April 16, 2007. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University,
Blacksburg, Virginia: 32 students and teachers killed. One
murder-suicide. The deadliest, non-war-related shooting in
The calamity at Virginia Tech is gut wrenching in itself. However,
underlying the “massacre” (as the media have titled
it) is the fact that we live in a society that values openness,
and openness makes it easy for someone to carry out an act
like this and blame it on society itself, making it hard for
us to fix blame.
In addition to the tragedy of innocent people dying, today’s
society encourages killers to redirect responsibility. This
killer kept ranting in his video diatribe, “You made
me do this!”
Who is this generic you?
The media had no hesitation redirecting blame. They attacked
the president of the school, questioned security systems and
procedures, blamed faculty and counselors for ignoring indications
of mental instability, and faulted the school’s preliminary
judgment that the first incident was a closed situation.
Focusing on blame only hinders the healing process. Only one
person pulled the trigger. Only one person killed innocent
sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers. Asking the families
and friends of the deceased to blame anyone else for the death
of their loved ones is a travesty.
Constantly querying who or what possibly, may have, might have,
could have, contributed to the death of their loved ones hinders
the healing process. Regardless of who or what, exactly, we
blame, human lives should not be sacrificed for society’s
We at HPU mourn with you, Virginia Tech. Our prayers, thoughts,
and hearts are with you, the victims, and their families.