When Offering Sympathy, Spare the Lecture

Nothing heals like healing words… unless they're not entirely healing.

I call them condolences with a catch.

They are the ones that express sincere regret over what happened at Virginia Tech, but proceed to become a lecture, if not a hypocritical one.

Like this cover on The Economist: Pity for our losses at Virginia Tech… but an added pity that we Americans are clueless how to prevent them.

Germany's Der Spiegel relaying its sympathies to those affected by this American massacre, but quickly adding whether the United States, "Should be looking at why these kinds of horrible crimes happen so often."

I'd have asked the same of Der Spiegel, whose editors neglected to mention Germay's own brush with violence a few months ago, when an 18-year-old guy carrying three guns and pipe bombs opened fire at a high school in the German town of Emsdetten. And not a word about an April 2002 incident involving a 19-year-old man who killed 16 people at a high school in the German city of Erfurt.

Mexico's El Universal had the nerve to equate the Virginia Tech killings with its own increase in violence, saying easily available American guns are the reason.

Then French President Jacques Chirac expressing "horror and consternation" at this uniquely American tragedy, but not a peep about those violent French student protests or Muslim uprisings. Curious.

All I'm saying is you offer someone your sympathy, save them your lecture.

This is not the time. Yours is not the issue. Their pain is.

We try not to speak ill of the dead in this country, at least for a few days.

All I ask is you try not to make a soapbox out of them in your country, at least for one day.

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