Virginia Tech: “The Gunman’s Victims”

April 17, 2007 at 9:50 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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The Sun (UK) has published a list of the victims of yesterday’s shooting. I’ve always had a problem with coming to terms with the UK practice of giving away victims’ names in news reports – this is not a common practice in German news reports, although there has been a certain tendency toward individualization of victims in the past (terms like “die kleine Jessica” and “Kevin im Kühlschrank”, all referring to cases of ‘homicide by neglect’, are media names that everybody will remember). Still, that’s first names, not full names.

On the Sun’s site, they prsented full names along with a victim’s major subject or position within the faculty. 15 victims were depicted with photographs. And what I find even more disturbing is that they also included links to the personal websites, blogs or myspace pages that some of them had.

I resisted the urge of clicking those links. I kind of find it indecent, like a forced resurrection.* I feel like the victims, in their death, would deserve not to be exposed a big last time to the gawkers worldwide.

I suppose there are people who have different views on that.

*) I’ve always wondered what would happen to all those email accounts and blogs and web services of people who died.


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  1. though they don’t just post it in the tabloids but also on ‘respected’ sites, e.g. the BBC site.

    the facebook etc. memorials (article here: remind me a bit of the world-wide mourning and tributes when Diana died in 1997.

  2. An even bigger problem for me at this point is the beginning media hunt for the shooter’s parents, who wisely left their home prior to the media onslaught that even repeatedly broadcast an interview with their mailman. The latest talk focuses on the fact that their neighbors did not really know them (which obviously must mean something bad, right?). I for one do not know a single one of my neighbors and they do not know me. Watch out!

  3. While I was in Toronto ,busy in my work, with little access to Internet, this tragedy happened. It’s only now that Iam able to read in detail about the whole thing. My younger brother works 15 minutes away from virginia tech campus. I have asked him to not to move around alone in the evenings. Although the killer was south korean, it’s likely that after a tragedy of this magnitude, an anti immigrant feeling floats around in the minds of few impressionable people. A similar shoot out happened last year at Dawson college in Montreal where 2 people were killed. Ironically, at the time of that incident, I was also 10 minutes away from that site
    Whatever happened defies any logical explanation. Why would a guy – bit different and reserved, but still deemed fit enough to live in civilized society- go to these horrendous extremes for hardly any reason.? Have we understood dynamics of human mind? No, I dont think so..This incident is a painful reminder to us that we hardly understand the world we live in and the people who inhabit it.
    I think we as a society have to grow further and try to understand more that why a guy like that committed this inhuman act. How could we make sure that we understand and empathize with those people around us who are not happy with life. In this case, how grossly we underestimated the derangement of a seemingly normal person’s mind. Was it not responsibility of ” developed” society ( Including his family), where he lived in, to have done more effort to know him better ?
    Iam pretty sure that after this incident US will have a hard look at it’s existing gun laws. I really hope that they should not need one more incident to think hard about it.

    In the end, my heart goes out for families of those killed. Iam just unable to get this incident out of my mind..Why did it happen to those young bright kids who were looking forward to a great life..what was their fault? Each moment of my life, I have consciously or unconsciously tried to make sense out of things happening around me..that ,why certain things happen..and like many times before, Iam confused and all heart broken.. I wish I could share the sorrow and suffering of those mothers,fathers and siblings who were waiting for these kids to come home this summer. God, if you are there, please give them courage to face these hard times.

  4. Oh dear… statistically impossible, you would think, that two brothers could be around such sites of tragedy… good that nothing happened to you!

    Regarding with this happens – I tend to simply assume (and probably simplify things) that he (and similar people) simply went mad. Psychotic episode. I am rather worried by the fact that our culture offers so many narratives that can serve as a role model, to be taken up by the troubled mind when it snaps. Shudder….

    And, as you seem to suggesting, the answer to this tragedy cannot be in in public punishment, but there is a need for the reintegration of the many that are living on the margins of society.

    I REALLY hope that the US do something about their gun control (although the reviews and survey I had a look at so far don’t seem to suggest that people think it’s a problem with guns getting into anyone’s hands… they blame the media rather… but it wouldn’t be such a problem of people went mad for a while if they didn’t have access to guns… you can buy guns in a supermarket… incredible)

  5. What you said about narratives like this serving as role model is so true. That’s really a shuddering thought.

    P.S. I just saw your comment on my blog..I will reply now

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