Montreal massacre: Let's stop this talk of cowards plus comments Apr 7 Apr 11, 2009


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Few people can accurately predict how they'll respond in a crisis but planning helps. Out here in BC many people have & practice their earthquake plans. It's not a far reach from there to "what will I do if the guy beside me turns violent"?

When all is said & done, we're all responsible for our own security.

Posted 07/04/09 at 1:35 PM EDT

Kim Philby from Canada writes:

Sue McPherson: you're blaming feminists for making the gunman "irate" enough to shoot those women? Are you insane?

He specifically targetted female students. He was influenced by a violent, misogynistic father. What do you need, a roadmap to figure it out?

Apparently "feminist" is a dirty word in your vocabulary.

Posted 07/04/09 at 2:03 PM EDT

tip finlay from United States writes:

Of course the men were completely blameless and were themselves victims of the massacre. But human behaviour under such circumstances is a complex expression of rawest animal instincts. Men are hard-wired, not just nutured, to respond protectively toward women. In a politically correct world, there is enormous pressure to deny if not subdue that instinct. Insistence that the behaviour of men and women be virtually interchangeable is, as pointed out by Michael Erskine, a refusal to accept the dictates of nature. Which of us instinctively sits back-to-wall - sensitive to any furtive moves in a strange new environment? Whose muscles contract and heart rate rises the quickest when danger presents. It's not something we ask for and doubtless there are too many who fail to control it, but exist it does. But the ultimate choice between flight and fight is a function of many variables in a given situation. The intensity of the bond between the men and the women, the severity of the threat and the probability that intervention will have a good outcome are among the factors that may be weighed instantaneously. During 9/11 for example, it was men who charged the cockpit of one hyjacked aircraft - dying in the attempt but saving the lives of many others on the ground with their courage.

Posted 07/04/09 at 2:04 PM EDT

Chris Edwards from Canada writes:

Combative American from Minneapolis, United States writes: "Unfortunately, this is normally how these situations come to their final conclusion."

Would you care to back that up with some actual data that indicates the majority of hostage taking incidents end with a massacre?

Because quite frankly, I don't remember ever hearing of an aircraft being hijacked and flown into a building before 9/11, and before the Ecole Polytechnique massacre school shootings weren't a frequent or high profile news item.

Posted 07/04/09 at 2:07 PM EDT

Chris Edwards from Canada writes:

Note to all bombastic Sgt. Rock wannabes - there is NO way to prepare for this, and NO way to know what you'd do. Regardless of how many drills you might have run (Tom Burns), processing a situation so unfamiliar, foreign and unexpected would likely take you past the opportunity for heroic action.

tip - if I'm not mistaken, the reason for the cockpit charge in the one aircraft was because some information had already been received that indicated it was all going to end badly. Whether they charged the cockpit with higher motives of saving the women or the livse of those on the ground, or simply in a failed attempt to save themselves, I don't believe has been established as fact. With all due respect, I'm not sure "courage" and "nothing to lose" are the same thing. Had they still believed they might land safely, I bet they'd have stayed in their seats.

Of course, this "let's roll" mythology lends itself to the Die Hard fantasies of wannabe tough guys.

Posted 07/04/09 at 2:17 PM EDT

A person from Toronto, Canada writes:

Chris Edwards from Canada writes: ...if I'm not mistaken, the reason for the cockpit charge in the one aircraft was because some information had already been received that indicated it was all going to end badly. ....

Correct. One of the passengers received a cell phone call that another plane had crashed adn they knew they were headed for the same fate.

I'll repeat myself from my comment earlier...this had nothing to do with gender. It had to do with the very human hope that the situation would end okay if everybody just did what the gunman asked. They were hoping he wasn't as crazy as he appeared. They were all wrong.

It also could have gone the other way, with the gunman being "talked down" by policemen, or a shrink. It has happened before, and it could have happened again. The hostages took a gamble...

