Democrats & Liberals Archives

Trying To Make Sense In Aftermath Of Sensless Virginia Tech Shootings

Like so many others, I’ve been deeply troubled by the violence at Virginia Tech this week. My knee-jerk is “too damn many guns.” That is too easy; though, it has to be part of the story. We have a culture that tolerates and even celebrates violence every day. From religious speech to acts of war, from everyday entertainments to gun politics, if we want to change the way we live, we must begin to change the way we think.

I'm conflicted about writing this. Some folks will find me reactionary or opportunist. In truth, my writing is motivated by anger and grief. My earlier reaction was shock and rage. Yes, rage. Don't worry. I understand my own rage and am a pacifist at heart. You will never catch me packing heat. Never. Again, I understand my rage and abhor violence.

Jane Smiley had a telling piece in Huffington Post quoting a former gun owner,

I gave my gun away, because when I had it, every time something happened that made me mad, my mind would start circling around that gun, and I would be thinking about using it. So I got rid of it and I'm glad I did.

Once, in Junior High, I threw a bic pen at a classmate. She was taunting me. I throw badly. Those who taunt me would say I "throw like a girl." Any self-respecting "girl" would take exception. Somehow, without intention, I landed the pen uncomfortably close to her eye. No physical harm was done, but I was mortified by my own actions and the potential consequences.

The pen incident was my last violent act.

Today my weapon of choice is still a pen, but this time, I'm writing. Actually, as most weapons contests go, I've escalated to a more efficient weapon, the computer keyboard. I can definitely get more words down; but, writing at high speed, not all hit their mark. Fortunately, removing poorly chosen words is also a more efficient process.

Monday, April 16, a lone gunman murdered 32 people, injuring numerous others, on what one witness called the "bucolic" Virginia Tech campus. I have family nearby in Blacksburg, and was born and have owned a home in Virginia, but do not have any personal ties to this tragedy. And yet, I am still deeply affected by the events there.

I avoid immersion in the endless commentary by any number of talking heads and their interviewees. I am especially quick to lower the volume when a newsperson has extracted all the facts they can from a witness and then attempts to get some emotion for the microphone, turning empathy into just another question designed to get a voice to crack.

It's important to connect to the tremendous loss and waste of this tragedy and our emotions around it. It's more important still to discuss why these things happen for the purpose of creating meaningful change.

Studying the popularity of and ease of obtaining guns has to be part of the story. Another part of the story is how badly the federal and state governments deal with problems that are politically inconvenient, including moneyed opposition to all reasonable restrictions on guns, and mental health care which seems to be most available to the well-to-do and a small portion of the indigent population.

In Virginia, the politics certainly play a role. With the NRA headquartered in Fairfax, one fears that the lunatics truly are running the asylum. Amazingly Virginia has managed to elect two truly decent Democratic governors, in succession, including the present Gov. Tim Kaine. The trade-off these otherwise good men have to make to take office is that they have to embrace Virginia's sacred cows to some extent. That means promises to maintain at least the status quo on guns, abortion, and the death penalty.

The status quo on guns and the death penalty are actually pretty extreme. Sadly, not even the most basic of Virginia's restrictions on gun purchases proved any impediment for Virginia Tech's gunman. Having been committed to a mental institution involuntarily for anti-social behaviors, having been determined to be potentially "of harm to himself or others," should have kept the young man from purchasing guns legally.

I'm convinced there will always be guns in America, and hardly oppose legitimate hunting rifles and the activities for which they were designed. I do not understand hunting "for sport" but the traditional hunt for food for meat-eaters seems more humane than factory farming practices. That sport hunters are necessarily included in regulated hunting seasons is not an issue for me.

I question a society where guns are celebrated in everyday life. The NRA does much to promote such a society. Without trying to account for their large donors, its clear that they extract donations and member fees from a broad swath of the population by making believe that even reasonable gun ownership will be outlawed and that any restrictions are an abridgment of rights. They prey on ignorance and fear and perceived victimhood, in much the same way televangelists and politicians do.

I worry about first-person shooter video games and don't know their affects on impressionable minds. State-sponsored execution legitimizes killing and Virginia has been one of the biggest killers of alleged violent offenders. Televised wars of choice and bloody civil conflict, and public hangings of deposed leaders have to contribute to a culture that accepts violence too easily. That a hanged leader is known to have been a murderous despot himself, only reinforces the idea of "righteous" killing.

There is a community of 26,000 in Southwestern Virginia, at Virginia Tech, whatever their political beliefs, who has seen the affects this week either of a mostly anomolous case of one troubled youth with dangerous weapons, or of a culture run amok with the permissiveness of violence and the tools of violence.

We know that Tech's shooting, however shocking and severe, was not an isolated case. America is the mass murder capital of the Western world. Those who promote pat slogans like "guns don't kill people, people kill people" need to be exposed for high cost of their lobbying efforts on society. America needs a national discussion on the death penalty and it's effects on the minds of it's people. Conservative pastors need to reconsider their constant messages of retribution for personal wrongs and wrongs against God, and look more to messages of generosity and forgiveness which are just as easily found in the same texts they preach from.

We need better mental health intervention, wider availability of mental health services and help for middle class and poor patients to pay, and to continue to work to remove the stigma on those who seek assistance.

We need to examine our entertainment business and identify as pornographic gratuitous and graphic violence for entertainment's sake. It's crazy how worked up we get over sexual content of any kind while letting violence mostly slide. This clearly includes the fast-growing gaming industry. What we do with these forms of protected speech, and in a few cases, art, is the stuff for much discussion. Some of these violent vehicles do a better job than others — acknowledging violence but showing the waste of it. Maybe in a scheme of ratings and enforceable and enforced age restrictions these would be treated somehow differently. It seems like whatever disincentive for producing and selling these entertainments should be at least as strong as the market forces that encourage producers to escalate violence to increase the bottom line. Maybe the most violent-rated could be the most highly taxed. Somehow that seems ripe for first-amendment challenges, but there has to be a price for those who purvey violence, when the rest of society seems to be paying a high toll.

And yes, there are too damn many guns.

______________________________
There are plenty of wonderful tributes to the victims, survivors, and their families on the web, both in the MSM as well as Facebook and Myspace. It's important to understand the human losses this week. Personal stories of the victims make clear the depth of losses in the tragic shootings on the Virginia Tech Campus.

Posted by John Paul McCarty at April 20, 2007 6:47 AM
Comments
Comment #217775

Yeah, follow the liberal path down the yellow brick road. That will solve all our problems.

Posted by: tomd at April 20, 2007 7:22 AM
Comment #217792

JPM,

In this VT case, we are talking about someone who was 23 years old, well into legal adulthood. So it doesn’t look like regulating what impressionable kiddies see and play would have helped in this case.

Posted by: Woody Mena at April 20, 2007 9:48 AM
Comment #217793

JPMc,

Yours is a well thought out cry in the dark…as you can see by tomd’s comment.

Posted by: Marysdude at April 20, 2007 9:50 AM
Comment #217798

Excellent article, John Paul!

Somehow, when the smoke clears away (sorry about the pun) and the level of emotive reaction lowers, sane impressions, and many questions, about a situation, tend to emerge.

Just a few comments. I hope that I don’t enrage and insult some readers as I tend to do.

