Wednesday, April 18, 2007


So the big question is, who is responsible for the mass killings at Virginia Tech on Monday? I have an answer: It's Cho Seung-Hui. Astounding. How I did I come up with this? When there are so many suspects: The Matrix, Grand Theft Auto, and Virginia Tech's powers-that-be, how could I be so bold to come to this conclusion?

You notice something when you live in a city of 8 million people, which doesn't even scratch the surface of the amount of human beings who are actually on the planet, and it's this: our minds cannot comprehend how many people there are on the planet. And we barely can understand ourselves, much less a few billion other people. Mixed in those billions are some millions of crazy people. I run into crazy people every day on the subway: they mumble, they speak in non-sequiter, they carry around mysterious bags of personal items. Should I go to the police about them? They're crazy, but how do I know they might, one day, go ballistic in a shopping mall? Would anyone believe me if I told them this guy is crazy and dangerous? No, because for the most part, people aren't violent. People rarely do anything, no matter how much they're hurting or depressed or angry.

So now that Cho Seung-Hui has committed the Worst Mass Shooting on U.S. Soil (Not Including Wars or Historical Massacres), we now, in the name of Making Things Right, have started trying to figure out how it could have all been prevented. Every single thing Cho wrote is now A Warning Sign In Which No One Paid Attention. We hear Virginia Tech should have told everyone to stay in their dorms, which I think is debatable considering the first shootings a dorm. We hear there should have been extra-tight security in place to prevent this type of thing.

And then, of course, someone blames movies and video games. Because the 9mm was used, we can specifically point to The Matrix and Grand Theft Auto as someone on "48 Hours" did last night.

I don't generally believe in all of this. I think if someone is determined enough, that person will find a way to kill lots of people. You can't decide because someone writes "disturbing stories" that he's eventually going to go psycho. You can't put a bunch of security in place because eventually, the general normalness of people wears down your guard, and even if you put a bunch of security in a whole bunch of key places, there would be weaknesses (uh, anyone check on the borders lately?). And the first thing we'll hear when someone goes psycho in their dorm hall is...why weren't the kids told to leave their dorms?

In other words, I think these things are just going to happen. It's the sad reality of life. You would need a complete societal change. You can't just get rid of guns, because then only criminals would own guns. Someone who is determined isn't going to let legality get in their way of buying a gun on the black market (uh, anyone check on the war on drugs lately?). You can't really stop entertainment from being violent, but even if you could, would this make some psycho who has been wronged by their girlfriend less inclined to want to commit murder? Even if these things might reduce violence, you'd still have incidents like this show up from time to time. If we somehow were able to blink our eyes and make all guns vanish, we'd hear of a mass slaying involving a machete, and so on until we got to poison and bare hands. There's an idea: we should just cut off our hands so no one can do anything ultra-violent anymore.

I'm not saying don't do anything, I'm just saying prevention is difficult. It's easy to get riled up by a mass slaying such as this, even though probably hundreds of people get murdered a day but don't get the media coverage because they weren't all in the same place. But stop blaming people who didn't pull the trigger. Cho Seung-Hui did this. No one else did.


At 4/18/2007 03:53:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

I can certainly see value in deconstructing a sad event to see if we can learn how to avoid it again in the future.

I see no value in doing that this soon. It tramples the pain, hurt, sadness, memories, and feelings of those affected by the tragedy. It's also WAY too soon to know for sure what could or could not have been done to prevent it. There's a reason the saying goes "hindsight is always 20-20," and it's because you can look back on anything and see ways to have improved it.

I also see no value in placing blame on anyone other than the shooter. Of course, we've seen this finger-pointing in America a lot lately, with 9/11 and Katrina--with both of those events, it was just as quick with the blame coming far too soon after the tragedy. And in both those cases, as with this one...there isn't any living person we can blame. The terrorists died when their planes crashed into the buildings. Katrina was a weather-related tragedy. And here, with VaTech, the shooter is dead.

With no one to parade in front of cameras and put on trial...we're left searching for someone to blame.

Also, sometimes bad stuff just happens...but for the human brain, that doesn't compute. We're left, after a tragedy like Monday's, asking "Why?" or "How could this happen?" The human brain requires that things make sense...and these kinds of horrific acts just don't make sense. It's almost natural that we then go looking for someone to blame so that we can "make sense" of this terrible thing. Doesn't make it right.

Also, I think Jack Thompson and Dr. Phil and others who are blaming gun laws and video games are just using the tragedy for personal publicity for their preferred cause. It's sickening to me.


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