Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Dark and Deadly Day

Yesterday was a dark and deadly day in Virginia, a day of incomprehensible horror that has sickened the nation. I'm referring to the horrific shootings on the campus of Virginia Tech. When I first heard the news as it broke on the radio, I figured it was probably some kind of domestic dispute that turned deadly. You hear about that all the time -- jilted lover goes to ex's place of employment and starts shooting. If not that, then a disgruntled employee. Don't get me wrong, that would have been bad enough, but there would at least have been some kind of warped reason for it. As the death toll kept mounting, though, it quickly became apparent that something far more serious was going on and I turned on the TV. In another few minutes, every office in the building had TVs on. After all, more than half the people who work here are VA Tech alumni.

The news footage coming out of Blacksburg was as stunning as it was unfathomable. The wind was gusting and snowflakes were swirling in the wake of a freak spring storm blowing through the pastoral setting. There should have been crowds of bundled up students bustling en route to and from classes. Instead, we saw against the mountainous background surreal images of SWAT teams and police officers in helmets and flak jackets with guns and dogs. We saw blood on the sidewalks. We saw shaky cell phone videos of the scene taken by frightened students from where they sheltered, with the staccato sounds of gunshots echoing in the background.

By the time it was over, thirty-three people had been shot to death. Twenty-nine more were injured from gunshot wounds or jumping from upper story windows to escape the carnage. How on earth does something like that happen? Why? We may never know the answer to that -- the cowardly gunman shot and killed himself. We still don't even know whether there was a second gunman. There were two separate events, two hours apart. In the first, an apparently jilted man shot and killed a female student and a male Resident Advisor, also a student. Two hours later, the random mass murders of students and professors occurred. According to witnesses, the description of the man who committed the first murders did not fit the man who committed the second rampage, identified this morning as a 23-year-old South Korean student with an English major, a resident alien named Cho Seung-Hui. Is it possible that two maniacs decided to strike in the same place at the same time? How does that happen? In light of ballistics information released this morning, perhaps it was only one man who did all of this. At this point, there are as many questions as there are answers.

It's a horrible, tragic thing that happened here yesterday, utterly senseless and beyond comprehension. We can call it incomprehensible. Stupid. Twisted. Sad. Evil and monstrous. Barbaric. Completely beyond understanding. None of those words adequately convey the enormity of what has happened.

Hale McKay has a nice post on this subject today.

If ever there was a day for a little levity, this might be it. So, let's just segue into TWIT and Twisted Linguistics.

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I have been whinging - Stop that before you go blind!

quanity versus quality

pablam - A word uttered much in the same vein as "Bam!" or "Kaboom!"

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Dear AzzShowingTwit,

I most humbly beg your pardon. Not!! You better send me more money than 17-1/2 cents and you better do it now or I will end up owning your stipid helloclopper business. And I ain't just whistlin' Dixie. Not that I can't. Because I can. About that editor, all I can said is she is rite in sum cases. Not in MY case becasue my book is GUD. Her ought not to have say what she say in pubic. Dag. Don't be offering me her job tho. I would rather cutt off my tonge.

I'm Still All WTF
Hey You WTF,

Don't EVER take that tone with us. Didn't anyone make it clear to you that we really don't care? Hell child, we printed your book and that pretty much assures you that no REAL publisher will ever touch anything you write, because they don't want to be associated with us in any way, shape or form. So you had best be saying you are real sorry, really fast. That is our final word on the subject. Unless, of course, you write again. In which case will have an equally stupid response.
SAT. I mean AST.
Dear Mr. AST,

Aw, now you've hurt my feelings. You shouldn't oughta have did that. I want you to now pay me double royalties because if you don't I am going to tell my lawyer and she will written you a long lettre what will say stuff that will make you cry you mean man you shold be asaimed of youself. An I kin to get me a real publisher you horible hog man. I am not sorry. You are sorry and you will be sorryer when my lawyer beets your but. Ha! Make ME cry will you.

