Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Juxtaposed against the background of 171 people dying in Iraq today in terrorist attacks, we're learning more about the Virginia Tech shooter. At least some mental health professionals noted that he was a danger to himself, but as has been reported earlier, he wasn't volunteering for therapy.

Poet Nikki Giovanni calls him just plain "mean," although I don't understand how a professor can think that one person is "mean," without thinking that the "mean" had to come from somewhere -- e.g., mental illness, abuse, trauma. It doesn't just come out of nowhere. Would a skillful author describe one of her characters as "just mean," without explaining why that person was mean or evil? Wouldn't that make her a pretty bad author, to revert to the old good vs. evil trope?

Yes, he's hard to understand. The snippets from the video he sent to NBC are vague: they blame "you" for what he did. Who? Everyone? If he was trying to send a message to people, he did a really bad job.

This student seemed to have slipped through the cracks, because he really should have been committed, if only for his own sake. But what will this mean for the other maladjusted kids out there? Are they going to be thrown at therapists right and left all over campuses, when some of them may actually be acting within the normal range of human behavior, just quieter, more reserved, less expressive?

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