A "Thorough" Review of the Virginia Tech Massacre


John Wright


What a presumptuous article title! The murders are less than three days old as of this writing. Who but a puffed up total egotist would presume adequate knowledge to write about what happened or why? The only one who really knows all the answers is dead. Essential detailed information, or, evidence, has yet to be gathered or processed for our consumption by law enforcement, college officials, news media, politicians, church leaders and other presumed leaders of the common folk. How dare I usurp their privilege and talk with you about my view of reality? How dare I presume to offer understanding when I wasn’t even aware of the existence of Cho Seung-Hui until the media identified him by name only yesterday?

Let’s try a simple bit of formal logic for a starter … "Things equal to the same things are equal to each other." Or perhaps I should create a syllogism. Or not. What about poor people feeling dishonored in the presence of wealthy people who they associate with their poverty and their diminished sense of value, rightly or wrongly, and then acting out to correct or punish their perceived source of injustice? But why bother? The compound sentence provided is kind of a catchall for thousands of acts of violence committed every day around the world. We each have some limit of perceived received abuse that we can take, after which we go ballistic or commit suicide or go on a calculated rampage like Cho Seung-Hui.

We have seen Cho’s behavior in the news daily now for four years each time we read about killings in Iraq. Putting uniforms on people and giving them guns or giving the opposition a militant religion as a justification for violence is a typical precursor for senseless mass violence. Except that it isn’t without reason or explanation, so it is senseless only to those who are not part of the planning/action, i.e. the real victims. This suggests that any perceived conditions or events that undermine the wellbeing of the individual can ultimately result in violence, in the same manner as the real reasons the "terrorists" attack our troops. The military killers could all be named Kil Him-Nau, which is like a command to a mindless robot.

So now it is fair to address the question of morals and values that, regardless of source, tell us that murder of any form is wrong. When nations declare war they give their soldiers permission to suspend essentially all morality regarding murder of strangers. Individuals are presumed not to have that right regarding their own grievances and subsequent behavior. Why not? Is it that government decisions are by definition justifiable due to the role of government in assuring our security and, hopefully our wellbeing? And the role of the individual is … let me guess … to follow the rule of law?! That sounds pretty good if it works to the overall benefit of the society. Does it? When? Under what conditions has it worked in the past? What destroys the obeying of the laws?

I suppose I would be less acidic if our governments all over the world throughout history had done a better job of avoiding war, but they have not and they do not. To me, once we bring this reality home and think about it, this means the rule of law applied locally is simply a creation of the powerful to oppress the weak. And it means that a person like Cho finally loses control of his own emotions by feeling hopelessly oppressed and wronged and then he commits some major act or acts of retribution. Does this not sound very much like the people our government calls terrorists in the Middle East? Why are they so committed? And what do we gain by hearing our news media talk about Cho being ghastly, gruesome, macabre or just plain unbalanced?

One reason for Cho’s behavior may be family poverty. Another may be racial prejudice. Another may be continuous exposure to comparatively large numbers of apparently wealthy people who don’t care about the poverty of folks like Cho’s parents, here or anywhere else in the world. The young people, specifically college students, are mostly insulated from life’s realities before and during college, and unlikely to be able to relate to people climbing out of the social basement, like Cho. And last, and certainly not least, is the consideration that Cho may have been dumped by a romantic interest, which at his age can be overwhelming even for a "normal" person. Think about someone out of poverty striving for success who step by step gains some success and forms essential friendships, including romantic ones. If the social support structure or love object later rejects the individual, then all the inherent fears and insecurities of early life haunt the individual far beyond what we might consider normal. This is true because the individual was absolutely not normal before the fact.


So, we are told that Cho acted out in milder ways before this rampage. He was evaluated by psychologists and returned to the student community. Is it obvious now that the process of evaluation and decisions related to necessary response were pathetically inadequate? Or, maybe you are one of the folks who believes in complete personal responsibility, regardless of formative background events in the subject individual’s life. If so, good luck to you if you ever hit hard times and have to live with poor people. You will get your ass kicked from here to eternity!

A sensible society anticipates problems like I have described relative to Cho, and takes kind and firm action before a precipitating event leads to horrible action like the killings at Virginia Tech. A stupid society pays lip service to individual psychological needs and then recoils in horror when loved ones become "victims." Well, folks, if you leave the barn door open just what the hell do you expect to happen? I expect three things … I lose, you lose … we all lose … even Cho.

Well, so much for my "thorough" review. It is almost thoroughly lacking in little details of the horror. Good. Those focal points are the least relevant to the solution, as in, "Did you see the trajectory of Billy the Kid’s third shot? Wasn’t it amazing?" Hey, is the real subject forensics related to this horror or people not being murdered in the future? If that distinction isn’t totally clear to you then you are lost. Yet, how many TV shows do we have that accentuate helping people to become successful in our society?

Okay, if you are pumped up by my anger about the Virginia Tech and Iraq stupidities, then you might want to reread my earlier article about Columbine High School. Or maybe you will even search through Destiny to relearn why disempowered people are so prevalent today in the USA … and ultimately so nasty.