Missing the Point — Again

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and every other politician in the country are thinking and saying the same stuff right about now: Because of Monday’s tragic events at Virginia Tech, we need to beef up security.

Strickland is asking Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut to create a Task Force on Campus Security as a means to “review campus safety plans and ensure that Ohio’s public colleges and universities are using safety best practices.”

“We have a responsibility to Ohio students, their families and our communities to use the tragic events at Virginia Tech as an opportunity to reexamine campus safety issues in Ohio,” Strickland said yesterday.  “This task force will begin a discussion across institutions and make sure that state government is offering the maximum amount of support to the schools as well as coordinating with local efforts.”

Well, guess what? This isn’t going to work. This is window dressing, the politics of “get tough on crime” instead of looking at the root cause of this kind of tragedy. Metal detectors and post-tragedy planning aren’t going to address what causes violence of this sort.

Cops couldn’t prevent this situation in 2007, they won’t be able to prevent it in the future and pretending that this kind of “action” will make a difference keeps us all focused on anger and moral outrage instead of focusing on what matters — getting at the root-cause of this kind of tragedy.

Move beyond the anger and hurt and demonizing the person who perpetrates such a horrible act to look at what caused it. What resulted in that young man feeling victimized and justified in his course of action? Why did he kill instead of getting help? Can someone in such an emotionally desperate state be helped?

Doing this doesn’t ignore the victims. This is what makes their loss of life an opportunity to save and help others. Prevention — which isn’t sexy and is expensive — is what’s needed. Mental health resources would be the best place to start.

— Margo Pierce

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3 Comments on “Missing the Point — Again”

  1. Marilyn Says:

    Margo, this tragedy has struck home for me in a strange way.

    My 26 year old son took his life in August 06.

    After watching the coverage of the shootings a VTech, I could finally be at peace with one thing — at least my son didn’t take anyone with him. Terribly small comfort, I know.

    I understand the agnst of the students who remain. But my heart also goes out to the shootist and his parents.

    Mental health resources would be the very first place to start.

  2. Every Cincinnatian Says:

    Well said Margo and Marilyn.

    Unlike our elected leaders and those that receive benefit from taking more of our money for law enforcement, we believe lack of a given level of law enforcement and security is not the cause of crime and aberrant behavior. To paraphrase Jean Baptiste Say and what is known a Say’s Law in economics, “supply creates its own demand”. In other words the opposite relationship may hold true. It is important for our leaders to have a basic understanding of such principles and the resulting implications. Otherwise we never solve problems but compound them.

  3. mc Says:

    It is interesting to see this point made again. Apparently it is extremely difficult for parents to have their mentally ill children kept in a protective or clinical setting even if the child is dangerous to himself or others.
    What course can the parents take if no one will admit a child in this situation? It looks like there is nowhere for the family to turn.

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