In the Great War (1914-18), over nine million people died. To remember them, those who have fallen in the Second World War, and others who have fallen in battle, an annual silence for two minutes is held on the eleventh day of the eleventh month; Rememberance Day.
I therefore find the initial campaign idea of the ‘One Day Blog Silence,’ where people will fall silent for twenty four hours to honour the thirty three victims of the Virginia Tech shootings to be both out of proportion and, quite frankly, wrong. Yes there is a huge personal tragedy here, but that’s life. That’s what it means to be human. I don’t see us stopping for thirty three people run over in a major city every day. Or (to go to the extreme scale) the hundreds of thousands of dead in Iraq.
So I went to the page and found this:
On April 30th 2007, the Blogosphere will hold a One-Day Blog Silence in honor of the victims at Virginia Tech. More then 30 died at the US college massacre.
And my first response – annoyance. Who was this person who was talking for me, controlling what I can and cannot do; trying to control what people can say through their own platforms. Following the links from Technorati, I find similar sentiments, for many reasons. Bonnie at cribchronicles.com
i have no problem with you choosing to be silent on April 30th to honour the VT dead. i know your intentions are good. but to try to co-opt the blogosphere en masse to accord with your intent by making a declaration of silence, you leave some of us in the terrible position of appearing to disrespect the deaths at VT by honouring our own dead with words. words are all i have to give my son. and that date – or any other – is not yours, nor mine, to own. invite people to join in your campaign, sure. but do not dictate others’ speech or silence at will.
The idea came from Steli Efti, who found he could not write about how he felt about the tragedy that happened on Monday. The proposal comes from the heart, a feeling that they have to show their support. And whilst I fully understand that, co-opting every single blog writer is not necessarily the right way.
Read Lorrelle’s story of being in Israel on Holocaust Memorial Day, when the whole country grinds to a halt and what that time means to her. I’ve stood on the streets of London the week after the July Tube bombings for 2 minutes and watched Oxford street still as the buses halted. As Ewan says, the UK (and much of the Commonwealth, holds 2mins silence for Remembrance Sunday. I have a choice to remember the dead that way or to do so in another manner. And that will not include a whole day not expressing myself.
Virginia Tech suffered an unimaginable tragedy for an educational establishment in the US, a relatively safe country compared to many around the world, where war or random acts of violence happen every day. The VT killings happened in one of the most media-intense countries, where there was nothing but the story on the news. It’s also one of the more connected countries, and first person accounts through video, through live streaming, blogging, memorial pages and everything else let you watch and read multiple viewpoints on the day’s happening. (and the good and bad of the collision of those 2 worlds is a completely different story). The victims of this crime will be remembered in multiple ways – so spare some time to think of those who will not be given the same focus.