Posted 07/04/09 at 2:26 PM EDT

Kim Philby from Canada writes:

A few months ago in my martial arts class we were studying defence against a gun. The first thing sensei told us was "here's the best defence when being mugged by someone with a gun", and he proceeded to pantomime handing over a wallet pdq.
Posted 07/04/09 at 2:27 PM EDT

Hap Stokes from Canada writes:

As a human being I am always shocked by these mad mass killings, such as happened in NY only a few days ago. This madness seems never ending in one part of the world or another. In Texas or Alberta or Germany or Denver, always committed by some demented minded people. Nor is it correct to only blame the male gender for the distaff side have been known to murder many (even their own babies) for whatever reason no normal human can understand.

And I cried when the news broke about those 14 young talented girls at the Montreal's L'École Polytechnique. But these on going never ending salutations and tributes every 6th Dec have also made me angry.

For as a Nova Scotia it was on 6th Dec (1917) that the Halifax Explosion occurred and over 10,000 causalities resulted with over 4,000 deaths. Some of the then babies (now elderly) are still living, blinded and maimed, even in 2009. My mother, then 7 yrs old was one of those causalities despite the fact they lived over 75 miles away from Ground Zero!

This explosion was so huge it caused minor damage even 250 miles away in PEI.

So I am insulted that the only tribute on the 6th Dec is to only 14 girls and a rebuttal of a Mad Man, instead of also the city of Halifax, which suffered more causalities on 6 Dec 1917, than 9/11 and Pearl Harbour combined. And to this day only Hiroshima and Nagasaki have experienced larger explosions than the forgotten (victims) and the heroic people of Halifax. And there WERE thousands of 'Little Nobodies' (both male and female) hero's during that disaster!

Maybe it is time, before the victims all pass we REMEMBER Halifax too.

Posted 07/04/09 at 2:37 PM EDT

dwight steadman from Fort Macleod from Canada writes:

Hey, 9/11 would never have happened if the Macleans avenger Mark Steyn had been on one of those planes. BAM POWEE! ! He 'd have sent those bad guys to their fates.
Posted 07/04/09 at 3:06 PM EDT

frank henry from Nanaimo, Canada writes:

How long is Quebec going to milk this event? Lapine was obviously mentally ill when this unfortunate event happened. Let it die already. Its time to move on.

The BILLION DOLLAR GUN REGISTRY is a result of this one nut-bar. I don't know about any of the other citizens else in this country, but I feel a whole lot safer knowing that hardened criminals/wanna-bee gang bangers/mentally unfit people will never again be able to get their hands on an illegal hand gun or rifle.

Posted 07/04/09 at 3:47 PM EDT

Dennis Love from Canada writes:

Funny there is no discussion about the cops. They are the ones hired to protect life and limb. Why did they not rush in may I ask.

Posted 07/04/09 at 3:52 PM EDT

Sue McPherson, from Oshawa, Canada writes:

It's difficult to explain away the actions of people who resort to killing. But all one's options have disappeared, or one feels they have, or when one simply feels that all one has worked for has ended, then violence can result. Look at Roger Federer in the recent tennis tournament. Not for a long time has he expressed such rage, smashing his racket to the ground so that it become a twisted tangle of aluminum and strings. He has always appeared so serene, when we knew him as the champ. But surely people can understand that losing does this to people. It is the ones with the power who appear sane. Why wouldn't they! Eveything's going their way. The women's movement is a powerful political activist organization. That's why they appear sane and Marc Lepine not. So don't call Marc Lepine a mad man, unless you want to call Roger Federer one too. Now, try and separate the act from the person. Killing is wrong. throwing one's racket down in a fit of anger is also. So is yelling out ---- which is what Andy Murray did. But they have the power so these acts can be hidden, or interpreted more favourably than they really were. I am certain Marc Lepine must have suffered terribly at the hands of feminists. I know I have. Feminists are not inherently nice people. They are out for power. Nova Scotia doesn't have much power or powerful people in it. So the Halifax explosion didn't and doesn't get the coverage and commemoration it should. One might think mad men were commanding those ships, considering neither one would give way. It's good your mother had you, Hap Stokes, to try and do this historical event justice.

