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Apr 20 2007

Berserk-os

I’m still off duty, but goddammit, some political gasbag on the radio has proclaimed a National Day of Mourning for the murdered Virginia Tech students. On such occasions the first thought that coils up in my obstreperal lobe, ready to spring, is this: oh please.

I hope I don’t shock the delicate reader with my imperfectly assimilated sense of patriotism, but I rebel against these national imperatives to mourn perfect strangers. It’s sentimental, sanctimonious, hypocritical crap. You can’t really mourn someone you didn’t know.

You can, of course, mourn the death of an idea, but the idea that campuses are exempt from berserk-os on killing rampages died in 1966, when Charles Whitman’s brain malfunctioned and he shot 46 people from the University of Texas tower. The so-called “end of America’s innocence” precipitated by that massacre has already been mourned. For 40 years.

A rational citizen, using whatever diminished faculties are left to her after a lifetime of governmental, cultural, and religious manipulation, will process the Virginia Tech event the same way she processes the news of any senseless butchery perpetrated by crazy men: with ever-deepening angst. These orating gasbags, with their inane “moments of silence” and paternalistic “days of mourning” whipped up special for the TV cameras, are themselves crazy men. Displaying the disingenuous maggotry that passes these days for statesmanship, they’ll hitch their political wagons to any convenient spontaneous tragedy for an opportunity to convince a global audience that, despite their sponsorship of other, more distant, more invisible, or more devastating calamities, they are in fact capable of humanity.

What kind of moron buys that crap? It’s tragic when some random dude goes off his nut and kills indiscriminately, but it’s unconscionable when an elected government does exactly the same thing on a global scale and everyone swells with national pride. The people running the war may have human DNA, but they are all barbarians.

As Stingray, who actually knew slightly one of the murdered students, so succinctly put it, there ought to be a National Day of Mourning every fucking day until the war is over.

61 comments

2 pings

  1. lawbitch

    Thanks, Twisty! As always, your loyal blamers need your insightful wit to deal with our “ever-deepening angst.” I’m hanging around here to *avoid* the crazy media coverage.

  2. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    To paraphrase Uncle Joe Stalin, kill one and it’s a tragedy, kill a million and it’s a statistic.

    Now this is messed up, but I work for the goverment and when that crazy old fart Ronnie Regan kicked the bucket and I got a paid day off I did not feel very mournful. All I could think of was how his administration’s lack of an AIDS policy killed some of my good friends.

  3. KMTberry

    Twisty: You are 100% correct, as usual. We would all fear your brains, were it not for the fact that you put them to heroic use championing the downtrodden.

    You forgot to mention the national media’s FROTHING to find SOMEONE TO BLAME!!!! Other than the killer, I mean. The Professors, the counsellors, the police, the University President, the first girl murdered (!)
    CLEARLY, SOMEONE is to blame other than the legislators and gun lobbiests (and certainly we can’t bring up the spectre of the NON-EXISTENT MENTAL HEALTH CARE in this country, which one would only be aware of if they have a crazy person in their pamily, as I do).

  4. Bird

    And yet a memorial event for women in “high risk lifestyles” (that’s drug addicts, street prostitutes, Native women and other women on the very bottom of the patriarchy’s list of valuable people) killed by an as-yet unidentified serial killer in my city has trouble getting more than a passing mention on the local six o’clock news.

  5. Amy

    Thanks for this post–it’s something I’ve always thought but wasn’t quite sure how to express. I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one. :)

  6. finnsmotel

    If this is how you take a break from duty, you should do it more often!

    Excellent points all around.

    My favorite conspiracy theory, these days, is that people in power (govt, religion, etc.) are (and probably have always been) managing the national dialogue and cultural narratives to keep us from having our own internal dialog and narrative. If we all did it at once, and we all suddenly realized that none of this sh-t matters, one can only imagine what might happen.

