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Blame Game

The new consensus seems to be that running away is the New Bravery, and if you don't believe that you're "another nerd on the internet" who fantasizes about how you'd totally kick eight-foot-tall, steel-carapace-by-Hyundai, Korean Killbot Cho's ass. Me? I'd just be going to get help.

Update: read this.

And here's a run-down of the event. Sure looks like a lot of cowering and curling up and waiting to be killed was done. And I persist in thinking that there is just something wrong with that. But I don't blame the students -- this is how we've trained them to react, after all. Violence only begets violence.

Comments (18)

roscoe [TypeKey Profile Page]:

Fyi, I've been in the situation of having a gun pulled on me, and let me tell ya', the "fight or flight reflex" kicked in mighty fast. I fought back, and I'm here to remember it. (The fool that drew down on me isn't, btw.)

Happily, the "cower and curl up reflex" doesn't seem to be a part of my psyche. One more reason to be happy that I'm an old fart, I guess. When I grew up, folks were raised differently.

I may never be accepted in politically correct society, but I damned well know how to survive. And it's not by standing still so some nutjob can shoot at me.

"Running away is the New Bravery?" That's not what I said. I said... Jesus Christ, I already SAID what I said, dozens of times. Go jump in a lake, if I may be so bold.

Now Jim, that wasn't so much for you as for BoscoH and the other chesty commenters over at Gutfield's who were attacking Udolpho and Steyn. My favorite is the guy who said something like "anyone who would condemn me for trying to get my loved ones to safety" or some such nonsense. But there aren't any direct links to comments over there. Perhaps I should have written "scroll down."

But while we're at it, you do seem to have misconstrued the argument just a tad. No one (well, not me, and not Steyn or Udolpho or Kathy Shaidle) is calling the students cowards. A coward makes a moral choice to run away despite cultural training and expectations that he stand and fight. What I am seeing here (and what I think the others I named are seeing) is a lack of that cultural training and expectation to stand and fight, or at least not to lay down and wait for death. Especially when you read the Washington Post article I linked to -- I found that account even more dismaying than what I supposed happened. Everyone (except, tellingly, some of the older teachers) seemed to have been overcome by the horror of a single man with two guns. Who, I might add, wasn't a particularly impressive specimen of manhood. That might be a normal, instinctual response, but civilization wasn't built out of people giving in to their instincts. I suppose I should have made that clearer.

I'll pass on the lake. The lakes here aren't the sorts of bodies of water that make attractive swimming holes.

I will add one more thing: I have long been amazed at the naivete of college kids. I was in Gainesville once, back in the 80s -- to visit someone, or to see a band, I don't remember -- and I was talking to some girl who told me she fell asleep in the park the night before after a party. Now, this is Gainesville -- Danny Rollings hadn't yet appeared on the scene at the time of this conversation, but Ted Bundy was still a fairly recent memory. At least for me... growing up in crime-ridden Miami had, I guess, made me more cautious and wary of doing the things that other people my age took for granted you could do. You also got used to thinking of the what-if-a-gunfight-broke-out scenario.

And then there is the ridiculous, showy, nonsensical making of college campuses "gun free" zones. This was in response to no external factor -- there hadn't been a rash of "drunken frat boys" shooting up college campuses, or anything like that. It was all about moral posturing, and trying to apply the illusion that colleges are sanctuaries from the bad old world. Well, sanctuaries need better walls and safeguards than moral posturing and wishful thinking.

jille [TypeKey Profile Page]:

What bothers me is the default position of passivity. I suspect that the men present will be bothered by their inaction for a long time and it will take them a long time to figure it out. In one way, I understand their passivity because they had never mentally rehearsed what they would do in such a situation, so they were at a loss when such a situation arose.

I wrote about this in Thoughts on passivity and Patriots Day http://www.estatevaults.com/bol/archives/2007/04/19/thoughts_on_pas.html

It's embarrassing watching Treacher and Levy makes these arguments. They seem to be unable to distinguish between "People in that situation should fight back" and "Pbah! What a bunch of pussy little babies for not fighting back.... I would've totally pwned Cho!"

So any suggestion of a principle of self-defense as the proper course of action seems to them to be an unfair and unthinking denigration of the VT students. Indeed, he seems to believe that they would cease to be victims then and we would consider makers of their own beds or something. It seems to be a completely emotional reaction, since it's so incredibly muddled.

You can see this when Treacher said, "How about we just blame the shooter??", as if saying that people should resist spree killers means that the victims are now on the same moral level as a murderer. And then there's Levy who explains Librescu by claiming that only someone who witnessed the evil of the Nazis or something similar could be expected to fight back. Yeah right. If Librescu had been too afraid to act, Levy would be saying, "Well of course! He was too scarred by his experiences with the Nazis." In short, any fact will do to prevent one from making any kind of argument that even hints at a kind of criticism.

"It's embarrassing watching Treacher and Levy makes these arguments."

