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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Stop giving killers attention they seek

Like everyone, I am saddened and sickened by the senseless killings at Virginia Tech. While I, too, am interested in what drove this disturbed young man to commit this horrible act, I believe it is a mistake to disseminate his final manifesto in the media. I believe doing so nudges the next wanna-be to grab his 15 minutes of fame.

This may be a weak analogy, but when the networks began refusing to show people running onto the field during NFL games, the number of these incidents went down. Sure, I'd like to see some guy getting chased and tackled by security, but I know showing that on TV only gives the next guy the will to do the same.

I think this heartbreaking story could be told in such a way that doesn't give killers the attention they want. Laws prevent criminals from profiting from their crimes. I believe the "profit" that these sick individuals want is recognition. If there was some method giving us the facts without showing the next mass murderer how to gain fame, that method would be responsible journalism.

Paul J. Hagen



Front-page coverage only encourages others

When I opened my paper on April 19, I was so mad I could spit nails. Why would The Buffalo News give this killer a forum to spew his hate and vitriol? The News has allowed this individual to reach out from the grave and get his moment of glory. It has also, in my opinion, set the stage for future acts like this where others may see their chance for a twisted evil moment of fame. The News should be ashamed of that front page.

Nick Capitumino



Victims deserve to be in spotlight

I was very disturbed to see what happened at Virginia Tech, but I am equally disturbed at the amount of air time the person who killed all these innocent people is getting. I don't care what his name is, what he thought of other people, etc. The news organizations in a way are glorifying what he did. The victims are not getting the amount of air time he is getting.

The whole situation is a tragedy. It is a tragedy that this man -- and I use the term loosely -- felt he had to kill all these people. I just hope in the next few days that the victims get the attention they should. Everyone should say a prayer for the families of these innocent people; they are going to need it.

Robert Johnson



No need to publish that disturbing photo

What purpose does publishing a picture of the Virginia Tech shooter with guns drawn have? First, it is old news. Everyone saw the picture the day before on TV. Second, it is a very disturbing picture which, in my opinion, serves no purpose.

Why didn't The News have a picture of all of the victims on the front page? That would have had more of an impact. Why do the media constantly glamorize the perpetrators and ignore the victims? Be more responsible if you are truly a news source.

Pat Moran

West Seneca


We need to reach out to troubled individuals

The tragedy that happened at Virginia Tech happened to us all. I am saddened by our loss. My concern, though, is the concentration on re-evaluation of security measures and gun control. Not that these areas should be ignored, but I think we are missing the true lesson we could glean from this horrific occurrence.

There are people who feel alone, unloved, picked on and disconnected from the rest of us, and we need to do something about that before something like this happens again. No precautionary policing or laws will change how we treat our fellow human beings. We need to look to our right and left and see our neighbors for who they are and not who we would like them to be. We need to reach out to them when they are in need.

If we take the time to truly see them, we will instinctively know when a person is hurting and we can seize the opportunity to change that. Reach out to isolated individuals. They want what we all want: acceptance and love.

Timothy Maggio, M.S.

Executive Director

Action for Mental Health



Virginia Tech students set wonderful example

Like millions of others, I am still desperately trying to "wrap my head around" the nightmare that unfolded at Virginia Tech. I've spent days trying to answer difficult questions posed to me by my three teens. I think I fared somewhat well in this important dialogue with my children. We watched the constant coverage; it was unavoidable. What a week, what loss, what heartbreak. I tried to find some morsel of positive thought that I could connect to this tragedy.

Last evening, while watching TV, I heard a sound bite from one of the many students being interviewed. Then it came to me, this is the positive thought I've been waiting for. We should applaud these articulate and eloquent young adults at Virginia Tech who have been representing their college and America's youth to the world through these many interviews. Their maturity, poise and compassion were so apparent. They had tough and often intrusive questions thrown at them under the worst of circumstances, and they shined.

I'm sure Virginia Tech is proud of its students. Now the world can be proud as well. Their strength and resolve warmed my heart and most certainly gave me many positive thoughts.

