"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

4.16.2007

"for no reason"



I've heard of that dorm. That was my first thought this morning, when we saw the report that a student was dead after a shooting in a Virginia Tech dorm. I'm not sure why; I think it is where my friend J lived when he was a freshman at VT ten years ago. I don't know why I remember that. It's just one of those things.

Every day I'm on campus, I walk by the UT Tower, which, up until today, was the site of the worst campus shooting in American history. There are stories about scars in the concrete on the plaza in front of the mall, that you can still see the places where Charles Whitman's bullets struck in 1966. I've seen the scars. I don't know enough to know whether they were actually made by bullets. Saturday, the sky was incredibly blue. I looked up at the tower and saw people on the tour up there. Taking the tour of the top of the tower is one of those things I've meant to do but haven't gotten around to yet. I'd never noticed people up there before. You can, apparently, see for miles. That was the problem.

My students wanted to talk about it tonight. The political discussions that will no doubt come up for the eight millionth time as a result of today's events fit in with the lesson on civil liberties, so I told them to listen on the news about debates on gun control, whether it would have been better if the gunman couldn't have purchased a gun, whether it would have been better if other students had been allowed to carry guns onto campus so someone could have shot the shooter. It seemed like an empty response. But I looked at the swinging door of my classroom that couldn't be barricaded if we tried, and wondered what I'd do if...

It gets worse every time I read a new article.

Oh, oh, oh.
(Photo: AP)

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