  7. Foilwoman

    Thank you. If one more person calls the situation at Virginia Tech “unthinkable”, I’ll be able to respond “have you had an inability to assimilate the news of mass shootings since 1966″? Really, it’s total thinkable, imaginable, and conceivable. It’s tragic and speaks very poorly of our society that this sort of event is still not only imaginable but is something that a lone angry young man* can bring to fruition, largely because idiots insist that it is still unimaginable. Well, if they’d been able to imagine it, they’d be able to plan on how they might prevent or diminish or whatever future massacres.

    *Appropriate use of masculine noun, please note.

  8. finnsmotel

    Meant to add:

    They used to just manage the narrative. Now, in typical hyper-Ammuricun fashion, they are micromanaging it. No detail is to small to escape the spin zone.

    I keep waiting to hear how Alec Baldwin’s cell phone rant is related to the VA-Tech shootings. C’mon Wolf Blitzer, don’t let me down!!

  9. blondie

    Excellent post. I am so tired of the t.v.newsheads making serious faces, shaking their heads, clucking their tongues and trying to out-sympathize each other, while their eyes glisten as they show off the nut’s self-videos.

  10. S-kat

    When I heard Bush’s speech calling on us to mourn the dead I fantasized that he was talking about himself as the “crazy man” and asking us to remember the dead in Iraq/Afaghanistan.

    I tend to play with my cognative dissonance this way.

  11. Ozma

    “These orating gasbags, with their inane “moments of silence” and paternalistic “days of mourning” whipped up special for the TV cameras, are themselves crazy men. Displaying the disingenuous maggotry that passes these days for statesmanship, they’ll hitch their political wagons to any convenient spontaneous tragedy for an opportunity to convince a global audience that, despite their sponsorship of other, more distant, more invisible, or more devastating calamities, they are in fact capable of humanity.”

    oh mah goodness. Yes, you just described something in words that I now know I have been feeling inchoately. hoo-eee.

  12. Aireanne

    I was afraid that I was the only one who felt this way, but glad that I’m not.

    Thanks, Twisty!

  13. Becky

    Word. School shooting are a tragedy, but no more tragic that any other untimely death.

  14. Storageheater

    The saddest thing about the reporting of the event in the UK was that two days before we’d heard about the ‘Shock Split’ of William and Kate which slightly devalued the use of the words ‘Shock Murder Spree.’ Naturally, noone was really shocked by either, but you have to make the right noises to sell your papers.

    In a way it’s more honest that now all news is reported with such obvious indicators of how we’re supposed to react, rather than pretending impartiality (which died long before I was born but was still a common pretence until the mid 90s.) And anyway, at least it’ll return to being private grief for the families affected once it’s become over-analysed and boring for everyone else.

    I loved the attack on Simon Cowell for ‘rolling his eyes’ when some contestant brought it up. If I’d have been him I’d have put out a press release announcing I was going to commit suicide in sympathy and then had a debauched fortnight in full view of the paparazzi.

  15. ew_nc

    This reminds me of how mystified I get when so much is made of a cop’s death in the line of duty. It’s my understanding that they are fully informed that the job entails extremely high risk of getting on the wrong side of a bad guy’s piece. And that not only do they willilng sign up for it, but they get paid as well. But they – like soldiers – are called heroes when they get killed. Heroes for doing their job! To me, heroes are women who enjoy some measure of happiness as they get through the day in a patriarchal world.

  16. Sean

    To ew-nc:

    I think it’s stated in Thessacolossions 28:14 that “God saith, that only he who kills can be a hero. Preferably, he who kills those other people I don’t particularly like.”

    Effing nationalism, IBTP.

  17. MzNicky

    As someone wrote at FireDogLake today: “In Iraq, there are a half dozen or more Virginia Tech massacres every day.”

    I find it simply impossible to look at or listen to the Thing in the White House anymore.

  18. Rainbow Girl

    When my horrifying matriarchal coven completes its plan of world domination, (thanks, MRA’s for that idea!), and we are all masculine women and emasculated men leading a futuristic, sci-fi lifestyle shockingly out of line with the laws of nature (thanks again!), I promise that not only will there be a monument in your honour, but also that every Feminist Friday will be declared a National Day of Ever-Deepening Angst.

