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Thread: A Fi rant on the V-Tech shootings

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    Default A Fi rant on the V-Tech shootings

    Suck It Up
    After the shootings came an orgy of mawkishness, sloppiness, and false sentiment.
    By Christopher Hitchens
    Posted Tuesday, April 24, 2007, at 2:29 PM ET

    When people in America say "no man is an island," as Joan Didion once put it, they think they are quoting Ernest Hemingway. But when Hemingway annexed the seductive words from John Donne's Devotions, quoting the whole paragraph on his title page and borrowing from it one of the 20th century's most resonant titles, he did not literally mean to say that all funerals are the same or that all deaths are to be regretted equally. He meant that if the Spanish republic went under to fascism, we should all be the losers. It was a matter both of solidarity and of self-interest: Stand by your friends now, or be shamed (and deserted in your turn) later on.

    The grisly events at Virginia Tech involved no struggle, no sacrifice, no great principle. They were random and pointless. Those who died were not soldiers in any cause. They were not murdered by our enemies. They were not martyrs. But—just to take one example from the exhausting national sob fest of the past few days—here is how the bells were tolled for them at another national seat of learning. The president of Cornell University, David J. Skorton, ordered the chimes on his campus to be rung 33 times before addressing a memorial gathering. Thirty-three times? Yes. "We are here," announced the head of an institution of higher learning:

    for all of those who are gone, for all 33. We are here for the 32 who have passed from the immediate to another place, not by their own choice. We are also here for the one who has also passed. We are one.

    For an academic president to have equated 32 of his fellow humans with their murderer in an orgy of "one-ness" was probably the stupidest thing that happened last week, but not by a very wide margin. Almost everybody in the country seems to have taken this non-event as permission to talk the starkest nonsense. And why not? Since the slaughter raised no real issues, it was a blank slate on which anyone could doodle. Try this, from the eighth straight day of breathless coverage in the New York Times. The person being quoted is the Rev. Susan Verbrugge of Blacksburg Presbyterian Church, addressing her congregation in an attempt, in the silly argot of the day, "to make sense of the senseless":

    Ms. Verbrugge recounted breaking through the previous week's numbness as she stopped on a morning walk and found herself yelling at the mountains and at God. Though her shouts were initially met with silence, she said, she soon was reassured by the simplest of things, the chirping of birds.

    "God was doing something about the world," she said. "Starting with my own heart, I could see good."

    Yes, it's always about you, isn't it? (By the way, I'd watch that habit of yelling at mountains and God in the greater Blacksburg area if I were you. Some idiot might take it for a "warning sign.") When piffle like this gets respectful treatment from the media, we can guess that it's not because of the profundity of the emotion but rather because of its extreme shallowness. Those birds were singing just as loudly and just as sweetly when the bullets were finding their targets.

    But the quest for greater "meaning" was unstoppable. Will Korean-Americans be "targeted"? (Thanks for putting the idea into the head of some nutcase, but really, what an insulting question!) Last week, I noticed from my window in Washington, D.C., that the Russian trade mission had lowered its flag. President Putin's commercial envoys, too, want to be a part of it all: surely proof in itself of how utterly painless all this vicarious "pain" really is. (And now, what are they going to do for Boris Yeltsin?)

    On Saturday night, I watched disgustedly as the president of the United States declined to give his speech to the White House Correspondents Dinner on the grounds that this was no time to be swapping jokes and satires. (What? No words of courage? No urging us to put on a brave face and go shopping or visit Disneyland?) Everyone in the room knew that this was a dismal cop-out, but then everyone in the room also knew that our own profession was co-responsible. If the president actually had performed his annual duty, there were people in the press corps who would have affected shock and accused him of "insensitivity." So, this was indeed a moment of unity—everyone united in mawkishness and sloppiness and false sentiment. From now on, any president who wants to duck the occasion need only employ a staffer on permanent weepy-watch. In any given week, there is sure to be some maimed orphan, or splattered home, or bus plunge, or bunch of pilgrims put to the sword. Best to be ready in advance to surrender all critical faculties and whip out the national hankie.

