Senseless acts are often met with the worst kind of knee jerk reactions, as shown by the Virginia Tech shootings. There seems to be a wanton desire to blame the slowest moving target, whether it’s the media, inanimate objects, or the law itself. In the mad rush to find a culprit, we seemed to have overlooked the fact that the shooter lay bleeding right before us, at least having the decency to off himself after decimating 32 coeds and other college types.
If blaming the psychotic responsible for the killings doesn’t sate your bloodlust, how about shifting some over to the officials who demurred in locking down the campus despite the fact that a crazed gunman had already killed two people on the premises? This remains the most troubling aspect of the whole story. Whoever made that decision is at least partly responsible for the number of victims. It may be impossible to anticipate a psychotic break down (although, in this instance there was ample evidence), but damage control is crucial to minimize the impact.
The truth is Cho Seung-Hui was an extremely deranged individual. Reports range from mild autism (treatment of which his South Korean immigrant parents were reportedly unable to afford) to full on, teeth chattering delusional psychosis. The man was mentally ill and should have been institutionalized. I believe this to be the primary motivating factor for what occurred.
If you are seeking a philosophical or meta-reading of these events, don’t waste your precious time on the tired arguments trotting out the usual suspect like guns, gun laws, movies, video games, etc. I find it highly amusing that various wackos on both sides of the gun debate are using this as evidence for their respective arguments. And myopic soccer moms are still trying to convince everyone that we are so feeble minded and weak willed that entertainment can drive us to take lives.
When ever these kids go snap and take it upon themselves to thin the herd, we are privy to the same narrative: that they were teased, they were powerless in the face of their aggressors, that they barely received respect from their teachers, let alone their peers, that they were depressed and didn’t have many friends, and so on.
You tend to forget how horrifying the school environment can be once you reach adulthood. I used to contemplate suicide due to a bad hair day or a particularly volatile pimple, and I was merely your run of the mill miscreant. Just ponder the lives of those with more notable differences, i.e. kids with disabilities or deformities, kids from other countries with a limited grasp on their new language, kids too poor to afford decent clothes, etc. These types have two settings in school: ridicule and ignore.
Despite popular opinion proclaiming children to be bright, shining angels straight from heaven, we all know that kids can be interminably cruel and vile to those different from them. The little bastards seem to take joy in sadism. If you want to see fascism first hand, take a walk through a high school cafeteria. The hierarchy is unbeatable and makes the caste system look like a day at the beach. For some kids, every day at school can be catastrophic, made up of an endless stream of humiliations and abject despair. Imagine that your every misstep was observed, then rehashed over and over for the amusement of others.
The American school system fosters this environment by complying with the power brokers of the academia: kids who are wealthy and privileged, alpha dog types, and those willing to break their spines in order to fit in. What no one tells you is that these same kids who are king-shit in their formative years are experiencing their prime entirely too early. It may be a cliché, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t true; the sooner you peak, the longer you fall. These people will spend the rest of their lives trying to recapture that pyrrhic victory of their school days, to no avail.
There is no harm in sympathizing with Cho Seung-Hui. You are a better person if you are able to look at man who wreaked such horror on others and feel compassion for him. That doesn’t mean that you condone what he did, or that you celebrate it, merely means that you can appreciate the type of psychological torment this person was going through to undertake such a ghastly task. It is the first step toward understanding why and how a person could do this. Also, it would behoove everyone to teach their children some damn tolerance and empathy. There will always be a large amount of ribbing and verbal jousting among young people. The problem arises when its malicious, or when one is of the attitude that they are better or more valuable than someone else
Your average kid will not melt down due to adolescent teasing. In fact, some people thrive on this sort of adversity to excel. For a stable person, it’s fairly easy to overcome a tumultuous school experience. For someone already teetering on the brink, or someone without an adequate mental defense, this kind of thing can life shattering, more so than any piece of fluff entertainment.