Comments: In Which I Veer Off Sideways Midpost and Upset Myself. Sorry.

It is driving me completely nuts that every news story I've seen about this tragedy keeps dwelling on the number of lives lost and saying things like "worst school shooting in history" and "a new record" like they're too stupid or heartless to know or care that they are each encouraging some person out there teetering on the edge of violence to try to surpass that "record" with an even more horrific rampage in the future. I've stopped watching the news reports of it. I'll read the facts online and send up prayers for the families and friends of those killed, but I won't watch the talking heads making the killer a celebrity.

Posted by DebR at April 18, 2007 9:07 AM

OMG, I just snorted coffee. Thankfully, it was on the bed, not on the computer screen. Ray is awesome.
As for That Ass Wolf Blitzer - GAH! We're in Central VA, and this has really rocked us. Out of the 33 gone, almost 20 were from this area. It's hard for someone here NOT to know someone that has either passed, been injured, or be the friend or family of someone that has. It's a shocking and very sad time for our area, and it would be so much less horrid if TAWB were not doing stupid things like broadcasting gunshot sounds.

Posted by dee at April 18, 2007 9:09 AM

I would TOTALLY pay full price for this book, and buy copies for my friends.

a coffee-table version is in the works, no?

Posted by bob at April 18, 2007 9:52 AM

The guy that gets me is the father of the girl that danced. He was interviewed by at least three different news asshats yesterday and has yet to show any emotion of the loss of his daughter. From personal experience, I can tell you that this guy is not normal.

Posted by Therese at April 18, 2007 9:57 AM

TAWB has always been a craw in my psyche. But in other news: I LOVE THIS BLOG. IT MAKES MY LIFE BETTER!!!.. Thank you Joshilyn...

Posted by pam at April 18, 2007 10:22 AM

" large and random and fierce the world is, the same world my children go scampering through, oblivious and hopeful and in peril."

Yes. And I know there is a risk, there is always a risk, although you don't realize exactly how this will hit you until you've already had the kids and it's too late. There they are, outside of you, farther afield every day, and there's nothing to be done about it but hope and pray, in whatever way that means to each of us individually, that they will be held in the gentlest hands the universe has to offer. My mind can't process, my mind simply can't process this latest horror, they stack one upon the other in this big, fierce world.

Posted by amy at April 18, 2007 10:25 AM

I knew as soon as I heard the first reports of what happened in Virginia that I wouldn't be watching television news for a while. I loathe the way those vultures glom onto a story like this and just start throwing half-assed theories out there, and harping on the "biggest ever" aspect. HATE. Maybe, though, I'll take a page out of your book and make me a TAWB dart board.

Posted by Aimee at April 18, 2007 10:48 AM

I think that father needs to be cut all the slack in the world. Most of us, Thank God, will never know how we would react to having a child murdered. You might think you know what a normal reaction is, but until you are in it you cannot possibly know how you would cope.

I'd attribute his lack of affect to shock and disbelief. I think wrapping your mind around the sheer randomness and cruelty of what happened is nearly impossible. It makes me want to wrap my kids in bubble wrap, hide them in a closet and homeschool them through their post-graduate degrees, but I know that tomorrow I'll feel a little less like that, and the day after a little less.

But I will always want to throw darts at Wolf Blitzer. That is a constant.

Posted by Laura at April 18, 2007 10:50 AM

OK, these events have obviously been on my mind, as they is no way to avoid it. Here are my thoughts.

The father of the dancer - Yes, he was very coldly detached while he talked to reporters. I would be very much the same way, I imagine. In a crisis I focus on what can be done. Manage the details... focus on your actions... In many cases it is the only way to continue to function. I don't think he's looked directly at what has happened. He is supporting the people around him, managing the media and doing what needs to be done. When things slow down and he can look directly at what has happened, rather than looking at the activities around the event, he will break down, I assure. I know his type because I am his type.

I am totally on track with Joshilyn on the coverage. It is an obscenity. After the first 24 hours of coverage it stopped being news and turned into pornographic leering. I don't for a minute think the Dateline NBC special on the victims was NBC's heartfelt tribut to those victims. It was their heartless tribute to their ratings. It is very sick making.

