Thursday, April 19, 2007

America in Denial: The Virginia Tech Shooting -- Cho's Obituary

Cho claimed he was pissed off and that his killing others and himself was a final statement of his anger. The psycho-babblists said he was "potentially a budding paranoid schizophrenic which sometimes leads to psychosis"; he was possibly "bipolar-which used to be called 'manic-depressive' which sometimes leads to a lashing out at oneself or others." What is a shame is that he found it necessary to give up and throw in the hat by killing those who he felt ignored him. America says the great shame is simply the death of 32 innocents. The real shame is that anyone would feel he had to commit this singularly effective act as a cry for help.

That people died, including Cho, is a misfortune, but the greater misfortune is society's unwillingness to accept responsibility and to change in response. Usually, as in Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" or Franz Kafka's "Metamorphosis", these victims of society's sickness wilt and die in a pathetic, quiet downward spiral. That, in "Metamorphosis" the family didn't notice their loved one had become a huge bug as a result of their neglect, is not a unique occurrence, but a drama written to illustrate the normal cause of death.

Meanwhile, in an equally pathetic denial, society simply mourns over the loss of loved ones, and goes through the motions of weeping and carrying candles while failing to address the real killer, themselves.

Refusing to change, society eventually goes on as if nothing ever happened, considering it a freak accident of one person's mental disturbance. The parents of Cho, after a brief period of mourning, will go on with their lives despite the never ending reminder of their son's final cry. Meanwhile, we continue to send people like Cho into war instead of college and their cries go unnoticed as their anger becomes redirected at a false enemy. Politicians continue to create fake adversaries against whom soldiers can masturbate their torment, while the real enemy is a society that let's the rich profit from this misdirection.

Is it society's fault for letting those with power continue their abuse? Or is it the victim's fault, those 32 and Cho, for having patiently waited for a solution that would likely never come. It is a tolerable discontent says the common man. "Good things come to those who wait," they will say to their children, having never received good things for waiting, knowing their children will never get good things either. Meanwhile, they will point at the exceptional rags-to-riches success story that has become the perverse mythology by which America lives. America alone, no; but the US has become the symbol for the age old illness that Doctors will only treat with aspirin and Prozac.

How many have quiet sons who have gone off to war to vent their frustration on the stranger foe? How many parents quietly know their sons just secretly want to kill, so they give them a faceless target and call that the enemy? How many others will blame the killing on misguided machismo or will express indignation at those who would dare identify with Jesus Christ before their suicides?

We will never know how many children live in the shadows of their successful siblings, or will writhe at the frustration of never satisfying the expectations of their parents, or will never get society to listen to their unique genius? We will never know how many great minds are wasted by a society that is threatened by potential greatness while overly rewarding inherited greatness?

It has happened before and it will happen again. Revolutions are made up of such people as Cho. If they win, people will call them heroes and possibly elect them President of a new nation. If they lose they will only bathe in their pathos at the existence of such failures, not knowing the greatest failures were those who did nothing to prevent the inevitable outrage of the few.

Many will outwardly proclaim outrage and discount Cho's final manifesto as the ravings of a lunatic, while many others will inwardly identify with his stated frustration. But they will simply swallow their anger and nod their heads in agreement with the judgment of Cho. White academes will describe him as "lacking affect" while those of Asian descent will quietly see themselves in his gentle eyes and quiet, unexpressed pain juxtaposed as a yin-yang against his final image of outward expression.

Cho is no hero and neither are his victims. But let us lament them both as victims of those of us who remain and fail to change that which caused such a tragedy. Let us honor them by finally facing the enemy within, the enemy of acceptance of mediocrity in ourselves and our leaders, and the denial of the subtle wishes of all children to be loved, honored and promoted for their ideas and work.


Editor's note: The apparent final death toll is 33. I wish not to dishonor those innocents who were killed, no more than innocents killed in a war. But, there are many to grieve for them and they will be remembered by all in loving way.

For Cho and his family who share in this, possibly to blame, definitely to suffer , maybe only a few voices will cry forgiveness and lament.

In the larger picture, let's stop and look at ourselves and note if we put any anguish into the deaths of other innocents... Darfur, Iraq. That we somehow grieve more for those strangers of our own nation than those of a foreign soil is one form of apathy for which we have no one to blame but ourselves.


Anonymous said...

Great post. Just to add one thing, which I think is essential: Despite the shock and overwhelming sense of devastation those at VT and many others feel, and even in an extreme situation such as this one, we'd do well to remember, after the inital effect wears off, to hate the crime, not the criminal.

Anonymous said...

Original post is honest, straightforward, not "conservative" or "liberal" but merely old-fashioned honest. As this observer remembers them, the days of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, even WWII, were better in a cultural/social sense than the culture of today is. At least then, 'we cared' for others while also remembering the 'good fences good neighbors make". And we didn't meddle - there was always a price to pay if we did. We have no competent leadership, either side of the aisle - its too much about power plays, being important, greed and special interest. How about being "American" as we used to be before we got onto this kick of attempting to be the "global" idol. Defend soil and sovereignty by all means, but lets first concentrate on our socialpolitical/economic issues of which there are plenty right here at home, including our basic infrastructure. That's Iowalad's view from having worked on three continents, "Inside the Beltway, and as starters an infantry GI in WW2 and a civlian during the Cold War. Good grief, Charlie Brown. No wonder we have Columbines, Blackburgs, and inner city crime along with greedy corruption.

