Take your pick, part II

The blame game is underway at full steam in the Virginia Tech massacre. This was not unexpected, of course; it’s what we do in our culture.

While we have lots of choices, I thought I’d offer two for your consideration.

The first is a brilliant piece (What the Killers Want) from the Sunday Washington Post by Lionel Shriver, the author of “We Need To Talk About Kevin.” The book is a novel about a school shooting, and Shriver is getting some of the blame. Her views are relevant, because she researched all school shootings before writing the book, and her insight is chilling.

Like me, she questions NBC’s giving the killer what he wanted, although she, too, admits that this is just the way it is in our culture:

Even more than these gruesomely gratuitous incidents themselves, I have come to dread the campus shooting’s ritual media aftermath — a secondary wave of atrocity, all conducted under the guise of grief, soul-searching concern and an ostensible determination to ensure that no demented loner ever opens fire on his classmates again. Yet the bloated photographs on front pages, the repeating loops of interviews on cable news, the postings of warped creative writing assignments on the Web, and perhaps above all the airing of Cho’s self-pitying, quasi-messianic video clips on every network all help ensure that similar incidents will indeed recur — and soon.

…the one motivation that seems to tie all these misguided characters together is a yearning for media recognition. In an era that has lost touch with the distinction between fame and infamy, so driving is the need to be noticed — for any reason — that even posthumous attention will do…

…the most obvious ounce of prevention would be to stop allowing the likes of Cho to play the media like a piano…

Shriver raises profound cultural issues, even though she, too, has been a part of the media fascination with such events through her book about Kevin. It’s a good read, whatever you think of her.

Meanwhile, the most disgusting finger-pointed comes from that bastion of purity, the American Family Association. This video, The Day They Kicked God out of the Schools, is worth watching, simply because it evidences the depth of depravity to which the religious right has sunk in its efforts to right what it views as wrongs in our culture. We can bitch and complain all we want about Islamic extremists and the threat “they” pose to freedom, but until we stand up to these profoundly deluded and hypocritical folks, our complaints are just public smoke blowing.

And to use such events as Blacksburg to raise money for their cause — at a time when the whole nation is still grieving — is beyond my ability to comprehend as a spiritual man. These organizations need events like this to justify their extremist beliefs and to push the cause forward. In media parlance, Blacksburg is a blockbuster to them, a fundraising bonanza that they can hold up to their supporters and say, “See?”

Take your pick.


  1. is it just me or did anyone else sense that nbc trotted out a host of anonymous commentors on blogs-a-plenty to praise them for their “unique part in it”?

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