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Virginia Tech: Second Guessing the Second Guessing

When a great tragedy like this happens it is natural to look for accountability -- to search for someone, or something, to blame. Lots of young people died and we do not want it to be utterly senseless. Surely there was some predictable element. Blame can be therapeutic. Someone messed up; it's not just random misfortune, random horror.

The first day there was a lot of talk in the media and on campus about the two-hour gap between shootings and whether President Steger and the VT administration erred by not putting the campus in lockdown sooner. But many others second-guessed all the second guessing. The cooler heads say: Take a deep breath. Withhold judgment. The state police said the situation had been handled professionally, and Steger forcefully defended his decisions. Who anticipates that a double-homicide at a dorm is merely the prelude to a massacre in a classroom? You can't easily shut down a campus the size of a small city. All of this will be the subject of Gov. Kaine's "after-action report."

But this morning we're back to second-guessing again.

The shooter, Mr. Cho, behaved in advance of the massacre precisely like someone who might someday try to take out half the student body.

His fellow students were so terrified of him that they didn't show up for class. An English professor warned campus authorities (unclear precisely who) that he was dangerous. [More details here.] The authorities said there wasn't anything they could do because he hadn't directly threatened anyone.

This morning's story on the front page of the Post:

'[Cho] was described by those who encountered him over the years as at times angry, menacing, disturbed and so depressed that he seemed near tears.He often spoke in a whisper, if at all, refused to open up to teachers and classmates, and kept himself locked behind a facade of a hat, sunglasses and silence....

'Roy said she warned school officials. "I was determined that people were going to take notice," Roy said. "I felt I'd said to so many people, 'Please, will you look at this young man?' "

'Roy, now the alumni distinguished professor of English and co-director of the creative writing program, said university officials were responsive and sympathetic to her warnings but indicated that because Cho had made no direct threats, there was little they could do.

'"I don't want to be accusatory or blaming other people," Roy said. "I do just want to say, though, it's such a shame if people don't listen very carefully and if the law constricts them so that they can't do what is best for the student." '

From the Roanoke Times:

' Toward the end of the semester Roy felt she was making progress with Cho, she said. He finally agreed to take off his sunglasses, and she asked him about his life.

'"He said 'I am so lonely,' and I knew that that was true and I felt terrible for him," she said. "I was always so worried that he was suicidal." '

Remember Eric Harris? He was also an enthusiast of violence. He telegraphed his intentions at Columbine. Sometimes killers don't come out of the blue -- they give you warning.

[After the Columbine shooting, I wrote a story with my colleague Dale Russakoff about the warning signs in the case and the struggle in the Littleton community to figure out why it had happened. Excerpt:

'Eric Harris thought about war, fantasized about war and wrote about war. He
was thrilled when he heard, one morning in philosophy class, that the United
States was on the verge of bombing Yugoslavia. Rebecca Heins, who sat next
to him, remembers Harris saying, "I hope we do go to war, I'll be the first
one there." He wanted to be in the front lines, he said. He wanted, as he put
it, to "shoot everyone," Heins recalls.

'In hindsight there were many clues, many peculiar signs, that
Harris, who has emerged as the leader of the rampage, and Klebold, the follower, were
actively dangerous, that they weren't just rebels, or juvenile delinquents, or
"Goths" who liked to wear black and listen to German rock bands. There is now a
trail of evidence that the two telegraphed their actions.

'But they also operated under the general camouflage of teenage life, when
dark moods and obsessive thoughts and sudden changes in clothing and
beliefs are not all that strange. The Columbine case shows how difficult it is to
separate the rebels and individualists and creative people from the serious menaces
to society - until something horrible happens.']

Every university administrator in America this morning is reading the stories about VT and thinking: "I need to take a closer look at my students." Which will bring up its own complicated set of issues that balance the rights of individuals vs. the safety of a campus community.

You can't assume every depressed kid who wears sunglasses all the time is about to go on a shooting rampage.

By the way: For all the talk about how the shooter was Asian, and from South Korea, his ethnicity is completely irrelevant to the story. The Korean-American community does not need to apologize in any way for what happened.

--

A must-read: Tammy Jones tells the story of Mike and Marcy.

--

[ABC's special last night on Virginia Tech ended with some lovely music underscoring the images of the candlelight vigil on the Drillfield. It was quite moving. Then the network flashed the name of the special report: "A Killer Revealed." The word "Killer" was, of course, highlighted in blood-red type. The network cut to an in-house promo about how many journalism awards it had won. Memo to ABC bosses: Learn how to fade to black, respectfully.]
--

On second-guessing, here's a comment posted on one of our blogs:

'I am a recent Hokie alumni and a police officer in the area around Tech. I see so many comments of people

already giving "what if" scenarios and bashing the president and police for not doing this and that. For those that are continually saying "why didnt the campus shut down after two students killed in the first incident"?

'From the perspective of being a past student, if you are not familiar with the campus of Virginia Tech it is quite large (2600 acres), several miles across each way, hundreds of buildings, and at least 30,000 people on campus during the time of this incident. Closing campus and evacuating 30,000 people OFF of campus can't be done with the push of a button and especially with this situation it would have created a general panic within the community that would have caused even more problems then solutions. Imagine the traffic jams with several THOUSANDS of cars leaving all at once onto a relatively limited amounts of exits from the university.

'Second, as a perspective from a police officer. Stop thinking about CSI and that everything in law enforcement happens instantaneously now. Interviewing witnesses, processing crime scenes, gathering evidence take HOURS and sometimes DAYS depending on the crime. Murder scenes routinely take 15-24 hours to process for evidence and interviewing witness and taking statements can take 15 minutes to hours long. If the first murders happened within two hours, the investigators would have been lucky to get a suspect description and find a few witnesses. However, they had already developed a suspect and information to believe the suspect and already left campus and believed to be fleeing the state from the witness. Never the less, all of you expect a decision to shut down the university which is basically a small town of 30,000 people immediately, especially when the AVAILABLE INFORMATION is that the police believe the suspect left and was gone BASED ON witness information which is ALL they have to go on at that point in time. Just think about the circumstances and vastness of this tradgedy and stop blaming people already before we know all of the information available. I will give you the honest truth though. If someone has already made up their mind that they want to kill someone and have no problem with dieing themselves, there is little you, me, or any law enforcement official can do to stop that person with that much determination. Unfortunately, the person that committed these acts was one of those persons.

'Additionally, I can reassure that any one of the responding police officers would have given thier lives to save as many people as they could because that is what we do. I understand the anger of the grieving process but if you believe the police and university did not do all they thought they could with the information they had at that time then I ask you take a step back and really look at what happened today and see that very little if anything could have stopped a person as determined as that suspect today.

Posted by: ethiel | April 16, 2007 09:11 PM '

--

From the New York Times:

"...campus investigators had been busy pursuing what appears to have been a fruitless lead in the first of two shooting episodes Monday.

"After two people, Emily Jane Hilscher, a freshman, and Ryan Clark, the resident adviser whose room was nearby in the dormitory, were shot dead, the campus police began searching for Karl D. Thornhill, who was described in Internet memorials as Ms. Hilscher's boyfriend.

"According to a search warrant filed by the police, Ms. Hilscher's roommate had told the police that Mr. Thornhill, a student at nearby Radford University, had guns at his town house. The roommate told the police that she had recently been at a shooting range with Mr. Thornhill, the affidavit said, leading the police to believe he may have been the gunman.

But as they were questioning Mr. Thornhill, reports of widespread shooting at Norris Hall came in..."


By Joel Achenbach  |  April 18, 2007; 8:49 AM ET
 
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Next: Should Cho Have the Last Word?

Comments

Thank you Joel. Most especially for paragraph 14.

Posted by: Yoki | April 18, 2007 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Super response from a voice of reason. Now if the families can resist the urge to sue we'll really have a news story about a community that is stronger than the tragedy.

Speaking of which-Steve Stanton, the Largo FL city manager who was fired after news of his impending gender reassignment surgery was leaked has decided NOT to sue. The parents of Jonathan Schulze, an Iraq war Marine vet who committed suicide after being turned away from a VA hospital, have decided NOT to sue. They are turning their attention to starting a foundation to serve vets with mental health problems.

Makes me want to start a blog just for news of people who decide not to sue.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 18, 2007 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I'd read that blog, frostbitten.

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 18, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

It's good to hear voices of reason, isn't it, Frosti? I hope second-guessing will be muted and the focus on establishing channels to help these disturbed young men before they are too far gone.

I remember how it felt to be a college senior and have nothing in front of me, after graduation. Scary, unhappy times. We can't avoid the hard times, shouldn't, in fact, but we should have support in place for those who need it. My university's placement office was a negative, no help at all. I was fortunate to have a good family and eventually made my way. It took a while, though.

Posted by: Slyness | April 18, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

That blog link gets a 404...

Posted by: wiredog | April 18, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse

The WaPo doesn't list the Canadian victim of the VT shooting in its list yet. By all account Ms. Couture-Nowak was a very gentle soul. Anyway, if you are interested many Canadian papers have a write-up on her, for example the G&M:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070418.wshootingcanadian18/BNStory/

The whole thing reminds me so much of the Polytechnique massacre of 1989. Marc Lépine/Gamil Gharbi personality was in full deconstruction when he committed his atrocities. Months earlier his mother apparently tried to convince him to consult, unsuccessfully. By Dec 89 he was so remote from anyone, although living downtown in a big city, that his psychosis went unchecked and untreated. The only thing that remains a mystery is whether his psychosis was caused by brain damage inflicted by his violent, drunk, women-hating father or not.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 18, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Virginia Tech has only about half the enrollment of the largest campuses in the US, and it's a residential, not a commuter, campus. I suspect its students are in closer contact with faculty and other students than at many other large universities.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 18, 2007 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Reposted from previous Boodle:

****************************************

Good morning, everyone...

[Silliness here. If you want to read it, please go back to the end of previous Boodling.]

Back to reality for second, this seems to be a very difficult time for a lot of people - some Boodlers, some not - for a variety of reasons.

I'm going to take some time today to refelect on these things, and to think about what I can do to have a more positive presence in the world today. Even if it's simply making someone laugh.

