Joss Delage

Major shooting at Virginia Tech this AM

106 posts in this topic

I hope everyone here is well and not directly impacted by this criminal rampage.

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Objectivist professor Shoshana Knapp teaches at Virginia Tech; I sent her an email to check if she's ok. If anybody gets confirmation of that please post it here.

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Objectivist professor Shoshana Knapp teaches at Virginia Tech; I sent her an email to check if she's ok. If anybody gets confirmation of that please post it here.

I haven't heard back from her by e-mail, and the phone lines are tied up. But the shootings all took place in the dorm and in the engineering building, whereas Shoshana teaches in the English department, so I think she must be okay. But I'm sure she'll feel devastated, as any sane person would at such madness. From the sketchy news reports, I surmise that the killer was an engineering student who went postal -- but I could well be wrong. We'll doubtless see a lot more on the nightly news, and days and weeks of (mostly futile) attempts to analyze it.

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Are school shootings a phenomena that has developed on in the last 15 or so years? I had never heard anything about them before until they started happening all the time in the 90's.

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Objectivist professor Shoshana Knapp teaches at Virginia Tech; I sent her an email to check if she's ok. If anybody gets confirmation of that please post it here.

Yes, and I certainly wish to find out for sure if Professor Milgram (Knapp) is all right; coincidentally, I'm currently listening to her lectures on the film-directing of Alfred Hitchcock. If anyone hears anything, will you please let me know? Thank you.

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I think FORUM member egochick goes to Virginia Tech (or at least that's what it says on her myspace profile). For those who know her: is this true, and if so have you heard from her?

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Are school shootings a phenomena that has developed on in the last 15 or so years? I had never heard anything about them before until they started happening all the time in the 90's.

Not exactly new. Charles Whitman, the Texas Tower sniper, killed 16 people at the University of Texas, in 1966. But this latest seems on the face of it to be part of a greater epidemic that also includes workplace shootings and deadly road rage incidents. Because the first workplace killings involved postal workers, "going postal" has become a catchphrase for all such occurrences.

Somebody once told me that the Post Office hired a lot of stressed-out Vietman vets, but I've since read that the murder rate is lower in post offices than at, say, retail stores. And the killers at Columbine and other schools and workplaces certainly weren't soldiers suffering post-traumatic stress. Chances are the shooter at Virginia Tech wasn't, either -- more likely the typical case of a loner who thought the whole world or at least the whole community he inhabited was against him and wanted to "get even."

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I have been watching various different news channels and I am getting sick and tired of everyone (from news anchors to the president of Virginia Tech) calling this a tragedy. No one has called the killer a rotten evil bastard.

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Just heard from Shoshana. She's okay.

But it turns out that if the massacre had happened tomorrow, she'd have been teaching in a building right next to Norris Hall, the engineering building where most of the people were killed. It seems that there aren't any classrooms in the English department, so literature classes like hers are conducted all over the place, wherever they can find room.

Shoshana also said it's still possible there were two different shooters, at the dorm and at Norris Hall. There'd been bomb threats to Norris Hall last week, and it's possible that somebody else shot up the dorm, and the bomb threat guy then decided it was a good day to die and made his move. The Norris Hall shootings were two hours later, and university authorities did a poor job of warning people -- a lot of students didn't know about the dorm shootings until the classroom shootings began. The shooter there, incidentally, chained the doors shut to keep people from escaping. But because the building is used for both engineering and non-engineering classes, it's uncertain which was being targeted. At this point they're still trying to identify the shooter, who blew his face off and didn't carry any ID. And, of course, the victims aren't being identified until their families can be notified.

Where do monsters like this come from? The same place as Raskolnikov, I suppose.

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I got in contact with egochick as soon as I heard about it and I have confirmed that she is ok.

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Just heard from Shoshana. She's okay.The Norris Hall shootings were two hours later, and university authorities did a poor job of warning people -- a lot of students didn't know about the dorm shootings until the classroom shootings began. The shooter there, incidentally, chained the doors shut to keep people from escaping.

I was just discussing this with an Objectivist friend on the phone, and a lot of this story doesn't make sense.

First off, I agree that the University and Police did a terrible job of warning people about this. Could you imagine getting up and walking to class at 9:30am not knowing that two people had been shot dead on your campus two hours earlier, and that the shooter hadn't been captured? And then throw in the fact that they warned students by sending out an email at 8am for god's sake! What college students get up bright and early just to check the email? And this is not even mentioning that if their email service is anything like it is here at Texas Tech, the University probably sends emails on a daily basis full of amazingly not important information that virtually all students just delete on the spot.

The University bungled this very badly. I think a proper response would have been to call all the RA's of the dorms in the morning, and get them to wake up the students to inform them what happened, and advise them to stay inside until the matter was resolved.

But what doesn't make sense is how on earth this guy managed to padlock all the doors to an Engineering building in broad daylight, while carrying enough ammo to be able to shoot 50+ people. That is something that just shouldn't go unnoticed.

