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Should Cho Have the Last Word?

We're seeing some very strong opinions this morning, mostly negative, about the decision by NBC to air excerpts of the Cho video and to publish Cho's photos. The rest of the mainstream media are taking a hit, too, for alleged sensationalism. (Just fyi, the paper version of The Post has a small but prominent image of Cho brandishing his guns; The New York Times ran the same image across three columns.) Here are some of the comments posted so far this morning on our blog:

Achenbach: If I were a Virginia Tech parent or student I might feel differently but I think NBC did the right thing to air excerpts of the video -- because it demystifies the event and the killer. It exposes -- to my eye at least -- the banality of the gunman's message. He's mentally ill and hates the world and has guns and wants to emulate Columbine. He even cites "Eric and Dylan," according to an NBC report last night. But his words are oddly free of anything specific, any proper nouns, any narrative beyond a kind of generic feeling of persecution. (Maybe there is more there that NBC didn't release that's more specific.) [Directed, for example, at Cho's parents, roommates, professors, etc.]

Martooni: Sensationalism, pure and simple. The WaPo, CNN, Huff Post, MSNBC... every single one of the news sites I've visited this morning greeted me with a picture of that deranged little pipsqueak pointing a gun at the camera. What little respect I had left for the MSM has just gone out the window.

Kbertocci: ... the very fact that Joel cites, the reference to Eric and Dylan, made me think that there would be real value in downplaying this material. Someone who is feeling persecuted and hostile might not have a focus, but seeing the images of Cho and reading his words, especially the way the stuff is bound to be repeated ad nauseum for the next few weeks--well, that could conceivably push someone to channel their hostility into a similar action. Given that we don't know WHY these things happen, we might want to err on the side of caution.

Scottynuke: ...we already knew Cho was mentally unbalanced, in significant detail. The videos and pictures didn't add a thing. I say NBC did the right thing in turning the originals over to investigators, but the wrong thing in benefitting from their publication.

More opinions welcome.

Let me try to state my case a bit better. Though this could be an all-day project. (As always I reserve the right to change my mind.)

We haven't seen all of Cho's videos. But from what we've seen, one thing is clear: This isn't really about anything at all. He's just disturbed, paranoid, feeling persecuted, but there's not a lot of content that has any meaning. His words are angry phrases piled up on top of one another like dirty clothes thrown into a hamper.

Even trying to frame it as a rant against rich kids (NYTimes: "a pistol-wielding moralist who decried his audience's taste for vodka and cognac") seems to be doing Cho the favor of imposing order on his mental chaos. As Pete Williams said last night, when NBC first aired the clips, "There isn't a lot of logic here."

Here's what also jumps out at me: Cho posing with guns. Cho pointing a gun at the viewer. Cho pointing a gun at his own head. The young man's manifesto includes a photo of his bullets, lovingly arranged. (He also shows himself wielding a claw hammer and a knife, apparently.)

I'm not going to turn this into a gun-control screed. This is not a policy argument. But so often you hear the NRA folks say that we shouldn't focus on the weapons when something like this happens. Cal Thomas said yesterday morning on WTOP that if Cho couldn't have obtained handguns he would simply have used a bomb. That's balderdash (pardon my French). For an ineffectual, weak, deranged person, a gun is a special kind of force multiplier, a masculinizing agent. There's a reason he's posing with them like an action hero.

You recall that Harris and Klebold also manufactured pipe bombs and took them to the high school and detonated them. Guess what: Those bombs didn't kill anyone. The guns killed everyone at Columbine.

Yeah, I'm worried about copycats. But it has already happened: Cho was a Columbine copycat. (My dim recollection is that videos made by Harris and Klebold were not made public, at least not in full, but I invite correction on that score.)

A producer at NBC has filed a detailed report about what was in the package mailed to the network:

'What the nondescript package did contain was a printout of a .pdf file titled "axishmiel", Cho's 1,800-word manifesto broken up by the now famous photographs -- 43 total: 29 of them showing Cho with his weapons: the Glock 9mm automatic and the .22 caliber handgun as well as a hunting knife. But two images seemed incongruous: smiling portraits. The more appealing of the two was the first image shown in the manifesto. It was almost as if he wanted to show himself as non-threatening, as a good guy. Of the remaining 14, all but one were of the weapons, the other a photo of a blue sky.

'He addresses no one by name in any of them, although he does seemingly address Virginia Tech students in two as "brats" and "snobs" with "Mercedes" and "trust funds." There were no specific references to Virginia Tech, to any professors, students, dormitories or university buildings. He could have been talking or writing about any school anywhere in the United States. It was that generic.'

And the producer concludes by saying he wishes he had never seen any of it.


Afternoon update (more stuff from the boodle):

Most people are still outraged by the NBC decision and by the behavior of the MSM in general (as opposed to the famously restrained alternative media). My position is not carrying the day. Harumph.

How many people saw the original NBC Nightly News broadcast last night? Call me crazy: I thought they weren't sensational. There was no KILLER SPEAKS sort of stuff. Brian Williams put it all in context, showed a color copy of the envelope NBC received, said they understood they were giving a murderer a platform, brought on Pete Williams, they showed some of the video -- and to my knowledge they've still showed only portions of it -- and at no time did it seem like tabloid TV to me. I thought it was very professional. But I have no doubt that a lot of the media have gone berserk over this and that saddens me.

Sevenswans writes:

"Is it news? Yes. Should it be a front page, OhMyGosh commentary, super-rotation, repeat-cycle frenzy? NO."

Dear Sevenswans: I totally agree. And I'm glad that the networks (way too late in some folks' opinion) have decided to reduce the video/photo excerpts. I notice that on the home page of at the moment there are no more images of Cho.

And I think The Post played it right in the paper this morning. Every day on our site you can find a link to what the front page (of the print edition) looks like. Here's today's.

Mister Methane (welcome -- you're in the right place) writes: "It should be the job of a news organization to show people the facts as they are, regardless of how nasty they might be."

Dear Mister M: Well, not to be picky and sound like I'm contradicting myself, but that's not exactly how it works. We don't publish everything we know. We select information, every day, constantly. Journalism isn't a data-dump. Moreover, we DO withhold things for taste. NBC did just that, choosing not to air parts of the video.

Which brings up Ron's comment (and welcome Ron):

"You're playing with peoples' lives, dude, for the principle of allowing media to do whatever they want."

Dear Ron: My comments are not based on any such principle. I never brought the First Amendment into this. I think we've all been horrified by this tragedy and want to know why it happened. The manifesto spoke directly to motive. This was relevant information. It's not an easy call whether to publish/broadcast it. But I still think it was the right call.
Because it was newsworthy -- not because the media "can do whatever they want."

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 19, 2007; 9:28 AM ET
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Psst - please change Kbertocci's site to cite - she SCC'd it right away.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 19, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I think a grownup society needs to look at the truth of evil, even if it is unpleasant.

As I said earlier, I would rather have a media that presents too much than too little.

As for "erring on the side of caution." This makes since except, in almost every situation, caution on one area causes risk in another. And even if the risk in one area is much more salient, that doesn't necessarily mean it always has the greatest long term importance.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 19, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

scc: sense. Sorry. Feeling a bit shell shocked.

I think I'm gonna take a break. I have enough on my plate.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 19, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Totally with Martooni. I heard on NPR this morning that there was significant debate within CBS whether to air this material or not, and it was decided it would add to people's knowledge, so they did.

These ramblings and pictures confirmed many people's understanding that Cho was deranged, but it also adds to his *legend* as it were, for people tempted to do the same thing. There's a reason he named the Columbine killers.

Gavin de Becker, in his excellent book, _The Gift of Fear_ has a section on the MSM and how killers benefit from it. It would have been far better if the MSM were referring to Cho as a *loser* than a *loner*.

Posted by: dbG | April 19, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Will fix cite. I actually DID fix it once and the Moveable Type went kablooey.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 19, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I got the impression from reading the plays and seeing small excerpts of the videos that Cho was maybe a victim of sexual abuse and very angry about it. The references to "your Mercedes" and liquor could almost be taken to be a rebuke to his abuser - perhaps I missed the parts where he specifically mentioned that he was referring to rich students.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 19, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I certainly don't appreciate the huge shots of Cho aiming a weapon at me (the camera); makes me think again of the horror those kids and professors went through.

But I must take issue with an expression often used in cases like this, and which in fact President Bush used himself during the event in Blacksburg at which he spoke (and I find it typical that he would use such an expression without stopping to think about it first):

"They were in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Excuse me? They were in the wrong place? I hope my soon-to-be college student doesn't think being in class is the wrong place.

They were in the right place.

The shooter was in the wrong place.

End of rant. Thank you very much.

Posted by: TBG | April 19, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

dbG, good point, but I think the videos make him look like a loser, not a legendary figure. I think they diminish him. This is a tough thing to say with any precision. But I think when he was a faceless killer he was scarier than he is now. Demystification is good. Seems to me, anyway.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 19, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I saw some of this footage in a waiting room this morning, so my only choice was to watch it or wait in the hall.

I'm disgusted. Stop playing it before some other idiot decides to up the ante with a better made home video and bigger body count. I'm tired of hearing about his mental illness. He was an idiot who should have shot himself first.

All this "You made me do it" crap. Bull****.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 19, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

The events that started unfolding Monday are newsworthy. A free press reports the news. The business end of news organisations, in our capatalistic system, need to show a profit. Ancillary material, like the stuff sent by Mr. Cho, are beyond belief and, due to changes in societal values, are also the newsworthy material that that tend to attract viewers such that the organisation in question remains profitable. I feel like such pictures and digitized imagery is used more often to satisfy a societal fascination with the ultraviolent. The people that use it to gain better insight into the reasons behind such heinous acts are most likely in the minority. There was an incident yesterday at a Charlotte HS in which a student brandished a gun at his classmates, then drove up the road and checked himself out after refusing to give up his weapon. One could marginally argue the copycat angle for this scenario. We find ourselves caught between the proverbial rock and the hard place. I'll choose RD's strategy: one chooses to view or not to view. The tough role is that of the adult that needs to explain the whys of this turn of events to inquiring children.

Posted by: jack | April 19, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I don't know about the rest of you, but I was dumbfounded at the rants about rich kids. Since when did students at a public university become rich?

We've already had a copycat in this area. A 16-year-old shot and killed himself yesterday near a high school in the northern part of the county. The high school and middle and elementary schools nearby locked down and were okay.

I edit what I consume, news-wise, by reading instead of watching television. I think Joel's right; Cho is much less scary and diminished by the video. When nothing is left to the imagination, the reaction is disgust. That he send the materials shows how deranged he was.

Posted by: Slyness | April 19, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I think Joel put it very well with "doing Cho the favor of imposing order on his mental chaos." As RD said yesterday, we desperately want to create some sort of rationality in which Cho's actions are understandable and thus avoidable. It isn't going to happen, folks.

I understand the initial decision to air the tapes. I object strongly to the repeated airings. At the risk of indulging myself in speculation, which you know I dislike, I'll suggest that Cho wanted the pictures and video aired. Otherwise, he would have sent them somewhere else, or not sent them at all. That has worked very well for him, posthumously of course, and I don't like it. Why follow along with what he wanted, giving him yet more exposure for incoherent and pointless rambling? I don't think repeated public airing add anything to the discussion. As Ivansdad told the Boy this morning, if he is on TV enough at least some people may think of him as a hero, or at least a misunderstood role model. We don't want that.

And if you doubt it could happen, look at Tim McVeigh. Today is the twelfth anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, not much noted elsewhere perhaps but remembered here. Against all odds, McVeigh is still admired in some quarters as a patriot.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 19, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Well, I'll just try and restate my point:

What, exactly, did we "learn" from the photos and video? Perhaps I could defend showing that stuff if it had been the first evidence available of his "state of mind." We'd already been inundated with such info, however, including medical assessments. Apart from being "new" footage of the shooter, that material had zero news value. Ergo, there was no justification for airing it.

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 19, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Scottynuke. I understand the initial decision to air the tapes. I don't agree with it.

Usually I am in favor of more information rather than less. I think I'm making a distinction here because the tapes etc. don't seem to me to qualify as "information" which can explain or inform a public discussion. Obviously everything to do with the event is "information" for law enforcement, but that is a different question.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 19, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Sky report (my first): Completely overcast to all horizons. From off-off-white to light gray with bits of darker gray here and there. Ironically, I have an ELO's "Mr. Blue Sky" tune-cootie buzzing around in my head.

Weather report: Supposed to hit the low 70s this weekend. Saturday should be mostly sunny (I say with fingers crossed).

Time for lunch: baked ziti, meatballs and garlic bread. My mouth is already starting to salivate...mhmhmhmmmmm

Posted by: omni | April 19, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

repost from last night:

going back to what bill everything said, why was it necessary to show the video footage send in by cho? didn't they pause to think about the fact that they're doing exactly what he wanted them to do? don't they have a problem with validating that and possibly inspiring other unstable individuals to copycat? i think nbc's decision showed poor taste, poor judgment and lack of respect for the victims' families.

demystifying could have waited a week or two if it needed to happen at all. or transcripts of the video could have been provided instead.

what irks me the most is that the message of nbc's decision is basically - if you do something horrific enough and send us your video, we will show it.
no matter how stupid cho looks (i refuse to watch the video on principle), a potential copycat will not think "cho looks dumb" but rather "i'll do a better job than cho." unstable, violent individuals desperate for attention will be motivated by the publicity cho has received. nbc has made it worse.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | April 19, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

So many questions unanswered (randomly, off the top of my head):

Was Cho traumatized as an eight-year-old by his family's move to the United States? Was he again further traumatized by being uprooted from Detroit to Virginia? Was he bullied in school or picked on in any way, or consistelntly poked fun at? Was there something unusual in his nuclear family's behavior? Did the nuclear family notice either his social withdrawal or anger, and at what age did it begin? Was the family ever alarmed by any of his behavior?

Were Cho's parents contacted by Virginia Tech when their son had experienced troubles (expelled from class, referred for psychiatric counseling, special one-on-one instruction) and, if so, what was their level of involvement or lack of involvement? Was any of this dark behavior evident in high school? Did his parents sacrifice everything--such as spending meaningful time with their children--to live "the American dream?"

I think an interview with Cho's parents would be key and is currently missing. Hopefully, they will at some point in the future open up about their son.

Cho's parents lived in a $440,000 home, if I recall correctly, in Centreville, Va.--described by the media as an "upper middle class" dwelling. Do you have any idea what a $440,000 home means in San Antonio? And yet Cho lashes out at rich kids?

Remember, Cho sent the video to NBC. It's not as though NBC went out and created something lurid. News clips this morning on NBC's morning show of Cho's handiwork feature a remarkable similarity to the clips from the video created by the Columbine shooters. Another unanswered question: Why did Cho so identify with them? Why were these young males so filled with hate? As far as social dynamics, what does it mean to be part of a clique, or, conversely, an outsider? When did these young men first become involved with firearms?

The video by Cho opens up an important national discussion. I say this because a A-1 headline hre in the past week ran womething like this (paraphrasing): Massacre Shocks Nation. I'm sorry, but after numerous other school shootings, I'm no longer shocked: Virgina Tech is just another in a long line of school shootings which sadden and disgust.

As far as media, our paper has a new front page layout, introduced at almost exactly the time the Washington Post homepage changed its formatting. Many readers here dislike it greatly, according to the paper's ombudsman. With the new formatting, on both sides of A-1, there is a half-col on both the right and left, running down the full page-length to tease stories in the paper's various sections. To showcase the Cho story this morning, there was a change in format. On the right side of the page, above the fold, the right half-col is gone, to play up the Cho video and an image from the video. The left side half-col formatting stayed the same. This is strange.

Posted by: Loomis | April 19, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Quick comments/questions: if the media did not or could not report on this story using all the available information and material, what *should* they be doing, and how should they be doing it?

If people don't watch, they won't stay in business long.

Personally, I've voted with my feet and chosen just a few news outlets for reporting on this story.

omni, I'll confess that I love ELO. Bombastically beautiful pop. Also saw them on that "Out of the Blue" tour as a very young man. The spaceship was cool, but not as cool as The Mothership. Oh, the 70's...


Posted by: bc | April 19, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Whether the video "demystifies" Cho can be debated; that NBC had one goal in mind in showing the video, given their terrible recent ratings period, cannot.

Posted by: bill everything | April 19, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

TMI, folks. *faxing the black light to the command center*

Posted by: jack | April 19, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, Ivansmom. People are too quick to forget. Yet another event to reflect upon.

Posted by: jack | April 19, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad that Cho Cho the choo-choo to cuckoo land was able to get so many guns. Shoot, to coin a phrase, people use words to express themselves and never get their fifteen minutes of fame. The message is, if you have guts to create a killing field, you will have your a moment of some kind of glory. Gory glory...

If Cowboy Cho was Gunworthy, who ain't?

Posted by: George Sears | April 19, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I think the problem with airing the video and posting his photo on every news website is that it makes him a kind of celebrity. Clearly, he wanted people to see the video, and he sent it to a news station intending that he'd be watched and listened to following the massacre. The idea that he's getting his last wish is on a visceral level a bit nauseating.

Of course we want to know what drives people to do this sort of thing, and sure you can make the argument that "it shows he didn't have a brilliant reason for doing it, and that he was just crazy!" (were we really unsure of that?) But I don't know that his image and his words should be featured so prominently while it's much more difficult to find photos and information about the victims. This should be a time of respect and mourning for those who lost their lives. To instead put the focus on this profoundly mentally ill, violent young man just isn't in the best taste. There's plenty of time to delve into the killer's psyche, for all the good it will do us (it's not going to stop the next mentally ill person from doing whatever it is they're going to do, after all.) Personally, I would prefer if right now the focus was kept on the victims and the loss of their promising lives, and if this troubled young man were kept more in the background. Make the information available, but don't make him a celebrity.

Posted by: Sirin | April 19, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

That's certainly alliterative, George.

Informative, not so much.

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 19, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Good points, Sirin. It's unfortunate that we are always focused on the *why* instead of who.

Posted by: Slyness | April 19, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Two mini-rants:

I agree whole-heartedly with TBG that the appropriate reference to the victims is not "wrong place at wrong time" any more than they should be called "unlucky" or something like that.

Second, I hate in these circumstances the unintentional glorification of the murderer. So from now on, to me at least, I will call him Librescu's murderer.

On the tapes, I sought out news that had them last night, so there's one example of why the MSM does it. I err on the side of showing it. There was nothing like seeing Librescu's murderer talk about being forced into a corner to demystify that particular bogeyman.

Right after the tapes were shown the FBI guest said basically I wish you guys would stop showing the tapes because of the copy cat effect. I appreciate that position too; it is definitely real - IIRC we had an incident here in Alberta immediately post-Columbine.

Maybe showing the tapes should be banned during a cooling off period, but eventually disclosed after whatever period law enforcement experts are able to prove is necessary.

Posted by: SonofCarl | April 19, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

A $440,000 home in Centreville could be a very modest single family home or a townhouse. Like so many things about this, it's all about context. Yes VA Tech is a public school but people outside of VA probably don't realize just how many students within the state, who could go to Harvard or Yale or any number of elite private schools (based on ability and family wealth) choose instead to go to VT or UVA.

Having said that, I agree with the assessment made by Joel and others that there wasn't much logic to Cho's writings or video. This wasn't really about college debauchery, rich kids, or about Cho's parents. A disintigrating mind seems to latch on to things that people then try to use to explain the inexplicable.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 19, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I like that idea SoC. A cooling off period, would be good, when all the media could be presented without all the sorrow, and anger.

I think the unhealthy mind will take something out of the video that a healthy one would not.

Either way, I won't watch.

Posted by: dr | April 19, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

SCC-disintegrating mind

Posted by: frostbitten | April 19, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I feel sorry for everyone, the victims, their families, Mr Cho, and especially his family.

I understand why NBC aired the videos and the press is covering it. I just don't think that it is really helpful.

Posted by: Jack | April 19, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Son of Carl writes: "Right after the tapes were shown the FBI guest said basically I wish you guys would stop showing the tapes because of the copy cat effect." I appreciate that position too; it is definitely real - IIRC we had an incident here in Alberta immediately post-Columbine."

I wish that professional organizations representing law enforcement and psychology/mental health, respectively would sound off boldly about the immediate risk posed by copy catting. Let the Cho analysis take place in a professional setting, which will take time and thoughtfulness.

I always hate seeing legislation take the place of common sense and decency. Aren't we ready to applaud restraint in the media? I am.

Print has an advantage here over broadcast, and yes, we all tend to look on in horror, fascination, and perhaps addictively. Still! Manners, and both decorum and decency, coupled with the risks of copy catting would yield another decision-tree. Do not air.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 19, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I'm utterly digusted these images were broadcast. Just because you can broadcast them doesn't mean you should...Sensationalism at its worst...pathetic!

Posted by: KCS | April 19, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I heard about the tapes last night, but chose to turn off the TV instead. This morning, as I'm getting ready for work, the news carried a bit of it. My reaction was "Yes, we know he was mentally ill, but I really don't need to see this." Staring that pathology straight in the face was TMI.

Posted by: Raysmom | April 19, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse


You and the other Media have played into Killer Cho's thinking perfectly: the widest possible platform to give him the Cult of Personality and Popularity that he so desperately wanted.

Stop it NOW -- and pull the plug on him.

Hundreds of other psychopaths have seen what he has gained from this, and sadly are waiting in the wings for their own 15 Minutes of Fame.


Posted by: Rep | April 19, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

i just sent a very critical email to nbc news. if any others feel they would like to do the same, here is the contact information:

it's not completely clear to me which link was the best place to register my opinion, but the link for msnbc tv has this email:
which is what i ended up using.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | April 19, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

The only argument I thought of in favor of the media's actions is the difficulty of keeping digital video completely under wraps. All it would take would be for one copy to be leaked and it would be all over the internet. Then it would be presented in the context of underground, forbidden information, which would make it more attractive to the very people who shouldn't see it.

Posted by: kbertocci | April 19, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse

SoC, a 14 years old kid in Taber killed a pair of his school collegue a few weeks after Columbine. It was thought of being a copycat at the time, although the kid was quite unwell.
I haven't looked at the video and doesn't intend to. By all reports the poor S0B just shows how far gone he was.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 19, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

What does TMI mean? I'm really bad with Internet abbreviations.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 19, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

My entire career I have been working on behalf of mental health causes. The stigma against mental illness is strong. Most people fear the mentally ill. Cho's video, pictues and rant only reinforce this attituce. Too often The mentally ill are vulnearble victimds and not perperators of horrendous crimes.