  19. norbizness

    Twisty’s main point, illustrated in three videos.

  20. Kate Dino

    On the bright side, if it possible to speak of a bright side, one more person on earth figured out that these massacres are the fault of the patriarchy.

  21. BubbasNightmare

    I was particularly floored by the flags being at half mast over this.

    Yes, it is a tragedy, but NO! there’s no way to stop this sort of thing from happening again, unless the Federanazis start locking up everyone who ranges outside their definitions of “normal”.

    On a more personal note, I made a comment about this issue in another blog that I think is important for us to remember:

    “As tragic as the Virginia Tech shootings are, we all need to remember something:
    If actions such as this cause us to completely mistrust all people, if we fearfully lock the doors every time we get home, if we close ourselves off to others for fear of being physically or emotionally hurt, the bastards win.”

    Twisty’s usual insightfulness moves me to add:
    “If this event keeps us from seeing the same or greater number of government-sponsored killings every day in Iraq”.

  22. kate

    I don’t watch the tube and every time something like this goes on, I’m glad. I did hear on the radio news a quick clip of Bush commandeering the citizenry to pay attention to odd behavior. I thought it was a plea for people to connect with each other, to reach out and become a community of people. What a grand contradiction to the wingnut fantasy of predatory self preservation so often preached by them.

    But no, his quote, when given, was just some lame reference to persons using drugs and acting strange, or something.

  23. darkles

    “disingenuous maggotry”

    An excellent turn of phrase.

  24. Jess

    Echoes of Nikki Giovanni’s speech at the V.T. convocation. I recommend it — it’s up on YouTube, titled “We Are Virginia Tech” — but skip the comments unless you want to get pissed off.

  25. Sol Niger

    I’m glad you said it Twisty.

    As for the ‘whys’, it’s not just about gun control laws, its a cultural thing. All that machismo shit: take it like a man, don’t cry, don’t ask for help, how dare you admit weakness.

    We can also blame the patriarchy for making violent retribution such an attractive option. Case in point: American foreign policy and every action movie and TV show ever made.

    The first thing I thought of was the Montreal massacre where Mark Lepine shot 14 female engineering students because he claimed they were feminists and because “feminists are ruining the world”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal_massacre

  26. thebewilderness

    In the Asswad thread, a person posting as Ben Dover has made a claim about Kathy Sierra being a professional victim. As far as I know being a victim is the result of a perp commiting a crime against your person. It seems to me there has been an effort to make words mean something new and different when applied to women.
    I hope when Twisty gets off break we can look into why a person would come to an old thread on a radfem blog to mark territory.

  27. thebewilderness

    Never mind, He appears to be a freeper.

  28. Stella

    Yes.

  29. Antelope

    Should we be happy that the right-wing pundits are now blaming the victim for not fighting back in the case of the VA Tech students, even though they don’t get to single out female victims as the problem?

    Ah, the wonderful choices the patriarchy gives us.

  30. JimmyDean'sFuckedUpCousinClyde

    They were hoping to sell a shitload of Hallmark cards but couldn’t quite figure how to market them.
    “Glad You Got Missed”
    “So Happy To Hear It Was Your Roommate And Not You”
    “Into Every Collegian’s Life a Little Lead Must Fall…”
    “So Sorry To Hear About Your Late Sorority”
    “Congratulations On Your Flesh Wound” —-and so on…
    So they came up with a day of mourning instead.

    A distracted electorate is an unaware electorate.

  31. ceejay1968

    Oh, thank goodness. I’m so glad you said it!

    This is my first post here, been lurking for a while. It’s quite possible you may be single-handedly saving my sanity for now. You are just wonderful!