I sincerely hope everyone has a good day today. And know I'm thinking about you.

bc

Posted by: bc | April 18, 2007 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand why people think nothing was done to help Cho. It seems to be that someone DID try to do something. When she couldn't get the boy to go to counseling, she took it upon herself to teach him one-on-one in her office. She tried to open him up, reach him, make a friend.

What else could really have been done? I think this teacher took extraordinary measures to help him. In many cases, her actions probably would have saved a person from doing harm to himself or others.

Posted by: TBG | April 18, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Any day where bc contributes (never mind thinks about us) is a good one, IMHO.

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 18, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I agree with most of the kit, but a couple of sentences still stood out for me.

>>"The shooter, Mr. Cho, behaved in advance of the massacre precisely like someone who might someday try to take out half the student body."

But how precisely can you predict someone's future behavior? Maybe my immediate negative reaction comes from thinking about the mistaken faith people have in prospective profiling for criminal situations, i.e., trying to determine if anyone out of a bunch of randomly selected people is a threat, based on characteristics of past threats. But that, apparently, doesn't work. The Secret Service doesn't think so,

http://www.secretservice.gov/ntac_ssi.shtml

and someone on the last kit or two mentioned a similar FBI study.

Of course, while seeing some of these characteristics in someone shouldn't mean that they are arrested or targeted, it probably does mean that people should talk to them, get to know them a little better, see what's going on. That makes sense, and it seems like Roy was doing the right thing--not just trying to talk to Cho, but also alerting others to potentially problematic behavior.

But, knowing what I know so far, I don't think it's necessarily right to blame school officials for not doing something sooner. After all, how many moody young men dwell upon violent thoughts? They probably made a bad call somewhere, but not beyond what a reasonable person might do.

>>"Every university administrator in America this morning is reading the stories about VT and thinking: 'I need to take a closer look at my students." Which will bring up its own complicated set of issues that balance the rights of individuals vs. the safety of a campus community.'

I'm not sure that there is a balance that needs to be reached, here. Whether or not you're impinging upon someone's rights matters entirely upon what "a closer look at [] students" means. If that means digging into their records and past, trying to play TV detective, then yes, you're going to start running up against students' rights (at least the rights they have morally, if not legally). But taking a closer look at students might also mean simply talking to them more, having more contact with them. Prof. Roy apparently was doing just that, and just because it doesn't make a campus, or the world, bullet-proof, doesn't mean it wasn't the right thing to do.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

NPR's story last night of Professor Librescu's heroism, and his life to that point, hit me in the gut.

When I was teaching in a portable classroom in Prince William in the DC Sniper days I hoped not to have to face the challenge of protecting my students. We looked for white panel trucks when we went in the building for bathroom breaks and endured day after day without outdoor recess. One kid told a new student, "don't worry, she used to be in the army." I believed then that I would take a bullet for him if need be, but oh how different it is to think you would and actually do it.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 18, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Last night my wife and I sat down for our nightly chat. The past week has seen two elementary school children lose their lives in a horrible accident at the fronto of our campus and a middle schooler that lost his life because he was crossing the four lane a couple of miles up the road and was hit by a driver that didn't see him. I teach this boy's brother. We've lost another student a year and a half ago because things got so bad, in his mind, suicide was the only option. The boy that lost his brother basicallly doesn't have a family, as his father is encarcerated for a particular nasty assault on his wife; the mother is out on bond because she provided alcohol to minors at the birthday fete that preceeded her son's death. I lost my Mom to her own hand. I taught Roy, the boy who died by his own hand. I'm sure their behaviour leading up to the end was predictive of what lay ahead, the same way that the behaviour of the young man at VT was, with the benefit of hindsight.
My wife and I agreed that this particular boy has had one life insult after another piled on top of him. I'm determined to do all that I can to keep him from falling between the proverbial cracks. Moreover, our school population is so small, that we STILL miss the signs. Thanks for the kit, Joel. It brings some perspective as to how common it is to armchair qurterback. IMHO, it would have been difficult under the best of circumstances to minimize the loss of life at VT on Monday, even with alll of the signals. This is similar to the events of 9/11 in that it will be a case study in how to respond better when faced in the future with a similar scenario. RD's post last night about the coming wave of generalized and specific recrimination was well taken. As my wife and I talked, the background was a CNN interview of a student in the German class: Did you see your teacher shot? How did that make you feel? Did you see any of your classmates die?...sheesh. We turned on Dog the Bounty Hunter instead, for about five minutes, then went to bed. But not before we checked on the kids and gave the obligatory forehead kiss.

Posted by: jack | April 18, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I'll fix the link. Sorry.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 18, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Saw this interesting article on a special school for troubled teens, it is an effort not to give up on those who have already been in a lot of trouble. I don't know how you would calculate an ROI on this investment, but to me it would seem if the program makes a difference to just a few it is worth the effort.

http://www.thestar.com/News/article/204310

Posted by: dmd | April 18, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Another blog I visit regularly
http://blogs.tampabay.com/standingby/

has some comments about the relative coverage of the VT tragedy vs. military deaths in Iraq. I haven't weighed in, the old apples and oranges comparison comes to mind. Then again you can compare apples and oranges, but that's another comment.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 18, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

dmd-that's precisely the kind of school I taught in while living in NoVA. It is always a hard sell as, at least where I was, the per-pupil cost is about 3X the average. Since I left, the program has grown to about 200 kids, so it no longer has the truly small relationship building atmosphere it once had. Economies of scale were the rationale for this move. False economy I say.

However, it is hard to argue continued spending based on success stories. You can't put your finger on crimes that aren't committed and say "without intervention student D would have done X." At the end of many draining school days I'd breathe a sigh of relief and think "We kept 'em safe for one more day."

Posted by: frostbitten | April 18, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link, dmd. People are slow to realise how different children are, in a psychological sense at present, compared to a couple of generatins ago. The ROI you speak of may not be apparent, and some would argue that such programs are a waste of money, that the kids "...should learn to behave...". Some can't, as they don't have the proper support from adults to begin with. Thus the need to be perceptive and try to pick up signals that would indicate a child needs help, and provide a resource, such as alternative ed., that meets these needs.

Posted by: jack | April 18, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Jack I learned several years ago, when my daughter needed help with life changes, that we forget that in life we don't get much opportunity to learn how to deal properly with emotion, for some children teaching coping skills is necessary, "just behave" is not enough. At the same time at school they had a few lessons on learning how to identify and deal with emotions, it was good and if it was expanded to perhaps be included each year it may help many children (adults too - if the parents head the literature).

Posted by: dmd | April 18, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

SCC read the literature

Posted by: dmd | April 18, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, dmd. That and talk to your spouse about what kind of behaviour each sees, how each hears about school, etc.. Then realise that children are in concrete operations until they are nearly eighteen, that they have a repetoire of adult emotions that they haven't mentally mastered, nor can entirely control, that they understand cause and effect better than reasoning a way athrough a problem, in a lot of cases...so much to know with a limited amount of time...

Posted by: jack | April 18, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

BTW, frosty, some our students think we're invincible in some aspects, as in their confidence that we'd take one for the group. Child like faith that we should all aspire to...

Posted by: jack | April 18, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-korean18apr18,0,3665375.story?coll=la-home-headlines

They [Los Angeles Korean community leaders] said that, from a cultural perspective, many Koreans might be reluctant to seek out mental health counseling. They urged Korean Americans to be vigilant about seeking counseling services if they or family members need help.

http://www.apa.org/ppo/ethnic/immigranthealth.html

The Mental Health Needs of Immigrants

American Psychological Association
Public Policy Office
750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242
Phone: 202-336-6062

http://www.nancyabelmann.com/bio.htm

Korean (Near-fluent spoken; proficient reading and writing)
Ph.D. (Social Cultural Anthropology), University of California, Berkeley, 1990. [B.A. Harvard, M.A., Berkeley]

As Director of East Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Chicago, Champaign-Urbana, Nancy Abelman is currently working on Korean American Mental Health in its Familial Context, having already written her preliminary findings

Posted by: Loomis | April 18, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I second Joel's comment above:

By the way: For all the talk about how the shooter was Asian, and from South Korea, his ethnicity is completely irrelevant to the story.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 18, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Wheezy, that's what I was trying to say last night, but Joel, as usual, said it much better.

Posted by: TBG | April 18, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

30,000 deaths each year, killed by guns (or by people with guns). Injuries rusulting from accidents or otherwise from guns in the 100's of thousands per year.

Already, some gun proponents are suggesting that, if anyone at VaTech in those classrooms had been armed, many lives may have been saved. Let's see about that. These folks are suggesting that students or teachers should be armed. Yes, let's think about how safer we would be if there were guns on campus.

Or, was this how the problem started?

Participate in the moment of silence on Friday.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | April 18, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Wheezy, TGB ...

The reaction to his ethnicity and early suggestions that the shooter may have been a "Paki" have become part of the story.

In the way our nation now carries on its dialogue on such issues and trying to "solve" its problems, such issues well up and, despite your feelings are becoming part of the discussion.

Thinking back a week to the Imus aftermath, there wasn't a conversation on TV (that I saw) where "discourse" is the manner of conversation that Rap Music didn't surface in the discussion. Whether we like it or not, most Americans seem to get their news from Jon Stewart if they are young or a leftie or Rush, if they are sort of a rightie or older.

For those conservative thinkers, that explains why more older Rush listeners know about the Troop Surge than know who happens to be their own State Governor.

I haven't posted anything here recently because my points would be considered out of line (though I have been personally involved in two quick community memorials)...

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | April 18, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

The Post's story this morning makes it clear that Mr Cho had obtained mental health assistance through the university.

If he was suffering from depression, he had what seems to be, from my very limited and non-expert experience, a common and usually treatable problem. In retrospect, I probably suffered a bout of depression while completing my masters degree. At the time, I had no idea what was going on, so did not seek attention. I've been aware of the problem since then, but didn't find sufficient reason to begin visiting a psychologist until a couple of years ago.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 18, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

They didn't have to lock down the campus, or evacuate everyone. All they had to do was cancel classes for the day.