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I was just discussing this with an Objectivist friend on the phone, and a lot of this story doesn't make sense.

First off, I agree that the University and Police did a terrible job of warning people about this. Could you imagine getting up and walking to class at 9:30am not knowing that two people had been shot dead on your campus two hours earlier, and that the shooter hadn't been captured? And then throw in the fact that they warned students by sending out an email at 8am for god's sake! What college students get up bright and early just to check the email? And this is not even mentioning that if their email service is anything like it is here at Texas Tech, the University probably sends emails on a daily basis full of amazingly not important information that virtually all students just delete on the spot.

The University bungled this very badly. I think a proper response would have been to call all the RA's of the dorms in the morning, and get them to wake up the students to inform them what happened, and advise them to stay inside until the matter was resolved.

But what doesn't make sense is how on earth this guy managed to padlock all the doors to an Engineering building in broad daylight, while carrying enough ammo to be able to shoot 50+ people. That is something that just shouldn't go unnoticed.

Moreover, they did a better job last fall when an escaped convict shot people on campus. You'd think they'd have known to do the same today. I suspect some heads are going to roll over this.

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I suspect some heads are going to roll over this.

I think heads do deserve to roll for this: having people call the individual dorms to alert the students in-person about what was going on would have taken virtually zero effort, and could have saved the lives of over 30 people.

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I think heads do deserve to roll for this: having people call the individual dorms to alert the students in-person about what was going on would have taken virtually zero effort, and could have saved the lives of over 30 people.

The school officials said they did lock down the dorm where the first two were killed, but did not know it would go beyond that. They said they used email and all other electronic means they had to notify the residents of the dorm affected. They said they had to make a choice whether people would be safer staying in the dorms versus classrooms and decided there was no safety reason to stay in the dorms -- they said they had no reason to think it was more than an isolated incident so I suppose they didn't think it necessary to evacuate the whole campus and prevent the thousands from off campus from coming in. Maybe they decided to not directly notify everyone in the morning in order to avoid a mass panic over something they didn't expect to happen later, regarding it as "news" that would reach everyone in the normal way.

Of course now that it has happened "heads will roll" even if it turns out they used good judgment under the circumstances. With that many victims there will be multiple law suits and a lot more. The school officials must feel terrible about it.

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If any head should roll, it is that of one Larry Hincker, the PR flak for Virginia Tech.

Responding to the defeat of a bill to allow holders of Virginia concealed carry permits to legally enter the Virginia Tech campus still armed:

I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel (emphasis mine, HH) safe on our campus.

And responding to its proposal, apparently after a previous shooting incident:

I once worked for an out-of-touch manager who gave rather absurd directions. My colleagues and I would do as directed and dubbed it "malicious compliance," knowing the task to be inane and the manager's foibles would soon be apparent.

The editors of this page must have printed this commentary if for no other reason than malicious compliance. Surely, they scratched their heads saying, "I can't believe he really wants to say that."

Wiles tells us that he didn't feel (emphasis mine, HH) safe with the hundreds of highly trained officers armed with high powered rifles encircling the building and protecting him. He even implies that he needed his sidearm to protect himself against the officers.

Notice the smug argument from intimidation. And the idea of an individual trusting his or her own judgement versus those of the government appointed "professionals" is somehow dangerous? The welfare state meets personal self defense, and at Virginia Tech we see the same result in that sphere of life as we will under socialized medical care.

The whole articles are here and here.

Bah! I am going to have to squeeze off hundreds if not thousands of rounds at my local shooting ranges, and soon, to work off my frustrations about this...

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I hope everyone here is well and not directly impacted by this criminal rampage.

Of course my sympathies on this one. Just a point from across the pond ~ you will no doubt get the 'gun control' lobby making noise.

The BBC today has covered the story in a disgraceful tone, suggesting that lax gun controls laws are at fault, and you should follow our ludicrous example of banning everyone in site from gun ownership, (including the British Olympic single shot pistol team from practising in controlled circumstances!).

The streets of London are nonetheless awash with automatic weapons, so the honest law abiding people are disarmed, whilst the state and violent criminals acquire ever more deadly weapons including in recent seizures, AK-47's Uzi's and Mac-10's along with any number of handguns.

So desperate, criminal and tragic though this clearly is, banning guns is not the solution.

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Those poor people, the scenario of what to do in a classroom when a gunner is approaching it is so frightening to even to begin contemplating.

I guess you have two choices, barricade the door good and proper, or, if you have easy access to the outside because it's a ground floor room, leave.

The suicidally brave may contemplate tackling the guy when he's reloading. I probably wouldn't.

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I guess you have two choices, barricade the door good and proper, or, if you have easy access to the outside because it's a ground floor room, leave.

The suicidally brave may contemplate tackling the guy when he's reloading. I probably wouldn't.

There were indeed cases of people blocking doors -- in one case with a table, in another just by leaning on it -- thereby saving themselves and others. They were the heroes.

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The suicidally brave may contemplate tackling the guy when he's reloading. I probably wouldn't.

