the virginia tech massacre in the media: sermons and loners

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the virginia tech massacre in the media: sermons and loners

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<p>Tuesday, April 17, 2007</p>
<p>Listening to the Virginia Memorial, and all I hear is: "God-given", "God bless you", "community", "strength", "prayers", "family", "sanctuary", "violated&#39;, and of course, here come the leaders of the religious communities: "children of Adam and Eve", "singularity" (yes, unbelievable), "non-violence" (thank the buddhists), "faith", "darkness of Evil", "light", "seductive temptation" etc. The Memorial really turned into a sermon.</p><p>But that&#39;s enough. I am here to try and compare the reactions, as seen in media from different continents, to the events of Virginia Tech. A reaction where it is easy to notice how, on different sides of the Earth, people are really interpreting (or trying to convince others to interpret) the story in radically different ways. Forgive me this, but you can see framing at work in crisis communications like you never see it at any other time. Here are the main points of view - soem of which are quite disturbing:<p><b>"The Loner"</b>: now, since when mentally-ill people have become "loners"? However, this is how the 23-year-old responsible for yesterday&#39;s killings has been named by - well, basically most of the people who have been asked to talk about him, and subsequently by most media outlets?</p><blockquote>Larry Hincker, associate vice president for university relations at Virginia Tech, said: "He was a loner, and we&#39;re having difficulty finding information about him." (<a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6563565.stm">BBC</a>/<a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,266582,00.html">Fox News</a>)</blockquote>
<p>I could not find this on the Korea Herald article though - I wonder why.</p><p><b>"The sick American hater"</b>: not stated with these words, but this is how I could refrase a sentence like this:</p><p id="quote">The gunman suspected of carrying out the Virginia Tech massacre that left 33 people dead was identified Tuesday as an English major whose creative writing was so disturbing that he was referred to the school&#39;s counseling service. News reports also said that he may have been taking medication for depression, that he was becoming increasingly violent and erratic, and that he left a note in his dorm in which he railed against "rich kids," "debauchery" and "deceitful charlatans" on campus. (<a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,266582,00.html">Fox News</a>)</p>
<p>Very different is the report on the BBC (which from the very beginning tried to omit information that could encourage racial hatred):</p><p id="quote">US media reported that a "disturbing" note had been found in Cho Seung-hui&#39;s dormitory, and that he had been referred for counselling after producing "troubled" work in his creative writing class. (<a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6563565.stm">BBC</a>)</p>
<p>Let me say something: I have been watching the news, and all I saw was Caucasian students crying. All I could read were comments coming from Caucasian American-born (at least that is what I can deduce from the names) students. The dead killer seems to be the only "Asian oddball" (ironically speaking, of course) on campus - now no more. That is an illusion created by the media. You really have to search and look to find some facts on international student presence on the Virginia Tech campus:</p><p id="quote">Only 7 percent of the more than 26,000 students at Virginia Tech are foreign, according to the school web site. But Chinese undergraduate and graduate students comprise nearly a third of that. (<a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,266509,00.html">Fox News</a>)</p>
<p>Now, if you calculate, that means that about 1,820 students at Virginia Tech are in fact international students, and that about 607 are Chinese (therefore "Asian-looking"). Why have I not seen any interviews with these students? What are their reactions to a fellow international&#39;s debacle? Can they suggest what problems he might have had (such as a strong cultural shock associated with a pre-existent - or triggered - mental illness)? Why maybe he was "a loner"?</p><p>I have plenty of experience with international students and their challenges, being one myself. Some peers, especially the ones of Asian descent, seem to be having more problems. In my university, there are about 10% of internationals, and maybe half of them, if not more, are Chinese. A quite smaller chunk are South Koreans. Our university, just like VTech, has some form of international student services - VTech is more advanced apparently, as they have an <a href="http://www.uusa.vt.edu/cranwell/programsclasses.shtml">International Centre</a>, which also offers advising services to international students. However, having worked with many of them, I can tell that often such services are inadequate, and "loneliness" (as well as heavy cultural shock) are not infrequent problems reported even (or maybe even more) by students who used such services.</p><p>Moreover: what about the mentions of debauchery? I have seen it myself - and it ain&#39;t always pleasant. When I used to live on residence, I remember drunk (or drugged) people coming down from my roof at about 2 AM. They crushed on the path below, laughed, and went away. Loud parties, where booze and drugs are abundant, are a norm on residence. Should we limit them? No, but we need to help people who are not used to this kind of situation. And with the international student population growing on North American campuses growing, we might want to think about them.</p><p><b>"The forgotten issue in American media: gun control"</b>: to find this, you need to visit forums on non-U.S. media websites, and check articles on international news outlets to see how this is an important issue related to the V Tech massacre.</p><p style="text-align:center;"><img src="http://www.april16archive.org/archive/fullsize/_42811311_firearms_deaths3_203gr.gif"></p>
<p id="quote">The risk of being killed by a firearm in the US is higher than in any other Western nation. Of countries outside war zones, the risk is greatest in South Africa, according to a United Nations report. (<a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6562529.stm">BBC</a>)</p>
<p id="quote">"No society that feeds its children on tales of succesful violence can expect them not to believe that violence in the end is rewarded" Margaret Mead. A society that feels the need to arm itself with lethal weapons for protection from society, is no society at all. It&#39;s all about fear. Steve, Livingston, <a href="http://newsforums.bbc.co.uk/nol/thread.jspa?threadID=6121&&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;&edition=2&ttl=20070417193257">Recommended by 49 people</a></p>
<p>Apparently, the rest of the world can see that, no matter the pain a mentally ill young person goes through (and which, given the killer&#39;s past action, must have been significant), access to automatic army-type weapons, deregulation of access to weapons, and the U.S. "gun culture" really are the main cause behind - classroom - shootings.</p><p>Posted by steppen wolf at 11:43 AM</p><p>--</p><p>Original Source: <a href="http://skeptalchemist.blogspot.com/2007/04/virginia-tech-massacre-in-media-sermons.html">http://skeptalchemist.blogspot.com/2007/04/virginia-tech-massacre-in-media-sermons.html</a></p><p>Licensed under <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/ca/">Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada</a></p>

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steppen wolf

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2007-05-21

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Brent Jesiek

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steppen wolf, " the virginia tech massacre in the media: sermons and loners," in The April 16 Archive, Item #182, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/182 (accessed September 19, 2014).