It’s been eight years since Columbine and nine months since Virginia Tech, two of the deadliest incidents on American campuses and most publicly followed events of the past decade. Violence in American schools seem to many to be a constant reminder of a generation of loose cannons whose rage is fed by images on television, in film and most notoriously, through video games.
Pundits, professors and parents have all expressed similar dismay at why someone never came forward implicating these students for crimes that had yet to be committed. And as the publics familiarity with these types of events becomes more ingrained, the rhetoric is beginning to sound a lot less honest and a lot more prescribed.
This is evident in the case of Kiddus Chane Yohannes. It was the scripted reports of a “preoccupation with violence,” a “stockpile of weapons,” and a “desire to kill police officers and U.S. soldiers” that were fed to the public. Little else on the Ethiopian refugee’s life has ever been presented.
Our community is so invested in these generic explanations that once they are thought to be legitimized by the media in print or broadcast news, we wash our hands of the situation and sweep it under the rug, satisfied that we are protecting ourselves from the confused and deranged.
But are we–protected ourselves, that is?
What does it mean to be obsessed with violence? Grand Theft Auto and even the fantastic but murderous story-line of Halo are in and of themselves million dollar industries. Intentional abuse, pain and the barbaric control of women and children are themes in nearly every action movie, and regularly displayed on television in the form of organized sports and crime dramas.
How many weapons does it take for it to be classified as stockpiling? Between just five members of The College Times senior staff, we own a whopping 19 firearms, and as reported last week in the Small Arms Survey, America is the most well-armed country in the world with nine guns for every 10 people living here. Not to mention the fact that we are the biggest spenders on national defense and weapons development worldwide, hands down.
Lastly, it is fair to ask, when is it acceptable to desire the killing of police officers or U.S. soldiers? Apparently the answer is when the Oval Office tells us it’s okay. It’s okay when soldiers are sent to a war on false pretenses to fight a battle few Americans clearly understand and support. Or maybe it is as long as the foreign civilian death toll outweighs that of the American armed forces (by the way its 81,887 to 3,827 this far into "Operation Iraqi Freedom").
If anything is criminal, it is our insane obsession with the dispensability of life. An impulsiveness that has produced just another THANKFULLY silent victim in Kiddus Yohannes.