Posted by: Rev. Dale Robison | April 19, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I wish didn't have the picture of him so prominently on the page. I've sent an email to Jim Brady, but no response. The home page is different than the front page of a newspaper. I can't avoid the image on the homepage if I want to get to anything else. (Once you turn the page or go to a different section you don't have to confront A1 anymore.)

I've seen this picture over and over again this morning. I realize it's technically a picture of the picture being shown on tv at a bar, but it's still a big picture of the murderer that's completely unavoidable.

Please .com, give us someone or something else to look at!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Lunch done, I am stuffed
Sky report same, plus sprinkles
Now need cot for nap

Posted by: omni | April 19, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Stop showing images from Iraq too. It makes me sad. Grow up America! This evil is part of our society. Pull the covers off of your heads and face the music!

Posted by: Boo Hoo | April 19, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, in this case it means Too Much Information.

Posted by: omni | April 19, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Of course my first thought is always Three Mile Island (I lived near there when they had the partial meltdown)

Posted by: omni | April 19, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm not saying I don't want to see these pictures at all. I watched NBC last night and saw them, but I'm sick of seeing the murderer's picture everytime I go to the website today. How about a slideshow of the victims instead?

Posted by: Re: Boo Hoo | April 19, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

While it seems to drop by the wayside so quickly, I think concern for the victims' families and survivors would be what most offends people. Not only is this giving him this final appearance as the glamorous (if deranged) action hero, but it also is giving all of us a view of what the victims' last sights must have been. I can see some of the reasons for publishing... but still it just sickens me that they did it with as much fanfare and feeling of prestige as they did.

As to Cho's rant, it is quite strange. If anything, Virginia Tech has a deep reputation for being down to earth instead of rich and snobby (see, e.g., the students all wearing hoodies and t-shirts around at all times). Especially confusing considering his sister went to Princeton. But I suppose attempting to decipher the logic of a pyschopath is too much to ask.

Posted by: jlowery | April 19, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

The airing of the Cho Manifesto gave me valuable insight into the nagging question "why would anyone do anything so horrible?" The piecemeal manifesto gave me first hand information that helps me understand a deranged mind and to piece together a pattern of an introverted personality feeding on egotistical self-inflation, what Carl Jung called the "Jehovah Complex." In the context of that interpretation of his madness, the manifesto itself becomes his memorial to himself.

The annoying part of the NBC/MSNBC reportage was the psycholbabble by the talking heads that ranted on and on. I would have been content to watch, read and listen to Cho, rather than to the blather of reporters who could make no sense of it. All they did was cloud my thinking by trying to impose their own. So, how it's done is as important as it being done - because I don't think censorship works.

Posted by: Shiloh | April 19, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

It's quite obvious that this maniac's full intention was to become famous. He took all the photos and videos ahead of time and even sent them to the television studio knowing they would be posted in every newspaper, news program, online across not just the country but internationally. He manipulated the media and they are literally working for him now. He's dead but his legacy lives on. If the media did not make these people into superstars by plastering them all over the world, it would not be so appealing to do these things. The maniac obviously knew the media would do exactly what it did or he wouldn't have taken the time to send the info. This was purposely thought out and NBC played right into his hands. Even before that information came out all of the media plastered his photo for everyone to see. Do they not see this makes them famous and that is why they did what they did.

In addition, the media uses words like CARNAGE!!! What in the world are they thinking. If your family member had been murdered would you want them called CARNAGE! It sounds like a bunch of cows got slaughtered instead of human beings. It dehumanizes the horrible event.

Next you have the media telling the whole world where the maniacs family lives in detail down to which townhouse they live in. They go banging on their door so they can get the first comments out of these people who not only lost their son but who must be feeling shame from what has happened.

The more these kinds of events are exploited, the more they will happen. We as the readers, consumers, etc. who read and watch the news should stand up and take responsibility. Let them know we don't want to see this crap. What does it say about us if we continue to support this insanity? That if it was your family they were exploiting?

Posted by: jacko | April 19, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

What's the message here? More mass murderers and deranged maniacs get their news from NBC News than from any other source... I guess that's why NBC needed to paste their logo on every pic of Cho? What are they, his sponser?

Posted by: proxli | April 19, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I didn't need to see the videos or the writing. However, they do reconfirm that this guy was extremely mentally ill. We've probably all passed people talking to themselves like this on the street, at sometime. We don't put their videos on the news. We see them as what they are, mentally ill. I can't imagine what it must have been like to be on campus that day or be a part of the families or friends of the victims. However to review these videos and commentate on them as if they were the work of someone who was mentally present doesn't help me understand why someone does something like this.

Posted by: thedreamercometh | April 19, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

By releasing this material, NBC News is also opening itself up to a wrongful death lawsuit when someone does eventually copy Cho. They've clearly given other madmen an incentive to do something similar, so a copycat killing is a foreseeable result of their actions.

Posted by: Henry | April 19, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I think we already know we're on the home page.

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 19, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

A $440K house around DC is about average (median, anyway). Less than that and you're talking mostly condos and small townhouses.

There are similarities between Cho's poses in some of the pictures and in some particularly violent South Korean movies. Arguably Cho was acting the copycat as well. But still what he did was just plain not a rational act- mental chaos seems about a correct description.

I'm also saddened by the nonstop coverage with little breaks for any other news. I keep thinking of the phrase "Disaster Porn" when my wife has the TV on.

David Maraniss's blurb on the top of the WP front page talks about how "the unthinkable occurred" at Va Tech. If you scroll down and you'll see coverage of 158 killed by bombs in Baghdad on Wednesday alone. We can be really thankful 33 killed is a historic national tragedy.

I have been lately put in mind of Vonnegut's story with the character with thechemically unbalanced brain. Gotta look that one up again- was is BoC?

Posted by: Les | April 19, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

For what it's worth, I come down on the Scotty/Martooni, etc. side of the debate. Sure, for rational, emotionally stable people the videos expose Cho as a loser and diminish him but they give him a platform for his madness to be disseminated and how does that benefit anyone? I can't help thinking that the repeated broadcasting creates a perception of glorification to some segments of society. I can't bear to watch any of it.

TBG, I also felt stunned that the President referred to the students as being in the wrong place at the wrong time. An extremely poor choice of words, in my view.

Posted by: Kim | April 19, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

LA lurker, thanks for that link.

Posted by: Kim | April 19, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I think not only should NBC post segments of it, they should make the whole package available on their website. Raw & unedited.

One of the things missing in the whole Great American Violence Debate is that most of the people have only an abstract sense of the carnage that happened there. Most people think they know what violence looks like because they watch "Law and Order" and "CSI". Show them a picture of a murderer, or better yet of his victim(s), or of the *real* aftermath of a suicide bomber or an IED, and they'll learn what the debate is really about. Violence is grotesque, appalling, viciously ugly and horrific to behold, but we get it fed to us as entertainment. Maybe it's time we saw *more* pictures of what happened, not fewer ones.

That said, I can barely look at the picture of Cho with the pistol to his head.

Posted by: byoolin | April 19, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

to those who object to the free market place of ideas good or bad or evil just remember the tv has an on off button. use it if you don't like what you see or hear but don't try to censor.

Posted by: paul dawson | April 19, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I can't bring myself to watch the videos. I looked at one or two of the pictures and stopped. It made me ill. And I wish would remove the image (even the televised image) from the front-page.

Because it's simply disturbing to look into a person's madness.

People around him already recognized that he was ill, it was just that until Monday, Cho Seung-Hai had not done enough to impose a legal restraint on his actions.

We all know how to recognize when someone is not quite right. These pictures and videos do not really help us any. That he made them is important to understanding his mind set, but why do the general public need to see them?

Posted by: Chasmosaur | April 19, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Jack...jacko...I need a handle today. Is pigpen taken?

Posted by: jack | April 19, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

To Paul Dawson: I DO use my button to turn it off. However, you can't go to the grocery store without seeing the front page of every newspaper. Unfortunately, the crazies DON'T turn theirs off and they are the ones that feed on this stuff and go immitate so they too can be famous!

Posted by: jacko | April 19, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

vodka and cognac... how would he know debauchery if he never left his room? and last time i looked, when do college kids drink vodka and cognac on a regular basis? you get the cheapest beer you can sneak into the dorms by the case.

seems like he lived on campus throughout his years there... so he probably never left campus without a car, so what do the references to rich kids and mercedes have to do with? the parking lots are far from the dorms him being angry about rich kids and their material possessions makes no sense at all.

Posted by: cbrdave | April 19, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

yes, paul, but expressing one's opinion about a "product" is part of the market economy and free speech as well.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | April 19, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

IMHO, NBC was in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" position. There are people that understandably cry "sensationalism," but there are also those that say they now have a degree of understanding that helps them cope. No one answer will satisfy everyone.

As for "last words," Cho has spoken his. We are all still talking. It will take far too long, but we will move past this tragedy. He never will.

Posted by: govtmule | April 19, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

As a college student myself (without ready access to TV), I confess that I've been obsessively checking the news sites for updates and developments. Even though I don't attend a school anything like Virginia Tech, the American college campus experience is uniform enough that it's really shocked us all, and I think we're all desperately trying to understand what happened. We are the generation that was in high school during Columbine and the rash of school shootings; we were always wondering if our school would be the next headliner. Now, just when we had forgotten about it...
It's true that I haven't gotten to see the news on TV. If they're airing it over and over on all the networks, that does seem like glorification. I think individual access to the video is important, but perhaps some restraint should be shown in airing them.
That said, I watched Cho's video, and I'm glad I had that opportunity. Perhaps NBC indulged his wishes by airing it, but I think Cho didn't realize how he would come across--he saw his manifesto as dark and stirring, when in fact it is pathetic and disturbed. I don't think it will cause any copycat incidents that wouldn't have happened otherwise. The Columbine shooters' personal stories weren't well publicized, if I remember correctly, and I don't remember getting to see their videos at all--and it did give them a certain mystique. After watching the video, I no longer think of him as "The VA Tech Massacre Gunman," as he'd like to be remembered, but simply Seung Cho, a profoundly paranoid and disturbed boy.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

That's right, Cho's ramblings make no sense at all. That's the point. They're not going to make sense.

Byoolin has a point about the fictionalized TV depictions of violence. Crime scene photographs and video are not exciting. Often, they're banal. They're usually ugly, and sometimes they're just horrifying. After a career spent in criminal law I'll say that the visual aftermath of violence is never entertaining, and it isn't the way it looks on TV. However, I don't know that publication of more real-life scenes would help people understand what murder really is. Public executions didn't serve as a deterrent either.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 19, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

As a Tech alumnus and former staff member, and whose wife is on the faculty, I can honestly say I was disgusted that the networks chose to air the videos.

They are certainly newsworthy. However, I suggest a few stills from the video along with transcripted quotations and summary descriptions would have been far more appropriate at this point and time, and would have served the purpose without being as insulting to the victims of this tragedy.

NBC and the other news outlets could have taken the high road, and said, "Out of respect for the victims and all those affected, we choose not to air the killer's final message at this time." However, in pursuit of ratings and in playing to the general sensationalism of our culture's "news" media, they chose to show the video, and to show it repeatedly, which only gave in to Cho's beyond-the-grave wishes to cause even more hurt.

Posted by: John Nolley | April 19, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

After hearing reports from Cho's room and suitemates, fellow students and professors, that he didn't talk, didn't respond, I find it amusing that now that he has talked, so many people are saying "I don't want to see it, I don't want to hear it." The avoidance of mental illness is not curative, nor is mental illness contagious. The copycats don't catch it from other losers - they've already got it.

Posted by: Shiloh | April 19, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

On my way to work today, I was actually stopped and interviewed by the local CBS affiliate's camera crew about this. I didn't have much to say, because I hadn't actually heard about the footage at the time.

What are the odds that a "copycat killer" would kill anyway if they didn't have an original crime to copy? Have psychologists actually looked at this issue in anything like a scientific way? I mean, it's so **easy** to call somebody a "copycat", but are they copying the crime or just the language?

Until I actually have hard data on that, I can't say whether or not "copycats" pose a real risk or how big that risk might be.

Posted by: Blake Stacey | April 19, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm completely appalled by the airing of Cho's "manifesto." Briefly summarizing the contents of his videos and documents would have sufficed as "news." Broadcasting the deranged killer's twisted diatribes and studied poses does not inform, it bestows celebrity, acclaim.

I've turned off all t.v. news since the photos, etc., began airing. To call it an affront to the families of the victims is an understatement. Giving Cho the public forum to air his rants is cruel to the victims and irresponsible to society.

Honoring the public's right to view and see the information sent to NBC could have been responsibly served by making portions available in transcript format on the web.

Posted by: Caroline | April 19, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I hear what you're saying, Shiloh and I'm sure you're right that mentally ill people are already mentally ill, they can't *catch* it. But doesn't the airing of these videos (and the constant repetition) serve to continue a steady erosion of simple common decency and good taste? Is that too simplistic of me? I don't think I'm avoiding mental illness by refusing to view utter madness in all it's horror on my tv.

Posted by: Kim | April 19, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Omni, its when the sky sprinkles turn white and fluffy looking you have to watch out.

Since it's too damp to garden by the bunker, I'm going to get a head start on the throw pillows.

Posted by: dr | April 19, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Also, yes, I'm choosing to turn off my tv and other's can make a different choice, this is America, after all.
I still believe that this kind of media exposure is sensationalism, pure and simple.

Posted by: Kim | April 19, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

It's a crying shame - a crying shame NBC has allowed their moral compass to go so far off course. What a shameful, shameful organization.

There is no way in hell NBC can justify airing this in the wake of such a horrible, horrible thing. I don't want to hear any released statement from PR how they thought long and hard about releasing this video. When in doubt on an issue like this, don't do it! Your better judgement should take over!

But these are the very people running our corporations in America. These are the very people are kids are preparing themselves to go work for?

The irony in all this is the very people our kids are preparing themselves to work for, are turning out to be the very ones who still haven't learned a very basic tenet of life; "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you!" Which one of the NBC execs would think twice about airing that video had it been one of his/her children or nephew or niece!!

In their attempt to further crucify the kid who committed these horrible murders and publicize his insanity, they've only deepened the wounds and hurt of those who are and will be mourning for years.

What has happened to us?

Posted by: Mad As Hell | April 19, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

A persistent symptom of many mental illnesses is the person's lack of awareness of their illness and their assumption that their delusional thinking represents reality. The patients' rights movement of the 60s and 70s has prevented some abuses of involuntary commitment, but what it has also done is make our criminal justice system one of the primary providers of mental health care in this country. Until these laws reflect more of the reality of the treatement needs of the mentally ill and strike more of a happy medium between patient rights and patient and society protection, these types of cases will recur. In addition, homelessness and victimization of those mentally ill individuals who are not violent will also continue.

Of course, laws that make it so easy to obtain guns also contribute to the large numbers of people killed in these cases. But then, as we saw in Oklahoma City, bombs can accomplish the same thing. A change in laws regarding mental health treatment, prevention, and education as to what mental illness is and how to do something about it will ultimately be the answer for this type of problem, in my opinion.

Posted by: Carol | April 19, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I have been weighing on whether to watch the video or not.
I haven't turned my TV on because I don't want to see it.
I was reluctant to turn my computer on because I know it will be everywhere.
I enjoy this blog very much and have come to repsect every opinion I read here.
I don't think NBC should have aired this video or the pictures.
But I understand that they have some sort of obligation to do so.
But it could have been done some other way.

I have be sickened by this whole terrible mess.
How can anyone who comitts such a deplorable act be deemed anything but mentally unstable.

I can't help to think about the victims in this. The mothers and fathers, the brothers and sisters, the friends
and families, the communities of many people grieving over this terrible tragedy.
They needed to be spared of this rant by a madman.

Let us continue the process of giving comfort and sympathy to the many affected by this tragedy.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 19, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Airing these videos is pandering to our worst voyeuristic tendencies; they reveal nothing of importance. They should have been locked away for future study, although I think it unlikely that they would have revealed anything of importance. Just a portrait of a vicious, extremely disturbed boy who destroyed countless lives.
I hope this doesn't turn into another Anna Nicole circus, but I wouldn't bet against it.
I would much prefer to read the short stories, poems, and research studies of his many victims. How much has been lost. As for the shooter, I don't even want to see his face or hear his voice--why give him any of our time at all?--after all, that's EXACTLY what he wanted; he even took a break from killing just to ensure that he recieved this type of media exposure.
Forget him: Remember the victims of his cruelty.

Posted by: Andrew | April 19, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, Kim, I watched the Cho Manifesto reports, on a piecemeal basis, once and have not gone back to them. Once was enough to reach a personal conclusion. I think that after one airing the media should provide a link for those who have not seen it, and want to - or for those who salivate at self immersion in another man's madness, despair and egomania. Cinema verite' has quite a following. As I recall, the number of hits on the videos of the hanging of Saddamm Hussein indicated that some people have a salacious taste for indecency and bad taste. That's part of the human condition.

Posted by: Shiloh | April 19, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Well, you're certainly right about that, Shiloh.

Posted by: Kim | April 19, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Les' 12:40 p.m. posting about Vonnegut got me to thinking...that and Jake Gyllenhaal's "Zodiac" movie release earlier this year.

If I recall correctly, the first letters to the San Francisco Chronicle from the Zodiac were printed on the inside pages, but rapidly moved to the front page? of course, in this case, and with the Unibomber, the newspapers were trying to assist in apprehending the killers. I wonder how the London newspapers handled their coverage of Jack the Ripper?

But Les's post got me to thinking about deranged, mentally ill killers in fiction. How long was Thomas Harris' "Silence of the Lambs" on the bestseller list? How much did the film version of the book with Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins eventually gross? The "liver and chianti" phrase seems to be a running joke here at the Achenblog. I'm turning to Google...

It comes in at 187 on this list, with a total boxoffice take of about $272M and five Academy Awards nominations.

From this website, we learn that the 1988 "Silence of the Lambs" sold more than 5 million copies.

Seems we lap up stories about mental derangment and murder in fiction just fine. It's when they're real, we turn our heads away in horror. Go figure.

Posted by: Loomis | April 19, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Call me a cynic but when NBC states that they had a tough decision whether to air the material that decision was based solely on how much revenue they would garner. I would like to know whether and what they charged other media outlets to show *their* footage. I wouldd also like to know how much they charged advertisers for ad placements during their *scoop* and whether the rates were at a premium.

Posted by: Chris | April 19, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

It's the ratings, Chris, that determine the revenue in the media business - and it is a business and not a charity. NBC anguished over whether the airing would help or hurt their ratings. Nothing competes with the superbowl for revenue. You're a cynic.

Posted by: Shiloh | April 19, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, I suppose I would argue we don't turn our heads away, though I wish sometimes we would.

I remember being at a relative's place years ago that had some strict rules about what was allowed on television (they had small children). One evening they flipped on the tube. First channel had a (fictional) crime show, we saw a man being shot, so click to the next channel. There we saw a (fictional) murder scene being discovered with a few bodies strewn around. Then a click to the next channel, and there the TV stayed... watching a news report about the then-recent Pan Am Flight 103 bombing.

There is a part of me that still doesn't understand why a couple of fictional murder shows are not valid ways to spend time but non-fiction about 270 murders was. So it goes, I guess.

Posted by: Les | April 19, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom said it very well, Loomis. Real crime isn't as flashy or dramatic as it's made out in fiction.

It bothers me too, the appetite for endless Law and Order and such things. We have a certain appetite for moral drama and revenge those shows may provide.

My major objection is not that NBC aired it, for I can turn off NBC... I was just being sacrastic about how they are responding to the opportunity so readily.

However, do I NEED to see Cho's pictures or videos promimently displayed when I try and check my e-mail and look up what else is going on?

Do I need to have shows interrupted without schedule updates, or even a timer displayed on the news updates for how long those news interruptions will take?

And on the internet, what's wrong with a link to all that material from the home page, no pictures?

I mean, it's discourteous to those who may want to opt out from further coverage, whether victim, kin, people with PTSD, or any kind of reason.

It's been over 3 days now. It's time to concede to the victims' sensibilities as funeral plans progress, by balancing coverage as to give people the choice to tune out altogether.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 19, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

No one needs to see this garbage. As the above poster said, forget him, remember the victims and their families.

Posted by: Arlo | April 19, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

there's no need to glorify this kid. this is EXACTLY what he wanted. releashing one or two of the pictures and putting them in the paper fine. as FRONT PAGE NEWS, not really. HE is not front page news. he is a coward. front page news is the courageous professors who saved lives of students at the cost of their own. THAT'S front page news. Run pictures of them, they deserve to have the world now their names. Not this awful coward of a man that was on every front page this morning. His name shouldn't even be published.

Posted by: from a hokie | April 19, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Turning to a deeper churning controversy, Weingarten promised his chat would be back up in April. Only one Tuesday to go.

Weingartenologists have unearthed a page from the WaPo website that hints there may be one at least scheduled for next Tuesday:

Posted by: bill everything | April 19, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

As a young adult just out of college, what bothers me the most about the pictures and makes me break down and cry is not so much the phsychological mindset it shows him in but the reference to the video game Counter Strike. He could be a character right out of that game (a internet game based on either being a terrorist group or counter-terrorist force trying to take them out), or nearly any other violent first person shooter games that are out there. Even his choice of weapons strikes me. Many of the more expert players in Counter Strike choose hand guns over automatic weapons for accuracy and speed. In my mind there is too much of a connection between him most likely playing these games and wanting to act them out in some sort of deluded fantasy.
His rant against the Rich and so on is something that you see on almost any college campus, even state schools where the majority of the population are not rich or even upper-middle class. At any school you will see kids whose parents spoil them rotten, buy them brand new cars, clothes and alcohol with out a care in the world. It seems to be his justification for acting out his fantasy of being one of these video game characters out by shooting at living people around him. Some how though he could not differentiate between the fantasy of games he played and how one is responsible for acting in the real world.
While I believe that NBC was not necessarily wrong in choosing to release the videos and images, for me they prove something I assumed about the young man from when I first heard about the shootings on Monday and I know everytime I see any of those pictures I cry because of what has happened and why.

Posted by: That guy | April 19, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I heard something this morning on WTOP radio that really bothered me. They identified by full name, twice, Cho's sister (her last name is different). Where did that come from and where do they get off announcing it to their considerable audience? They even, more or less, said where she works and that they left a voicemail message but she hadn't called them back. Gee, I can't imagine why not. Given the raw, potentially hateful emotions provoked by an event like this, I'd call it irresponsible, if not downright reckless, to give out that info when they can't show it has any real relevance beyond morbid curiosity.

Posted by: Scott | April 19, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

And the producer concludes by saying he wishes he had never seen any of it.....

Yeah, me too. But CNN and the other networks have made sure that doesn't happen. Nice. Kill 32 people, get a nationwide forum. I am sure the families of the dead are big fans of the coverage. Journalism? Please. Jackalism is more like it.

