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Exploiting the Virginia Tech Tragedy
[Opinion] Pundits use the massacre to serve their own agendas
David Michael Weber (crossfire)     Print Article 
Published 2007-04-21 14:54 (KST)   
Well another tragedy has occurred and it's time for the hate-mongers to mount their soapboxes and capitalize on it for their not so subtle socio-political agendas.

Now the various media spokespersons, politicians and bloggers are finding ways to use and manipulate the Virginia Tech tragedy to fit their talking point, whether it be racism, gun control, the second Amendment, conspiracy theories or biased media coverage.

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Since 9/11 I have increasingly noticed media outlets and Internet users employing these kinds of tragedies as evidence for barely logical arguments about events that are only loosely related.

Debate is one thing, but these people seem less interested in that and more interested in promoting their socio-political views, using the current tragedy of the day as their platform.

This situation is of course nothing new and goes back centuries, millenia even. However, the rise of Internet media has compounded it.

On a number of sites, I have seen people commenting (some of them rudely) on why the Virginia Tech tragedy gets so much media coverage while people are dying in Iraq. These comments have come from ultra-liberals, pro-war supporters and anti-Americans. Despite the different backgrounds they have the same thing in common: a lack of tact and common sense.

I have seen similar comments in the wake of other violent tragedies such as 9/11, the London subway bombings, the Bali bombings and the Madrid train bombings.

These kind of comments are not new nor are they terribly thought provoking. Not for a moment did I then nor do I now believe that the purpose behind such statements were honest or sincere. They are just surprise attacks while people are reeling from an unexpected tragedy.

It's when the TV show American Idol gets more news coverage than Iraq War violence that one should make such comments.

Other forms of capitalizing I've seen so far with the Virginia Tech tragedy are fanatics trying to tie this event in with the war in Iraq, immigration policies, gun control, religion and terrorism.

The comments about gun control are understandable because it is connected to the Virginia Tech tragedy, even though guns are not the main issue, but there is no connection between what happened and the Iraq War, immigration, religion or terrorism.

Racism has to be the worst thing coming from fringe groups and disturbed individuals who are using the Virgina Tech tragedy to spread their hatred whether against Asians or towards white Americans. The popular WebTV site, Youtube, has seen a small number of videos either praising the shooter or condemning all Asians.

The anonymity that the Internet gives allows certain people to be more tactless than they would be in person. Thus message boards are targeted with hateful racist comments or displays of sick humor.

It is unfortunate that such tragedies often brings out these types of opportunistic people who care less for the victims and more for their own agendas. And we will more than likely see it again whenever the next tragedy occurs.
©2007 OhmyNews
A native Tennesseean, David M. Weber is currently at the grammatical grindstone cranking out gerunds, dangling modifiers and perfecting tenses as an English teacher in Japan. In his travels, he has hiked the Inca Trail, been mugged in Mexico City, broke his leg in Switzerland, attempted to bike through Mexico and failed, climbed Pyramids in Egypt and Mexico, drank great quantities of beer at Oktoberfest and gambled at Monte Carlo.
Other articles by reporter David Michael Weber

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