Monday, April 23, 2007

The Blacksburg Shooter

Many issues have been raised by the recent horror at Virginia Tech, not the least of which is the glaring failure of gun control and the inability of our so-called government protectors to actually protect us while simultaneously denying us the means with which to defend ourselves.

The following passage from Pat Buchanan's most recent column struck a chord and reminded me of the times in my life when I stood up and took a stand against bad behavior and was told I needed to be more tolerant. As was pointed out by my friend Audie, in a recent series of emails shared by a group of former Zion rangers who keep in touch with one another, we were lucky that this type of thing never happened in our old dormitory because many of the freaks and misanthropes that we shared living quarters with had all of the tendencies and mannerisms shown by the Virginia Tech shooter.

If there is a lesson to be taken away from this horror, it is that we, as a society, are becoming too tolerant of the aberrant. For, in retrospect, the signs Cho was a disturbed and dangerous young man, who belonged not on a campus but in an institution, are many.

He stalked one girl until she complained to police. He e-mailed another until she, too, went to police. Cho was taken to a psychiatrist, who concluded he was a "danger to himself and to others." He wrote plays for a creative writing class so full of hate and violence they alarmed one teacher to the point where she pressed him to get counseling. Another teacher had demanded and gotten his removal from her class.

Suite-mates in Harper Hall found him so uncommunicative they thought he could not speak English. All those who lived with him seemed to know about him is that he never spoke, turned away when spoken to, watched TV, worked his word processor incessantly and went to the gym.

Though he spent four years on campus, no one knew who Cho was, which bespeaks a larger point. Colleges have grown into city-sized universities of tens of thousands, and have ceased to be communities, even as the United States is ceasing to be a country, a nation and a people.

We are told that is a good thing. We are ever admonished to respect differences, to be tolerant of what we might think of as bizarre behavior. We are told that among the worst of sins is to be judgmental about how others behave.

Multiculaturalism is what we are about. Diversity is our strength. All cultures, all people, all lifestyles are to be treated equally. At Blacksburg on Monday, we learned that there is such a thing as too much tolerance.


Lifeless said...

Dave I gotta weigh in on this one. I find the polemic to be ludicrous. Laying this at the feet of the gun control issue is simply an obfuscation. That logic gives us two options: outlaw weapons or arm everyone. Neither addresses the issues.
I was apalled at the (uncredited) italic quote in your post. It was so detached. I posit that the only hope is to be engaged. Your beloved South has a wonderful history of revering it's abnormals. I am not a Christian but Jesus happens to be one of my favorite philosophers. Mostly because he was often pissed off at what he saw to be the disconnect between theology and reality. He loved the whores because they had no choice & he hated the money-changers because they did and that they both must be engaged. The loss of tribes (extended families) has left us incapable of dealing with the violent among us. Previously we would have defused them or dispatched them before the could do further harm. I find it apalling that so many could have assessed Cho's potential and ignored it. Where is the single individual that would have been able to show him the love that could have saved him or strangle him to prevent the mayhem? We are a sorry lot!

Audie said...

The quoted passage is attributed to Pat Buchanan, actually.

I'll say a couple things, among the many things that could be said in the wake of what happened at VT last week:

1) I think it's fairly obvious that Cho had some serious issues, and issues that dated back a long long time. According to his grandmother who was interviewed on CNN, he was pretty much always like the person described by his college dorm-mates. So, though I sympathize with the sentiment behind what you say, lifeless (more so than with the Buchanan quote), I don't think there could have been a "single individual" who could have "shown him some love" and made it all better. He had a sickness, he was "mentally ill," was probably born with it, and love can cure a lot of things -- but often not serious mental illness. Indeed, I believe that his family and others in his life made that effort, and it was like trying to love a cinder block. Pretty soon you just give up. (But, of course, Mr. Buchanan hasn't told us [at least not in the quoted passage] where we're to draw the line against "multiculturalism." The areas of the world where races or ethnic groups are walled off in isolation are violence free, huh? LOL)

2) Second, I have to say I was encouraged by what I saw of the Virginia Tech population. You know, Cho gets the headlines, but for every one of him there are hundreds of thousands (25,000 a year times many many years) of good, bright kids goin' to that school and having a good time, and growin' up. They'll be fine, and, media reports to the contrary, our young people are not a generation full of Cho's, and, furthermore -- despite how much it upsets Pat Buchanan -- we are going to keep on becoming more and more multicultural, not less. Not any time soon, anyway.

beamis said...