WTF Do You Think You Are?
Dear TWIT,

Hey! I got my royality check. What is this? Is this sippose to be a joke or something? Maybe a down payment? Listen, this won't even bye me a coke. You better be making this write pretty quick or me and you is going to have war. I don't know how you expectorate me to keep my speel-checker up to date on this kind of money you stipid twit.

Poor and Pissed
Dear Poor Pissy Author,

Don't take that tone with me! We at Putrid Publications have all the power, being rich money-making bastards, and you don't, being a normal citizen who can not take us to court. Royality check? You mean the reality check? You should be ever so thankful we even gave you one thin dime. We could have easily held your royalties hostage, not that we even keep correct records anyway! Speel-checker? Whazzat? Is this some new invention? Probably, cuz we "editors" at PA have never used anything of that sort. Don't be too harsh about the sppel-cheeker thing--we're just a bunch of illiterate college students! Besides, Billy-Bob the Loser and old Bobby-Bill taught us that speeling doesn't matter in the plublishing world. War? Bring it on! Naturally, we'll win, cuz we have $$$$$ for a lawyer and you don't. I've never met our lawyer anyway. Was that loudmouth advocate author right? Is our lawyer the guy who represents terrorists? Yep, we'll win your war all right, and you will be left penniless, and poor and pissed you will remain. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

A Saber-toothed Tiger
Dear Miss TWIT,

Hello, how are you? I am fine. I am in the 7th grade. I am smart. I get mostly A's and B's. I have wrote my first book and I was wondering if you would handle it. My mother says real publishers don't handle children but I am real good on the Internet and I have saw where you do. Will you do my book? Oh it is about a girl that goes to sorcery school at Pig Bumps Acadumy. You will love it. It is very good. I will wait to here from you.

Loretta Sue Whillikers

How open minded are you?

You Are 72% Open Minded

You are a very open minded person, but you're also well grounded.
Tolerant and flexible, you appreciate most lifestyles and viewpoints.
But you also know where you stand firm, and you can draw that line.
You're open to considering every possibility - but in the end, you stand true to yourself.


Roxan said...

***You Are 60% Open Minded***

You are a very open minded person, but you're also well grounded.
Tolerant and flexible, you appreciate most lifestyles and viewpoints.
But you also know where you stand firm, and you can draw that line.
You're open to considering every possibility - but in the end, you stand true to yourself.

Roxan said...

What makes one go from thoughts of killing to actually doing? What takes them over that edge? I think that is the question that needs to be asked.

JL4 said...

Yeah Roxan...that is the $64,000 question, isn't it?

Serena Joy said...

Why, indeed? That is the question. The answer probably isn't anything a rational person can understand.

MXI said...


Mayden's Voyage said...

The first thing my daughter asked me when she heard about the students who died was,
"Mom...was it a terrorist?"

"Sigh"- I didn't understand the word "terrorist" when I was 11

MXI said...

36% open minded, which I guess really means I'm not open minded.

Which surprises me since I'm always open to hear other peoples opinions no matter how wrong and stupid they are.

Anonymous said...

52% open minded. Guess I have my likes and have my dislikes.

Kanrei said...

I knew the word "terrorist" at age 11. Probably because the world I grew up in was after 1973. Munich and Watergate changed everything- taught us terrorists will kill for no reason and that the government cannot be trusted. The world has always been a sick place and it is no more sick today- its just that internet and 24 hour news lets us know the depth of the sickness much quicker than ever before so it seems so much worse.
I thank G-d this guy was not a Muslim because the spin would be sickening if he were.
MSNBC is already talking about his writing in a creative writing class. It disturbs me as a person who writes from the darker side that this is now another "sign" of a psycho as reported in the news. Yet another profile I fit. Profiles are crap!

