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body count at VA Tech

April 21st, 2007 by dk

Let’s keep track of the body count at the Virginia Tech tragedy, OK? Is the number 32 or 33? Is the shooter, who eventually killed himself, counted among the dead? Counted among the victims? Counted as part of the tragedy?

Or are we subtly being told that the first 32 dead represent the bad news and the last fatality is somehow good news? As if he saved us the trouble of killing him for retribution. As if he was less human, his life was less valuable, he was not one of us.

If we were more willing to sympathize with the killer, would NBC have been less tempted to show the tapes that glorified him? If others are desperate to stand out, to be noticed, to be set apart, do we dare them to follow Cho when we count his death separately from the other 32?

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  • 1 billthepoet May 2, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    I love dk’s work, and usually have no trouble finding common ground with my own views, but this one challenges me.

    Should the perpetrators be counted among the dead in print stories as dk suggests?

    Jeez, maybe, but it’s hard to think of a situation where that makes any sense.

    Should smaller but tragic “murder-suicide” stories be reported as “death-death” stories? Yeah, sorry, no.

    I think it’s fair and important to segregate the evil-doer from the victims.

    I remember a Paula Poundstone comedy bit about a Surhan-Surhan (sp?) parole hearing. He said that he thought Bobby Kennedy would have supported his parole, and Paula observed, “The one guy on the planet thinks he should go free, and [forehead smack] he kills him.”

    That said, I don’t think dk’s reaching out to an angry liberal English major at VaTech just to be mischievous. So I continue to search for common ground….

    Were there 3000 + 19 victims of 9/11? 3000 WTC/Pentagon/PA victims, yes. The 19 hijackers, nope.

    At what scale does dk’s thought exercise strike a chord?

    The mankind scale works. Is original sin real? Does Darkness own or threaten the hearts and souls of all men?

    Yes, and yes.

    So I can find common ground with dk. Of course I can’t talk about it at work or school, or I’ll flunk, get thrown out or sued.

    What a country!