I am a gun owner and enthusiast. Always have been. Well, since the age of five. That was fifty-three years ago. I will not give up my firearms, not voluntarily, or under force, (unless they kill me first). That is what they are for. The public must be armed, against our government, otherwise said government tends to forget what they are there for. Enough of that.

But should everyone have a gun, or guns? Not hardly. That is not the position of the NRA, in spite of what some ill-informed folks believe. Felons, mental incompetents, anyone under indictment for a felony or under a restraining order. The list goes on. The problem is how do we determine who these people are, unless we have an extensive data base on every individual in the country? The system in place at present is flawed, apparently, because either certain information never gets reported, or it is not accessed when needed.

Case in point: Contrary to a whole lot of misinformation already posted on this website, when an individual goes into a gunshop and buys a firearm, or attempts to, several things happen. Said individual fills out a multi-page form, the 4473, surrenders it to the clerk, along with a valid ID. The clerk telephones the National Instant Check Service, run by the FBI, I believe, and reads off pertinent info. If the intended purchaser does not have any “red flags”, the sale is approved. Some states require a waiting period before the new owner can take his or her purchase out of the store.

Herein lies a problem. One of the questions on the 4473 is about whether or not, you the purchaser, have EVER been adjucated mentally unstable. Among other things, like being a user of illegal drugs, etc. Well, as we all know, people lie. They lie like Alberto Gonzalez and his number one constituent, G. W. Bush. But I digress.

Why was the information about the VA Tech shooter not on his “instant check” record? I don’t know. Was it there and someone ignored it?

The entertainment industry? Video Games? Well, now we’re getting somewhere. The public pays big money to be entertained, which includes being horrified, to act out violent fantasies (shooter video games) as well as otherwise. It’s all very disgusting. Hollywood, and I use that term loosely, glorifies gun violence in its films, many of them, yet supposedly is “anti-gun”. The industry, as well as the viewers, are two-faced. The American public is two-faced.

So you, John Paul, have hung up your guns? That’s commendable, especially you harbor violent impulses towards others, as I believe you said. We all do, to a certain extent, at times. But let’s not forget, killing people for the wrong reason is illegal. Some don’t understand the context. An individual on a rampage needs to be killed, an killed immediately. Or captured, if possible, and imprisoned, forever.

I agree with some of the criticisms of the NRA. I am a member, but all they get from me is my membership fees, nothing more, except for letters criticizing some of their positions. Lately they have been, how should I put it, “hysterical”, about the new “anti-gun” Congress. You are correct. They preach that any gun legislation will lead to utimate confiscation, and the choir pulls out its pocketbook. Sadly, they may be right. But they also tend to help elect knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who are bad for every other aspect of American society and culture. It is a paradox.

Too many guns? Perhaps. But we have too many inhabitants on this earth, too many automobiles, too many airplanes, too many ill-defined, conflicting human ideologies.

Well, my comments have gone on too long. Thanks again for an excellent springboard towards further temperate discussion.

Posted by: WarrenW at April 20, 2007 10:07 AM
Comment #217800

Good post John, I wholeheartedly agree that there are way too many guns and that in this case having some stricter control over them might have stopped this tragedy. This person bought his guns legally, and had he been denied the right to do so he wouldn’t have been able to carry out these murders. Before the right says he could have just gotten an illegal gun - not true, this guy wouldn’t talk to his roomates much less outgoing enough to go find someone to sell him an illegal gun. In addition, I have lived in Blacksburg since 1984 and I know most of what goes on here and there just isn’t an illegal gun market. Also he used ine of those extended clips that hold a ridiculous number of bullets.

That being said, I believe engaging the right on this issue is a waste of time. I tried and all I got was people thinking that the answer to this is for everyone to have guns so we can have a bunch of accidents and heat of the moment crimes in addition to what happened Monday, or they call the victims of this crime sheep, or bragging how they would have been able handle it (kctim excluded).

I would like to encourage everyone to observe a moment of silence at noon today im memory of the lives cut way too short. I have been at Virginia Tech a long time and have sometimes thought that the current group of students were shallow but the stories of these people’s lives have made me realize what a great group of people we still have here albeit 32 Hokies short.

Posted by: Tom Snediker at April 20, 2007 10:12 AM
Comment #217802

tomd: Feel free to offer some substantive suggestions. My title suggests I’m willing to be pragmatist. Test me on it. If I wanted to be strictly liberal, I’d stick to the idea guns should be severely restricted, not reasonably restricted. So I’ve given some ground. I’ve suggested a market approach to limiting violence in media I’m sure some discussion is needed there.

Woody: I don’t know how far into adulthood you were at 23 if you’re there yet. I’m well enough past it that I know I was just scratching the surface. Our young murderer was not formed in the 2 years after he turned 21. He grew up in Centerville Virginia, not far from me. His influences would have overlapped with those of my nieces and nephews. We are exposed to a lot of violence in our formative years but after as well.

Marysdude: Thanks for the kind words. I think we need a collective cry in the dark, but with a goal of shedding some light on these subjects instead of just protecting entrenched political positions.

JPM

Posted by: John Paul McCarty at April 20, 2007 10:18 AM
Comment #217805

John Paul
Gun control talking points are all you really know about the NRA isn’t it. Do yourself a favor, open your mind, and take the time to actually learn some things about the NRA.
Responsible gun owners also do not “celebrate” their gun like its some type of glorious thing. Believe it or not, we do not sit around holding it day and night with a crazed look hoping somebody will do something so we can shoot them.

Alleged violent offenders?
Its always funny to see people try to skirt around the fact that they are convicted murderers.

And violence in entertainment? Please.
As Woody said, the dude was 23, an adult. If that helped make him a murderer, does that mean porn, which millions of people watch, is going to make them sexual deviants, perverts or rapists?

Marydude
JP’s cry is for a mythical utopia that has never and will never exist. Tomd’s is one of reality.

Posted by: kctim at April 20, 2007 10:28 AM
Comment #217807

kctim: are you suggesting that society should always be as polarized as it has become? Is there no middle ground any more? Compromise is a two way street. We don’t have to achieve consensus on all issues. Just figure out where we agree already, and then work to find an accommodation for those areas where we don’t agree. On the NRA I’m willing to imagine they’re not as bad as my worst impressions of them if you’ll concede that maybe they’re not as good as their slickest marketing materials might seek to suggest.
JPM

Posted by: John Paul McCarty at April 20, 2007 10:45 AM
Comment #217808

kctim,
tomd,

In your ‘reality’ world it’s High Noon every day and OK Corral every night?

Posted by: Marysdude at April 20, 2007 10:57 AM
Comment #217809

Warren,

Hollywood only sells what people buy, if there wasn’t money to be made in violence and sex they wouldn’t be selling it.
I find it humorous that on one hand American society abhors gun violence, yet on the other people can’t wait to spend their hard earned money to watch the latest “slasher” movie.

JPM,

Growing up in the ’50s and ’60s I was exposed to some of the more graphically violent cartoons. Heckle and Jeckle, Woody Woodpecker, and the like made “Itchy and Scratchy” look tame by comparison.

Gun laws were much less restrictive, and yet one of the most heinous criminals of the ’60s was Charlie Manson, and he his followers didn’t use guns to murder their victims.

IMHO, it isn’t the graphic nature of the games etc, it is the lack of maturity, and lack of communication that parents have with their children.
It’s ironic that in our age of instant communication we don’t really talk to each other anymore.