Anonymous said...

Great story--- but since it doesn't sell on MTV, the snobs and charlatans will never change.

go figure

Anonymous said...

Excellent! Well written...I completely agree with the author. Society as a whole is partly responsible for this trajedy.

Anonymous said...

Great writting....People don't learn here, if the blood shed is not from them or their family's they don't learn... sad but true!

Notthisagain said...

This horrible occurence of one feeling the need to kill to get a point across is the last ditch effort of those who feel their is no other way to express the discord they have for society and it's ignorance for those it deems not worth the effort. In my opinion, the point here is if anyone, yes just one, person would have had compassion for the way he was feeling and reached out to him to try to help and show some understanding of his situation this may have been averted. Instead of laughing at him and pointing fingers and dismissing him as worthless, try the contrary. Everyone has some worth, no matter who, or where they are. We are all blessed with talents that can be contributed to make this world a better place to live. The cup is half full. Just an opinion. said...

Some open forum you have here with your moderation of commentary. By your logic I should be allowed to express myself regardless of the content.
At any rate, consider the following faulty logic: "loved , honored and promoted for their ideas and work" and when those ideas and works are hateful and evil are they still to be honored?? This is the problem with your lovely assumes that all ideas have merit. Do you truely believe that to be true. Only in Heaven will that be possible, until then we must as you expressed it 'Strive to rise above mediocracy' by recognizing abherant behavior and their associated ideas and deal with the potential consequences. In this case this fellow raised red flags continuously but our society protected his privacy and tried to "deal" with him in a tolerant manner. That didn't work out to well. No one stepped up to protect his interest in class rooms or play grounds from bully's either. This was the trigger point at Columbine school. We have become so wrapped up it trying to be potlitically correct,letting every human express themselves and validating their expressions, regardless of content.
It takes courage to step up and explain to people that they are wrong and off track with societal norms and mores, that there will be consequences resulting in their removal from that very society if they cannot adapt or change.Cho's instructors tried to circumvent this process by appeasing his misgivings. School officals should have intervened to determine if this fellow was stable enought to continue attending this college. They had a obligation to the other students to do just that and failed. The risk is we might be wrong occasionally, but 30+ people would potentially be alive today if they had tried.

Anonymous said...

that was beautiful, definiteley a great way to describe this

Anonymous said...

What are his parents up to? What are they trying to hide? Cho's dad said they moved there so they would not be known.
The parents are partially TO BLAME!!!

Anonymous said...

Very well written. It has been and always will be a problem in America, the problem of stagnancy, the problem with resisting change. We try our best to blend in, to force ourselves to not stand out because when we do we are ridiculed and ostracized. We are all completely self-absorbed that we can only identify with those we are exactly alike, and alienate those we are different from. In truth, we are scared of differences, of the unpredictable. This is why we are fighting in the Middle East, this is the cause of racism, and this is the cause of the social inequalities so prevalent in America. This is what caused the downfall of Cho Seung-Hui and the deaths of 32 innocent students. We are afraid of change, and yet change is the only thing that can save us.

Anonymous said...

The only masterbation that has occured is the air-bust that created you. It obviously missed the toilet seat and hit a vigina.

From a retired soldier who would kick your ass for general principle.

Jill said...

Wow! What an amazing piece of writing! It took a lot of courage to write this and I absolutely appreciate that. I can't believe that someone just wrote this in the matter of time between when this happened and now...I think that America and society in general is too immune to violence to even bat an eye to this tragedy. Sure the people whose lives were directly impacted by the loss of lives will never forget, but to everyone else its as if its just another news story...

iscream247 said...

Time to stop the continual whining of the guilty, "It's not my fault, I was picked on, ignored, people were mean to me etc". Time to stop the meaningless psycho babble to excuse the guilty for their actions. When is todays society going to begin to hold people responsible for their own actions and hold them accountable for what they do. We need to stop the idea that "everyone is special" - they are not. The sense of entitlement in todays young is frightening. No one is responsible for anything.

iRocket said...

You have to ask yourself, "Did I get my message across or did I hide it in a garden of vocabulary that seeks only to impress myself or to project that I am above the masses"?

Was Cho sick? Probably. At least a few Doctors and a Judge/Magistrate felt so. It doesn't matter. He's dead. Was it societies fault he was sick? No, No more than it's societies fault for someone having cancer.

Was his illness inherited or taught to him? We will probably never know. He was angry about something/someone or both including at himself. Was he a coward? Yes. Anyone that takes their own life is a coward, taking the easy way out. Even more of a coward for taking someone else's life in the process.

Is it societies responsibility for the actions of others? Hell no. If it's anyones responsibility, it's the person themselves and the parents of that person.

