Sociology, Department of


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Hill, Michael R. 2007. “The Gunman in Blacksburg.” Remarks delivered to my students in SOCI 101, Introduction to Sociology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, April 18, 2007, and published electronically on the Democracy Project website sponsored by Indiana University South Bend.


Copyright 2007 Michael R. Hill


TWODAYSAGO, on Monday morning, April 16, while this class was in session, a lethal, hypermodern tragedy was unfolding on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute, more commonly known today as Virginia Tech. The precise details of the deadly episode in Blacksburg are still preliminary and will undoubtedly be clarified in the coming days. What we do know is that a disturbed young man, a fully-credentialed college senior, shot and killed some thirty persons—black and white, classmates and instructors—and seriously wounded dozens more. He then took his own life. The shooter employed small, industrially-produced, rapid-firing handguns. It was an horrific happening, a guided doing of the most awful and perverse kind, a grizzly and exploitive fabrication wherein dozens of unwitting and unwilling victims suddenly faced the unthinkable consequences of the vulnerabilities we all share as embodied humans.