17 April 2007

Today, we are all Hokies

After reading the growing media coverage of the mass shooting at Virginia Tech, I waited nervously all day. Alpha Chi Sigma, the chemistry fraternity - of which I'm a District Counselor, has a large chapter at VT. Gamma Iota chapter hosted our 2004 Biennial Conclave and we had a marvelous time on VT's beautiful, peaceful campus. Thankfully, we heard from the chapter's president and none of our brothers are among the deceased or injured (and my friends Katharine and Beth, whose cousin attends VT, also heard he was unharmed). My heart breaks for all the families, friends, emergency workers, alumni, and administrators of VT. I pray to whichever God is listening right now that the entire VT community find peace and solace in one another as they heal. So many lives lost - none for any better reason than they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And now, some callous idiot has posted on the Barnes and Noble Book Clubs board that we should all buy a certain novel about gun-toting nuns in Wal-mart because the VT tragedy illustrates perfectly why the US should have gun laws. The post is as follows:

Yesterday's mortifying events in Blacksburgh Virginia underscore the importance of finding a way to stop the production and distribution of handguns. Only a few days ago I posted a message recommending xxxx's newly released novel "XXXX" and calling for EVERYONE interested in the subject of violence committed with pistols to read.Did you see? and if you did, did you care?If you did, and you didnt, you are part of the problem.xxxx'snovel is not available from Walmart online. Why? because in the story Nuns terrorize a WalMart gun department and destroy all the handguns present.WalMart refuses to publish it. How is this free speech in action? WalMart will say "We decide what free speech is".Fortunately, none of the other vendors agree. XXXX is not a political tract. It's a delightful novel filled with wonderful characters and at the base of it all is the question: why, when people can have all the rifles they want cause the constitution grants permission, do we need to allow handguns too?Look, don't listen to me. I'm only a schmuck who stumbled on a book far above his head and got kicked in the mind by it. I think the ISBN of XXXX is ISBN-10: ##########. I'm tellin' ya. This is a great read.

Did you notice a few things are missing? I took out the author, title, and ISBN - I don't want anyone, not a single person to buy this book. I even submitted a complaint to the BNBC admins; I'm a pretty tolerant person but this pretty much stretches my limits. The poster is part of a circle of authors with TERRIBLE self-published novels and they all push each others' novels. Promotion is one thing; the unfeeling use of a heinous act of violence with no regard for victims and survivors to sell a completely unrelated novel (which is crap, by the way) is completely ... I don't know. I don't even have a word for it - I need one which encompasses this jerk's callousness, self-aggrandizement, and my sentiment that he be electrocuted by his computer next time he's near it.

I shed many tears yesterday for thousands of people I will never meet and I shed more now in memory of the victims and their families. Nikki Giovanni spoke at the convocation and I close this post with her words:

We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while. We are not moving on. We are embracing our mourning. We are Virginia Tech ...
-- Nikki Giovanni, University Distinguished Professor, poet, activist

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