You cite a quote from Jane Smiley. Thinking about using a gun when one is angry isn’t the sign of a mature person.

This is the thinking of a child.

Posted by: Rocky at April 20, 2007 10:58 AM
Comment #217812

JP-

Once again you are advocating the use of the political process to modify your neighbor’s behavior; in this case his or her ownership and use of guns. Good for you. Many of your neighbors support an organization (the NRA) that has as its mission to resist your efforts. Good for them.

Thankfully for all of us debates like these are settled in our political process and not on the streets with car bombs…. Good for all of us.

The need to compel a neighbor’s behavior is greater the more neighbors one has. Gun control might be high on the list in urban areas, but where I live it’s well below water, sewer, and emergency response, mainly because we don’t have any of those. If you want to be pragmatic about gun control look at the needs of your community first before you advocate solutions that have no benefit where I live.

But if you want to advocate the feds sending us some good sewer engineers over here, I’m all for that……

Posted by: George in SC at April 20, 2007 11:07 AM
Comment #217815

JP
Our society is polarized as such because neither side wishes to repect the individual rights and freedoms of others.
We have come to the point where “middle ground” now means accept one view, or a slightly watered down version of it, and disregard your own views.

Compromise IS a two way street. How do you suggest we keep guns away from nuts but still respect the Constitutional rights of others and without assuming guilt before innocense?

I have long believed the NRA is not as good as their marketing. I do not support some of what they do so I am not a member.
But, they represent their members, which is made up of millions of average Americans. If their members want a change in platform, they will change.
Views of the NRA are mostly political. That is why many Dems are members. It is the extreme wing of the Dems which make it out to be nothing but a bunch of dumb gun loving rednecks.

Posted by: kctim at April 20, 2007 11:28 AM
Comment #217823

Marysdude
“In your ‘reality’ world it’s High Noon every day and OK Corral every night?”

Nope.
Its knowing that there are nuts out there and being ready to protect myself from them.
In the real world, being forced to be helpless to defend yourself, will only get you killed.
In the real world, High Noon and OK Corral comparisons only show ones fear.

Posted by: kctim at April 20, 2007 12:15 PM
Comment #217825

“tomd: Feel free to offer some substantive suggestions. My title suggests I’m willing to be pragmatist. Test me on it. If I wanted to be strictly liberal, I’d stick to the idea guns should be severely restricted, not reasonably restricted. So I’ve given some ground. I’ve suggested a market approach to limiting violence in media I’m sure some discussion is needed there.”

You’re doing just fine JP, Keep following the yellow road. The Oz will take care of all your problems. Forgive me if I don’t come along. I don’t play well with others.

Posted by: tomd at April 20, 2007 12:29 PM
Comment #217951

Rocky, Your points are well taken, re that many of us grew up with violent cartoons and did not become violent. Whether gun laws were less restrictive is a matter of debate especially for states like Virginia. Open carry and the rate of issue of concealed permits is one of the places where the balance has clearly shifted.

You speak of a much larger problem, where parents do not guide their children. I don’t totally buy that either, the children I grew up with were mostly raised the in benign neglect or “seen but not heard” model. It was small town stuff, and as long as kids stayed out of the way of adults and didn’t break their stuff they were pretty much left alone.

But still, I do agree that there is a qualitative change. I see it as organic, cutting through the many messages we receive and interpret every day.

Some here think I’m describing some kind of Utopia or Oz or complete Pacifism. This is not what I’m trying to do. Utopias need fascists to maintain them. Pacifism can rarely be absolute. Even Gandhi was not an absolute pacifist. He was radical. For me it is an attitude to consider taking before I consider confrontation. I’m not necessarily good at it. In all the conflict large and small in the world, why do we insist all must end in victory or defeat? How is that morally superior to learning to accommodate our differences?

Posted by: John Paul McCarty at April 21, 2007 8:13 AM
Comment #217957

I agree, at least in part with many things you said. But if you look at your post from “above”, I see ZERO responsibility assigned to the killer. Nor an acknowledgment that the gun laws PROHIBITED this man from getting a gun but they were not enforced. And zero responsibility assigned to the school for allowing him to remain on campus.

Why was a man who was found to be mentally ill, whose assignments showed a disturbing use of language and violence, who was found to be stalking women and a bit of a fire bug not REMOVED from school?

If you discovered that your sons roommate was mentally ill, stalked women, a loner, used disturbing violent language, set a fire, would you demand that your son be moved to another room? Another building? Maybe pull him out if they refused and sent him to another school?

I contend that political correctness and the culture of “victim hood” makes it virtually IMPOSSIBLE to remove this student from school. And yet clearly he should have been. And it keeps liberals from suggesting that he should have been removed. Yes, we should have a better health care system to deal with students we are forced to remove from school. But we first need to be willing to remove them. People who are opposed, aren’t really serious in my opinion about stopping these issues, they just want to use them to push their own agenda.

Yes, I want balanced budgets, I want a fix for social security, I want a fix for medicare, I want an end to ear marks, AFTER that I’m willing to consider NEW SPENDING on national health care which would include better care for the mentally ill.

But in a society where we can’t say someone is mentally ill, remove them from our public schools, or even sell a Vermont Teddy bear that has printed on it: “I’m crazy about you” without an uproar fro the politically correct…..in such a society we will always be subject to the violent attacks of the mentally ill because we are too focused on protecting them and bringing them along with us (as if violent, mentally ill stalkers can be main-streamed) and not focused enough on protecting our children from them.

Posted by: StephenL at April 21, 2007 10:25 AM
Comment #217961

I posted this on my thread but thought it was germane to this one as well:

As we begin the healing process here and see the media finally start to leave my campus I have had more time to think about guns and gun control and the Constitution. I think that we shouldn’t repeal the 2nd amendment or take away gun rights but there are less formal solutions to the issue …

I think that some of the responsibility falls on the gun manufacturers and gun dealers. While they are not breaking the law and there is a constitutional right to have guns there is not a constitutional responsibility to supply any weapon, bullet, or clip to the public just because they will sell. It is a moral issue and something that corporate America has forgotten (or never remembered). They are morally culpable for what happened here on Monday. They decided that semi automatic pistols would be a big seller, hollow point rounds can make them a lot of money, and extended clips that hold more than 20 bullets would be popular. They hide behind the constitution and the legality of their products. Just because it is legal doesn’t make it moral or right. I don’t think lawsuits are in order or closing them down - just don’t pretend that there is no moral responsibility to what they do - they do not care about anything than turning a profit.

Manufacturers and dealers should be encouraged not to make and sell this stuff - it is not an excuse to say that some else would just sell it. Just because someone else does something immoral to make money doesn’t make it right for everyone. the NRA could be a big help here if they wanted to stand up and do something good for their country.

Posted by: Tom Snediker at April 21, 2007 10:48 AM
Comment #217964

Tom Snediker,

As a student on the campus where this happened, I have a few questions for you.

Don’t you feel this person, after stalking, being locked up for mental health issues, his disturbing use of violence and foul language in assignments, and setting some fire should have been REMOVED from campus? Do you support the schools decision to keep him on campus and in the dorms?