Posted by: Eleanor | April 18, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Eleanor,

That may have saved certain lives, but not have prevented this guy from shooting people.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | April 18, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

But Jon Stewart is a comedian, not a newsman. He is satire, not news. Sweet heaven forbid that what you say is true DM.

Posted by: dr | April 18, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

while race is not a factor, it is premature to say ethnicity/culture was not. high expectations and pressure on first-generation children are very well documented.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | April 18, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

dr, that's what polls are showing. Jon Stewart is the a constant source for "News" for many many people. They must obviously also find other sources (newspapers, TV). For many people, however, talk radio and talk cable may be the only source of information.

At best, he provides humorous commentary. I think that Pew did the survey, but I could easily be wrong. Those are the same sort of figures that Al Franken quoted in Rush is a big fat liar ...

Those numbers are holding pretty steady.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | April 18, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I'll remind you of a link that Error Flynn posted recently -- according to a survey by Editor & Publisher, the best-informed citizens are those who watch The Daily Show & Colbert Report, and those who read newspapers closely. The worst informed are ... viewers of Fox. The level of being "informed" was determined by evaluating things like whether someone knew the identity of the Vice President, or knew that Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House.

It's not clear to me whether Fox News viewers are worse-informed than those who watch & read no news at all. Does Fox News actually make you dumber and purvey false facts? Evidence shows that the answer occasionally is "yes." Or do they merely fail to inform their viewership? Or do they attract an audience that is impervious to facts, anyway? You would think that Fox would mention regularly that Dick Cheney is the Veep, suggesting that the fault lies in the Fox viewership and not the news-coverage itself. Of course, I am only speculating. It's not like I watch Fox, so I can only assume that they would mention that Dick Cheney is the VP. Given the well-known anti-government bias of the rightest of the right wing, I suppose it's possible that Fox prefers not to trumpet the fact that government has been, for several years, in the hands of their preferred politicians, who have been making a hash of things.

Posted by: Tim | April 18, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I've been reading all the comments and really feel for all the families. I read some of the profiles of the victims, and that's heartbreaking. They are often a mixture between resume (which makes one think about leaders and citizens lost) and anecdotes (which give a small insight into the loss of the family member or friend).

I was thinking about writing something about gun control and my take on the 2nd Amendment, but as I'm a non-US citizen, it seemed too superfrenchie-esque. The stats about the effect of a proliferation of handguns are easily found. I thought Scott K at the end of the day on the 16th unintentionally made the alternative clear - hyper-awareness.

Anyway, it doesn't help the families and other people in the ripple caused by this particular rock.

Posted by: SonofCarl | April 18, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I guess it gives Iraq a context. It's about half the death toll from a car bomb in Bagdad. VT thing is 16% of the number the WSJ is reporting for today in various 'events'.

Sadr is moving in for the kill. If we are in a situation of being asked/told to leave, or given a deadline, are we just hanging around to stabilize things while Sadr carries out his plans? If so, then, at a minimum, everything Bush has said for the past two months is idiotic. So, has the surge given Sadr a chance to better group his forces. How the heck would we even know?

Posted by: George Sears | April 18, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

But, SonofCarl, I like superfrenchie-esque.

Posted by: Kim | April 18, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Definitions of race, ethnicity and culture. I think removing Cho Seung-Hui from his cultural context is patently absurb.

http://www.texancultures.utsa.edu/diversity/index.htm

Much depends on whether Joel ascribes to the melting pot or salad bowl view or theory of multiculturalism.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/meltingpot/maps.htm#popchange

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/meltingpot/melt0222.htm

Posted by: Loomis | April 18, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

SonofCarl writes
I was thinking about writing something about gun control and my take on the 2nd Amendment, but as I'm a non-US citizen, it seemed too superfrenchie-esque.

SonofCarl, you can always use "Bowling for Columbine" as your point of reference as Moore compares and contrasts the violence and gun cultures (or lack thereof) between Canada and the U.S.

Posted by: Loomis | April 18, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/18/world/asia/18cnd-korea.html?hp

South Koreans React to Shooting in Virginia

Interesting last sentence: Private ownership of guns is banned in South Korea.

Posted by: Loomis | April 18, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I can't say this wouldn't have happened without all the second-guessing:

"Shortly before 8 a.m., police received a threat on the life of University President Charles W. Steger, Flinchum said at this morning's briefing.

A report then surfaced of a suspicious person inside Burrus Hall, where the president's office is located.

Heavily armored police trucks and officers wearing flak jackets and carrying large rifles converged on the building, evacuating some people who were inside before declaring an all-clear."

*SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 18, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Tim - Very good questions about Fox. I watch it at the gym I go to about 4 times a week, so I get a good dose of it. To amuse myself on the arctrainer, I've done some simple quantifying of data and I've come to the conclusion that it's all about slant on Fox, rant shows aside. For example, in one sample I counted 9 net positive rolling blurbs for either Republican party positions or candidates, and one negative rolling blurb about a Democrat or Democratic position. One positive blurb was *President Bush stands firm in his commitment to American Troops* and the negative was *Jim Webb author of soft porn* - you get the picture. Their main anchor calling a congressman from PA "dotty" qualifies as slant as far as I'm concerned, also. (can you *imagine* if Brian Williams or someone called our vp delusional or something like that?) Couple that with their massive overt and subliminal campaign against the dastardly liberal MSM and there she goes...viewers attracted by a message they already believe and reeled in by the drip-drip-drip of what they wanted to hear anyway.

Posted by: Kim | April 18, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Snuke, the timeline is starting to get crowded with deadly warning signs. This is so sad.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | April 18, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Jon Stewart's humour requires a strong situational awareness in his audience.
I'm sure most people aready could find their foot or the US on a map before tuning into the Daily Show.
People watch his show for reassurance. It's nice to know you aren't the only one who can't beleive this (..insert outrage..).

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Ironically, a few years ago, I actually read a sociological/social work study book on the prevalance of depression in recent, elderly Korean immigrants. Shockingly enough, many of the elderly Koreans admitted to depression, citing lack of independence and isolation as a factor.

Because of the social stigma on depression, a focus on being sincere, work ethic, and dislike for "coddling" themselves-- Koreans tend to mainfest with high-functioning depression.

This "sincerity"-- meaning not smiling falsely, combined with his depression probably did contribute to his general unfriendly persona and isolation, but I've seen that happen in other boys who don't have the cultural excuse for it.

According to their culture, they are not supposed to, and they will not mainfest behavior changes such as not caring about self or house maintenace. They will force themselves to get up from bed. They will carry through their daily tasks no matter how rotten they feel.

(Western psychologist now realize the importance of routine in helping keep depression manageable, and that oversleeping often makes depression worse.)

This is likely why Cho was able to maintain his daily tasks, turn his homework in time, everything even when he was struggling with problems beyond simple depression that would have made many students just fail out of school.

I am speaking of the cultural onus in Korea which Cho may not have believed in particularly; he did get mental health assistance. His family might not have been comfortable with that, though, but we cannot speculate on how westernized or open and caring they are, and I don't think we even should.

To sum up, it appears he was getting help from his culture in terms of an emphasis on keeping up a daily routine that would help counteract depression. Also, it appears Cho was getting help at Va Tech if he wanted it.

I've also read " Cross Cultural Communication" by Nicholas Dima, which I find remarkable for its brief but succinct analysis of cultural shock and estrangment from both native and adopted cultures in terms even those who have not experienced it can understand.

Somebody said the pressure on first generation immigrants can be considerable. That is true, but his sister graduated from Princeton with presumably similar pressure. I think the issue is likely more in whether he was as well able to acculturate here.

This discusses acculturation stress in foreign exchange students, and the factors that make adaption easy or difficult.

http://spitswww.uvt.nl/web/fsw/psychologie/emotions2003/1/word-h2.pdf

Having known many immigrants in varying stages of acculturation, adjustment, and culture shock, I'd say that innate temperament, presence/absence of other mental or physical health problems, how americanized the family is willing to permit their kids to be, and peer social support makes for major difference in happiness levels.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 18, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Son of Carl, I'll say that VA's gun control checks are too lenient, but this is not the norm in all states.
Gun control advocates do argue that violent crime rates do drop when people are allowed to carry concealed weapons in public. And so it goes all around.

Personally, I like Canada's handgun ban and wish it was in place here-- it's damn hard to conceal a rifle in public.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 18, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Alison Kiss, program director of Security on Campus Inc., was online Wednesday, April 18, at 2 p.m. ET to discuss security measures and recommendations for Virginia Tech as well as other colleges across the U.S.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2007/04/18/DI2007041801375.html?hpid=discussions

Posted by: CC | April 18, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I really am tired of the *blame game* by the media and those the media give voice to express blame--before all the information is in and some sort analysis has been made. Life is hard enough without all the judgmental flak. Don Imus is a case in point. Granted he made a bad mistake, but something like what happened at VA Tech puts it in perspective. Did he really need to be fired? Couldn't they have done some deal with a large and generous donation to the Rutgers team along with a heartfelt apology? Wouldn't that have been a positive solution and something more soothing to the racial upset than the crucifying by Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson?
What happened at VA Tech was horrible, but now that the murderer is dead, the media is out there judging everyone in sight!

Posted by: farrarc | April 18, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

I was listening to a conservative radio talk show in the early afternoon on Monday. I didn't listen long enough to catch the host's name but he had a strong New York area accent so I know it was a show that was fed into our local AM talk station. Before any official information was announced by VA officials, this talk show host was claiming that the shooter in the VT incident was Chinese, that he was a recent immigrant with a visa out of Shanghai, and arrived in the US in August of 2006. He kept repeating this information over and over again in a way that made it sound like it was unbelievable that we let this guy into the country. His point was that it's the foreigners we let into this country that put us at risk. My first reaction was, "How the heck do you know that all this information is even correct?" It was so early in the investigation at that point that it seemed incredibly irresponsible of him to be spouting off this information, and in such a hostile manner. Obviously, the talk show host got it all wrong as Cho is Korean and has been here as a legal resident for a number of years.

And, yes, Cho's ethnicity is irrelevant to his awful crime and it is wrong to make general assumptions based on the fact that he's Korean. There may be cultural factors that have an impact on his mental health and wellbeing (or lack thereof) but we may never know exactly why he did what he did.

