Off topic- the Virginia Tech tragedy


No doubt everyone has heard about the tragedy at Virginia Tech yesterday where a madman walked on campus and killed 32 people, wounded many others and then turned the gun on himself.  It’s just so senseless that decent people will never understand what motivates someone to do such a heinous thing to fellow human beings.  Unfortunately, now begins the debacle that we will surely see that follows tragedy like this.  The news media has already begun greasing the wheels of the legal system by jumping on the question why the university didn’t notify students sooner of the danger as the situation played out.  The first two news accounts I read of the tragedy were playing up the "university at fault" meme by the third or fourth paragraph.  Soon we will see TV news reporters offering up experts who will make claims that some of the victims would likely have been saved if earlier warnings had been given by Virginia Tech officials.  A monster walks onto campus killing people indiscriminately and we blame the university.  When did we as a society come to expect the authorities in our lives to protect us from absolutely everything?  Ask anyone living in a Middle Eastern hotspot and they’ll tell you there is no total protection from madmen.

What’s even sadder than the tragedy is the scores of lawyers who were no doubt contacting the victim’s families before the bodies were even cold.  It won’t be long before we see dozens of lawsuits filed against Virginia Tech for not protecting (or warning) their loved one quickly enough.  Oh they’ll sue the madman’s family too to make it look like they’re not after the money but the lawyers will make sure they sue the university with the deeper pockets.  This whole cycle sickens me as much as the act of the evil madman who perpetrated the act.  Bad people do bad things, why does someone have to get money as a result?

My heart goes out to the families of the victims and even the shooter.  No one can understand the depth of your loss.



Mike, now you’re just making shit up.
I don’t see anything in Willy’s comments that would reflect that kind of thinking.
But it’s obvious what you’re trying to do.

“It was someone from *your* part of the world who did the murders.” … “Want *me*
to say he should have stayed in his country and done that sh*t there? “

WTF is that all about? Why even go that low? You’re picking pieces off this dude’s comment as if he’s trying to stir up something which isn’t the case. Even if he straight out said there’s something wrong with people in America shooting everyone, hell it’s true.

Mike Cane

Don’t give me that “You people” crap. If anyone was saying that, it was Willy: the implication being, “There is something wrong with YOU PEOPLE in America, that these shootings go on, look at us in Asia and learn.”

Yeah, right, Willy.

Shove your PC — and I don’t mean the one with the OS.


Hey, what happened to my post from this morning????

Was it too much for this group to handle????

Geez, don’t tell me you’ve gone PC on me…


When my family were poor in China, we have very little money yet we had a good and wonderful life. Now I am here; not only I have a wonderful family but also a country that fosters properity. With hard workings and lucks, we have been building a successful paper recycling industry between China and United States. This successes were all due to the good system of United States and open trade from China. Yet this rampage simply just appalled me; this young South Korean man was well fed and attending an excellent university. I understood crazy man would killed the people he hated but killing rest of the crowd was simply senseless. There were little motives or interests involved. I just don’t understand. Because of the one crazy incident happened ten years ago, few Germans imitated the same rampages and now this. I really hope I could sent this men to the poorest part of China and let them see what life is.


You can stop criminals from committing some of their crimes if you’re able to respond effectively when they attack. Many public institutions, Virginia Tech included, create environments where innocents are made largely defenseless by interfering with their right to bear arms. These institutions suborn mass murder via these policies, and they should be accountable for that…but they’re not under the way the law is presently interpreted by the courts.


To be fair, Germany has had two school shootings in the last five years. Both kids seemed to have gotten the weapons via their membership in gun sports clubs.

Still, I have to wonder about the magic capabilities that a weapon apparently endows its owner with. Am I to assume that the simple act of carrying a weapon not only relieves anyone from the great responsibility of “picking” the right one, but also from any stress-related impairments?
As the adage goes, If all you have is a hammer, your problems tend to become nails.


when was the last time we heard about a shooting in a europen university? if guns were harder to find that sort of things would be less likely to happen. In UK police officers don;t usually wear guns if anyone is interested and the rate of death by gun is much lower in european universities if not unexistent.

James Kendrick

C’mon Mike. He’s right, this sort of thing happens here far more often than in other countries. Don’t shoot the messenger, especially over country of origin. that’s tasteless.

Mike Cane

>>>I come from Asia and I truy believe United States is a beautiful and wonderful country but this is almost the only highly advance industrialized country that has this kind of senseless killings.

Now wait one minute there, Willy. It was someone from *your* part of the world who did the murders. Want to retry that national slander again? Want *me* to say he should have stayed in his country and done that sh*t there? Stop being a dick.

Author Michael Bishop’s son has been confirmed as one of the murdered.

This is no time for posturing.


every nut who says Gun Control or the US “Gun Culture” is the problem here has to be smoking some heavy duty drugs. The thing that the anti gun lobby and the idiots who are blaming the University is that you can’t stop a criminal from committing crimes. If someone is disturbed and determined enough to do this, then they will do it no matter how tough you make it to get a gun in this country. You can say guns are illegal, and shootings will STILL happen! Take away the guns, and you won’t have one to protect yourself in your own home when the criminal with a gun comes to take your hard earned gadgets and money.

Gun control is not the answer to this. The sad thing is, there is no answer to this yet the politicos and the lawyers utterly refuse to believe this.

James Torres

JK – I don’t think we are that far apart. Of course, with a tragedy this awful the full time news channels and our lovely politicians will spin it so far away from reality in a week that it will be either Bill Clinton’s or George Bush’s fault.

