The Virginia Tech Massacre: The British Perspective

U.S. news coverage/commentary of yesterday’s tragedy has become so repetitive and fatiguing that it may be useful to gather perspective from other news sources. Here’s some of the coverage from the UK:

  • Queen Elizabeth II, who will be coming to Virginia next month for the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, is “shocked and saddened” by the killings. (Guardian)
  • Prime Minister Tony Blair issued this statement: “”I would like to express, on behalf of Britain and the British people, our profound sadness at what has happened and to send the American people, and most especially of course the families of the victims, our sympathy and our prayers.” (BBC)
  • A British engineering student at Virginia Tech on exchange tells of his shock and horror at yesterday’s events. (24dash)
  • A summary of Britain’s tough gun laws and how they differ from ours in the U.S.(Telegraph)
  • A lively debate on why there’ve been so many mass shootings in America.(Telegraph)
  • The BBC tries to unravel the major issues behind America’s gun violence.
  • “Does America need Michael Moore to make another film to stop this sort of madness? Or is this sort of lunacy impossible to legislate against?”(Guardian)
  • “It may have taken more lives than any other mass shooting in recent years, but it is unique only in its scale. Shootings at schools, colleges, and workplaces take place in the United States with what seems from a European perspective to be appalling regularity. So routine have they become that it is only the multiple shootings that attract national headlines.”(The Independent)
  • Gerard Baker in The Times says, “The simple truth is that Americans themselves remain unwilling to take drastic measures to restrict gun availability. This is rooted deep in the American belief in individual freedom and a powerful suspicion of government. Americans are deeply leery of efforts by government to restrict the freedom to defend themselves. A sizable minority, perhaps a majority, believe the risk that criminals will perpetrate events such as yesterday’s is a painful but necessary price to pay to protect that freedom.”
  • Q Magazine’s blog wonders if people will blame America’s “violent” popular music: “These days, Suburban America is dominated by emo, a genre which, despite the Daily Mail’s ludicrous ‘cult of self-harm’ scare stories, has proved entirely resistant to demonization. The likes of My Chemical Romance and Panic! At The Disco are simply too melodic, too radio-friendly, to frighten parents, no matter how much black eyeliner they wear. Besides which, emo is a fundamentally conformist genre. These bands are too busy taking the corporate dollar to incite hatred or plant Satanic messages in run-off grooves.”

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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