Posted by: DBJ | April 19, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I haven't read all the comments, but I definitely agree with Martooni. It is sensationalism, particularly because the video and pictures have been displayed over and over again. When I turned on the news last night after getting home from class, I hadn't heard about the video yet. I turned it on in the middle of the video playing, and I have not been able to get the images or the sounds of Cho's voice out of my head since. I absolutely did not need to hear that (in fact, if I hadn't have turned it on in the middle of the video, I would have switched the channel). The only people who really need to "understand" that video and those images are law enforcement. Leave the rest of the country, particularly the Virginia Tech community, to grieve and heal.

Posted by: PLS | April 19, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I disagree with the decision to air the video--maybe at VT where they have a right to "demystify" the issues but mainstream media added nothing that was not already known other than confirming his location at 9:01 am.

Like so many other crimes, this one will take weeks to sort out (his mental health history, the relevant details from his life prior to VT and during his college stay) Only then will we know what it means, so let the investigators do their work and stop expecting a sound-bite size answer.

The students and faculty at VT dealing with this tragedy are among the classiest people I've ever seen. For now, I'd prefer to follow the example of the students around the country who have expressed support to them: the grieving friends and family of the victims, students and the troubled man who did this awful thing. We should all be so lucky to be Hokies...

Posted by: Patricia McGillan | April 19, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

And the best way I think to play down the legendification (if you will) of this sad pathetic boy is to put up a big picture of Librescu with the simple headline: Hero dies to save class. This man did something amazing that is almost unimaginable.

Posted by: That guy | April 19, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Boodle--just checking in from Miami. Had dinner last night at Joe's Stone Crab--was terrific. Never had stone crabs before (they just serve the claws and first knuckle), sdo basically all you're eating is the claw meat. I'm told when they harvestthe stone crabs, they break off the claw and through the crab back; it regenerates a new claw after three or four years. Interesting.

Regarding the bunker and the shop steward's office: scotty, Padouk, when I get back I think we're going to have to adopt an old Vietnam tactic: in order to save the office where going to have to destroy it. So far I can't think of a "Plan B."

I only caught about three minutes of the Cho thing on ABC this morning, and I think I'm glad I don't have time to post much. I think about two-thirds of all the comments here are absurd or ridiculous on one level or another. Just a few "basic" common sense obervations:

1) It is NOT a news organization's job or mission to REFRAIN from printing/breoadcasting news. When you suggest otherwise, JUST WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING? This was the worst shooting in U.S. history--and you want NBC to NOT broadcast one of the single-most relevant aspects of it? Are you people out of your minds? Do you understand NOTHING?

2) The suggestion was made to delay or hold off broadcasting this stufrf, or shoiwing it in some "more appropriate" venue. Once again? Are you NUTS? Do you want the news media sitting around deciding when and where it and it alone thinks is the appropriate place to broadcast something? The media's job is to put news out before the entire public, not just some small segment "it" thinks is appropriate. You want to media to withhold news about, oh, Iraq because you don't think it's pleasant? You want the media to refrain from covering Gonzalez because it's bad for the country's morale to see that it's leading law enforcement office is a corrupt moron?

You don't refrain from broadcasting news because people won't "like" it. Jeeeeez. If you don't "like" it, if it offends you in some bizarre way, THEN DON'T FREAKING WATCH IT. Some of you have said you have deliberately not watched it. That's one of the few things anybody's said that makes some sense.

3) The statement has been made that it should be shown only once or twice, then stopped. Yes, there's quickly going to become a point where it's going to be (massive) overkill--but what you are suggesting is that something unpleasant should only be shown between 8 and 9 a.m. EST for those of you for whom that single time slot is convenient--and all the rest of us can go to hell. Well, thanks, but no thanks.

4) The copycat question is unfortunate...but once again unsolvable. By definition, a copycat is basically as nuts as the original perp. How far do you want to carry it? We should refrain from broadcasting ANY news about ANY crime on the very slim chance that some other idiot out there might do the same thing? Perhaps we should never have printed and broadcast anything about the Kennedy Assination because it may have led some idiot like Squeeky Fromm or that housewife who took a shot at Ford, or the idiot who shot George Wallace. Anybody in favor of keeping the JFK thing super hush-hush? Should we refrain from having TV shows about Jack the Ripper? How far do we take this trend? Should we not have broadcast news about Kenneth Lay and Enron on the grounds that it may encourage other copycat CEOs to defraud their stockholders/ Because that certainly seems to have happened. And do you really want the news media deciding when to withhold unpleasant stories for fear of copycats. Yes, copycat crimes will occur--that's the *&$%#@ price you pay for a free media and a free society. Now grow the hell up.

People have used the word "pandering" and accused NBC of thinking only of its bottom line, etc. This is absurd. It's their *^%$# JOB to show news--and if you think this isn't news then you just plain don't know what news is--and although you have a right to your opinion your opinion is both uninformed and worthless. What you want is for NBC to have said, "We've received this big packet of information from the killer. It shows he's a whack job and out of his mind. But we aren't going to show it to you--you'll just have to take our word for it that we're right." In short, you want NBC to sound exactly like the Bush Administration. Weapons of mass destruction? Oh, you'll just have to take our word for it. Saddam linked to 9/11? Trust us, there's a link--we just can't tell you about it." C'mon, think, people, think, don't just vent your visceral reactions. Think the problem through first.

As for the notion that NBC or any other corporate business has a "moral compass," which it now seems to have "lost," gimme a break here, Andrew. Just who and what do you imagine you're talking about? It's a giant communications company, fer crissakes. You think it has or ever had a moral compass? What planet are you living on? As for its news division, it was just doing its job. To me that means it was following its "moral compass" pretty damn well. What is it about news organizations that you clearly don't understand? Because there's a few people here who can probably explain it to you.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 19, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

That 2:33 post is one the most ill-mannered posts I've ever seen. I'm outta here.

Posted by: bill everything | April 19, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I'll grant you most of your heartfelt post, Mudge. I still quarrel with the idea that the contents of the package are themselves "news" in the same sense that, say, the fact of the package and its posting clearly were.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 19, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Right on, Cur.

As a side note - the incidence of left clawed stone crabs is about the same as left handed humans. And fishing regs in Florida only allow the taking of the larger claw - to give the crab regeneration defense and feeding time.

Posted by: Shiloh | April 19, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Actually I think Librescu's life was even more amazing than his death, That guy.
He survived the Holocaust in a ghetto while his father was interned in a labor camp, got his PhD at age 39, later got out of Romania when it was a very grim place under Ceausescu, became an Israeli citizen, and then for the last 22 years he was teaching here in America.

He was also a very prolific scientist and engineer, publishing many articles on his research in fluid mechanics, material science, and aerodynamics. He had many honors and memberships in various organizations (including shipbuilding), and was a member on the editorial board of seven scientific journals.

That's a life story that's hard to imagine, either.

I think he'd have died a hero to those who knew him well even if he had never been shot to death trying to stop an insane gunman entering his classroom.

(See, even engineering nerds can be heroes!)

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 19, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeton ill-mannered? No, he simply knows how to take out the trash.

Posted by: Shiloh | April 19, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

All the more reason for an article about him to be given more space than a picture of the murderer

Posted by: That guy | April 19, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Let's not make a fetish out of the a-blog's civility. Sometimes people have strong opinions, and have the right to express them, forcefully. Things would get a little dull here if Mudge had to curb his enthusiasm.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 19, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Some thoughts after reading Mudge's comments.

If more information had been released earlier I wonder if we'd have our thriving JFK Assassination Conspiracy Theory cottage industry.

I bet the Court TV execs are wishing things had ended differently.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 19, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I don't mind what Mudge wrote, but he's going a little heavy on the all-caps and making himself sound terminally crabby.

I guess you ARE what you eat.

In that case, we should expect him to sound a little stoned next, I guess. Groovy.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 19, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

For those just joining us...Curmudgeon is, of course, a newsman, and newspersons, I'm guessing, are much, much, much more likely than normal people to support NBC on this.

But it's a tough call. NBC is obviously facing a huge backlash. And no, NBC doesn't charge other media for using this stuff.

Lots of great comments here today. Even a couple that agree with me!

On the question of remembering the victims rather than the killer, you can find this on the home page:

Posted by: Achenbach | April 19, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Mudge that NBC and other media have to show what they got. That is their primary function, showing stuff to get ratings. However, it seems to me that some media are on a All Cho All the Time mode. That doesn't seem right to me. There are other things happenings. Since I don't want to listen to the madman there is a couple of networks that are off my list for a while.
I was living downtown Montreal when the province tried to de-institutionalized as many mental patients as they could so I have already heard as much crazy ramblings as I can stomach.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 19, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse


I see where you're coming from. I'm amazed that I disagree with you.

We disagree on whether or not the videos and photos are newsworthy. I will not accept a viewpoint (and I don't think you're suggesting) that news organizations have no choice but to regurgitate everything everything that comes into their possession. When the OK City bombing happened (as we're reminded by coverage of the anniversary), I was a news editor of a daily newspaper. I'm glad I helped the paper decide NOT to run a front-page version of the photo of the firefighter carrying the lifeless baby; the photo of the overall destruction at the Murrah building said all that needed to be said.
The parallel here is that we already knew from the police investigation, the writings they recovered and that Cho submitted in class, and from eyewitness accounts, that he was insane. The police themselves have said today the NBC package adds nothing to their investigation. There was no "news" there, and NBC would have been justified in saying, "The contents of this package only repeat what's already been uncovered."

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 19, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Here's a crazy thought: Tonight on NBC Brian Williams could announce that they're not going to show any more of the videos or photos. That no more is necessary.

The All Cho All The Time problem is one that's been with us for quite some time -- at least since the Simpson trial but probably much longer than that. I'm not sure what the solution is. Other than voting with your clicker.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 19, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Well Mudge, why not just show some brains scattered about while we're at it? I didn't have much choice about it watching it, I was stuck in a waiting room where they run these crappy daytime shows.

And for the record, I've never seen "Silence of the Lambs", "CSI:Anything" or "House" for that matter because my taste doesn't turn to gore and pain. But being in the minority on this in America doesn't surprise me much, or Quinton Tarantino wouldn't be so popular.

Bloody good thing you didn't have time to post much. Is a little sense of decency too much to ask from corporations who have a license to use the public airwaves?

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 19, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Normal people hear and see this info glut on VTech's assasin and either sympathize because he was mentally ill or see him as a loner. Other similarly deranged males do not. For them he is a hero because he carried out their fantasy and got all this attention and his videos are a direct challenge to do him one better just as he did the Columbine shooters.

I see no value in the public viewing of this deranged young man's inner life. Perhaps they're of help to psychiatrists, but for the rest of us this aids in becoming even more desensitized to violence. This is especially obscene considering that we don't even know who all the dead are yet.And I hate to think of the effect all these photos and videos have on small children.

If there was less glorification and sensationalization of mass murderers and serial killers there would probably be fewer of them. Instead let's focus on detection, prevention, the wounded and dead,the courageous and their loved ones.

May God have mercy on all of us.

Posted by: G | April 19, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Scottynuke: The killer in the worst civilian shooting incident ever in the U.S. went to great lengths to create a manifesto and sends it NBC News at a time when everyone is still grappling with how this could have happened. This is not news? NBC and other news outlets have to air this, and note that it's clear they haven't aired everything. But it's a critical part of the story of who this shooter is and how he acted prior to the shooting and during the planning of it.

The questionable judgment, in my mind, is the way the material is presented. Look at the MSNBC home page yesterday with its grabbing "KILLER SPEAKS" headline. Look at my hometown paper with a collage of four massive gun-, knife-, and hammer-wielding photos. This is tabloid and sensationalistic. But the airing of the material is not.

This is not easy stuff to look at -- it becomes more cringe-worthy when it's salaciously splashed on front pages -- but I don't think we should confuse that with the question of whether NBC and others should air it all.

A little restraint would have helped, but I think the news orgs would have been extraordinarily irresponsible if they had NOT aired the footage.

Posted by: Patrick | April 19, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

No, Patrick, the contents of a repeat of the manifesto, even in a "new" multimedia form, were not and are not news. By this logic, if he had sent a Powerpoint version to Al Jazeera and a VHS tape the BBC main office, each outlet would have to air them when they received them, even though NBC already did.

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 19, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

How many times to we have to watch the planes hit the towers? Back in the day, newspapers eventually wrapped around fish or burned. Horrible headlines and images were "out there" but were to some degree escapable. I worked for a newspaper in Pennsylvania when a public official shot himself in front of the press. The decision about what to run (photo?) was quick: don't run the photo. To this day I'm proud the paper made the right call. Today a young Asian man in a fast car rode my bumper into work. My mind could not help but make an association that does not exist but is irretrievable. Depictions of violence seldom incite peace....

Posted by: 1st Amendment or Horrortainment? | April 19, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Blake at his blog talks about being interviewed on the street about the VA Tech (and links here, so what goes around comes around):

How many people saw the original NBC Nightly News broadcast last night? Call me crazy: I thought they weren't sensational. There was no KILLER SPEAKS sort of stuff. Brian Williams put it all in context, showed a color copy of the envelope NBC received, said they understood they were giving a murderer a platform, brought on Pete Williams, they showed some of the video -- and to my knowledge they've still showed only portions of it -- and at no time did it seem like tabloid TV to me. I thought it was very professional. But I have no doubt that a lot of the media have gone berserk over this and that saddens me.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 19, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Count me in the camp that agrees with airing Cho's video, at least in part. Repression and banning of an idea, a notion, a belief, a publication, makes it stronger -- it tells those that hold such ideas that the power structure is frightened and weak, ready to collapse. Our greatest strength as a society is that we can air such lunacy in a public medium, turn to each other, and ask "So, whadda ya think of that guy?"

If you fear encouraging the already-crazy, it is my belief that they get much more encouragement from the idea that Cho had hold of a 'truth' that the weak and small-minded couldn't handle. They can cherish this notion and, in the absence of any real information, they can imagine it to be whatever idea they themselves want to be 'true.' The not-yet crazy, on the other hand, can look at his video and say "whoa, hey, that's not the road for me." And the altogether-not-crazy (is there anybody in this category? Certainly not on the 'net) can see the video and glean a sense of what crazy looks like. There has been a lot of complaining about people failing to respond to 'the warning signs.' You're being presented with a spectactular case example of what the warning signs look like: watch it, memorize it, ponder and consider it. Or, shut up and stop complaining that others were too self-involved to take the proper steps. *You* are one of those *others* for somebody. Taking the 'proper steps' is your job as much as it is anybody else's, so make the effort to educate yourself on how to do your job well.

Posted by: Tim | April 19, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I think it was quite useful to air Cho's video. One thing that is manifest is the absolute rage Cho expressed. People need to see that. They need to see the look in the eyes of a man who has gone over the edge. They need to understand the thoughts of a person about to kill 30 people. Why? To recognize it the next time they see it, and help stop it.

Further, it seems quite likely to me, based on the plays Cho wrote, coupled with the rage he clearly expressed in his video, that he had been sexually abused. That would go a long way to explaining what he did, and add to our knowledge of what causes this sort of rampage. The bottom line is, we need to see and analyze whatever information we have on this individual, in order to recognize it when somebody like Cho comes along again.

Posted by: John | April 19, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Long time lurker, recent poster.

Mr. Curmudgeon, are you okay? There's a definite shift in the tone of your posts over the past few months showing far less tolerance and lots more vehemence on a variety of topics.

Posted by: CC | April 19, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

We are seeing the same response here in Seattle at The Stranger's SLOG, where most people think the media is helping create more such incidents by giving such people more than their share of attention. - Now all you have to do is slaughter a few people and the media will broadcast your manifesto for free and let you go out in a blaze of glory. - SICK! SICK! SICK! - Those in the Media who condone this should be ashamed of themselves.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | April 19, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Yes, there's a difference between reporting it, and spreading the gory details. Yesterday I questioned the rationale for releasing this video. While there's "less mystique" to somebody so completely exposed as insane, that is not necessarily the primary function of a news program.

If this was the Watergate tapes, that's one thing because it reveals the true character of a president that was already in office and had power to affect the country's future. It was news.

I admit, I'd love to get some behind-the-scence recording of what's going at the White House-- they're in charge of Iraq, which is going poorly.

Maybe if we knew more about what they are actually doing, we'd be able to come up with better solutions than the same old *** we're being handed.

But how does the heavy emphasis on Cho's manifesto etc. makes it more newsworthy? This is not something that might be used to catch a killer (unlike with the unabomer), nor does his ramblings really have any chance of changing national policy.

The ONLY possible value I can see in it is to see how an mentally ill person stages a manifesto before committing the deed. It might be of use to psychotherapists, profilers, and other mental health and criminal professionals.

But for us who aren't that sophisticated in mental illness issues and the difference between paranoid and other schizophrenia, and the treatment prognoses for those disorders... it could lead us to be afraid of anybody who rambles and acts mentally ill.
People dealing with schizophrenia already have problems enough without THAT.

The 9/11 coverage, although one of the biggest news ever, was covered very graphically and intensively.

That did lead to somebody assaulting an afghan national less than 3 blocks from my home, and other people killing Sikhs as "Afghans", because the strong, constant coverage made people want to revenge themselves somehow.

9/11 was used as justification for invading Afghanistan (fine-- it made sense anyway), and then for Iraq.

One can argue if we all hadn't seen the most lurid 9/11 images over 100 times per American, maybe we wouldn't be in Iraq right now.

I myself was at the Pentagon less than a hour before 9/11, saw the plane in it, smelled the smoke for 3 days. I never want to smell that again. I knew people who had been inside the Pentagon that day, and somebody who had gotten out of the WTC.

Even so, I (and most of NYC and DC) was much less willing to invade Iraq or support Bush's plan of vengence than people in other areas who had only experienced 9/11 through the news.

I certainly heard from some of them-- all ready to give up their and others' civic liberties in order to be "safe".

There ain't no such thing as 100% safe.

There's no way in the world the Patriot Act would have prevented this guy from going crazy. He could have obtained his US citizenship 3-5 years before the attack if he had bothered to do so.

The Patriot act wouldn't have prevented Columbine or the OK city bombings, either.

Anyway, I don't know what the answer is, but I think it starts with not airing graphic images 24/7 without strong advisories so people can change the channel.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 19, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: jacko | April 19, 2007 12:29 PM

Bravo on a great post jacko.

As a VT alumnus, I have been following this far more than I would otherwise. I'm a very jaded person who understands why all of this happens. I, too think it is quite disturbing to see the videos. I want to see them because I have a deep interest in the human psyche but really the average person doesn't need to see it because of the risk of encouraging other emotionally unstable people.

Ironically, the people who don't want to see the videos are NOT the people who shouldn't see the video.

One of the real tragedies is that it had to happen on campus. When I first went to VT the thing that I really noticed was that people there (as any university) in my experience treated everyone as adults as opposed to grade school and high school where kids were picked on and judged.

Posted by: Charlie M | April 19, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

John, I don't think you are more in a position to make a diagnostic than the hundreds of long-distance psychiatrist out there.
The networks seem to have agreed to go easy on the Cho Show anyway.

In the mean time a number of seal hunters are stranded on the ice pack.
Not an easy life for those vilified hunters. I wonder if PETA would organize an expedition out there to club them out of their misery. hehehe

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 19, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

The media needs to re-think their coverage of incidents such as this. Focusing on the shooter tends to glorify his actions. Airing his info-mercial is downright irresponsible as it paves the way for more Cho's (just as Columbine influenced Cho). Let's focus on the heinousness of his crime, rather than allowing an obviously disturbed person to speak from the grave.

Posted by: C-Way | April 19, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm with Scotty still...I'm shocked because I don't think I've ever disagreed with Mudge before!

Posted by: Kim | April 19, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

As I said this morning, what was NBC supposed to do? They had news (and evidence) literally handed to them; they contacted the authorities and reported on it.

As far as some news outlets overreporting specualtion or conjecture, or sensationalizing information or images that could be deemed appropriate, well, there is that downside to a free press.

I think journalists would rather work here than in, say, Russia for example.

The press *is* still free in this country, and we consumers are free to exercise our judgement and will as well. With those freedoms comes responsibility, on both sides of the equation. The news organizations are responsible for what they produce and we consumers are responsible for what we consume.


Posted by: bc | April 19, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

loomis brings up an interesting point. Who among us has not slowed to look ever. Somewhere out there someone studied this phenomenon in humans. IIRC, an article in the SciAm last fall. I'd go searching but I am supposed to be at work.

Thanks for the reminder on things Weingartien.

Posted by: dr | April 19, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

The media package was meant to self-memorialize the planned massacre and make Cho a posthumous celebrity of the very type he most idolized. Is it news? Yes. Should it be a front page, OhMyGosh commentary, super-rotation, repeat-cycle frenzy? NO. That's what *makes* a celebrity. Celebrities spawn imitators. We are creating our own super-monsters out of our borderline psychos. Granted, said monsters will do what they do and find what information they can (including video games), but at least make 'em work for it. Obviously, a sick mind has trouble both locating and processing information - why spoonfeed a plotline and then refine and second-guess it *for* them?

Posted by: sevenswans | April 19, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Oh, BOO. While I slowly type, 10 other people post the same thing, better put.

"Yeah. What they said."

Back into lurkdom.

Posted by: sevenswans | April 19, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

The audience dictates what the media gives it, correct? Doesn't the public WANT to know what happened? Isn't that why so many of us are glued to the news reports, the papers, the web and blogs like this one so that we know what's going on as soon as it happens? Don't viewers of these news broadcasts demand this kind of immediate information all the time? If we didn't watch, didn't expect it, maybe it would stop. Like Joel said, we could vote with our clickers.

Posted by: Aloha | April 19, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm 100% with Mudge. Had NBC supressed Cho's media package for even a week the resulting outcry would be unreal.

Of course this is news. This is big news. Cho was a killer. No, Cho was a mass murderer. What happened at VA Tech was the most lethal shooting in American history. IN AMERICAN HISTORY. And Cho is dead. Airing his effects does Cho no good now. He can't relish in the media circus he created with half of his face blown off.

I am one of those people who wants to know everything about Cho. Anything about him is news to me - even his nonsensical rants. I want to read every word - two word phrases like "deceitful charlatans" doesn't really cut it for me. I want to see interviews with his parents, his sister. I want to see interviews with his high school teachers, classmates. Possibly someone in this country who is seeing Cho's face on the news for the first time in years will remember that kid from the 7th grade and come forward and speak. It seems Cho never had a friend in his entire life. Maybe we'll find out.

I appreciate all of the Virginia Tech students, professors and administrators who have agreed to be interviewed following the tragedy. Their stories should be heard, no matter how harrowing.

