A Load of Bright
An atheist's views on religion and the supernatural

The Virginia Tech Massacre

It has now been eleven days since the Virginia Tech Massacre, and so far I have said nothing about it on this blog. The reason for this, is quite simply that I couldn’t think of anything to say. I wanted to, but every time I sat at my computer to write something, I froze. Not even the most articulate words could express my horror at the events that took place that day. The most elegant poetry could not have come close to letting the loved ones of the victims know just how strongly I felt for them, and how my thoughts and heart went out to them. Deserted of anything meaningful to say, I held my silence.

Sadly, some Christians have had no such trouble voicing their thoughts, and some of their views have stirred me to speak. Ebonmuse at Daylight Atheism posted this article on exploiting tragedy, and I was disgusted at the quotes he included. Then I stumbled upon an article on the Tribune website called The road to Virginia Tech tragedy started with Bible ban. The title says it all really. I felt literally nauseous as I read this.

The shooter at Virginia Tech was a madman. However, he had also been raised on a solid diet of secular humanism which teaches no moral absolutes. “If it feels good, do it,” is one of the many mantras he ingested. Consequently he did what felt good, and innocent people died as a result. Today, we cannot condemn his actions unless we judge what we fed him as a society. What we sow, we also reap. And we will continue to have a bloody harvest until we return to what we know worked to make America great as a nation in the generations before us; the culture, training, and absolute morality of the Christian faith and our Savior Jesus Christ.

The purpose of this post is not to critique the article. I could speak at great length on the fact that the writer, Steven Grant, begs the question where the validity of the Bible is concerned. I could point out that his attempts to connect morality and immorality with theism and atheism are a fantasy, quickly dissolved by the evidence. I could refute, point by point, his arguments that America was founded as a Christian nation. I could list the catalogue of logical fallacies he commits. I could highlight the flaws in his attempt to blame the massacre of thirty two people on the secularisation of society. But I won’t.

All I can do is say how deeply disturbed I am that any human being who considers himself morally aware, can take such a horrible tragedy and shoehorn it on to an argument against a group of people who don’t share his beliefs, just to say “I told you so”.

The day after the shootings, I sat in my car on my lunch break at work, listening to the radio as they read out tributes posted on the ‘myspace’ page of one of the victims who had fatally attempted to tackle the gunman. I wept.

I have only recently written about the value of mortal life. The needless loss of just one human life is enough to render me inconsolable. The loss of thirty three was too much to take.

In my short time debating religion with theists I have grown to be thick skinned, and not take the incoherent, dogma soaked insults of fundamentalists too seriously, but when I’m told that as an atheist I don’t care, it touches a nerve. Being told that a tragedy on any scale is meaningless to me because life is pointless anyway, makes my blood boil. And being told that atheist or humanist values are to blame for such a tragedy leaves me white with rage. Christians love to talk about atheists being angry. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I am laid back, easy going and relaxed. Passionate, certainly, but not angry. But when religion throws down its sword, holds its bloody hand aloft and points its crooked finger at humanism and accuses it of causing such an atrocity, I shake with fury. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. Anger is powerful if controlled and channelled carefully. A long, hard look in the mirror is long overdue for the likes of Steven Grant.

On a final note, having now broken my silence, to those who lost loved ones in Virginia Tech. I have no prayers to offer, only my compassion and sympathy as a human being, and my words, weak and belated as they are: I am so sorry for your loss.

2 Responses to “The Virginia Tech Massacre”

  1. can take such a horrible tragedy and shoehorn it on to an argument against a group of people

    Why is tragedy such a siren call for idealogues? It provides a stage assembled from our collective confusion and fear. Everyone is reaching out and ready to listen. The callous opportunists among us who have an axe to grind don’t even hesitate to take advantage of this.

    I’m only posting to add to the inventory of outrages, unfortunately.

    Just yesterday I read a posting wherein the writer labeled Cho a terrorist, equated him with Islamic terrorism, and (here’s the worst part) argued for putting a stop to both, legal and illegal immigration from Korea and the 3rd world. Talk about a stretch!
    I’d been wondering at the unfounded, I thought, paranoia on the part of the Korean community here (including one of my friends). They worried that the tragedy would relfect negatively on them. I could not imagine where they got such a twisted idea! Nobody I know personally associates Cho’s actions with anything grander than his own warped mind. Well, I guess I’m naive. While it’s only one lone post, on a little known site that doesn’t necessarily agree, I have to wonder if it doesn’t reflect a whole swath of the American populace, albeit I’m sure a narrow band.

  2. I think your instincts were right. You don’t say anything, because there really is nothing to say, unless you know the families, in which case a private statement of commiseration and sorrow is appropriate. What can you say about madness? It happens. It’s a part of life, like breathing, cancer, and …death. We can study it, we can look for ways to alleviate it. But to pontificate on it, and look for meaning behind it? One might as well sit in a closed room and scream, as much good as it will do.

    Christopher Hitchens has in interesting take on it in Slate.

    I was tempted to take a gun control take on it, but really, that’s not fair either. You don’t rail against gun control laws because some clearly disturbed individual happened to use a gun to vent his anger on the world. If the gun laws were stricter, he would have found another way to do it, perhaps more or less lethally. Who knows? No, gun laws should be revised because it’s the right thing to do for the public safety of everyone, not because you’re feeling sympathetic towards the victims of a local tragedy. To use this tragedy to proselytize gun control is not fair to the victims. How do you know they would agree? Or their families?

    Now, as for Steven Grant, when he says:

    Today, we cannot condemn his actions unless we judge what we fed him as a society.

    I wonder if he said the same thing after 9/11 about the hijackers?

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