If we decide to become parents, we are responsible for our children until we have taught them to be responsible for themselves. If we are incapable of doing so, then we shouldn't become parents. The fact that people become parents just because they are capable of doing so, does NOT make them good parents automatically and does not make them capable of teaching their children to be responsible mature adults. The fact remains, the human race must continue regardless of our ability to be good parents. So we, as a society, must accept that there are going to be people born to others who should have never been parents to start with, as a fact of life. We don't have to change in response to natures shortcomings.

"That, in "Metamorphosis" the family didn't notice their loved one had become a huge bug as a result of their neglect, is not a unique occurrence..." the impoverished beget the impoverished, a rose by any other name...

Anonymous said...

wow, that was heavy. Cho was messed, blame the society, the evil society. The good and the bad, but not Cho?

Anonymous said...

The problem in this country is called mental illness. We have not universal health care and wonder why our country ranks so low against other indutrialized nations in this regards. We are equally a mentally unheathly nation becuase we have no universal mental health program for those who are equally in need of care. Unfortunaley you are part of the problem and wish to pretend that is doesn't exist. People like you who refer to the "psycho-babblists" only add to the stigma releated to these very real diseases.

The Campus Massacre isn’t solely about gun control, or campus security. It isn’t about race, or the Asian community, or assimilation or immigration. It’s about Mental Health in this country. It’s about access to Mental Health Care.

Why did Sueng-Hui do it? Because he was mentally ill; and in light of his multimedia “manifesto” mailed to NBC, very possibly a Paranoid Schizophrenic, according to some of the country’s most reputable psychiatrists. And he didn’t just BECOME mentally ill. He had twenty-three years to do it. Twenty-three years during which people—his parents, his educators, his sibling, his neighbors—could have reacted. Without shame, and without stigma. They could have evaluated him, diagnosed him, and gotten him the care he so desperately needed.

Only a few years ago, if a young person had a drug problem, people would speak of it in hushed tones: “Did you hear that So-and-so’s son is on cocaine?” Now, because addiction has been the subject of such fierce debate, the shame has been STRIPPED away! We now speak of rehab like it’s a country club. Celebrities go in and out of the “Promises” facility like it’s a public restroom. Drugs? No big deal. Admitting you have a problem and cleaning up—well, it’s practically vogue.

It is only when Mental Illness becomes an important and accepted problem topic — that the shame of it, the stigma of it will be lifted. When cancer is detected early, it is oftentimes preventable and treatable. When diabetes is detected early, it is oftentimes preventable and treatable. When Mental illness is detected early, it can be PREVENTABLE and TREATABLE. Mental illness and personality disorders need to be identified and addressed BEFORE they take over with such alarming social consequences, consequences that affect all of our safety.

How can we do this? First, by having a major dialogue in this country. By lobbying our congressional leaders to make Mental Health Funding a priority—funding that has been so deeply cut since the Reagan Administration over 20 years ago that it has literally never made a comeback. Secondly, by paying attention. The World Trade Center attacks taught us to stay focused, to be vigilant about reporting suspicious behavior. As concerned citizens of communities, we have an obligation to address the needs of young people—of any people—we think may be a danger to themselves or to others. There is no shame in telling little Johnny’s parents that he should be evaluated for mental illness—just as we may spot a suspicious mole on his arm and tell his mother—god forbid—to check him for melanoma. We have an obligation to meet and treat the mentally ill with the same priority as we do any other LIFE-THREATENING illness.

We live in a free society. We don’t want to live in a police state, with metal detectors and gun-toting soldiers and can't force people to get help. But the price we pay is Columbine, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma City, the Washington Drive-by shootings. We cannot catch every sick person out there who may fall through the cracks. But society can—and should—cast a wider net.

Anonymous said...

A bit ranting but still interesting. Overall, however, very disappointing because it is just one more complaining voice, without proposing any solutions. You may be correct, but give us some ideas to debate.

Anonymous said...

Apathy is the name, for those who refused to reach out and extend some concern for this obviously troubled sole. Apathy has been popular before most of were born, and as this article's author says, it will continue. One ex-Columbine High School student, whose sister was killed in that massacre, and his father, are touring the schools. They are reaching out to potential shooters or bombers, as we all should.

Anonymous said...

Let me start by saying that my thoughts and prayers go to the 32 victims and their families. I can’t imagine what they must be going through but I know the pain of losing someone close to your heart.

I mostly agree with some of the points made in this article except one.

I wouldn't consider Cho a victim even though he is a product of our society. His inability to cope with the ups and downs of an immigrant in America finally did him in. Life is not perfect. Perseverance is a virtue that you have to earn through learning. Sometimes death is the easy way out and it is even more cowardly to take someone else’s life, just because they are bystanders in your path of destruction.

On the other hand I completely agree about our society. The American society is being attacked from within. Values such as egocentrism and materialistic people are thriving like never before. I believe that these are the underlying cause of all these kamikaze adolescents that don’t even know what life is all about. The fundamentals of our way of life have been threatened and we need to do something about it.

I have faith in the American people and I am optimistic about our future, because as they say when the going gets tough the tough get going.