Barbara King

Orchard Park


Tragedies like this occur daily in Iraq

As soon as the Virginia Tech tragedy happened, the entire nation reacted with shock and grief. Thirty-three people are dead and more have been injured. How could such a tragedy happen? Of course everyone wanted to know who committed this horrific crime, and why.

Yet losses of this kind happen daily in Iraq. However, in this case, we all know the who and the why. President Bush and a handful of henchmen lied, then manipulated and propelled our nation to invade another country, resulting in incalculable deaths and immeasurable human suffering. The generals, the staff, indeed even the insiders who have left the Bush camp, have provided the why: arrogance, ignorance and smug self-interest on the part of our administration.

Precious lives of men and women were taken senselessly at Virginia Tech, and we grieve for them. As well, hundreds upon hundreds of precious American and Iraqi lives have been and continue to be taken, also senselessly. Each of these lives mattered, and every loss deserves to be grieved deeply.

Still, most people will continue to stay current on Hollywood paternity issues and the latest "American Idol" performance. Maybe there's a better way to make your vote count, America.

Joseph N. Weiss



Man's inhumanity is hard to fathom

The words of poet Robert Burns were true in 1785 when he penned, "Man's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn!" Those words are being revalidated every day. While we evolve as a global society, greater is the volume of injustices that we perpetrate. We have only honed our skills in crafting a higher degree of infamy for our planet. Our collective silence to improve upon the self-destructive model is deafening. Civilization is anything but civil.

Stuart H. Angert



U.S. should ban certain weapons

In the last couple of weeks, our society has been made smaller by two losses: The passing of writer Kurt Vonnegut Jr., and the senseless massacre of 32 people at Virginia Tech. I see a kind of connection. Vonnegut spent years decrying what he called the "inhumanity of many of man's inventions to man." Isn't that an important lesson from the Virginia Tech tragedy?

One young man was able to execute his own vision of mass murder because the inventions -- high-capacity, semi-automatic weapons -- needed to do it are available to the general public. This is unacceptable. Outside of a military or police context, weapons such as these should be banned. Background checks, waiting periods, etc., are not the answer. Not only do such procedures have their flaws, but they allow the guns to be commercially available. That just means there will be a traffic in them, both legal and illicit.

For those individuals who hunt, shoot for sport or have a legitimate need for personal protection, there are plenty of less powerful alternatives to guns that are readily capable of "mini-mass destruction."

Russell Shefrin



Don't blame the NRA for sick man's actions

Adam Zyglis graduated from bush league to outright unprofessional with his April 20 editorial cartoon comparing the National Rifle Association to a sick mass murderer.

I joined the NRA long after deciding it was right in its advocacy. After realizing that such things as handgun bans proposed in the early '80s were wrong, I began noticing that gun control proponents made new demands with each victory. Of course, new demands were always "urgently needed" or "reasonable." Miserable tactics included scare stories, technical misinformation and the sowing of fear among urban populations about their gun-owning neighbors.

It's always good to note that FBI raw crime data shows occurrence of legally owned guns involved in crime as rare, statistically somewhere between incremental and infinitesimal. Since drastic gun restrictions were enacted in the mid '90s in the British Commonwealth, gun crime and other violent crime have increased drastically.

The world is filled with villages where unarmed citizens are prey for armed rebels, renegade troops, paramilitary and gangs. Modern weapons always find their way to these types. Yet many activists and politicians seem to find armed, law-abiding citizens more objectionable.

Dan Hoffman



Too many people are dying because of guns

I am writing in response to the letter writer who stated that "further gun restrictions won't help. The individual who intends to harm people will do it, be it with a handgun, a box cutter or even a sharp stick." It is obvious that had Seung-Hui Cho been armed only with a sharp stick, we would not be mourning the loss of 33 lives.

An article in the Science Notes section of the April 22 News reported that the U.S. states with the highest rates of gun ownership also have the highest suicide rates. More than half of all people who died from gunfire took their own lives. Many other gun deaths are the result of tragic accidents or out-of-control anger.

If guns were not so readily available, many domestic accidents and crimes of passion would not occur, and fewer families would mourn the loss of a loved one. Guns do not make us safer; they make us less safe.