Beats standing around waiting to be shot. Are you suggesting that standing around waiting to be shot is not suidical in that context?

In any case, if any of the students or profs had been armed - or if the school had any armed guards (and why not, in this age?) - the shooter would not have been able to so easily perpetrate his act. On a microscale it reflects what's happening to America globally - waiting to be picked off by the next random, determined killer (e.g. Iran) because of a fear to undertake a real defense.

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Beats standing around waiting to be shot. Are you suggesting that standing around waiting to be shot is not suidical in that context?

In any case, if any of the students or profs had been armed - or if the school had any armed guards (and why not, in this age?) - the shooter would not have been able to so easily perpetrate his act. On a microscale it reflects what's happening to America globally - waiting to be picked off by the next random, determined killer (e.g. Iran) because of a fear to undertake a real defense.

No, I was suggesting a barrier/barricade approach or bailing out would have been my preferred options. But right enough, if it came down to a choice between die or take the guy on, I would like to think I’d take the guy on.

That said, I’ve seen black & white footage of Jews being killed by the Einsatzgruppen early in the war (before the Nazis introduced mass gassings) whereby they’d be run down to the pit and shot, and they didn’t resist. So one wonders if there is some kind of psychological paralysis that goes on in such circumstances.

With respect, I think trying to draw parallels between this event, without a full knowledge of why it happened at this early stage, and Iran, is frankly, preposterous.

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That said, I’ve seen black & white footage of Jews being killed by the Einsatzgruppen early in the war (before the Nazis introduced mass gassings) whereby they’d be run down to the pit and shot, and they didn’t resist. So one wonders if there is some kind of psychological paralysis that goes on in such circumstances.

I think it depends on the culture. European Jews in the 1930s let themselves be murdered en masse. The survivors, and other Jews, later went on to found Israel with the motto "Never again". Unfortunately, altruism within Israel and altruistic pressure from the U.S. have severely undercut their ability to truly deal with their enemies.

Regarding recent events and America's posture wrt Iran, my comparison is abstract, based on similar principles at work. A hundred years ago, the equivalent of 9/11 would have led to the righteous annihilation of the offending country (if the technology were available) by America; and a hundred years ago, I do not believe that a school of American students would have let themselves be murdered at will, they probably would have instantly fought to physically overpower the lone shooter. But this is 2007, and that America is nearly dead.

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Are school shootings a phenomena that has developed on in the last 15 or so years? I had never heard anything about them before until they started happening all the time in the 90's.

Every time there's one of these shootings, I ask myself that why these events, in which some evil person decides to go on a rampage of mass-murder, are happening now.

It sometimes seems as if I live in a different country today than when I was in high school and college in the 1970's. Back then, the thought of my being a potential victim of a schoolyard mass-murder never even entered my mind. So to me, it's a big contrast.

The question of why they're more common now was once the topic of discussion on Leonard Peikoff's radio show. (It would be worth trying to get, if recordings of those old shows are available.) Here's what I remember from the discussion, in answer to the question of why there are schoolyard shootings today:

1. There's less respect for individual rights, and even for human rights at all. For instance, listen to the environmentalists tell us that people don't have any more rights than rats, bugs, trees, weeds, or even rock formations. And observe, due to the moraility of altruism, the readiness to attack any successful person - to deprive him of the values he's worked for, almost as if his life is of no consequence.

2. Emotionalism - the readiness to use one's emotions as tools of knowledge, and to act on them without rational consideration. If somebody's angry, he feels that something is "not fair." He's been told all his life to follow his emotions and that his reason is impotent. So if he feels that something is unfair, it must mean that it really is unfair - that's all he needs to know to take action.

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I think it depends on the culture. European Jews in the 1930s let themselves be murdered en masse.

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I strongly object to this wording. Any implication that these victims were responsible in any way for their own death is outrageous. None of them knew they were going to be killed. They were demoralized and starved to near death.

As for those who think that charging a man with a gun is a good idea, there aren't too many people with that history who are alive to tell us what their thinking was at the time.

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The school officials said they did lock down the dorm where the first two were killed, but did not know it would go beyond that. They said they used email and all other electronic means they had to notify the residents of the dorm affected. They said they had to make a choice whether people would be safer staying in the dorms versus classrooms and decided there was no safety reason to stay in the dorms -- they said they had no reason to think it was more than an isolated incident so I suppose they didn't think it necessary to evacuate the whole campus and prevent the thousands from off campus from coming in. Maybe they decided to not directly notify everyone in the morning in order to avoid a mass panic over something they didn't expect to happen later, regarding it as "news" that would reach everyone in the normal way.

I think telling the students to stay in their dorms would sure beat having them walk around all over campus when there is literally an armed killer loose. I just can't imagine a University not canceling class when they have had a mysterious shooter kill two people and injure multiple others in a campus dorm, and he still hadn't been caught and was roaming around on campus. Surely it would have been better just to get all the students living on campus to stay in their dorms and lock the doors, and then send campus police officers to the major parking lots with megaphones telling students to go back home.

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