Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Friday, February 15, 2008


As one might expect, we here at Total Drek would like to extend our sympathies to the families of those slain at Northern Illinois University. For those who do not know already, five people were killed and sixteen wounded when a gunman entered a geology class and opened fire with a pair of weapons. Or, as the Washington Post puts it:

DEKALB, Ill., Feb. 14 -- Without saying a word, a gunman dressed in black opened fire in a Northern Illinois University geology class Thursday, killing five students and wounding 16. He fired at random, authorities said, until the moment he killed himself.

Students screamed and crawled on their bellies to escape the auditorium in Cole Hall as bullets and buckshot flew. The gunman, a former graduate student in sociology, carried a shotgun and two handguns. Police said he volunteered no motive before he died.

It's difficult to know how to feel about this, particularly given that the shooter appears to come from my own discipline. I wonder how many times he and I passed each other at the ASAs or regional conferences. I wonder if I ever saw him present or reviewed one of his articles. I wonder what it was that drove him to commit such a terrible act.* Particularly, I wonder about how his former department is doing- to have counted a senseless murderer among your own must be a strange experience. For whatever it may be worth, NIU-Sociology, I think today you have the sympathy of the entire discipline. Indeed, I think today much of the country has nothing but sympathy for the folks at NIU. Well, with the exception of Conservapedia who, as is their custom, are engaging in a spot of victim-blaming:

I have never been more convinced that Conservapedia not only represents the minority of Americans, it represents the worst minority.

Take care, NIU.

* While opinions may vary I strongly doubt that grad school, as difficult as it is, drove him to kill. I suppose it is possible it was a proximate cause but, really, I'm betting a considerable amount of pre-existing pathology had to be in place first.

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Blogger Unknown said...

An interesting take on a sad story. I am a 2004 graduate of NIU (MA in sociology), so I know the school and the department quite well. I have thought about my department and former professors throughout most of the day. I can't even begin to imagine how they must be feeling.

Friday, February 15, 2008 12:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has their been much in the way of sociology done on school/campus shootings? It seems to be happening very regularly now. Is it the favoured form of mass murder in the media age? Is serial killing a thing of the past?

Monday, February 18, 2008 5:34:00 AM  
Blogger Linda Margaret said...

I've been reading Trust, by Francis Fukuyama (I'm behind the times, I know). The part about Americans feeling more and more isolated and growing increasingly in need of having personal rights visibly recognised, sometimes at the expense of others...I would be interested to know if sociology can offer any insights into these awful acts of violence and maybe we can help to identify/avoid potential problems. My heart goes out to NIU.

Monday, February 18, 2008 4:46:00 PM  

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