Posted by: Thomas | April 19, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

looks like NBC did exactally what Cho wanted.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

But which 10 people, sevenswans? ;). Always glad to hear from you.

And PLS. Long time no post.

Dr, that tendency to be fascinated with gore is not unique to humans. Deer, cattle and other prey animals will sometimes stop and investigate the dead remains of conspecifics killed by predators.

It's thought the morbid curiosity/fear is "essential" to help the deer recognize the smell and the habits of those who would hunt them-- what killed this deer, what do they need to fear... since a learning from direct encounter with a wolf or lion is unsafe.

Unfortunately this behavior can be dangerous as well, which is why deer and other do so cautiously-- much more cautiously than humans.

Imagine if they didn't.

Now visualize deer congregating like humans at a road traffic accident. "He was jumping along, this big monster came by, and BAM! He never stood a chance!" "My Dear!" "Look at the impact marks!"

You'd have the roads tied up with mobs of deer everyday.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 19, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

This on NBC now, 36 schools on lock down in California while they search for a "self promoted" potential copy cat.

Posted by: dmd | April 19, 2007 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Cho wanted a platform and the news obligingly gave it to him -- not that that really matters to Cho now. The scary thing is that by airing Cho's material, those who may consider following in his footsteps will be encouraged to do so, in the belief that they, too, will have their after-death wish of publically airing their grievance fulfilled.

Posted by: nappie5 | April 19, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

I think it's normal to feel a sense of "what can we do to prevent this from happening again?" and try to exert some control over these incomprehensible, unforeseeable acts of violence. For some, that means learning all we can about the perpetrator, and demystifying him and exposing him as the mentally ill, inadequate personality type he was (so that nobody views him as "glamorous.") For others, it means not giving him any attention or air time, so that future perps won't get the idea that killing people is a quick and easy way to get "famous." The fact is, though, that Cho isn't around to enjoy his fame, so it's kind of pointless to say that we're "giving him what he wants."

We can't control the thought processes of the mentally ill, and there will be future events as bad or worse as this one, more people will die, someone may even cite Cho as their inspriration. There are sick people who have a thought process that doesn't respond to reason, there are people with empathy disorders and who experience life and emotions in ways the rest of us can't comprehend, and that has always been true and always will be.

Guns are readily available -- too available. So are books on how to make bombs. Violence and insanity are here to stay. But the one thing we can do is to honor those who have died.

I still believe it should be the victims photos on the front pages of our newspapers, and that we should be paying tribute to them right now. I think there should be a small link to information about the killer, and to what was contained in his manifesto. I haven't turned the TV on in days because I just don't want to see and hear endless analyses of this guy, even if his words and images are "professionally" presented.

What this says about us as a society is that we find the villian more interesting, more worthy of attention. Its' not about whether that's what he wanted, it's about whether we want to say that about ourselves. There are heroes in this story, people who died to save the lives of others, and we're hearing almost nothing about them. One was a holocaust survivor who stood in front of the door and was killed when trying to save his students. I can't recall his name because I've only seen it printed once. I'd be very interested to read more about his brilliant life, than to read about Cho's tortured psyche and violent, intrusive thoughts.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 4:22 PM | Report abuse

SonofCarl's notion of calling him Librescu's murderer is something to think about.

My understanding is that John Lennon fans do not say the name of his killer, so as not to give him any of the publicity he desired. It's a gesture, very small but pointed, of resistance.

Posted by: silver spring | April 19, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I think it's normal to feel a sense of "what can we do to prevent this from happening again?" and try to exert some control over these incomprehensible, unforeseeable acts of violence. For some, that means learning all we can about the perpetrator, and demystifying him and exposing him as the mentally ill, inadequate personality type he was (so that nobody views him as "glamorous.") For others, it means not giving him any attention or air time, so that future perps won't get the idea that killing people is a quick and easy way to get "famous." The fact is, though, that Cho isn't around to enjoy his fame, so it's kind of pointless to say that we're "giving him what he wants."

We can't control the thought processes of the mentally ill, and there will be future events as bad or worse as this one, more people will die, someone may even cite Cho as their inspriration. There are sick people who have a thought process that doesn't respond to reason, there are people with empathy disorders and who experience life and emotions in ways the rest of us can't comprehend, and that has always been true and always will be.

Guns are readily available -- too available. So are books on how to make bombs. Violence and insanity are here to stay. But the one thing we can do is to honor those who have died.

I still believe it should be the victims photos on the front pages of our newspapers, and that we should be paying tribute to them right now. I think there should be a small link to information about the killer, and to what was contained in his manifesto. I haven't turned the TV on in days because I just don't want to see and hear endless analyses of this guy, even if his words and images are "professionally" presented.

What this says about us as a society is that we find the villian more interesting, more worthy of attention. Its' not about whether that's what he wanted, it's about whether we want to say that about ourselves. There are heroes in this story, people who died to save the lives of others, and we're hearing almost nothing about them. One was a holocaust survivor who stood in front of the door and was killed when trying to save his students. I can't recall his name because I've only seen it printed once. I'd be very interested to read more about his brilliant life, than to read about Cho's tortured psyche and violent, intrusive thoughts.

Posted by: Sirin | April 19, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Liviu Librescu. The comments on this blog have printed his name 5 times so far.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 19, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse


You are WAY off base. Maybe the videos make Cho look like a loser to YOU. But I don't think we are concerned that YOU might pick up a gun. To the people who might, Cho doesn't look like a loser, and you have NO evidence to support such a claim. He looks like s superhero, his name and face remembered forever, his deeds etched in history, his victims fully aware that they caused his pain and deserved killing.

You're playing with peoples' lives, dude, for the principle of allowing media to do whatever they want (and hence destroy themselves, like a kid being allowed to eaty whatever he wants).

No wonder the media is in such dire straights in terms of respect among its audience! Wake up!

Posted by: Ron | April 19, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Right you are Ron. Cho has been mad a superhero to some.

Posted by: nappie5 | April 19, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

The pictures of the shooter pointing guns directly at the camera, and therefore the viewer, are very disturbing. It is certainly not pleasant to have a gun pointing directly at your face. Perhaps it does us all some good to feel this so that we can get over our love of the things and realize how scary it is for people to have them.

Posted by: Paul | April 19, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

The thing that disturbs me about release of the video, which NBC had every right to do, is that things that get posted on the intertubes stay with us for so very long....

I can just see some arrested adolescent male playing that over and over and over again while imitating killer Cho in the mirror.

Not sure what can be done about that. I watched a few clips and then decided I didn't need to see any more. If I were the decision-maker at NBC, I'd be wondering if I had somehow inadvertently contributed to it happening again.

I just wish everybody would try to deal with their anger in non-destructive ways.

When I was married and got mad at my spouse I would go out in the yard on the weekend and start cutting on the massive tangle of brush we had along a fence line. In the few years leading up to the divorce, that brush pile was HUGE some Mondays....Never did get the urge to take the hedge trimmer to him, though.

Posted by: b | April 19, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon is right on all counts. It should be the job of a news organization to show people the facts as they are, regardless of how nasty they might be. Yes, I think that they should have shown ejected brain matter from the victims. It is the job of a news organization to shake people out of their delusional complacency and rub their noses in reality.

Cho's video showed the depth pf his psychosis. If it helps one viewer recognize another potential psycho-killer (Q'est ce que c'est?), then it has been worhtwhile.

As for the argument that Cho should not have been given a platform for his psycho-babble, I would agree if the same standards were applied to George Bush, Dick Cheney, Roberto Gonzales, Karl Rove, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, George Will, Charles get the idea.

Posted by: Mister Methane | April 19, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

At every university and college with which I have been associated, students have ranted about the pampered rich kids who are taken care of by mommy and daddy. I complained that way, too. I can tell you that most of the rich kids who were taken care of by mommy and daddy were among the most messed-up, personally. Value your poverty -- it gives you the resiliency to deal with adversity. But don't value it too much -- the rich get a better medical and dental plan.

The most amusing complainant was a student who whined about the unfair advantages of her fellow students in a night class that I taught -- students who, I happened to know, included several parents of young children who had full-time jobs (why did she think they were in night school?) and a variety of other personal burdens far beyond anything she had to deal with. Obviously, I said nothing to her about that -- I don't believe in competitive whining, unless it's my own, in which case you lose. Man, I do suffer. But stoically.

Complaining is the language for someone who sees his whole life as one of special anguished suffering, and blames everyone but himself for causing it. Whether Cho actually had suffered some special form of abuse, I just don't know. Probably, we will find out in the days to come. "TONIGHT: a Killer's personal bully speaks out!"

What is it that causes a few posters to say that Cho had been sexually abused? It seems like it would be rather important to get a wider appreciation of such clues if they are real, but I wonder if this may be a deduction that depends on the observer more than the evidence.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 19, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I was undecided about whether or not the Cho videos/photos should have been aired, but was leaning toward not until I read Mudge's post. I was a bit taken aback by the tone he took, but he does have a convincing argument (or so it seems to me at least).

That said, I don't think the videos should be run ad nauseam and it would be nice if I didn't have to look at the pictures every time I clicked on any news site's homepage (even the Sydney Morning Herald gives me no reprieve). I am saddened (though not at all surprised) by the sensationalism of the coverage. It's nothing new; it happens every night on the local news. Still, I would have hoped that the magnitude of this tragedy would have sparked more thoughtful reporting. Not that I'm saying one person's murder deserves less respectful coverage than this does. It would be nice if the news could be the news and still be considerate of the individuals whose personal tragedies have become public.

Posted by: ABJunkie | April 19, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Liviu Librescu. Liviu Librescu. Liviu Librescu.

That makes eight, Wilbrod.

Some people need to know and learn everything they can about Cho. I can't get enough of the Liviu story.

To each his/her own.

Posted by: ot | April 19, 2007 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Anyone following AG AG's testimony?

Posted by: frostbitten | April 19, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Librescu, Librescu, Librescu.


Posted by: frostbitten | April 19, 2007 4:46 PM | Report abuse

The only photo the press should have shown was one of Cho after he blew his brains out. That's the message we want to send to mass killers. The proper finish; the death penalty at the scene of the crime. Sort of like the photos we saw of Uday and Qusay Hussein. Those photos warmed my heart.

Posted by: czg | April 19, 2007 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Liviu Librescu sounds beautifully like

Live Liberty

I am studying his face, which given his actions (and those of others), embodies the notion of arete: (Greek ideal) active virtue and the fulfillment of purpose.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 19, 2007 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Sevenswans writes:

"Is it news? Yes. Should it be a front page, OhMyGosh commentary, super-rotation, repeat-cycle frenzy? NO."

I totally agree. And I'm glad that the networks (way too late in some folks' opinion) have decided to reduce the video/photo excerpts. I notice that on the home page of at the moment there are no more images of Cho.

And I think we played it right in the paper this morning. Every day on our site you can find a link to what the front page (of the print edition) looks like. Here's today's:

Mister Methane (welcome -- you're in the right place) writes: "Curmudgeon is right on all counts. It should be the job of a news organization to show people the facts as they are, regardless of how nasty they might be."

Well, not to be picky and sound like I'm contradicting myself, but that's not exactly how it works. We don't publish everything we know. We select information, every day, constantly. Journalism isn't a data-dump. Moreover, we DO withhold things for taste. NBC did just that, choosing not to air parts of the video.

Which brings up Ron's comment (and welcome Ron):

"You're playing with peoples' lives, dude, for the principle of allowing media to do whatever they want."

My comments are not based on any such principle. I never brought the First Amendment into this.

I think we've all been horrified by this tragedy and want to know why it happened. The manifesto spoke directly to motive. This was relevant information. It's not an easy call whether to publish/broadcast it. But the reason a news organization would do it is because it is seen as newsworthy, not because the media "can do whatever they want."

Posted by: Achenbach | April 19, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Cho carefully planned every aspect of his final day.
Does anyone think he randomly chose NBC to serve as publicist for his madness?
He saw the network for what it is.
Airing the Cho manifesto amounts to 'blood journalism'.
The media benefit from every massacre, trading young lives for ratings.

Posted by: Larry A. | April 19, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

One correction. It wasn't a "Glock 9mm automatic". It was a semi-automatic. An automatic fires bullets for as long as the trigger is depressed. A semi-automatic fires one round per trigger-pull. Had this been an automatic, this could have been still worse.

Posted by: Craig R. Harmon | April 19, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Just wondering, what if instead of mailing the package to NBC, Cho had put his *manifesto* up on YouTube? Would/should YouTube take it down? Assuming it consisted only of the edited portions we've seen (or not seen) on the major news outlets, and not the possibly more distrubing stuff we haven't seen.

I haven't checked, but I'm guessing it's there now anyway, secondhand....

Posted by: Jimbo | April 19, 2007 5:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm trying to catch up on all the comments this afternoon, and this one struck me by Charlie M.:

"I, too think it is quite disturbing to see the videos. I want to see them because I have a deep interest in the human psyche but really the average person doesn't need to see it because of the risk of encouraging other emotionally unstable people.

Ironically, the people who don't want to see the videos are NOT the people who shouldn't see the video."

I'm glad you're reading and commenting here, Charlie M., and welcome. But my question is: who gets to decide?

Posted by: Wheezy | April 19, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse

>He can't relish in the media circus he created with half of his face blown off.

No Thomas, but he probably did relish knowing they would air it while he was shooting, and that's the point - why not remove everything you can that encourages these people?

This was obviously a large part of his plan. What if that were taken away?

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 19, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Okay, now see, it's posts like czg's at 4:46 that actually scare me. You derive personal pleasure from viewing the death of someone you despise? (granted that we're talking about persons widely held to be despicable) If that is true, and not mere hyperbole, then you are a symbol of everything that is wrong with the society that created Cho Seung-Hui.

I can feel only tired. My fantasy, when I entertain one at all, is of a quick-thinking custodian who ambushes Cho, beats him to pulp with a mop-handle, then lets him live to confront the emotion he'd fear most: pity. I can feel only pity for Cho Seung-Hui. I pity him for making his own life into something so valueless and contemptible.

Cho is dead because Cho wanted to be dead. It wasn't a punishment, anymore than suicide-bombers are punished by dying. It's what they want. If you want to punish somebody like Cho, or Saddam, or Saddam's little boys, or a suicide bomber, you do it by taking control of his personal narrative. He wants to be a misunderstood action hero who dies in a macho blaze of power and glory. So, you take away his story and give him one in which he is a trivial and unimportant inmate, too trivial even to bother with abusing. Lock him up, let him have visitors, treat him well, and rob him of the validation of suffering. That's a punishment.

Posted by: Tim | April 19, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse

"Live! you
onlookers, as though
you love life
and liberty too"
said Liviu Librescu to me
though I never had
the honour of meeting him

and be kind to each other, God dammit,
said another

Posted by: SonofCarl | April 19, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

What disturbs me most is that even after the former FBI profiler express doubts about the suitability of airing the video for fear of generating copycat acts, the CNN and WNBC newscasters blithely went on with the report as if it were the most inocuous piece of news ever shown.

I think that if they had wanted to inform the public of the Cho's motivation, they could have done so by summarizing Cho's comments. I do not see what purpose the reports served, and it was probably greatley upsetting to a lot of people who turned on the news only to be faced with the ungodly picture of Cho's brandishing 2 weapons a spouting a lot of incoherent gibberish. This is a prime example of the insensibility of broadcast journalists.

Posted by: Roseanna | April 19, 2007 5:14 PM | Report abuse

That was beautiful, SoC. I think this little campaign to publice Librescu and ignore his killer might just have a chance.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 19, 2007 5:16 PM | Report abuse

scc: publicize

Posted by: Wheezy | April 19, 2007 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I've added some of the comments to the kit, fyi.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 19, 2007 5:23 PM | Report abuse

How many more copycats will be sending their videos to NBC and other media outlets before embarking on a murderous spree?

This was was a heartless and stupid decision by NBC, and I intend to boycott NBC/GE products until they admit their mistake.

At least when the New York Times and Washington Post printed the Unabomber's manifesto, there was some logic to do so. At the time, the Unabomber's identity was unknown, and it was hoped that someone would identify the author of the rambling manifesto. This is in fact what happened, when Ted Kaczynski's brother, David, came forward after recognizing the writing.

Posted by: Wanderer | April 19, 2007 5:25 PM | Report abuse

The 3:24 post has me a little nervous.I also note that the overwhelmingly main issue of the boodle is stemming directly from the kit. In my experience this is a remarkable and perhaps unprecedented event in the annals of boodledom.

The first question is, are Cho's videos and writings really news, or are they more an example of the MSM's efforts to extend a news event in order to sell more advertising? If these videos are really news then the second question is, could that news have been better presented in a way that emphasized that news aspect while controlling the dissemination of Cho's messages to others with not all the screws in as tightly as they could be?

I don't watch the boob tube--I don't know if the ramblings and videos by this deranged person were news or not. If it is applicable I have no doubts about the answer to the second question. But--yeah. Wheezy's point. Who gets to decide? Who gets to control the writing of a summary?

Tim's 5:05 is a better rendition of my perspective than I could possibly write. But still--who decides?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, the ten that said the same thing, of course (and thank you for the extra welcome, as well as for the pun-enhanced image of rubbernecking deer). I agree with Joel, and not just because he just agreed with me. (*sparklehappy startleblush* - Uh, er, Hi Joel! *waves*)

However, I'm not in agreement with other arguments that news images, video and interviews at/of crime scenes, bomb results and bloody victims should be comparable to psychotic look-at-me manifestos. The compassion and horror upon viewing a screaming, napalmed little girl comes to mind. Horrible, yes. Necessary - also yes.

The psycho-manifesto (now in full multimedia versions, oh joy) has a specific, *narcissistic* intent to force the survivors to focus on the murderer, and the thought of the furor and attention after the final suicide is the reason for making the media package in the first place. This is not new (Jack the Ripper did it first), but it's getting more common, because it can, and because we feed it. That's why I advocated quiet reporting of the fact that it exists (that's news,and no, I don't want someone deciding that I'm too fragile to know it), without the extra added celebrity-infamy.

Posted by: sevenswans | April 19, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

The mainline press did not print the student's plays, which certainly contained bad words. But by reading them all of us can gain valuable insights into what was going on in this man's mind. Likewise, the entire videos, bad words and all, should be released as evidence so we can help understand the mental process which led to these horrible events. There is no "victory" here. It is only valuable evidence to the cause of a crime.

Posted by: George Conklin | April 19, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon: Took a two-hour break and just saw these exchanges. If you're referring to my post above in yours, I must tell you that I didn't say ANYTHING that you attributed to me. Check it out, Mr. Newsman.

Thanks also for the offer to explain how news organizations work to those of us who don't think the Cho tapes should be aired. I suppose if a serial killer taped all his exploits and sent them to a station, you'd consider it a no-brainer to air them too.


Posted by: Andrew | April 19, 2007 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Sevenswans-you remind me that I need to make a wildlife report.

Four trumpeter swans have stopped by, on their way even farther north I presume. With a 95 inch wingspan they dwarf the eagles in flight. So graceful on the water. It would be very exciting if they decided to stay, but though shooting them is illegal they're probably safer in Canada. As are we all?

Posted by: frostbitten | April 19, 2007 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Frosti, for the swan moment. I have not seen trumpeters for a long time. We have feral, pesty, fierce swans on the Bay. Beautiful but menacing,and they displace native birds, particularly the brown dabbling ducks. Here is a momnt back at you.
The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

-- Wendell Berry

Posted by: College Parkian | April 19, 2007 6:09 PM | Report abuse

TV will "demystify the event?" No. NBC has assured itself that its logo will appear on every image of a madman showing off while he maccasres people. It becomes clearer every day that network "news" oultets are in reality entertainment vehicles. And now the sky's the limit.

Posted by: mhr | April 19, 2007 6:13 PM | Report abuse

On the topic of whether the photos and videos should have been released, I suggest that most of our view points are largely meaningless here. What we should be concerned about is the very few individuals who see Cho as glorified by these images and who will act in a similar manner. Arguably, Cho's actions alone have some of that same impact, but to a much lesser degree. In his diatribe, Cho himself indicated a desire to empower others like him.

Remember, Cho sent these images because he believed that they made him appear powerful and menacing and cool. Normal people may disagree with such sentiments but his intended "audience" certainly does not.

Of course, all of this is an irrelevant after-the-fact rationalization. NBC released the images for the simple fact that it had what it considered a scoop. In fact, NBC not only displayed the pictures, but then brought on "experts" to opine on why the killer chose NBC. One such commentator speculated that Cho believed that NBC was the premier news source. A gleaming endorsement to be sure (although I heard Manson preferred CNN). Perhaps finding the word "exclusive" in bad taste, NBC instead repeated over and over that it was the only station to receive such a package, even indicating that the postal clerk who received the package had been contacted and he/she recalled only the single envelope. What won't be done for ratings.

The media, particularly cable news (the Post was better than most), with it "gotcha" style of journalism - always trying to be provocative or first or trying to satisfy its Nixon-fetish and take down someone in power and rarely attempting to be the most accurate, has done a deplorable job of covering this story. One can joke that the online world is unreliable and too quick to react but mass media fails time and time again to exploit its main competitive advantage, the ability to spend the time and resources to present an accurate, well thought out story. If the main stream media continues to emulate the online world in its race to the bottom, it shouldn't whine when, in spite of its billions of dollars, the public regards it as nothing more than a televised blog.

Greg K.
VT Class of '96

Posted by: Greg K. | April 19, 2007 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for that, CP, it's lovely and exactly what we needed today.

Posted by: Slyness | April 19, 2007 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Andrew, you will note that Cho taped no "exploits". He taped his own ranting. Getting a taste of what it looks like when a human being goes over the edge is way, way, different from a snuff film, which is what you would get from a serial killer's "exploits." You are comparing apples and trout.

Airing his video is not meeting his goals, not really. Considering the content of the video, he must have fantasized that we would be struck dumb by the dark and mesmerizing power of his unpitying judgment. He could not imagine that we would see it as contemptible and pathetic. The only people who could be "inspired" by this, were already "inspired", and are already a danger. They could just as well be inspired by a news story about injustice at the local convenience store. Or by the chosen theme for the senior prom. We're not talking about rational people, here.

I don't know whether Curmudgeon was quoting you, specifically, but every one of his comments had some recognizable antecedent that I had seen in earlier postings. You're not the only one posting, you know.

Posted by: Tim | April 19, 2007 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Still working on the shop steward's office...ruffles on the pillows, or tassels?

When the heck was the fridge cleaned out last? There is something green at the back and I am really hoping its guacamole.

(Just a little boodle levity)

Posted by: dr | April 19, 2007 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Just got out of a (pretty good) seminar on the thrilling subjects of diagramming sentences.

