Saturday, April 25, 2009

Who is a victim?

Last night I went to see the film, "April Showers." The funeral scene in the movie was shot at the cathedral here in Omaha and the dean appears in a speaking role, so I had to see it. All the wierdness aside of seeing the place where I work and worship as a scene in a movie, the subject matter set me to thinking. 

The film is based on the experiences of youth who survived the shooting at Columbine. In the credits they list all the victims of school shootings from the 60's onward. In the list of the victims for Columbine and Virginia Tech, however, three names stood out: the names of the shooters. 

It was definitely an interesting decision on the part of the producers, but I have to ask: is it appropriate? Does it demean those whom they killed by inviting pity for the shooters? 

I don't know if it was the best decision. We can pray for sociopaths, we can pray for murderers, but do we consider them victims, too? It was troubling that nothing set them apart on those lists. No asterisk, no note to say that they were responsible for the bloodshed. 

What's the appropriate Christian response? The best response would be to pray for the shooters and for the families and friends who still grieve the loss. We cannot and should not try to diminish the evils committed by those young people by trying to blame others for bullying them or for not seeing the mental illness or sociopathy, but we pray for the dead regardless of who they were.

And then we comfort the living because we can really do something for them. 


mary said...

After Virginia Tech, the University of Puget Sound's vigil had candles for all of the victims, including one for the shooter himself. They took some guff for it, too.

But I agree with the statement, and the meaning behind it. In such cases, we are remembering the lives that were lost, and that includes those who turned their weapons on themselves. Yes, they did a bad thing, but shouldn't we include them in our prayers and mourn their loss as well?

Karl Julian said...

I guess I'm just not convinced that it does justice to the atrocity to include them in the same fashion. If you didn't know who the shooter was, wouldn't you assume that all of them were innocent victims?

Certainly we should pray for them and mourn their destruction, but we cannot just gloss over the fact that they were responsible for the violence.

Alice said...

I certainly think the shooters are victims, just of a different and possibly more awful crime, indifference on the part of society. In all these cases we let a problem get to the point that it exploded into violence. In the case of Columbine and Virginia Tech people in the shooters' communities knew that they were depressed or otherwise having mental health problems and yet nothing was done to address these problems. So while I agree they aren't victims of the same kind, they are certainly victims and the crime they are victims of is the one that all of us can strive to do something about.