Monday, April 23, 2007

Okay, I Really Mean It This Time: Last Last Word

I forgot to shred the Flight 93 references that keep popping up. You know, the nutters who unfavorably compare the dead Hokies to the Flight 93 heroes. Have they forgotten the key variable that made 93 different from the first three planes that crashed that day? Information. The hapless souls on the first three planes were operating in a vacuum, with no idea they'd walked into a coordinated attack, likely remembering the now-quaint advice to not fight a hijacker, sit tight, and hope for the best. The people on 93 found out via cellphone calls what had already happened. Armed with this information and a lack of systematic throat-slitting on the parts of the hijackers, they had the resources and time to hatch and carry out a plan of counterattack.

Now fast forward to Virginia Tech. Did everyone in all those classrooms sit quietly and wait to be executed? No. The people in the first room, taken utterly by surprise, never had the time to have a chance. The people in the other rooms had a few seconds to process and identify the sounds they were hearing and take action; people in at least two rooms managed to barricade the door with heavy tables, arms and legs, just before the shooter tried to force his way in. It didn't work in each case, but it demonstrates that given just a little time, average people will indeed do what they can to fight back. If someone bursts into a room down the hall from John Derbyshire and opens up with a gun, he'll probably have sprung into action by the time the shooter reaches his door a minute later. If the gunman bursts into Derbyshire's office first, he'll be cowering on the floor and soiling himself like the rest of us.
Yes, yes, I know it's easy to say these things: but didn't the heroes of Flight 93 teach us anything?
Yeah. They taught us that time and information are crucial self-defense weapons. And that lacking both doesn't make you a coward. It just makes you supremely unlucky.

No comments: