by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 22 April 2007)
The shooting in Blacksburg, Virginia this past week was just too close to home for me. As many of you know, I lived in Virginia until last summer and my son still lives there. In fact, he lives just across the street from the Virginia Tech (VT) campus where he also works. The VT campus is where a gunman took the lives of 32 students and staff members and injured dozens more this past week.
My son does not attend VT, but his girlfriend does. Luckily, neither of them was on campus last Monday morning when a lone shooter chained the doors of the Science and Engineering building and went from classroom to classroom killing every person he could. One doctor said there was not one surviving patient who did not have at least three shot wounds – this young man meant to kill everybody.
On one of the many times I talked to my son this week, he told me the overall mood in Blacksburg is depression. I can definitely relate. A dark cloud of depression has hovered over me all week as I considered how close my own child was to this brutality and how I have three children who fall in the college-aged crowd.
In light of this incident and other such brutal attacks, like the one at the Kaieteur News printery last year, I cannot help but wonder about what can possibly happen to a person in life to create such killers. Or to put it more precisely, why are our young men turning into mass murderers?
Although I never allowed violent video games or music in my home, I know there is plenty of this offensive material out there. In fact, one story that is not being told by the media is that the VT shooter loved to play one of the more violent computer games produced by Microsoft.
The computer game in question, which I will not name because it does not deserve to be mentioned, allows the player to shoot the images of people with several different types of guns. There is no way that this mentally unstable young man did not pick up a thing or two from Microsoft’s computer “game.”
Recently, radio shock jock Don Imus was fired for his racist and sexist statements. Yet every day our children are exposed to music that is so full of hate that it would even make Imus’ statement seem mild. Is it any wonder that society is producing murderers?
The next course of action - after such a brutal attack on a college campus - is for the officials at VT (and all other universities) to find ways to protect the students from another such attack. However, anyone who has ever been on a college campus knows it is near to impossible to ensure complete safety and still function normally.
Perhaps a better method of protection would be to eliminate the influences that encourage these types of attacks in the first place. The debate at hand should not be about gun control, security measures or what could have been done different.
The necessary debate should be about the fact that modern society – heavily laden with violent scenes on the television, hate-filled lyrics in the music and video games that sear the tender consciences of our youth – is producing murderers.
If we want to protect ourselves from these killers, then it is upon us as parents and leaders of the community to protect the minds of these young men (I say young men because I cannot recall any women committing these acts) from the elements of society that feed hatred and murder.
We cannot expect our children to fill their minds with hate, violence and murder all day via the television, music and video games and then expect them to grow up to be well-balanced individuals who are ready to contribute positively to society. If we raise violent children, we will eventually live with violent adults.
It is time we took responsibility for allowing violence to permeate the lives of our children and start fighting back against this hateful culture that has overtaken society in the last few decades by eliminating these influences. Otherwise, we can only expect to see more massacres, more death and more violence.
It is time to let our children be young and innocent again.