Posted by: Aloha | April 18, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Well, the Bush Supreme Court has done it -- late term abortions are now illegal. That being said, it would not surprise me at all if the Bush twins could and would avail themselves of an abortion at any stage (all those who think these young women are still v$rg$ns, please raise your hands -- yeah, I thought so).

I'm so glad I'm finally out of estrogen.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | April 18, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

firsttime: "late term abortions are now illegal."

It's actually one procedure for performing late-term that is now illegal. Although nothing says that others won't be given the same treatment soon.

Posted by: Raysmom | April 18, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

There is no handgun ban in Canada. They are classed as restricted firearms. A restricted class permit is obtained after completing a ministry approved safety course.
Handguns may be discharged at certified ranges. They must be locked in a safe or secure room or stored,locked, seperately from their ammunition.

Posted by: Boko999 | April 18, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

ferrarc, I guess you are paying attention to different media than me. I have heard no negative judgments of 'everyone' or 'anyone.' The general tone of what I have heard is that University officials and police made the best decision they could, given limited information. Even if they had had more information, the tools that they had available did not enable them to respond more effectively. Identifying defects and improving upon them is reasonable, but there is no initial sign of malfeasance or negligence, and I have not heard any responsible persons saying so.

Don Imus really wasn't fired. His show was canceled, because no sponsors wanted to be associated with him, which means his show wasn't going to make any more money. Therefore, no show. He wasn't crucified by anybody. He mouthed off, as his 1st-Amendment right. Sharpton and others responded, as is their right. The sponsors got nervous, and made a bottom-line decision, as is their right. Don Imus is worth millions, unless he has spent his money REALLY stupidly. Unlike many Americans, he can afford to take a richly-supplied rest and retire, so I shed no tears for him. His personal state of employment does not seem like a national priority to me, but there is an important issue about whether the ideas he espouses deserve society's support. But what could this possibly have to do with VATech?

Posted by: Tim | April 18, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Ahhh... what about automatic weapons, Boko?

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 18, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

>Virginia requires residents to present two forms of identification to buy a gun, as well pass a computerized background check

It was interesting for me to read the VA requirements for purchasing a handgun. Very different here in NJ: You fill out a form, go through a couple of background checks, have to state any psych. treatments and have TWO people certify you're not a drunk or have psychiatric problems.

The fact that even *I* actually got two people to do that notwithstanding, it seems to me that Mr. Cho would likely have not been able to purchase that gun here. If he was so consistently scary it's hard to believe he would have found two people to OK it.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 18, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Apparently money solves all hurt feelings...didn't you get the memo, Tim? ;).

There's nothing whatsoever connected, other than Don Imus would probably be insulting the Hokies by pronouncing that as two words right now, if he wasn't already off the air.


Posted by: Wilbrod | April 18, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Automatic weapons, those that discharge more than one bullet per squeeze of the trigger, are prohibited weapons in Canada as well as in the US (except a few exceptions, of course). Semi-autos, one bullet per squeeze of the trigger, are permitted.

Handguns are not banned per se in Canada, Wilbrod. It is virtually impossible to get a license to carry a handgun though, despite that it is permitted by law, but it is possible to acquire one under certain conditions and to transport it between your residence and the shooting range.
There are three classes of firearms; prohibited, restricted and firearms. Strangely enough an air pistol or air rifle that can produce a nominal velocity of 500 fps is also classified as a firearm. Prohibited firearms includes automatic and military weapons (machine guns, assault rifles with burst capability, Tec-9 style weapons, etc), a list of handguns, rifles&shotguns the RCMP happens not to like, including most .50 BMG weapons and handguns that could be described as "Saturday Night's Specials. The justice department's description of "Saturday Night's Specials" includes handgun with a barrel of less than 4 in. and caliber less than 0.35in. but excludes the very popular .22 rimfire cartridge. So you can't buy snub noses revolver, the traditional woman's caliber of .25auto and the outdated .32. If you had one prohibited handgun in your possession at a magical date you can keep it but you can't sell it, exchange it, bequeath it or export it. It goes in the furnace when the owner dies. All other handguns are "restricted" and can be obtained after filling overly intrusive paperwork, bowing down before your local cops, paying the applicable fees and all that. It gives you the right to buy ammunition and transport the handgun, stowed in a box, between the residence and shooting range(s) listed in the paperwork. It takes quite a while to do all that, so the cool-off period is measured in weeks.
I doubt that Mr. Cho would have been given a license if the cops knew about the stalking complaints and mental health issues he recently faced but both guns he used are legal in Canada as restricted weapons. Kimveer Gill, the Dawson College shooter obtained licenses for both his Beretta Storm carbine and a Glock 19, same handgun as Cho's, but transported them illegally as he was not on the shortest route between his residence and the listed shooting range...
Regular firearms, i.e. long guns, also requires filling slightly less intrusive paperwork, bowing down not so low before the local cops and paying fees as well. The weapons must be stored at the listed address when not in use.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 18, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I agree that Fox News is slanted, and it is likely that those who watch it do so because that particular slant agrees with their views on the world.

However, and I know this is heresy in the world of journalism, I believe all journalism is slanted to some degree. I can't explain it any better than did Suzanne Stradling in the 10/25 update to the following Weingarten chat:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2006/10/17/DI2006101700631.html

A sampling:
"There are a few world-class intelligences that can write without letting their biases show, and I do mean world-class: Leo Tolstoy, William Shakespeare and David Hume are the only ones that spring to mind."

Posted by: Raysmom | April 18, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I spent 4 days on the campus 10 years ago and came back to Minnesota telling anyone who would listen how much I loved the campus and Blacksburg. It seemed a beatiful oasis in the green countryside. I was struck by the students and faculty who demonstrated sophistication, intelligence, and a sens of purpose.

The interviews of survivors and relatives have reinforced this impression. How horrible it must have been to indure the intial losses. And now to try to live with the burden of having lost mostly young family and friends.

Lets hope members of the media will show a little more restraint and stop playing "gotcha" with anyone in authority.

Posted by: Frank W Allen | April 18, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

That's like expecting leopards to change their spots. Some MSM members seem to have made their careers trying to gotcha people.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 18, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Why is it OK to blame the media but no one else. Question mark. Can I point out that the initial complaints about the VT administration's response -- the ones published in the Post -- were from Virginia Tech students? Or have I gone daft? Seems to me that it's OK to quote students who have gone through this trauma. Or should journalists made the editorial decision not to quote people who the journalists believe are rushing to judgment? Come on, folks, we all instinctively look for someone to blame or some evidence that mistakes were made. And then -- ideally -- we cool down. And become more judicious.

I blame Society. (Isn't that what we always said back in the 1970s???)

Posted by: Achenbach | April 18, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Frank W Allen, I should have said, thanks for joining us here, and thanks for that nice description of VT. Welcome. And welcome also to the many other new names on the blog the last few days. I hope you stick around.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 18, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to keep butting in, but fyi, I added to the kit a link to, and brief excerpt of, a Columbine story I worked on back in the day. I doubt it sheds any light on this current tragedy but I'll share it anyway.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 18, 2007 4:35 PM | Report abuse

There are always more victims behind the obvious ones, the students still study there,the parents many more. They need our attention now.

Posted by: chenkankate22 | April 18, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't Society the 60s and The Man the 70s?

Posted by: SonofCarl | April 18, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

That's "Them", right?

Posted by: Boko999 | April 18, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks... strangely, when I saw the shooter had "Ismail ax" on his arm, it looked familiar.

I can't shake the feeling I have seen "Ismail Ax" a few months before somewhere on a chat board (not of high quality), I was doing a search on somehow came across a one of those "political" sites with comments (not WaPo or Slate-- a more local e-zine), and while reading down, I came across this oddly sick, venting, scatological writing signed with Ismail Ax.

Other than OMG, what the *** is he talking about, I was wondering if Ismail Ax was an allusion to a rapper. But I couldn't google it elsewhere. Just Ismail Yk.

I figure that if the list owner hadn't purged it already long ago, the FBI now will have pulled all websites with the phrase on it.

Maybe it's just deja vu. Too old to remember clearly nowadays.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 18, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I'd hazard a guess that we are blaming the media because we can. In a way MSM is the voice of the 'man'.

Posted by: dr | April 18, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I have discovered that it is rather hard to find noteworthy incidents of people NOT suing, but hope to have an intermittent blog up soon. In the meantime I'll just point folks to these two, not completely moldy cases. I set a cut off point of 1 year for mellowing, and to give fickle folks time to rethink.

Last summer Tom Petty did not sue the Red Hot Chili Peppers
http://blogcritics.org/archives/2006/06/29/164924.php

And here's some interesting stuff about a guy not suing Sony last year when his PS 3 caught fire. (Rather vehemently not suing I might add for people of gentle constitutions language wise).
http://www.destructoid.com/ps3-burns-down-guys-house-28254.phtml

Posted by: frostbitten | April 18, 2007 5:18 PM | Report abuse

My husband loves to blame The Man until I remind him he IS The Man.

Posted by: TBG | April 18, 2007 5:19 PM | Report abuse

There is a perverse intellectual arrogance in assigning blame. It means that we are such clever people that we can figure out who the villains are, and, by doing so, correct the problem so that nothing like this will ever happen again.

Yeah. Right.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 18, 2007 5:23 PM | Report abuse

TBG - That reminds me of the cell phone commercial:

CEO: This is my way of "sticking it to The Man."

Underling: ...but you are The Man.

CEO: Yes.

Underling: So... you're sticking it to yourself?

CEO: ...Maybe.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 18, 2007 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Joel, you're right about us blaming mainly the media and not so much the rest of "society." The media is where we get the information, how we keep the discourse going and who, supposedly, is broadcasting the truth. It's easy to blame the most obvious medium of information flow, isn't it?

Lots of people jumped to conclusions in the first two days (and still are) and then turn around and talk about it with others. I suppose the level headed ones in our midst will keep from rushing to judgement but I know I'm guilty of doing that just as much as the next person. Maybe it's our human reaction that needs some serious fine tuning.

Posted by: Aloha | April 18, 2007 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Cho mailed video, photos and writings to NBC in the hours between the two shootings. Wow, this is getting more and more bizarre as things unfold.

