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Reality Check

What happened at Virginia Tech is simply scary. Why does it seem that so many incidents of major violence occur at places of learning (whether it be colleges or high schools)? At least, that’s how it seems to me. Since I work in academia, maybe it’s just that I can relate to it a bit more. I mean, in some ways I can see it happening to me since I’m in a similar environment day in, day out.

Then again, maybe such murders take place in suburban office parks and hospitals, too, but I just don’t remember them since that isn’t my life? I don’t know. I suppose it’s all about association.

Then again, how does that explain my irrational fear of fast food restaurants? Yep, you heard me…I can’t enter a fast food restaurant without thinking I could get gunned down. I guess it’s a good thing that I don’t like fast food and go years without entering a Mickey-D’s or BK. And during the rare instances that I do go (usually road trips) I’ll either use the drive-thru or request that we eat on the road and not in the restaurant. There must have been a fast food mass-murder over the past 20 years to put that thought into my head.

Anyway, as expected, the media is running with the Virginia Tech murders and putting the stupidest people on the news. This morning I witnessed a woman from Texas (natch) who said this wouldn’t have happened if we had LESS strict gun laws (as a side note, her parents were shot to death in Killeen, TX back in 1966). She believes that guns SHOULD be in public high schools and post offices and anywhere else people want to carry them and believes gun murders only happen in places where there are gun restrictions (she’s a concealed weapons advocate – if you can’t tell).

I think that’s the WORST idea. Our public school teachers are over-worked and under-paid. If anybody is going to crack under pressure some day – it’s them. And they aren’t any less flawed than any other person (hence the occurances of teachers having sex with students….teachers make bad decisions, too). The last thing we need is for them to have access to weapons in their class room. We also don’t need STUDENTS having access to the weapon (how hard would it be for a few kids to sneak up on the teacher and steal the gun?).

Ugh – I don’t know. Coincidentally, when Mark was here last weekend we were talking about murder rates. In Paris, the murder rate (not necesasrily by gun) was 2 per 100,000. In recent years Boston is hovering around 12 per 100,000…and we’re one of the safer cities in this country! I know crime happens everywhere, but for this Texan to claim that gun violence happens only in places where guns aren’t allowed is ludicrous.

Ok – I’m off my soapbox. I need a drink.


  1. Comment by Lise on April 17, 2007 1:58 pm

    Fear of FF restuarants? Karl, you need therapy…oh wait…. Seriously, there have been a few in them (and postal offices) so it’s not a TOTALLY irrational fear. The biggest one after yesterday’s was in the 70s in Texas (a Lubby’s or some odd place) and that was one of the first major ones in general (not counting Charlie Starkweather years before on campus in TX). I bet that one as a kid made a big impression on you. There was another pretty big on in a McDs in California also. How American – fast food and guns.

  2. Comment by chrispy on April 17, 2007 7:46 pm

    (read with grain of sarcasm) oh come on cut her some slack, shes from texas, its a different country for chrissakes. wild west and all, think iraq on a smaller scale…everybody run, the nerdy guys got a gun. i think fearing the quiet nerd is the next big thing. oh wait you have a few of those at harvard eh? just teasing!

    it does seem though that we do have fewer and fewer places to feel safe, or at least some semblance of safety.

  3. Comment by Karl on April 18, 2007 8:13 am

    “the nerdy guys got a gun”…all I could think of was the Julie Brown song about the homecoming queen having a gun. Classic.

    I’ve always feared the loner/nerdy type (Columbine, campus shootings, Dahmer). In the past few years it always seems like it’s that profile. Wait – I’m that loner/nerdy type….

  4. Comment by Fred on April 18, 2007 1:47 pm

    “Quiet….keeps to himself…” But nobody ever cites these guys being self-aware or having a sense of humor, so I think we needn’t worry about ye, Karl! As to Phast Phood Phobia, it probably comes from that big Mickey D’s massacre when we were kids, I agree with Lise – I remember some (actually fun and rather hot) punk guys in my boarding school who made a few extra bucks of some (tasteless, but that was the point…they were punks…) tshirts they made up with bloody bullet holes over the golden arches reading “McMassacre” in McDonald’s font. Personally, I feel that kinda phobia every time I go into a Quickie Mart of whatever stripe – that comes of having lived in the Pacific NW and having driven across the west to get there – people are forever gunning everyone down with a sawed-off shotgun for $25 and a can of Skoal in such places, both in reality AND the movies…ugh! And, yeah, Texas IS a whole ‘nuther country…alas, they gave us our president through some vile trickery…. I vote we send him back ASAP… As to schools, well, think about it – they’re pressure-cookers of thousands of hormone-cases…everyone’s a bit crazy at that age, but most of us weren’t certifiable and had some decent grounding and peer pressure to reel us back in….

    Very scary, though, I agree…I wouldn’t worry TOO much in your quiet Harvard Law office, though…big lecture theatres and front offices would be far scarier/more likely to be targeted…and very few Harvard students would know anything about guns or where to get them, which is incredibly difficult to do in Massachusetts, anyway….as opposed to in Virginia, where, hey, this kid bought the gun legally – had a green card, seemed a respectable college student, and had no felonies at that point.

    People are dangerous animals, alas!

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