Are you aware that his history precluded him from getting a gun and the gun laws were not enforced, that he was not eligible for a gun but his history was not on file for the background check? That IN FACT the gun laws were adequate but not enforced?

Do you feel that political correctness dictates that the mentally ill who were found to be a danger to themselves or others NOT be removed from campus?

Is ANYONE on campus at all even suggesting that it would have been WISE to remove him from campus after some of his antics became known?

Is it possible the school had no clue about his mental illness because of patient rights? Might it not be wise to adjust our laws to allow certain conditions to be reported to schools?

How would you feel about a law that dictates that people with a a recent history of violence, certain mental illness, stalking, etc NOT BE ALLOWED to allowed to attend traditional colleges until after they have received comprehensive treatment and been deemed cured and safe for society?

In my opinion, political correctness demands that we assign blame to society and do not take the real actions required to keep this sort of thing from happening. And that would be, that a history like this kids should have resulted in an AUTOMATIC EXPULSION and no chance to return until he has had treatment and a certain amount of time has passed in which he has kept a record clear of evidence that he is not cured.

Posted by: StephenL at April 21, 2007 11:01 AM
Comment #217971

StephenL,
I agree that Seung should have been put somewhere where he could have gotten some help for his problems. Everyone of his roommates and instructors did the right things - they alerted the university to Seung’s actions and the proper authorities were alerted. The university made the decision not to expel him because, for one thing, they did not have the evaluation that said he was a danger to himself and others (had they had this information they may have expelled him) as well as the fact that a university (can’t remember which one) was sued for expelling a student with a similar diagnosis. The court system kind of dropped the ball by not telling the university about being a danger to himself and others. I think the people on this campus had learned the lesson of other school shootings and reported his behavior. His roommates reported his suicide comments out of concern for Seung.

I am torn about what to do to help stop these things from happening - there is a tendency to over-legislate and cross constitutional barriers out of fear and insecurity as we did after 9/11. I would rather suffer a hundred 9/11’s than to give up our rights in the way the Bush administration did. Just as overturning the 2nd amendment would be an overreaction to this incident. Though as I said it doesn’t absolve everyone with moral culpability in this shooting including gun manufacturers and dealers.

Seung had a serious mental illness, he apparently had it all his life. I am torn about how to deal with people with illness’ like Seung’s - we can shut them all away where they cannot to harm to society or integrate them where 99% of them will do no harm and get to live just like the rest of us. It’s a tough choice. I think I would err on the side of freedom just like I would with this anti-terror legislation.

America, I believe, has lost its way as the shining example of the great experiment of democracy with our invasion/occupation of Iraq, showing the world that $ = political power, thinking that the only measure of anything is in profit. Our founders were not perfect people but they saw this experiment as a way to push the limits of what freedom means and I think we have backed away from that example. It is no wonder that we cannot export democracy, we provide no example. So while Seung was responsible for his actions, we as a society have made choices that have allowed Seung to do what he did for good or ill.

Just a side note, I went to the memorial yesterday on our drillfield and there were 33 “hokie stone” monuments arranged in a half circle with flowers, prayers, and other mementos to the lost - mixed in with my wife’s friends, other students, and teachers was a monument to Cho Seung Hui as well. There were some really touching prayers to him from people who were directly affected by his actions wishing that he has found peace and reconciliation with his life in the next. Through all the anger, hurt, and sorrow comes forgiveness. Go Hokies!

Posted by: Tom Snediker at April 21, 2007 11:56 AM
Comment #217973

Tom Snediker, You offer a false trade to me.

I am not having the choice to make between 100 9-11’s or losing the constitution. But we do have a real choice to make here. Are we willing to remove these people from our schools or not?

And in the face of this tragedy, you seem to be saying…..no, we cannot remove them because we might “violate the constitution”. Which is really double talk for: “It’s politically incorrect to remove the mentally ill from college”. We could easily make a national law in line with the constitution that requires institutions of higher learning to remove certain individuals from the student body who may be a danger to themselves and the student body. And given the politically correct status of the mentally ill, I think a national law is the only way we could force liberal institutions to do this to protect the students.

Hokie monuments and doing nothing in order to “protect the constitution”, as well as adhering to political correctness will not stop this from happening again. It may make people feel good, to think they demonstrated they “cared” and were wise in doing nothing because it “protects” the constitution…but it amounts to NOTHING.

In my opinion, these violent, mentally unstable people will not be removed from schools across the nation because the radical left dominates the democratic party and is clearly against it. They would rather suffer a thousand of these events than to go against their religion of “political correctness”.

Posted by: Stephen at April 21, 2007 12:11 PM
Comment #217976

Well Stephen, where do you draw the line? someone who is depressed and has suicidal thoughts? if so then 1 in 10 college students would fall into this category according to a recent study.

Up until Monday, Seung had never done anything violent. He had written very violent stories, he had mentioned suicide to his roommates, followed two girls around (they chose not to press charges). Other than the state legal declaration (which they did not share with the university) there was nothing to hold him on or expel him for.

If you are so smart, you draw this line. The school regularly expels students with legal problems. Are you going to deny education to people who have committed no crime? How weird do they have to be to get denied education? It’s very easy to say “we should just lock all these people up,” you sound tough, and pander to a group of very angry, very afraid people, but it doesn’t solve the problem because either you are advocating locking up a lot of people who are just a little odd but harmless, or doing exactly what is done now, erring on the side of letting people participate.

In addition, what do you propose to do with these people you deem too crazy to be in school? Mental institutions - Ronald Reagan closed the federal institutions in part because they were atrocious places and in part, to cut the budget. It put a lot of people who were a danger to themselves and others on the street, should they be rebuilt to handle these people? Put them in jail, even if they have committed no crime? Or just deny them an education? let them work menial jobs for the rest of their lives (I’m sure it won’t cause resentment). What would you do?

It is a Constitutional issue - it goes to the core of what this country was founded on - we all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness unless you have done something so heinous that your freedom must be taken away and the Constitution is very specific on how this is done.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

I have always liked this amendment - Seung wrote some horrible violent things in a fictional context - should this have made him ineligible for freedom?

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Due process, he was found a danger to himself and others, but the court also did not see fit to commit him. This part of Virginia does not have many liberal judges. Do you want even more conservative judges or just start locking people up for minor offenses?

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Again, what process do we follow?

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Denying rights to someone who has not committed a crime excessive?

So it is an issue of political correctness, but not in the disparaging way you use the term. All of these rights have been infringed on by the current, incompetent occupant of the Whitehouse and agreed to by all those who signed the Patriot Act on both sides of the aisle. I will go to classes Monday unafraid of the chance that a someone would do something like what happened a week before just as I fly in planes unafraid of terrorists. I don’t need a gun to feel unafraid (though I have the right to have one if I want), I do need a Constitution to make me feel unafraid to think, say, and believe what I want. It protects us all from each other. What you seem to advocate infringes on people’s constitutional rights just as people have been willing to in fear of terrorism. Just as some on my side who want to deny the 2nd amendment. You gotta be consistent.

Posted by: Tom Snediker at April 21, 2007 1:18 PM
Comment #217978

Tom,

You have transitioned from being shocked, caring, wanting to get over it, indicatinghe should have been removed to now being an advocate for the radical left wing view that we do nothing to remove such people from the college environment but “grieve and forgive”.

