Monday, April 23, 2007

Grief and Anger

For the past week, I've been struggling to write my thoughts about the killings at Virginia Tech. The massive media coverage hasn't helped. Instead of gaining any kind of clarity, I've become angrier and angrier, listening as everyone with an agenda and a soapbox hijacks this tragedy and twists it to suit his or her own ends. We’ve heard endless “reasons” for Seung-Hui Cho’s actions: video games, legalized abortion, gun control, not enough gun control, school bullying, liberalism, the Devil.

Seung-Hui Cho was mentally ill. Were there other factors that led him to shoot 32 people? Probably. But none of those factors made Cho psychotic. His mental illness made him psychotic. Psychosis is not a product of society. It’s not an “excuse.” It’s a product of brain chemistry, a biological disorder.

But people want someone to blame. And they adore pointing fingers. So the eagerness to politicize this tragedy, and ignore the bare fact of its cause, is not surprising. But it is reprehensible. If we truly want to prevent this from happening again, we must focus on the issue at hand—mental illness—and how best to get treatment and help to those who need it.

My heart goes out to the families of the murdered, and to Cho’s family, who lost their boy before he ever picked up a gun.


Walter Rowntree said...

Thank you for seeing through all the media fog. If others would see as clearly as you do the articles in all the news magazines would be a lot shorter.
And congratulations on the first anniversary of your blogging! You, Chris, are a hip, savvy individual.

Mary Witzl said...

There is something about a national tragedy that seems to make people want to get up on their hind legs and seize the spotlight. It is not one of my favorite things about the human race.

You are right, of course: the boy was ill, and his illness led him to do what he did. I would say that poor gun control and his ability to quickly accumulate an arsenal made his crime much easier, but the focus should be on better mental health care.

nancorbett said...

...hijacks this tragedy and twists it to suit his or her own ends

Yes. I was thinking the same thing. When tragedies happen, we long to pull together, but the vultures always seem to thwart the grief process.

I saw your comment on Miss Snark's site today and followed your link. It's nice to know of someone who made it out of the slush pile. I have written a YA novel which has graced several slush piles at this point. I'm working on my second novel while sending out the first.

Thanks for your comments.