The Plank

Threats And Recriminations


Just to follow up on Jason's post on Garance's comments on the Virginia Tech tragedy -- while it's obviously devastating that police didn't act faster and thus prevent further bloodshed, there doesn't seem to be anything particularly sexist about this decision. Had the initial murders been related to drugs or gambling rather than romance, I can't imagine that officials would have behaved differently. An incident like this -- like, say, a major terrorist attack or tsunami -- is extraordinary because it beggars our conception of worst case scenarios.

This doesn't mean that the police response in Blacksburg was beyond reproof; but alleging a "1950s" mentality is quite unfair. Law enforcement officials, like doctors, assume that the mundane and common -- if you can call a double homicide that -- happen more frequently than the extraordinary. These assumptions have an unfortunate effect on the imagination when it comes to predicting massive slaughter on the scale of the Virginia Tech incident. But they also make for a more efficient law enforcement system and a less paranoid society, one that can be shocked by this shooting because it is so rare.

Clearly police miscalculated, with horrific consequences. But there is a big difference between alleging naivete and good-ole'-boy misogyny. Garance's reading seems to reduce this event to a lesson about un-PC attitudes.

--Keelin McDonell

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