Marred by grief, a desperate nation seeks answers

David Exelby

On the morning of Aug. 26, a disgruntled ex-reporter of WDBJ under the professional name of Bryce Williams took the lives of two journalists this past Wednesday. Opinions flared across the nation yet again. Gun control, racism, political correctness, mental illness and LGBT acceptance were among just a few of the touchy subjects that this horrific event produced. But that is what makes Williams important to America; he represents the culmination of a number of America’s vast issues.re-roanoke-virginia

Williams openly wrote that the purchase of the gun used for the double murder was in direct response to the Charleston church shooting—a race influenced crime. He also stated that many of the people in the newsroom at WDBJ made racist comments. Now, due to his potential mental instability and due to a lack of evidence of these allegations actually occurring at the workplace, this is not conclusive. But regardless, Williams was frustrated at racist America, just as many should be. Sadly, he chose to fight back with violence. But this should be no surprise because violence only begets violence, and after the Charleston shooting, what more could be expected?

Williams, as stated before, was also a man who struggled with mental issues. That is partially why he was let go from his position at the news station. But, being an adult American male, he is free and left to his own devices to choose and decide what is best for himself and others despite his mental problems. And, as seen recently, America gets to witness what happens when mentally unstable people get to make choices on their own.

The shooter, despite his mental issues, was also able to purchase a gun. Not a gun for hunting. Not a gun for a collection. A gun meant to harm other people. A gun meant purely for human violence. That is the way it works here in America. If the violent wish to receive weapons meant for harm, the violent only need to look for the nearest gunshop.

Lastly, the culprit was able to get two perspectives of video footage of his crime. In an age of technology, where video or photographic evidence is literally at the fingertips of many, America got to see two scenes of devastation. We live in a world where social media and video footage are everywhere and in everything—to a point where a double murder can be filmed in two perspectives.

This is what makes Williams important. He is a perfect example of what happens to America’s problems when they are left to simmer too long. He is what happens when there are no options left for the mentally unstable. He is what happens when social media is the only coverage that matters anymore. He is what happens when guns can be purchased with ease to anyone with money. He is what happens when, somehow, after decades of trying to fight for civil rights and justice, racism still runs rampant in America.

I have nothing left but questions—not of anger, but of heartbreak. How did we get here? How are we still here? How many more times do events like these have to continue before something is done? I have no answers. I only have a hope that Williams  is remembered not as an icon of rage, someone to be forgotten about and lumped in with all the other “gun-toting whack-jobs,” but as an icon of change; an icon we can look back on and say, “no more.”