Shani said...

hi! this is shani. i just felt like browsing thro blogs. check out my blogs:

http://shani-flippy-doodle.blogspot.com/ - this one is about my strong believes and the break-through from supression and against the conventions of life

http://shan-life.blogspot.com - this one is more light-hearted and a ppl/frnd space. more like thoughts on daily life

i got new posts and lots of random/interestin stuff, like listings on gud movies/books/music an tons of links on randon gud stuff! ahahaha, im a bit crazy! an i talk bout life as i knw it (+_+) an just sum thoughts on it,,,,da usual, a bit eccentric sumtimes. u can leave wotever comments u want, just lukin 4 frnds.

Serena Joy said...

I concur with you, Roxan and JL4. It IS the $64,000 question. If only we could answer it, maybe this shit wouldn't happen.

Perfect choice of word, MXI. Speechless. Yes, that sums it up.

It's really sad, Cora, when the word "terrorist" has to be a part of our kids' vernacular. When I was growing up, the word "terror" didn't have an "ist" on the end of it. Terror was snakes and the Boogeyman and missing curfew.

You guys are all scoring pretty high on the open-minded scale. Well, except maybe you, MXI.

Which surprises me since I'm always open to hear other peoples opinions no matter how wrong and stupid they are.

Should I be worried that I think the same way? LOL.

You grew up in a different era than I did, Kan. I think Munich was the turning point, the seminal event that defined the rise of terrorism as we perceive it. I suppose profiles have their uses, as long as they're not taken as Gospel. Unfortunately, they often are. I'm more of a loner than I am a social butterfly, and some of my writing (not to mention those of my friends') could be construed as "disturbed." God help us.

tfg said...

The gunman was an english major and two of his plays have been posted on the internet. They are poorly written and very chilling. Anyone that disturbed had to have exhibited signs long before now--I can't fathom how nobody did anything about it sooner.

Serena Joy said...

Can you send me a link to those plays, T? I'd like to see them.

I wonder if people are maybe reluctant to say something when someone's showing signs of disturbance because they're afraid they're wrong and will just get the person in trouble? Then, too, when someone is showing such signs, maybe people are afraid of retribution if they say something? Except, in cases like this, I think it would be better to say something and be wrong than do nothing.

Serena Joy said...

Never mind, I found the plays at the Smoking Gun.


Scary Monster said...

Crazy. It be far from over. Now the media must step in and tell folks what to think. They have to get the inside scoop on the immature asshole who perpetrated this thing and analyse his thinking. The'll go to the friends and families for further stories and glorify the event while pretending to cover it in a shroud of sadness.
Me wont watch it.
It just be fuel for the fire.

Corn Dog said...

You Are 80% Open Minded
You are so open minded that your brain may have fallen out!
Well, not really. But you may be confused on where you stand.
You don't have a judgemental bone in your body, and you're very accepting.
You enjoy the best of every life philosophy, even if you sometimes contradict yourself.

LOL! This is WAY too funny considering part of my brain was taken out!!!! LMAO!!!!!

Kanrei said...

Amen Scary. What's the latest on Imus?

Hale McKay said...

If the people who pay so much attention to the insensitive comments of radio and other media personalities would spend that much energy looking at how much power the gun lobby wields, maybe, just maybe some of these tragedies wouldn't happen.

I know, I know what that the trendy comeback is "guns don't kill people, people kill people," but that doesn't ease the pain of the loved ones of shootings.

It is much too easy for people to get guns. Perhaps people should have to submit to deep psychological exams before they are allowed to even apply for a permit to own a gun.

It will never happen, I know, and alas, it would be not be 100% effective. People who have no business having guns somehow find a way to procure them.

In the case of this individual, as was the case of many mass murderers before, there have been warning signs overlooked or not recognized.

Our Constitution, regrettably, allows the existence of such groups as the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazi groups, flag burners, skin heads, etc.

There are always warning signs that some people think dangerous and harmful thoughts, and someday might act on those thoughts.

Serena Joy said...

