Sunday, December 06, 2009

L'École Polytechnique Massacre

Twenty years ago today, Marc Lépine entered the Montreal, Quebec school, carrying a concealed semi-automatic rifle, and started killing women. It was the worst massacre in Canadian history.

On the evening of December 6, 1989, shortly after 5 o'clock on the penultimate day of classes before the Christmas holidays, Lépine carried a concealed Sturm Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle into the École Polytechnique. His first female victim, Maryse Laganiere, was killed in a corridor. He then proceeded to Room 303, a classroom which held 10 women students and 48 men, along with a male professor. Firing two shots into the ceiling and shouting, "I want the women. I hate feminists!," Lépine enacted a gendercidal ritual that will be familiar to readers of other case-studies on this site (Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia) -- only this time, the victims were female. Separating the men from the women, he expelled the men at gunpoint, lined up the remaining women students against the wall, and began to fire. Six women died; the others were injured, but survived.
I'm thinking that the students probably couldn't believe what was happening. Such things are beyond the imagination of most of us. The question remains, however: why did 48 men permit themselves to be herded out by one man with a gun, leaving ten women to die? The killer made it pretty clear, according to the above quote, what his intentions were. I have to wonder if, twenty years later, any of those men ever think they should have done anything differently.

Here's a Wikipedia article, about the massacre, and here is another link, this one with contemporary news footage

Several of the people interviewed by the CBC said that they thought it was a joke, at first. I think this reflects the relative safety of our society. Perhaps the lightning reflexes that would have allowed the students, both men and women, to attack and disarm the killer are present only in a society that is poised for danger at all times. We are no longer like that.


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