I was saddened when I learned of the tragic shooting at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute this past Monday. It had all the tragic earmarks in place and has turned out to be the worst single case of gun violence in US history. I add my thoughts to all of those grieving for lost friends and loved ones and pray that God gives them strength in their time of suffering.
And yet somehow, the midst of this shocking, horrific event, something even uglier has started to rear its head. The need by some, to blame the victims of this unspeakable tragedy for what happened. You heard me right, some people are now talking about how this could have been avoided if only the students and faculty at Virginia Tech had stood up to Cho Seung-Hui and pulled a “Let’s roll!” number on him.
I witnessed this conversation no less than twice today, and both times they came from local radio station 101.1 WZTK Talk Radio. The first was during the national broadcast of right-wing goon Neal Boortz who entertained the idea that state run institutions, and schools in general are teaching our kids that the government will “take care of you” in all things, and so there is no need to defend yourself. He said they should have rushed the shooter to take him down. If they had, Boortz and caller agreed, this bloodbath could have been avoided.
I think I feel sick.
The second time was during the Allan Handleman show when his guest, Ted Nugent, advocated that this massacre couldn’t possibly have happened if the campus had not been designated as a “gun-free zone”. Yep, Nugent argued that if only the general student populace was allowed to carry concealed weapons, someone undoubtedly would have shot this kid before he got as far as he did.
Boortz is an ass-hat of the highest order. He consistently chooses inflammatory positions, rails against progressives and rarely lets callers who disagree with him get a word in, so his comments don’t surprise me, they just continue to disgust me. When someone has broken into your classroom, killed your teacher and starts shooting wildly, I know my first instinct is to jump up, and rush the guy, not dive under the nearest desk. Yeah, that’s what I’d do, and I’m sure that’s what Boortz would do as well. Like I said, asshat!
As far as Handelman goes, I like him alot. He’s usually very fair and argues from a position of logic and reason. But not today. Today he was one step behind Nugent and his “let’s arm everyone!” agenda and it really, really bothered me. Shame on you Allan! Just for a moment, let’s pretend that Virgina Tech wasn’t a gun free zone and students could carry concealed handguns on their persons. How many parents do you think would send their kids to that college? Would you feel safer or more scared knowing that there could be a loaded weapon parked in the backpack of the person sitting in front of you? And please don’t tell me “accidental miss-firings never happen”. If the Secret Service has problems like these, what do you think the rate of accidents would be on a college campus?
In both of these cases, these people were railing against the victims of Virginia Tech. There is nothing that turns my stomach more than placing blame where it has NO BUSINESS BEING, especially to push an agenda. Common sense tells us that the students in harm’s way this past Monday did what they did out of survival. Who are we to judge them? Has Boortz, Nugent or Handelman walked a mile in their shoes? Have they crouched terrified on a stairwell while shots ring out all around them? We need to support these people, not second-guess them. They need to know that we approve of what they did and how they conducted themselves, and that we would have done the exact same thing in their place. All of us need to heal, and these men’s words are serving only to inflict further harm. Stop it. Now.
UPDATE – I’m not the only one asking people to stop blaming the victims of this tradegy. Keith Olberman has some pretty strong words for three such individuals on last night’s “World’s Worst” segment. And lest our right-wing friends think otherwise, Think Progress reminds us that even President Bush backed “gun-free” zones in the debates running up to the 2000 election. Why? Because they make sense for schools, plain and simple.
UPDATE II – Local talk radio hosts Brad & Britt have added their voices to those denouncing the comments of Neal Boortz, calling his tirade of blame against the victims “reprehensible” and “disgusting”. Bravo to you guys for standing up to him on this issue, and on your own radio station 101.1 WZTK Talk Radio no less. Well done guys.