Sound the bugle

A massacre, not a tragedy

Posted in Uncategorized by justescaped on April 18, 2007

The happenings at VTech on Monday April 16th have numbed the senses; not because of the magnitude and nature of the crime, condemnable and heart-breaking as they are, but because of the inevitably irrational response it has provoked within different sections of internet communities – news media, blogs.

This irrationality has been summarized in this sharp post by Curious Gawker, which is cuttingly succinct. The same lines will be relevant the next time such a massacre (and NOT a tragedy) occurs.

The killing had nothing in common with a tragedy, except having an unhappy ending; the rest was a combination of malice and negligence, which left unchecked, will repeat again. Bhopal was a tragedy; but VTech, like Khmer Rouge, 9/11 and Columbine (and many depressingly others), was not. The victims in the latter suffered and died as a result of hatred and/or mental imbalance, where lies the tragedy in that? They were executed, massacred, murdered, anything but died tragic deaths. Calling it a tragedy sanitizes the event, giving it a feel of a misfortune which was terrible but unforeseeable, like an earthquake or tsunami. This was and should have been avoidable.

If anything, Cho’s decline from an (apparently) normal childhood in an (apparently) normal family, into a murderous raging youth can be construed as a tragedy. But that is unlikely to happen.

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