Denying an insane man should be removed from the school who has been found to have mental problems, who was determined recently by professionals to be dangerous to himself or those around him, who was stalking college students, who was contemplating violence (suicide), whose writings were so disturbing they were reported by faculty to the administration…. to deny such a person should be removed from the school in order to protect the students and so he can go get real help… is to SANCTION his violence.

And that is what you are doing, to the point that you want to prove to me that the violently insane have a right under the constitution to go to college until the moment they kill. That’s really very sad thinking. You don’t put child molester’s in charge of an orphanages, and we shouldn’t send insane people who are sending up all sorts of warnings that they have serious and abnormal mental problems to college dorms to see how long it is before they kill someone.

Don’t make STRAW MAN ARGUMENTS out of what I “SEEM” to be advocating then knock them over. I’m right here. I”m a part of this conversation. I support he constitution against threats. We can still tell people how fast they can drive without taking away the constitution. Not all laws are BAD laws.

What I’m advocating loudly and clearly is that people who have been determined to RECENTLY have serious and abnormal mental problems, and, or have exhibited suicidal and abnormal behavior towards others such as stalking, should be REMOVED from college and not allowed to return until they have received treatment and have exhibited over a period of time that they have their problems resolved. This is the clear response that we should DEMAND after this incident.

We all sacrifice total freedom to create laws that allow us to live with each other and “do no harm”.
Where the left goes wrong is where it insists on harm for political correctness reasons, then hides this insanity behind a “constitution” defense.

This school knew he was stalking. This school knew his writings were disturbing. They should have known he had serious mental issues. They SHOULD HAVE removed him. If they didn’t know had serous mental issues, then laws should be IMPROVED to REQUIRE reporting to schools of certain instances of mental insanity.

Essentially, Tom, you are proving my point. The far left would deny society the ability to remove this student and to thus save his victims. You see the so called “rights” of the violently insane to be more important than the rights of those 32 students to be warned so they could live.

No where in the constitution does it say the violently insane have a right to attend college until they actually kill. If I knew such a man lived next to me, I would sell my house, move, protect my family. But you say we must risk our families to protect the rights of the insane. I agree the insane have rights, but we who are NOT insane have a right to be protected FROM the insane. We have an obligation to care for the insane but not to allow them to torture humanity with their insanity.

You on the left would deny us, the protection that the government and our schools should provide.

Clearly, the school should have removed this student, also clearly, they didn’t because they adhere to political correctness. They weren’t going to try because it’s against the religion of political correctness. It has nothing to do with the constitution and everything to do with the radical left wing agenda.

Posted by: StephenL at April 21, 2007 1:56 PM
Comment #217982

StephenL - you have absolutly no idea of what you are talking about. All I asked is where you would draw the line, you have refused to other than spouting about how you would have thrown this one guy out of school.

I will not waste your time further.

Posted by: Tom Snediker at April 21, 2007 2:24 PM
Comment #217984

StephenL, I agree with you that there is a disturbing element of political correctness when it comes to drawing any disciplinary lines in our schools. That’s problem from kindergarten through college.

I’m just not too sure about that in this particular case.

The stalking that occurred was alleged—it did not result in a conviction, and it doesn’t sound if the students involved even sought restraining orders, which they very well could have. The line between stalking and irritating somebody who is not romantically interested in you is a fine one, and very often doesn’t rise to a level of illegality. If we expelled or locked up every college student making irritating and unwanted advances on people they’re interested in, there would be no end to it. Look at the Duke case—just because something is alleged, it doesn’t mean we should automatically assume it’s true until it’s legally proven.

As for Cho’s disturbing writings, I find it interesting that on the very same day he went on his rampage, Cormac McCarthy was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for an extremely violent and disturbing novel which includes, among other things, cannabalism, kidnapping, and multiple murders. Should he be locked up in addition to winning a Pulitzer?

Sadly enough, I have no doubt that there are literally thousands upon thousands of students in our universities which exhibit the same or not worse behaviors that Cho showed—that is, until he started committing murder. Being antisocial, quiet, and into violent literature and movies is not that uncommon at all. And virtually everyone who fits that profile will never do what Cho did, something that goes beyond all norms and cannot really be predicted.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at April 21, 2007 2:45 PM
Comment #217989

Tom Snediker,

I have SPECIFICALLY drawn the line where people have RECENTLY been diagnosed with particular mental illness or have been involved in stalking issues possibly combined with other issues such as violent and disturbing speech, also acts such as arson. And I think they should be required to get treatment and to stay out for a specif period say 2 years and return after having spent at least one year in society with no apparent return of the mental instability and aberrant behavior.

Tom, you claim to be a college student but now you seem to have a reading comprehension issue. How many times do you need me to detail some number of specifics and how many specifics do you need, before you stop declaring I refuse to detail specifics?

In my opinion the specifics should not be MY OPINION or your opinion but that of the legislature. That we need people from all walks of life and parties to sit down in state or federal legislatures and to come up with appropriate standards for schools to use, and require them to use them. And to require that such issues be reported so that background checks for firearms will pick up on mentally disturbed people trying to buy firearms, etc.

We need a broad variety of input so we can add a layer of protection for society which is sadly lacking but still maintain an eye for fairness, and the rights of even the violently, mentally insane…as we seek our right to be protected from them and their violence. The most workable law would be one that has many hands involved and the combined wisdom of experts from different fields of law, medicine, education, etc.

The reason I think our legislature has to do this is because liberals like you are dead set against removing such people from the schools and you will do everything you can to oppose it. This becomes a plank in the cultural war. The left does not want to see an America in which the violently mentally insane do not share dorm rooms with our children.

If it’s not law, the bulk of our schools (being run by liberals) will not remove the violently insane, even if they know they are on campus. And this is he REAL bottom line isn’t it? Political Correctness DICTATES that we do nothing. The radical left wins again unless the public is outraged enough to create LAW.

I don’t think it will happen. But I enjoy pointing out the truth to those who seek to bury it.

What it boils down to, Tom. Is you want to defend political correctness but cannot stand having anyone point out your argument is not constitutional but simply left wing political correctness. You want to be viewed as a defender of the constitution, not a proponent of left wing political correctness.

Posted by: StephenL at April 21, 2007 3:25 PM
Comment #217992

Loyal Opposition, I seriously doubt you would find “thousands and thousands” of college students who had recently been taken away for mental illness and had been stalking…or trying threatening to commit suicide.

I believe the legislatures could come up with a standard that would require schools to remove a very tiny subset of students (temporarily) who really should be OUT of their general population and into a mental institute our a doctors office to get treatment. Now, the schools shouldn’t be able to put people away, but they should be required to remove some individuals from their population and not allow them to return until they can demonstrate they have dealt with the issue and have “recovered”.

That of course, will never happen. In my opinion, because political correctness dictates that it must not happen. Better, thinks the left, to have 100 of these things happen, than to kick a couple of dozen nuts a year out of some US schools until they get straightened out. The policy of the left makes helpless VICTIMS of the violently insane individuals and turn normal healthy students into their REAL victims.

It was nice to “discuss” this with an actual individual from VT. Very nice that he showed up and shared that with us, that he was from VT. And He confirmed what I suspected, political correctness has control of the situation down there.

Posted by: StephenL at April 21, 2007 3:36 PM
Comment #217998
Loyal Opposition, I seriously doubt you would find “thousands and thousands” of college students who had recently been taken away for mental illness and had been stalking…or trying threatening to commit suicide.

