Friday, September 15, 2006

Reflections on the Dawson College shooting

Ignorance is bliss. Consolation comes in the form of delusion - "it can't/won't happen here." How much harder the blow, then, when it does happen here.

My mother called me on my cell to notify me of the shooting. My entire family commutes through Atwater metro (the station Dawson is adjoined to). I had been on the train, on my way to a rehearsal, not a half-hour before the gunshots rang out. I proceeded to the Music Library where students were logged onto computers, rapidly refreshing CBC and CNN trying to find more details. Lack of information and crossed wires led to confusion about how many gunmen there may have been and if any were still at large. Speculation ran rampant - Drug dealers spilling over from Cabot Square into Dawson?

As we now know, there was no such motive - just another loner, ignored by his family and community, finding solace in dark imagery and weaponry. One promising student's life has been truncated, and at least one other victim remains in a coma.

The media's been quick to, once again, implicate the external factors: the video games, the Goth subculture he became attracted to, and the website he posted on. Thankfully, at least one broadcaster noted that "it's the player, not the game, that is the issue." Six years after Columbine, and seventeen after the Ecole Polytechnique massacre, and we still have trouble identifying warning signs and high-risk behaviour. It really does all come back to the parenting and attention: the gunman had quite the artillery, and I'm alternately surprised and saddened that it would go unnoticed by his parents - he still lived at home.

My thoughts are with all those affected by this tragedy. Luckily, my friend's father, who teaches at Dawson, is unharmed. That's my closest connection to this event.

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