Nick's Journal
2007-04-17 22:39:19 (UTC)

Great Tragedy

well i had meant for this journal entry to detail all of the
sordid goings-on during john's bachelor's party and
subsequent wedding. but when at the end of a monday your
alma mater is involved in a headline which mentions,
"largest shooting rampage in u.s. history", it's kind of
hard to focus on the good times.
i was actually getting ready to fly back to law school,
ready to indulge myself in nothing but law and memos for the
next 3 weeks as finals approached; when my brother called us
at home saying that he had just been told to, "get the fuck
back in your dorm!" by a cop carrying a semi-automatic rifle.
within about 5 minutes we saw the news on the news. the
usual consternation that follows such a harrowing event just
unfolded all too slowly and painfully.
as is the case with such monumental news stories the
information just never comes out fast enough. as i watched
the news with my dad and mom it was truly maddening what
little information you got.
the worst portion of it all was that i had to get into an
airplane. that vacuum of time and space, where absolutely
no current event touches you for a set period of time. my
mom and i ate a tasteless applebee's lunch at the airport
constantly glancing up at the tv screens, all of which were
tuned to one hysterical reporter or another, not really
giving you more information, but nevertheless fueling the
story with his own emotion.
5 minutes before my flight left i was still watching cnn and
their 'developing coverage' hoping that it would give me
something new.
yet everytime i looked at the scrreen and saw virginia tech,
all those buildings that i had frequented, all those kids
dressed the same as i, walking down the same paths as i, and
looking a lot like i looked at 911; i couldn't help but feel
this chill roll down my spine and my stomach twist into a knot.
as i sat on my first flight, i was so fidgety i thought i
was going to go insane. a mix of emotions ran through me
like lightning. circulating up and down my body were
thoughts like, 'why tech?', 'is there a second gun man
somewhere else?', and just in general 'what the fuck is
giong on?'.
by the time i had gotten to o'hare the screen showed 31 dead
at virginia tech with gunman.
i swear i almost threw up right then and there. i called my
brother for maybe the 4th time only to hear that there
really wasn't anything new and that he was still in his dorm
on my second flight i read almost 300 pages of collapse by
jared diamond. i had to preoccupy myself as much as
possible and i tore through that book in a frenzy.
by the time i finally arrived at home most of the story had
my phone contained a dozen messages, my e-mail box was
filled with concern, and the television was blaring
something at me that seemed so surreal i seriously thought
that it was all a bad dream.
yet when i woke up today and stared into the eyes of the guy
who mowed down 31 people, i realized that this was anything
but a dream. this was just a real life nightmare.
this whole day i have tried to do what i did in the plane.
just bury myself in work, but my mind wouldn't let me.
somehow, supplementary jurisdiction is just the furthest
thing from my mind right now.
as far as i know this is a 'done deal'. there is no second
shooter, and my alma mater will forever be remembered as
'the scene of the worst shooting rampage in u.s. history'.
i just want to put this behind me, it's been driving me
crazy. i guess partially i just want to be able to do
something, to change the past as i wanted to do after 911.
but there is absoultely nothing i can do.
what i need to do is be thankful. thankful that my brother
is alive, because out of all of this, that is really the
only thing that matters.
the tarnish that the name virginia tech will now have is
nothing compared to the gratitude i feel that i still have
my brother.
in retrospect i learned a lot of things about this whole
ordeal. first and foremost i hate fox news. what a bunch
of assholes. not only do they talk like a bunch of reporter literally said the following to
"well, you know...these kids, they just got a lot of beef.
you know? he was probably beefing with one kid in his dorm
and then just wilded out."
this came from a white man, who looked like he had a stick
up his ass, in an armani suit. ugh!!!
and then when they found out the shooter was probably asian
they really lost it.
all of a sudden they were all fucking convinced that this
goes to show that immigrants have to 'assimilate' and this
is the consequence if they don't.
god fuck you guys. seriously.
and i hate lou dobbs too. that jowly mother fucker makes
everything into some sort of abstract academic issue which
he hopes to pin on some right winger.
when i was watching him in o'hare i just felt homicidal.