For one thing, thousands of college-aged Americans not only threaten to kill themselves every year but actually do it. Among males, it’s one of the top two causes of all deaths in that age bracket. You can assume that the number who show warning signs is MUCH higher.

And I don’t know why you keep bringing up irrelevant scenarios.

Cho was NOT taken away for mental illness. He was required to consult with a psychologist. That is not the same thing at all.

And when he was examined by a psychologist, he explicity denied that he was considering suicide. Had he not denied it, he could have been detained.

He was accused by two people of stalking—not tried or convicted for it. There is a world of difference between somebody making an accusation and something having any legal or practical merit.

There were warning signs—yes. But I’ve seen nothing to indicate that they were, until the shooting started, all that different the behaviors of a lot of messed up but ultimately harmless individuals.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at April 21, 2007 4:52 PM
Comment #218004

Guns are the issue of today. Thousands of years ago people watched in joy as other people were mauled and ripped by lions, or other viscous methods of death. To wish we could be a pacifist society is a goal worth aiming for, but we aren’t a whole lot closer to getting there than we were 2000 years ago.

Maybe it’s just something in our nature that makes us watch a cop show, tune in to violent TV shows, or just gawk as we past an automobile accident? True crime novels sell like hot cakes, sit-coms don’t have a real chance on current television stations, and, heaven forbid we outlaw sports - the tackles of football, the fouls of basketball, the balls coming right for the face baseball and softball games, and the eternal silent wish for a really good wreck on a NASCAR track.

If we are to be brutally honest with ourselves, we would not have to walk much further than our on TVs, computers, driveways or towns to seek the violence we all seem to crave. What is ironic is that when someone does something we consider irrational, we can’t seem to look to ourselves for an explanation.

Posted by: Linda H. at April 21, 2007 5:16 PM
Comment #218005

Loyal Opposition ,

I think you are DELIBERATELY misreading me. I clearly stated I envisioned a law defined NOT BY ME but by experts and the legislature. A law you oppose on the grounds of political correctness it seems.

Chao was ordered to get treatment and was DETAINED in order to be examined and to take treatments. Are you misrepresenting Chos situation deliberately or are you not aware?

From Wikipedia: “On December 13, 2005, Cho was temporarily detained for a psychiatric assessment, as he was suspected to be mentally ill and a danger to himself or others by a Montgomery County, Virginia district court. Virginia Special Justice Paul Barnett certified in an order that Cho “[presented] an imminent danger to himself as a result of mental illness,” and directed that as a “Court-ordered Out-Patient he follow all recommended treatment”

As far as I’m concerned if someone has a recent mental diagnoses that he may be a danger to himself or others and some other combination of symptoms, the school should remove him for the safety of those 32 innocent people he killed. 32 who were deprived of their unconstitutional rights! The court felt he was suffering from mental illness, detained, ordered treatment. The school should have been notified and there should have been an automatic expulsion until his mental illness was demonstratively under control. I’m not for blanket expulsions for any problem, I want experts to work out who should stay and who represents a real threat to others, as Cho was.

I believe as a society we should enact a meaningful law to require these issues to be reported to schools and for schools to be required to eject students under certain circumstance similar to this troubled young mans. And to keep them out for a certain period of time and for there to be no return unless they have prove to have overcome their issue by counseling and or drugs in that time.

Your effort to parse my words, is not really making your argument. Bottom line, I support a bill to add a layer of protection to move such people out of schools until they are better. You are opposed. It’s clear to me this is a “left vs right” issue a politically correct agenda to see that no violent, mentally ill students are ejected from college.

Let me put you on the firing line. ARE YOU FOR THE REMOVAL OF VIOLENT, MENTALLY ILL STUDENTS FROM COLLEGES? I’m guessing you give me the politically correct line, we can’t find them, no fair way to do it, we must protect their rights…no we must never kick them out.

This kid was stalking, forcibly sent to treatment by the court system, talking suicide, writing things that were so questionable at least one teacher notified school administrators, wasn’t he involved in a fire, too? This kid was setting off flares and no one stopped him. He did everything but declare he was Charles Manson. And of course, the far left gathers round and blames society and protects the violently mentally insane from being dealt with BEFORE they kill.

Posted by: StephenL at April 21, 2007 5:19 PM
Comment #218012

StephenL,
In rebuttal of your apparent lack of knowledge regarding Mental Illness. Had the school “kicked him out” do you really believe that would have cured him? Seriously - where would you have rather had Cho? Walking the streets of a city, touring a playground, with lots of small children (not that those killed and injured weren’t children)? At least from what I’ve read the school was attempting to get him help.

Do you have any idea how many of the homeless are actually mentally ill victims who have been released from hospitals, half-way houses, or simply run away from their families and friends? If memory serves my correctly, the vast majority of them are. Over 78 percent of all homeless people at this time, today, right now are mentally ill.

Why do they walk the streets of out country? Money, lack of care, fear of medication - fear in general. The vast majority of all those addicted to alcohol and drugs are trying to SELF-MEDICATE themselves so they can tame the beasts that fill them from within. In many cases you could give anyone of them a gun, and just sit back and watch the fireworks.

I however, find I must make one other very valid point. One does not have to be mentally ill to shoot someone. As a matter of fact one might be totally surprised to discover how many highly functioning, mentally “ill” people there are in ones’ work place, school, college, church, family. These people are no more about to shoot a gun and kill than hopefully you or I are.

There are people in our world who simply seem to enjoy the pain of others. Robbers, rapists, many murders,etc. are not necessarily mentally ill. Meanness and evil are not mental health issues. They just are.

Posted by: Linda H. at April 21, 2007 5:40 PM
Comment #218014

BTW, JPM,
You have obviously gotten under the skin of several of the posters here, including myself. Good Job.
I found much I agree with and little I didn’t.

Just ignore Warren W.’s stupid comment, please. I am not sure who he’s truly trying to convince, you or himself, with his snide comment about “harboring violent impulses.”

Posted by: Linda H. at April 21, 2007 5:53 PM
Comment #218016

Linda H., nice argument. We are better off having him in a college dorm room killing college kids, otherwise…think of the little children? Why, he would become a bum! Live under a bridge….that would be far worse than killing 32 but maybe, sill getting that degree, hey Linda! Oh, you are on it. Why, I’m just a heartless, cold neocon! Thanks Linda, that really does wrap it all up doesn’t it?

Gee, maybe he could return home? Maybe he could get a job? Maybe he could continue with treatment and work at getting better so he doesn’t have to kill 32 college kids? Maybe he could go to school on-line until he’s worked out those anger managent issues? Maybe you don’t care one little bit about those 32 college kids whoes lives were extinguished, they are nothing compared to this nuts need to live among and go forth and slaughter?

And you of course leave out some things here that perhaps make me less of the EVIL NEOCON IGNORAMUS such as the fact that I support national health care. I support better treatment of mental illness. I have immediate family that work with the mentally ill in a medical setting. And I’m well aware of their problems and our short comings in dealing with the mentally ill. But that doesn’t mean I support housing the violent, mentally ill on college campuses no matter how much they want to be there.

Do you think allowing them to kill 32 kids in college will give them the support and love they need to be a success in life? That is the value of college for the violent, mentally ill? Wow! I like your outlook.