    It was my friend Adolph Reed who first pointed out this tendency to what he called "vicarious identification." At the time of the murder of Lisa Steinberg in New York in 1987, he was struck by the tendency of crowds to show up for funerals of people they didn't know, often throwing teddy bears over the railings and in other ways showing that (as well as needing to get a life) they in some bizarre way seemed to need to get a death. The hysteria that followed a traffic accident in Paris involving a disco princess—surely the most hyped non-event of all time—seemed to suggest an even wider surrender to the overwhelming need to emote: The less at stake, the greater the grieving.

    And surrender may be the keyword here. What, for instance, is this dismal rush to lower the national colors all the damned time? At times of real crisis and genuine emergency, such as the assault on our society that was mounted almost six years ago, some emotion could be pardoned. But even then, the signs of sickliness and foolishness were incipient (as in Billy Graham's disgusting sermon at the National Cathedral where he spoke of the victims being "called into eternity"). If we did this every time, the flag would spend its entire time drooping. One should express a decent sympathy for the families and friends of the murdered, a decent sympathy that ought to be accompanied by a decent reticence. Because Virginia Tech—alas for poor humanity—was a calamity with no implications beyond itself. In the meantime, and in expectation of rather stiffer challenges to our composure, we might practice nailing the colors to the mast rather than engaging in a permanent dress rehearsal for masochism and the lachrymose.
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    Someone feed this guy some .
    “Let us forget with generosity those who cannot love us”
    ― Pablo Neruda

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    God I serriously can't stand Christopher Hitchens. But I have to admit that I agree with some of this, if not the snarky way he says it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Hitchens
    At the time of the murder of Lisa Steinberg in New York in 1987, he was struck by the tendency of crowds to show up for funerals of people they didn't know, often throwing teddy bears over the railings and in other ways showing that (as well as needing to get a life) they in some bizarre way seemed to need to get a death. The hysteria that followed a traffic accident in Paris involving a disco princess—surely the most hyped non-event of all time—seemed to suggest an even wider surrender to the overwhelming need to emote: The less at stake, the greater the grieving.
    And that was precisely what this movie about another ISFj was about:


    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vKNhDqtPqE[/youtube]
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    I enjoyed that. It's impossible to suffer someone else's misfortunes and the great lengths we go through to do so are weird. And this is the sort of event that crying over does little. Having an awareness of Virginia massacre is much different than having an awareness of AIDs. But it does bring up issues. I wonder how many rabbits Cho shot with his handguns? All accounts of his life seem to say he was a very precise small game hunter who lived in a very dangerous neighborhood which was always on the verge of petty burgulary. I mean, why else would he have handguns? Ah well.
    asd

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    I agree with it completely. In the bigger picture, more people die every day in Iraq, than were killed by the nutcase with guns. If you want to stop it from happening again, then ban the guns. Or at least tighten up the laws, and enforce them.
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    You should have seen the response I deleted in the original VA thread here in anything goes.

    It was fused with , and it wasn't very heartwarming, so to say.
    Pre-2013 post are written with incomplete understanding.

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    that's probably the most idiotic thing i've seen hitchens write or say.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KSpin
    If you want to stop it from happening again, then ban the guns. Or at least tighten up the laws, and enforce them.
    You couldn't be more off base.

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    Really? Explain.
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    we like to shoot things in the US... banning guns will never happen. Even if you could ban the guns... it would just be explosives instead which would probably kill more people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KSpin
    Really? Explain.
    Someone who is more than willing to take the lives of others and his own isn't going to adhere to a ban on firearms. They'll buy one on the black market. But lets say somehow you actually manage to remove all guns from a country. As Bionicgoat said, someone bent on killing will just use something else.

    Banning firearms simply removes them from the hands of responsible citizens, eliminating their ability to defend themselves. Had a member of the university been armed, the VT shooting would have ended much sooner.

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    I can't see much reason for handguns. I suppose their size makes them convenient for personal protection and easy storage. Alright sure let people keep them. The real danger is living in a world of fear, not a piece of machinery.
    asd

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    Quote Originally Posted by niffweed17
    that's probably the most idiotic thing i've seen hitchens write or say.
    and you've fronted quite the argument yourself.
    asd

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    Quote Originally Posted by snp7901
    what about gun accidents? crimes of passion? little kids getting ahold of daddy's handgun? there are a lot of effects firearms have on society, pros and cons. i think we'd have to do some serious quantitative investigation to declare what would happen if guns were banned.
    What about car accidents?
    Guns are not a prerequisite for a crime of passion.
    More kids die every year drowning in back yard swimming pools than die from playing with Daddy's handgun.