  32. Serpent's Choice

    In fact, even the idea that the UT tower shootings were the end of some sort of “era of innocence” is ludicrous. How soon we forget that a disgruntled farmer blew up a school in 1927. Every time — Bath School, UT Tower, Columbine, VA Tech — it sparks this realization that something might be wrong. Sometimes, rarely, something more or less good comes of it (like the removal of the military-refurbished incendiary pyrotol from public sale). But then a week passes, and some celebrity gets married, or some politician says something idiotic, or an unexpected sports team wins, and away it all goes down the memory hole.

    It would be in the flavor of this blog to blame this cycle of horror, fever-pitched mock-sympathetic reporting, and amnesia on the patriarchy, to label it is a tool of the controlling elite. In this case, though, I think there is no need to ascribe to malice what can be caused by simply ignorance and apathy and simple discomfort.

    The American people, as a whole, and the enabling media, have no real stomach for lasting discomfort because no one has any answers. Certainly, the “missing white girl” is a story for months, but always the ones that are over-the-top, cinematic, barely believable: Jon Benet Ramsey, Natalee Holloway. No one lingers on the women (and men) who vanish under more “realistic” circumstances (like Amy Bradley) or “just go missing” … because unlike Natalee and Jon Benet, they could be any of us. In turn, we report on Iraq — after a fashion — and deign to count our dead, but not our amputees, our PTSD sufferers, our disfigured … or any of the casualties of that other side.

    How do you stop the school janitor from wiring the basement with explosives? How do you stop an ex-Marine from taking a sniper rifle to Texas civilians? How do you stop a young man with no real friends and few contacts at all from walking into a building one day and shooting everyone he sees? How do you deal with tens of thousands of veterans who need a legacy of medical care? Likewise … how do you stop gang violence, organized criminal drug smuggling, or white slavery?

    There aren’t answers. And so people facing those questions feel powerless. And ours is a society that cannot abide the sensation of powerlessness, one that allows even the tragic past to slip away rather than face the abyss. But we lowered our flags to half-staff. We stood on a podium and said we were “saddened”, said we “stand with the victims”. That’s enough powerlessness, surely.

    Hmm. Maybe I wound up doing that blaming after all.

  33. Mister Nice Guy

    I’m really taken with that “obstreperal lobe”. And may we all keep ours from atrophying.

  34. Flash

    Right as usual, Twisty. This ‘mourning’ of strangers has become the new national pastime in the UK. They did it for Diana, with heaps of dead flowers and soggy teddy bears on the streets, and they do it for just about anyone who makes the headlines. There are thousands of emotionally incontinent people out there (mainly, I regret to say, female) who go out and weep uncontrollably at the slightest hint of someone’s else’s tragedy. I blogged about it – http://deadinteresting.blogspot.com/2005/09/mourning-sickness.html
    Some call it ‘false grief’. I call it mourning sickness.

  35. tinfoil hattie

    27 students and 5 faculty members being gunned down on a Monday morning at a college campus is horrifyingly sad.

    It does not have to compete with Iraq to be sad.

    Both are horrifying tragedies, Iraq the more so because it is a daily slaughter perpetrated and sanctioned by the Bush Administration.

    I for one am feeling quite a bit mournful these days — and the Virginia Tech tragedy is awful, painful, tragic, and devastating.

    So there’s room in my heart — but it’s getting pretty squeezed in there — for lots and lots of sadness, and there certainly is plenty to go around.

    Since I live in Virginia, and this is following not too far on the heels of the sniper, which followed not too far on the heels of the Pentagon, I may be feeling these things differently than other blamers.

    Some man on TV telling me how to grieve doesn’t bother me, because I don’t listen. I just grieve in my own little way.

    And I turn off the TV.

  36. Mamasquab

    Amen, Tinfoil. While I think Twisty’s right about the Asswad telling us to mourn (and ditto Fox News), I am a university professor, and as the story was breaking on Monday, I asked my class to stand for 30 seconds of silence to grieve what was happening on another campus. For me, it was personal, because all academics are members of one community, and many of my students feel that it’s their community too. We were mourning our own.