Posted by: Aloha | April 18, 2007 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Americans must not blame this horrific slaughter at the school on the Korean community. This young man was most likely suffering from mental illness, probably schizophrenia. Serial killers who continue to commit murders month after month or year after year are inheriently evil. The sad aspect of this case is that neither his family nor the authorities with whom he came in contact took any positive action.

Posted by: Jim Alderson | April 18, 2007 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Scarier and Scarier:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/18/AR2007041800834.html?hpid=topnews

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 18, 2007 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Aloha Aloha!

I just got back, but heard that there were emails sent out between the two incidents, as well.

Tim, I appreciate what you are saying as well as Aloha and others on the boodle, but I am suggesting that we all need to prepare for how the case is both perceived by segments of the population and how it is presented by verious News and Commentary outlets.

The point about Imus was about how the Imus comments and subsequent business concequences were observed and handled. Tim, the advertisers were only one, albeit major, factor in NBC's decision. For 2 decades, Imus badgered producers and sponsors and various others within the corp. structure. Imus was a sitting duck on a corp. basis.

What followed in the talking head circuit was my point. So many people tried to excuse his words by drawing in how Rappers talk and how blacks put up with their words (which they don't). There was also an attempt to suggest that Imus was targeted by liberals and was scapegoated.

Republican Talking Heads were put into ... no, make that chose to select a position where they actually defended not only the right to free speech but supported the basis of Imus' sexist/racist humor.

Again, I think the straw that broke the camel's back was that Imus had worn out so many associates within his broadcasting organizations. Tim, you make a great point, however, that Imus' primary challenge was maintaining his advertisers.

Funny, how, after decades of saying all sorts of crazy things, he gets nailed and becomes "THE" lightening rod.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | April 18, 2007 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Dad: I blame Society.

Detective-Parson: Alright, we'll be charging him, too.

(I believe that's either the LP or the Hollywood Bowl version)

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 18, 2007 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Cute. When do we get handicuffed?

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 18, 2007 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Right after the Church Police sing the hymm, Wilbrod.

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 18, 2007 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, you beat me, but I was looking it up while you were typing it--

====
All: O Lord, we beseech thee, tell us 'oo croaked Lester!
(thunder)
Voice of the Lord: The one in the braces, he done it!
Klaus: It's a fair cop, but society's to blame.
Detective-Parson: Agreed. We'll be charging them too.
=====

http://wuzzle.org/bishop.html

Posted by: kbertocci | April 18, 2007 6:39 PM | Report abuse

This is yet another indictment of the health care in this country--- had this young man received the medical help he needed some time ago, perhaps this devastation could have been avoided. Someone, either doctors, therapists, or medical facilities dropped the ball, and I would bet it was because of money. Well, we are all paying big-time now-- in more than just dollars!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2007 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Didn't we just talk about Ms. Carlisle? Clearly we are a curse.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/18/AR2007041801527.html

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 18, 2007 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Tim: You prove my point. You are one of the *judgmental*. I try to observe and read many periodicals, listen to all news channels plus the news I receive over the internet. I think I am capable of organizing my thoughts and observations. My initial observations were that blame was being placed on the campus police, the president of VA Tech, etc. the lack of security, before the whole situation was known. If you think Don Imus committed a worse crime than the murder of 32 innocent students, then you gotta get real!
It's not an excuse, but it is a perspective.

Posted by: farrarc | April 18, 2007 7:01 PM | Report abuse

>Cute. When do we get handicuffed?
*snort*

RD, I have to confess didn't realize Kittly Carlisle was the lead in "A Night At The Opera" until recently. I was shocked, but I guess I had come to know her in the Hollywood Square days and just never noticed.

Talk about a non-PC show:

Q: "How high do you have to be to parachute out of an airplane?"
Charley Weaver: "Three days of steady drinking ought to do it."

Q: "You wake up frequently in the night. Are you probably a man or probably a woman?"
Don Knotts: "That's what's keeping me awake."

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 18, 2007 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Three cheers for TBG's steady hand on the helm. Hip Hip Hip!

Posted by: Yoki | April 18, 2007 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Was Kitty on "Hollywood Squares"? I just recall her from "To Tell the Truth" and "What's My line."

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 18, 2007 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Since TBG is in charge today, I'm expecting a fax of spanikopita, gyros and baklava really SOON!

Posted by: dbG | April 18, 2007 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Hoorah for TBG! But what I am really looking forward to is the 'rasslin match when Mudge comes back to reclaim the bunker.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 18, 2007 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Did I hear Baklava?

Posted by: dmd | April 18, 2007 7:39 PM | Report abuse

You're quite correct RD.

Memory is first to go....

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 18, 2007 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Hi DM! Great to hear from you again.

DM says: I am suggesting that we all need to prepare for how the case is both perceived by segments of the population and how it is presented by various News and Commentary outlets.

When I first got word that the shooter was Asian, my heart sank. The thought that ran through my head was, "Oh no." In fact, the first email I sent off was to our local Japanese American Citizens League (oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization) leadership giving them the heads-up that things might start happening out there and that they should be ready. It's been our (I'm Asian American) experience that when very public crimes like the VT shooting are perpetrated by Asian Americans, people start targeting Asians as a whole, verbally and physically. Kinda like what Middle Eastern people living in the US experienced after 9/11. It all actually started with Pearl Harbor way back when. So, I'm kind of skittish about the media and our society when it comes to crises like these. Yes, the blame game kicks into high gear and the accusations, accurate or not, start flying.

Posted by: Aloha | April 18, 2007 8:27 PM | Report abuse

I just watched the raw footage of the video that Cho sent to NBC. This is one damaged guy.

Posted by: Aloha | April 18, 2007 8:37 PM | Report abuse

You know, Aloha, I was at the grocery store yesterday and the older Asian woman in front of me seemed very nervous and kept glancing at me and away quickly. Of course, first I looked down to see if I'd spilled my lunch all over the front of me again, but I finally decided that she was expecting some kind of flak from "white" people over the VT shootings. She practically scuttled away. Maybe she was just naturally a nervous type. I tried to smile ingratiatingly.

And Frosti, have you ever checked out the site "Overlaywered.com?" It's not, unfortunately, about lawsuits not filed, it's about the ridiculous cream of the frivolous crop. Written by lawyers. I don't go there much anymore, but I used to find them quite entertaining.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 18, 2007 8:42 PM | Report abuse

SCC: overlawyered, obviously! Must use Preview.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 18, 2007 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Aloha, I am optimistic that what you fear will not come to pass. If anything, most people seem to be seeking to reassure the local Korean-American community that they are in no way considered responsible.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 18, 2007 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Baklava? Fine, but... I'm waiting for a fax of saganaki (and I hope she uses an old thermal fax so the exterior is still crisp and the interior luxuriously melting). I'd accept a small fax of greek coffee for afters.

Posted by: Yoki | April 18, 2007 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, will you be faxing us clafouti?

Posted by: dbG | April 18, 2007 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, the excellent small Greek diner down the street from my last job refused to pack saganaki "to go" because it wouldn't stay nice even for the 1 block trip back to the office. Faxing might be disastrous!

Wilbrod, if you're still researching the "ismail ax" thing, there are some very intelligent comments here:

http://www.boingboing.net/2007/04/17/va_tech_mass_shootin.htm

These folks (the boingboing commenters) sound almost as sane and good as the a-blog folks!

Posted by: Wheezy | April 18, 2007 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Why is NBC and other media giving voice to the idiocy of this murderer by publicizing the garbage he sent to them.

What possible value could this have.

Posted by: bill everything | April 18, 2007 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Wheezy - I think you dropped an "l." I think the link you want is this:

http://www.boingboing.net/2007/04/17/va_tech_mass_shootin.html

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 18, 2007 9:11 PM | Report abuse

As a technical aside, did anyone else notice that NBC not only beeped the profanities but *blurred his mouth* during the profanities also? I've never seen that before.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 18, 2007 9:12 PM | Report abuse

On the Washington Post Home page is the headline "Think Tanks Critique Policies."
From the body of the copy (in which the author writes Virginia Tech's gunman's name as the Cuban "Che," rather than "Cho"):

America is no longer a six-gun-toting, slap leather society [comparison to the 19th century]. Nor are we particularly violent [define violence?]. Since the civil war we have not afflicted great violence on other Americans [so the basis of comparison is a civil war?]. Nor is our crime rate [WHICH crime rate?] particularly high as ranked among the countries of the world.

This is such bad writing, why does the Washington Post give it editorial space?

From California's former Attorney General Dan Lungren (the current California A.G. is forner California Gov.Jerry Brown):

http://www.sayno.com/violence.html

America is, by far, the most violent country in the world when measured against comparable, industrialized nations. Violence is deeply rooted in our society and has become woven into the fabric of the American lifestyle. A culture of violence has emerged that invades our lives at every level, from our most intimate relationships at home to our schools and work environments. For many of us, violence has become an acceptable strategy for solving conflict, exerting power and control, obtaining possessions, and satisfying emotional desires. Moreover, violence has itself become entertainment, glamorized in the behavior of both real and fantasy heroes.

Dan Lundgren goes on to detail many types of violence--murders by firearms, homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, random acts of violence, hate crimes, kids killing kids, adults abusing children, and men assaulting women.

Posted by: Loomis | April 18, 2007 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, R.D.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 18, 2007 9:13 PM | Report abuse

"Why is NBC and other media giving voice to the idiocy of this murderer by publicizing the garbage he sent to them.

"What possible value could this have."

Perhaps it raises the amount they can collect from commercials over the next year -- that's what the advertising business is about.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2007 9:18 PM | Report abuse

9:18 anonymous. Yeah, I know, the point needs to be repeated, however naive, about what motivates the vast majority of news media in this country and its crass view of the intelligence of its audience.

Posted by: bill everything | April 18, 2007 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Huh? Wha? *frantically looking around*

I was in charge today? HA HA HA! *maniacally laughing*

I didn't even get up until nearly 10 am!

(But I do already own a red bra.)