James Kendrick

James Torres, thanks for clarifying the immunity issue. I never said there was no negligence on the part of VT or anyone else, I’m just saying that our obsession with trying to prevent the irrational acts of a madman is misplaced. Why do we feel the university (or anyone else) could be expected to anticipate an act like this and do something to prevent it? Yes, they have a responsibility to provide as safe an environment for our kids that they can but to expect them to prevent a random senseless act like this is not very reasonable. The purpose behind my original post was to lament how the responsibility issue became a main topic in the reporting of this tragedy from the very beginning. It’s as if we have an overriding need to blame someone for this, and that’s just not reasonable in my view.

James Torres

JK – This is a terrible tragedy but just as the news media has prejudged blame, so have you in saying there is no blame. Let’s let the necessary investigations happen and then see if their response should have been different. As a parent who is about to send my daughter to college in the fall, I expect the university to do its best to look after her safety on campus. Let the chips fall where they may. What is likely to happen is that in the name of “privacy” the entire investigation will be swept under the rug and only through lawsuits will we ever know what happened. See what happened in Columbine as a good example.

I am a lawyer and I think you should know that both Virgina Tech University and the local police force have sovereign immunity for their actions and decisions and therefore there can be no recovery against them for their actions. In other words, they are immune from suit for negligence. So there is no deep pocket, in fact, there is no pocket at all. Any lawsuit will be for information or a symbolic victory.

bill gates

it’s a mobile tech blog. if i want to read about this i can go to a zillion other places.


Its a shame that what you’ve described is happening right now, but to an extent, I can understand why. For one, those affected are in pain, and the university is an easy (and lucrative) target. And while I agree that we can’t our authorities to protect us from absolutely everything, I do believe its a reasonable expectation that we live in a society with plans in place to deal with and minimise things like this from happening. Did the university do all it could? Probably. But the fact is, it wasn’t enough – so instead of playing the blame game, everyone (not just the ones ‘at fault’) should concentrate more on trying to stop this from happening ever again. I don’t know if this is available in America, but maybe if there was a victim compensation scheme, that would help too…anyway, just throwing some ideas out there. Lastly, I don’t know about you guys, but this incident has made me appreciate what I have just that little bit more, and has definitely put my ‘problems’ in perspective. Take care everyone.

charles pritt

I agree with you james and say well said. I also, as saddened by the continual stand by the gun lobby on complete refusal to discuss any kind of gun control. they always say like john mcCain did after this tragedy that i still believe in the right to own a gun. Okay, own a gun but does it have to be something that can take on an entire herd of crazed “lions” without once reloading. for one, i haven’t seen too many herds of crazed lions in my neighborhood that it would require me to need such a weapon.
it is time we as a nation said enough is enough. let’s get some decent legitmate gun control. will it end these kinds of situations? no. but it will help and if it reduces a 32 person killing spree to a 15 or 20 person spree it is well worth it.

James Kendrick

bill gates, just ignore the parts you don’t like. A rare post off-topic just punctuates the fact that this is a blog and sometimes we post personal opinions.

James Kendrick

Benjamin, to me it’s ludicrous to believe that financial penalties will have any affect on future acts of random, insane violence like this. What’s next, some madman straps a mega-bomb on, jumps out of a plane with the intent to kill as many people as possible attending a sporting event? What do we do then, sue the sports team and stadium owner? The mindset that says if the organization makes a profit then that’s reason enough to make them the bad guy and sue them for the acts of others?

I do respectfully disagree that to sue VT for this is to “make things better in the future”, it seems clear to me that such legal action would be primarily to line the pockets of the families and the law firms who push this. While everyone involved will no doubt claim what you’ve stated, the desire to make sure that universities step up their security in the future is a smoke screen, pure and simple. I don’t know how long VT has been around but I’m pretty sure their security has been adequate for quite some time until this random act. Sorry but I don’t think you’ll convince me that there is justification for suing an organization for the mindless act of an individual.

Benjamin Ries

p.s. I agree with the ‘bob the builder’ comment about the US approach to firearms in general. I was saddened, for instance, to see your President yesterday have his press representative remind everyone that he still supports “the right to bear arms.” Doesn’t seem like a very sensitive thing to bring up, only hours after the tragedy.

Benjamin Ries

I want to say that I respect and understand your response, Mr. Kendrick; I merely wish to offer an additional viewpoint.

If the university has deep pockets, they are deep with student tuition payments and alumni donations. Assigning blame is only one goal of tort law – effective deterrence and victim compensation are others. So if a lawsuit ends up motivating other universities to upgrade their safety procedures in the future, perhaps that’s not so bad.

That said, as a Canadian law student I recognize that America is a very litigious place (though this seems to stem, in part, from a different public/private economic balance). I’m merely suggesting that the attention being given to possible negligence on the part of VT does not necessarily symbolize an attempt to prioritize moral blame or allow the victims’ families to get rich quick. Instead, it is likely a part of identifying what needs to change so that this doesn’t happen again.

John Hancock

As I read your post to my wife she asked if I wrote that. I wish!

Very well put.

bob the builder

I agree. i just saw the interview with the university president and the reporter was pushing questions of ‘university failed to act after the first shooting’.
whereas the actual blame for this should go to firstly the gunman and then secondly the american gun culture.
basically in america everyone has the power to kill if they want to , and all societies have nut cases, so the fairly regualr occurance of these events is no surprise. columbine , the sniper.. now this. you can almost garuntee another one or two of these occuring every decade. what a shame.


I come from Asia and I truy believe United States is a beautiful and wonderful country but this is almost the only highly advance industrialized country that has this kind of senseless killings. Usually when blood spilled, there are motives and interests but this is simply senseless killings.

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