I'm not saying Cho should not have been loved or cared for. I AM saying that there is line that should be drawn when people become a danger to others and when genuine concern about it is expressed one should not be told that your concern is nothing but selfish "insensitivity".

A good example of this is when a Zion maintenance worker, back in the mid-1990's, was charged with attempted murder for severely beating his wife. The trailer park he lived in, where the crime occurred, justifiably threw him out. Zion National Park officials gave him a place to stay in the ranger dorm where I lived while he awaited trail.

When I asked the poobahs in charge why they were putting this man in our midst (he had a rap sheet a mile long) I was told that he was a "Native American" and that gave him special status to recieve housing from the government. Never mind the rest of us who had to live with this moody and dangerous rogue, all we were expected to do was to respect his "special status". My concerns were shrugged off as if I were the most selfish and uncaring jerk those park officials had ever encountered. After all they weren't the ones who had to share a bathroom with the guy.

This individual died a few weeks into his stay at the dorm after driving his truck off the road into a ditch. To say we were somewhat relieved that he had finally moved out is a bit of an understatement.

It's easy to be compassionate from a distance. When do we weigh the cost of this compassion with the harm and potential pain that it can inflict on others?

Devastatin' Dave said...

Apparently, Cho had been abnormal, different or whatever for most of his life. Why was it only recently that he showed criminal behavior? A few years ago, he was labeled as being an "imminent" danger. Since "imminent" means "about to happen," either the diagnosis was way off or there really wasn't too much concern. In any event, my guess is that his criminal behavior coincides with being prescribed meds for depression.

The one element that is almost constant with school shootings since the late 90s is that the perps were on, or recently had been on, mood altering meds. These meds are poison. If you want to trace Cho's decline from simple weirdo to killer, I would start with the pharmacy meds.

lifeless said: "That logic gives us two options: outlaw weapons or arm everyone." Let me suggest a third option - everyone that wants to arm themselves as a means of defense should be able to. Those that don't, don't have to. There have been 3 or 4 school shootings in the last decade where the death toll was minimized due to citizens brandishing firearms to subdue the killer. This usually doesn't get a lot of press. It's bad for business.

Anonymous said...

After spending some nursing clincal time on the pysch floors, I can say I do know what happens to the Chos and the violent room mates when everybody becomes weary of "tolerating" them. The become homeless. They go to jail. They die. Or all they above.

Still, with that said. We provide much more care and or options for these people than a third world country where I recently did some nursing work. And saw some sad situations.

I suspect the most likely solution is less about gun control or lack of gun control and more about agressive medical care for these people. But then you run into issues of 1: Who has to pay for it and how much it will cost and 2: being able to justify holding these people against their will when they are in some grey area of "danger to themselves or society."

Max said...

I am very late here, but why has no one touched on the issue of VA Tech being a gun-free zone? I started learning how to shoot a Glock - nice synchronicity with the photograph, Beamis - shortly before this tragedy occurred. I have been writing obsessively about guns since. Take a look at this if you want to see some serious evidence for the view that citizens should be armed: I won't take a position on mental illness - that is not something that can be quantified. People should generally just care more, but most of us don't have time for that.

Devastatin' Dave said...

Max said: "...why has no one touched on the issue of VA Tech being a gun-free zone?"

You're someone. Let it rip.

Max said...

Thanks, DD. I have let it rip - first here:,
and then here:

All the best to y'all,