So, is that it? Another gunman walks into another classroom and kills another handful of students, and it manages to hold down the top spot on the headlines for about 18 hours. The blood hasn't even dried yet and we're already done with the whole incident. These spree killings have officially become so commonplace that we discuss (and the media report) them like the weather – it's just some thing that happens, beyond anyone's control. We scan the story, mutter a quick "Oh, how terrible" and move on, reassured by the math which tells us that the next mass shooting 6 months from now probably won't happen near us.
Last spring, President Bush went to Virginia Tech to lead the memorial service. For NIU he sent a message. Next time he'll probably ask his press secretary to send an FTD bouquet. Whereas the media gave us a solid week of wall-to-wall VA Tech coverage, it appears that mass murder (especially with a mere 6 victims) barely counts as news these days. It's a big story the first time. Thereafter it's old news.
What limited debate these incidents provoke feels like the bobbleheads are just going through the motions. There's a stock narrative: this is just something that happens. We can't agree on a culprit, so we simply throw up our hands, label it Sad or Unfortunate or Horrific, and note its inevitability. It amounts to "School shootings are sad. I sure wish there was something we could do about it." In the classic false equivalency style, the media seem to believe that as long as there are two sides to the debate there is no objective answer. Left-wing America says guns are to blame. Right-wing America disagrees. Oh well, I guess we'll never get to the bottom of it. The cause is officially Unknown. Since we cannot alleviate what we do not understand, our only recourse is to note how Sad and Unfortunate it is.
I posted something very similar last year in response to VA Tech. Maybe the more efficient course of action is simply to save this post and bump it 6 months from now when the next college lecture hall is painted with blood. Unless of course it's a class I happen to be teaching, in which case you can put "His death was such a Mystery" on my tombstone.