OK, a few more basics.

1) If you round up all the "negatives" about the NBC thing, probably 90 percent of them basically amount to "News organizations shouldn't print stuff I don't like." Yes, there are variants on this, but they all pretty much come down to "I don't like" XYZ so you guys shouldn't print/broadcast it. This is not an acceptable reason to refrain from printing/broadcasting news.

2) Joel is correct that news orgs don't always print or show evertyhting they have, and someone else said something such as "well, then, why not show dead bodies, or gore, or whatever." In fact the best news orgs (and don't let's confuse the good ones with the bad ones: you dump on the bad ones all you want) do in fact have series of rules or guidelines on what they will and won't show, such as:
1) sexual and or nudity, etc.--there was nothing sexual here, so that doesn't apply.
2) blood and gore: there was no blood and gore in Cho's stuff. So that rule doesn't apply. The one photo that bothered me a little was the one of the police carrying out the (as far as I know unidentified) guy, who may have been dead.
3) libelous/slanderous: obviously nothing here applies to the libel/slander question
4) offensive/"in bad tatste"/racially offensive, "PC"-type comments and material: we can get into a roaring debate about what is and isn't offensive, but generally speaking nothing in the Cho material was a "PC" problem. Calling people "rich" etc., isn't ipso facto "offensive." (Whether it was accurate is not an issue.)

Somebody objected to seeing a video of a guy pointing a gun at them(the screen, the camera, at the audience, whatever). Given that only about 10,000 movies and TV shows show people pointing guns this is absurd. I believe that in the opening of approximately EVERY ONE of the 20-something Bond 007 movies, ol' James points his gun directly at the viewer--and not only that, fires the gun, and "blood" seeps down over the screen. "Dirty Harry" (Clint Eastwood) points his gun at the screen from time to time. Somebody will have to explain why it's OK for 10,000 actors to do it but not one real psycho.

Falling into the non-"I don't like it" 10% of the objections are the complaints about "giving this guy a platform" and "why print this nut job's manifesto." What underlies these complaints is the notion that somehow giving air to these manifestos is somehow dangerous to the common weal, that the manifestos are so potentially potent and appealing that thousands of otherwise sane people just might suddenly rush off and emulate the whacko or adopt the whacko philosophy. But if we agree the manifesto in question is rambling, incoherent, crazed, lunatic, ad infinitum (and we do seem to be in complete agreement on this) --then what can possibly be the harm in airing them? The Unabomber had a manifesto that the NYT reprinted in its entirety. Did the very thorough airing of that manifesto suddenly prompt a mass wave of copycat Ted Kuczinski's? No, it did not. Charles Manson is a whack job, and his various and sundry views on all manner of subjects have been aired repeatedly--and while there are a few lunatics who have become Manson aficionados, so far none of them have put together a "family" and slaughtered movies actresses. The whack job who led that cult of people into committing suicide so they could fly off to a far planet had his views and manifesto widely described. So far there have been approzimately zero repititions of that incident. The views of the whack job who led the Jonestown Massacre has had his many (religious) views widely disseminated. So far no one has tried to repeat that feat. The views of whack job Idi Amin were only recently given very full examination in Forrest Whitaker's fine performance in "The Last King of Scotland." Has anyone suggested that perhaps we should refrain from airing Amin's various and sundry phsychotic notions for fear of contaminating other whack job national leaders?

People, the airing of some whack jobs's psychotic notions is NOT prima facie dangerous to society. If anything, airing said views tends to bring widespread condemnation, as well as a healthy discussion among professionals about what to do about the contents and/or the whack job people who hold them.

Airing Cho's manifesto has the further virtue of publicly displaying evidence. It is not enought to tell people, "Take our word for it--this guy was nuts." You have to show them the evidence, in sufficient detail, for people to form their own informed judgements. You can't take a paternalistic position that "this material is too dangerous for you to see; just take our word for it Cho was disturbed." No. You need to see the evidence for yourself. If you serve on a jury, the prosecution shows you all the blood and gore photos of the deceased victim; the prosecutor DOESN'T say, "well, this was a pretty awful crime, but we don't want to show you the pictures because you might not like them, so just trust it it was messy."

The job of the jury, like it or not, is to look at the evidence, unpalatable as it might be. As memebers of the general public -- if you are at all interested in the shooting of 60 people and the death of 32 of them-- don't you think it would be helpful to look at the evidence of the killer's insanity, unpalatable as that evidence might be? Nobody ever said living on planet earth and being part of the human race was "easy" or pleasant. Sometimes you have to look at unpleasant things, whether you "like to" or not. In this particular case, I would argue that looking at the Cho material would be a necessary if unpalatable aspect of good citizenship. The alternative would be to decline to look at the material yet presume to hold an uninformed opinion about something you haven't seen.

It is clear that Cho was vastly influenced by Columbine. I suppose the opinion can now be advanced that if the media had never convered Columbine--if there had been a total news blackout on the subject--then Cho's massacre would never have happened. Does anyone seriously believe that the media should never have covered that (or any other) school shooting? We should just "cover up" the murder of 12 students and a teacher "just in case" 10 years later some whack job might repeat it? we should "cover up" the murder of these 32 "just in case" some other whack job 10 years from now might want to emulate Cho and Klebold and kill 70 or 80? Where does it end?

Cho didn't become crazy and he didn't kill "because" of Columbine. He was seriosuly messed up to begin with. Emulating Columbine was simply the manner in which he expressed it. If Columbine had never existed, Cho would still have been psychotic and probably would still have done something similar --it is just that the metaphors and mannerisms might have been different; he might have chosen some different (but equally deranged) role model--maybe become a tower sniper like Chapman in Texas.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 19, 2007 6:25 PM | Report abuse

I have no problem with NBC televising it -- it's part of the news story. The televised some of the Unibomber's stuff too, so what is the difference, really?

Change the channel if you don't like what you see on TV. And if you don't like guns, then don't buy a gun. It's a free country.

Posted by: Bill | April 19, 2007 6:27 PM | Report abuse

CP-We have little sprigs of green weeds, and shimmery silver catkins on trees. I particularly like the quaking aspen. We call them popple here and they're cut for pulp, but I like them better even than paper birch. Not a stinky, feeble bradford pear to be found.

Thank you for the poem. It's important to remember that people can be responsible for creating things of beauty.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 19, 2007 6:27 PM | Report abuse

why not REALLY add some balance and do a quick expose on all the vicitms, let their families speak and get "the last word" because this sick individual already had his say and then blew his brains out so he doesnt have anything more to add beyond his cowards death. As for all the potential copy-cats of this world it would do us all a world of good if they got to see none of the destruction and all of the aftermath. The hell with balance here show the cost.

Posted by: Dean | April 19, 2007 6:29 PM | Report abuse

If Cho had the last word, then we would not be here discussing this now would we? Cho had Cho's last words. Just because they televised Cho's ramblings does not mean the last word has been spoken. I don't think it is up to journalists to position themselves as referees either. The Cho tape was newsworthy, so NBC aired it.

This is not some argument between bickering children where one of them has to get the last word. To say there even is a last word to be said and that somebody should get to say it, is to stifle public discussion.

Posted by: Bill | April 19, 2007 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Dean - re your suggestion that the media "do a quick expose on all the victims" - there's a "Lives Lost" feature on the home page of this very outlet, and on the NYT site, and no doubt on plenty of other sites too.

Mudge - I was in a long meeting (saved only when beer was produced at the end) when you posted your 2:33. I think I felt a brief rumble in spacetime when it happened, and a feeling of "Hear! Hear!" ran through me.

Posted by: byoolin | April 19, 2007 6:44 PM | Report abuse


My wife is watching tape of AG Gonzales on C-Span.

Money quote: "I now understand that there was a conversation between me and the President."

Heckuva job, Alby.

Posted by: byoolin | April 19, 2007 6:46 PM | Report abuse

I assert that in a crime as heinous as this the risk of a spontaneous copycat is extremely low. The notion that there exists an innocent who, through exposure to this video, suddenly realizes that there are these things called "guns" with which one can "kill" seems morbidly absurd.

The same thing applies to the argument that we are rewarding a dead guy. I doubt very much that there are many in our society who haven't figured out that if you do bad stuff you will end up on the evening news.

If you are uncomfortable with the revelation that news organizations are so venal as to actually seek to make money, then I suggest you simply get all your news from the government.

And as consumers we can always just switch to the Food Network.

But all these are side issues. The key question is the proper relationship of a society to evil. Do we hide it away, or do we confront it?

I assert that we need to hold evil up and stare into its fetid twitching face. The vision of this deranged kid waving around his guns while dressed like an extra in a pathetic community theater production of "Taxi Driver" strips him of all glamour. One exposes what Joel rightly calls the "banality of evil." This is not a pleasant process, but, I assert, a necessary one.

For once we expose people like this as the pathetic, weak, and ludicrous poseurs that they are, perhaps others will be less likely to follow in their path.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 19, 2007 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Hi Mudge. Hard day. People of great good will and passionate,clear thinking will disagree. Glad for the civil and lively discussion.

Frosti, thank you for the reminder about quaking aspen. I had no idea about the darling word of popple! The sound of aspen leaves is a western whisper I miss, as well as the silver flutter of the undersides. They are first colonizers after a forest fire or other disturbance.

DR -- keep the dainties coming. My fax machine is holding up and the rest of us will finish the refurb late tonight. Who is in charge on Friday? I am very tired of hoisting doilies, anti-maccassars, dotted swiss curtains, and other fripperies. Now, will somebody else please iron the pleated chair skirts! And shoo, bunnikins! Whoever decided that the bunnies shall run free, relying on a kitty litter box, should be here cleaning up!

Posted by: College Parkian | April 19, 2007 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Today, Curmudgeon is my hero for clear thinking. Crab or no.

The 'off' button seems to be some sort of hypothetical never-to-be-actually-used thing for some people. After 7 straight days of "Imus firing" repeated on the TV news, the upcoming cycle in the wake of this awfulness must have been apparent to everyone who can walk and chew gum. I watched a few minutes of the coverage, got the gist of it, felt awful but knew there was nothing short-term for me do about it - I'm hundreds of miles away and have no close people affected - and changed the channel. I know it is going to be ongoing for weeks.

My neighbor and I instead talked about how to reach out to edgy people who may need empathy and kindness, who may have demons that they can get rid of before things go too far.

Posted by: Jumper | April 19, 2007 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Is it "hear, hear!" or "here, here!"? (I'm seriously asking. I always thought it was the latter. Sorry.)

Posted by: Sirin | April 19, 2007 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I believe it's "hear, hear!" but I may be wrong, Sirin.

What do you want me to do when I'm finished with the ironing, CP? I'll have those skirts in place shortly. I'm still working on the red velvet curtains. They will be lovely in the break room, I'm sure.

I'm afraid what you found in the back of the fridge was tartar sauce, not guacamole. You know how Mudge is about his fish. I trust you threw it out posthaste.

Posted by: Slyness | April 19, 2007 7:00 PM | Report abuse

I was sure he said "...between me and the Preznit", thus ensuring there would still be a measure of deniability should anyone later state that he had testified under oath that he had a conversation with the President.

Posted by: 42 | April 19, 2007 7:03 PM | Report abuse

I am not sure that it has added anything to my knowledge that wasn't already there. The video addressed motive how? He is incoherent, he feels victimized. That was abundantly clear already from earlier news. What troubles me about plastering his face everywhere ties directly into something the teacher, Mr. Falco said the other day when he was talking about the guilt that faculty and students were feeling. He said (paraphrasing) that Cho couldn't communicate verbally - that the written word of his plays was the way he tried to let his feelings out. Well, OK, we do know now that he also used images. How many more folks are there out there like him? How many who viewed the news last night who were unable to take in the setting the network provided for it and came away only with those dramatic images? To whom that looked like glory? Looked like their future?

I didn't need those images to see Cho. I saw him, in painful detail, in the words of survivors. I didn't need his rant to understand how weirdly skewed he was mentally. I learned that from his actions and from looking at as much of his "plays" as I could take.

The only people who got *news* last night were people who thought he looked good and powerful on the national news and every newspaper in the country and thought that they could be just like him. So I see no point in what NBC did other than ratings. And the national news outlets even did their advertising for them.

The one interesting detail to me was the image of the package that Cho mailed. I wondered how much of that handwriting was his and if the scratched out zip codes showed urgency and haste.

Tell us the news, yes. Give us the words. Don't give us a psychotic's propaganda. NBC did as much, surely, as Cho could have ever hoped they would, and in that sense, he's "won" again.

Posted by: oscewicee | April 19, 2007 7:11 PM | Report abuse

If the main stream media continues to emulate the online world in its race to the bottom, it shouldn't whine when, in spite of its billions of dollars, the public regards it as nothing more than a televised blog.

Greg K.
VT Class of '96

wow - right on point, Greg. The internet feeds our hunger for prurience - in images, gossip, salaciousness, half-truths. And we blow off a good chunk of it because most of it vanishes from the screens and our brains with a mouse click. These images won't for mamy. The MSM's print outlets lose their claim to be "the papers of record" when they show no better standards of propriety and community decency than the web. Rather than bringing journalistic standards and tradition to the web, the MSM threatens to become warped into just better funded and louder web spots.

Posted by: Echidna | April 19, 2007 7:13 PM | Report abuse

I thought I had posted about the wonderfulness of SoC's poem and CP's posting Wendell Berry's "The Peace of the Wild Things". Bears repeating anyway.

I never heard of Wendell Berry, but I'm going to look him up now.

By the way, people could die from the dwindling doctor supply up in the Borderlands.

Garrison Keillor has kindly wrote a song about it-- the article and the song at the end is worth reading.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 19, 2007 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Wow... I've never been mentioned in a kit before, let alone quoted. I'll try not to let it go to my head. ;-)

I've read through all the comments for and against the release of this lunatic's rambling threats. I, too, have rarely disagreed with Mudge (his blue bottom is very intimidating, y'know), but in this case...

If forcing readers to stare down the barrel of a gun as soon as they hit the homepage of a "news" site is NOT blatant sensationalism, then what is? They had pics and mugshots of this idiot minus the weaponry. Why not use one of those? Why the one with the barrel pointing at the camera?

Another thing bugging me about this is the fact that it's okay to broadcast the violent disjointed rantings of a known killer before his victims have even been buried, yet CBS was fined big time for Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction. I guess the FCC believes blood and madness are less detrimental to societal mores than a partially exposed nipple.

Posted by: martooni | April 19, 2007 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for that link Wilbrod.

Our little town would like to have a clinic, but there's no way we could compete with a big city like I-Falls.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 19, 2007 7:36 PM | Report abuse

We should have more choice about when and how -- and how often -- we confront the banality and full-bore horror of evil. Framing, sizing, placement, linking in tv and web environments is a large part of the problem.

And, in public space, the mixed audiences that include children and victims, should be considered.

I don't know how to get it right. Broadcast and web venues, with the viraling inevitability, are very troubling.

I still think that the two communities who can quantify the copycat risk should address this, in part: psychologists and criminologists.

We can't stop the truly determined but I think that fence sitters -- or young people not fully formed -- might be stopable.

And perhaps, just perhaps, we can help some.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 19, 2007 7:38 PM | Report abuse

CP, you said it the best.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 19, 2007 7:47 PM | Report abuse

No, no copycats:

Police: Fla. Boy Arrested After Threat To Kill 100 In Wake Of Massacre

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A 14-year-old Florida boy is accused of threatening to top the death toll of 33 people killed in the Virginia Tech massacre and kill 100 people, police told media outlets in Jacksonville.

The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office arrested a 14-year-old Bartram Trail High School student following alleged threats the teen made in an e-mail to conduct a mass school shooting, WJXT-TV reported.

Yuba, CA:
A MAN apparently armed with an AK-47 assault rifle had threatened to make the Virginia Tech school massacre "look mild" in comparison, Californian police said today.

Schools in the northern city of Yuba were in lockdown as a search continued for Jeffrey Carney, said Paul Parker, of the Sutter County Sheriff Department.,21985,21589276-5005961,00.html

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 19, 2007 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Amen, CP.

Posted by: Slyness | April 19, 2007 7:50 PM | Report abuse

I have been so numbed and depressed by this whole tradgedy. I cry for all of us. My youngest son, who is a freshman in college out here in CO and lives in a dorm, has a best friend attending Virgina Tech. The friend (whom we've known since he was age 5) is okay and was in a different dorm and heard nothing when it all happended. A case of degrees.

Colleges and universities must tighten security measures, like the grade-level schools have done. It won't stop every deranged lunatic but it will help. I hated seeing the pictures, etc. of the killer but I understand that our culture is a visual one and tech savvy and the truth is imperative. The images do lend credence to the psychopathic behavior that can and did exist.

But please, show the images only a few times and then stop. Don't cavort with the enemy...which in this case is pure evil.

Posted by: Random Commenter | April 19, 2007 7:55 PM | Report abuse

But can these threats be blamed on the video? Did they say that they would have never thought of such a thing if it weren't for what NBC showed?

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 19, 2007 8:01 PM | Report abuse

>But can these threats be blamed on the video?

Not yet, especially since one is still free. But I think it's reasonable to conclude that it might be aggravating the situation.

What captures the imagination more thoroughly, a police blotter account or actual video?

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 19, 2007 8:09 PM | Report abuse

So it's balderdash that he might have used a bomb, instead of a gun?

Two words: Timothy McVeigh

Posted by: Ian | April 19, 2007 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Error, I thought of those 32 schools locked down in CA all afternoon, wondering at the fear that must be going on for the children, staff, parents and friends.

I try very hard to watch any violent shows, games, or even read violent books, it is my own choice but I do believe in a free press, much as I tried I could not escape the pictures of Cho with the gun, I wish perhaps the story had been front and centre, as it is a huge story and will be covered but wish the pictures had been more discreet, on the news online somewhere off the home pages.

I have a question that has bothered me all day, wouldn't the info/video he sent to NBC have been evidence, are the press allowed to publish that, what are the laws concerning that?

Posted by: dmd | April 19, 2007 8:17 PM | Report abuse

CP - you make a good point about saturation. Clearly there is a point where too much is too much, but that isn't quite the same thing as saying the video should have been suppressed.

And again, I assert, entirely without proof, that exposure to the video makes the VT killer seem less glamorous and worthy of emulation, not more.

But, of course, maybe that is just me.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 19, 2007 8:18 PM | Report abuse

You know, I'm glad I'm not the person who sold him the guns, regardless of the fact that they were legal. Now there's a burden to bear for the rest of one's life.

Posted by: Slyness | April 19, 2007 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Ian, Tim McVeigh didn't do it in a dorm room, with lots of people already on edge about him personally and the merest hint of a threat very likely to get him involuntary committed for a long time.

I still think he would have had a lower chance of success if he had to resort to bomb-making instead of buying ready-made guns, if only because nobody is supposed to have the components for a bomb just lying around without any reason... but somebody who is stockpiling enough guns and ammo to kill all that people, that's somebody practicing his Second Amendment rights.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 19, 2007 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Let's face it: was there ever *any* doubt that NBC would air the tapes? Its all about ratings, and just like a freeway accident, a lot of people will want to take a peek - though they contribute nothing new in the way of understanding what happened.
The important thing for the NBC execs, however, is to do lots of hand-wringing over what a 'difficult' decision this was and look 'concerned'.

Posted by: ian | April 19, 2007 8:24 PM | Report abuse

I'm no fan of censorship, but they don't show anal sex on the Today show either, and for good reason.

It just seems to me this was way more than necessary to get the story out and it effectively rewards these people in the way they most want.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 19, 2007 8:27 PM | Report abuse

RD -- but some of my point is not what happens to the image of the killer when we look at him! Think on changes in viewers, particularly troubled viewers.

(I am changed by such images. Hurt in my heart, actually. I am careful to limit my exposure to such material. I try to cultivate the response to love harder, actually. Cassandra and Slyness know what I am talking about. But Gandhi, too, said that when confronted with evil, he know that he must love in response.)

You, and many others, have a center with which to view the materials, and remain ordinary, calm, kind, centered.

But some look at such material and the damns inside break. We are not talking about causality here. Rather, we are talking about specific moments of risk, that may trigger a vulnerable individual.

I am not saying "CENSOR." However, we are living in a new world we barely understand. Perhaps a motivated person here will drum up the best thinking -- and data -- on triggers and copy catting.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 19, 2007 8:30 PM | Report abuse


My point is that if you are mad at the world and want to kill a lot of people, you don't necessarily need a gun.
I appreciate your argument though - right up to the snide comment about practicing 2nd amendment rights (or were you perhaps serious that that is what motivated Cho?)

Posted by: ian | April 19, 2007 8:32 PM | Report abuse

EF - but that's the point. And I am prepared to accept that I might be wrong. But to me the tape makes the VT killer look ridiculous. He doesn't look macho or significant. He looks like a pathetic loser. My son saw the tape and immediately said - "jeez what a freak."

Now as a way to generate sympathy for a mentally ill person the video fails, but as a way to strip this event of glamour, it succeeds brilliantly.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 19, 2007 8:32 PM | Report abuse

CP - again, the same point as I just made. I think the video pushes marginal kids *away* from violence, and not towards it.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 19, 2007 8:34 PM | Report abuse

>It's their *^%$# JOB to show news--and if you think this isn't news then you just plain don't know what news is--and although you have a right to your opinion your opinion is both uninformed and worthless.C'mon, think, people, think, don't just vent your visceral reactions.<

My problem began, first, with the cognitive dissonance these two sentences in the same paragraph created. Second, if Achenbach told me my opinion is both uninformed and worthless then I would quietly slink away. This is not Curmudgeonblog. I would think someone of his advanced years would recall some previous words about lies that life was black and white:

"Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats
Too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking
I had something to protect
Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now"

Good God, has he started law school or something?

Jesus, just trying to divert myself. As Steve Martin used to say "Excuse Me!" Go ford yourself.

Posted by: bill everything | April 19, 2007 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, the man in Roanoke who sold him the Glock should have already felt bad for selling such weapons. He has no right to feel bad only now. He's not, for instance, a kid who works in a sporting-goods store who happens to sell a rifle to someone who goes on a shooting spree.

dmd... there's no need for "clean" evidence since the killer won't go to trial. I think that's why everything's up for grabs.

I don't condemn NBC for showing the stuff; I agree with most of the folks here who come down on that side.

But my point this morning is what Martooni said: I don't want to click on My Yahoo to go to my email and see this kid pointing a gun at me. Yes, Mudge, there are tons of movies that show this image, but I don't watch them. I can keep my TV on the Tivo and avoid the news, but it's hard to stay online without seeing these images.