One of the hideous side effects of an event such is this is the political need to DO something. I hear much talk being bandied about regarding new gun control legislation, and federal guidelines for campus security. The stage has been set and politicians are stepping over one another to be seen "making America's youth safe". The decisions made in the post tragedy flurry will undoubtable further restrict our civil liberties and increase the size of our federal government. Let this be a call to all universities to examine their own crisis response and security guidelines. Let politicians focus on the real responsibitlies of government and stop worrying about the sickly green limelight they purse at our expense.

Posted by Mr. Husband at April 18, 2007 10:56 AM

One of the professors that was killed was the brother of a girl that I know from a mom's group here in town and he was a grad of UGA. How can the parents stand it? How do you get past that? When I was pregnant with my first child someone said that having a child was like having your heart walking around outside your body. It is so true. When they fall and scrape their knee it hurts me -- how do you ever let them get behind the wheel of a car, go on a date, go off to college? I know I will do it, but it makes my heart ache just to think about it. I agree that the father is probably still in shock. Last year a very close friend of mine killed himself and there are times that I still feel numb about it. It's like, if I let myself feel the pain, it will open a dam and I won't be able to stop the flood. My heart aches for them all...the lives cut short and the families of those who died.

Posted by Leandra at April 18, 2007 11:42 AM

Sorry, Mr. Husband, but as the wife of an academic who had a student so distraught over failing his class that campus security was called to monitor her, I'd be willing to give up some my second amendment rights for waiting periods on gun purchases and more stringent laws for gun shows period.

Posted by Sabra at April 18, 2007 12:06 PM

Sabra, I think Mr. Husband was not debating the merits of gun control. My understanding is he was saying NOW is not the time to address this issue because we are not in the right frame of mind to seriously consider all possible ramifications (and by that I mean there could be ramifications that have nothing to do with the gun control issue, ie setting some precedent). We need to realize what happened is similar to when you are released from a hospital after being given strong medications. We have all had a big dose of violence, and we need to realize we are being sent home with a medical note warning us to not sign any major contracts until the medication has worn off.

Of course, what I am saying is just my own interpretation, and I am not trying to put words into anyone else's mouth but my own.

Posted by Linda Sherwood at April 18, 2007 12:18 PM

GAH! Bad husband. BAD EVERYONE.

No politics, it gives me hives.


Posted by Joshilyn at April 18, 2007 12:20 PM

As a member of the media (sometimes I cringe when I say that) I have to say, yes it's become a circus. But why does each and every tragedy in this country becomes a media circus? There are two reasons and they go hand in hand, you don't have one without the other.

1) Producers with ratings in mind want to be the channel you watch - they lose their abjectivity, humanity, and common sense in the process.

2) Because you turn on CNN, MSNBC, or Fox and watch for hours trying to get the latest news. Therefore they are rabidly trying to come up with a new take that will keep you from switching over to see what the other guys are saying. They haven't figured out yet that if you turn on CNN you're not likely to switch over the MSNBC, or Fox.

We have the power to turn off the TV, and thankfully many of us do. My heart and soul prays for those who have departed and those who are left behind in the wake of this terrible tragedy.

Posted by Cele at April 18, 2007 12:38 PM

I'm a member of the media as well, but I am also a mother with a college aged son, and believe me, this hit hard! You send your kids off to school. They look like big people. He assures me he can drive, run a washing machine, and even, praise God, occassionally check his bank balance.

But underneath all his bluster, he is still my little boy in the Superman pajamas, and my job is to keep him safe, even if he can bodily pick me up!

This is an enourmous tragedy, and displaying the raw emotion of grieving family and friends is just plain poor journalism. We can only fleeting imagine what these poor families are going through. Many were just weeks away from celebrating graduation and now they are planning funerals.

Our children, no matter what age, are gifts, only to be entrusted and treasured by us for a fleeting amount of time. Cherish the boy in the Superman pj's. I know I do. I called him the other night to say, "I love you." And that was because 31 families could not do the same!

Posted by Gin at April 18, 2007 1:43 PM

I found out about this from my mom. I have not turned on national news since. I read a blurb on yahoo news, but stopped midway 'cause my brain just can't wrap around it.

