Paul Jacob

This is not to say that the university response or that of the police shouldn't be reviewed. But any critique should be conducted calmly after they and the victims have had some time to absorb the horror inflicted upon them.

Sure, I know journalists want to pursue the next story. That's only natural. And the media will dither on about competitive pressures brought about by today's 24/7 news-cycle. But it really is possible for people in the media to exercise self-control, to have standards, make sound judgments and show respect in their coverage.

The folks dealing with this horrific event deserve no less.

Of course, while journalists do indeed have a moral and social (though not legal) responsibility to put the right stuff up on our television screens, there is a dual responsibility on our part — to turn the channel when they don't.

For instance, should the killer's video production have been splashed across the nation's television screens? It is news, but it can serve to perversely glorify the killer. It's a tough call for the networks; an easy one for anyone whose TV remote has an on/off button.

Others will rush to debate gun control. But guns were already prohibited on campus. Seems Cho Seung-Hui broke that rule, too.

Others will look for changes in policies regarding mental illness. But not every one suffering from mental illness shoots up a college campus. Neither do most people who write creepy stories and essays about bloodbaths. Our policies shouldn't assume they will.

Stephen Chapman said it best on Reason.com: "[T]he first error is taking a freakishly horrible event as a basis for anything except mourning."

The students and faculty that comprise the Hokie Nation, and their loved ones, will take time to heal. They will hug each other and talk. And they'll suffer and grieve and go on as best they can. That's the bittersweet reality of this world.

This healing has already begun. On the Virginia Tech campus, a memorial has popped up with 32 large rocks to symbolize the 32 victims. The rocks have been decorated with notes and flowers and personal memorabilia. One of the most moving acts of this past week was the fact that students added and decorated a 33rd stone. For Cho, the killer.

What a beautiful sign of the strength of love, goodness and humanity that is possible in our world. At week's end, I am greatly more impressed with Virginia Tech as an institution than I ever was before.

And as for the rest of us, we will hold our own kids a little tighter.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.