What might the author of this (Barbara Oakley, a professor of engineering and Oakland University) be saying:
>Still, the Virginia Tech shootings have already led to calls for all sorts of changes: gun control, more mental health coverage, stricter behavior rules on campuses. Yes, in a perfect world, there would be no guns, no mental illness and no Cho Seung-Huis. But the world is very imperfect. Consider that Britain’s national experiment with gun-free living is proving to be a disaster, with violent and gun crime rates soaring.
Hate to get into a factual dispute, but:
>The Home Office says that despite the temptation to assume that things are always getting worse, crime in England and Wales actually peaked in 1995 and has now fallen by 44% in the last 10 years.
Even if the crime rate were going up, it probably wouldn’t be “soaring.” But even if it were soaring, I think it would compare favorably with ours. And furthermore, and more fundamentally, whether less gun control would change things for the better is a distinct–a very distinct–question.
On this shaky basis the author moves toward the conclusion:
>In other words, most of the broad social “lessons” we are being told we must learn from the Virginia Tech shootings have little to do with what allowed the horrors to occur. This is about evil, and about how our universities are able to deal with it as a literary subject but not as a fact of life. Can administrators and deans really continue to leave professors and other college personnel to deal with deeply disturbed students on their own, with only pencils in their defense?
She might as well say “some say. . .”. That at least would be more honest about the straw man to follow. But, like Richard Cohen, she doesn’t need to wait for any fancy diagnosis or police investigation: it’s about evil. That’s even less helpful and insightful than her original suggestion. I don’t know of the psychological category for evil. My father, when he was alive, used to commit people like Cho to mental institutions as a danger to themselves or others. There was, and as far as I know, there still is no category called “evil” which is grounds for commitment. But while we were talking about all of this, several psychologically disturbed people just bought guns (legally) to deliver themselves and perhaps some of us from evil.