The thing that ticks me off is that this morning while I was TRYING to get the weather report, I caught 30 seconds of a big deal about "Did the university do enough?" "Are we safe?"

First of all, no, we are not safe. We live in a fallen world, and therefore, we must be thankful every day for all we have. Secondly, there is no way that anyone can EVER do enough to stop random acts of violence. That is why that are called random. That is why they are called violent. They are not controllable. Many, many random acts of violence are stopped each and every day in schools, homes, and the streets across this nation unbeknowst to most of us. . .but there is no way to stop it all.

We do the best we can. We cry. We pray. We get up and keep moving.

And you have one creative reader to "find" that post. Hilarious.

Posted by Roxanne at April 18, 2007 1:46 PM

Roxanne is right the Amazon post was terrific. And we are not safe.

Posted by Cele at April 18, 2007 2:31 PM

That is too funny! High Schoolers + trip to Europe = chaos!

I have a "fishing with a hair dryer for the underwear that fell to the balcony below" story from Germany. Thanks for reminding me!

Posted by Melanie Marie at April 18, 2007 3:37 PM

I LOVE Captain Ray's find. I don't want to talk about the rest. It is too sad. I teach students the same age.

Posted by Laura Florand at April 18, 2007 4:03 PM

Dear Joss-

Appropos NOT of this post, I just wanted to say that I've not been able to LOOK at your beautimous blog for 14 FRACKING DAYS due to hospitalization and other life trauma for which I am actually quite thankful, as it is in lieu of other life trauma that other people are experiencing.

And I just wanted you to know that you are my crack. (Not as in, you know, butt crack...but the other kind that can get you arrested.)

Argh. Either way that didn't come out right, I reckon.

Posted by Angela at April 18, 2007 4:47 PM

"Secondly, there is no way that anyone can EVER do enough to stop random acts of violence."

This gunman fell through the cracks of an increasingly apathetic and stand-offish American society. Though I will not watch the news about this subject, the internet is providing the details that make it all too clear that this kid had been crying out for quite some time. When his English tutor was asked why his parents weren't contacted she cited confidentiality laws. His two roommates said they'd try to be nice and engage him, but it was always the same. He stalked two women. He was kicked out of his English class because he was so disturbing to the professor and other students. A judge declared him "an imminent danger to others" two years ago when he was put in a mental institution.

Let me say this. I had a roommate in college who started telling me and another roommate things that just got ridiculous- she played for a woman's soccer league that met at midnight or 1 AM for practice; that her mother had twins, then adopted triplets, then got pregnant with triplets; that she had a boyfriend who was a twin and supposedly came to visit her, though neither I nor our other three housemates met him. When she said she had to fly out to the Mayo clinic because her mother had gone into premature labor, something like two months early and all three triplets were fine, I suspected something. When she "called" her boyfriend who lived in another state and she then left, I hopped up and hit redial. Time and temp. I went to work and asked some adults I knew had psychology background about her behavior and the word dissociative immediately came up. I contacted my roommate's friend and we discussed all of the above and she was shocked to learn that twin boyfriend hadn't been staying with us. She then contacted my roommate's parents who came and got her and pulled her out of school and got her some help.

Sometimes the tenacity of a bulldog is needed when dealing with obviously disturbed people. Everyone just kept bumping up Cho's behavior and actions through university and police bureaucracy. I mean, most of the students who had contact with him immediately thought it was him when they heard about the shootings! More could have been done. Would it have been enough? We'll never know, because now it's too late.

Posted by Sabra at April 18, 2007 5:11 PM

I am sad that there was no such thing as a camera phone back then. Darn. Ah well, maybe you can do it again sometime. *snicker*

Posted by Heather at April 18, 2007 5:15 PM

Okay Melanie, you opened your own can of worms with the fishing story (no pun intended), so spill it sister. I've never been to your blog, but I will start visiting today so I can read about the big time in Germany. Maybe you could do a sequel to Joss's Paris story.

Posted by Roxanne at April 18, 2007 9:35 PM

God bless you, Captain Ray!

Posted by David at April 18, 2007 10:43 PM