Phi Beta Cons

The Va Tech Massacre: ‘The Enemy is Us’

Amidst the deluge of commentary on the slaughter, this one from Daniel Henninger stands out as one of the most important and wise. It is about the role of common sense and leadership in casting out a Cho Seung-Hui – before he slaughters:

[The 2002] Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative, conducted by the Secret Service and the Department of Education, told us virtually everything we need to know to prevent a Virginia Tech…
Why do we refuse to take our own best advice?…
In all, the study investigated 37 such attacks in schools from 1974 to 2000 [and its goal] was to try to figure out what is “knowable” before an attack…
[i.e.] Though few of them would get off by reason of insanity, they were all mentally very unhappy campers; and…”In nearly two thirds of the incidents, more than one person had information about the attack before it occurred.”

What Henninger is ultimately getting at here is “the weird cultural refusal to turn in bad actors to adult authority”:

Over time we have accreted a culture in the United States–of rules, laws, liability concerns and mindsets–that adds up to no-can-do. Or, Attorney may I?…

The good news, if anything good can be said to come of this evil incident?

[I]n the Virginia Tech aftermath, …there seems to be a willingness to look hard at the status quo…
[C]ollege presidents, and their lawyers [and, let me add, their putative “directors,” university governing trustees], rather than rolling over before those confidentiality laws, should tell some aggrieved student who is refusing to take the medication prescribed for his psychosis: So sue! Let a judge decide whether 32 deaths warrant a reconsideration of these restrictions…

Candace de Russy is a nationally recognized expert on education and cultural issues.

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