Virginia Tech Shootings…Same Old Dumb Americans…

Well, we were on the ass end of this one as usual. Same old story in America. More guns is the answer even if you’re a certifiable Korean national. You know how the story goes – you can’t call anyone on an obvious mental health issue, you can’t call anyone when you think you’re dealing with a weirdo, you can’t confront decision makers for incompetence, you can’t rely on the mental health system, yadah, yadah, yadah.

Lets do a quick run through of the warning signs shall we?

The eventual shooter, Seung-Hui Cho was a student of Professor famed poet Nikki Giovanni. She had him removed from her class because she found his behavior menacing. She recalls being bothered by a “mean streak” and described Cho’s writing as “intimidating.” When informed of the massacre, she remarked, “I knew when it happened that that’s probably who it was,” and “I would have been shocked if it wasn’t.” Department head Lucinda Roy described Cho as odd and stated that his writings, “were very angry.” A third educator at Tech, Lisa Norris, also noticed a latent angry streak in Cho but was not informed of his documented mental issues or police report that was on file with the campus administration. Fellow students talked of the weirdness as well. Cho never responded when someone greeted him and his dorm mates pointed out obsessive behaviors like constantly listening to Collective Soul’s “Shine” and writing lyrics on dorm walls. He also stalked and made menacing phone calls to fellow dorm mates and various female students – not to mention the other writings, plays, poems – all dark – all violent – all menacing.

My question: Did any of these professors think to report their concerns to the appropriate campus administrator or demand that Cho be removed? Did they really work collectively to compel the school to suspend Cho until psychiatric evaluations were done? I bet not. Under Virginia and campus rules, this could have been done with minimal red tape, yet no real action from anyone. Too busy getting our things together and rushing to our SUV’s for the ride back home. No time to deal with the crazy Korean kid…really.

On December 13, 2005, Cho was temporarily detained for a psychiatric assessment as it was suspected to be mentally ill. Montgomery County court found that he was a danger to himself and others. 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 treatments.” Following a psychiatric evaluation and medical exam which noted Cho’s flat effect and depressed mood, he was told to undergo outpatient care and was released on December 14, 2005. However, even though a Virginia court found him to be mentally defective, he was still eligible to buy guns under Virginia state law because somehow his name never made it to the federal “NICS” database. I smell lazy knuckleheaded incompetent state employee or the equivalent. 

Another question: Out patient treatment? As a judge, if you find someone to be an “imminent danger” to himself and others, doesn’t a mental institution make more sense? This isn’t some guy who is mildly depressed that you can medicate back into conformity. This guy was Charles Manson 2007. Maybe he was also inflicted with a severe case of “no-insurance-itis” or possibly “my insurance doesn’t cover crazy people-itis” or maybe the state of Virginia, like so many other states, simply does not have adequate facilities to warehouse and treat a nut like Cho. So what do we do in America…turn him loose with a bottle of meds and hope for the best. And for all of you NRA worshippers – do you think this handgun law is cool – selling to a Korean national head case?

 Then there’s the tape, which may be the most telling statement of stupidity by decision makers and analysts when it comes to our collective stupidity as a culture. The tape Cho sent to NBC was a shocking and twisted rant of an obviously deranged person. Cho is quoted as saying, “I didn’t have to do this. I could have left. I could have fled. But no, I will no longer run. It’s not for me. For my children, for my brothers and sisters that you fucked, I did it for them… When the time came, I did it. I had to.” Mental health professional Dr. Michael Wellner’s response to the tape,”These videos do not help us understand Cho. They distort him. He was meek. He was quiet. This is a PR tape of him trying to turn himself into a Quentin Tarantino character.”

What the hell is this jack-ass talking about??? The video distorts him??? He wanted to turn himself into a Quentin Tarantino character??? Are you joking? The video distorts him how? – by portraying him as a kinder, gentler, homicidal maniac? This was a statement of intent. Cho wanted to report to the world why he did what he did. “my brothers and sisters you fucked” –  what brothers and sisters? Who is you? American society? The government? How about  a shred of insight? Where did all the anger come from? Was it just mental illness or was it more? Was he driven over the edge in spite of him mental issues? Can American society that seems more and more driven to frustrate and even enrage its population be at fault here as well?

The final insult to the families of the slain was the completely pathetic and lethargic response by campus officials after the first two shootings. Can anyone please explain to me who makes the decision to use e-mail as your primary communication tool in the event of a double homicide? Why was the campus locked down for a double-homicide in August of 2006 for an escaped convict, yet classes were allowed to continue after the double homicide at the West Ambler-Johnston Residence Hall last week? Why didn’t the word go outuntil almost two hours passed after the first shootings? Why were police and other law enforcement so inept in their tracking and response? Why does Virginia Tech president Charles W. Steger still have a job?

What will it take for the rich and priveledged who run our government and colleges to finally get it? Maybe we drag them from their white-bread suburban homes and administer a pistol whipping in a French classroom by a crazed lunatic while some begging for their lives with a bullet already in their shoulder or groin. Throw the NRA in while you’re at it for good measure. Evidently we are a bit slow on the upswing. When will we learn?

Visit for last week’s radio show discussion on this topic….   


Posted on April 23, 2007, in Shadow Democracy Radio, Social Policy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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