Last night, I watched some more of the coverage on what had happened, and many were questioning the way the authorities and the decision makers at VT handled certain aspects of it – primarily why no one had tried to issue warnings or close the campus after the first shooting. I think that’s an excellent question. I understand that the authorities felt like the first wave of shootings had been an isolated incident, and VT’s president made the comment that thousands of students attend VT, and many of them would have been in route to classes at that time. Shutting down the campus would have been a tricky problem, logistically.
Still, it makes you wonder if things would have turned out differently if they had tried to do those things. I’m sure as the days and weeks go by, we’ll here more and more about that.
But what really irritated me last night was something that the local news (for Huntsville, AL) said in one of their ads for their upcoming broadcast: “…and we’ll take a look at the security on campuses in our area too, to see if such an incident is possible here…”
I’m probably overreacting about this, but comments like that infuriate me! Of course something like the shooting at VT is possible here; it’s possible anywhere! We live in a society that cherishes and protects freedom. We don’t have armed checkpoints set up all over the place, and we don’t want them either! But those freedoms also bring vulnerabilities.
Immediately after the events of 9/11, airports heightened their security to extreme levels, and there were very few complaints. We had been burned. Extra precautions made us feel safe, even when they added 2-3 hours to our boarding times. But as time went by and we had no major incidents, the security was relaxed a bit.
Last year, authorities were successful in disrupting a terrorist plot that was intended to blow up aircraft travelling from the UK to the US with liquid explosives. Once again, tight security measures were put into place that forbade all passengers from carrying liquids on the plane, aside from baby formula. Do you remember the public outcry? Since the plot was actually stopped, a vast number of people didn’t take it seriously. Do you think people would have complained nearly as much if 5 or 6 aircraft had blown up midflight? Or if they had blown up over some US metropolitan area?
Living in a free society means that you have vulnerablilities. Some can be limited, but many can not. So don’t act so shocked when something happens that we didn’t have a contingency plan for! You know who’s responisible for yesterday’s attack? The gunman. Some others may bear incidental responsibility in that they could have acted sooner or notified more people, but the ultimate blame lies with the man that pulled the trigger.
That’s also something to consider when you hear the increased debate over gun control during the next few weeks. Laws are for people that obey them. Someone like Virgina Tech’s gunman won’t be affected by increased gun laws – he was breaking several already.
And although I know this post has gone on long enough, I wanted to touch on one more thing that irritated me about the local media here. The attack happened in Virginia, not in Huntsville, Alabama. I find it disgraceful to take what happened there and try to show how it has affected us here.
During the insanity of 9/11, people stayed glued to their TVs or computers, absorbing every detail that came out of New York, Pennsylvania, or Washington. But every so often, our local news would break in to show us how the attacks had affected us in Birmingham, AL. You know what? THEY HADN’T! Not like people were being affected at the actual attack sites! I didn’t care if flights had been grounded in Birmingham. That “news” was so paltry it didn’t even deserve to be a short blip running along the bottom of the screen, yet they dedicated full reports to it. To me, it seemed like an insult to the real victims of that tragedy, and I felt the same way when I saw yesterday’s ad for the news here in Huntsville.
I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing, or if this tends to be inherent in people in general, but we have got to get over ourselves! Everything that happens in this life does not revolve around us. Trying to force our way into the middle of every little event is incredibly pathetic.
So anyway, I’m sorry to go on so long about this. Please excuse this rant, and I’ll try to ease myself back into the lazy side…