Posted 07/04/09 at 3:54 PM EDT

Shades of Grey from Whitehorse, Canada writes:

Sue McPherson, I confess I visited your website. I won't be back. Your opinion is only that. Promoting it seven ways to Sunday doesn't make it more valid or interesting.
Posted 07/04/09 at 3:59 PM EDT

Jim Vance from Canada writes:

Why can't you all just accept the fact that a deranged person who happened to be a man for some reason hated women and wanted to kill them?
All the talk about feminists, abuse, etc. sure are factors but what are you proposing to do with that information? Ban abuse? Ban guns? Ban female students?
Don't blame men for this, don't blame the male students for this...these events just happen because nature is not perfect and sometimes produces horrific results.

If you really want to get down to it, the women left in the class were required to show the most courage because they were in a do-or-die situation. The fact they didn't rush him does that make them cowards?

Just accept it that tragedies will happen and there is nothing more that can be done without ripping away all the freedoms we have.
Posted 07/04/09 at 4:09 PM EDT

Jim Vance from Canada writes: Dennis Love from Canada writes:

Funny there is no discussion about the cops. They are the ones hired to protect life and limb. Why did they not rush in may I ask.
Because cops are normal people and as such they are prone to self preservation first, and public safety second. Example: RCMP Vancouver killing polish tourist - the slightest threat against them they react. When it comes to others they pause, analyze, ponder, reflect, etc. because they are not in danger.

In this case hostages are left to their own means to survive, much like the 9/11 flight heading for Washington - storm the cockpit or die.

Posted 07/04/09 at 4:13 PM EDT | Alert an Editor | Link to Comment
Jim Vance from Canada writes: Sue McPherson from Oshawa, Canada writes
That's why they appear sane and Marc Lepine not. So don't call Marc Lepine a mad man, unless you want to call Roger Federer one too.
Pathetic comments such as these are exactly the reason people are disgusted with analysis. A mass murderer compared to a tennis player angry at his own performance. To do it justice report on the whole incident during the tennis match - not selected slices.
Lepine wasn't the only deranged one it appears.
Posted 07/04/09 at 4:23 PM EDT

Dulce et Decorum Est Pro HARPER Mori? from Support the Troops -- Bring them Home!, writes:

Dennis Love from Canada writes: Funny there is no discussion about the cops. They are the ones hired to protect life and limb. Why did they not rush in may I ask.
This was the subject of a bit of a scandal at the time. Apparently the police policy was specifically to NOT move in but to secure the perimeter and await SWAT.

This policy was so discredited by the Polytechnique events that it was specifically changed to one requiring first-responders to take down the perps ASAP (as was done in the Dawson College incident with some success).

Posted 07/04/09 at 4:35 PM EDT

Sue McPherson, from Oshawa, Canada writes:

No, Jim Vance. You can't compare a mass murderer who kills from a position of power, from someone who kills from a position of powerlessness. You can't compare a child throwing his tennis racket down in frustration to Roger Federer throwing his down.
Posted 07/04/09 at 4:38 PM EDT

BC Philosopher from Canada writes:

Its both amusing and sad how quickly one of the best points from this very high quality article, thanks G&M btw, is completely lost and side tracked. The author pointed out that there is a profound inequality of perception in that that are those who would point fingers at the men and ask, why didn't they do something ? couple this with the fact that reversed that questions would never be asked. We have no balanced society by any means, feminism has done enormous good but as others have point it has also done enormous harm. Like any group that achieves power without balance and guidance it much of the movement has become consumed by its pursuit of power instead of its original purpose of fairness and equality. Propaganda and misrepresented statistics replacing ideals of unity. As for the so called madman, there is truly no such thing as an irrational act. All people when performing an action have a motivation and a frame of mind that lead them down that path. A madman is rational when you understand the assumptions that lead him down that path, he is wrong but in his own mind he has reached a place where he is right. Murder is wrong wholely and purely, there are very few justifiable reasons to kill. Yet in his mind there was a reason, and to him it was clear as day. In regards to the would you have helped commentary. Psychological research has shown that ~60% of people will follow the instructions of an authority figure without question. Check out the Milgram experiment on wikipedia. Give that authority figure a gun and there are few who would have it in them to be couragous. Another poster wisely pointed out that now we are used to these things we know how bad they can be, perhaps we'd react differently than back then as well. But sitting with a man in such a state pointing a gun at you and the people you know, perhaps you too would just be frozen praying and hoping to see your family and friends again.

