Tuesday, April 17, 2007

VT - Déjà vu

Post shooting, we have: 'Profile of a typical shooter', 'he was one of those', ' we expected he'd snap', 'the signs were there'. All this comes in afterward. Everytime.

Watching, and reading as events at Virginia Tech unfolded since Monday - there's such a feeling of déjà vu. I recall a series of such tragedies from 1996, especially the string of school shootings between 1997-99. The profiles, the anger, the reactions, and the coverage.

Last year in Santa Clara, we almost had this happen (3/11)around our workplace, when several cop cruisers swarmed around the parking lot. We joked about it later, but at that time it felt very possible that a shooter was loose.

The victims at VT were people that were alive, with active lives just 36 hrs ago. When you read the profiles - people like so many we'd know, it's like they were so unlucky to be where they were when attacked. I kept wondering what it'd have been like to be in those classrooms, when the shooter came in. Each survivor account made me stop and think.

I watched some Indian TV news channels that went into a tizzy over the VT incident. One show's focus was 'were Indian students at risk in the US?', and 'should they not go to the United States because of this risk?', with a poll thrown in. Having zeroed in on the single (at this time) casualty of Indian origin, they went into a frenzy. Panelists, aspiring students, parents, a US consular officer - they all were interviewed.

What kind of idiot story is this? A one in a million chance, and they make this 'risk' a story? Like the pressing need now is to discuss how Indian students are coping, and how they'll encounter gunfire on campus when they travel to the States. Spread some fear, make news, create a scene.

'I heard some students were shot at an university in the US, and so I'm canceling my plans to get there this fall'.
'Dear Dean, I'm rattled by your potentially gun-crazy campus culture, and can't accept this offer of admission. You can also keep the TAship, stipend, and credits'
'My coursework and graduation be damned. Lest the next shooter peep in my classroom window, I'm outta here immediately.'