Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I emote, therefore I am

I am so sick of cheap sympathy. I am tired of the phony grief over what happened at Virginia Tech. By phony I mean the cheap and syrupy sympathy from people who have absolutely no connection with the university, people for whom the event is some abstract event they gawk at on the television.

I have gotten multiple solicitations this morning from different universities, some employers and other alma maters, asking for all of us to come together and send notes of condolence in groups—this department, that department. Then, everyone falls all over themselves in a rush to compose the most clichĂ©-filled and saccharine note, usually saying something stupid like, “Now we are all Hokies.” It’s revolting.

First of all, those of us without connection to the school have no idea the pain that the students and families are suffering. Even as bad as it is right now, it will be much, much worse in the future. Six months or a year from now, when the families and loved ones start to come out of their initial shock, they will be screaming with grief. Once the scab starts coming off the wound, all of these flash-mourners will be nowhere around. These cookie-cutter notes do nothing but make the senders feel better. It is especially telling that everyone wants to do this little exercise as a group, so that the group members can earn maximum credit for their pornographic displays of emotion.

The solicitations aren’t even asking for anything useful like money. Have any of these trendy grievers priced a funeral lately? How about weekly therapy sessions?

I won’t say anything because I am coward. But I will believe that my colleagues actually care when they check up on the VT community in a year or five.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Hate Crimes Only Go One Way

It is being reported that Cho Seung-Hui, the resident alien who committed the most heinous campus massacre on American soil, wrote notes railing against "rich kids," "debauchery" and "deceitful charlatans." While Virginia Tech is not releasing any more information right now, I wager the young man’s writing was a bit more pointed than that. I think there is a high probability that VT is scrambling to figure out how to spin what he really wrote. I love that “South Korea's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday the government hoped the Virginia Tech shootings, allegedly carried out by a 23-year-old South Korean native, would not ‘stir up racial prejudice or confrontation.’” Isn’t that nice? I think the words, “I am sorry,” would be sufficient.

We are living in interesting times, and I know I am not the only one wondering, after each affront, whether this event is “the one.” We are reaching a tipping point, and I think the incendiary event will be relatively mild. I don’t think last assault by a foreigner on our soil will do it, but it is certainly winding the spring tighter.