Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Black Day in the Blue Ridge

"But Blacksburg isn't a place of massacres––Blacksburg is my home in southwest Virginia. It's boring--that's why I like it. We are Virginia Tech, the fighting gobblers, the ones who wear the funny turkey hats and plant tasteless turkey sculptures all over town. We are not the stuff of massacres."

-Lucinda Roy

How odd that Lucinda Roy's thoughtful column published on the op-ed page of Tuesday's New York Times ("A Black Day in the Blue Ridge") was followed by the discovery that Roy, who is the co-director of the Creative Writing Program at Virginia Tech, had actually referred the murderer to counseling and reported him to the police because of his threatening behavior and the violent fantasies he injected into his creative writing assignments.*

It must have been horrifying for her to learn after writing the column that she knew the shooter.


*From the ABC World News site: "The threats seemed to be underneath the surface. They were not explicit," [Lucinda Roy] recalled. "And that was the difficulty that the police had. I would go to the police and to the counselors and to student affairs and everywhere else, and they would say, 'There's nothing explicit here. He's not actually saying he's going to kill someone.' And my argument was he seemed so disturbed anyway that we needed to do something about this."


Blogger Reb said...

As someone trying to get medical treatment for an immediate family member who has threatened suicide, threatened to kill other family members and a host of other disturbing behaviors, it's practically impossible if the mentally disturbed person isn't willing -- legally the police and medical professionals can offer very little. It's agonizing. It sounds like the English department did everything it could -- but it had very few options to deal with the situation. It's time to stop blaming the individuals who did the best they could under very difficult circumstances and re-evuate the poor system and laws to handle these things.

11:11 AM  
Blogger greg rappleye said...


Thank you for your comment. I agree with you completely. I hope nothing I have written (or rather, selected to post on my blog--very little of what I posted on this topic is in my own words) can be read as criticism of Roy or of anyone else at Virginia Tech. Frankly, I was surprised to learn how hard she had worked to get this person some help.

As someone who represents (in my other life, as a lawyer) police agencies, courts, and a mental health agency, I am both familiar with and troubled by the barriers and difficulties of the current system. I certainly agree that it is time to work for change.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

Greg, oh no, I didn't read any criticism into your posts -- sorry for not being clear on that. Just an issue I'm particularly tender on these days. I agree, Roy (and it's sounding like others) did a lot -- they were prevented from doing any more.

1:27 PM  

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