    Doesn’t mean worse things aren’t happening–at the instigation of the macho men who run this country–in Iraq and other places. But this was still perfectly, frighteningly awful.

  37. Trout

    Yay Twisty!!

  38. ill-considered screen name

    I was so disgusted that W rushed to the scene, to participate in the “convocation”(?) when he hasn’t attended a single funeral of the more than 3000 dead soldiers from Iraq/Afghanistan. Some dead people are publically mourned while others are inconvenient and should just stay out of sight.

  39. EN

    We are told to mourn because as long as we’re busy mourning, we don’t have time to question. I keep seeing the same phrases popping up: “This tragedy should not be used for political purposes.” “People with a dogma to push should not take advantage of this terrible tragedy.” These statements preemptively dismiss any questioning as unfeeling and manipulative, arguing that it is wrong to look for reasons instead of an emotional response- in short, it is wrong to allow our brains to function as well as, or instead of, our tear ducts. Certainly any question about why so many killings are committed by men and aimed at women is attacked as pressing an agenda. The answers would have to be dealt with, and that’s much more work than lowering a flag and crying. The answers would condemn male privilege, and they certainly won’t allow people to think about that.

    I find it interesting that while mourning is all we are supposed to do in this instance, it is precisely what is denied to us in the Iraq war- no photos of bodybags, no discussion of the number of deaths (American deaths, of course- the thought of counting Iraqi deaths is simply unspeakable, and perhaps treasonous). It is somehow considered disrespectful to the dead service members even to acknowledge their deaths.

  40. Twisty

    Excellent blaming, EN.

  41. Twisty

    Tinfoil and Mamasquab: right you are. I’m not saying people can’t have genuine reactions to the consequences of this particular madness. You, of course, are not politically invested in phony mourning.

  42. Sarah Ruth

    thank you

  43. Midnight Fire

    Phony mourning is indeed sickening and hypocrisy of the first order, so typical of the current society, of civilization itself.

  44. Artemis

    “They call this war a cloud over the land. But they made the weather and then they stand in the rain and say ‘Shit, its rainin’.”
    –Renee Zellweger, as Ruby Thewes, in Cold Mountain

  45. Dates Bubbas

    Yup, that one’s right on.

  46. Kristina

    Aaaaannnnd on the same day this was all happening, Karl Rove was clogging up traffic in my town, saying that it was all Osama Bin Laden’s fault the US was in Iraq. Crocodile tears, indeed.

  47. tinfoil hattie

    Of COURSE we are not invested in phony mourning; no patriarchy-despiser and intermediate-level blamer COULD be!!

    And I didn’t think you were talking to me. I was just spouting off my personal feelings — as I am wont to do, being a girl and all.

  48. jenofiniquity

    heh, cousin clyde.

  49. Rosie

    Hey Twisty! My twin sister sent me the link to your blog and I’ve been hooked ever since.

    It’s amazing how the media shows us not what is happening in the world, but convenient distractions. Last week, did you hear anything about Gonzales? Did we hear that although the events at VT were tragic, there are multiple Virginia Techs happening every day in Iraq and Darfur?

    I really wish that my fellow Americans would wake up and realize how f#*ked our priorities really are. I live in a wonderful town in rural Alaska, so I admit that I live in a sheltered place, but damn is it scary to contemplate what’s going on outside our sheltered American-bubble.

  50. whyme63

    KMTberry
    “You forgot to mention the national media’s FROTHING to find SOMEONE TO BLAME!!!!”

    Preferably somebody to blame who is not A.) White, and B.) ‘Murrican.

    Weren’t they fortunate that he was, as all the headlines screamed out, “A SOUTH KOREAN!”?

    Never mind that he’d lived in the U.S. since the age of eight or so.

  51. Sylvanite

    It’s amazing how utterly wrong the most idiotic pundits were about this (“He shot his girlfriend, ’cause he found her with another man”, “It’s the Muslims!”, “He was foreign. We need to keep such America-haters out of our country”, and, my favorite, “It’s the fault of atheists/evolution!”). WTF? What is wrong with people? I doubt any of the most egregious dumbasses have even bothered to admit they were wrong. He didn’t even know the woman who was the first victim. He wasn’t a Muslim. He came here as a kid, and it sure as hell didn’t have anything to do with atheism or evolution.