I also have not seen any of the killer's video; I haven't read his poems, plays or manifesto. I get the idea without it.

I was very proud last night when my daughter told me that she and her friend sat down yesterday in the cafeteria with a girl who "always eats alone."

I think the message of this horrible event got through to my daughter crystal clear.

Posted by: TBG | April 19, 2007 8:43 PM | Report abuse

And, of course, I must stress again that this is just my view. I welcome the opinions of psychologists and experts who have viewed the tape. If they feel that it exacerbates violent behavior in marginal people then, of course, I will yield this point. But I honestly believe the consensus view will be that it does exactly the opposite - that it discourages marginal people from going over the edge.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 19, 2007 8:43 PM | Report abuse

SCC: something screwed up. The two sentences constituting the quotes were supposed to be separate paragraphs.

Posted by: bill everything | April 19, 2007 8:44 PM | Report abuse

RD -- I have seen fence-sitters in my years teaching, that could tip the other way. I can think of two. One is in serious trouble and in custody. Jail is a repository of ill people without other options.

The other person, I have no idea. Those of us who knew him, worry and wonder but are relieved he is out of our orbit. We spoke of him today, in fact.

We are deeply impressed by Dr. Roy's gestures toward Cho. None of us have the time to teach one person like that. Her humanity and generosity is singular.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 19, 2007 8:46 PM | Report abuse

I don't believe the media should have aired any of it. Perhaps descriptions of what was on the tapes, but nothing more. This type of publicity is exactly what Cho was aiming for when he sent the tapes, and the media is just playing into his hands and encouraging copycats with widespread, uneccessary coverage at this time of grief.

Posted by: Nick C. | April 19, 2007 8:48 PM | Report abuse

TBG, your daughter was "spreading the love", how wonderful.

I was just wondering about the evidence, if the case officially closed? But thanks for answering I appreciate it.

I could not escape a couple of the pictures - they chill me to the bone, working hard on eliminating them from my mind, Frosti your nature report helped a lot thanks.

Posted by: dmd | April 19, 2007 8:50 PM | Report abuse

CP - it is my hope that if marginal kids such as the ones you describe see the tape they will be motivated to get the help they need. I don't think they will want to end up looking as sad and pathetic as Cho.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 19, 2007 8:51 PM | Report abuse

TBG -- ya done good! Hug that darling dot of yours for me. Yoki may second that motion.

TGB -- who is in charge on Friday? I finished the Grecian stenciled border. Frosti has sketched out some tasteful aspen leaf clusters. Last change for grape leaves over the microwave....

RD -- some see the images as powerful and up-the-world. If a person is diminished and impotent and wants to bring on a personal Ragnorak, this looks attractive.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 19, 2007 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Re: Error Flynn's 7:49:

Jeff Carney was the name of our senior class president, Bakersfield High School, Class of 1969. The man in the news link is mentioned as a transient with a drug problem from Yuba City, Calif. And yes, I did doublecheck my senior-year high school yearbook before posting this. Let's hope there is no relatedness.

*adjusting my former ESL teacher hat*

I heard this sentence, or snippet of information on Brian Williams' NBC newscast this evening. Essentially, Williams said that interviews had been conducted with faculty and students at Cho's former high school in Virginia. Cho, from South Korea, was both repeatedly bullied and made fun of for his use of English as a second language in class. He would not look up when taunted and hung his head in shame.

Yet, he chose English as a college major. At Virginia Tech, it has been reported repeatedly that he did not make eye contact with other students and spoke to almost no one. Anyone who would so debase a foreign student's attempt to speak English ought to know that their cruelty and insensitive comments were as much as play in this horrible episode as Cho's.

Posted by: Loomis | April 19, 2007 8:56 PM | Report abuse

CP - Well, I personally don't view the images as "powerful." But that's about all I can say.

Anyway, I think I've argued my point as much as I can and then some. I hope that at some point solid psychological research is done on this.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 19, 2007 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Not snide, Ian.

Just that, basically, it wasn't illegal in VA for him to own a gun. I don't know that a nut owning gun is even considered evidence of intent to act without colloborating evidence such as threats; otherwise a lot of nutty people would be in jail right now protesting they have done nothing wrong except shoot at tin cans and wascally wabbits.

Bomb materials, on the other hand, would be without a damn good cover story. There's not much "presumed innocent until proven guilty" when somebody carries a bomb into a public place.

What's snide about that? I'm not per-se against the second amendment. I do think it has to be read fully, not just partially.
"A well-regulated militia" does not mean having mentally ill people buy all the guns they wish.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 19, 2007 9:06 PM | Report abuse

I chose not to speak for precisely that reason, Loomis.

It's not hard to see examples of people being ridiculed for their accents on Letterman and various TV shows and to start thinking that's not something I'd enjoy opening myself up to, especially since I have no idea how I sound. The one time I was made fun of, I threw a book at the taunter-- and I was a young kid.

Yes, that kind of teasing is crueller than people realize it is.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 19, 2007 9:11 PM | Report abuse

That Cho was likely bullied in school saddens me so. I better get back to my papers, nearly done, and try to focus on that.

Thank you to the regulars and drop-ins for lively, reasoned, and civil conversation. JA, can you chase down the fence-sitter trigger risk?

TBG - you have made my day with TBG-Dot story. May as well be kind. How Vonnegutian!

Posted by: College Parkian | April 19, 2007 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the on-off switch on the TV in relation to NBC's decision to show part of the video -- I have been following the VT story on the net all week, and think I understand what happened and who the perpretrator was. My total TV watching since Sunday was about 60 mins of Liverpool vs Middlesborough, English soccer, last night, and Alton Brown the night before. I don't understand why people need to watch network TV, and thereby subject themselves to all sorts of junk. Bored? Read a book, surf the net.

Posted by: LTL-CA | April 19, 2007 9:25 PM | Report abuse

About the stories coming out about taunting of Cho and feelings of inadequacy, etc., I am sorry that I have an axe to grind now here in the Boodle but is there (to use BIG CAPS) ONE THING UNUSUAL ABOUT WHY THIS GUY WENT NUTS?

No. Did that stupid video screed add to our knowledge of what happened? No. Was it necessary to understand what happened. No. I reiterate the last sentence of my 8:41 post to the person it was directed to. He should apologize because he offended everyone who took any slightly contrarian view. I don't really buy into the concept that double standards are cool because, well, that's that old dude's nature . . . .

Posted by: bill everything | April 19, 2007 9:28 PM | Report abuse

>But to me the tape makes the VT killer look ridiculous.


I'm sure. But I doubt *he* thought that or he wouldn't have sent it, right?

All I know is when I finally got to see the doc my blood pressure was literally ten points higher than last time. No wonder the other TV is set to Regis & Kelly.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 19, 2007 9:30 PM | Report abuse

I find it hard to believe that Cho was repeatedly made fun of in class in Fairfax County for his accent and ethnic background. Chances are, there were at least three other Asian kids in each of those classes.

Perhaps there was an isolated incident, but repeatedly bullied for his accent? I doubt that. If he was bullied (and of course any bullying is too much), it was likely because of his strange, anti-social behavior.

More than 16% of the kids at Westfield HS are Asian.

According to the Fairfax Co government website, that's about the same as the general county population.

Posted by: TBG | April 19, 2007 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Error... one time my blood pressure was incredibly high after I sat in the waiting room forced to watch Fox News.

Posted by: TBG | April 19, 2007 9:35 PM | Report abuse

The should never air those videos. It emboldens others who feel as he did. They crave to be noticed, when they feel they have been ignored or persecuted for all their lives.

We have to teach ourselves and each other to treat each other better. I remember the stings of bullying throughout my childhood. I was blessed with a family and a small group of friends that helped me maintain a small scrap of self-dignity.

We can no longer afford to ignore these actions, from either side. To do so is to invite more tragedy. I was at Iowa when this happened in 1991. It saddens me so to see that we still haven't learned.

My prayers to all the families who suffered and lost

Posted by: waterloom | April 19, 2007 9:36 PM | Report abuse

EF - you are probably right. But that has nothing to do with how other's view the tape.

For example, I think I look great when I dance.

TBG - I agree about Fairfax County Schools. Hardly a hotbed of intolerance.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 19, 2007 9:39 PM | Report abuse

>my daughter told me that she and her friend sat down yesterday in the cafeteria with a girl who "always eats alone."

TBG, that's great to hear. A little of that on a large scale could make an amazing difference.

>How Vonnegutian!
Indeed. And for the younger folks, you always have "Be excellent to each other" from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 19, 2007 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Good point about the phrase you pointed out as hurtful, Bill everything.

I disagreed with Mudge but decided to ignore the rant, because I had already said my opinion, and he missed that point by a mile.

It's not to cover or not to cover-- of course this story had to be covered, it's HOW to cover the story.

He argues NBC had to release the video. Okay, I didn't see the video. I heard it would be aired, and I avoided it. That's my choice-- I've already read enough of his rantings to last me a while.

What concerns me is that I'm seeing stills and replays from that video everywhere on the internet without actually WANTING to go look at it.

LTL-CA's comment about not watching TV notwithstanding, the fact is that I and most of my generation already get most of my news from the internet.

If I'm complaining I can't avoid the coverage or the graphics, it's not about changing the channel or shutting my eyes until it's over and I can continue.

You see, when the image greets me right on the top of the home page, I have to be aware of it to flip through to the links I want. If I knew how to switch the image and video download option off, I'd have done it.

It bothers me when multipurpose websites that are not visited simply for news, display such news in graphic detail-- and I mean pictures, videos, not just words-- to play to the maximum number of eyeballs.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 19, 2007 9:44 PM | Report abuse

>EF - you are probably right. But that has nothing to do with how other's view the tape.

Dude, it's the killers we need to discourage, not the viewers!

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 19, 2007 9:44 PM | Report abuse

*dismounting from high horse*

Thanks Wilbrod. Still an unbelievable tragedy.

Posted by: bill everything | April 19, 2007 9:49 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I'm sure you gave your daughter a hug and told her you're proud of her. And if I see you tomorrow night (still 50/50 at this point), you're going to get the same from me.

If there is a legacy to all of the horror and sadness and vitriol of the past few days, let it be a higher awareness for all of us to reach out to the sad, lonely, angry people we see every day and show them some care and friendship.

It won't bring the victims back or heal those that were injured, but if the Lorenz butterfly wings of a small kindness by you or me somewhere in our day makes someone feel a little better about life and perhaps prevents a storm somewhere somewhen, then somehow something good *has* come out of this.

Forgive my ramblings. I'm tired, but not completely out of hope.


Posted by: bc | April 19, 2007 9:51 PM | Report abuse

EF, you and I were thinking the same thing, my friend.


Posted by: bc | April 19, 2007 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link about high school age populations in Virginia's Fairfax County for the last several years, but I think you emphasized the less meaningful number--Asian students, roughly 16 percent.

A closer look at the information shows that the number of limited English (definition) students for the past three years or so has remained at roughly 8 percent, while the category of English Speakers of Other Languages has held steady at about 3.5 percent for the same period. So, hoping that the data is relatively stable if we extend it back five years to roughly the time Cho graduated, this would make Cho a racial minority in a very small ESL minority.

The reporting on NBC news tonight was brief about Cho's high school experiences. I would like to see more extensive reporting about Cho's high school days in Virginia and his ESL instruction, if any, and education in Detroit.

Posted by: Loomis | April 19, 2007 10:03 PM | Report abuse

SCC: this would make Cho a racial minority in a very small ESL minority

This would make Cho a racial minority and also a member of a significantly smaller ESL minority.

I'm tired, too. bc said it so well.

Posted by: Loomis | April 19, 2007 10:08 PM | Report abuse

They'd broadcast an endless loop of the 9/11 jumpers if they thought it would help business

Posted by: XJS | April 19, 2007 10:15 PM | Report abuse

As part of my continuing effort to start a different topic, have a look at this always interesting site...

Posted by: LTL-CA | April 19, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

I have a question for everyone who has posed a variant of: NBC did it solely for the ratings.

What do you think the folks in PBS' news division would have done if this package was sent to them?

They would have handled it a bit more tastefully, as many of us have asked for, but I can guarantee they would air it. (Parts of it, as NBC did.)

I think it was Wheezy who asked: Who decides? It's a fantastic question and one that people who work in newsrooms have to answer 10 and 20 and 30 times a day (usually with much less dramatic results). And in the U.S. the culture demands -- and bless the Lord for it -- that we err on the side of ripping the lid off and letting people judge the facts and the news and the evidence for themselves. It's like going way out of your way to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. Except in this case, the impulse is go way out of the way to avoid the appearance of a cover-up or censoring. With the lid firmly ripped away, we see Cho for the severely mentally ill man that he was. I didn't even read his words or watch the videos. All you have to do is see the stills. Yet that is an integral part of the narrative of this event.

To the point that this isn't "news" -- if another piece of information surfaced that revealed Cho had another chapter in his history of mental illness, say a police run-in or another incident of involuntary hospitalization, would that be news? Would that not spawn story after story, and rightly so? Yes, it would. This just happens to be a visual and far more stomach-churning piece of news.

Obviously some news orgs went too far in displaying the images. But that doesn't mean we should call for their censorship.

Posted by: Patrick | April 19, 2007 10:56 PM | Report abuse

RDPadouk writes "TBG - I agree about Fairfax County Schools. Hardly a hotbed of intolerance."

All schools are hotbeds of intolerance for the emotionally disturbed. Kids, regardless of race and language background, who have low pragmatic language skills get reactions from others that contribute to their disturbance. They respond to their peers' negative reactions in ways that create ever more unfavorable interactions. These kids can often manipulate others in negative ways-avoidance being a big one, bullying another, getting authority figures to use ever more aversive "discipline" techniques yet another. Using language to get warm, caring, inclusive responses from others is just beyond their abilities.

Just when Cho's disturbance manifested itself, and who should have caught it earlier, will be the source of endless debate. However, disturbed he was and school must have been hell. Then again I think schools are vile, soul sucking places for the most part anyway.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 19, 2007 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Sky report -- some RAIN is forecast for tonite and tomorrow! Hooray. LA has had only 2-odd inches since last July, mostly in mid-February. We can sure use it. I'm even having to water the CA Poppies out by the street (some have finished blooming), which being natives rarely need care of any kind.

Posted by: LTL-CA | April 19, 2007 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Well wasn't that starts with c and rhymes with rap.

SCC These kids can often manipulate others in negative ways-

should be
These kids can often manipulate others into negative behavior-

Posted by: frostbitten | April 19, 2007 11:01 PM | Report abuse

For the bunker, I suggest adding an agility course to the front yard.

I think we can train up kitties and bunnies to frolic about the front yard among the flowers arranged in Kincade patterns....

We must have dirt-proof lace runners on the A-frames, of course.

And we need to invite Clarinha to show us how to work the course.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 19, 2007 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Boodle-skimming, but to make a few comments:

While I don't deny the copy-cat phenomenon exists, we can't necessarily base our actions on our logical predictions of what an insane person will do. They are ... well ... insane, and therefore unpredictable. Maybe they'll kill because they watch the video, maybe they'll kill because they're offended the video wasn't shown, maybe they'll kill because the sky was blue this morning and they hate blue. If their actions are unpredictable, then by definition you can't predict their reaction to any particular stimulus (Mudge said something similar earlier today.)

Concerning whether or not to show the video, there was a similiar debate in the Dooley household last night, and I found that even though my initial reaction was disgust, I can't really fault NBC too much. Even so, I have not watched the video and will not do so.

Skimming the comments today, I'm struck by how (for the most part) both points of view are well thought-out and reasonable, no matter how vociferously stated. I think this may be one of those times when there just is no clear-cut "right" answer among a range of unpleasant choices.

Posted by: Dooley | April 19, 2007 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Whew, baking peanut butter cookies and working on bunker decor cries for beer.

Collecting aspen sprays for a little decorative swag above a Kincade masterpiece led me to think why not just create a little scale replica, diorama in a shoe box type affair. Is anyone really good with a pasta maker and polymer clay?

Posted by: frostbitten | April 19, 2007 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Hear, hear Dooley!

Frosti- me, me! I once made a polymer clay dinosaur for a 3rd grade fair that, not to be immodest, was universally acclaimed. At least, in my children's elementary school universe.

Posted by: Kim | April 19, 2007 11:25 PM | Report abuse

I believe that at least 3 beers were consumed during the artistic process.

Posted by: Kim | April 19, 2007 11:26 PM | Report abuse

If I can serve Pat's head up on a platter, I can always knock together a diorama with clay. Just point that pastamaker away from me.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 19, 2007 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Kim, I originally read your post as you having drank beer in the 3rd grade and I was thinking "hmmm"!

Thanks, Wheezy and Wilbrod

Posted by: SonofCarl | April 20, 2007 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Kim- A dinosaur in a Kincade could be just the thing!

Last batch of cookies in the oven. So I'll say goodnight Boodle.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 20, 2007 12:16 AM | Report abuse

The Achenblog's archnemesis disagrees somewhat with Curmudgeon's position:

No, I don't frequent his site. It was a link, I tells ya. Ya gots to believe me.

Posted by: SonofCarl | April 20, 2007 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Frosti, I was wondering - why exactly must you commute between the semi-tropics and the frozen north? I assume it has something to do with the husband's job and your job? Will this go on for years?

Sorry if I'm too nosy. In real life I'm like the British who are afraid to ask "how's the family" to someone they haven't seen in a while, on the off chance that the person's family have all perished in a terrible accident. Miss Manners got to me at a quite early age and I an unable to ask the cocktail party sort of questions - what line of work are you in (implies that one is fishing for an income range), where do you live (see earlier parenthetical), where'd you go to school (oh heck, they're all transparent ploys to delve into someone's income!). But online I feel free, liberated to ask. After all, even Miss Manners allows us to follow up on freely offered conversational gambits, and you *have* mentioned your commutes.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 20, 2007 12:32 AM | Report abuse

Life imitates fiction? The similarity cant escape peoples attention. Before and after photos, the striking difference how Cho looked as if characters from films like Taxi Driver and The Matrix. First Cho looks meek and anonymous then his drastic change to that of a commando brandishing various weapons, radically changes his appearance when he seemingly sets out on a mission, like those film characters Cho rails against the worlds moral corruption and rich peoples hedonism. It was a stunning twist in the Cho story, with his manifesto Cho mirrors The Matrix story line of fighting against the system that enslave us all. I wonder if Cho was influenced in any way by such films.

Posted by: siberiafire | April 20, 2007 1:30 AM | Report abuse

Odd that you should mention films. The new film class that Virginia Tech was offering, and that Cho was enrolled in, is covered in a story in tomorrow's NYT (however, the thrust of the story is to inform readers how many alarm bells and whistles Cho set off among his English professors):

Ross Alameddine sat a few feet from Mr. Cho for months in a class examining contemporary horror films and literature. Both students were required to keep what were known as "fear journals," where they chronicled both their reaction to the material covered in class and their own fears.

Mr. Alameddine, according to classmates, made an effort to speak to Mr. Cho on several occasions, trying to draw him out of his closed world and his refusal to interact with other students.

On Monday, Mr. Cho shot and killed Mr. Alameddine.

There is no evidence to suggest that Mr. Cho targeted his classmate, but it is the first time one of the victims has been connected to Mr. Cho before the shootings.

The class they took together was new, offered for the first time last fall. The students studied movies like "Friday the 13th" and read Stephen King, H. P. Lovecraft and Patricia Cornwall novels. "We had a whole discussion on serial killers," said one student...

Posted by: Loomis | April 20, 2007 1:40 AM | Report abuse

OK, that's it. When Hugh Hewitt is linked into the discussion then the thread's downward trend is obvious even to us uncultured dweebs. Hurry up with that next kit, oh great swami of the graceful singing blog.

Posted by: MedallionOfFerret | April 20, 2007 3:36 AM | Report abuse

To all of you active and retired Glaucoma Test Pilots (motto: "Let's *light* this candle!"), let me be the first to wish you a happy 4/20.

For those that don't know, 4/20 is similar Pi day, only at 4:20 PM the GTPs celebrate with the Right Stuff instead of a piece of pie.

If they rememeber, that is. Typically, they need a little reminder.


Posted by: bc | April 20, 2007 5:50 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "remember"

Oh, the irony.


Posted by: bc | April 20, 2007 5:51 AM | Report abuse

*quick peek*

I'm here, backBoodling to beat the band, will have a more coherent post soon.

*getting more coffee*

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 20, 2007 7:14 AM | Report abuse

I know I could look it up, but I'm hoping somebody will just tell me.
Glaucoma test pilots?

Posted by: Kim | April 20, 2007 7:32 AM | Report abuse

Regarding Fairfax Schools. Although it is true that to be different while in any school system can be one of Dante's circles of hell, Fairfax is better than most.

First of all, the diversity of the student body is legendary. It is hard to imagine anyone of any ethnic identity not finding peers if he or she so desired.

Further, the school system itself is extremely aggressive about identifying at-risk children and offering support. Of course, this support is only made available if the parents want it. But with the active involvement of parents, Fairfax has an excellent Emotionally Disabled program, which provides services up to and including self-contained classes where troubled children can get daily intensive support.

As this story evolves, one important aspect will be an assessment of what part of the system broke down. Did the school system fail to provide inadequate support? Did the parents refuse to allow this supprt? Did both the school system and the parents simply fail to recognize how troubled Cho actually was? Or, as is possible, did everyone do everything right, and yet still have everything go wrong?

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 20, 2007 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Kim, I did not get it either a few months ago. This means that you and I may have something in common besides Achensillieness. You will laugh, I expect.

Off on my bike, substance-free, as per usual. Cue: Ride of the Valkyries, etc. Actually, Martooni, today is more of a 59th Street Bridge song day....

Posted by: College Parkian | April 20, 2007 7:38 AM | Report abuse

One final time, and I'll stop, I swear:

The fact the package was sent -- news.

The contents of the package -- repetition of what we already knew, NOT news.

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 20, 2007 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Ok, I'm ready to laugh. I'll need it when I check back in a few hours. I'm off today...yippee! Unfortunately, this is the day I have picked to take 18 trash bags and a back hoe to my 16 year old son's room. I'm really afraid that there are living, growing organisms in there besides those in his fish tank.
I've been warning him, you do it or I will. He appeared to be unconcerned.


Posted by: Kim | April 20, 2007 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Good luck to you Kim!

Posted by: dmd | April 20, 2007 7:50 AM | Report abuse

And good morning, everyone! *waving in a "very happy it's Friday" kind of way*


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 20, 2007 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Happy Friday Scotty, another fantastic morning here, we haved skipped spring again and are jumping right into summer, temps low 70's this weekend - Time to play in the dirt!!!

Have a great day all and a fun BPH.

Posted by: dmd | April 20, 2007 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Mornin' peeps...