I hope we can learn from this horrible tragedy, and not let it go in vein.
There are no real winners and losers in these types of situations.

Anonymous said...

It's very typical of you writers to create an alternative view on such a tragedy. Cho was as mediocre as the "enemy" in ourselves. Any man who views his future life as a prospective Virginia Tech graduate so horrible as to kill himself and 32 others, does not deserve our honor, or sympathy, as you beg of us in this article. Cho was no better than a terrorist.

Anonymous said...

Your comment is an interesting concept.
It's somewhat true that in some cases the school system is to be blamed. Students that are failing in test that they must pass or need extra studies to pass their class are going to summer school and then given prizes for passing and pizza or treats because they went for the day. And the A student are hardly acknowledge and comment on the unfairness of underachievers given rewards. And the sudents that pass in high grades are not noticed unless they are the top student. It used to be that if you received awards or scholarships they were given for good grades and acknowledge at graduation, but to shorten the long ceremonies they only get to wear their white gowns. Society is rewarding the wrong way. And I have to blame parents for not participating in their schools.

Anonymous said...

It is easy to blame others or even society but the bottom line is Cho is responsible for his actions not society.

Anonymous said...

You wrote:

"Is it society's fault for letting those with power continue their abuse? Or is it the victim's fault, those 32 and Cho, for having patiently waited for a solution that would likely never come."

Patiently!? Uh, there is nothing patient about Cho. That is the whole point.

Marcio said...

I couldn't agree more with everything you wrote. Every person in this planet was an innocent child one day.
Nobody was born a murderer, we need to take responsability for our actions. It's so easy to lash on cho but the truth is much too ugly for us to bare. we live in a very disturbing society...

Anonymous said...

Well written article. Appreciate your boldness to address an important issue. The problem is within us, not outside of us. Let us own up to it.

Tom said...

Well, a few open-minded thoughts, but a good piece. Cho was in college, not at war, and he hardly left quietly. Darn disquieting exit I think. There's very little positive to say about any of this mess, but I hardly blame America for it, he was here at our kindness, hardly a fitting way to repay it. Yes we need tighter gun control, that I will say is a problem. My father fought in a war to keep his home country free, and suffered for that, but it gave Cho the freedom to show up here. Of the 33 dead, he would be the last I would mourn. I have no hatred over this, just sadness. Would prefer my Dad was home. As do the parents friends and siblings of his victims, wishing they could see their loved ones again.

Anonymous said...

How can anyone say that the victims are not "heroes. These were innocent people who lost their lives to a very sick individual. They are "HEROES" to all of us. We will learn from their deaths in many many ways.

R said...

Great post. There will be many ignorants to criticize you, I am sure. But don't get down by ignorance. Keep your head up, your spirit free and you hands in the good sense as they are now.

ron glaze said...

Hello Bryan

I just read your blog on Cho.
Such a tragedy.
This kid was so angry that he felt he must kill his peers. That is inexcusable. He may be
manic, he may be bipolar, … what he was not is a responsible human being.

Why his roommate or somebody at that school did not see this kid was a very disturbed fellow and say, Chow what’s eating you? (Not sure this did not happen) However basically it was Cho who pulled the trigger.

You say. “That people died, including Cho, is a misfortune, but the greater misfortune is society's unwillingness to accept responsibility and to change in response.

I don’t think you can blame society here. We as a society have lots of issues but we
can not take responsibility to cure all the nut cases out there. And as much as I agree with you about the war in Iraq I do not think this tragedy as having much to do with that tragedy.


Robert said...

In the Jungian sense, on the way to individuation one must own one's shadow before progressing on. Without owning up to the shadow, then one lives in denial. Cho, amongst those suffering in silence, suffering without a voice, facing a future without hope or happiness, is part of the great "unowned shadow" of America. Just as the Unibomber and the Oklahoma City Bomber has been a shadow, so too will we see more shadows.
In some way I am reminded of the French Revolution, how it began with small incidents - droughts, famines and other illnesses in society. Then the back of the nation was broken. The peasants with nothing left to lose stormed the Bastille and sadly blood was shed. The result, a Reign of Terror and Napoleon.
It is not surprising that some one like Cho was a student. So many students face a cruel world. The middle class is being eroded and the future is ultimately bleak. Student loans become financial prison sentences and low wages a common factor. Cho's cry for help was also a means of escape.

Society Next said...

One obvious question that everyone is asking is how VirginiaTech failed to take note of the distinctly suspect behavioural pattern of Cho and take timely action that could have averted this unnecessary human tragedy. Another equally obvious question that everyone seems to be conveniently avoiding is how we as a society are failing to read the writing on the wall and listen to the warnings so loudly broadcast by events like these. This is not the first time when innocent people are done to death by misconceived notions about self-pride and justice. Should we give our grandchildren the opportunity to cry over how their grandparents failed to foresee the disasters that were coming in spite of the numerous warnings?