Posted 07/04/09 at 5:52 PM EDT

Hap Stokes from Canada writes:

Commemorate the 14--YES certainly
But forget not that the people of Halifax had (at least) 700 times as many victims. And 350 times as many of those were females. So do remember 6th Dec for more than just the 14 people in Montreal.
Posted 07/04/09 at 6:16 PM EDT

Shades of Grey from Whitehorse, Canada writes:

Men continue to beat, rape and kill women, just because they are women. This is the pertinent fact and why we should not forget the Polytechnique massacre.

Being discomfitted by feminists doesn't carry much weight in comparison. If you really have a problem with that perhaps you'd be happier living in Afghanistan.

Posted 07/04/09 at 6:27 PM EDT

Sue McPherson, from Oshawa, Canada writes:

Shades, And when you say "Just because they are women" what is it precisely that you mean? It's because women have what men want - sexually, right - what men don't have. Marc Lepine did not want to rape women. Actually, he was a person who wanted a traditional relationship. But he didn't like women stepping into men's territory, and it's more than likely he had encounters with feminists in the university, and with the men and secretaries who supported feminism. Some men have to lose out in order that feminists take their place in the workplace alongside their male counterparts. And Marc Lepine was one of the men who lost out. He didn't kill the women because they had vaginas, because of some relationship problem. He killed them because women were taking places at university and in careers that had previously been held for men. That is what men and women of today need to come to grips with. There is more of a class divide in todays world than ever before, and feminism is responsble. Middle class men side with middle class women, they couple up and lead the 'good life', leaving the rest of us struggling to survive.

Posted 07/04/09 at 6:58 PM EDT

Mia Zen from Canada writes:

When Polytechnich happened, I was at U of M, next to it, and only heard about it when I arrived home. But there was no talk about it when I went back to school after that. Nothing. Professors would not open a discussion about it and students were left thinking in their corner and making sense with public discussions through media.
And yes, there was a great feeling of women's victimization, there is no doubt about it and many accused feminism. And I remember some men expressing a lot of guilt about being men. What would you do if someone with a big gun pointed at you ? Obey the orders, act cool, obey at your survival instinct. But remember : during word war II, how many times did the nazis divide men, women and children yet leading them to the same fate ? This was also a possibility. When the instant of dividing the groups happened, nobody knew what could happen, would happen. So, twenty years later, writing a chronic in a national magazine and treating men of coward (in this situation) is absurd and arrogant.
But I don't want to see this movie. I do not need any reminder at all.
Posted 07/04/09 at 7:16 PM EDT

Shades of Grey from Whitehorse, Canada writes:

Sue, are you for real? You know Marc Lepine's motivations??? Rape is about sex??? "The men and secretaries who supported feminism"??? Society's problems are because of middle class men siding with middle class women???

You and I have no grounds for any kind of debate.

Posted 07/04/09 at 7:44 PM EDT

Sue McPherson, from Oshawa, Canada writes:

