Does This Strike Anyone as Ghoulish?

The administrators of the Hokie Spirit Fund have announced how they plan to distribute some $7.5 million to Virginia Tech’s mass shooting victims and their families. Reports Matthew Bowers with the Virginian-Pilot:

Families of those killed will be eligible for $180,000 in cash, or the same amount in a combination of cash and fully or partly endowed scholarships in the names of victims. … Those injured could receive $40,000 or $90,000, depending on how long they were hospitalized, plus free tuition to complete their studies at Virginia Tech. … Others injured, and those who escaped injury but were in the Norris Hall classrooms involved in the shootings, can receive free tuition or a $10,000 cash payment.

Perhaps someone can explain to me, what is the purpose of reimbursing families for the loss of their children to the tune of $180,000? I am totally sympathetic to the families of victims for the grief they feel. But if any one of my three children died in such a horror, I can’t imagine that any amount of money would console me. I would have no desire for the money. (I could use it, trust me, but I wouldn’t want it.)

In fairness, the distribution protocol does allow recipients to endow scholarships in the names of victims. But the tenor of article suggests that a goodly number of people think $180,000 is not enough. What’s that all about? And what’s this about giving $10,000 to people who survived the shootings? Sure, they experienced a horror, but they weren’t even injured. Nobody’s giving cash pay-outs to the soldiers returning from Iraq.

This seems to be part of a larger phenomenon, the spread of the entitlement mentality: If something bad happens, I’m entitled to compensation, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of who pays. As the Washington Post reports:

Some slain students’ relatives, who plan to meet this weekend, appeared unimpressed by Feinberg’s decision on distribution of the fund. “It was expected. We’ve got to take a look at it and decide if there is going to be a response or not,” said Joseph Samaha of Centreville, whose daughter Reema was killed in Norris Hall.

The announcement is another step in the tense discussions between state officials and some family members over how much money they should receive to compensate them for their losses and cover outstanding bills.

Several relatives of slain and wounded Virginia Tech students, who believe that the school was negligent in its response to the tragedy, have said they think they are entitled to more money, in addition to the disbursements from the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund. Some have suggested a taxpayer-financed compensation fund, which Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and Virginia legislators said they will consider.

Bottom line: Something horrible happened to my kid, and somebody is going to pay — even if they had nothing to do with it. Thus, society is held collectively responsible for the acts of a madman.

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8 responses to “Does This Strike Anyone as Ghoulish?”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Wait a a minute. Wasn’t the money from voluntary donations? How does that make society responsible, as opposed to just generous or caring?


  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Thank you, Jim, for having the guts to say what I suspect many people privately are thinking. At least I have.

    Actually, I think the wounded survivors may be more in need of some attention – counseling or whatever – than the parents of the deceased.

  3. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis


    You hit the nail right on the head!

    It all stems from the ever expanding nanny state mentality. It is no longer good enough to be provided from from cradle to grave–we now have to also provide for the families that are left behind or anyone coming close to a national tragedy…

  4. Groveton Avatar

    I guess that I always assumed this was patterned after the 9-11 fund.

    However, there are some differences.

    First, the majority of those killed in the 9-11 attacks were bread winners for their families. Therefore, there was something of a logical connection between giving the families money they would no loger get from the salaries of those who were killed.

    Second, I thought the 9-11 families had agreed not to sue the airlines (and maybe others) for negligence. The thinking was that the airline industry (and its related employment) would be destroyed if 3,000 estates sued the airlines for negligence.

    However, I don’t see the same logic here.

    First, most of the victims of this horrible mass murder were students not bread winners for families. Their murders were a horror to everybody and remain an unspeakable burden of grief to their families. But, for most of the victims, their spouses and children will not go hungry or poorly educated because they did not have spouses or children.

    Second, the makers of the guns used in this masss murder should be sued by the families of the deceased. In the 9-11 tragedy the airlines had no reasonable way to predict the course of events that infolded. However, the makers of the weapons with huge clips of ammunition and ease of reloading even more large clips had a reasonable expectation to know that their products would be used as weapons of mass destruction. I see no reason why anybody should do anything to protect these companies.