Can you dare to imagine a 'manic-depressive' like Cho waiting long enough to become the president of a country than to take over the reigns of a college campus temporarily by the terror of his gun? Can you visualise him holding not just a few guns but the controls of much more powerful nuclear arsenal, which could annihilate the civilization on earth? Can you see any semblance between what Cho has left behind as his post mortem notes and the hate messages posted by terror groups on the virtual web?

How long are we going to behave like ostriches turning a blind eye to the growing harsh realities around us? Do we sincerely believe that what happened at VirginiaTech was a stray incident which could be rectified by implementing the recommendations of the investigating team? Do we honestly think that Cho was an odd one who could have been treated in time by expert psychologists and prevented from doing the dastardly act?

It is time we got underneath the process by which innocent people are killed and hapless soldiers sacrifice their lives for no fault of theirs. The number of innocent people killed every day in the name of ill-conceived philosophies about justice is much more than those who are sent to gallows by legally established courts around the world. It is also equally important to probe in to why so many people still end up breaking the laws. How many of them did so on their own volition unaided by the insensitive, irresponsible and indifferent acts of society?

Events like what happened in VirginiaTech can of course, be prevented but there is no way by which people can be protected against such attacks. These are volcanoes waiting erupt without much warning. Not everyone has the capacity or the training to cope with the unreasonable pressures thrust upon him or her by circumstances. A variety of societal issues are driving people to the edge and making them economically insecure, socially irrelevant and emotionally alienated. One of them is the socially undesirable principle of 'winners take all'. Another is the use of majority vote to decide on what is right. A major dilemma that is eating in to the value system of this society is our inability to convince our children about the values that we teach them. We break, in the name of pragmatism and practicality, the very same rules that we apply to our children and those who are forced to obey us. Nothing illustrates the weakening value system of this society than the acceptance of manipulation, trickery and treachery as "smartness"

The fact is that this society is being driven by principles, practices, and prejudices that are fundamentally wrong and are breeding anguish and hatred among people. We are still insensitive enough to celebrate victories and lose sight of the heartburns of the losers. What we have forgotten is that losers are human beings too. Nobody is a born criminal. Societal discrimination, economic circumstances and inhuman laws produce more criminals than the disconnects inside the brain or twisted DNA patterns. Deliverance will come to this society when we learn to mourn the death of even the worst criminal. Have we as a society done enough to prevent them becoming criminals? Do we sincerely believe that the problems of this society can be solved by wars waged by armies, security arrangements provided by the police, or the doles given by social security schemes?

Trust me, the sources of these problems are inextricably linked to the faulty beliefs and principles on which this this society is built.We are no doubt working harder to save the situation but the conditions are already becoming unmanageable. Structurally deficient buildings really have no chance of surviving for long even even if the interiors are extremely beautiful and pleasant. It is time we devoted as much time to inventing the principles and practices that would help the society overcome its problems as we spend on designing super computers and nuclear warheads. This society, if it continues with its autocratic ways, would meet a perilous end not because of the manipulative actions of the street smarts but by the indifference and inaction of the "well intentioned".

Anonymous said...

Growing up as a mixed race kid from black and white middle class parents I have experienced this lack of acceptance from both black and white society in general but more so from white society. As a grammar school kid I experienced this lack of acceptance more so from both black and white society. People can be creepy. People being creepy is not a justification for killing people randomly. Having said this I have always had above average intelligence, sense of humor, love and support from my family, and an extroverted personality. I have always been able to focus on the positive people in any envioronment that I have lived in, and find at least a few people to be friends with.
A kid like Cho that comes to this country with a language barrier, a rare ethnicity, and a small size is
a natural target for bullies. Cho's mental problems were probably both psychological and an actual chemical imbalance or abnormality, but when you add growing up in a bullying envioronment where exclusion is par for the course, you have the perfect storm for People like Cho and the Columbine killers.
Minority leaders frequently talk about the need for a society that is more inclusive. Our society has a long way to go before it is truly inclusive. Everyone can do more to help to mold a new reality closer to the heart.

Selles Morris

Anonymous said...

I must agree with the author in part as regarding what is an apathetic society which goes on like numb sheep munching through lush grass. However, the problems manifested and the solutions should not evade the dumb sheep of this world. They should heed the Master...Jesus Christ...and become leaders, not dumb , numb followers and, therefore, follow His example in the fullest: "Be responsible for one's neighbor and one's brother". According to yesterday's 4-19-07 news privacy laws prevented doctors from "alerting" Cho's parents, professors, administrators as to the volatile and very potential explosion awaiting all concerned with Cho. Solution: change those laws. Laws are not permanent as diamonds...they need to be made and adapted to aid and protect society. Those people who saw Cho's pain, but did nothing about it: his parents, teachers, classmates, psychiatric doctors each hold a responsibility for doing nothing. To call them sheep is even an insult to sheep; however, their lack of involvement in reaching out, caring and taking responsibility for what they knew and saw proves what society today is: a bunch of numb dumb sheep. Jesus Christ was not being sympathetic and kind in any respect when he called people sheep....I do not believe He was inferring cute cuddly lambs, but dumb, numb adult sheep. We all have a choice: be a sheep or be a shepherd; be apathetic or be our brother's keeper. We each get and deserve the world we make for ourselves: apathy begets hell on earth; involvement begets going against the tide and hard work and granting hope in action. People need to stop with the mindset "It's not my business" and start "making other people's pain their business" instead of accepting the role of victim of their inertia. Signed: A Busy Body Mom

Anonymous said...