See, two can play that game. Get real and stop setting up positions for me that I’m not taking. A JUDGE said this guy was either a danger to himself or those around him. Warning, warning, danger will Robinson. Mad man loose in college dorm, liberals say….he must stay there, until he kills and proves he’s insane.

I like the politically correct, caring fatalism you folks have about why other peoples children needed to die here…because we just don’t dare force these violent, mentally ill people out of schools until they are safe to come back.

Posted by: StephenL at April 21, 2007 5:55 PM
Comment #218021

Well, I have to leave soon and return to the real world. Another shift is done! Don’t mind posting to you folks as long as I’m getting paid while I’m doing it.

I leave you all to discuss the political correctness of your wisdom in housing the violent, mentally ill in the nations colleges and protecting them from evil neo-cons that would force them to leave until they have a history of treatment and behavior that justifies their return to the riggers of college life.

Posted by: Stephen at April 21, 2007 6:25 PM
Comment #218034

StephenL

your absolutely right. he should have been removed from that school. but political correctness prevented it. he had all the signs, and many saw them. how far should he have been allowed to go before someone said this guys not right. i guess the answer is now we know for sure, althuogh it’s to late. i guess he didn’t know it was a gun free zone. what an unrealistic crock. so now we’re back to blaming inanimate objects for what happened instead of asking what has happened to personal resposability. 65 years ago you could buy a thompson or an automatic pistol in a hardware store. we had almost no gun control laws and this crap was not going on. yep more gun laws that’ll fix it. hell if that info had been reported to the FBI he couldn’t have bought those guns.

Posted by: dbs at April 21, 2007 8:26 PM
Comment #218037

Linda,
I’ve been staying out of the way as the thread has moved to examining the shooter and whether he could have been removed before the fact. I had intentionally left consideration of him out of my article. That was in part a response to the media frenzy over the “multimedia manifesto,” and the controversy around it. Faced with choosing a focus, I chose to write broadly about the profound losses of this event, and more particularly to begin to ask the question, now asked many times, “what has changed?” How has American society reached this place where mass murder happens with such frequency as it has since the coinage “going postal” was made popular during my college years? I don’t think there is an easy, ready answer. I submit it is a broad discussion we need to have. If we don’t discuss honestly, putting all things on the table—gun control, breakdown of families, mental health, incivility, hate speech, violent entertainments, war—what have you, I don’t know how anything can ever be resolved. I know I don’t want to live in a society where I have to strap on a lethal weapon to go to the grocery store. I say, give everyone Nerf guns.

Posted by: John Paul McCarty at April 21, 2007 8:57 PM
Comment #218038

Stephen, me politically correct? That’s funny.

I agreed with you about the problem with political correctness when it comes to discipline in schools, but I think you’re barking up the wrong tree in this particular case.

You make a great deal out of the fact that Cho was once “detained” and required to undergo a psychological assessment. I’m not sure you realize how common such mandated assessments really are. People are often made to get those if a police officer or someone else thinks they might be acting strangley (as when they make a traffic stop or report to a domestic disturbance) and in many cases it turns out that the person was drunk, temporaily very angry, or simply suffering from some other health problem. In by far the majority of such cases, a person who undergoes routine evaluation by a psychologist in not found to be mentally ill.

My point is that when it happened in Cho’s case, they didn’t find enough evidence to lock him up—nor does it seem that there WAS enough evidence to do so. Once again, that “stalking” was never prosecuted or proved.

The problem here is that I don’t think you’ve thought through the political correctness of your own position, or the politically correct uses to which new laws and regulations like this would be put.

Considering the make-up of college faculty and adminstrators in this country, it would not surprise me in the least to see any non-politically correct speech or actions interpreted as “threatening” and grounds for expelling students or putting them in therapy.

Speak out in class or write a paper against affirmative action? Wow, that makes some of the minority students feel like you’re hostile, and you must be a hateful racist on the verge of snapping. You need to get councelling because, as 2 out of 3 liberal professors agree, your conservatism is a mental disease.

If you don’t think this could happen, you don’t know the modern American university.

Just look at what happened at Duke. The school was only too happy to brand those lacrosse players as guilty, a threat to others, and railroad them in the name of a politically-correct agenda. I feel like what you’re suggesting is a recipe to make such abuses even easier, and would do nothing to address future individuals like Cho.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at April 21, 2007 9:31 PM
Comment #218048

StephenL
Of course! Why didn’t I think of that! Lets’ get him a JOB!!!! How about with the Post Office!!! No - wait - been there - done that…How about where you work!!!!
Had he gone home, he most likely would have erupted on a schoolyard, (as I suggested)and the police might still be hunting for him!

Gees! You really don’t know S*$t about how mental health or mental illness works!
so I will not even attempt to reason with you.

Oh, and why should I be surprised that you might steal from your employer by wasting his time and money while you wild away on a computer that he most likely brought.

I have to leave soon and return to the real world. Another shift is done! Don’t mind posting to you folks as long as I’m getting paid while I’m doing it.

John Paul McCarty,
That was the point of my first post:#218004

Loyal Opposition,
As far as DUKE goes - what do yo think they should have done, considering the charges were brought by the D.A.? Not a lowly Assistant?
Even before the charges were made, everyone knew the rich kids were guilty…

Seriously if your daughter has been in a school where this situation had occurred, what would you have wanted the school to do?

It’s easy to criticize, but how about offering a solution - and please don’t try the “get a job” cr*p like StephenL did.

Posted by: Linda H. at April 21, 2007 10:29 PM
Comment #218051
As far as DUKE goes - what do yo think they should have done, considering the charges were brought by the D.A.?

Very simple. Treat students like citizens of the United States with Consitutional rights, which they are. Which means that you assume they’re innocent until proven guilty.

If Duke’s faculty couldn’t wait for the charges to be proven, they could have at least not signed petitions, wrote editorials, led protest marches, and verbally trashed those falsely-accused students in a politically-correct witch hunt.

What if that was my daughter, you ask. But what if that was my son whose life was being destroyed for no good reason?

We’d all like to believe that there were huge mistakes made in dealing with this maniac Cho because assigning blame and saying what should be done in the future makes us feel like we’re responding in some constructive fashion.

Fact is, though, that mass murderers like Cho share a profile with a huge number of people who will never commit his deeds and should not be regarded as guilty in a society where people enjoy basic civil rights. If you seem strange, lonely, and withdrawn, if people complain about actions of yours which do not rise to clear violations of the law, it’s just not enough to assume the worst about you. Not in America.

We also know that a great many mass murderers are not like Cho at all but like Ted Bundy—people who appear normal on the surface, are charming, sociable, but capable of utterly evil actions.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at April 21, 2007 11:36 PM
Comment #218061

This is the last I will say on this subject. I’m not sure which right wing radio DJ came up with blaming this incident on political correctness. But some on this posting have made a lot of effort to try to fit this event into their preconcieved idea that societies PC attitudes allow people to commit mass murder.

LO - I agree with you, for once :) . It is “that mass murderers like Cho share a profile with a huge number of people who will never commit his deeds and should not be regarded as guilty in a society where people enjoy basic civil rights.” You can’t just expel the depressed and disaffected from the right to an education just because 1 in a million do something like this.