    (If anyone else wants to debate this, PM me. Lets not hijack this thread, turning it into a gun control debate.)

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    I say we hijack the thread because I don't see how it's going to improve otherwise.
    asd

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    Guns are baned here and violence is quite high.

    Banning things (either guns, alcohol, etc) is just to treat citizens as if they were kids. Citizens are adults and must be able to take their own decisions.

    And I agree that there is a lot of hypocrisy behind the reactions to those shootings. I mean, is there really someone who cries about people they don't know? If so, why aren't people crying for the hundreds of thoushands who died in the Asia tsunami? And those who starved to death in Somalia? Or those who died today in Iraq?

    Mindless emotionalism in the media. Manipulation of the masses. And lots of idiots who feed it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikemex
    I mean, is there really someone who cries about people they don't know? If so, why aren't people crying for the hundreds of thoushands who died in the Asia tsunami? And those who starved to death in Somalia? Or those who died today in Iraq?
    Yes, there really are people who cry about those things... not many, I admit, but there are a few.
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    .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Diana
    Quote Originally Posted by KSpin
    I agree with it completely. In the bigger picture, more people die every day in Iraq, than were killed by the nutcase with guns. If you want to stop it from happening again, then ban the guns. Or at least tighten up the laws, and enforce them.
    Sigh. I figured someone would say this. Anyway the kid wasn't even legal (under federal law) due to being declared a danger to himself. http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/04/24/gun...rss_topstories

    Banning guns is not the answer, and I don't want to debate. I'll just say I'm pro-freedom, anti-gun-control and leave it at that. Started to say so in the other thread, didn't want to get into a discussion over it.
    if gun control is not the solution, what is? look at other countries, do you see people going on some killing spree like this? i consider myself a very liberal person, i'm cool with a lot of things poeple think are immoral like incest relationships but to me, freedom should be limited somewhat once other persons can be hurt.

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    I think the answer, if there is one, is more in the mental health arena than the gun arena. For some reason, there is a lot of violence in the US, and I think it's a level of violence that is bigger than the issue of guns. That is, if there weren't guns there would be something else. Like a truck full of farm chemicals (McVeigh) or whatever. I don't really have a strong opinion about guns and gun control but my feeling is that gun control might slow people down but it wouldn't stop them.

    Anyway, people do go off the deep end and kill other people. It happens and I don't know if there's any way of stopping it.

    I do get tired of every person who dies unexpectedly being called a hero. But I think the reason these things get a lot of attention is because it reminds us all of how temporary our lives are, and how easily we could be the victims of something like this. Violence in Iraq gets less attention because most of us will never go to violent areas in the Middle East. But most of us have at some point walked on a university campus. So, this is a kind of violence that could potentially effect us.
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    Since this is in Gamma . . .

    My ISFj brother thinks that one of the answers is to make kids tuck in their shirts. He just emailed me this video.

    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9FF3LQlhBs[/youtube]
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    Did he forget the RPG tucked in his sock? Or the grenade in his mouth?
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    Whenever I need to explain to people why I am tucking in my shirt for casual occasions, I will point them to this video. Thanks.
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    why would anyone want to tuck in their shirt? it's a pain in the ass and it's uncomfortable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Diana
    However, hysteria and displays of severe mourning seem alien to me, and I don't understand it at all. All the show and ceremony seems over-the-top to me, but like I said, people are weird. I don't understand most of them. I think in a lot of cases they're grasping for meaning in something, and so overdramatize to make something mean more.
    I understand your view on this, I feel the same way. The whole thing seemed so emotionally overdone, blown out of proportion and was just downright uncomfortable for me to watch and it is not that I am unsympathetic to the people that died either.
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    ratings
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    He made good points.
    I laughed.
    He came off whiney


    And there were times where I thought him a tad bit too harsh, but just barely.