In my humble opinion, the psychological formula for a shedder of innocent blood is an extraordinary person, proven or simply potential, who feels trapped in a life of mediocraty. We live in a society that fears change. I feel that our society has grown too comfortable in its own stagnance. There are far too few avenues for a person of great creativity and excellerated intellect to focus their unique talents and skills. Instead we have students with great potential and true genius being boiled alive in their minds by malcontent, while the rest of us wait for the latest playstation to be released so that we can celebrate our mediocraty. All the while wearing that ungreatful sneer of a spoiled child that prevents the growth of our great nation. The greatest thing about our nation is that we have the potential and ability to grow as a society. The only hinderance to that growth is that most of us don't know how to or care to find the greatest use for those among us with extrodinary gifts. Instead we shun them away to feel unwanted and useless. So what; we can't understand their ramblings of insanity anyway. These people are left to their own strength; to walk alone their whole lives and fight the frustration of constantly searching for the next distraction. Some succeed and acomplish something that is no longer extraordinary, but amazing. Others fall deeper into the trap of hopelessness and helplessness until their minds erupt. If our society is lucky, the tragedy that follows is that of Mt. St. Hellens where no one else is around, rather than that of Pompeii. We tell our kids that they can do anything they put their minds to, but never teach them how or what to focus their creative genius on. We have to work overtime this week so can afford the next payment on our $50,000.00 "family" SUVs. Why do we act so surprised when a boy like Cho acts out like this? He came up with a solution to a seemingly unsolvable problem that he was sure would get results where his previous plans had failed. He got the results he was looking for. He got everyone's attention and now that he has it, everyone is thinking the same thing. "Yes, it's tragic. Somebody has to do something to change our society. Just not me." I hope that these comments can be posted so that someone can read my words and understand that having the greatest society on Earth will never be enough if we do not move forward and find ways to help it grow by helping every member of this society learn and feel like they have something to conribute.
Michael Cline Weston, WI

Anonymous said...

That is a great article. 33 people died that day, Cho was a victim, perhaps the victim worst off, because in his death, people will see the death of a lunatic, and where as the other 32 will be remembered by loves ones, Cho had no loved ones, that show by the fact his family are quoted as saying "We are glad he is dead"...People need to think about how they are the ones to blame, we all should be ashamed, because we create the hatred that breeds revolutionaries like Cho. said...

(First, a quick question: Was the phrase "Asian dissent" intentional? Dissent? Descent??)
I agree that America is in denial about the far-reaching destructive effects of its cultural mythology, and that the state fosters behavior that leads to tragedy, over and over again.
The case of Cho is an intersection of cultural elements and a personal history of some kind of sexual molestation. His two plays are very telling. Both focus on a manipulative, adult male sexual predator and both bear the title of this antagonist. Mr. Brownstone uses his authority and standing as a math teacher to rape young boys. He successfully disguises himself, hiding behind social conventions so that he cannot be faced, confronted, and so his victims remain trapped in his world. Richard "Dick" McBeef conceals that he is a murderer and a molester, and the young boy, his victim, is powerless to do anything short of berating him.
Let's assume Cho was raped as a child and he was unable to face or confront this out of shame and humiliation. There are cultural aspects here: American individualism--you need to get through stuff without any assistance, something much more important for men; American masculinity itself, the stoic grit and bear it attitude (the sign of a real man), the reverence for the alpha male--strong successful, important.
How does a male rape victim square his masculinity with the predominant image of American individualism and masculinity? In Cho's case, he didn't/couldn't and this rift festered until he took up an irrational, demented, megalomaniacal way of reclaiming himself, which of course was not a reclaiming because he didn't really see or understand what was taken in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Very well written.

David F said...

Cho had been systematically excluded from society by the selectiveness that we impose on others. He just failed to 'wilt away'. he was a senior wit no job prospects, unlike his fellow seniors. He took the lives of those who have been shown to have had futures and outstandings presences in society. He had no job to look forward to. he was not a successful student in that he had no present contribution. And he had no future. He apparently violated the dearest rules of a society to which he did not belong. he gave up nothing by his suicide as he had no future.

We can look forward to another like him doing it in another few years by somebody who is a misfit and excluded by social groups.

