What We Should Learn

Apr 232007
Authors: Nick Hemenway

Over the past week, we have all been reminded that evil does, and always will, exist in our world. That is the explanation for what happened in Blacksburg. The gunman was an evil person.

Three years ago, I took an honors class here at CSU about terrorism. Our professor taught that people who do things like this are not evil, but rather are “marginalized” by society, which makes them do such horrible things. We read books discussing events such as the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, in which the perpetrators we made out to be victims of society. Needless to say, I strongly disagreed with the authors and my professor, and my grade definitely suffered because of it.

Evil exists in our world every day, but events like the Virginia Tech shooting make it stand out from everything else. Nothing that we can do will change this fact. The most important thing we can do, however, is learn the right lessons from Blacksburg.

First, it is crucial we understand the impact we have in our reactions. This person wanted his name written in the history books, and we as a nation have done it for him. When someone says the names Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold, everyone knows exactly who they are and what they did. Their dream of fame was realized.

Here we are eight years later, and we are doing the same thing. The second the shooter was identified, his picture was on every TV screen across the nation.

Then, if there was any question about his desire for fame, NBC News received a package with the killer’s “multimedia manifesto.” Instead of acting responsibly, NBC saw the package as a jackpot. They knew they would be the only network to break the story. They could charge other networks for using the footage.

The shooter’s legacy was carved in stone when his incessant ramblings filled the airwaves, in which he admitted to his desire for fame. He knew he was going to die, but he wanted his face burned in the back of everyone’s mind.

So what should our reaction be? Next time something like this happens, I think the name and picture of the perpetrator should never be released. If the networks need something, they can put up a big red X with the word COWARD written across the bottom, because that’s what these people are.

Although there is obviously more in the killer’s mind than fame, we should do our part to take away any incentive of “glory” they may see.

The second thing we must do is refrain from knee-jerk reactions. Although it is very easy to blame the guns for this tragedy, someone as insane as the killer will find a way to get the weapons, no matter how many gun control laws are put into place. When someone has decided to commit such a massacre, breaking little gun laws would hardly weigh their conscience.

Finally, we should not lose sight of what has happened. My concern is that too soon this tragedy will become just another case we file in the back of our minds. I hope this is not just one more ribbon for us to put on our car, but rather a reminder of the things we take for granted everyday.

Nick Hemenway is a senior mechanical engineering major. His column appears every Tuesday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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