Patricia Christian



Parents shirk duties and let kids run wild

The recent News editorial, "Rinks need supervision," should have been titled, "Children at rinks need supervision." It has been my experience that many Western New York nongame rink conflicts are often traced to poor, or no, parental supervision.

In the current case in point, had the 10-year-old boy been under the watchful eye of either of his parents, a dangerous and threatening situation would not have ensued. A lesson is to be learned from the father of the 5-year-old boy, who very responsibly supervised his son throughout their time on the ice.

Webster Dann



Boy obviously has no respect for elders

I totally agree with Donn Esmonde's commentary about what happened at the Pepsi Center. It saddens me that this 10-year-old does not know discipline from his parents and obviously has no respect for his elders or, I'm guessing, for any authority. I know adults who grew up with parents who didn't discipline them and continually bailed them out of situations, instead of allowing them to suffer the consequences of their actions. These adults still believe the world owes them everything, and it's everyone else's fault for their problems.

I believe this young boy has a grim future unless he learns respect, the proper way to treat others and that negative behavior results in punishment. I will keep this young man in my prayers, that God will send responsible adults into his life who will show him proper love and will exemplify and teach him how to act civilized and respect himself and others.

Michele Stelley



Visit any jail to see results of bad parenting

I have followed the story about a 10-year-old boy's behavior at an area ice rink. He is accused of shooting pucks at a parent and his son. When asked to stop, the boy didn't. The father was charged with child endangerment and harassment after plucking the kid off the ice. According to the man, a parent of the 10-year-old couldn't be found. If true, I'm not surprised.

I need not look any further than next door to my office to see the repercussions of bad parenting. The jail is filled with people who have had little supervision in their lives. Authority, and obeying and respecting that authority, are foreign to them.

Children learn their behavior from us. We are their teachers. We become their role models; what they see forms the memories from which they draw their actions. Role modeling is a powerful form of teaching. A Greek philosopher once said that "the soul never thinks without a picture."

There may be more "role models" out in the world today, but I would venture to say that there are also fewer "model roles" being emulated in the world today. And I have an overpopulated jail to prove it.

Timothy Howard

Erie County Sheriff


Why does region keep shooting itself in foot?

Buffalo has been sleepwalking for years due to the political and environmental climate in the region. It is no wonder the population continues to decline. After six years of posturing and trying to lure a retailer that is believed to have the ability to jump-start the stagnation, we now have to deal with the possibility of another plan being jettisoned, along with any semblance of optimism.

Buffalo has been in the dark, only occasionally glimpsing through the light at developments in other cities like Baltimore and Cleveland, which nurtured and embraced their political and environmental climates.

Case in point: Preservationist Richard Lippes is now organizing yet another revolt against progress because he believes that the Bass Pro development project will alter the site's authenticity and ambience. Could someone please tell me where the ambience has been for the past four decades? At the rate this region completes projects, maybe, just maybe, our children's children will see the waterfront being more than just a field of crabgrass and polluted water.

From a bridge that will never be built to a water park that was lost to, of all places, Erie, Pa., there is very little reason for optimism. Only disgust.

John Vaccaro



Let's get behind Quinn and welcome Bass Pro

I read Larry Quinn's Viewpoints article on April 22. It makes a lot of sense to locate Bass Pro, a water-related retailer, on our waterfront.

And it's a start -- others will follow! Shops, restaurants, picnic areas and perhaps a special marina for a fleet of exotic sailing vessels, a Chinese Junk, a Viking Ship, Columbus' Nina, which might bring many of the Niagara Falls tourists up to Buffalo to spend money.

Then I turned to Everybody's Column and found four letters that were in opposition to the plan. None of the four had an alternate suggestion.

Come on you nay-sayers. It's not like there's no room for anything else. We have 6.75 miles of protected waterfront from the Railroad Bridge south to the Union Canal. We have about 7 miles on the Ship Canal and Buffalo River from Lake Erie to Seneca Street. Actually, both sides of those waterways are available so that's about 14 miles of virtually unused, available waterfront that could be developed.

So, please, let's get behind Quinn and get things moving.

Robert Truckenbrod


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