|By G. Michael Dobbs|
Western Massachusetts is an area rightly proud of its many colleges, so undoubtedly the tragedy at Virginia Tech has resonated pretty deeply here among college staff and students.
Rather than concentrate on how to reconcile student privacy issues with a system that could enable college administrators to prevent such occurrences in the future, much of the nation's professional pundits have turned their sights on the gun control issues.
There have been plenty of suggestions that if Virginia had allowed students to pack heat on campuses that some of the 32 deaths could have been avoided. The right-wingers on talk radio have been having a field day saying this terrible incidence shows how soft this nation has become.
Radio host Neal Boortz wrote the following on his web site on April 17: "How far have we advanced in the wussification of America? I am now under attack by the left for wondering aloud why these students did so little to defend themselves. It seems that standing in terror waiting for your turn to be executed was the right thing to do, and any questions as to why 25 students didn't try to rush and overpower Cho Seung-Hui are just examples of right wing maniacal bias. Surrender comply adjust. The doctrine of the left. Amazing, isn't it? Even the suggestion that young adults should actually engage in an act of self defense brings howls of protest."
In Boortz's view I guess those poor Amish kids who were killed last year were "wusses," too. It really help solves problems in a society by calling the victims names, right?
I can't imagine how parents of the slain students must be feeling when they hear such a stream of hate.
The real issues in my mind, which have been clouded by the right wing media for the purpose of ratings, are the following:
How can colleges and other educational institutions better address students with mental and emotional illnesses so they will not be a danger to themselves or others?
How can colleges prepare themselves better to respond to such emergencies? Do mass e-mails or text messages do the job?
Will we as a society ever be able to defend ourselves from the actions of individuals with a mental illness who are determined to kill themselves and other people?
Is there substantial and reliable research to indicate an armed America would prevent acts of madness?
Would having a simple waiting period and background check in Virginia prevented this event from happening?
What do you think?
Some people might snort at the idea of Springfield being a "green city," but then again all too often people who live in a place can't seem to see its strengths.
We had a pair of visitors in town from Scotland and I gave one of them a quick history tour. The mills in Holyoke, the Armory Museum, and other spots in Springfield were on the quick agenda.
He loved Holyoke as it reminded him of Paisley, the Scottish mill town that gave the world the paisley shawl. I took him to Open Square and he thought it was marvelous.
Springfield Technical Community College and the Armory Museum also impressed him. He thought the homes in Hill-McKnight were great.
Through his eyes the area had a lot of pluses. It's too bad that too many of us only see the deficits.
The wonderful photos from Governor Deval Patrick's town meeting were credited to yours truly, which was a huge mistake. Photographer Jim Langone was shooting for Springfield Technical Community College and graciously offered to send over some for our use, something he has done in the past.
My apologies to Jim and my thanks for those fine images.
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