James Fallows says 'no,' and asks whether anyone can finde evidence to the contrary.
I don't know. Did they deliberate badly, or simply not deliberate? It'd be interesting to know, but we may be splitting hairs.
The sleep of reason begets monsters
It had not even occurred to me that there had been no discussion of these points until the mighty Armenius pointed this out to me. The response of our own institution has so far been of the candlelight-vigil-and-grief-counselor variety, and one worries that that's all it will ever come to. It's still early, and I think everyone acknowledges that there's a time for grieving. Eventually, however, we will have to address questions about confronting evil. What we don't want to do is to focus on grieving and sadness exclusively, with no attention to thinking about what this might teach us about what we ought to do in the future.
One of the many reasons that the Virginia Tech shooter was able to kill so many innocent people was that he caught a building full of nineteen-year-old kids flat-footed at nine o'clock on a Monday morning in a place they thought to be safe beyond question. He had every advantage, which is just the way the predatory like it, of course. They usually won't attack under less-than-ideal conditions. The rest of us will always be at a disadvantage.
There's a lot of talk around these parts about how our students are looking to us for guidance in this matter. Supposing that there's any truth in that, my guess is that one of the best things we can do for them is talk to them seriously about their moral obligation to defend themselves and other innocent people. That is, about the fact that they are sometimes obligated to do violence, and sometimes obligated to risk their lives. One of the best ways to prepare for the future is to think hard about it ahead of time, to have a plan of action. You don't want to have to think things through from the ground up in the heat of the moment. Making these points to people, helping them to steel themselves for defensive action, is better than holding vigils for them after their death, however important the latter might be.
I'm genuinely puzzled about this, and I don't want to turn it into a liberal-versus-conservative point, but I will say that one sort of additional sense of puzzlement about this is that conservatism will--rightly or wrongly--always be associated in my mind with my grandparent's rather frugal habits. So it's particularly puzzling to me that conservatives seem to me to be not only disinterested in conservation or frugality, but downright hostile to them. I mean, heck...for example, I actually like SUVs*, but I'd feel downright guilty--and not for the ordinary liberal reasons--for having such an ostentatiously wasteful mode of transportation. But sometimes it sounds almost as if conservatives believe that if we don't all drive SUVs the economy will crumble or something.
(Let me add for balance that those liberals who think, e.g., that recycling is one of the most pressing moral issues of our time also bug the hell out of me. It's not the recycling to which I object, since I do it when it is even remotely convenient. It's rather the weird puritanism that sometimes seems to be floating around in the background. Some liberals recycle with what I'd call the appropriate attitude--to wit: goddang this is kind of a pain and it probably ain't gonna do any good anyway but it's better than nothing. I'm not wild about the ones who are all self-satisfied about the fact that they drove their hybred down to the recycling center and spent half an hour getting everything into the right dumpsters. I used to do that crap until I realized what a fruitless waste of my time it was. My policy now is: if they pick it up at the curb, then I recycle. Otherwise it's simply unlikely to be worth the effort.)Uh...so where was I? Oh yeah, wastefulness. I mean, seriously. Basically everybody I know now is--by the standards of the real world of most actually human beings who have ever lived--rich as bloody Croesus. We've all got ridiculously comfortable (though not palatial by today's American standards) places to live, reliable cars, nice, warm clothes, more food than anyone could ever possibly eat...we live like kings. Better than kings--better than any kings who actually ever lived, anyway (until recently). But almost nobody seems to really understand how good we've got it. And most of us (me included), continue to want at least just a little more.