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Friday March 9, 2001

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Letters to the Editor

Shooting more complex than McDermott realizes

In responding to Mr. McDermott's comments on the recent school shooting, I'll keep my points simple and put them in a numbered list, so that that they will not be "beyond [his] comprehension." Number one, Mr. McDermott notes that shooting a classmate "for as-yet-undetermined reasons is beyond his comprehension." If the reasons for the incident are as-yet-undetermined, then why is it any wonder they are beyond comprehension? Perhaps part of the problem with these situations is that individuals jump to conclusions before reasons and motivations can be understood. Number two, he also mentions that "nothing but grief could come of this incident." Why? With such an attitude, we simply invite history to repeat itself.

Number three, he suggests that President Clinton was "undignified" because he politicized the Columbine shooting. Yet, with his mention of Trent Lott, the Republican Congress, and both our current and former presidents in his nine-sentence column, he seems to be politicizing the issue as well. Number four, he refers to the Columbine shooters as "sick and twisted degenerates." Perhaps part of the problem results from such name calling, especially when reasons for the incident are "as-yet-undetermined." Finally, he claims that the only solution to this problem is the "renewal of faith and spiritual healing." Perhaps part of the problem results from the alienating effect of such dogmatism. I hope these comments are not beyond McDermott's comprehension so that we can find a solution that goes beyond the Christian conservatism and "undignified" liberalism.

Zachary Neal

philosophy senior

Media, president not to blame for shooting

It is amazing how some people divert blame from the source of a problem and instead criticize others for it. In their columns for the "Issue of the Week: Guns and Youth," both Jessica Lee and Cory Spiller seem intent on personally blaming the media and President Bush respectively.

Ms. Lee seems to be confused on how the media operates. The last time I checked, it was the media's job to report the news. Now this may come as a surprise to Ms. Lee, but that shooting does qualify as news. Brian Williams and everyone else at NBC, ABC, CNN (by the way you forgot Fox and CBS) are just doing what they are paid to do. They provide a service that Americans want, and that is to be informed of what goes on in our country. I find it ironic that she says it makes her stomach churn that she is paid to write about this, because you are in the same boat as everyone you so diligently berated in your column. They get paid, you get paid. The only difference is in the job description.

Mr. Spiller, on the other hand, seems to use this as his opportunity to take shots at President Bush. In his speech on the shootings, President Bush was speaking from the heart not as the president, but as a person like the rest of us. From that speech, Mr. Spiller twists the meaning of the word "cowardly" and fires it right back at the president. He implies that the president had no right to use that word to refer to the 15-year-old shooter. He says, "Cowardly people are those who know what is right and wrong." I would assume that a 15-year-old kid would know that murder is wrong. Calling President Bush cowardly for not supporting something that Spiller does not believe in seems a bit childish to me. It irritates me that Spiller cannot think of a person as cowardly who shoots innocent people in a school. On the other hand, Spiller can call our president cowardly for ordering U.N.-sanctioned air strikes on a country that for no good reason invaded another country. In the first case, innocent people died because some kid just lost it. In the other case innocent people died due to a U.N.-sanctioned act of warfare (which is not the same as a terrorist action as Spiller implies). Could Spiller please explain to me which one seems a little more screwed up than the other? By the way, next time we bomb military installations in Iraq, should we call Saddam up and make reservations to do so?

Andrew Clark

Molecular and Cellular Biology Junior

Bush response not dignified

The idea that some people actually think that President Bush's response to the Santee school shooting is "dignified" is appalling to me. Heaven forbid that the president stop pushing his tax cut for a day and address the problem of children and guns. No, no - we wouldn't want him to look too political or anything. One of the president's many jobs as a leader is to be a comforter. In a time of tragedy, Americans look towards the president to be the strong figure who reassures us that we will pull through this. Dismissing the problem as a "decline in family values" just doesn't cut it for me. What can be done about that? Nothing immediate. Gun control is a solution to the problem that can be started right away. As Americans, we must be open to any solution given to end the problem of gun violence, because enough is enough.

Melinda Mills

political science junior

D'Angelo e-mail annoying

I read the article yesterday about Brandon D'Angelo's recent disqualification from the ASUA campaign race. Although I do not consider myself a loathful person, I must admit that my feelings upon reading this article were nothing less than joyous. I was one of the 4,200 students who received an e-mail from D'Angelo, who apparently considers me a close and personal friend, so much so that he felt the need to advertise to me via e-mail.

I, like many people in this age of flourishing technology, am a constant recipient of e-mail garbage. Based solely on the amount of trash intake, my e-mail's inbox could best be compared to the intestinal tract of a raccoon with a severe eating disorder. The amount of junk is overwhelming. I cringe upon hearing the pleasant, robotic voice in my computer saying, "You've got mail!" To me, this means hours of rummaging for what's important and what is just some clever subject line leading to a pornography advertisement (which I assure you I did not subscribe to).

D'Angelo claimed his position as my "bane for the day." I don't even know him, but I hated him that day. I usually consider myself safety-oriented at all costs. However, yesterday I would have crawled over a sea of anthrax-filled syringes to open any e-mail besides the flamboyantly glowing, yellow advertisement from my good friend D'Angelo.

Justin Thomas

theater arts and creative writing freshman

NRA needs image revamping

The National Rifle Association (NRA) needs a publicist to shine up the image that it is currently projecting: cold, unfeeling, and more concerned with bad publicity than the bodies piling up in the classrooms. It's all very well and good for NRA folks to say that the government can pry their guns out of their cold, dead fingers, but the problem is that the government is prying those guns out of their children's cold, dead fingers. The NRA's response? A well-oiled publicity machine that disavows all responsibility and donates more money to politician's campaigns and political action committees. What the NRA should be doing is to step up and take some responsibility for that Amendment which it holds so dear by promoting education and prevention.

Don't get me wrong - I believe in the right to bear arms, but I believe in the right to bear arms responsibly, and that the NRA is not doing that. The NRA is reacting rather than affirmatively acting - the NRA whines endlessly about how government regulation of guns is stifling, but instead of trying to change the public perception of guns through education and prevention programs, it simply funnels money into Congressional pockets and uses inflammatory and violent language to assert its rights.

Well, I have a novel idea for the NRA - instead of whining about how our rights are being stripped away, go out and do something about it. After all, if the NRA has enough money to bribe public officials, it has enough money to start setting up programs for parents that helps them to teach their kids responsible gun safety. Or perhaps members of the NRA can start reaching out to local public schools to help with gun education and violence prevention. The only reason the government keeps promulgating gun legislation is because it can't figure out another way to stop the pattern of violence this country has fallen into. The NRA has the membership and the resources to try and show the federal government a different way of handling the second amendment - with members in almost every city in this country and a bankroll bigger than most local governments, the NRA is in the perfect position to start taking up some responsibility for teaching children and adults alike respect for guns and responsibility for their use. Of course, this assumes that they can stop the finger pointing long enough to get something done.

Melissa Meister

James E. Rogers College of Law student