the way he painted the issue as some sort of ephemereal
experience from which we could all learn succeeded in
draining any sort of human element from the tragedy. i
don't expect news anchors who see this shit everyday to show
emotion, but at least don't drain it from the situation
itself and try to repackage it as some sort of history lesson.
as i read about the guy who shot everyone i just felt
despondence. hatred was burning inside of me at him, but a
certain despondence radiated over me.
how do you stop someone like him?
i believe in evolutionary biology (i'm acting like it's a
freakin' religion with that word 'believe') and i just think
that some people are chemically predisposed to do these
there is just no way i could conceivably go out there,
murder 31 people and hten shoot myself. no matter what
happens to me, i just can't conceive it. i could never do
it. no matter how depressed or angry, i could never murder
innocence people.
i can fabricate a multitude of reasons i dislike people in
my journal entries, but i could never fathom actually
killing someone based on my dislike.
it just reminds me of an argument i had with my crim law
professor, when i was aruging that child molestors/rapists
have a chemical imbalance which justifies 'melissa's law' or
whatever it's called that requires them to be registered.
my crim law professor was saying that you can't base these
things on brain chemistry because it creates an
overinclusive class.
for example, some schizos go out and kill but not all.
however, i don't think that he is right in that he focuses
on the exceptions in cases rather than the norm. and
furthermore, even given that the norm is the exception the
risk which that may pose should be taken into account.
which of course leads me to the last part. unlike fox news
i don't like shouting verdicts right away and i am even more
unwilling because i hold tech in such high esteem...but they
fucked up.
the fucked up royally.
apparently the first shooting occurred at 7 am or so in a
dormitory at the other end of campus. my brother called us
around 10 am and apparently the second shooting occurred
around 9 am or so.
that means, that for 2 hours, students were unaware that
there was a shooting and a potential shooter on campus. the
university explained it away thinking it was either a
domestic dispute or a murder/suicide and that the gunman had
'probably left campus'.
jesus christ. first of all. you have to take every
precuation possible here. i grant that you can't reach
eveyr student but that is in no way an excuse to not try.
second of all, empty the classrooms! the second a shooting
occurs, irregardless of what it may be classified as, you
have to assume the gunman is on campus and fucking crazy as
was the case here.
this way, if all classes had been emptied and you now have
somewhere around 2 people per dorm, do yolu really think
this type of massacre could have occurred?
the whole point of emptying classrooms is to minimize risk
exposure and casualties!
i am in no way advocating that the university should have
caught the guy right away, but the simple precaution of
announcing all classes cancelled and a lockdown is not only
the simplest thing to do, but as is now evident, the utmost
that's what infuriates me the most. i think that this could
have at least been minimized. i'm not saying it could have
been prevented, but so many people did not have to die if
the university had simply cancelled classes and called for a
lockdown in the dorms.
well what can i do now? i feel like i should do something,
but i have to let this go. the only thing which i can do
personally is to write this off as a lesson learned and
another sick feeling in my stomach. but i don't want
'Virginia Tech' to now conjure up the same feelings as '9-11'
this was my school, this is my brother's school now.
for my sake, i am going to let the real image of virginia
tech predominate at the end of all of this.
the feeling of sunshine baking my back as i sat in front of
my dorm with dave, luke, ryan, john, and keith, while we
made fun of everyone who walked by.
the feeling of 4 seasons all in one day, making me course
any voyage across the drillfield as i would start out
freezing cold and sweaty and wet at the other end.
the great football team and the roar of the drunken fans,
all a part of who i was.
the two colors which i found disgusting at first (maroon and
orange) and now i have come to associate with the lively
smell of fall leaves, apple pie, and the hokie bird himself.
the place where i first met juliann, fell in love with her,
and spent many nights walking with her through the night,
gazing up at stars and talking with her about anything and
as i sit here writing down just glimpses of memories i
recall from my time there i am starting to realize that the
friendships i made, the great times i had, and the love i
feel for one of the most beautiful places on this earth just
makes me realize that this is a time not to feel sick when i
see or hear 'Virginia Tech'...but that i should feel
grateful to no end that my brother is with me, and that i am
one of many Hokies who must strap these memories to his
heart and make sure that 'Virginia Tech' is known for it's
triumphs and not its tragedies.