When all of this happened, I was angry at the police response but as I think about the issue, a vast majority of murders of women are committed by the spouse or partner of the victim - it was reasonable to think this from what they found in Ambler Johnston.

The outpouring of sympathy from everyone has really touched everyone here, thank you all from everyone affected directly and indirectly from this tragedy. As we go back to school tomorrow we are lifted up by all of your thoughts and prayers. Let’s go Hokies!

Posted by: Tom Snediker at April 22, 2007 9:26 AM
Comment #218066

LO: I have to agree with Tom:

LO - I agree with you, for once :)

And you put it quite well. It is impossible in most cases for even professionals to know when and if someone is going to be a danger.

I believe it’s a case of early intervention, de-stigmatizing mental health issues and increasing mental health availability. Early intervention in family issues also.

Tom:

Praying for peace for all Hokies!!

Posted by: womanmarine at April 22, 2007 12:47 PM
Comment #218078

A Day in the Life: Delusion verses Reality

As I watched the tragedy at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia unfold, I thought of my own experiences with the mental health system in America. I have two step sons that have paranoid schizophrenia, and when they are taking their medication, they are not psychotic. The struggle to help them to lead meaningful and productive lives has encompassed the last twenty years of our existence. Once you have encountered the right of a mentally unbalanced person to not take their medicine, even though there is no possible way they can rationally make that essential decision; and then the criteria that they must actually be an immediate threat to themselves or others to get help to not be a threat, can you fully ask the question: which is more insane, the illness or the system?
I hear people debate whether to have more gun control or not despite the statistic that in gun deaths unrelated to wars, America has more deaths than all the rest of the world combined. In fact, we have 83% of the world’s gun non-military related deaths since 1980. But the question how an unmedicated mentally unbalanced person could seemingly legally buy two guns and then kill thirty-two people is answered that Virginia does not report mentally impaired individuals to the very data Federal base that determines if someone can legally buy a weapon. Why? Simply put, it is not illegal to be psychotic, but to not treat that psychosis is also not illegal.
I hear people say that mentally unbalanced people, that really want to kill people, can use other weapons. That is undeniably true. There is the case of a young woman being shoved into an oncoming train from a passenger platform by an unmedicated delusional individual that perceived her as an imaginary threat. If one wishes, one could possibly connect airline hijacking to unbalanced minds. However; that perceived threat met an immediate cry to safeguard boarding and passenger loading all across America. We have sky marshals and airline check-in procedures at all airports in every terminal, but we have averaged as many as thirty thousand gun deaths in America yearly since 1980. Why?
How many of these have been at the hands unbalanced individuals, one only can guess, but guns are not the main problem of society verses the individual on mental health. The root cause is proper treatment when that treatment is needed and the monitoring of that sick mind so that they can resume being a contributing member of society, not a potential time bomb that must explode to get the very help needed to prevent tragedy. I recently asked the question why mental health workers and social workers cannot help make sure ill and chemically imbalanced individuals take their medicine, and was met with the response that it’s not in the budget. Why? The next time a sick individual lets loose their unmedicated delusions and your loved one dies, will you be satisfied with that response?

_Thomas P Love

Posted by: Thomas Love at April 22, 2007 3:46 PM
Comment #218097

Thomas:

There’s also a problem with forcing someone to accept medical treatment in any form. Supposedly they were fine (taking their medicine) when they chose not to. So they were perfectly capable of making that decision at that time.

They would have to be institutionalized to be forced to take their medication. It is a problem.

You have my heartfelt sympathy for your step-sons condition. I know how heartbreaking it can be.

Posted by: womanmarine at April 22, 2007 7:56 PM
Comment #218179

I don’t think gun restriction would have changed a thing.

He could have acquired a map gas torch and a super soaker full of gas and did ten times the death and destruction.

It is the social strains of society on individual freedoms that drive people to demented actions, this has been proven time and time again by psychologists.

Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at April 23, 2007 5:09 PM
Comment #218208

What goes on in the mind of a killer is beyond words. We see it in horror movies, where the plot revolves around someone taking other’s lives. It’s coming through our televisions disguised as suspense. “Will they solve the murder? Tune in next week to see.” Even in music, we can hear Eminem rap about killing. The writers of these forms of “entertainment” try to make their plots realistic. But just how “real” is it? We all know that its fiction, so real it has to be fake. As for the Virginia Tech Massacre, it was so fake that it was real.
Life is unpredictable with no plots or storybook endings. At least these forms of fiction have plots, meanings, and the heroes always prevail. Justice is always served in the end.
Where is the justice at Virginia Tech? The shooter, Cho Seung-Hui, silenced his life after a well thought out and planned mass murder. Although he took innocent lives, in the end he died. Isn’t that what would have happened anyway through the judicial system? He would have been either gunned down by police or arrested. He would have went to court, been found guilty, and sentence to death or a life in prison. I feel that we fail to see that. We are so caught up in trying to point the finger at the school, the psychologists, the doctors, the teachers, and the gun shops and laws that we forget that something like this is life. It is unpredictable and could have not been avoided. Sure, signs were there. There were signs that he was troubled. He was labeled as a “loner” and “strange” but there are tons of people like that. They do not go on shooting sprees. He was full of hate and resentment. A lot of people are! That doesn’t mean they could go out and take innocent lives. People are trying to put the blame on someone just so justice can prevail in their eyes. They need some sort of comfort. I find comfort in knowing how many people were spared that day. I find comfort in knowing this killer will never kill again.
I believe he was mentally ill. The person who performed his autopsy said his brain showed to be normal. After reading inserts from his lengthy letter and watching clips from his video, I found him to be a bit narcissistic. Narcissism is a personality disorder where people think highly of their appearance and abilities. They also are in desperate need to be admired. Constant recognition and rewards are sought out. When these needs are not meant or responded too, the narcissist will lash out. Cho displayed these qualities. He thought so much of himself and his actions that he said “I die like Jesus Christ.” He compared himself to the most well known and highly respected figure that possessed the utmost power. Aside from the autopsy findings, the signs of narcissism are present. But what went on in his mind is still a mystery.

Posted by: Amanda at April 23, 2007 11:21 PM
Comment #218212

I apologize for the lack of paragraphs. When I previewed my post there were defined paragraphs without the odd coding.

I do agree that there are too many guns. There are also very childish people. The two should not mix, but from reading other comments I see that is what has happened.

I have thought about all your opinions and thoughts, but I am still sticking with narcissism (personality disorder) as my way to understand the acts done by Cho at Virginia Tech.

Posted by: Amanda at April 23, 2007 11:31 PM
Comment #218259

Amanda,

That is a well thought out and realistic perception on the event. I am impressed.

Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at April 24, 2007 12:48 PM
Comment #218321

I was going through more articles about narcissistic people. I found that they are envious of “happy people” they try their hardest to take away the happiness from them. In his letter he addressed the “rich kids.” He seemed fed up and a bit jealous in my opinion. Anything could have triggered a narcissit. I strongly believe though that he was on a mission to rob the happiness from his fellow students. He needed to make himself feel better. Cho was a sick person. He needed help, but never recieved it. I wonder if any doctors even thought of diagnosing him as an extreme narcissist? And if so, would he be able to properly function in society? Clearly, by his roommates statements, he was unable to “blend in” and meet societies standards.

Posted by: Amanda at April 24, 2007 9:41 PM
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