September 13, 2006 14:05 | Montreal

Bang bang

Not to be flippant about the Columbine-style shooting that just happened at Dawson college in Montreal, but this quote from a 19 year old student got my rant on:

"I'm only 19 and to have flashes of your life and the people that you love going by you, it should not be allowed. It was highly traumatizing."

Perhaps oddly, I am of the opinion it should be mandatory. I'd even say that if the gunman in this case had had a bit of previous real near-death experience (as opposed to mediatized death-desensitization), he wouldn't be running around killing people.

So I am just looking back into this story and am intrigued by the velocity of spread of information, and misinformation, and then the catchup.

The final report has a single 25 year old male walking into the Dawson cafeteria around 12:41pm where he opened fire. Within three minutes he was shot dead by police (Good job) and a single victim casualty (over a dozen injured).

I first heard of this sometime shortly after 1pm when Pat, sitting next to me at the bar having lunch at Laika, got an IM from someone. By this time, the gunman was already dead, but all the media was reporting that the situation was ongoing. Obviously mass pandemonium in the area, but as late as 4pm I was still hearing about 3 possible gunmen, one having committed suicide, the second having been shot and the possible third still "out there"; not to mention 6+ victim deaths...

All I'm saying is it's interesting. I've never been in quite such a situation, though I have been in "high panic" situations and I can easily see how fast and utterly communication and reliable information become scarce.

Words fall away fast.

Update 2:
The same 19 year old student quoted earlier seems to be a boundless fountain of fascinating quotes, not to mention the CBC's favorite interviewee:

"The adrenaline was rushing. It was like something from a movie. It was completely unbelievable and incredible."

The gunman, of course, had an "online journal", hosted on a goth/vampire enthusiast site (if it's not satanists, it's vampires), and, of course, referred to himself as "the angel of death." The cliché factor here is very high. This boy lived in a completely manufactured entertainment-sourced reality.

p.s.: yes the word "pandemonium" is very apt to such situations. When noise outstrips signal, the tower of Babel collapses.

p.p.s.: Umberto Eco's "Travels in Hyperreality" provides a very nice framework for media (and "reality") analysis.


That very same phrase struck me as well. Of course the speaker might've been babbling from adrenalin, but it was a damn odd way to look at the incident. if someone else should've mediated his experience for him first. But given that a generation is coming to maturity who've chiefly lived through mediated experience, I suppose that shouldn't be a surprise.

A friend of mine goes to Dawson and, in describing the borderline-ridiculousness of the situation there, not only complained about that guy's blowhard description to the papers but also about his general blowhardiness as a "leader" in the situation that followed. C- to whoever chose him to be the official spokesperson for everyone at Dawson.

You, the people who criticize the messenger, he was only telling his story, to see anyone else step up to the plate, this did not happen. focus on the issues and the tradgedy, this is the issues, not the messenger.remember everyone has their own story.