When we got our NYT on Sunday, I was shocked--shocked!--that there wasn't a single story on the shootings at NIU. I know they produce the paper in advance, and so I hadn't expected there to be new news, mind you, only some kind of report. In talking about this with John and his mom (who visited this weekend), I decided it had to be because unlike the VaTech shooter, this guy didn't make his own PR machine and have it delivered.
Thankfully, IHE has a short piece today about the disparity in coverage on school shootings, and how disparate coverage correlates to race and region and also other factors such as the slowness of the news week, etc. It's also true that the Va Tech tragedy took more lives.
Some think that viewers and readers are becoming inured to school shootings, and maybe that's partly true. But now I'm wondering whether what we have here isn't just a case of a story fizzling because it doesn't immediately and resolutely open up other issues. The Va Tech shooting, you'll remember, opened a whole slew of issues about gun control, mental illness, teachers' responsibilities, creative writing-as-warning sign, etc.
But Steve Kazmierczak is no Sueng-Hui Cho. Or at least the stories are quite different. By all accounts Kazmierczak was mild-mannered and smart and worked hard in school. A long time ago he spent a year in an institution for "unruly behavior" and according to his girlfriend had been taking prozac. Aside from the weird stuff that Kazmierczak mailed to his girlfriend, including an upbeat and encouraging note about her future with lots of cheerful exclamation points, there isn't much of a story here, except one of befuddlement. And befuddlement is not an occasion for arguments.