    I dunno, I'm biased because it seems that his speeches and writings are about things that I get annoyed with, but can't articulate why without being extreme and harsh. So he does that for me, so then I can be like, "HAH! But take it down a notch..."


    I hope that made sense....
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    Hey, where was this article from? What magazine/newspaper?


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    1. Gun control is idiotic, and its supporters are people I would kill to protect my right to own a firearm.

    2. Hitchens is correct, though he uses overly negative language that alienates stupid ENFps.

    3. ATTACK OF THE ALPHA NERDS.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clover
    He came off whiney


    And there were times where I thought him a tad bit too harsh, but just barely.
    That's Fe reacting to Fi.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Expat
    Quote Originally Posted by Clover
    He came off whiney


    And there were times where I thought him a tad bit too harsh, but just barely.
    That's Fe reacting to Fi.

    I thought of this at discojoe's comment : "though he uses overly negative language that alienates stupid ENFps."


    And liking the harshness and feeling sadistic about it at second thought?
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    [21:29] hitta: idealism is just the gap between the thought of death
    [21:29] hitta: and not dying
    .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clover
    Quote Originally Posted by Expat
    Quote Originally Posted by Clover
    He came off whiney


    And there were times where I thought him a tad bit too harsh, but just barely.
    That's Fe reacting to Fi.

    I thought of this at discojoe's comment : "though he uses overly negative language that alienates stupid ENFps."


    And liking the harshness and feeling sadistic about it at second thought?
    Se in the Id would be my guess. Like when I see niffweed demolishing someone with NiTe and feel secretly pleased (though not willing to do it myself).

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    Quote Originally Posted by thehotelambush
    Quote Originally Posted by Clover
    Quote Originally Posted by Expat
    Quote Originally Posted by Clover
    He came off whiney


    And there were times where I thought him a tad bit too harsh, but just barely.
    That's Fe reacting to Fi.

    I thought of this at discojoe's comment : "though he uses overly negative language that alienates stupid ENFps."


    And liking the harshness and feeling sadistic about it at second thought?
    Se in the Id would be my guess. Like when I see niffweed demolishing someone with NiTe and feel secretly pleased (though not willing to do it myself).

    I'd do it if I could think of a witty way of doing so...sometimes I have moments when I am witty, it's pretty sweet.



    (niffweeds' demolition secretly pleases me sometimes too, other times it is tiring)
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    [21:29] hitta: idealism is just the gap between the thought of death
    [21:29] hitta: and not dying
    .

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    ENFps who say that Hitchens needs based on that article are being hypcritical; just as people can "mourn" however they want, Hitchens can bitch about it as he likes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by discojoe
    ENFps who say that Hitchens needs based on that article are being hypcritical; just as people can "mourn" however they want, Hitchens can bitch about it as he likes.
    How is hypocritical to say that I find his viewpoint limited and that Ne allows people to see that there might be other facets to an issue. Nobody is saying that he shouldn't express his POV. But the lack of Ne annoys me, naturally.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim
    Quote Originally Posted by discojoe
    ENFps who say that Hitchens needs based on that article are being hypcritical; just as people can "mourn" however they want, Hitchens can bitch about it as he likes.
    How is hypocritical to say that I find his viewpoint limited and that Ne allows people to see that there might be other facets to an issue. Nobody is saying that he shouldn't express his POV. But the lack of Ne annoys me, naturally.
    Well, if you're being genuinely open to the idea that the people he is criticizing may be full of shit, then it's not hypocritical.

  40. #40
    Creepy-male

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    I read through that all and I think I have a theory, the only reason I can understand why people seek to find such meaning and empathy of the grief in other peoples misfortune could be in a way that they don't understand the meaning of the death and without some profound reason the person died for they seek to search for some meaning and in the process end up spewing out all sorts of weird bizzare ideas. The reason why the less the meaning, the more the sentiment as the author said is likely because its a defense mechanism against the nihilistic idea that people die without a reason. Last thing I find myself wanting to feel about the VA tragedy was that it brings home the idea that in this world a man can bust in a door and dispell every single bit of meaning in my or your life at the slightest pull of a trigger, honestly while unsensible I can't blame people from imbueing this random act that hardly affects them in their life with an over flow of sentiment.

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