THE HOURS AND THE TIMES: We now know what Cho Seung-Hui was doing in the hours between shooting two people in a dorm on the campus of Virginia Tech and the mass murder he committed in a classroom across campus: he was mailing a multi-media manifesto to NBC News from the campus post office. He overnighted the package, but put the wrong address, so it arrived today. NBC showed edited clips of the profanity-filled "last words," which included snippets of video and chilling images of him brandishing the guns he used in the killings. In the clip, his flat emotionless voice says his actions could have been avoided. Photos show his emotions swinging wildly; in some photos he's smiling and in others his eyes are black with rage. He looks demonic. A 23-page written statement is full of rambling text, but tellingly evokes the teenagers who shot up Columbine High School as "martyrs." Cho rails against the rich, debauchery, hedonism, Christianity and more.

Also revealed today was how Virginia Tech, medical health authorities and various law enforcement agencies failed to keep Cho on the radar. He was at least twice questioned by police for stalking female students, the administration knew of him and professors (including Nikki Giovanni) had warned he was possibly dangerous. He was taken to mental facilities for evaluation and a judge declared him mentally ill and a danger to himself. He fell through the cracks of society as so many mentally ill do. Some become homeless, some are in jail, some are silently plotting their own destruction and that of others. Something horrible happened to this 23-year-old at some point in his life. I wonder if that will ever be revealed? I also find it interesting that he was an English major, studying both playwrighting and poetry.

Fellow blogger and poet Rachel is pissed off because the community let Cho down, and she's right. On the other hand, he was an adult and not a child. We live in a politically correct society run amok, where people will sue you or create a media firestorm if they feel they are being unjustly accused. Virginia Tech wouldn't risk bad publicity and charges of racism (because that certainly would have come up) by expelling Cho after the stalking incidents and the diagnosis of mental illness. Cho never threatened anyone, so they had no choice but to let him return to class. The fact that criminal charges were never filed, also allowed him to buy the two handguns. Again, we need to re-open the discussion on gun control. There's no one person to blame in the end, although many people would like to find a scapegoat. There is just a society that has become numb, or too busy or too scared to do anything about the mentally ill. That lack of attention is what causes tragic events like what happened in Blacksburg on Monday.

While all this is happening in America, nearly 200 innocent people died in Iraq today in a series of devastating car bomb attacks. The chief of US Central Command in Iraq said also said today that troops are losing ground against the insurgents on a daily basis. Yet, Dubya and Co. will not admit defeat. We're two months into the "troop surge" and it's done no good. Last week, a bomber blew himself up inside the parliament building in Baghdad. I don't know how many times I've said it here, but I'll keep saying: We need to get out of Iraq. Now!

Another example of political correctness run amok happened on, of all places, American Idol. After Chris Richardson and Simon Cowell got into heated exchange about Chris singing (badly) through his nose, Chris abruptly sent awkward condolences to the victims at Virginia Tech. The camera cut back to Simon who was caught rolling his eyes. The media went into a frenzy over this, saying Simon was disrespecting the victims. Simon was actually talking to Paula and didn't hear Chris' comment.

Speaking of Idol, Sanjaya was finally voted off tonight. He had been the object of hate, derision, homophobia and racism on a scale I'd never seen before. The vitriol aimed at this 17-year-old singing on a television show is just another indication of how fucked up so many people in this country really are.

Comments

jenni said…
I was sad to see sanjaya go. yeah, he's not the best singer but he is entertaining and personally, he was the highlight of the show for me each week. i havent watched all the episodes this season. it's been such a snore fest.

not uncommon at all for a mentally ill person to slip through the cracks -- especially one that is somewhat competent at taking care of themself. i feel terrible for the families of the victims and the their friends and for Cho's parents -- I can't even imagine what they are going through right now.
Anonymous said…
I turned the tv off until Idol came on and then turned it off when it was over. I just feel like im overdosing on the news. I feel sad for all those victims, Cho's parents and Cho himself.

I teared up when Sanjaya got voted off. There's no reason to watch the show until the final. Ill keep reading your updates instead.

GAV
brent goodman said…
I'm glad to see you make the connection between the horror we've experienced as a country here vs. what's happenning in Iraq every day.

Good post today Collin.

Brent
Collin:

This is thoughtful,thought-provoking, and I think: spot on.

I would even add that, not only are we not caring for the mentally disabled in our society, but the way our harsh westernized society keeps so many people down, brutalizes so many, might even be a cause of the recent increase (past 50 years) in mental disabilities, especially in suburban and urban areas.
Kate Evans said…
Amen, brother.

On all fronts.
Pris said…
Good post, Collin. I was a Clinical Psychologist, running treatment units at the tail-end of 'deinstitutionalization'. Translate that to mean that people with severe mental illnesses, once in hospitals, ended up sometimes in the very few half-way houses, many in understaffed urine-stenched state nursing homes, and many more on the streets. This was supposed to be progress. Yes, the laws were too strict for a while now, but with hospitals closing, mental health centers cutting their staff drastically, student counseling centers understaffed, too many get lost in the shuffle. My cousin developed manic-depressive illness at age 19 and had delusions when in a manic stage. She lived on the streets in Boston for years until her wealthy mother died (wife to my blood uncle) and left enough money to pay for a small apartment. While on the streets she was raped twice, sold her body for a warm bed, and went into the hospital each year during the cold months.

Bottom line is that too many people fall through the cracks...this time with disasterous consequences.

Off of soapbox :-)

Pris

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