  5. AnonymousIsAWoman Avatar

    I am not sure it’s a nanny state mentality as another poster suggested.

    An argument could be made that Virginia Tech’s security did not handle the incident as well as they could have from the outset because they failed to issue the warnings of a gunman being lose as timely as they could have.

    Also, there could be liability because the gunman fell through the cracks. He was obviously disturbed. Students and teachers saw it and reported it. Cho went before a judge and was ordered to get mental health treatment, which he never did. There was no follow up.

    I’m not sure whether anybody is legally responsible for all the cracks that Cho was able to fall through. Everything from not receiving ordered treatment to being able to purchase a gun to being able to roam freely after having committed the first two murders.

    So, you can hardly hold the whole system blameless. It needs reform.

    On the other hand, I also think there is an appalling sense of greed and entitlement in our society. I agree with Jim’s point that no amount of money would suffice because no amount would bring one child back.

    I’d rather see the families get real justice and closure by seeing some of those cracks sealed and the issues raised addressed so that perhaps this won’t ever happen again. That might bring more closure to the families than $180,000.

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    There is an excellent editorial in today’s (Friday) Winchester Star which eexpresses the points made here eloquently. You have to regester with them to get access but that is simple and they never send spam.

  7. adamandjeremy Avatar

    I disagree

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    Jim, you are absolutely correct.

    I live in Blacksburg, was home within walking distance of the whole tragic mess, heard the police radios, and I cannot for the life of me see the point of this whole compensation to-and-fro. IMHO the police did exactly what they should have done after the initial shooting: apprehend the boyfriend who had just dropped off the young woman at her dorm. He had just been with her, and (bonus points here) was known to keep guns in his home. No one had any reason to believe that this was a wide-spread problem and they concentrated their efforts where they should have – a likely domestic dispute. And, for the record, they apprehended the boyfriend in a short amount of time. He lived in Blacksburg and attended RU. He was on his way to RU when stopped. I don’t think that anyone could have envisioned the scope of Cho’s madness.

    As for “closing down VT” you may as well talk about closing down Springfield. VT is wide open and surrounded by fields – athletic and agricultural. In driving around Blacksburg, you might be in and out of campus several times depending on where you are heading. It’s a small town with about 27,000+ at VT. Lots of foot traffic.

    Also, even if you don’t access “blame”, it is easy to understand that families dependent upon victims that are no longer there to help support them may need resources that will help fill the gap left by the loss of their principal financial supporter. But it leaves me astounded that parents could somehow place a monetary value on a child’s life. If there is negligence, by all means FIX the problem. If someone is criminally neglient, by all means apply the law to the fullest extent. But how would the receipt of $180,000 compensate a parent for the death of a child? They aren’t depending upon the child to support them so what does $180,000 represent? I can’t believe that a single one of them would have allowed anyone to kill their child for this amount.

    As I drive around Blacksburg, I see the black and maroon ribbons and, of course, the “We are the Hokies! We will prevail” signs. If we are going to prevail, then we will do so by moving on – with respect, yes – but also with determination.

    Yes, the families have experienced a loss that they will never forget, but let’s be honest. So have the families of students who die in auto accidents, in fires, via drugs and alcohol, by means of street crime, and any other means you can name. These things happen at colleges all the time all over the US.

    Success in life isn’t determined by how many times you fall but how many times you pick yourself up and keep going after a fall. And if we prevail, it must be by positive action.

    I would like to see the state expand the medical reasons for denying a person the right to buy a gun. Cho certainly should not have been allowed to buy one. This would be a fitting legacy to this tragedy. And again IMHO there should have been a more vigorous reaction to putting his fellow students in fear back in 2005. Make ’em uncomfortable? OK. Make ’em afraid to come to class? Not an option.

    But fighting over how much you get for a dead child is beyond me. Exactly what are you compensating?

    Deena Flinchum

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