Paragraphs 6 & 7 read:  "Barbara said a friend of hers had been given antidepressants for post-partum depression and had felt almost homicidal herself."

" 'Some of these drugs are loaded guns,' Barbara said. 'They ought to require a psychiatrist's supervision.'"

ERROL CASTENS: What would of happened if...

4/24/2007 5:52:20 AM
Errol Castens

It was a mighty pretty day for such morbid talk as the Coffee Clutchers sank into.

We tried to discuss the late freeze, Grady's newly paved driveway and the work we ought to be doing instead of drinking coffee, but conversation kept coming back to the Virginia Tech massacre.

We all agreed that airing the gunman's taped manifesto would inspire copycats.

"They gave this fool his glory,' and there'll be others lining up to get theirs," Chester said.

Walter said more mentally ill people ought to be locked up, for their own good and for society's.

Barbara said a friend of hers had been given antidepressants for post-partum depression and had felt almost homicidal herself.

"Some of these drugs are loaded guns," Barbara said. "They ought to require a psychiatrist's supervision."

Mark said this massacre removed all doubt about the need for gun control.

"We're a society that worships violence. There are probably more guns in America as there are adults," he said. "That this kid could just go in and buy an automatic pistol says our whole policy toward weapons is insane."

Bud, who can drink coffee without removing his Copenhagen, spat a perfect exclamation point on the bare ground.

"Guns were already illegal on that campus," he said. "What's insane is putting 26,000 people in a place where they can't defend themselves against a nut."

Robert reminded me of the Ole Miss criminal justice professor I'd talked to who said he wished the killer had come into a class like his - that the off-duty cops in such a class would have shredded him.

A whole bunch of us started critiquing the response by Virginia Tech police and administrators. There was a lot of 20-20 hindsight, but we finally admitted there were no easy answers to shutting down what amounts to a small city.

Clyde backtracked the conversation a bit.

"We got all worked up about Mark's gun control advocacy, but we ignored what he said about the worship of violence," Clyde said. "They say you are what you eat - but you are what you read, what you listen to and what you watch, too."

Harvey, whose philosophical insights are limited to what he reads on bumper stickers and T-shirts, adapted one uncharacteristically fittingly.

"What would Jesus watch?'" he said.

Bro. Earl (no relation) noted that the gunman had long ago alienated himself from society, refusing friendship and sinking into a black hole of hate because of being bullied.

"There are probably two lessons there," he said. "One is that, just as Satan became resentful and ultimately rebelled against God, bitterness can destroy anyone.

"The other is this," Bro. Earl said. "I'll never make excuses for evil - and this whole thing was pure evil - but I wonder what would have happened if somebody had been kind to this boy before he became such a monster?"

Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at 281-1069 or