Thursday, April 19, 2007

Cho Seung-Hui and Columbine

Does this remind us of anything?
“You have never felt a single ounce of pain in your life but you want to inject as much misery in our lives as you can just because you can, you had everything you wanted. Your Mercedes wasn't enough, your brats. Your golden necklaces weren't enough, you snobs. Your trust fund wasn't enough. Your vodka and cognac weren't enough. All your debaucheries weren't enough. Those weren't enough to fulfill your hedonistic needs. You had everything."

Cho Seung-Hui's words remind of the Columbine massacre kids.
These are the words of the scorned and ostracised - one who could never gain acceptance among the bright confident and, perhaps seemingly smug in-crowds of school and campus life. The partying jocks and popular girls. Cho was a shy boy, never included. His defences were to withdraw into a shell of resentment and loathing. Just like the Columbine boys - except that they were friends and Cho Seung-Hui had no friends at all.
He lived alone, a stranger in a shared dorm, pretending the others simply were not there, his acute loneliness and sense of rejection feeding his psychosis until it grew out of control.
There is a certain campus cultural syndrome echoed here - one which inadvertently taunts and tortures the outcasts other students blithely describe as "loners".
We saw it in Columbine and we see it again at Virginia Tech.

There is probably no campus in the country where there are not students in a similar state of mind. It can't be helped. There is no blame. Young people are not psychiatric diagnosticians. They are young people, self-interested and preoccupied - yes, hedonistic, even. Retrospect has 20/20 vision but busy daily life does not.
So a college policy must be established encouraging students to be on the watch for the lonely ones - and some sort of group activities should be gently but firmly encouraged in which such outsiders can be given a sense of belonging.

In every instance that Cho's dysfunction was noted, it would seem that he was just sent off on his own again - to feel yet more alienated. They say he simply "fell through the cracks" - but it is hard to see an easy solution. We must all ponder it - as, indeed, in our different ways we are. The whys of that deranged student haunt all our minds.

There really is no point in turning campuses into high security areas. That is not the solution. These acts of hideous spite and revenge - Virginia Tech and Columbine - have come from the inside the campus in a world where, lethally, guns are easily available.
Of course, one could ask the USA to do something about the 270 million guns in private hands and heaven knows how many sitting about in retail stores waiting for the 10 minutes it takes to buy them, but the gun lobbyists will justify even these atrocities in the name of their inalienable right to bear arms. They will just keep telling us that it is not the fault of the guns.

True enough. It all goes much deeper than that. But let's face it, mad Cho Seung-Hui would never have wiped out 32 lives and sent 15 to hospital and nor would Harris and Klebold have killed 12 and wounded 24 if their choice of weapons had been limited to kitchen knives.

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