This Could Be You

Heard some guys arguing on the subway yesterday about gun control. One guy said, So, what you’re telling me is that poor people shouldn’t be allowed to purchase guns. The other guy said, Well, yeah. Then the first man said, But most crimes are committed by guns purchased illegally, right? So, what difference would it make if poor people couldn’t buy guns? I hadn’t heard their entire conversation and so didn’t want to jump in and proclaim, Yes! Let’s not allow poor people to buy guns and then let’s allow all the rich people to arm themselves and live in castles and throw their Whole Foods bread crusts into their yards for the poor folk and yell out to them, Let them eat cake! But I didn’t say anything because one thing I’ve learned recently is that I shouldn’t jump to conclusions. For all I know, they are both very liberal men who are extremely intelligent about racial disparities, crime, and poverty.

It may be that they were reacting to the shootings at Virginia Tech yesterday. I saw an interview on TV last night with Katie Couric and a security representative from Blackburn (?). Katie asked, What could they have done to prevent this from happening? The man said, Well, the students could’ve used text messages to communicate with one another. Email is good, but text messaging is faster. I thought, Hmm…I think Katie was asking what the university or the police might have done better; not what the students might have done to keep the shooter from killing another twenty people. And why does no one know who the gunman is? Is this like a true life Law and Order episode where we never figure out who did it because everyone is dead? Even the shooter? It appears that the guy was a disgruntled boyfriend looking for his girlfriend. Did she die? Did he find her? Why didn’t he just shoot her? It would be better if she were dead, because how could you live with yourself, knowing that someone had killed 30 plus people because you broke up with him? Even though it’s not her fault, she will always think that it is. She will remember that she had sex with this guy who would later massacre dozens of people because she didn’t want to be with him. She will wonder why she even talked to him in the first place, or why she didn’t realize right away that he was unstable. She will remember a time when she thought he was cute, when she fantasized about being with him, and she will hate herself for not knowing the future. But that's just speculation; the man might not have even known her at all. He might have been delusional.

I wonder sometimes if I am capable of that kind of violence, or any kind of violence that could take another person’s life. I have been fortunate enough not to have been in any situations that are volatile enough to make me feel capable of physical damage to another person. And then I heard that my friend Kali’s husband got into a fight this weekend with some drunk dude who was hitting on his kid sister and when Paul tried to intervene, the guy punched him in the face, knocking out his front tooth. And what if the guy had a gun? Would he have been angry enough to shoot Paul? Or what if this becomes a thing; like Paul tries to confront this dude and it gets out of hand and someone ends up dead? Things like this happen every day. I don’t see it, I don’t personally experience it, but it happens.


Liz said…
"Even though it’s not her fault, she will always think that it is."

So true...
Ben said…
yesterday on good morning america ("GMA" to us girls), Robin Robertson was interviewing some english professor from V. Tech about all the disturbing warning signs in this kid's writings. the interview was not too out of the ordinary until Robertson starts asking the professor if the university should have done more, i.e. contacted parents or police or the white coats, when it saw that this kid was writing violent shit.

what the fuck GMA? this was not a 6th grader drawing pictures of killing his mommy. he was 23 years old, an adult. and it was a creative writing class for christ's sake. at what point are educators supposed to make a distinction between creative expression and 9-1-1 material? this was a grown man. we have to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume that they won't start killing people. security is necessary to a degree, but a free society ultimately must operate on trust - we all have to trust that when we get on the subway the guy next to us is not going to go nuts and start shooting. without that basic trust, society would cease functioning.

do we really want our universities to start playing thought police?

bad shit happens sometimes. we all wish it didn't, but it does. but fear based reactions don't fix anything. it's no wonder people support bullshit like the patriot act. as soon as something bad happens, everyone over-reacts and starts thinking of ways to punish the survivors - the people who DIDN'T go on a shooting spree.

what if Stephen King's writing professor called the police because he wrote some scary shit?
Anonymous said…
Ever notice how all that massacre shit only happens in the burbs or rural areas? I'm sticking to North Philly.
Aimee said…
Yes, I completely agree that people are freaking out about the wrong things and pointing fingers.I think that's because they need to believe that this could have been prevented and they need for it to be someone's fault (maybe the terrorists caused it? I'm surprised G Bush hasn't blamed them yet). No one wants to believe that we live in a world where bad shit happens and children die and babies get cancer and bad people get away with horrible crimes. It has to be someone's fault, because then, we can make sense of it and then we can feel not responsible ourselves for anything--for the lack of gun control, for electing a president who didn't resign a ban on the number of automatic rounds you can buy in VA, for being morbidly interested in the whole thing to an embarrassing degree. Of how about feeling bad for being part of a culture that glorifies celebrity to such a degree that this kid was perhaps partly inspired by the idea of posthumous fame--at least enough to send in a video of himself with guns to CBS news or wherever.

I've taught undergrad creative writing classes before at Penn State and I've had weird students. I told the comp dept. about one student and they talked to him, but there wasn't much else we could do. I read the plays the shooter wrote (they're posted on aol) and though they're dark and disturbing, you can't force a kid into counseling because he has a gun in his story.