But society in itself cannot and will not find that it has any resposibility. That responsibility would mean that there was a collective social conscience, precluding individual self direction choices to exclude. It is a peer to peer issue but is not a problem unless there is social attempts by those in control of the peer group to include. THEY exclude all who do not look and act like themselves and are quite successful in our society and there will be no change.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for addressing this issue that no one in this "Great Country" would even begin to touch! Everyone is so focused on how crazy he was to do this, which in a sense he was but no one would do anything about it until he did what he felt was the only way to show everyone how troubled he was. I don't just blame his parents but I blame EVERYONE that saw him and said they knew something was wrong with him and did nothing about it execpt push it off on someone else who would do nothing as well! We have a HUGE problem here with society that really needs to be addressed. Not only about the sickness of our youth and veterens(that we are not taking care of) but everything that the leaders of this world should take care of. You know, this is what is so crazy about this world. Tabacco kills millions of people a year but yet it is still legal to smoke or dip. The only thing they did about it was put a stupid warning label on the package. Millions of people die each year from alcohol related accidents but yet they do not regulate it any better. Hand guns and yes hand guns kill millions of people each year but they are not banned. And it is a proven fact from other countries that ban hand guns the crime rate and deaths related to hand guns have dropped. This world is so crazy that it makes me feel sorry for the next generation of kids that are growing up. I know that is a sober attitude but something needs to be done and not just pushed aside like everything will be fine and letting someone else take care of the problem.

Anonymous said...

Thought provoking article ... Cho needed love, support, and medication. But who was to give those? Certainly not strangers when he either ignored them or stalked them. Hiding his face with dark glasses and a cap should have been a clear sign that he was seriously depressed, a condition from which he cannot recover without medication. (That's just the way it is, folks!) The real problem as I see it is that in order to protect all of our rights, we cannot "make" someone take medication and undergo medical treatment. In his medical condition, Cho could not make good choices for himself. (Listen to the tape: was his head clear?) He could not make good choices and we as a society have no power to make good choices for him. That is the real dilemma.

Cho certainly needed someone to stay close to him and guide him effectively, a skill which most of us have to learn and need to be taught. So let's start learning! Time for an educational TV show on sensitivity training (like Dog Whisperer). Sounds like a winner!

Anonymous said...

We were all affected by Cho's lashing out. The wealthy, the middle class, the destitute can all relate to the struggle of one man's inability to cope in a land of too much plenty but democracy for all. Democracy equates with opportunity as Cho himself was somewhat privileged to be attending his chosen alma mater. I think the materialistic effects in a land as prosperous as ours was what he found so distasteful. Many of us see that for what it is and live through it by seeking a spiritual identity. I think his problems ran deeper than finding displeasures with American society.

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting article and it is sad to think that someone who was bullied by those around him felt the only thing he could do was kill himself and others as there was no other way out for him.
Sad that a society still insists it
has to have weapons just to face each other on a daily basis.
Sad that a weapons industry so controls a country it cannot be destroyed.
Sad that a severe mental illness was not properly treated.
My sincere condolences to all the families of every single person who lost their lives that day.
To the people of the USA-
Please do something to stop this ever happening again.

Anonymous said...

Amen,Amen! You are so right if we don't reach out to the people of the world who are hurting, rather than ignoring and pretending they don't exist. As much as I feel so sad for the families who have lost a love one, my heart also goes out to this man, who could be in sooo much pain, and nobody knew what to do, except ignore him. The breakdown of the system needs to be examined, with new possibilities of what to do if any of us meets someone like Cho, as to who to talk to, rather than ignore.He is not alone in his pain!

Anonymous said...

A sad but very true commentary of the state of affairs for the common man in today's society. The rich and famous are lionized and the little people that really make society run are left to languish in the shadows. I, as a parent, have tried to instill in my children a system of values that to put it simply says, don't prey on the weak or less fortunate, and in turn refuse to let yourself be preyed upon by those who would prey upon you.

The_Lex said...

You make good points. I make my opinion about the responsibility of society and of the individual known briefly at Also will make it somewhat known in a short story that I'm writing.

Nonetheless, just want to make a point that the shooter uses somewhat similar rhetoric in this recording as Al Qaeda and Bin Laden. Sounds like the boy had the makings of a terrorist in him, and his rampage sounds like a terrorist act. I look down on the shooter, but you do make good points that society did contribute to the formation of the shooter's personality. He had the final say in the matter, but he was reacting against something.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. This is how I feel when I hear of such tragedies. Not that I don't feel sorry for those who perish in these incidents, but I know deep down that there is an underlying cause… It makes me sad to not understand the human condition and what experiences could possibly twist ones mind to act on such terrible thoughts. I do know that with my own children, I truely try to teach them right from wrong, to lift others up instead of put them down, to treat others as their equal, and stand up for those who can't or won't do it for themselves. I believe if this attitude were embraced wholeheartedly, we could come close to the utopian society that we all dream of. It's worth a try… right?

Anonymous said...

When someone is bullied and mocked for accents and cultural non-conforming behaviors one is humiliated and isolated and may become unstable. Without proper outlet and outside guidance and support from parents, friends, school, or society one may engage in a downward spiral. We should all nurture and understand people different from us, encourage rather than scold and mock and humiliate for a better society.

Anonymous said...

A very good article that speaks truth. We need to addresse the root of the problem.

Anonymous said...

Cho's family is ultimately responsible. They are likely to have been the only ones who could have prevented this. You have not made a case against society. You have only pointed a misguided finger and trivialized people who did not deserve to die. Your words barely hide what appears to me to be an approval of Cho's actions.

Anonymous said...