I'm with Kan -- well said, Scary.

Corn Dog, you have cracked me up once again. That's cracked up, not smoking crack, though sometimes people wonder, don't they? Considering the circumstances, that is damned funny. Thank God you can laugh about it! You're aces, girlfriend.

You've presented a lot of food for thought, Mike. I don't know what the answer is. It's all very complicated -- so many if, buts, and what ifs.

littlebirdblue said...

***You Are 60% Open Minded***

You are a very open minded person, but you're also well grounded.
Tolerant and flexible, you appreciate most lifestyles and viewpoints.

Same as Roxan.

Sorry, but I am usually offended by racist jokes and I'm not about to start eating meat and I'm not interested in widening my circle of friends with a bunch of republicans.


Corn Dog said...

You know littlebluebird, that's what I did not check. I can't tolerate racist or sexist jokes. There were a couple of other things I didn't check too like if you cheat on me you are so history. Also if I dislike you, I will never be your friend again. The rest of the stuff I don't care too much about. I did yell at some Mormons one time to get off my f'in porch. They kept ringing my doorbell every afternoon and wanting to talk about something. I couldn't take it anymore.

As for the gunman, he was deranged. He had a gun (or several) and he knew how to use it. I agree with Scary that there will be a whooping big media circus now with all the analysis. The whole thing is tragic. I feel so sorry for the kids and families. I suspect that the first shooting with the girlfriend and the RA just sent him on his rampage.

Lee said...

A sad day, indeed. It's tragic.

When is mental illness going to be treated as an "illness"...there is no point doctors prescribing anti-depressants like they're handing candy to young children. We are no longer living in the "Dark Ages"...mental illness is an illness and must be treated seriously and accordingly. So much evidence is coming to light about the state of the killer's mind, but little was done about it. I'm not pointing blame at anyone...but please, will someone recognise the signs before another such massacre occurs.

I don't know what the answers are...it is beyond comprehension. So, so sad.

ThatGreenyFlower said...

If the people who pay so much attention to the insensitive comments of radio and other media personalities would spend that much energy looking at how much power the gun lobby wields, maybe, just maybe some of these tragedies wouldn't happen.

So true.

I'm 64% open minded. I won't eat monkey brains. I will never NOT be pro-choice. I don't listen to racist jokes and I told the Mormons on my porch to keep on movin' down the street and have a nice day.

Tempest Knight said...

My cousin knew the Puerto Rican guy that died in that shootout. What a terrible thing! The world has come to a point that we only solve problems by pulling guns?!

Serena Joy said...

I've been known to scare Mormons, too, Corn Dog and Greeny. You'd think they'd have our names on some kind of list. LOL.

Me, neither, Littlebird. Except I will eat meat occasionally.

I don't know the answers, either, Lee. It's just ... sad.

Tempest, I'm very sorry for your cousin's loss.

ThatGreenyFlower said...

I read the play. To my surprise, it was nowhere near as disturbing as some fiction I've seen at major reatil bookstores. There was one book that I swear was called "The Secret Lives of Children" (but I can't find it anywhere on Amazon or even through Google) that I read through that messed me up for MONTHS. Another one, on the bestseller list for weeks, was another story of abuse and eventual murder. If you look on Wikipedia, there is a whole section of pedophilia and sexual abuse in literature. LOTS of books on that list.

I'm not saying this guy was HEALTHY or anything--obviously he wasn't. But I am kind of saying, what makes these OTHER writers healthy? You authors out there can maybe shed some light on this for me. I find it all very, very creepy, though.

Serena Joy said...

Those books you mentioned sound awful, Greeny. I've read stuff that disturbed me for a long time, too. In the case of this Hui guy, the writing was only one of the red flags. The writings taken in conjunction with all the other weird behaviors he exhibited indicate a very disturbed and dangerous individual. Tonight I saw some of the video he mailed to NBC. It's pretty horrifying.