I feel like I'm in a Folgers coffee commercial this morning. Nothing like watching the sun come up to the chug-huff-wheeze of my old percolating coffee pot while Little Bean and Mrs. M. are still snuggled up under their covers. Somebody pinch me... I think this just might be what they call "serenity".

It's looking like a semi-slow day for Handy Hippie -- not good for the bank account, but I'm due for a break. Maybe I'll finally get my old VW bus tuned up and truckin' again -- poor Stella looks so forlorn and neglected out there in the driveway. Mrs. M. would probably like to have her minivan back, too (minus all the drywall, lumber and insulation debris).

Oh... and today makes 25 boozeless days. I've been keeping track in a little notebook with tic marks and I get kind of excited on the days I get to do the slashy tic that makes a five.

Hope everyone has a great Friday.

Peace out...

Posted by: martooni | April 20, 2007 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Finally, warm weather. Hmm....might be a day to get out the clubs. Actually I'm thinking of making a side trip to the Tulip Library. I know, sounds really macho. The Tulip Library is a non-circulating library, unfortunately. Anyway after this grim week it might be a good day for everyone to celebrate life rather than focus on death and madness (and recriminations and errors and whatnot).

Posted by: Joel Achenbach | April 20, 2007 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Martooni, we're all very proud of you.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 20, 2007 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Martooni, great post I am leaving for work with a big smile, "Serenity" is a wonderful thing.

Posted by: dmd | April 20, 2007 8:08 AM | Report abuse


I look forward to the day when I can buy you a new notebook 'cuz you used up every available tic mark space in the old one.

And yes, Joel, today is a day to focus on the enormity of good on this Big Blue Marble.


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 20, 2007 8:10 AM | Report abuse

I liked Firefly better.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 20, 2007 8:11 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Achenbach | April 20, 2007 8:14 AM | Report abuse

A professor weighs in on being safe on campus:

Posted by: Achenbach | April 20, 2007 8:16 AM | Report abuse

* many humble thanks all around *

Posted by: martooni | April 20, 2007 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Time to break out the Hawaiian shirts and polish up the shades.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 20, 2007 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Martooni-We are having a morning up here just in your honor. I got up to sun breaking through clouds after a desperately needed rain. "Jesus rays," as Frostdottir calls them, shine down on a flotilla of waterfowl and eagles are out for a morning stretch. Cue morning church bells from our town's Lutherans and there you have it. A day 25 celebration!

Wheezy-I appreciate your dedication to the Miss Manners code, but your question is no intrusion. Mr. F. is in the army, stationed with SOCOM at MacDill AFB but MN is "home." While Mr. F was in Kuwait for a year I got reconnected with the old hometown and the next thing I knew I had been elected mayor and drafted to form a charter school more sensitive to our 50:50 Ojibwe:Non-Indian, and distressingly poor, community's needs.

RD-I am a great admirer of Fairfax County schools. However, I stand by my assessment that most schools are vile, soul sucking places. At least in Fairfax it's a design flaw imposed on them by tradition and law, not a matter of criminally poor execution.

Need coffee before I get on a school rant.
Morning all. Off to the big town of Bemidji to pick up a visitor from the airport. Wish me well, this visit could make or break our charter school development.

Where is Cassandra? She was the scheduled speaker at Martooni's celebration.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 20, 2007 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Hey, somebody post a witty definition for "Glaucoma Test Pilot" and I'll add it to the FAQ's over on the wiki page.

Posted by: kbertocci | April 20, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

martooni, sounds like you are almost due for a one month coin. As Monty Burns says *Excellent*

Wow what a difference sunshine and warm temperatures make!! This weekend Everything will be like Ian Anderson and the boys "Bursting Out"

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 20, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Luck Frosti.

Posted by: dmd | April 20, 2007 8:53 AM | Report abuse


If you google Glaucoma Test Pilot your 4th or 5th hit will be

(The first ones are on pilot tests of glaucoma treatments)

Before my time so I boodleskimmed looking for some witticism to steal, but with attribution I swear. Sadly, midway through the boodle someone announced a shooting incident in progress at the Rayburn building. %&#@!

Posted by: frostbitten | April 20, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

TGIF, everyone. 420, indeeed, bc. My students are all too familiar with that particular bit of American slang. I am psychologically exhausted fdrom the events of the past week, and look forward to some down time. I think I'll pass on the opportunity to watch the boob tube this weekend. TBG, you have raised your children well. Be kind to someone today.

Happy 25th, martooni. *faxing a compendium of 70's hits to the bunker*

Posted by: jack | April 20, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I almost forgot! Tonight we get a chance to dress up and go out. It's prom night and we have non-instructional duty.

Posted by: jack | April 20, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Morning! Pat, it's a beautiful, cloudless Carolina blue sky today. And the temp is supposed to break 70 - a real spring day. About time!

Story in the paper this morning that the meteoroligists at NC State are predicting 8-9 hurricanes this season, with 4-5 being major storms. Others may recall that they were accurate in their predictions last year, so their opinion counts.

If anything good comes of Monday's events, I hope it will be action to integrate the efforts of police, mental health, school, courts, and others who have jurisdiction to effectively identify and help troubled students. The current piecemeal approach obviously is not successful.

Martooni, we are very proud of you. TBG, good for dottir of G! I hope she makes a good friend. Certainly there is no greater loneliness than being by yourself in a crowd of your peers. Morning, Cassandra! Hope you've having a good day.

Who's in charge of the shop steward's office today? I've got red velvet curtains to fax...

Off to strip wallpaper in the bathroom at the dottir's condo...later, everybody!

Posted by: Slyness | April 20, 2007 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Good luck, frosty...

And where *is* Cassandra? I'm Jonesing for our daily blessing.

Glaucoma Test Pilot: One who partakes of a particularly magical herb by smoking it or making it a secret ingredient in yummy brownies (bet ya can't eat just one). GTPs are easily amused and are often found in dark basements observing how lint glows on their concert t-shirts under a black light to the accompaniment of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon". They are also known to congregate at Phish concerts.

GTP Motto: "Dude... I am sooooooo high. Like where's my car?"

Posted by: martooni | April 20, 2007 9:21 AM | Report abuse

TBG, Tel your sweet young daughter that she and her friend caused a grown man's eyes to get all misty today. Lovely.

sirin, on Here, here vs. Hear, hear:

 As a parliamentary cheer, hear him, hear him! is first recorded in the late 17th century and continued into the 19th; the reduction to hear! or hear, hear! meaining agreement occurred by the late 18th century. However, the use of the verb hear as an imperative meaning listen! is older

Posted by: omni | April 20, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

>Time to break out the Hawaiian shirts and polish up the shades.

I came *this close* to donning my new Hawaiian shirt today. Maybe later if sneak out early. It *is* a top-down day for sure.

Did anyone see The Daily Show last night? The back-to-back clips of AG Gonzales saying he didn't recall were priceless.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 20, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Or: What's my name, where's my car?

Posted by: jack | April 20, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

The Tulip Library is a display garden showcasing nearly 100 varieties of tulips. (Must be like the rose garden Joel visited in Portland during his trip there.)

Centuries ago, the tulip graced the royal courts of Turkey, and it is from this part of the world that the tulip originally came to Europe. The origin ofthe word tulip is unknown, but may have derived from "dulband" which meant turban in Turkish and somewhat described the shape of the flower. Its introduction into Europe dates back to 1554 and is at-tributed to a Flemish diplomat who, after visiting the court of Sultan Soliman, The Magnificent, dispatched bulbs to Vienna. Over a period of years, the tulip moved in successive stages throughout Europe where it captured the fancy of gardeners, naturalists and apothecaries.

Now to look up a Lorenz butterfly. bc, you do cause me to be curious on more than one occasion, man.

And those Van Allen belts? Why it's the Universal Pictures logo!:

Posted by: Loomis | April 20, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Loomis, look up Edward Lorenz and the butterfly effect...chaos theory...

Posted by: omni | April 20, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

martooni, you *know* we think you're the man, and I'm very very happy that you've gotten your life on a better track.

I hope my little running gag about GTPs and 4/20 does not make you uncomfortable, my friend. If it does, I will desist.


Posted by: bc | April 20, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

omni: Whenever I watch the Parliamentary Q&A, I always think of the vignette in Blazing Saddles in which Gov. Wm. J LePetomaine has a cabinet meeting where everyone agrees with a harumph, harumph,...

Posted by: jack | April 20, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

It is spring, when it is said that a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of

Which raises the question, what does a young woman's fancy turn too?

And, of course, I assert that we are all young.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 20, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

...and now for somethng completely different...*channeling bc*

Posted by: jack | April 20, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Jack, so this means one day teenagers will be asking their parents if they can borrow the car fob? It just doesn't sound right.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 20, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I have always like Cheech and Chong's "Up in Smoke" where they are parked on the medium strip and the cop is questioning them.

Or even better when they throw that big doobie in the car full of Nuns at the border.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 20, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

As planned, I added Martooni's definition to the boodle wiki; it nestles comfortably between the entries for "Flying Spagetti Monster" and "Hal the Schemer."

Thanks, you dang hippie, you, and thanks also for expressing some of my more radical opinions in a more acceptable format than I can seem to manage.

And... (*remainder of message sent via ESP*)

Posted by: kbertocci | April 20, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of one's fancy lightly turning to thoughts of love - where is mo?

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 20, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

>Jack, so this means one day teenagers will be asking their parents if they can borrow the car fob?

Or if they're already in the car and you're outside they can just push the button! As much as I love the race-car connection of pushing a start button I'm not sure it's such a grand idea.

On the other hand I'm not fond of any electronic interaction between keys and the starter. One of my cars won't start w/o pushing the key fob unlock button whether you have the key or not. "Drive Block" they call it. Which means if the battery on your key fob gives out even YOU will be blocked from driving.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 20, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Course I must 'fess up that in a homage to Weingarten I am, in fact, secretly in love with all the women on the Boodle.

Well, almost all.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 20, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

EF, I thought that Daily show segment on AG was a hoot. Liked Stewart's commentary that AG said "I don't recall" something like 45 times. Before lunch.

"That's a *lot*," Stewart said.

Loomis, Van Allen belts are great until they catch on fire. Then you need Walter Pigdeon, Frankie Avalon, Peter Lorre, Barbara Eden, and a nuclear missile-equipped submarine to blow it out Red Adair-style.

BTW, Linda, you're not the only one I make curious as to what's going on between my ears. I for one, would love to know what's going on in there myself. From here it sounds like a coffee can full of nuts and bolts rolling down a concrete stairwell.


Posted by: bc | April 20, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Happy April 20th all; indeed we should be on the non-violence wavelength all day, but with the Va Tech memorial designation, we are faced with a choice to view 4/20 through either tragic lenses or comic ones. That said, I think it is irresponsible for the press to keep featuring images of Cho and his rambling screed. At first I agreed with the view that it would be fair to disperse the images and manifesto in the name of a free press. But I teach on a public college campus, and with two bomb threats and one mysterious package in the quad yesterday, I say 86 the First Amendment in the name of public safety, because the onslaught of glorified Cho is doing nothing to facilitate coping, and everything to encourage copycats and give voice to that damned soul Cho laughing at us from beyond the grave. And Joel's point about "de-mystifying" the killer is misleading, because serving as his own mouthpiece Cho only projects his psychosis to an audience that is not universally equipped to recognize it as such. Some young man deserving of a knuckle sandwich is out there now entertaining ideations of a more coherent rambling screed and a higher body count one day.

To preempt the logicians out there, one might argue that threats and copycatting would happen whether or not images of Cho were featured for public consumption, but any such claims are unverifiable statements of probability and therefore bad faith in term of charting rules of action. My proposed Rule of action: stop showing the images: it is only making things worse. Tyr working under bomb threats that the police cannot treat as end of semester finals abrogators. I hope the ratings are worth it.

Posted by: Simon D | April 20, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse


I pray thee, NO further references to "Pirates of Penzance," please.


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 20, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

EF, I'm not sure if I see tha advantage of the keyless system. You still need a fob. The real breakthrough will be when they perfect a biometric approach, where you can open and start a car with your thumbprint.

'Course, I don't want to think about what a teenager will want to borrow then.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 20, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I had a friend who was allowed to drive her brothers really spiffy Rambler. It had a push button automatic transmission. Way cool.
I'm sorry, but this feels like bell bottoms, and baggy pants, and mutton chop side burns. Everything old is new again.

Posted by: dr | April 20, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Hi everyone!

I'm a chronic "late-adopter" for just about everything and refused power windows and the key fob for years. Now love them, of course. The same applies to cell phones. But this push-button start - no. I *realize* that my car won't start when I put the key in the ignition unless all kinds of other electrical things are working properly, so it's not as if I have a mechanical key in lockset kind of operation like my front door has anyway, but that's what I want. Ideally, I would like my car to be able to start after an EMP, but I know that's not likely.

BTW, accidently went to bottom of comments at last kit and saw this:

I think Professor Roy is full of it. What a drama queen. She wants to project herself as some kind of hero. Oh, if only they had listened to me!

Posted by: Fred | April 19, 2007 02:24 PM


Still, Spring has arrived and all is well.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 20, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Scotthynuke, as I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General I shall obey your request. Which is a shame because I had a most rousing edition of "Because I Am An Englishman" planned.

Really, it would have been epic.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 20, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Scottynuke. Scotthynuke is what happens after too much demon rum.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 20, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

jack, EF, people like pushing the button to start a car.

I know I do. As EF points out, starter buttons are not new; most race cars that have onboard starters (many race cars use an external source to start the engine) use push buttons or toggle switches to trigger the starter (as opposed to turning on the ignition), but typically security is not an issue in that situation.

I'm leery of the remote keyfob starter myself, EF. More stuff to go wrong. And in this case, you can't even drive the car.

RD, "almost all?" tsk tsk tsk. You're probably going to pay for that remark, my friend.


Posted by: bc | April 20, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Getting a late start today (still trying to catch up with that 17-hour work day).

Loomis, you're right that the ESOL program at Westfield has a low percentage. But most kids (and probably Cho) don't still need to be in the ESOL program by the time they reach high school.

The elementary schools that feed into Westfield have an average 13% participation in the ESOL program, ranging from 5% at one to 31% at another.

That means that most of the kids at Westfield have been quite familiar with kids who don't speak English. Gosh, all they have to do is go to McDonald's or the dry cleaner or their favorite sushi place (there's one in every strip shopping center here) to bump up against someone who speaks with an accent or has difficulty with the language. Or talk to their next-door neighbor, for that matter.

RD said it best, but I'll reiterate: although Frosti is right that kids are inherently mean to each other in school, a foreign student is more likely to be treated as nothing out of the ordinary here in the DC area than many areas in the US. That's what I love about living here.

I really think if Cho was bullied (and again any bullying is too much) it was for his own behavior and not the fact that he was Korean.

Posted by: TBG | April 20, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

'shpesh-ally epic when th' (hic) foomen draw their shteel, eh RDP?

*lopsided smile*

Posted by: Scotthynuke | April 20, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I will admit that I have a soft spot for those fobs that make your car go "beep" from a distance.

Without ours I fear my family and I would still be wandering helplessly through the wilderness that is the parking lot of the Franklin Institute.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 20, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

TBG, I agree, all bullies first find someone who's not comfortable in his/her skin, and then choose some outstanding feature to mock. You can be a kid with braces, a limp, even some real deformity, and if you're social and outgoing the other kids will leave you alone. OTOH, you can be completely inconspicuous in every way but obviously uncomfortable and miserable and the bullies will find *something* to tease you about.

That does not, however, mean that it was somehow Cho's own fault that he was teased.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 20, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

>my family and I would still be wandering helplessly

RD, can I interest you in a red '68 Caddy?

Trust me, you cannot lose that car in any parking lot. When you look down the rows you can see the last 4 feet of it sticking out beyond the other cars.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 20, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

OOh EF -I love it. Would you take an '05 Toyota minivan in trade?

I'm sure my wife won't mind.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 20, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Error, that '68 Caddy mention reminds me of the time a supervisor drove me to lunch in his uncle's '72 Town Car. You needed binoculars to see past the hood ornament, walkie-talkies between front-seat passenger and driver, and I expected small airplanes to attempt to land on the rear deck.

Powder blue, it was.

Posted by: byoolin | April 20, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Simon D. said: "But I teach on a public college campus, and with two bomb threats and one mysterious package in the quad yesterday, I say 86 the First Amendment in the name of public safety, ..."

I hope you rethink your rash words when you've had a chance to calm down and get over the anxiousness and hassles of recent days, Simon.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 20, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

>Would you take an '05 Toyota minivan in trade?

Could be rabbit - could be.

(Sorry, somehow I started channeling Yosemite Sam. Definitely an early out for me.)

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 20, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Okay, I clearly need to cut back on the Caffeine, but I couldn't resist posting this little snippet sure to remind many of us of happier times.

Hop in my Chrysler,
it's as big as a whale
and it's about to set sail!
I got me a car, it seats about twenty
So c'mon and bring your jukebox money.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 20, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Sheesh, EF. My wife's dream car is the very one you speak of. BTW, fob is Greek for a watch pocket (as in: 'Scuse me while I whip this out of my fob!)or a short ribbon or decoration hanging off a pocket watch, or alternatively to get rid of something by deciet or trickery. The latter would explain the sudden vapourisation of car keys. I'm with you, RD: biometrics. But then we'd all be seen as engaging in some kind of deviant behaviour, what with fingering the car...

Posted by: jack | April 20, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse


Surely you're channeling the police chief with the brogue who was looking for Rocky and the Boss, whom Bugs had thoughtfully stuffed in the oven, no?


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 20, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Just a BPH comment - since it's at Ireland's 4Q in Falls Church, I'm sending a *wave* and a hope for spontaneous live Irish music to entertain ye all and cheer everyone up (no green beer, though, that would be Just Wrong). That's where some of my friends have played from time to time, and I'm jealous. DC area is too far away for me to visit alone now, since can't drive safely for more than an hour or two without a co-pilot. I'm living out in greenwithenvy's general territory, which I is outside my DC-commuting comfort belt.

RD, I'm crushed at the "almost" in your Weingarten quote. Oh, how fickle the redhead lovers get when the locks fade to grey... :-) (as I keep telling my family, I refuse to dye!)

Fully three quarters of the stuffy-suited degreed professionals I know will probably celebrate 4/20 with frolicking abandon, not least because it comes after an extra-extended Tax Week. It's going to be an early-out Friday in offices throughout the US, and business must adjust accordingly. No problem, I'll be in the garden - Monday will come back soon enough (too soon).

Posted by: sevenswans | April 20, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

>whom Bugs had thoughtfully stuffed in the oven, no?

Yes, that's it! "Would I toin the gas on if I had him there, like dis?"

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 20, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

sevenswans - you are a redhead? Oh, be still my beating heart.

Well, not totally still.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 20, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

...or light a match and throw it in the oven, like dis?...

Posted by: jack | April 20, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

SCC: The "I" should be removed from before the "is" in the first paragraph and placed before the "can't" in the previous sentence.

(??? no idea how that happened - I used preview, I swear)

Posted by: sevenswans | April 20, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Good morning everyone! I am stand-in shop steward, late but here. I've been busy relegating the drapery swags, table curtains and miscellaneous pastels to the anteroom. The Thomas Kincaids are right out. Sorry.

I notice much of the Boodle has moved slowly away from the Kit topic; me too. I've said everything I want to say, and more, on this issue. Sky report: here it is also a beautiful spring day. Blue sky, warm sun, hard buffeting wind just in case you were tempted to go outside.

I just ran across this Einstein quote yesterday, and if it is apocryphal don't tell me: [On being shown his infant sister] "Yes, but where are the wheels?"

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 20, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the clarification of your local neighborhoods. People who reside in and know their communities usually speak best for them. However, we all tend to generalize much and there is a need to know the particulars about this young man, Cho, which ties in to my link, below, and the need for more reporting.

I'm trying to make the push today to be vertical, rather than horizontal. Much to do, including grocery shopping, very basic cleaning.

But since you, TBG, brought up the topic of ESOL, which leads back to the Kit topic, the NYT has an article today about how even psychologists shouldn't be in a rush to judgment to "diagnose" Cho's own particular problems. (Why do I think of Bill Frist and Terri Schiavo?) The article that Joel linked to this morning at the NYT is remarkable in its last graf *spoiler*--it was written by an FBI agent who attended Virginia Tech.

Are children born troubled or innocent? Good question. Our local metro columnist Ken Rodriguez delves into Charles Whitman's very troubled childhood. Since I mentioned Whitman very early yesterday morning and Texas Ranger Ray and UT Austin 1966, and didn't know the full backstory, I really was drawn into Ken's article this morning--but hate the last graf:

On to my day. Not sunny, but at least today kicks off 10 days of Fiesta events--and this 10 days of communitywide partying is a HUGE deal here.

Posted by: Loomis | April 20, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I anticipate a new Kit any minute; it usually happens when I finally catch up and post something. I'm liking this shop steward thing. I've added a little wine rack to complement the beer refrigerator. Martooni needs to put in a bookshelf for the Boodle recommendations.

Hey, Martooni, congratulations. Also, hey Cassandra. And Pat. I hope you're out there lurking. Howdy again, PLS, and others who've dropped in. Y'all enjoy that Irish BPH tonight, y'hear?

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 20, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I have a serious question. How long for AG AG? The VT tragedy got him off the hook for a couple of days but yesterday he had to face the music. When even Tom Coburn says he has to go, you know he's toast. I still say Arbusto will twist his arm to "do the right thing" rather than outright fire him. When's the slowest news cycle, and will it take that long? Should we start a pool?

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 20, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Was, RD, was. My subtly auburn locks (the fire didn't show except in direct sunlight) didn't register as anything but brunette under club lights, though, which led to some interesting wake-up reactions for mornings-after in my youth. My favorite: "OH NO OH NO OH NO you didn't tell me you had red hair" (said with a horrified scuttle backward and in an accusing tone...) ;-)

After that I made sure to meet first dates in daylight.

I have noticed, however, that if my youthful self had been transplanted to modern times, the reaction would simply be an assumption that the color was chosen and deliberate. Much more civilized!

Posted by: sevenswans | April 20, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Last night I was outside and gazing at the clear night sky, the beauty of the sliver moon and stars struck me, especially after such a troubling week.

Almost every day I check a local website that features a picture of the day, to my surprise todays in the moon from last night.

Posted by: dmd | April 20, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, aren't Friday afternoons the big days for administration folks to decide to return home to spend more time with their families? After yesterday's debacle I'd be willing to take today, 5 p.m. eastern in your pool.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 20, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Martooni, for the GTP explanation. Am very happy that you are doing so well. Isn't if funny how little things like making that fifth slash just give that extra little boost?

