FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Tragedy and Irony After Virginia Tech

by LILA RAJIVA

“You are hereby directed not to enter the College campus or any College owned property at any time for any reason” reads a one- page letter sent through courier by administrators no more than a day after an upsetting classroom incident had come to their attention.

If you thought that was V-Tech officials getting the perpetrator of reportedly the biggest campus massacre in the US, Cho Seung Hui, out of the classroom, you thought wrong.

Probably nothing says more about the priorities of the political culture nowadays than the firing last week of Nicholas Winsett, a teacher at Boston’s Emmanuel College. (1)

On Wednesday, two days after the Virginia massacre, Winsett enacted a little skit in his classroom.

During the skit, Winsett used a marker to pretend to shoot at a student who had previously been prepped to simulate firing back. He was illustrating his argument that the massacre could have been prevented had university policy allowed guns on campus. That may be debatable.

But, of course, debating things is precisely what professors do.

To my mind, he made some thoughtful points:

He asked students what the impact of this tragedy on the stock market was (nil) to show that a sensational tragedy does not equate to something that has a deep social impact.

He also argued that the incidence of such killings is miniscule. You are more likely to be shot in a convenience store or struck by lightning than killed in a mass shooting.

His interpretation is open to question, of course. For one thing, I think he overlooks the importance of the twin issues of psychiatric drug use and the increase in police-state laws. But I doubt he is much off the mark on the statistics.

Here is a video of his argument on YouTube. (2)

Emmanuel College claims he was making light of the tragedy at Virginia Tech. He is said to have made derogatory references to “rich, white kids.” The college is within its rights to maintain its standards – which may well have been violated by what he said. But in this case they seem to have been quick enough to act…even without much investigation.

Meanwhile, the President of Virginia Tech has yet to step down for the university’s role in witlessly enabling school shooter, Cho Seung Hui. Indeed, if we are to believe Steger, officials did all that could humanly have been done. But this Time article calls him on that. (3)

A glance at Dr. Steger’s professional record shows it to be an impressive one, which makes this turn in his career all the more tragic.

But this paragraph in his CV struck me as not tragic… but ironic:

“Most recently, he has been asked by the Swiss Ambassador to the United States and The World Bank to serve on a committee to establish a foundation in the United States to conduct research on mitigating global natural disasters.” (4)

Indeed.

Still, even if he resigned from V-Tech, Steger’s path is unlikely to be downward.

Right now, that’s not the case with Nicholas Winsett.

Notes

1. “Emmanuel Prof. Fired For Discussing Virginia Tech Schooting,” Emil Steiner, Washington Post online, April 24, 2007.

2. http://youtube.com/

3. “Va. Tech’s President Should Resign,” Jon Cloud, Time, April 19, 2007.

4. http://www.president.vt.edu/steger_bio.php

LILA RAJIVA is a free-lance journalist and author of “The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the American media,” (Monthly Review Press) and Mobs, Messiahs and Markets. She can be reached at: lrajiva@hotmail.com or through her blog at: http://lilarajiva.wordpress.com/

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail