13 seconds that changed nothing

It was an otherwise nice day out when unwanted military action occurred. There was one side of civilians who were unfriendly to this military imposition and then there was the military, there not of their own accord, but by command from above (such is the life of a soldier). Feelings began to escalate.

Words were had, spitting occurred. Somebody maybe threw something (we don’t really know). And then, the conflict reached its crescendo; shots were fired. The world, it is easy to say, has never been the same since.

This is the story of the Boston Massacre of March 5, 1770.

The consequences of this one event have now reached every corner of the earth. In the 235 short years since five men were shot dead by their government, America has fought and won its revolution, ushered in the Industrial Age and become the premier ruling country in the world, so much so that our highest elected official is now known as the leader of the free world. All this because a few protesters set themselves against injustice.

This is not the story of May 4, 1970, at Kent State.

The story of May 4 can only dream of becoming the Boston Massacre in the annals of history. As it stands now, 35 short years later, it is merely a tragedy that could have — indeed should have — been avoided. Those students should have been more thoughtful in their protest. If the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught them anything, they should have prepped themselves against their emotions. They should have had clear goals and objectives that could be reached through peaceful protest as a means of raising consciousness.

We, Don Norvell and Jeff Schooley, do not believe this is what happened on that fateful day. Rather, an entire five-day period is defined by protest and lack of control on students’ parts. A good, sound history of the event can be found at dept.kent.edu/sociology/lewis/LEWIHEN.htm, from which it is obvious that the protesters did not act in any sort of control and are culpable in the shootings of that day.

Unlike the Boston Massacre, which also shouldn’t be viewed as an example of good, sound protest, the May 4 shootings are not a history-changing event.

Rather, it was a bunch of students who had three chances to leave — the first coming from the university through leaflets, the second coming from the Kent State police at 11:50 a.m. and the final coming in the form of an advancing National Guard.

These students had three chances to respect the rules. They had nearly 15 minutes from when the police first ordered the Commons evacuated. They could have made it back to Small Group in that much time. They could have been to Burger King on Main Street by then. They chose to stay. And 13 seconds of gunfire later, they unfortunately knew what could happen.

Sad to say, it isn’t “Four Dead in Ohio,” but four dead (in vain) in Ohio.

Don Norvell and Jeff Schooley are both intelligent writers for the Daily Kent Stater and spend too much time in the Student Center’s basement smoking and talking politics. They can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected], respectively, or at the two tables closest to the pool table in the Rathskeller.