Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Montreal School Shooting

The news reports are already coming in. CNN is reporting 4 dead, 13 wounded, with the suspected gunmen amongst the dead. The students are talking to reporters, describing the chaos, the disbelief while the international media turns its cameras on Montreal. As the BBC has stated, details are sketchy. Trench, of The Trenchcoat Chronicles is on top of reporting the latest. Some of you may recall I interviewed Trench some months ago. Agree or disagree with his blog, it was the first place that I knew I could rely on for comprehensive coverage online.

What I haven’t heard yet on TV is why. Right now, the focus is on where, what, who, how. But as the shock turns to anger and people begin to demand answers, the question that will be asked again and again is why. What made him do it? Why that school? Why shoot at anyone? Was there a target? What was the catalyist?

As though understanding somehow makes it easier to accept. Maybe it does. I don't know. As those in the hospital right now if they care if/when they recover. I suppose it will be different for everyone.

It’s interesting because yesterday I was having lunch with Deletta and she told me she’d just read To The Power of Three after seeing me mention it on my blog. Watching the coverage on the news today, it brought that book back fresh and sharp, the initial chaos and confusion.

The lingering questions and the search for answers.

I don’t think crime is glamorous. I don’t think it’s cool. One of the reasons I write about it, though, is because it’s important. Crime touches all of our lives, whether we see that or not. We all pay higher insurance premiums because of thieves, pay taxes to provide emergency services and police to come clean up the victims when things go bad.

We all pay. It’s just that many people choose to shut their eyes, determined to believe that if they can’t see it, it isn’t happening.

It’s when things like this happen, when I start thinking about the blind eyes out there, that I can see why certain things were important to me when I wrote Suspicious Circumstances. Economic dependence breeds indifference. Greed allows loyalties to be bought at a price.

The sickness within that, unchecked, grows like a cancer until it contaminates everything around you.

I recently read Ian Rankin’s book, The Flood. My review will run on Friday, so I won’t go there, and this isn’t a crime book. But there was a crime – well, more than one – and it was hard for me to separate my personal feelings about that from my assessment of the book, because it hit too close to home. SPOILER (well, I don't think knowing this spoils the book in the slightest, but that's just my opinion).

I was 16 when my mother told me my uncle had died. I was mortified – Uncle Charlie? No, Uncle Joe. This is when I reminded her I didn’t have an Uncle Joe.

Only I did, I just never knew about him. My mother’s much older brother, born before my grandparents married.

Joe was 45 or 46 when he died, I’d guess. It wasn’t until they put Joe in the ground that my grandmother finally named Joe’s father. All those years, she never told anyone that her brother had raped her.

It took me a few days to recover from reading that book.

Unfortunately, it takes a lot longer to recover from events like this when they happen.

More CTV coverage


Stephen Blackmoore said...

My god.

There will be more theories and kneejerk reactions to this then there will be truth for some time to come. Stuff like this, you just kind of have to ride out hte wave and hope the aftermath yields some answers that can maybe prevent it from happening again.

Sandra Ruttan said...

You said it Stephen.

I wonder when the speculation will begin... It's inevitable. Will it be hours or a day or two? I don't know, but the question will be asked.

Meanwhile, you realize this happens again and again, and nothing seems to change. Sad, but the unfortunate reality for these people.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Ah. The discussion about 'why' has begun. Last I've heard, 20 confirmed injured, a lone gunman dead. No word on other fatalities, so it looks like the four dead reported was incorrect.

Anonymous said...

Sorry this happened to you folks up there in Canada. I can't remember if you've had any school shootings before or not. Here in the States of course there's always worry about the next one. Trust me, even if you find out and understand why, it won't be enough. norby

JamesO said...

I've heard only about this from your post Sandra, not going to any of the links just yet. I can't stand the way 24 hour news goes over and over. Enough from what you've said to know that it's terrible and senseless.

I remember when the Dunblane massacre happened over here, seeing the early reports on the television of parents milling around in the school carpark, hysterical mothers clinging to each other desperate for news. I felt sick, not at the horrible event, but at the voyeurism that broadcast that trauma to the world, that intruded on grief and shock with all the sensitivity of a bull in a china shop.

I hope this incident will be better handled. But I'm ready to be disappointed.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Norby, we've had our share. Our worst 'massacre' on record happened in... '87, I think it was, also in Montreal.

There've been others as well. Taber Alberta is one of the best known, certainly here.

James, nope. Not being handled any better. They pull at the scab until it's so raw you can't make it much worse. Just hit you again and again until you're numb to it, that it all seems senseless.

Monday, it was 9/11 coverage all day. Today...

But tonight, a lot of parents will hold their children a little longer, hug them a little tighter, maybe tell them that they love them. For some, it will make them stop and take a moment for their kids. Not that it makes what happened any better, but it's the only good thing I can think of right now that'll come out of it.

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Sandra Ruttan said...

Kind of just reinforces that spammers are FUCKING PARASITES when they pull this kind of bullshit, and twice in a row. I need a really bad swear word for them. Nominations can be emailed to me. Shitheads.

Word has just come in that there is one student dead, but details are sketchy. They haven't made an 'official' announcement because family hasn't been notified.

Tracy Sharp - Author of the Leah Ryan Series said...

It's so awful. I keep watching the footage on the news and I'm so horrified. I don't even know what to say. I'm stunned.

Anonymous said...

How awful! It just saddens me to know such awful things happen in this world. And now comes the question that may never be answered...WHY?

Sandra Ruttan said...

Trace, it's harsh, isn't it?

Andrea... I know what you mean. There aren't words.

Daniel Hatadi said...

How fucked up. I seriously hope they don't blame it on rock music this time round. I wonder what the scapegoat will be? Videogames?

Sandra Ruttan said...

Videogames have already been mentioned, but one person interviewed (a uni professor, can't remember his exact field) said that it was convenience that prompted people to label shootings as copycats or induced by a sense of isolation and that the problems in society are deeper. It's all grist for the mill, though.

anne frasier said...

very sad. thanks for the links, sandra. i still haven't seen anything on our news -- maybe i missed it.

JamesO said...

Why did it happen? Well, forget videogames, society's ills, violent films or rock music. It happened because someone was insane. Sadly not all mad people go around with 'I'm a psychopath' badges on, so it's very hard to spot them. Fortunately they are also very thin on the ground.

Perhaps if people were a bit more neighbourly, the dangerous would be spotted earlier on, or not develop at all. But the direction of society seems to be more and more towards isolation than community. We breed our own nutters.

But even if we all lived in a great big village, where everyone knew everyone else and looked out for each other, things like this would still happen. I'm sorry to be such a cynic, but it's true.

Meantime the politicians and the press get to feel important, and the bereaved have their grief shown to the world.