I loved Cheech and Chong's "Up in Smoke" as well, greenwithenvy. "The Big Lebowski" is another movie that portrays a certain lifestyle. I laughed through that entire movie. Jeff Bridges really nailed it. My husband didn't think it was funny at all, but we had entirely different high school and college experiences.

It is a beautiful day here in Tidewater. I'm happy to hear that many others are able to enjoy a wonderful spring day. I just came out of some primordial ooze in my son's room and I think it's time to take the faithful beagle on a long walk.

Happy Friday, everyone.

Posted by: Kim | April 20, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

sevenswan - Oh, but being a redhead is also a state of mind. Do you have the green eyes? The kind with blueish flecks into which one can easily fall and never recover?

Excuse me while I order some flowers to bring my wife.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 20, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, So what I am thinking is some nice straight Cabs, perhaps with a few Merlot blends to soften them out. Obviously a Shiraz for the adventurous, and perhaps some heavy Zins for the brave. I guess we should throw in a Gewurtz or two for those who like the exotic, and a Sauvignon /Semillon mix for this who do not. And, of course, some nice flavored waters and bottled still lemonade for the wisely prudent.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 20, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Fruit2O has several delightful versions, many with added vitamins and minerals, RDP.

And I think Teleflora delivers, too.


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 20, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Let's not forget the Tempranillo and Rioja, and some of that nice Sicilian wine for the really hot weather. Some Donna Fughate and pinot grigio, and a little vinho verde too. Also, some nice Leinenkugel's Dark and also Red.
You can see where my decorating instincts lie.

Wheezy's got 5 pm today,for AG AG's departure announcement. I'm thinking as a backup, Sunday midday, so the talking heads can't get it. Anyone else in?

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 20, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Have a good weekend everyone. Remember to forgive what you can and remember what you must.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 20, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I'm thinking a moving van, blacked out and drivers using night-vision goggles, at about 11 p.m. Friday, Ivansmom.


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 20, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and Kim, I'm glad you survived your son's rooms. I always leave a hat by the door when I go into my son's room. That way the search party will know where to look.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 20, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Wow! Krauthammer says something accurate: "The psychotic mass murder is rare; the armed household burglary is not."

Of course, he uses this as an argument against gun control, but at least it means he is grounding the discussion in the real world.

Posted by: Tim | April 20, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Kim I feel for you in the primordial ooze. You know its too late when they start to tell you that they are saving the carpet wear and tear.

Didn't someone say that grey locks are the new (insert former hair colour here)?

Posted by: dr | April 20, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Tim, unless I completely understood him, I believe he was hinting that gun control would not be needed if we went back to the good old days of sending people of quetionable mental states to institutions.

Posted by: dmd | April 20, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

SCC misunderstood

Posted by: dmd | April 20, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

dmd: no, he indicated that packing everyone off to the asylum was a bad thing. He noted that there is a balance between involuntary commitment and humane release of the mentally shaky, a balance that can result in rare, but terrible, consequences. So, he actually was pretty rational in that part. Somehow, however, he drew all this toward a critique of a speech by Barack Obama. It sounds like Obama's speech is not one that he'll want in his collected works, but it also sounds like Krauthammer is making hay by selecting comments out of context and claiming Obama made equivalencies that he probably did not make.

Posted by: Tim | April 20, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I really don't know much about Obama's speech -- but I know how Chuckie K writes, which is why I have no faith in him as an accurate commentator on events.

Posted by: Tim | April 20, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Madly backboodling.

Ivansmom, I'm a wee bit disappointed. I was just about to break out my pasta press and the Femo clay to make bows!

Darn it, now I'll have to shop for a large bouquet of plastic flowers; *scented* plastic flowers. Hehehehe.

TBG, my heart swells hearing of Daughter of G's generosity of spirit. Well done.

There must have been some revolution in public tastes in the last generation. #1 has beautiful red hair, and she is the envy of all. I *do* faintly remember the aversion to red hair prevalent in my youth, and can hardly credit it.

Wasn't RD's 10:13 sweet? Put a little shine on the morning.

And where is Cassandra? Cassandra, let us know you are OK, K?

Martooni! Three cheers for Martooni!

I wonder if 'Mudge had a one too many glasses of wine with the stone crab, yesterday?

Posted by: Yoki | April 20, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Tim, my bias on this issue may be coming through, his writing on the issue just makes me uneasy.

Posted by: dmd | April 20, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

>There must have been some revolution in public tastes in the last generation. #1 has beautiful red hair, and she is the envy of all.

I have to confess I share RD's sentiments re. redheads. This is probably why I was up till 2am watching Rita Hayworth movies the other day. AND ordered a poster.

Susan, are you out there? Another one I should've married. :-)

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 20, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

RD, the assumed "redhead state of mind" thing is probably why I received the "OH NO" reaction. But my eyes have no blue flecks. Dark, dark clear green (dark hazel, actually, there are some orange flecks), often assumed to be brown until the light hits the edges. Just a basic Irish-Scots variant coloring scheme, nowadays assisted by thick glasses or contact lenses.

Back in the day, it was perfect cover to daylight-frighten the unwary that only met me after sundown. (the cowards)

bc, my family uses the phrase, "Grey is the new blonde!" to excuse foggy-brained moments. We tend to be absentminded as a clan, so there are many such moments to choose from.

Posted by: sevenswans | April 20, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

No no Yoki, clay bows are better than scented plastic flowers any day. Feel free. Besides, my tenure is oh so brief.

Yes, that confession was sweet. Very nice. I also liked "forgive what you can and remember what you must" as a daily admonition.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 20, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

SCC: not bc, should be dr (sorry!!)

Posted by: sevenswans | April 20, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

way to go, martooni!

*faxing Ivansmom a lovely Virginia Viognier*

EF, I'm with you on the TV-blaring-in-the-waiting-room thing. I've actually asked that it be turned down, or off. Can't imagine if it were the recent video images.

Another reason I find Raysdad irresistable: When I came home from work Wednesday, he was watching the TV, teary-eyed. He had just seen the story of what Librescu had done for his students.

Posted by: Raysmom | April 20, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I think tassels on the throw pillows would be marvelous.

When's Mudge coming back? I think I should fax a small spread over for him. You know--finger sandwiches, crudites, rice cakes.

Ivansmom, have you found his secret stash of duct tape yet? Or did TBG already banish it to the curb?

Posted by: Raysmom | April 20, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Now that things have cooled a bit, let me bring up something that we can discuss rationally, or maybe it will just fan flames: I noticed that in yesterday's discussion, there was a recurring theme in describing Cho Seung Hui. He was very frequently described with terms of contempt for him, personally. "Inadequate personality." "Weak." "Coward." And so on. I tried to be careful, myself, but maybe only I perceived my care -- I referred to his actions and his self-justification in his video as being contemptible and pathetic.

I'm not concerned about whether we all should feel kind and generous toward a person who took human life indiscriminately. Your personal feelings towards him are your business. I'm interested in the psychology by which we declare him to be personally inferior and defective, because it looks like we are trying to convince ourselves that he was born to do this, that he's not like us. It's not our fault. It's his personal failing ("inadequate personality"), that led him to this -- bad genes or bad morals, that ain't me. Some failing that we don't have, so we can feel superior and safe. Some failing that lets us say "No man, don't look at me. There's nothing I did that helped to make him like that, that's all on him."

Sure, I know that you didn't personally have any contact with him, more than likely. But all of us have been nasty to somebody, at some time, or we've had to take it. All of us have been bullies, or been bullied, and entertained fantasies of revenge. It's scary to think that he might be just a crazier and more extreme version of us -- but admit it: all that rage about the debauchery and privilege of rich kids and the abuse received from the world, it all sounds just a little too uncomfortably familiar. Or maybe, we think of him as a crazier and more extreme version of somebody that we've done wrong to. So long as we brush off guys like Cho like cockroaches, so long as we pretend that we have no personal responsibility toward others, our society will continue to make more of him.

Posted by: Tim | April 20, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

There *has* been a change of public tastes on red hair in the past 30-40 years, believe you me. When I was a teen, my grandmother told my mother to bleach my hair or I would never get a boyfriend, and I dealt with both boyfriends and family requesting photographers "fix the lighting" or "mute out the red" for formal pictures. The ninja-brunette stealth auburn and its daylight revelation was a continued source of amusement to my friends and bandmates that already knew (not that we saw a lot of daylight...) Seeing red hair everywhere around today is a wonderful trend, since, according to my grandmother, it's a the color of "defiant, strong women" (i.e., that would never "catch a man"). :-)

Posted by: sevenswans | April 20, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

re. "Grey is the new blonde!"
So I can describe myself as blonde with platinum highlights? Cool.

And yes, Charley the Kraut is self-medicating again. One would have expected from this real shrink a thoughtful column on emergence of mental illness in college-age young adults but he rather builds this construct that leads to a condemnation of Obama

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 20, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe I am missing the Irish BPH, as is Sevenswans. Hey Sevenswans, I don't know where you are on the hair scale, but did you go blonde between red and grey? Two of us in my department are shocked when people say that we are blondes. Redhead IS a state of mind. We did live through the day when red hair/speckles was a sad beauty flaw. If I had a nickle for everyone who mentioned Doris Day! LibrarianDottir (23) never winced once about red hair and speckles. But come on now, all those bottle redheads with locks the color of cordovan or oxblood shoe polish! Sheesh. Since so many in my fam with dark hair sport the prematurely grey hair so common in Celts, I thought I would be grey by 30 and white by 40.

Ivansmom: For the wine rack, especially since today feels dang HOT after that generous dose of winter, I suggest pinot grigio. I enjoyed "Mommy's Time Out" brand last summer since it did not taste cheap.

A bulb catalog came early this year. Wow. But I guess we should think about buying daffodils and tulips while they bloom, to be ready. Achenbuddies may like to know that we can buy a tall, Class II daffodil, named "Professor Einstein." Entering the market in 1946, this daffy sports a huge red-orange center cup and paper-white collar.

EF -- did you know you can buy a version of Coreopsis or tickseed called "Aqualung" named because the petals flute into a tube....of course, another Coreopsis is called "Zamfir" for the same reason. I'll check and see if "Aqualung" is deer-hardy.

'Mudge -- I don't know if it smells purdy, but you can buy a hybrid tea rose called "Electron." Years ago I bought a slips of an old rose called Cardinal Richielieu. He blooms majestically near Mother's day. Smells splendiferously.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 20, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Wow it is nice out today. Makes it hard to come and get dressed for work.

dmd I saw that moon last night too, It almost looked like that star close by wanted to sit right in that sliver, way cool.

sevenswans, you live out in my neck of the woods? I wouldn't mind doing a commute to a future BPH, can't make it tonight have to make some green. You could contact me though about a future one if you wish. Here is my email addy.

I hope everyone is having a Great day!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 20, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I too thought RD's post sweet, particularly since I have green eyes and hated them when I was younger - too different.

Ladies what are the perceptions of red hair men?

Posted by: dmd | April 20, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

And what a BOO my last one was (never know where they'll land, but still...)

Heading out to talk to the trees and flowers. Much less embarasskin' (as long as the neighbors don't hear, anyway). :-)

Posted by: sevenswans | April 20, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse

The ultimate weapon for the bunker make-over is a fluffy pînk slipcover for the toilet seat. One thick enough so that the cover can't stay up by itself. Curmudgeon will not recover from that one.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 20, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

What I saw of Cho in images besides the horror of recalling what he did, included this:
in pain
falseness (not strong but weak and broken)

I alluded to it the other day, but part of my response is also compassionate. I thought about those who love him. He did appear human to me. I know, that in my code, I aspire to love, even him.

He also looked lost. He could have looked silly, but how can any of us plumb that perspective, knowing what we know.

We must be honest with ourselves: people are capable of horrific acts.

All of us are capable of evil. As RD said, much of it is banal, but this is part of the human situation.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 20, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Red haired men? Hot! I married one (well, auburn/red highlights [now blond, in the new parlance!]).

Posted by: Yoki | April 20, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Sorry all, may I request fewer references to your beautiful day? 15 cm of new snow on the ground, still falling, roads filthy, moods worse, chill damp wind gusting to 60 kph... I just can't take it any more!

Posted by: Yoki | April 20, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

DMD -- come to think on this, where are the red headed men? Do they Grecian-formula rinse away red hair?

Here is a report from the youth: Son of CeePee has a copper-penny/spiral curls male friend that the girls swoon over. But, it may be the corkscrew locks. He does consent to cornrows during swim meets. They fuss over him. I think they are revisiting the hair-combing days of My Little Pony-land

Posted by: College Parkian | April 20, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

dmd said,

"Almost every day I check a local website that features a picture of the day, to my surprise todays in the moon from last night."

Have you tried Astronomy Picture of the Day?

It's been going since 1995 -- that's about three times forever in Internet years!

Posted by: Blake Stacey | April 20, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Hah, CP. I can see it. #1 has a friend (not a boyfriend) with gorgeous red hair and the most beautiful eye-lashes you ever did see (known to us as 'girl-entrancers'). He has to hide from the women in his dorm if he wants to study.

Posted by: Yoki | April 20, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

CP, my friends child has similar hair, poor guy is always getting women touching him and praising his hair, not sure about his peers.

But adult males I can't think of many.

Posted by: dmd | April 20, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, no kidding. Looks and feels like November right now.

On the bunker, I'll be glad when the anteroom is back to being the dude-decorated anti-room.

Posted by: SonofCarl | April 20, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Red hair went out of style??? When??? :-O

And my red highlights only really showed in my facial hair, and as with sevenswans, it's being replaced by grey. OK, white. But I don't mind in either case.


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 20, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Yoki you just brought back memories of the boy who sat beside me in Science class in High School - what eyelashes, and probably a big cause in the dip in my science mark that year. *SIGH*

Posted by: dmd | April 20, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Hey SoC, Psst. Here is a secret. I duct-taped the Bulldogs-Playing-Poker velvet painting to the back of the Hello Kitties-(metallic blue) Playing-Poker hologram. You can flip back and forth.

Did you know that duct tape comes in Barblie pink? Really,

Posted by: College Parkian | April 20, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

greenwithenvy, thanks! May take you up on that.

CP, the grey started as punk-rock-looking white streaks while the rest faded to blonde and then just, well, grey (er, "new blonde"!)(silver?). Fortunately, the freckles faded, too. Mostly.

Men with *long* red hair are gorgeous (especially in a kilt). All of the male redheads I know are longhaired and highly swoonable. It's not a coloring that takes well to a military-style brush-cut, though.

Ok, now stepping away from the computer, the day is just too nice!) (er, sorry Yoki, faxing some your way...)

Posted by: sevenswans | April 20, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

To all Albertans, I am very sorry to hear about your weather, as I know your province is always very sympathetic to the toils of us here in Ontario.

As some helpful advise I understand the airlines have a seat sale on, you may want to inquire about a visit this weekend, temps in the 70's and sunshine.

And yes, you are welcome to take revenge on me next winter when you are in the midst of a chinook, or to mention your lack of sales tax etc.

:-) hehehe

Posted by: dmd | April 20, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Blake S. I like that Pic o' Day very much. I loved the kerfluffle about the color of the universe: first version = a tasteful pale teal (Martha would approve) and later after calculations revealed a new false-color application, only a buff.

Boring. Whew!

Of to warm my bones in the sun.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 20, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I don't think anyone has looked at redheaded women the same way since Hayworth, Kate Hepburn and especially Jessica Rabbit.

Re. tassels: I think almost any guy in here would come down firmly in favor of them.

The moon *was* very nice last night, I had a good long look and a think. Not necessarily in that order, though.


Posted by: bc | April 20, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Blake, forgot to thank you for the link.

Posted by: dmd | April 20, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, I know what you mean. Going from the city where it snowed very little (no accumulation) to home where at the end of the day even with melting and rain, we still had 6 full measurable inches of white stuff, was really sad. East of us near Tofield, the power has been out since Wednesday night. We've had a few short outages, but even the longest was only 2 hours. South and east it seems to be worst.

We put away the snow shovels last week, so it might be our fault. It's like washing the floor and then spilling milk, or washing your car and then it rains.

Posted by: dr | April 20, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Yes, thanks for that link, Blake.

Hope you drop by more often, sir.


Posted by: bc | April 20, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, dr, SoC, just checked your weather, well Calgary at least and tomorrow things get better. I will turn on the fans directed westward but the lakes are still pretty cold and make remove some of the warmth.

Posted by: dmd | April 20, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Tim: I would take this to be a corrolary to the Golden Rule. In my experience, Mr. Cho more than likely began to exhibit behaviour somewhat out of the norm in elementary school years while he was still living with his parents or guardians. Someone abdicated their responsibility to this child a long time ago, leaving it largely to the child to sort out things they aren't mentally equipped to resolve. Joel made a similar point a couple of days ago, asking if we should blame society. Your observation is more to the point. We owe it to our chldren to look after them to the best of our abilities and pay attention to the way they behave. Abberrent behaviour starts small, but has a cause, and will not improve if interventions aren't implemented.

Posted by: jack | April 20, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I'll be OK dmd. Next summer I'll disport myself among the peaks in the Rockies, breathing in the mountain breezes and sitting beside rushing cascades; I'll think of you in the humidity and smog of Ontario.

hehehehe yourself!

Posted by: Yoki | April 20, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Poor Yoki, SoC and dr. It's gloriously sunny and about 20C here, sandals weather for the first time of the year, but the puddles were frozen this morning. We had 10cm of snow on the ground last Monday, so laugh at our tax rates and don't lose hope yet.
I had dirty blond hair and red facial hair once upon a time. It's all new-blonde now. I didn't seem to be a lethal weapon for getting the girls. Maybe it was my dorkitude that was the repellent. My sisters always complain that the boys, mostly my younger brother, always get the long dark full-bodied eyelashes. Younger bro is now as bald a billiard ball so the eyelashes are even more spectacular!
I remember one guy in high school with dark red/auburn long curly hair, he was a bad boy to boot, from a long line of bad boys. I swear he had to stick close to smelly, ugly dudes to get rid of the girls. It doesn't guarantee success in life. He died the typical death of a drug addict; stabbed in the restroom of a cheap mall at the age of 21 or 22.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 20, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

When I try and grow a beard or a stash it comes out as grey and red, but mostly grey and I refer to it as *Salt and Cayenne Pepper Hair*.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 20, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I think I win the "when will Spring arrive" sweepstakes. My dealership called me last week to schedule an appointment to take the snow tires off my car. I laughed bitterly and told them I'd call when I was ready.

Posted by: Yoki | April 20, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

This talk of red-haired bad-boys is better than HRT!

Posted by: Yoki | April 20, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Tim, I noticed that trend yesterday too. Some of it is the desire you mention to put some distance between ourselves and Cho -- he must be deficient, we would never do that. As I've written before and you point out, that is wishful thinking.

However, I did get the impression that some of those descriptives were people's actual responses to Cho's pictures and writings; that is, those were the impressions people formed looking at and listening to him. Some of that may have been a desire to analyze Cho to confirm our own superiority, but some of it appeared to be an honest response to his own presentation. Which, I think, is fair.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 20, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

To answer RD's questions about women and spring fever - I think you are getting your answers.

Posted by: dmd | April 20, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

//Re. tassels: I think almost any guy in here would come down firmly in favor of them.//

Ivansmom, ix-nay on the tassels (can't do the pig Latin of that--don't think it would get past the Wirty Durd filter). The statement above gave me a mental image of Mudge wearing tassels. *Must now innoculate myself with pictures of puppies and butterflies*

Posted by: Raysmom | April 20, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I will casually, and without fanfare, note that I share RDP's ... affection ... for women of red hair and two eyes -- I'm not picky about the color, when the hair is red. Although, hair color aside, grey eyes are dreamy (why should only women get to use that adjective?). I have had this fondness for red hair since at least... let me think... September, 1975. I know nothing of this time of madness when women of red hair were decried and counseled to consider dye. Perhaps you are pulling my leg. Madness, sheer madness.

Interestingly, I found that these aesthetic preferences were trivial and unimportant when it came to marriage. The ScienceSpouse has neither red hair, nor grey eyes. I have not felt deprived because of it.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 20, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Redheads? Remember, to some folks, "swarthy" is a good thing.

Posted by: TBG | April 20, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Raysmom, no tassels here. Don't blame me! I cleared out the drapery swags and table skirts and added a wine rack. And who put that *!@*! Hello Kitty thing in here! Where's the duct tape?

I have often threatened to dye my hair red, from the blond, temporarily. Just to see what it is like. Ivansdad and, later, the Boy, firmly veto the suggestion.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 20, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

TBG I am still hoping "pasty" comes back in fashion.

Posted by: dmd | April 20, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Alas. My brief but productive tenure as shop steward must end prematurely. This afternoon I travel to a lovely state resort (truly, this place is gorgeous) for a weekend of sport and debauchery. Okay, you caught me. How about a weekend of discussion, consideration, poetry, and hiking? Plus wine. At any rate, there's not good Internet access, so I'll be away from the Boodle. I hope Cassandra shows up, and good luck Martooni.

Raysmom, please step in for the remainder of Friday. And remember folks, the puppies 'n butterflies aren't my fault.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 20, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Enjoy your weekend, Ivansmom!!

And butterflies aren't so bad... Especially the iron kind, right bc?


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 20, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Oh SciTim, ye of little way-back-then knowledge of the hair color hierarchy!

As a recipient of red-hair sympathy, I assure you that natural red and all that entails was such a liability in the days of Malibu Barbie, Marcia Brady, and Farah Fawcett-Majors (remember that?).

That my sibs and are range from auburn through ginger through natural platinium is my dad's doing, but he was totally gray at 15 and white by 35. Now he is santa-candy-floss crowned at 79 with a full hairline and crown.

We all expected to go that route.

My mother, in contrast, was a blue-eyed, raven haired Black Irish gal. Cousins through her were all similarly colored. We reddish ones looked like lobsters in some family pix. Her uncles went to their graves with sooty-black hair, but mostly in a fringe around the sides. Those who kept their hair were thoroughly grey by the mid thirties.

(Wilbrod, no doubt, can explain the premature grey tendency in Irish and Scottish peeps...)

Darling LibrarianDottir is a red-head and my goodness the barbs from a certain grandmamma about "It is hoped, she will outgrow that hair." Didn't and feels fine, partly because no cultural censure on carroty-ness.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 20, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 20, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Inna Gadda da Vida, Scotty.


Posted by: bc | April 20, 2007 9:51 PM | Report abuse

ooh, is this the secret boodle? I promise I won't tell. Favorite Iron Butterfly reference is when Bart substitutes the tune on the church lady's organ music

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Well done!
My homepage | Please visit

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Great work! |

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