes and they didn't get enough force there on time, but on the other hand, the campus was already swarming with cops from the earlier shooting.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:13 PM
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You're supposed to be taking the fucker out, not getting him to join your pansy-ass fraternity.

You know, not to digress wildly from this vital discussion of what we're all going to do when we go back to college and wind up in an oggedian standoff after releasing all our doves and diving through all our windows, but I will note this: laying someone was generally a great way to convince them to rush my fraternity.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:20 PM
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For my part, I think the only people allowed to be pissed at the students jumping out the window are the students jumping out the window. If they want to second-guess themselves, that's fine. I don't think it's our place to do so.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:21 PM
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G. Biker - Neoconservatives always argue that the only failure is a failure of will - that if we just had sufficient guts, we would succeed where we are failing.

You seem to be applying the neoconservative line to this tragedy. You criticized victims for their failure to fight - but note my obvious observation in 186 that some probably did fight, with predictable results.

Liberals rightly describe your attitude - and those of the neocons who criticize Iraqis for failing to live up to their fantasies - as "blaming the victim." You fantasize about a lack of courage on the part of victims, and no matter how much courage they show, you can still insist they should have shown more.

People who live in the real world aren't interested in fantasy heroism, they are interested in results. America has become so enraptured by ludicrous revenge fantasies that we are embroiled in a foolish war abroad, and at home suffer the highest rates of violence of the developed world.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:23 PM
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Also, I think for the most asinine comment on the Virginia Tech massacre we have to go to Joe Morgan:

Hopefully this will be a better week for all of us, and baseball will help us move forward in the aftermath of what happened at Virginia Tech. It has not been a good start to the week. I'm concerned because my two daughters will be going to school two years from now. It's almost like the Imus situation; kids and people going to get educated and being hit from the outside with negative comments and threats on their lives. I guess if you're not safe in college, where are you safe?

Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:26 PM
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492 is probably the best thing on this whole thread. But I'm not going to re-read it all to confirm.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 8:28 PM
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448 A fair question: Lost first wife to a mental illness while in our 20s; 17 years later, had the financial resources to enter a PsyD program with a concentration in family systems; two years research experience; 7 years donating time to charitable social services organizations; 4 years experience as a swampcracker. Ca tout.


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:02 PM
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People who live in the real world aren't interested in fantasy heroism, they are interested in results.

Librescu got results. He might have gotten better results with other people helping him.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:05 PM
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I also would think they should've charged in.

Again, I think this is just a crappy thing to say. You can sit there, safe and sound, and tell other people they should charge toward a man who is firing a gun at them.

Honestly, people.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:12 PM
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John Cole, a disgruntled Republican, has a response to Derbyshire which is relevant to GB.

Link.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:21 PM
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Signing up to be a police officer entails accepting the risk of bodily harm in the name of protecting society. I don't think it's unreasonable to question their tactics or behavior.

Attending your English 101 section does not. Pushing other people out of the way to jump out the window first is regrettable but forgiveable, jumping out rather than staying to fight the armed man is a perfectly fine thing to do, and blocking the door so that your fellow humans can escape is extremely praiseworthy.

Just to throw some fuel on the fire, compare the results of the two courses of action: In a German class upstairs, a few students tried to barricade the door against the onslaught of bullets, and then tried to help their injured classmates while they waited for help, Trey Perkins, 20, told Fox News. Of 15 students in his class, he said only about six came out alive. and Some broke legs in the fall, but they survived. Prof Librescu was shot dead during the rampage..


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:22 PM
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"Librescu got results."

Interesting that those results were invisible to you until the news reports arrived - and that your response to those news reports was not to acknowledge your error, but to insist that enough had *still* not been done.

Enough is *never* done in that sort of fantasy world.

I actually disagree with Dr. B on this - I'd argue that many valid moral judgments can be made even if we don't walk a mile in their moccasins. But surely one ought to have some respect for basic reality in making those judgments.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:25 PM
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497: My sympathies. One of the things that's hard in these discussions is that so many have had intense experiences with one or a small handful of cases that it's hard to sort out what generalizes and what doesn't. I appreciate the additional background.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:29 PM
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Je vous en pris, Dave.


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 04-17-07 9:32 PM
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Oh come fucking on. Are we really dragging out the old "testosterone makes boys violent" theory again? There's been a lot of research on this and it's just not right. Simple age-range corrolation is absolutely not causation. (And it's worth noting the the appearance of corrolation is itself false: as I mentioned before, it's actually relatively low-status (and low testosterone) boys/young men who are prone to violent outbursts.)

Anyone genuinely confused on this point could find plenty to read. Chapter 11 of this book would be a decent place to start.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-18-07 7:14 AM
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505 in response to various comments that came hundreds of comments prior.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-18-07 7:15 AM
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502: Interesting that those results were invisible to you until the news reports arrived

I am trying to develop an ability to perceive world events through clairvoyance. I'll let you know when I've got the kinks worked out.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-18-07 7:40 AM
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I am trying to develop an ability to perceive world events through clairvoyance.

If you succeed, the Royal Army is gonna fuck your shit up.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-18-07 7:49 AM
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No, we're not worried; we already know he's not going to succeed.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-18-07 10:25 AM
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Wow, just a few minutes ago, I got a weird sensation that ajay was slagging me off on this thread. It's working! Mwa ha ha...


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 04-18-07 10:29 AM
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Biker - if you ain't clairvoyant, I have to wonder how you knew that nobody attacked the gunman, and that the reason nobody attacked the gunman was that they lacked the courage to do so.

In fact, such courage isn't all that uncommon. Many people who possess it come to predictable - and in this case, predicted - ends. No clairvoyance necessary.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-18-07 2:18 PM
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Again, I think this is just a crappy thing to say. You can sit there, safe and sound, and tell other people they should charge toward a man who is firing a gun at them.

Perhaps you weren't aware I was talking about cops? Or do you think cops on duty don't have any more of an obligation to put themselves in harm's way than innocent bystanders?


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 04-18-07 2:22 PM
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512: Oh, my bad--I didn't think you were talking about the cops.

I don't know enough about police strategies to have an opinion on how the cops reacted.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04-18-07 2:49 PM
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From what the reports yesterday were saying, the cops didn't just mill about; by the time they got the 9/11 call, got to the building, and blew open the doors, the gunman had committed suicide.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-18-07 3:16 PM
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