From Pine View Farm

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Updated) 8

My father and my brother both went to Tech, as did many of their and my classmates and acquaintances.

It was the place to go if you expected to be a farmer or an engineer (though today it is much more). Indeed, the Tech alumni on the Eastern Shore of Virginia are amongst the most active and most giving of any.

When my father was there, it was all military. That’s how he ended up in France as an officer, rather than as a private. (I remember how, when I was applying to college, I got an advertisement to sign up for ROTC. My father took it out of my hands and said, “You don’t need this.”)

When my brother was there, ROTC was an option. (My brother opted out. He wasn’t particularly keen on going to Viet Nam either.) He knows well both of the buildings where the shootings took place.

I have been on campus (which is filled with glowering gray stone buildings of unimaginitive monumental architecture), so I and everyone in my family feels some relationship to what happened there today.

God be with the students, family, faculty, and staff of VPI.


It appears that the shooter saved the Commonwealth the trouble of executing him. And, in Virginia, he undoubtedly would have been executed.

And, in a case like this, I really couldn’t get worked up about it. The problem I have with the death penalty cases is the inability of the legal system to find the guilty party. (That inability, though, is so pervasive as to invalidate the death penalty on practical grounds; that’s the difference between a moral argument and a practical one.)

No, it’s not a deterrent. Anyone who so argues is a fool or a sophist. Frankly, the bad guys don’t stop in the middle of a crime and think, “Now, wait a minute. I might get the chair for this!”

Rather, some persons simply forfeit their right to remain members of the polity.

Addendum, Later that Same Evening:

Phillybits on the disgusting efforts to use this event to score political points before the damned bodies are even cold.



  1. Phillybits

    April 16, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, I wrote up another post offering some relatively personal thoughts on what happened at VT, the idea that had more people had guns (and the whole 2nd amendment thing) this could’ve turned out different, and how it ties into Iraq.

    Full disclosure, and all.

  2. Frank

    April 16, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    Full disclosure appreciated, which gets to this:

    You know, nothing’s really that simple (except, of course, for George W–oh, never mind).

    It’s shades of gray. And we won’t be able to draw any conclusions until we know more about what happened.

    Howsomever . . .

    I’m pretty good with a gun. And, frankly, I wouldn’t trust 99% of the populace to be able hit a barn door–at least, not the barn door they were shooting at.

    Guns wouldn’t help in the hands of persons who don’t know how to use them.

  3. Karen

    April 16, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    I don’t see where this could be a call for gun control. There appear to be too many ways to get them, other than going to a store to buy them. Or, steal them, as has happened here, from a sporting goods store, no less. Besides, in a moment of panic, how many people are going to think to get their gun, that they have put up? If they even have the chance, that is.

    Death penalty a deterant? That’s a joke. A person on death row has amble opportunity to tie up the legal system with retrials, will be there years, & probably die of natural causes before a sentance is even thought about being carried out. Then you get the people who handle death penalty cases exclusively to slow up the process. Plus the fact, they don’t always get the right person. It’s happened more than once. Once done, they can’t go back & claim a ‘do over’ if they accidentially find the right one, after the wrong one is dead.

    Bush was fast to make his feelings known on TV. Never at a loss for a photo op, is he.

    Whether it could have been prevented, who knows. Several cops on the scene repeated the same thing. Sometimes, bad things happen & they can’t always be stopped in advance. They appear to have learned some things since Bailey & Columbine. Probably not many, but some.

    Coming from someone who knows the loss of a child, the parents will be a long time before they can find any peace. I only hope they realize that prayer can help.

  4. Frank

    April 16, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    We don’t known enough about it yet to see whether it has any implications about gun control. Anyone who says it does it full of–er–emptiness.

    My opinion, though, is that the kind of fruitcake who would have done this would not have been stopped by gun control.

    What Ray was upset about, and I with him, was things like this by the hatemongers.

  5. Opie

    April 16, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    I think we should first eliminate guns from society, and then seal the borders to stop gunrunning. Hey, it worked for drugs!

  6. Bill

    April 17, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    Jesus Christ! The bodies are not cold yet and this has become a political argument about gun control? I am sure someone will figure out a way to blame the government (or at least George Bush) for this terrible crime. The talking heads and Monday morning quarterbacks are going 24/7 on cable TV eager to place blame and I am sure blame will be placed. (The only winner, if you care to call him a winner, is Don Imus. At least the cable “news” programs have left him alone.)

    Give us time to grieve.

    People who did not attend Virginia Tech do not understand the connection alumni feel to their Alma Mater. Most Tech graduates have a fierce loyalty to the school. It is not just a college. You become part of the University and it becomes part of you. It is truly Hokie Nation.

    The VT Alumni Association placed a single wreath in the Campus Chapel and the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets has posted an honor guard with it to symbolize a university honoring those it has lost so tragically.

    My son was accepted at Virginia Tech last spring. Instead of going to Tech, he decided to attend Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia where he is a member of their baseball team. Yesterday, for the first time, I was glad he chose D&E over Tech. That saddens me deeply.

    I graduated from Tech in 1975, and although I have been back often for visits, it has been many years since I studied there. Today, I feel as if I am on that campus. My girlfriend lived in AJ during her freshman year. I walked those sidewalks and across the Drillfield more times than I can count. I cut through Norris Hall on my way to class. I had friends and fraternity brothers who had classes in those same classrooms that yesterday became execution chambers for innocent students and faculty. While I do not know anyone who was murdered on the Tech campus on Monday, I feel a very real sense of personal loss.

    I am saddened to see my great University displayed on TV for all the wrong reasons. I fear that it will no longer be known for its accomplishments in engineering, agriculture, science, or athletics but it will become known for this brutal, senseless crime.

    The Virginia Tech family – my Virginia Tech family – has suffered an unconscionable loss. I grief for those who were murdered, mourn with those they leave behind, and pray for the wounded that they will recover.

    Bill (Frank’s brother) VT Class of ‘ 75

  7. Linda

    April 17, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Bill, I read your post and cried. I have been crying since yesterday. This is such a tragic, tragic loss I can’t even put into words how I feel. But when I read your post I read how VT alumni and present students are feeling, which none of us know. Thank goodness William wasn’t there. Take care and go through the grieving process.
    Linda (Frank’s Girlfriend)

  8. Frank

    April 17, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    I agree completely with my brother’s comments about those who have tried to make this start a bandwagon of some kind.

    It was too much of a nutcase event to be grounds for any conclusions about policy.

    Karen, I think Mr. Bush was rather quick to intrude himself into this and personally thought it unseemly. I did, however, hear his speech today

    He threw out the “Aw Shucks” persona. His remarks in and of themselves were tasteful and appropriate.