Here's an interesting auricle from an independent news source I subscribe to in Australia. If anything, it illustrates an Australian perspective on how things are in the US.
Dark days for undergraduate weirdos
Guy Rundle writes:
It’s generally agreed that the Virginia massacre isn’t going to change US gun laws -- you’d probably need about a half-dozen of them in the space of a month to do that.
However, what it will do is increase surveillance of students and psychological profiling in American universities, and by extension, here. Cho Seung-hui -- the ''question-mark kid'' who spoke to virtually no one and walked around in wrap-around shades -- is the sort of person who’s scarcely unknown in arts faculties, especially in creative writing courses. Yet, one presumes that from now on every underground weirdo in trenchcoat and dark glasses is going to feel the eye of suspicion upon them.
Which is a pity because I can think of at least two academics, one editor of a national newspaper opinion page, and a bloke who now owns three pizza shops who would fit that bill from my own gun-spree-free student days.
More particularly, what is going to happen to academic confidentiality? Is every teacher now going to be perpetually on the look-out for the next mass murderer in classes where students are encouraged to explore their imagination in whatever direction it goes?
Take, Seung-hui’s play (parts of which were reproduced on Crikey yesterday) submitted for his class, and which led his tutor to wonder if she should call the police. The violent plot concerns a sexually overcharged family in which the family friend has killed the father in order to possess the mother, and the son is fuming with the thwarted desire to murder him.
Shocking really -- for Seung-hui has clearly plagiarised Hamlet, which follows this plot pretty much to the letter. The violent discourse echoes an earlier, funnier Shakespeare work Titus Andronicus in which the heroine has to write her murderer’s name in the sand with a stick held between her arms because the hero has cut out her tongue, eyes and hands.
Looking for a more recent example, there’s almost an embarrassment of riches from Tarantino (‘I hate him. Must kill Dick’ -- from Seung-hui’s screenplay is simply a rip-off of the Uma Thurman’s refrain ‘I’m gonna kill Bill’ in the eponymous film) or the whole Saw/Hostel genre of ultra-sadistic torture films. And the riffs about ''Richard McBeef’s face'' by Seung-hui’s killer character have pretty much the same feel as Woody Harrelson’s riffs in Natural Born Killers.
So the means of the crime -- over-the-counter pistols -- will remain free while the fantasy -- the free-play of the imagination -- will become increasingly criminalised. This, as the second amendment notes, is to preserve freedom.
Oh, and at least 140 died in suicide bombings in Iraq yesterday. Check for their memorials on Facebook anytime soon.
I don't foresee a problem with my university studies here in Australia - despite being a poster child for loners everywhere - because no one really worries about this type of thing. School shootings are viewed as a purely American phenomenon, thanks largely to the widespread use of guns and your media's penchant for constantly reinforcing fear about all manner of things which leads to jittery citizens. I admit that it's a very silly view, but it's not hard to understand why some people over here think it's Wild West in the streets.
I've never understood why American's so vehementally defend the right to bear arms, it just seems so silly to me. I get that it's in the constitution, but...who cares? The classic pro-gun argument is that banning or severely regulating guns is not going to stop criminals from getting their hands on them, which is true I guess, but there is something seriously wrong in your society that results in this high per-capita shooting murder rate.
Admittedly I know nothing about my own countrie's gun laws, or America's for that matter. No one I know does either. I've never even seen a real gun in the flesh bar a standard issue police handgun and a few rifles at a military parade.
Maybe I should go and read some arguments about this. It seems interesting.
Romance before precision.