Posted by: TBG | April 18, 2007 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Linda - outside of self-flagellation, I don't quite see what your point is.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 18, 2007 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Oh, sorry, that was me at 9.18 -- 6.18 here.

Posted by: LTL-CA | April 18, 2007 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Yo, LTL-CA.

In furtherance of Joel's kit, I appreciated the comments of the poor professor who had read some of the guy's writings and tried to make others feel better that no one could have known what this idiot was capable of. No one has to feel guilty about what happened. If that is demonstrably wrong (i.e., factually, about the two hour gap) then, overlawyered.com or not, that will get determined in due course.

Thank goodness science has no charlatans that could bring down the reputation of that profession. Good grief.

Posted by: bill everything | April 18, 2007 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Linda - Why would you link to a 1994 article?

While the violent crime rate in this country is still shameful, the trend is sharply down.

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/viort.htm

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 18, 2007 9:46 PM | Report abuse

I'll say the crime rate is down. Sanjaya is going home from AI.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 18, 2007 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Sanjaya voted off of Idol.

bc

Posted by: bc | April 18, 2007 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Well, I suppose this is the right week for that to happen.

Posted by: Slyness | April 18, 2007 10:02 PM | Report abuse

This listing of murders per capita shows the US at the top of the subset of countries I would expect it to be compared with (Western Europe, Japan, Australia, etc.). The US is 24th, but only 11 have a rate twice as high, and include places like Colombia, which are in another league altogether.

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_percap-crime-murders-per-capita

I would suspect that guns are involved in most of the murders, compared to exotic methods like the Cyprian bees featured in murder mystery novels.

Posted by: LTL-CA | April 18, 2007 10:02 PM | Report abuse

I must say... it does look beautiful in here.

Posted by: TBG | April 18, 2007 10:03 PM | Report abuse

I already figured it might be a reference to something that can't be found on the internet-- based on something he heard or read, but not exactly. Heck, it could be from Nigerian spam using the name "Ismaila", who knows with him-- he wasn't the most linear thinker out there.

He probably picked and began to identify with it exactly because it was so unique.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 18, 2007 10:06 PM | Report abuse

TBG, we will bring in the bunnies and kitties, then, if you will give the all-clear.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 18, 2007 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget the fresh flowers and plants!

Posted by: dmd | April 18, 2007 10:11 PM | Report abuse

TBG -- Say the word and we can bring in a scale model of the Parthenon. Shall we stencil a border of Grecian blue in the main office?

Posted by: College Parkian | April 18, 2007 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Well.... it would be nice to have our own little miniature Oracle of Delphi, wouldn't it?

I don't have any doilies here, but I do have those ubiquitous paper placements with a map of Greece on them.

Posted by: TBG | April 18, 2007 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I kept thinking that ax thing sounded like something familiar and I finally placed it - Emmanuel Ax! A classical pianist from Poland. I've heard it announced on the radio probably a thousand times. So no connection there - just a silly deja vu thing.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 18, 2007 10:29 PM | Report abuse

How can Mr. 'Mudge object to the map placements? Geography after all. As for the Oracle of Delphi, I hear she was inhaling some sort of laughing gas, exuded from the rock formations....all that advice to kings and warriers....and she, as high as a kite.

Very sleepy as the world has been more complex than usual...word from Terpland is that we are all Hokies for the moment....Wake me when peace breaks out.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 18, 2007 10:31 PM | Report abuse

She had a helper called Themis, who translated her intoxicated offerings into plain speech of practical advice, like a White House press secretary.

Posted by: LTL-CA | April 18, 2007 10:33 PM | Report abuse

And also a large snake named Python, but I think that would wipe out the bunny 'n' kitty population really quickly. Maybe we should just make a long floral snake out of planters instead?

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 18, 2007 11:02 PM | Report abuse

This is a strange day. The spring has finally sprung here, we had the first porching hour of the year so it's a good day. On the other hand Mr. Cho turn out to be a head case whom, maybe, could have been taken aside and treated before he went postal. And don't forget the 150-170 deaths in Iraq (VTx5), Krauthammer will surely crow that things are better than ever in Mesopotamia. But I can't wipe out the grin on my face, spring was so long in coming. A morning dove has made a nest on top of a stone ledge just outside the top of the living room window. I can see its profile against the starry night. Venus shines like nobody's business.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 18, 2007 11:08 PM | Report abuse

It is a starry (and planet-filled) night, SD! Despite everything, happy Spring!

Posted by: Wheezy | April 18, 2007 11:19 PM | Report abuse

No no no no no no no no no no no no no. Shrieking Denizen, I love you, but just no. It has been said before and will be said again.

A university campus is not war-zone. There are no comparables. Soldiers go into war zones to prove themselves and to support their peers and to prove their solidarity with the rest of us, and they know (or should know) that they risk death to be honourable.

No student on a college campus signs up for dangerous duty, and no-one there is called upon to be a pop-culture hero. They are babies. Going to class. Concentrated on learning and socializing. A campus is supposed (I think, in my naivety) to be a place of collegial safety.

We cannot protect our children from the world (even when they still live at home) but the comparison of campus and campaign-field is not only weak, it is mendacious and false. Stop it. If you feel the need to make political points, make them outside the argument about keeping our children, all our children, all our future hopes, our young people, safe where they are at home or at school.

Posted by: Yoki | April 18, 2007 11:23 PM | Report abuse

Uh, Shrieking Denizen is speaking of 4 truck bombs that blew up 170 Sunni civilians (including children) today by the Shiites in an effort to get the Sunni militants out and making things harder overall.

Not soldier deaths in a war zone. Remember, we supposedly won the war long ago and we're just trying to establish peace?


Posted by: Wilbrod | April 18, 2007 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, I agree with you. But. It just feels wrong for us to wallow in our shock and grief when you see pictures like this:

http://www.dependablerenegade.com/

And I'm really sorry to inflict these on you at the beginning of Spring. I need to go to sleep.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 18, 2007 11:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad spring is finally springing for you, SD. I think your grin is one of the lessons that can be reveled in this week...enjoy the pleasures that come your way.

I am happy to report that my babysitter, my neighbor's son and my co-worker's son, VT students all, are safe. I couldn't mention it at first because it seemed so wrong to be so happy to know they were safe in the face of so much misery, but I feel compelled to say it now.

It's very damp and chilly in the Tidewater area. I am looking forward to sun and warmth.

Posted by: Kim | April 18, 2007 11:29 PM | Report abuse

This is not on-topic today, but something I think about (and observe) a lot ...

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070430/greider

Posted by: LTL-CA | April 18, 2007 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Oh, Wheezy addressed me!* I am so happy. Even on black days I can be delighted to have a friend back. Hello Wheezy!

(*Like Leigh Hunt, only different.)

Posted by: Yoki | April 18, 2007 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Hi, Yoki! I'm sorry I haven't been addressing you lately. It was not intentional, please believe me.

I'm in a strange mood full of gory pictures and SD's dim little mourning dove (of course, all mourning doves are a bit dim, aren't they?) and stars. And LTL's worries about globalization, which does, to me, indicate that the U.S. future will not be quite so prosperous. Which may be only just.

Really must go to sleep. G'night, Yoki.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 18, 2007 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Kim, you are making me laugh. We are expecting between 20 and 40 cm of snow tonight.

I am so glad you post here, and that your immediate circle is safe.

Posted by: Yoki | April 18, 2007 11:43 PM | Report abuse

g'night, Wheezy, dear friend.

Posted by: Yoki | April 18, 2007 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for sharing this. I'm glad to hear some concrete economic analysis on the downside of globalization.

I'm all for protectionism and inhibiting free trade when it comes to food. If that also means inhibiting free trade in other things, fine by me.

I'm not having a high level of faith in the rigorous inspection of our imports for safety. It occurs to me that an company trying to get rid of substandard stuff could just export it to a dummy company, go through a few layers and then import it back again and never have to get it to pass U.S. Standards.

I recently heard that dollar stores sell toothpaste brands originally intended to be sold in Thailand and other countries that lack fluoridated water. As a consequence, the level of fluoridination in those toothpastes are 6 times higher than approved for U.S. toothpastes.

Likewise, I'm not thrilled about this "globalization" of companies so they can't be completely overseen in any specific country.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 18, 2007 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Um, I think I need to expand on my 11:23.

I was working in a 'puter lab on a late night in third-year University in 1979 when I looked up to find an attacker with a knife coming after me. I have a large scar on my right hand (known as a 'defensive wound') where the knife cut the back of my hand. I am left-handed, so the damage was minimal to my functioning. My greatest shock was not that I was being attacked by a stranger (because I agree with Weingarten about we think), but that it was happening at my University. I was and am just fine, in the long run. But the betrayal of my trust that campus was a safe and collegial place stays with me.

Posted by: Yoki | April 18, 2007 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Yes, that would stay with me, too, Yoki.

I do think that college needs to be a safe place as possible, not only because they're such special places, but also because stress and fear impedes learning for even those who are unhurt.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 19, 2007 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Oh no, Yoki, NOT snow?! Let's continue to look on the bright side, shall we? Sun and warmth will be very welcome when at last it comes your way, I'm sure.

Good night all.

Posted by: Kim | April 19, 2007 12:04 AM | Report abuse

More welcome than you can imagine, Kim. More, even, that I can imagine.

Posted by: Yoki | April 19, 2007 12:06 AM | Report abuse

Oh, Yoki. How awful. I am so proud of you for not letting that incident rule your life. And I can understand, quite vividly, your desire to have universities be safe, as they should be.

And as someone with daughters heading there quite soon also, I agree very fervently. Now must go chase one of them back to bed. Good night again and keep safe.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 19, 2007 12:09 AM | Report abuse

Wheezy, just let me know if I have to come down there and reinforce your messages to your children. I'm very *large* and I *loom.* And I give excellent hugs.

Posted by: Yoki | April 19, 2007 12:12 AM | Report abuse

The night peeper chorus started up tonight. They're very enthusiastic.

