A Futile Search for Answers at Virginia Tech Begins

On September 13, 2006, a troubled young man named Kimveer Gill opened fire students in Montreal’s Dawson College, killing a young woman named Anastasia De Sousa.

After police officers engaged him, he shot himself in the head. Another school shooting rampage had ended, and the search for answers – and the quest to assign blame – began.

Today we are back at the same tragic place. The terrible killings at Virginia Tech ended just hours ago, and already at least one “expert” is pointing to violent video games as the culprit, even though nothing is known about the shooter (or shooters) right now.

Violence on television, in film, and even on newscasts is also sure to be criticized once again, as the Ottawa Sun’s Michael Harris did in the aftermath of Dawson, writing that “Hollywood is an island floating on a pool of blood” and that the pertinent question for video game players considering committing violent acts is not “why”, but “why not?”

The gun industry will also come under increased scrutiny, although it has weathered these incidents many times before.

Some people are even arguing that if Virginia Tech was not a gun-free zone, that if students were allowed to carry weapons on campus, they would have been able to defend themselves and lives would have been saved.

And then there will be the endless examination of the perpetrator’s psyche, his past, his motivations, his upbringing or lack thereof, and all of the other countless factors that go into creating a human being.

In the end there will only be more questions. The friends and family of the victims will have those too, and they will also have a terrible measure of pain and loss.

Soon we will think as little of this event as we do about Anastasia now. And then it will happen all over again, because nothing will have changed much in the meantime.

Even if definite answers are found, established interests will prevent action from being taken. It’s a truism that every school shooting involves guns, but guns are a constitutionally-protected sacred cow in America, and Harper’s Conservatives are dismantling the long gun registry in Canada.

Measures to limit violent entertainment will be equally controversial. In fact, I can’t think of a single frequently-cited “reason” for these rampages that is likely to be implemented, or guaranteed to have success if it were.

Humans are imperfect and complex creatures. Human societies are even more imperfect and complex. People kill each other for a million different reasons, it seems.

If we were serious about fixing this problem, there’s really only one way to do it: take all of the best, most-cited, most reasonable and most likely to work ideas and implement them all at once.

Meanwhile, we should tell our loved ones how much we appreciate them, and renew our determination to do whatever it takes to make the world a bit of a better place.


Think Globally, Act Locally

If you’re reading this at any time close to the time of writing – April 11, 2007 – there’s a good chance you’re one of the people who used to come here pretty regularly. And if you’re one of those people, you know that the volume of posts here on this blog is not what it used to be.

There are a few reasons for that, including impending fatherhood and the sudden demise of the business I formerly co-owned (my lawyer has advised me to refrain from getting into the details surrounding that demise, so all I will say is that it wasn’t my fault). But one of the major reasons is I’ve shifted focus from writing here to writing for Raise the Hammer.

Writing for RTH continues to be a satisfying experience. I love writing posts here, and it’s my hope that when things settle down a little, I can get back into the rhythm of blogging. Blogging is a freer experience than writing for RTH, since RTH’s focus is more on urban issues, and more on local issues, while here I can write about whatever I want.

On the other hand, writing for RTH is in some ways a more meaningful experience. I greatly appreciate readers of this blog and the dialogue we engage in.

However, writing on just one of the many millions of blogs that are out there is akin to shouting from the bleachers of a football stadium: the people sitting next to you can’t help but notice your yelling, and they may even be slightly annoyed with you, but the course of the game and the opinions of the spectators remain unaffected.

I believe that Raise the Hammer, however, has a genuine impact on Hamilton. I know that we are able to get the attention of some Hamiltonians, some city councillors and even the mayor, and there’s an ongoing conversation with Hamiltonians that is hugely rewarding.

Had someone told me a few months ago that at some point I’d be sitting in city hall, having a meeting with the mayor and two of his aides, I’d have laughed. But Ryan, the editor of RTH, contacted the mayor’s office shortly after he was elected, and not long afterwards we were having a relaxed conversation with him about Raise the Hammer and his agenda for his term in office.

This all sums up to that famous activist phrase, “Think globally, act locally.” As a blogger writing about international events, I’m just one of millions. As a citizen of Hamilton writing about local affairs, I’m one of thousands or maybe even hundreds. Better odds, better audience.

So if you miss reading my posts, maybe you’ll enjoy the writing on Raise the Hammer instead. I wrote an article for the new issue called As Spring Arrives, Perennial Issues and Guerilla Gardeners Resurface, there’s lots of other articles in this new issue, and the Hammerblog is always hopping.

The Hammerblog includes great material that covers national and international issues as well, so it’s not all just Hamilton-based.

Thanks for reading and don’t step checking back in – I’ll keep writing, even if infrequently.

Life, politics, code and current events from a Canadian perspective.

Adrian Duyzer
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