Wednesday, May 30, 2007

How I learned to stop worrying and love the fear

As I sat at my office this afternoon, enjoying the serene view of summer out my window, what should I hear today but an air raid siren. Of course, what else would you hear in rural Connecticut this time of year?

It turns out that they were testing the air raid sirens to see if even worked and, if so, could they be heard throughout campus? The answer, I can assure you, is "yes" and "yes".

They haven't used these sirens for many, many years, and so I imagine they had to call somebody who retired long ago to even find out where the darn things are.

Why would they care about the sirens? Well, whereas in the 1950s, we feared be bombed by the Russians (and post-Coldwar documents have shown Storrs to be a priority in the communists bombing plans), now we worry about Virginia Tech type shootings. You see, these sirens are to alert people of when (certainly not just "if") such shootings will happen.

A friend who is in campus administration (and still remarkably sensible) told me that after the VT massacre, UConn officials were asked by various parties what they were going to do to prevent such an event here. At the time, there wasn't any obvious solution... students are already prohibited from having guns on campus. I suppose that somebody had to do something, so now we have air raid sirens to listen for.

What better way to deter this type of crime than blaring a loud siren... maybe students who flip out with guns also gain sensitivity to loud noises. "I would start ranting and shoot you all, but... oh, my ears."


S.S.Stone said...

i'm surprised the sirens were in working order after so many years

When you say "students are prohibited from having guns on campus" I shiver to think they can have them off you're probably aware, up here we can't carry a gun at all...if you hunt and have guns you need a also have to buy a fishing licence to fish anywhere...even in little lakes...I've always thought that was a bit over the if a father spontaneously decides to take his child fishing , he can't unless he has a licence...and those kinds of outdoor activities crop up in the spur of the moment and usually on a long weekend holiday when the licence offices are closed. Personally, i'd go fishing without a licence*smile*

Brad Wright said...

We're the same here with fishing licenses, but we regulate guns like we would fishing rods... got a license? Then get all the guns you want.

There are 100 million guns or so in the US. It's amazing we don't shoot each other more than we do.

Michael Kruse said...

Here in Tornado alley (Kansas City), the first Wednesday of each month, at 11:00 a.m., the civil defense sirens go off for one minute. We had some friends that moved here from Seattle who had never heard such a thing. They were out in the yard working when they went off and feared a terrorist attack had happened. They saw another neighbor outside and asked her about it. She told them it was just the tornado sirens. That did not ease their fears.

Some sounds and smells remind people of home and hearth. Civil defense sirens are one of those things for me. :)

Brad Wright said...

When we lived in Madison, they did the same thing, but with one difference than the use here. There, tornados really happened, and the sirens really saved lives. Here, it feels just like fear...