Posted by: Boko999 | April 19, 2007 12:14 AM | Report abuse

My nominees for "Worst Performances by Talking Heads" are the NBC/MSNBC reporters on the "Cho Multimedia Manifesto." By the time I heard the third talking head refer to Cho's backward facing cap as a "black headband" or "black suicide headband" I realized these guys are out of touch with the real world. They probably never wore a one-size-fits-all adjutable baseball cap. NBC should get a nomination for "Worst News Distortion by Psychobabble." Cho, in some ways, was more honest than the self-serving NBC reporters sugar-coating their gift of a scoop with legal cover.

Posted by: Shiloh | April 19, 2007 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Oh Boko don't you just love the peepers? Last weekend we heard the first of the dawn bird-song. Very happy-making.

Posted by: Yoki | April 19, 2007 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Thank god I never watch NBC anymore; this is just another reason to avoid it and the MSNBC channel right now.

I'm ticked off enough that Boston Legal was preempted by an review of the shootings. I don't think I could stand to see any of my favorite shows preempted by an analysis of the shooter.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 19, 2007 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I still remember, as they say, "where I was" when JFK was shot. I was in early elementary school, and we had a very old, very large, very bad television. All I remember was that first Batman and then Fantastic Journey was canceled.

I didn't understand the importance of the act, but boy, did I resent the two shows I was allowed to watch, each week, being superseded by adults talking, incomprehensibly.

I did redeem myself in later years, though, when I did understand what it all meant.

Posted by: Yoki | April 19, 2007 12:27 AM | Report abuse

Martoon, I'm thinking you are coming up on 20-21 days sober. You dang hippie, you, well done. That is nearly a month. Nearly a month! Inconceivable! Just don't start a land war in Asia.

Posted by: Yoki | April 19, 2007 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Hello all you late night boodlers, good to see some of you up.

Hi Yoki, did you enjoy your trip east?

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 19, 2007 12:53 AM | Report abuse

More than enjoyed, greenwithenvy! It was like being with old friends. These Boodlers are the most amazing people you might imagine.

Lovely? Oh my, yes.

*So* much fun and interesting to meet.

You should go!

Posted by: Yoki | April 19, 2007 1:03 AM | Report abuse

I heard you were the hit of the party too.

I am glad you had so much fun and were able to bring so much joy to everyone.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 19, 2007 1:09 AM | Report abuse

There is no out right ban on hand guns here but the government has made it not worth your while to go apply for one. When I was growing up, wild boar hunting was the favourite pastime of some people in our community. Permits are difficult to get but the gun owners do have permits for their weapons of destruction. Very often I would hear of people shooting and killing their friends because they mistook their friends for wild boars. Such a waste of life. Over time, this pastime fell out of favour because of family and community pressure and the government made it even more difficult to apply for a gun permit.

Nowadays wild boar hunting is mostly done by the natives who use blow darts and traps - much safer methods!

Posted by: rain forest | April 19, 2007 1:10 AM | Report abuse

I heard some talk about a Nationals game, perhaps I can make it to that. i work usually late nights or late shift. But I will try to attend one....or two

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 19, 2007 1:11 AM | Report abuse

rainforest, I think one of the reasons I stay in Canada is that we don't (often) hunt wild boar with repeating rifles. If we did, I'd be in peril!!

//Very often I would hear of people shooting and killing their friends because they mistook their friends for wild boars. //

I may be boring, but I just don't think I deserve the ultimate punishment for it. I may be wrong about that, of course.

Posted by: Yoki | April 19, 2007 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Ben- Hur is on TCM, the Naval battle scene.

Ramming Speed, But that does remind me of Animal House too!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 19, 2007 1:16 AM | Report abuse

ROF!

Posted by: Yoki | April 19, 2007 1:18 AM | Report abuse

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.


Posted by: L.A. lurker | April 19, 2007 2:01 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, you know, I wonder if broadcasting the video footage accomplishes what Cho wanted. He got the attention he was looking for and spread the terror he wanted to inflict. It surely must just destroy the families of the victims as well as the survivors who lived through the terror on Monday.

Posted by: Aloha | April 19, 2007 2:22 AM | Report abuse

Sigh, if I was one of the family or close friends grieving, I'd probably have taken a bat to my TV already.

There are limited reasons to publish manifestos, such as for the Unabomer. In that case, the FBI not only wanted to mollify the unabomer, they also wanted to see if anybody would recognize who he was from his writing. That hunch played out right.

It is rather difficult to see the purpose in playing such grandiose suicide notes, if the shooter is dead, and it does seem disrespectful to the victims' memories.

One question NBC apparently is avoiding asking itself-- why did he only send THEM the manifesto? Why not more than one network?

Last I checked the TV listings, NBC wasn't doing "Coprolalia through the Ages." (Now that's all changed, of course, now they have all that fresh new material.)

Anyway, looks like he picked right. "Yeah! We should air this!"

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 19, 2007 2:36 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, you have enough snow already. Be a real friend and send it down this way will ya? I'm still being toast.

Posted by: rain forest | April 19, 2007 4:44 AM | Report abuse

Morning all!! *waving*

Yoki does indeed give great hugs. And she looms in the best possible way. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 19, 2007 4:47 AM | Report abuse

Hiya rainforest!! *waving* So nice to see someone at this hour! *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 19, 2007 4:57 AM | Report abuse

Morning Scotty! *waving back* You are always very early. You'll forgive me as I seldom greet boodlers good morning. I find it hard to type that greeting b'cause it's getting dark.

Posted by: rain forest | April 19, 2007 5:18 AM | Report abuse

Nothing wrong with saying "good evening," rain forest. :-)

*looking around to see who's got the conn today before dashing off to get more coffee*

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 19, 2007 7:01 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. A lot to try and read this morning. I'm up and moving about. Had not seen the video on television, but saw the headlines this morning. It is just awful, it really is, and my heart just goes out to the students and their families, as well as the faculty.

At the Bible study I said a prayer for everyone at the Virginia Tech campus, and for our country too.

So tired when I got in yesterday, just went to bed. My knowledge of what is going on concerning this is not up to date.

It is chilly here, and so cloudy. It looks like rain. The beautiful sunny days are gone, and the weather acts as if it is not going to warm up so we can plant flowers and vegetables. In the paper this morning, a report that strawberries are ripe and ready for the table in spite of the cold weather. There's a farm near here that only grows strawberries and people can pick their own. Oh, it is lovely, and the smell is just wonderful.


Morning, Mudge, Slyness, Scotty, and everyone.*waving*

Martooni, thinking about you with good thoughts and prayers.

Have a good day my friends, at least try, for I know it is hard. God really does love us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | April 19, 2007 7:09 AM | Report abuse

After two days of off-site meetings it is good to be back in my little cubicle.

True, it lacks bunnies, but I do have a makeshift biosphere containing a few freshwater snails of which I have grown quite fond.

Like many, I was uncomfortable seeing Cho's rants publicized. Sometimes it is hard to tell where legitimate news ends and exploitive sensationalism begins. Yet, given the choice between a media that covers too little and one that covers too much, I will always take too much.

We always have the option to switch it off.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 19, 2007 7:33 AM | Report abuse

Well put, RDP, as usual.

Hi Cassandra!! *waving and faxing some sunshine* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 19, 2007 7:39 AM | Report abuse

Morning, everybody! Hey, Cassandra.

Yum, fresh strawberries. I am so there.

Up early today to take the spousal unit to the airport. He's headed to Indianapolis to a conference, so I'm on my own till Sunday.

Of course, my weekend is already planned: painting the elder child's condo so she can move into it next week. She is ambitious and wants to paint the ceilings and the walls in the living room, dining room, both bedrooms, and one bath (after I take down the horrible wallpaper). All this weekend. We'll see how much we get done! Thank heavens the tenants didn't trash the woodwork too badly. I have about three hours work on the master bath shower and more to do. It was totally gross, now it's merely ugly.

She keeps saying thanks for all the work. What she doesn't understand is how thankful I am that she is here and I can help her, unlike the parents of those who died at Virginia Tech. I am not nearly thankful enough for my blessings, of which she is one of the most important.

Posted by: Slyness | April 19, 2007 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Second guessing in Cho's Mental Evaluation

On December 13, 2005 Kathy Godey, identified as a person "skilled in the assessment and diagnosis of mental illness..." said Cho "is mentally ill and in need of hospitalization and presents imminent danger to self or others"

On December 14, 2005 an indecipherable doctor's signature second guessed Godey and certified that Cho "...is mentally ill; that he does not present an imminent danger..."

On the same day the Court ordered outpatient treatment and he was released.

Events indicate the danger was not imminent, but it's worth noting the short time period between the two evaluations. I won't second guess what might have been if Cho had been hospitalized and treated as originally recommended.

Posted by: Shiloh | April 19, 2007 8:05 AM | Report abuse

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.) I'll post a kit on this later today.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 19, 2007 8:10 AM | Report abuse

I am loathe to play the blame game, but will state the bleeding obvious. Health insurance is big business; business looks for ways to cut costs. Two classic ways to cut medical costs are 1) cherry pick among the population, rather than spread risk; 2) control expensive procedures/treatments.

I will also say that mental health problems are notoriously difficult to treat, since patient perception and behavior are a HUGE PART of the profile. Denial. Self-preservation.

Sigh. I will go out on a limb and say we need more love. Love. Institutional love. Societal love. Corporate love. Hey Cassandra. Keep spreading your love about.

---
I believe I am in charge today, intermittantly. I declare Bunker Beautification ala Lady Bird Johnson. Please commence planting flowers and vegetables. Let's pretend that we have passed the frost date. Include extra veggies for the bunnies. About the deer, I defer to Error Flynn, who has left for Ohio, where he will bring back Martooni and then commence building an amazing yet tasteful fence of Western Red Cedar. Later, Martooni will unveil his artist-themed lawn chairs. EF will purchase the Jackson Pollack one; M.O'D. (MOD!) will take home a set of pastel Thomas Kinkaid bistro chairs. What will you buy?

Posted by: College Parkian | April 19, 2007 8:16 AM | Report abuse

CP, I will volunteer to do the heavy gardening work, beautiful spring day here, sunshine, nice temps, birds singing. The best part is it will only get nicer as we move to the weekend. Just wish I wasn't going to be in a meeting most of the day, takes the fun out of a wonderful day.

