Friday, February 15, 2008


There are no words for what happened at Northern Illinois beyond tragic and senseless.

There isn’t much any of us can do but send out thoughts and prayers out to the victims.

We don’t know much about Northern Illinios other than an occasional foray into the NCAA tournament. We do love their nickname’s nickname which was coined by Dr. R.F. Hokie: The Shivering Illini. That said, we know it’s a pretty big school – 25,000 students – ‘cause that’s the kind of stuff we know.

God bless ‘em.

Having said that, there is one other thing we can do and it's something we do well: Jump to conclusions.

While the identity of the gunman has yet to be released, the similarities between what happened here and the April shooting at Tech are disturbing for us conclusion jumpers.

Now for the jumping part – Apparently, and unfortunately, like the Arab and Muslim cultures, we are developing a sub-set of people who will die to make a point. In our case, it isn’t religious jihad, but severe mental health problems, and how young adults react to peer pressure and the overall stress of their modern world. Our jumped to conclusion is that this kid didn’t just wake up one day with a clean bill of health and decide to don all black and start shooting people.

When 911 crashed into our world, we lost a few civil liberties for the greater safety of all of us. (We know, there are still huge holes in our safety net, but you get the point). Now, if the NIU gunman has a similar psychological profile and history as the VT shooter, it may be time to look at mental health treatment, and the related privacy issues.

Civil liberties and privacy advocatess will hate such a concept, but their kid probably didn’t get shot. As you may recall with the VT situation, there were warning signs, but health care officials were powerless to do much. Is that what happened here (again)?

Nobody at TAH is advocating that the Feds get more involved in anything, but before we have to have metal detectors on every door of every classroom, we better think about (politically correct alert) “profiling” the persona that shoots college kids to make some sad, twisted point and/or to conclude a tortured (self-inflicted or otherwise) life.

We shouldn’t endanger other kids because their peers with identified mental health issues slip through the cracks of the treatment process primarily due to privacy issues. Something Congress might think about when they aren't conducting a baseball circus.

Food for thought.

End of lecture.

(AFP/Getty Images/Scott Olson)

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