  52. No Blood for Hubris

    Hear, hear!

  53. arlene

    Well written. You articulated what I was thinking and I bet you didn’t even break a sweat.

  54. Mar Iguana

    “Certainly any question about why so many killings are committed by men and aimed at women is attacked as pressing an agenda. The answers would have to be dealt with, and that’s much more work than lowering a flag and crying. The answers would condemn male privilege, and they certainly won’t allow people to think about that.” EN

    Huzza! This can’t be repeated enough. The boys really have to do some mental gyrations any more to ignore that men have gone mad as their world wide masculinity crisis escalates.

  55. MilbyDaniel

    Thank the fucking lord someone finally said it. What a relief!

    I felt the same way about 9/11 – that my sympathies were being played for someone else’s agenda. Now that I live in NYC I totally cringe when I walk past the tourists watching ground zero, playing into the script.

    I mean, erm, save the babies.

  56. April

    Thank you, Twisty, for articulating my thoughts over the past week. I don’t know why it’s not a tragedy that at least 30-odd innocent people are being killed in Iraq every single day (if not literally then at least on average). Where is the national day of mourning for them? I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking this!

  57. skyscraper

    Thank you Twisty! This is exactly how I am feeling about this ‘tragedy’. I don’t want to mourn people I don’t know.

  58. Scurry

    Ah, it’s so soothing to hear others say what I think but could never say so well.

  59. Connie

    And more college kids die each a week from alcohol, drug use, and suicides from a failed mental health system. But thats not sexy like gun violence. No ratings there!

  60. JJE007

    I just now watched the clip of the little gassy godbag killer “blaming” the stalkee. Too bad TP does not allow suicide but encourages war.

    “Hide the horror!” is their cry and hiding the dead or alive bodies of their detractors I$ their game.

    Why on earth don’t the gassy godbags cry “Shoot me first! Save the children! For I am the great and powerful VICTIM. I am of the people, by the people and for the people! I care more than you should possibly know, for I am the great and powerful OZ, I mean VICTIM. Pay no attention to that fat, old, white man behing the curtain, smoke and mirrors! BOOM! BANG! WOWZA! Waaa.”

    Where is Toto (Terry) when you need her?
    Thanks, TF.

  61. julia

    twisty, you are so right. thank you for confirming my previously difficult to articulate dissatisfaction with the coverage. and when it happened in montreal in 1989, he was a ‘madman’, not a well-taught misogynist.

    and on a related note, 65 dead iraqis the following day didn’t get the same coverage as vt.

  1. The Hackenblog » We don’t need a day of mourning, we are mourning

    [...] “A rational citizen, using whatever diminished faculties are left to her after a lifetime of governmental, cultural, and religious manipulation, will process the Virginia Tech event the same way she processes the news of any senseless butchery perpetrated by crazy men: with ever-deepening angst. These orating gasbags, with their inane “moments of silence” and paternalistic “days of mourning” whipped up special for the TV cameras, are themselves crazy men. Displaying the disingenuous maggotry that passes these days for statesmanship, they’ll hitch their political wagons to any convenient spontaneous tragedy for an opportunity to convince a global audience that, despite their sponsorship of other, more distant, more invisible, or more devastating calamities, they are in fact capable of humanity.” Besrek-os, Twisty, IBTP, April 20, 2007 [...]

  2. Life in the Pink » Blog Archive » What I’m Reading On This Here Internets

    [...] This post over at I Blame The Patriarchy describes how I feel about the whole Virginia Tech thing way better than I ever could. If you’re not reading I Blame The Patriarchy, you should be. Unless you don’t like radical feminism, in which case it will probably just make you upset. Then again, if you don’t like radical feminism, maybe you should be made a little bit upset. [...]

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