Friday, April 20, 2007

Now You

Young Freddie's footie team is in Big Trouble this weekend.

The coach, a very amiable young man, the elder brother of the goalie, won't be able to attend the game. He's a student at Virginia Tech.

Oh, he's fine. Don't know where he was during the shootings, but he's physically unhurt.

But he's got some funerals to attend this weekend.

My kids informed me yesterday that while the shootings were going on, their teachers avoided talking about it in school, because many of the kids have older siblings at Tech.

I opened this morning's print edition of the WashPost and found a list of the victims, accompanied by photos. Here's the online version.

I tried, as dispassionately as I could, to look at each of the faces. I'd urge everybody to try the same exercise. Let your gaze linger on each face, all 32 of them. While you do this, say to yourself, as I couldn't stop myself from saying, Now you.

And you.

And you.

It takes a very long time.

I'm not trying to summon empathy for the miserable little solipsist who killed them -- I don't carry much fellow-feeling for mass murderers. And the idea that he took a visual style -- a visual style! -- from John Woo movies just nauseates me.

But the exercise of running through those faces, all those people who never expected to be cut down by amok nihilism, might help one to to gauge, to imagine, the depth of Cho Seung Hui's insanity.

And you.

And you.

Thirty-two times. Thirty-two times.


Anonymous said...

Strangely enough, I can understand the senseless actions of an insane person: they're insane! Of course what they do will make no kind of rational sense to me, so therefore their act of insanity makes sense and is logically illogical.

What i *don't* understand is the reaction of society to shockingly senseless act by analysing it in hyper-minute detail, thinking there's 'something to be learned'.

So we get 'shooter scoreboards' like that article, and manifesto broadcasts, and cameras shoved in the faces of people dealing with unspeakable grief, and stories that are only tangibly-related refocused through the lens of the tragedy, and stupid politicians using it as a PR platform by sending out their 'prayers' like the victim's prayers saved them, and the gun lobby claiming that it's not the fault of the guns, and people with their own stupid agendas using it as an excuse to further advance their stupid causes.

Their actions are equally illogical and senseless. What really is sane?

Anonymous said...

Aside from the actual murders themselves, the aspect of this tragedy that really nauseates me is the response of Neal Boortz, radio bloviator extraordinaire, as well as a few other equally notorious colostomy bags: this is an opportunity to blame the victims themselves for not rushing the shooter and overpowering him. Of course we knew they'd dust off the NRA rhetoric and tell us the problem is too few guns, not too many, because "an armed society is a polite society" (and Baghdad, Mogadishu, and Afghanistan are so much more polite than, say, Canada, right?) But to accuse the students and faculty of cowardice, for chrissakes, when I'm pretty sure Boortz himself has never had a gun in his face and has no idea how he'd act-- Well, in his arrested adolescent comic book fantasy world, he may be Dirty Harry and Batman rolled together in one big pasty white package, but in the real world he's just a pissant. All talk and no substance.
I can't imagine what it must be like to be a VT survivor or the parent or sibling of one of the murdered or injured victims. And then this miserable coward dares to ridicule the victims' courage and character. It's unspeakably vile.

Kevin Wolf said...

I no longer watch TV, so the worst of the coverage has been lost on me. As Dem points out, however, there was some pundits loud enough to drown out good sense and good taste.

I checked out the same sort of page on the NY Times web site, but had to do it in shifts. Reading about the victims made me too sad.