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whatever happens

April 2017

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whatever happens

Small town life is sometimes terrific.

We had our water cut off on Tuesday. We didn't realize what had happened until about 9:00 PM. (Randi was a bit hysterical - she forgot to pay the bill, and she is NEVER late paying bills. Not. ever.) So what do we do? We call Neil (the police chief, who lives down the street from us) at home, and Neil says that the first time you get cut off, they turn off the water at the meter, but don't lock it. He said to take our water key to the meter and try turning the water back on. We did, and yup, we had water.

You tell me any big city - or even big town - water company who will cut you that kind of slack on your first offense, or that will even recognize that it's a first offense! Or where you can just call the police chief to get the problem fixed. LOL! Of course, this goes right along with, "I don't need to see your ID to cash a check," or "You forgot the credit card? That's OK, we'll just put the bill in your mailbox when we drop off your car in your driveway, and you can pay it when you get a chance."

I suppose, on a more somber note, I should talk a little about the VTech slayings. I can't add anything significant to the flood of grief that the whole nation is feeling. Naturally, I'm heartbroken at those deaths. Other than the obvious, however, I have three things to say. Which I'll put under a cut, in case y'all don't want to hear any more about this.

1) I am asking my flist not to view Cho's video. Partly that's to discourage the media from profiting from it, and partly it's because I don't want anyone I know to be exposed to that kind of horror. (And no, I haven't seen it, and have no intention of seeing it - but I have a coworker who did view it.)
2) As I'm sure everyone knows, there were plenty of signs that Cho was going to do this. I'm hoping that this will finally give a big push to the impetus started by Columbine to identify bullying and psychotic behavior, to provide information systems and education to all students, to create resources for managing these troubled people (and getting them away from normal people!), and to provide education on what to do in an incident (as in, telling people about it, strategies for survival, etc.).
3) One trend that makes me twitchy is that this has become a gun control issue. It is not a gun control issue, it is an anger and helplessness issue. If a person like Cho couldn't get a gun, he'd make a bomb. Or whatever. Some European countries seem to think that the US's lax gun control created this problem. Talk about weird logic.


"Some European countries seem to think that the US's lax gun control created this problem. Talk about weird logic."

Well, you have to admit that being able to just march into a gun shop and buy a semi-automatic without a waiting time, or even needing so much as an ID is a bit worrying when there are so many disturbed individuals like this guy out there. Gun control - or lack thereof - may not have created the problem, but I think it does make it a lot easier.
At least assembling a bomb is something you need skill for, lest you blow up yourself in the process. During the time it takes you to buy all the material and put it together, some people may have had time to become suspicious ("say, son, that's a mighty load of nitroglycerin you bought there"). Buying a gun? No problem, everyone does it all the time. No questions asked. And all you need to know is how to load it.
LOL! It isn't quite *that* easy to buy a gun here. I'm not familiar with all the states (each state makes its own gun laws), but most require a background check on handguns, some require a waiting time, and, as far as I know, only Texas allows its people to carry concealed weapons around. And if I wanted to buy a handgun here in Texas, I would have to prove my identity and take a gun safety course.

And making a bomb isn't that hard. I learned how to make a small one in high school using stuff around the house (to the relief of many, I'm sure, I've forgotten how), and the Internet has plenty of sites with instructions.

But even in the most restrictive places, if you really want a gun, you can get it. A mayor in Japan, a country historically free of guns, was recently shot and killed, and in Britain, another country relatively gun-free, dealing with bombs is a way of life.

If we have a "gun issue" here in the US, it's in our culture, where guns have historically/socially always been equated with... uh, organs of manhood. *cough* And where acts of violence guarantee you a kind of fame in the media.

This is actually a complex issue that can be argued all day, but please, don't think you can walk into the nearest grocery store and pick up a semi-automatic with your milk and eggs! You can get hunting rifles in Wal Mart, but not a lot of serial killings are done with those, which, in my mind, proves it's a cultural thing.
I know it's not that easy in every state, but apparently in Virginia, it actually is. You don't need an ID there, there's no waiting time (at least not longer than a few months, I forget if there was any at all or if there was a certain minimum) and they don't ask questions. There may have been some limitations per weapon, but I do recall they mentioned something about semi-automatics falling under the same "no questions asked" category.

Of course if someone is really determined, they will always find a way. 9/11 was proof enough; before that, no-one ever thought airplanes could be used as weapons. When resources are limited, people get creative. Where there's little limitation though, people don't have to get creative. Such as in this case. This guy's major "achievement" was being able to kill so many people at once. Clearly he was well prepared, which says to me that he didn't just flip one day but was at least semi-intelligent and coherent. Someone with less intelligence and patience and a shorter fuse could've just as easily obtained a gun and shot a roommate who was getting on their nerves. It doesn't matter if it's 33 people or 1 person that gets killed, it all comes down to how easy it is for just anyone (of legal age) to get a weapon immediately. All it takes is one bad day when they're not thinking clearly and all they can think about is revenge and the next thing they know is they're being arrested for murder. At least if you make obtaining a gun a little bit tricker than buying candy, they've got time to think about what they're going to do with it and maybe realize it's not for the right purposes. If there had been a six-month waiting period for this guy to obtain a gun, it might've actually made a difference and during that time he could've gotten the help he needed. Or yes, he may have just decided to build a bomb instead. We don't know. My point is that in some places it's way too easy for any person, regardless of background, to buy a gun during a time when they're too mixed up to think straight and do something they'll regret for the rest of their lives.

