PERSPECTIVE: Personal instinct only defense against tragic news


PERSPECTIVE: Personal instinct only defense against tragic news


By:Ryan MacDonald
Posted: 4/18/07

In the days following a great tragedy, we as human beings collectively exhibit a variety of distinct reactions. Some will experience fear. This response is inevitably redoubled by a media which profits on false dependency -- cable news network owners want Americans to believe that without a constant and unfettered flow of semi-useful detail they will lack the needed information to survive the evening. Others sink deeply into depression. A few bleak hours permanently darken the thousands that they have spent on this planet. A state of war looms on all horizons. A third group will clamor for explanations and solutions. Quick fixes will be enticing and will abound. Pundits and politicians will congest the airwaves and television screens calling for every reform from censorship of music to religious revival. Erroneous causal connections will be purported, and the vulnerable masses will be lost in the sea of competing ideologies.

On Monday, tragedy struck. As news poured in from various outlets we learned the shooting at Virginia Tech was the worst in American history. Reporters interrogated school officials about the identity of the shooter and why he was able to carry out two rounds of mass murder without being caught. People will struggle with causes and effects for weeks; they will pour over preventative solutions; news outlets will inject dramatic twists of plot to increase viewership and revenue. Confusion and disillusionment will not be in short supply.

Amid all of this, though, I urge you to reflect deeply on the events of April 16 and the aftermath. What is your immediate response? How will this affect your perception of the world? What would you do to change things? Preempt the onslaught of ideology before it reaches your ears.

Although I run the risk of being labeled a hypocrite by putting forth a moral position, I'd like to share some of my personal reflections. First of all, the most essential fact of the matter is that an individual was able to acquire fire arms and commit a horrendous act. Immediately I was reminded of my time as an intern in a London law firm where I learned that possession of a firearm carries a five-year sentence there. The rest of Europe views guns as an even darker evil. Mass shootings do not occur in Europe. Although violence certainly exists there, the weapon of choice is a knife. A man with a knife will never kill 32 people by himself.

In the United States, politicians court potential voters by leaking a video of their hunting trips. As John Stewart recently pointed out, Americans do not see the apparent contradiction in being a hunter and standing on a pro-life platform. The possession and ownership of firearms is protected by Constitutional amendment. Guns are entrenched in American politics and culture.

However, many fail to realize that the Constitution is not an infallible document. it had once barred blacks and women from voting, allowed for slavery and banned liquor. When the Constitution is wrong, it can and should be amended. Gun enthusiasts will present the opposite information. In fear of losing their gruesome, death-oriented pastime they will lobby politicians to blame this tragedy on gangsta rap or video games. They want to hide the fact that the domestic arms proliferation for which they are responsible is inextricably linked to the massacre of innocents. Guns kill people. Period. Where no guns exist, violence isn't as rampant.

As I remarked earlier, you may brand these remarks as ideology and apply the above criticism of political opportunism to my own words. I accept this and consider it fair. However, I challenge you to reflect deeply and with self honesty. Consider the sanctity which we afford guns in America. Don't allow yourself to fear entering the classroom or walking the streets. If it is possible, let's grasp this occasion to engender change and put forth well thought out, constructive critiques of our lives and our nation.

Ryan MacDonald is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences.


Original Source:<a href=>The Daily Free Press - April 18, 2007</a>


Ryan MacDonald


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Ryan MacDonald, “PERSPECTIVE: Personal instinct only defense against tragic news,” The April 16 Archive, accessed July 14, 2024,