Thursday, April 19, 2007

I often wonder, "What compels people to say and do and write the things they do?" In the wake of the violence of April 16 at Virginia Tech, I find myself not only wondering, but angry. Very angry.

The student who did the killing (everyone seems to feel it necessary to point out that he was South Korean, but he and his parent immigrated to the United States when he was 9 years old, so really, what difference does it make?) was erroneously linked to his first victim, Emily Hilscher, with suggestions made by various news media that they had some form of relationship, and that it was a falling out between them which led to his homicidal rampage. Despite the fact that there was no evidence to support this theory, it was widely reported.

One Canadian journalist has issued an apology for his part in the misrepresenting of the facts behind Emily Hilscher's violent murder. Admirable enough, to be sure, that he would so freely and vehemently admit his error and offence to the memory of Hilscher and all the victims at Virginia Tech. But his apology for his inaccuracy doesn't excuse the larger offence in all this aftermath.

Headlines have read: "Was it an obsession with Emily that drove gunman to kill?" "Was gunman crazed over Emily?" and have featured pictures of her bright, young face followed by the statement: "This is the face of the teenage student who may have sparked the biggest gun massacre in US history." The rhetoric in these headlines, in these statements, is that somehow, someway, the female victim is implicit in this violence. Something she did, something she said, something she wore, or some glance or gesture must have caused this highly disturbed, and historically psychiatrically treated individual to snap, and led to the 32 deaths, 20 injuries, and terror and sorrow of April 16.

How is this acceptable? How, how can anyone still, in this age of "equality" and "women's liberation" and "political correctness" think that it is in any way a valid argument that in some small way, the initial victim of Cho's madness was to blame. Such rhetoric is of the same variety as the argument that a rape victim is implicit in her attack by wearing a short skirt, or stilettos, or that the victim of spousal abuse shouldn't have "talked back" at her drunken, violent partner, thus "forcing" him to beat her unconscious; the "Why do you make me do this to you?" argument in it's finest. How, I ask you, can any person with any shred of decency believe that any person, male or female, could actually "drive" someone to the acts of April 16?

That Thane Burnett apologised for his error, I appreciate. But the greater, more fundamental, and far more distressing issue is not the erroneous subject matter, but the readiness of media to accept and perpetuate the belief that women have some strange, illusory, and powerful methods of beguilment by which we drive men insane and lead them to mass murder. The overwhelming and enduring reign of the patriarchal bias of the media is enough to make a person weep in disbelief.

Emily Hilscher is a victim of one man's violent and homicidal inclinations: nothing more. Whether she knew him in life, or not, whether or not she ever had cause to speak with him, share a classroom with him, or sit at the same cafeteria table with him, she had no part in her own murder, nor the murder of her fellow students.

This woman was a victim. Look it up. If you want to blame her, try looking up "misogynistic pig". Don't be surprised to find your portrait.

God in heaven, I am so upset by this.

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