I know it would cause an uproar if they started implementing something like it now - as you say, it's a cultural thing - but I wish the American government could at the very least add something in the constitution that would force all states to have equal gun control restrictions. The same amount of waiting time, background checks, ID control....People are creatures who like things done quickly and simply. The more steps they have to go through in order to get at what they want, the more time they have to think hard about the issue.
To defend Virginia, they do a state-based criminal background check, in addition to a federal one. However, I have to say that I agree with you. I think background checks, ID control, registration of the weapon (including reporting change of address), and *long* waiting periods would be a good idea in all the states, and we should have a consistent policy. Not only that, but if our law enforcement agencies could stop squabbling and cooperate, the database could also include other factors, such as hospitalization for possible "danger to self" declarations, which would have effectively kept Cho unarmed.

I am also in favor of not allowing guns on ANY campus, high school or college. Mixing rampant hormones, immense stress, and handy lethal weapons is pretty dumb. As you say, all it would take would be one bad day, and as any student knows, there are about 3 really bad days in any given week in school.

Who knows? Maybe this incident will accomplish something toward a national, rational gun control policy.
While I do believe that gun control is a very serious political issue, I have to agree that this should not be made into a "guns vs. no guns" argument. What happened at VT is an unspeakable tragedy, but it has a lot more to do with the insanity of one individual than it does with the accessibility of handguns.
I'm with you on almost all of the above. I mean, technically the items around my house right now are both legal and lethal in terms of making amatuer bombs. I'm not a gun-person at all, but I don't see how making it more and more restrictive is going to stop an endangered person from getting something dangerous, or using something and making it dangerous. Still, it would be nice if it was more difficult for certain people.

As for the media frenzy--let's say I'm disgusted that they would air these videos so quickly, for starters; people are still in shock--but there have been a few shows that have been addressing the issue of how the media is controlling the issue, and one opinionated show said it was healthy to take a step back and examine the issue for what it is, rather than what the media making a show of it to be.
I personally have no intention of seeing the video. I looked at a timeline of the day, today, and it had a little clip of him talking from his video, and that was enough for me.

I take a little bit of offense at you referring to this guy as someone not "normal" - ("managing these troubled people (and getting them away from normal people!)" ... but I do agree with you saying that we need to get education going, to teach about you know, understanding bullying etc. and how to deal with people who may be pushed to those things...

I have pretty much the same troubling stance on this as I did with the Columbine shootings. Which is to say, long story short, that I can fully identify with Cho, as I could with the two boys at Columbine, in that they did this because they felt like outsiders, and were pushed away by everyone else and treated like shit, but at the same time, I realize that what they did was, of course, wrong. I went through all of that when I was in school too, throughout school. Namecalling, teasing, physical abuse, mental and emotional abuse, getting things thrown at me, getting kicked, pushed down, left out. For me, it was because I was/am fat. For the 2 at Columbine it was because they were geeky and wore all black, and for Cho, it was probably any number of similar things. And a person can't be expected to just take all that abuse and TAKE IT AND TAKE IT without it doing some kind of damage inside. Nobody can expect a person to just smile through it all and never crack, ever.

Did I ever think of going into school with weapons and mowing down everyone who ever hurt me? Hell yes I did. I daydreamed it, I visualized it, I thought about it. From time to time, though, not all the time, and it never went any further than thought process, for me. I fought a few times, (not very well, I was a wuss at heart), but mostly dealt with it by crying my GUTS out once I was safe at home and away from it all. And in the end, I just got through it.

What I'm saying is... These things happen because of being forced to feel as though we are something other than "normal." For whatever reason - Weight, mode of dress, sexual preference, etc. And while I know you probably didn't mean it that way... It shakes me to the core hearing the media describe him as "not normal," a "monster," "crazy," etc. Because it breeds that image in the minds of readers, in the minds of the people who'll regard the articles following this as fact. I suppose I'm idealist to think that the media would write this up as what it actually is - a case of someone (else) finally cracking under the pressure of the world treating them as something other than human. I guess that'd take too long to say on air... "So many innocent students killed at the hands of a monster" has a better ring to it than "Yes, its wrong that he murdered them, but someone should've tried to see things through his eyes before it was too late, instead of treating him like shit and honestly thinking he'd never go off the deep end."

And thats... where my heart is divided on this whole thing. And it hurts. And it makes me sad.

Have you never heard the expression, "Hate the sin, not the sinner"? Forgiving and understanding Cho and the Columbine pair and other such killers doesn't mean we feel no sorrow for the victims, nor that we condone killing as an alternative to putting up with troubles.

The problems of a person like Cho go much deeper than a mere reaction to being bullied. He was insane. He needed help. He didn't get it. Our society doesn't have the necessary resources for dealing with a person like Cho, partly because we value our individual liberties so much, and partly because we're only now becoming aware of the forces that forge them. The bullying was not the only cause of this tragedy, but simply one of the triggers.

If we sane people can't see through the eyes of the insane, and learn to understand them, then people like Cho will never be helped, and the conditions which created him will never be improved.

Personally, I respect a compassion that embraces the killer as well as the victims. To me, that's a Christian spirit, in the strict definition of the term "Christian".
I'm sorry I offended you. It wasn't intentional. I find it a bit scary, but I can identify with Cho and even, I think, understand him. And pity him.

I used the word "normal" loosely, since I didn't feel like typing "people who don't carry weapons with the intention to kill other people". I would call you normal. Thoughts of vengeance, even violent vengeance, are normal under the circumstances you describe. When you step over the line and actually kill, however, that's another story.

I believe I mention somewhere that my fervent hope is that this incident will accomplish more fully what Columbine began - a recognition of the evils of allowing bullying, and a need to intervene and help people like Cho. (And keep them from getting weapons, but that's another issue.)

On a personal note, I hope that all those jerks who abused you are now miserable. They probably are - someone that petty and mean doesn't have a lot of capacity for happiness in themselves.