Gee, sorry, Russ. You gonna be okay?

"So any suggestion of a principle of self-defense as the proper course of action seems to them to be an unfair and unthinking denigration of the VT students."

No, but saying that they were "men -- if you'll pardon the expression," and "when we say we don't know what we would do, we make cowardice the default position" does seem unfair to me. (Yes, Andrea, these people ARE using the word "cowardice." Maybe that's why I "misconstrued" them.)

And I'm all for self-defense. For all we know, some of the students did try to defend themselves. We don't know! He had guns, they didn't, so I'm not going to blame them whether they fought, ran, or froze. That's what I'm saying, and that's ALL I'm saying. Which I'd think would be obvious, because I've been, you know, saying it.

I agree 100% that we shouldn't infantilize young adults, and obviously making that campus a "gun free zone" didn't work. So please don't act like I've said something to the contrary.

"...as if saying that people should resist spree killers means that the victims are now on the same moral level as a murderer."

How do you know none of them did resist? He had the advantage of surprise, not to mention two guns and who knows how much ammo.

"Everyone (except, tellingly, some of the older teachers) seemed to have been overcome by the horror of a single man with two guns. Who, I might add, wasn't a particularly impressive specimen of manhood."

I had to go back to this little tidbit and gaze in wonder. Everybody's so brave, except the people who actually faced this murderer. "Lookit that wimp. I totally woulda kicked his ass! Guns? Fuck his guns. I believe in the principles of self-defense!" Temporary insanity, that's all I can figure. I mean, I'm pissed off about it too, but it hasn't caused me to confuse my Rambo fantasies with the reality of facing a gunman unarmed in an enclosed space, particularly when I don't even know the layout of the building.

"That might be a normal, instinctual response, but civilization wasn't built out of people giving in to their instincts. I suppose I should have made that clearer."

I've re-read that 3 times now and I still don't get it, so maybe you could clarify even more. Why are these students responsible for the downfall of civilization? WTF?

I wrote that before my first cup of coffee, but it seems clear to me. I am only working off the accounts I've read so far, and so far most of them seem to be about running, slamming doors and then listening to people scream and be shot on the other side, and choosing desks "under which to die." Let me make it clear I'm not having a Rambo fantasy here. I guess I'm just one of those people who gets angry when frightened -- I would probably be cowering under a desk, but I'd be seething with fury. Impotent fury, of course, because I'm not twenty years old anymore and even if I was I never did have a physique stronger than a boiled noodle. But the idea of just giving up... did you read the Washington Post article? I couldn't stand it.

Anyway, what's wrong with observing how people react in a crisis and saying "I'm not going to do that"? It's a dangerous world. And crazed killers are not a new phenomenon. All I know is if I'm going to be shot to death by a crazy man with a gun, I plan to go out fighting, however ineptly.

The civilization thing I will try to explain later -- I need more tea, and also to decide if I am going to pay my phone bill or not. Right now I am coasting on someone else's bandwidth.

There's nothing wrong with saying you plan to go out fighting, except for the very idea that such a reaction can be planned.

"Planned" is perhaps not the best word. I was trying to think of something connoting expectation of effort, of working myself into a state where I will be in a mental frame to fight as oppose to... anything else, but the madness at work and my upcoming move have pulped my brain.

If you're sitting in class and all of a sudden you're getting shot at, how are you supposed to work yourself up? And if you're in one of the other classrooms and you hear gunshots, and you're unarmed, you're working yourself up to either find cover or get the hell out of there.

Or, if you run toward the danger, you might get shot. And so far I haven't seen any proof that not a single student did.

Run toward the danger, I mean. Maybe somebody did, maybe nobody did. Is there conclusive evidence yet either way?

Of course it would depend upon the circumstances. Being taken by surprise obviously will negate any preparation, mental or otherwise.

We're all turning into Pierson's Puppeteers:

"In the year 2855, four adventurers (two humans and two aliens) explore a mysterious "ringworld": an enormous, artificial, ring-shaped structure that surrounds a star. The story is set in an extremely technologically advanced universe, where instant teleportation and nigh-indestructible spacecraft hulls are commonplace.

The character Nessus is a Pierson's Puppeteer, a species with the most advanced technology in Known Space. Being descended from herbivorous herd animals, their morality is based on cowardice: the ruling class is known as they-who-lead-from-behind, and the supreme leader is called the Hindmost. Puppeteers who display any signs of bravery are considered insane by their peers, and in fact are insane; bravery is accompanied by other symptoms of ill mental health, such as manic-depressive cycles and paranoia.

Essentially xenophobic, only a very small minority of Puppeteers interact with "potentially dangerous" alien species, usually only in cases where they need to hire mercenaries to handle risky situations which they themselves cannot. Only insane puppeteers are ever employed to arrange such matters; in fact sane puppeteers never leave their homeworld, being distrustful of space travel, among other things."


Nothing more to say, really.

"Nothing more to say, really."


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