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Dash of Pepper

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Fathoming the unfathomable
By SHEILAH PEPPER
The Gazette Staff
April 16th was, to say the least, a very dark day in our history. It's difficult us to wrap our mind around the specter of 32 young lives snuffed out. In one moment, they were perhaps taking notes in class. In the next, they were gone. The imagination cringes at the senseless killings, something that goes against everything we value in our civilization.
We cannot fathom the unfathomable.
If the forensics people uncover traces of mind-altering drugs in the killer, that would offer a small measure of understanding. We would at least be able to identify a causative agent. Otherwise, we are left to bleakly contemplate the existence of incarnate evil.
We cling to the story of the professor, Liviu Librescu, a holocaust survivor, who died blocking his classroom door - an action that saved his students' lives.
The pat responses - more gun control and loosening up the laws governing the way a school or college can handle a student suspected to be mentally ill - don't really go to the heart of the matter.
The best insight I have encountered came from columnist Mark Steyn. He said the fact that one man could shoot many people in one location over several HOURS represents a "systemic failure." Steyn feels it points to our "culture of passivity." According to him, the university's disruptive behavior manual instructs the reader to never confront aggressive behavior. If someone produces a weapon, the manual states, you should calmly ask them to put the weapon in a neutral position and advise the person that violent behavior has consequences.
He recalled that, a couple of years ago, two students at a college in Appalachia, got their weapons from their vehicles and pinned down a gunman until he police arrived, saving many lives.
He also notes that physical barriers won't work in college towns, where the surrounding buildings are often intertwined with the college structures.
He also noted something which struck me on that awful day - the college was declared a "gun-free zone." But declarations won't make it so. The shooter kept his weapons with him on campus.
The problem in this country, as Steyn said, is NOT an excess of testosterone. The culture of passivity, now so deeply embedded, is taking away our ability, in many cases, to take action when confronted with a terrifying reality.
By contrast, consider the story of the 83-year-old woman, a former beauty queen, living alone in the country. Her dog alerted her to intruders ransacking an outbuilding on her property. She grabbed her weapon and confronted them. She calmly shot the tires out on their vehicle and flagged a passerby to call police. She said if they had made a move toward her, they would have ended up six feet under.
She also said she had to steady her walker to fire the weapon!
Copyright©2007SheilahPepper
Last Updated on Friday, 12 June 2009 16:02  

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