Letters: Virginia Tech and Other Issues

We respond to letters from our listeners about our coverage of the shootings at Virginia Tech, Diane Roberts' essay, and Liane Hansen's tour of the "green" house.

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LYNN NEARY, Host:

Time now for your letters, and we received many last week about our coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre.

Karen Morrow(ph) of Midlothian, Virginia spoke for many when she wrote:

Until this morning, Sunday, April 22nd, I was pleased with how NPR was handling the Virginia Tech tragedy. But this morning, when Voices in the News played the Virginia Tech killer's voice, I immediately turned off NPR - something I have not done in decades of listening. We should not be subjected to the rantings of a twisted mind.

Our interview with Pastor Jeremy Raisor of Blacksburg Baptist Church also drew a number of letters. Glenn Gillick(ph) writes:

During the interview with the minister about the Virginia Tech tragedy, he said that God was not to blame for this event and implied that the shooter, Mr. Cho, chose to do evil. Cho was obviously mentally ill; did he choose to be mentally ill? The only choices that I see that were made that were to blame in this case were the choices of society not to invest appropriate resources to help people with serious mental illnesses and to allow the sale of firearms to inappropriate people.

The essay by Diane Roberts, who cautioned against reading too much into a student's creative writing and cited some very violent works by world-class writers, prompted many betters(ph). Susan Helgeson(ph) of Houston, Texas thought the piece was an excellent balance to the knee-jerk reaction that anyone who wrote about violence as Cho wrote could easily have been stopped if someone had done something about it.

We always look for easy answers, and Roberts points out that it's just not that easy to assume that a person is dangerous to himself and others if he writes about violence.

Lisa Snider(ph) of Bent, Oregon had a different point of view.

Sunday morning is a time when my family and I enjoy a leisurely breakfast, time to play with our little girls and NPR, she writes. I was appalled that you would air a story that discussed dead women in caves at such a family time. I ran to turn off the radio in disgust. I believe the point you were trying to make could have been achieved without the use of such graphic language and sensational language.

Finally, many of you wrote in about our segment on the tour of a "green" house at the National Building Museum. When asked about the costs of building an environmentally friendly home, the curator did not give a direct answer. So here are the figures. The particular house featured in the story was a prefabricated home. On a level lot, costs begin at about $132 per square foot. For a basic home, the costs range from $200 to $275 per square foot. Custom- designed homes cost a bit more.

You can write to us by going to our Web site, npr.org, and clicking on the Contact Us link.

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