Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A sad story

Have been thinking about the young shooter at Virginia Tech and about those who came into contact with him. His behavior as described was overtly bizarre, his writings dark and violent, it seems clear that those around him found him abnormal and even disturbing. And yet all who wanted to help him, including a teacher who tutored him privately, were hindered because the young man was legally of age, not a minor child. No one could order him into treatment or even make a call to his family. Such a tragic story. For some reason this was a man filled with rage. I wish it were possible to intervene in such cases, but of course the risk of altering current law is that merely eccentric behavior, or unpopular but not dangerous speech/writing, could become grounds for intervention. At least that is the fear. And so at least in my state the grounds for involuntary confinement are very narrow. I don't know what I'd have done, confronted with a man like the shooter. I imagine him to have been far beyond the kind of help his teacher tried to offer by tutoring him--but, faced with an individual in such pain, it would be difficult to fail him in the class, even though he was unable to participate meaningfully, for fear of triggering some sort of violent or self-destructive behavior. Which, of course, is what ended up happening anyway. So sad for his family, roommate, teacher, along with the hundreds affected by his appalling choice of mass murder and suicide. I wish so much that he could have been linked to the bomb threats before he put his murderous plan into action. But that was not to be.


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