I was a student at UWO when it happened. We were shocked, and for support we went to the Women's Studies Dept. Yes, because Lepine killed women, and I was on my way to becoming a feminist, I identified with the women's experience at the Polytechnique. We started up the White Ribbon campaign, to raise awareness of violence against women. I was involved in the Campus Men's Awareness Group. It wasn't until many years later, when I was in England, that I came to see it from other perspectives. It really was just Canada that saw it that way - as an attack against women, as another school killing, and Marc Lepine as representing all violence against women. I have written about all these topics on my website, . I experienced the injustice of women, in an experience I had at Western - women protecting their men while scapegoating Marc Lepine. I experienced similar things in england, where I started a PhD thesis on older women and sexuality, and never got to complete it. Then I realized how easy it was for women and the men who sided with them to blame other people and treat them as incompetent or emotionally dangerous. I realized that it was a middle class phenomenon, and that only a few of the 'underclass' as they liked to call them at Essex University, got to be upwardly mobile. Mark Steyn, who wrote about the dividing of the sexes at the Polytechnique did the same thing that the prof Elliott Leyton, a Memorial University professor did - got people to look at a side issue and ignore other perspectives on this tragedy and social issue. Right from the start, Leyton took the side of feminists; after all, it was them who had the power to make or break careers and lives.

Posted 07/04/09 at 8:08 PM EDT

Bake McBride from Vancouver, Canada writes:

Obviously no one expected Lepine to do what he did. Self-preservation is an innate instinct - someone w/a gun tells you to leave the room - you do as he says. No point in playing hero if you end up dead.
Posted 07/04/09 at 8:36 PM EDT

Eric Martin from Canada writes:

The men had no idea was going to follow. They did not leave the women to their fate. They were told to go to one side of the room and the women to the other and that is what they did.

I see nothing cowardly in that. The advice is always to obey a man with a gun. Don't challenge him. To do otherwise is not courage, it is stupidity.

I am rather angered to see feminists trying to accumulate political capital out of the action of an insane man; as if this man represented what other men are like. Taking advantage of this tragedy is disgusting.
Posted 07/04/09 at 8:41 PM EDT

Dude, where's my Canada? from Canada writes:

Who is Sue McPherson and who let her out of her happy place without proper supervision?
Posted 07/04/09 at 9:24 PM EDT

Sue McPherson, from Oshawa, Canada writes:

So, how does one get to be an 'editor' on this comments page, anyway. Looks like one has to be either a feminist or one of the guys who support them.

Posted 07/04/09 at 9:28 PM EDT

Andrew E from Canada writes:

Haven't seen the movie, and don't necessarily agree with Steyn.

This event was used to place restrictions that have nothing to do with criminal control, on Canadian firearms owners.

A couple of concealed handguns and trained users in that classroom would have changed things.

Posted 07/04/09 at 9:29 PM EDT

Cut The Crap from Canada writes: This tragedy deserves more analysis than simplistic statements attributing it to the act of a single madman, or mysoginy in general.

Sue McPherson took great risks to express her opinions about this incident. It is very safe and politically correct to dismiss or ridicule her for these views, but that is not even remotely helpful. A closer read of her posts reveals that she has some excellent points to make.
Posted 07/04/09 at 9:38 PM EDT

Shades of Grey from Whitehorse, Canada writes:

Andrew E from Canada writes:

"A couple of concealed handguns and trained users in that classroom would have changed things."

We'd either have armed monitors in every class in the country (not practical) or we'd let hormone-charged young adults carry concealed weapons...Friday nights at the bars would turn into the OK Coral.

Posted 07/04/09 at 9:48 PM EDT

Rocksteady LeftofCentre from Canada writes:

What should be remembered and memorialized are the lives of the victims of this senseless crime. In instances like this or Virginia Tech or Columbine, the name of the perpetrator(s) should be witheld, their bodies disposed of quietly with no funeral or evidence that they ever even existed. There should be no media focus on their pathetic circumstances or the issues that caused them to act so selfishly and senselessly. They do not deserve 15 seconds let alone 15 minutes of fame. In so doing some other misfit loaner who's angry at the world will see that such acts don't even bring infamy or any other kind of notoriety and accordingly, maybe fewer angry young men will be inspired to act with such cruelty or stupidity. The only lives that should be honoured are those of the victims who were so tragically taken before their time.
Posted 07/04/09 at 9:51 PM EDT

Janet Fisher from Canada writes:

Someone mentioned Roger Federer and Andy Murray. Andy Murray was a survivor of the Dunblane school Massacre in the mid-90's. Several small children and a few teachers were shot by a nutter that day.

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