Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Madness can't be explained by reasons

CNN and MSNBC thrive on tragedy. About an hour ago I heard one of those rent-an-expert talking heads telling a windblown Tucker Carlson that the Virginia Tech students are being comforted by the overflowing presence of the media in Blacksburg. That was in response to Carlson’s noting that he’d never seen quite such an assemblage of the working press.

“It’s seen as more of a show of respect,” said the shill, “this isn’t a media circus.”

A distinctive Virginia Tech gray stone building served as the authenticity backdrop for the cable news “reporters,” as they plied their trade between commercials and promos for more "massacre" coverage.

If you’re watching the cable news channels, among other things, you’re being led on a wild goose chase. But when they can add an element of suspense to their blood red story of aberrant mayhem, then it can be a ratings bonanza for them. Thus, viewers who leave their televisions tuned to 24-hour news channels for the next few days will be hearing a lot about the motive of the shooter, now said to have been a 23-year-old Korean English major at Tech.

The talking heads are asking: Why did he do it? Was it revenge? What about his writings? Was he out to hurt the university? Was he a loner? Were there clues? Is this somebody’s fault? Or, was it just another byproduct of America’s violent culture?

Why is that a wild goose chase?

Looking for one paramount reason that will explain a morning’s outburst of sudden madness may be good for ratings, but it’s not likely to allay anxiety, or to lead to anything akin to satisfaction. Madness doesn’t need a reason. It is the opposite of reason.

So, for what it’s worth, my advice is this -- don’t leave your TV on CNN or MSNBC for hours at a time. And, don’t dwell on finding something that will make sense of this tragedy. In time, we’ll know more about the culprit. Still, that doesn’t mean we’ll ever really grasp the motives of a crazy man on a suicide-run in a way that will make us feel any better.


Well, now I’m watching the Atlanta Braves pound the Washington Nationals -- 3-0 in the top of the third. Tonight the Nats players are wearing maroon Hokies baseball caps. No doubt, there will be other touching gestures along these lines. At this extreme mood-swinging time that’s my kind of story. Yes, I want to know more about who set that up.

And, perhaps like you, I keep thinking about some of the guys I know who went to Tech...


Triscula said...

"And, perhaps like you, I keep thinking about some of the guys I know who went to Tech..."

Yeah...I sure do.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the parade ground on tv I think of family photos of VPI (not even &SU then) from the 1930s, when the students were mostly farmboys who probably all had guns but nobody thought they were for shooting students with.

Probably nobody in the state isn't connected in some way with VT. This hurts.

The media hairdos are being their usual narcisstic selves. Yuck. Some of them looked happy this came along so they wouldn't have to cover a flood in New Jersey.