A friend of mine recently wrote a wonderful series of posts designed to provide advice for his doctoral students. Because he lives in the UK, he didn't have to include one entitled 'Do not shoot your professor when you're angry with him'.
Yet again, in the US, we see the tragic news of lives lost. Yesterday it was the murder-suicide of a professor and his doctoral student at UCLA. There are suggestions that the student believed his professor had stolen some computer code. In the UK, that could result in anything from a formal complaint, raised voices, pointed fingers, maybe even a punch being thrown. But in a country with a powerful gun lobby, one shoots the other and then himself.
And what will the reaction be? It depends, I guess, what side of the argument you're on. I expect President Obama will speak meaningfully and eloquently about the unnecessary loss of life and how important it is for the country to grasp the nettle of seeking ways to modify an aspect of the Second Amendment, namely the right to bear arms. Equally, I expect many voices to suggest that the professor should have been armed himself. After all, when those same voices suggested arming teaching staff in Elementary Schools, why not in Colleges?
I considered quoting facts and figures, comparing deaths by shooting in the US with the UK and Europe. But, you know what, the facts are striking, have long been striking and it's still not enough. It means nothing. The two sides are as far apart as they've ever been. I simply cannot imagine a life lived this way. It's one thing when speaking unwanted truths gets you a smack in the mouth, but shot? And killed? Really?
Yesterday - June 2nd - was National Gun Awareness Day in the US when supporters were encouraged to wear orange to show their support. Even though Niagara Falls went orange, the gun lobby ensured there were enough stories reaching the media about how having a gun saved a life, whilst blithly ignoring how many lives are taken by a gun.
It's enough to make any one cry ...