What saddens me to the core is the fact that the psycho-tropic effects of the mixture of Zoloft, Prozac etc. is known to cause temporary Psychosis more often than the drug manufacturers wish to highlight. From what I have read, the perpetrator of this heinous act was using a very dangerous mixture of many drugs at the same time. Children going through what I consider the normal growth process are given these psych-tropic drugs to curtail any form of expression that is considered excessive. Excessive is only relative to the the adult viewing that child's joy in living. Many of these adults forget what is was like when they were once in those children's shoes. Perhaps this tragedy was triggered by a multiplicity of volatile combinations that ended in a massive uncontrolled explosion of irrational rage...

I feel for the victims as I feel for the culprit. It is unfortunately the sign of our times.

Anonymous said...

Good piece.

What does it take to see? How many more?

Anonymous said...

Well said, it's about time that someone recognized this incident was not entirely Cho's fault. Society needs to realize that ignoring kids like this or giving up on him after only a few overtures of friendship is not the right solution. Many of the people insulting Cho now are exactly the kind of people that would drive him over the edge in life by making fun of him. And then everyone wonders why decided to kill 32 people.

catwalq said...

As a Nigerian studying in America, I have tried to decipher the reasons why there appears to be more mental instabilities in your culture that usually results in catastrophe. For a culture that prides itself on so much freedom, it really isn't and most Americans internalise all their issues.
The family structure is not promoted as much as individual accomplishments. The community only cares about the "child" when they have to pay for its upkeep otherwise no one says a thing. Religion wins than fate and spirituality.
Americans tell people from around the world that they are backwards and the American way is it, yet, your children are hurting themselves and hurting others too.
America would like to be perfect but the truth is that perfection is not possible, only stability which means that there is an understanding and acceptance of all peoples in the society.
The victims at VA tech are barely in the ground and already there have been stories of asians being victimised as a result of the shootings. People passing comments etc. I find very interesting that people are so quick to categorize minorities and attack them as a group when one of their own steps out of line when most of the hate crimes committed in this country are probably by white people.
Disasters like these will continue to happen because you don't love yourselves. you don't love yourselves because you don't know yourselves and thus you blame others for not helping you figure out who you are by integrating you into their society and so you hurt your thoughts, words and actions

Anonymous said...

What a strange take on this tragic story. I was stunned to hear Geraldo Rivera call Cho "selfish," when it seems so obvious that his were the actions of a tortured, sick mind. And here we have the reverse being put forth...Cho as a product of a sick (American) society. From what I have read, Cho was deeply troubled before he ever picked up a gun, dating back to his childhood in Korea. To decide that "society" is at fault and should change in response to his or ANY acts of terror, seems nuts to me.

It used to be the norm (and still is in some places) for women who were raped to be found guilty for their own rape, while the rapist was exculpated... The fine judges of our country thought that women were at fault for the sexual crimes committed against them for all number of interesting reasons: "provoking" the poor helpless man through their "provocative" actions, dress, or even because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time... anything to avoid laying the blame where it belonged...on the man who committed the crime. Stuff like that makes me wonder if we are not that far removed from the apes some say we descended from in our ability to reason. And, if we follow your logic here, then American women should switch to wearing burkas and not leaving the house without a male's permission and company. But, I digress...

The thing that needs to change, in my opinion, is the protection available to the student body. We have gone overboard in our desire to protect the rights of the individual and left students at the mercy of those who either cannot or will not restrain their violent impulses. The tragedy for those university students and professors is all the warning signs that were overlooked AFTER Cho was admitted.

I realize that deciding what the criteria for expulsion should be will be a difficult task but the alternative (students left waiting for the ticking time bomb in their midst to explode, as Cho's roommates were) is NOT acceptable. WHO should have taken responsibility for removing Cho from the university and WHY did they not do so? Let's deal with these issues now so we don't ever have to have this national conversation again. No excuses, no buck passing. Our children deserve better.

Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear is a must-read resource for every potential victim of violence and everyone charged with the protection of others, detailing the external and internal warning signs of impending violence. As he states in his book, The Gift of Fear, (I am paraphrasing)...when people finally cross the line into violence, it is the end result of a process, not the out of the blue one-time event that people tend to think, and we can learn to recognize the warning signs and interrupt the chain of events before it is too late. It is already too late for those who have fallen. We owe it to them and to our children to do whatever is necessary to prevent futute deaths.

Anonymous said...

great article. as a member of a family who has family members past and present who are and have been diagosed mentally ill. it is critical that society understand and take ownership of the fact that in the United States, when someone is over 18, family has no power to get help, unless that person does it themselves. this leaves a mentaly disturbed person, in care of themselves, which in itself is crazy. Also is the fact society here in the Unted States gave up housing and caring for these people about 1950, i believe, they are now in our society, this unto itself is the reason we see this tragedy. Yes,the family shares the blame, as does our society. When do we learn?? What do we learn , how many thousands of everyday occurances that do not end violently; do we see nationally, and still have not changed the system, that society put into place. because mental rights advocates fight for the rights of the mentally ill, and Mental Health professionals themselves say keep them in mainstream society. As society pays a high price. Families do also, everyday.

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