Re mental illness, so often society seems to blame the person, forgetting that people do not choose to be mentally ill. I watch a dear relative struggle her whole life battling a mental illness, drugs helped but for her the comprehension that she needed to take the drugs was not always there.

Their ability to understand their situation and take responsibility is a question mark for me, I cannot condon horrible crimes committed by someone who is mentally ill, but nor can I forget that they truly may not have been able to control their actions through rational thought as we can.

Perhaps if we spread CP's love around more people will get help before they get to the stage where they will commit unthinkable crimes.

Posted by: dmd | April 19, 2007 8:27 AM | Report abuse

We have a beautiful spring day, the sky is clean blue all-around. The birds are going nuts. They've been waiting for springlike weather for too long.
If you have seen a blond-haired 10 years old girl, about 4 ft 8in. tall wearing black pants and a pink coat wondering around drop me a line. Our little town has one missing since 21:00 last night. She vanished between her friend's house and her home a couple of blocks away.

I'm not comparing VT and Iraq Yoki. It was just a bad day for both. Iraq got more than it's usual number of victims, I guess for them 30 deaths would be an O.K. "faith-based mêlée" day. It can't be a civil war eh?

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 19, 2007 8:33 AM | Report abuse

CP, if big manly leather (or faux leather) chairs don't work for the Bunker/Boodle Command Den, I think some barstools would be in order. And a bar.

Back to Cho for a second; I still have my copy of the Unabomber Manifesto as published in the WaPo somewhere in my papers (don't have access to it, though), along with the editorial justification for printing it. It did end up to be the key lead in aprehending the Unabomber as K's brother recognized the writing.

Having said that, this is a completely different situation. But there is precedent for publishing manifestos from dangerous criminals.

Interestingly, I also note that OJ Simpson's book "If I Did It" remains unpublished.

bc

Posted by: bc | April 19, 2007 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I hope they find that little girl.

Posted by: dmd | April 19, 2007 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, everyone...

I think Spring may have finally wandered into N.E. Ohio. It's still a bit chilly this morning (37F), but the sun is out and the sky is blue with minimal cloud cover. We're expecting mid-50's today and mid-60's tomorrow -- better late than never.

For those keeping track, today makes 24 days without a drop. If I can keep on keeping on, I get a shiny new "one month" coin next Thursday.

--

As for the "Cho" media feeding frenzy...

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.

183 civilians killed in Iraq yesterday, God knows how many in Darfur and all the other regions of the world afflicted with war and famine and pestilence, yet those stories are pushed down to the bottom of the page next to the stock reports -- all so we can be shocked by the image of a little twerp who couldn't box his way out of a wet paper bag pointing a gun at the world.

Not knocking the significance of the VT tragedy, but putting an oversize photo of a gun-wielding Cho on the homepage with a dozen or more psychobabble stories about why he did it just makes me sick. I expect this kind of guano from "Entertainment Tonight" or "Hollywood Insider", but WaPo? CNN? What's next? Front page features of "Bat Boy Bites Babysitter"? "Anna Nicole Speaks Out From the Grave"?

Someone mentioned earlier that this may trigger copycats -- I agree. Now every disturbed kid in the world knows how to dominate the front page of every news outlet in the world -- go out with a bang.

Sorry for the rant, but this kind of "journalism" -- blatant sensationalism -- really ticks me off.

Posted by: martooni | April 19, 2007 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I started out thinking that it would be unreasonable to expect NBC to sit on the video and other materials--it's incredibly valuable to have a scoop in a huge story like this, and their not releasing the material would be like making a million dollar contribution to Greenpeace or something. Completely out of their field.

But the very fact that Joel sites, 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.

Posted by: kbertocci | April 19, 2007 8:42 AM | Report abuse

SCC: I meant "cites." darn it!

Posted by: kbertocci | April 19, 2007 8:46 AM | Report abuse

didn't Ibrahim sacrifice his only son Ismael at God's command. Some versions of this story he uses a knife, but others an ax.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Yes. Yes. Hear! Hear! to what is said here.

BC -- the manly furniture is fine. Special doilies called antimaccassars (sp?!) will be comissions and deployed. The only banned item is the Dogs-Playing-Poker velvet sofa-sized thingie. I burned it. Frosti helped me with the needle-point, metallic blue Hello Kitty version. I looks lovely. As Martha says, "A good thing."

Keep on....am grading papers and will "gift" myself with a read and possible post for every ten papers done.

KB -- I agree! Self restraint on the publishing of the Cho videos. Corporate restraint? Corporations placed in restraints? I go too far but you get me drift....

Posted by: College Parkian | April 19, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

*wondering how a velvet Elvis will look next to the metallic blue Hello Kitty*

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 19, 2007 8:58 AM | Report abuse

And FWIW, 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.

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 19, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

*faxing the velvet Elvis to the command center*

Posted by: jack | April 19, 2007 9:01 AM | Report abuse

*link to "Crying Elvis on Black Velvet" (just in case jack's fax doesn't go through)*

http://squirl.info/asset/show/171?c=Art&i=4&cid=0

Posted by: martooni | April 19, 2007 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Martooni, I want the one on red velvet.

I skipped the video and only glanced at the photos. Being a mother makes me squeamish about such things. This is a time for the masterpieces of religious music. On this morning's walk, Rutter's Pie Jesu came up on the iPod. Completely appropriate. Another piece that comes to mind is Bernstein's Simple Song. I must get a copy of Mass for the iPod.

Posted by: Slyness | April 19, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Faxing completed doilies to CP. I'll warn before I fax the moose cover. Its a biggie.

Sorry Scottynuke, for misusing the fax. All that yarn is sure to do it some good. Like flossing.

This morning I woke to 7 inches of fluffy white and more coming down. We are having March weather in April. Its heavy and incredibly wet, which should help wash away the snow mould.

Posted by: dr | April 19, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Amazing how things work. This, from the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad's website, moved me to tears:

The Virginia Tech Rescue Squad has no current public response to the incident that occurred on campus on April 16, 2007. Instead, we refer you to Virginia Tech's site.
We would like to thank all the local EMS agencies who assisted with the treatment and transport of the wounded. Additionally, we would like to thank Christiansburg Rescue for assisting us with first-due coverage and thus allowing our members to participate in campus grieving activities.

http://www.rescue.vt.edu/index.php

Posted by: Slyness | April 19, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

dr;

I just hope you cleaned out the toner spills before you faxed those doilies...

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 19, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

'Tooni: Are you bringing all of the woodworking tools to the command center ,or do I need to being some too? Congratulations for your achievement to this point. You're thought of often by many.

Posted by: jack | April 19, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Macassar oil was a 19th century precursor to Brylcreem, Vitalis, Vaseline and other products that gave men that slick and oily look, ala Rudolph Valentino, that has been in and out of fashion. The antimacassar kept the back of a highbacked upholstered chair from absorbing the oil.

Posted by: Shiloh | April 19, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse

D@mned you martooni, I just lost two handfuls of valuable retina cells looking at that horror.
Keep that snow on your side of the country dr, you've given enough already.
It's supposed to reach 20C next week-end, real porching & bbq weather.

Posted by: Shrieking Gene | April 19, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

dr, "snow mould?" What would that be, pray tell?

Thanks.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 19, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Yes, we have about 10 inches of new snow and more falling. I didn't know when we bought a house in this neighbourhood that we get more snow, on average, than the rest of the city.

On the upside, the Bernese Mountain Dogs are beside themselves with joy. They love the snow; you can see them grinning when they go outdoors.

Posted by: Yoki | April 19, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Last Sunday I porched, well all right, I decked because the porch is on the north side of the house, and the warm sun is on the south, but I sat outside in a sweater, sans blankets, gloves, toques and scarves and crocheted for a couple of hours. I could cry at this, but I'm in spring mode. We can use the moisture.

Posted by: dr | April 19, 2007 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Wheezy,

http://www.gardenline.usask.ca/yards/snow.html

Its a real problem is you have allergies.

Posted by: dr | April 19, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, you were the first person I thought of this morning. I saw the thing (the weather system) approach on radar yesterday, and figured whatever I ended up with, you have it first and worst.

Posted by: dr | April 19, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Yoki! Little perky poodle-ey dog adores the snow. She leaps in a comma-arching shape through the white stuff. Am considering faxing her to you shortly, because the transporter is not working. Scotty, can you get to that soon? Faxing a poodle might really mess things up.

I miss my bigger dogs, but she is very convenient and low cost....eats hardly anything, compared to other dogs I have known and loved.

Broadcast message: Since I "can" as acting shop steward, if anyone finds a poodle-playing-poker large oil painting, I will hang that. Poodles trump bulldogs anyday.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 19, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

SCC, whilleckers I need the caffeine to kick in. In the 9:42, that should read 'Its a real problem IF you have allergies

Posted by: dr | April 19, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Oh I give up. I'm going to home to make doilies. I have this big commission...

Posted by: dr | April 19, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

DR -- breathe deeply. Let the bliss that is yarn work restore your balance....yarning is like yoga-ing, only you have something concrete at the end.

Your choice on the color....

Posted by: College Parkian | April 19, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Aye, Cap'n CP...

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 19, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

NYT columnist Bob Herbert takes an interesting turn in his op-ed column this morning, building criminal profiles for both Cho Seung-Hui and Charles Whitman, who killed 14 people and wounded more than 30 others from Austin's University of Texas tower in 1966.

Herbert writes:
Charles Whitman was often portrayed as the sunny all-American boy. But he had been court-martialed in the Marines, was struggling as a college student and apparently had been suffering from depression. He told a psychiatrist that he absolutely hated his father, but he started his murderous spree by killing his wife and his mother.

The confluence of feelings of inadequacy, psychosexual turmoil and the easy availability of guns has resulted in a staggering volume of murders in this country.

There are nearly 200 million firearms in private hands in the U.S., and more than 30,000 people -- nearly 10 times the total number of Americans who have died in Iraq -- are killed by those guns each year. In 1966 Americans were being killed by guns at the rate of 17,000 a year.

*Note that the NYT brought to its readers yesterday the story of Cho photographing women's body parts during Cho's short-term enrollment in poet Nikki Giovanni's class.

In an earlier paragraph in the op-ed, Herbert explains:

Dr. James Gilligan, who has spent many years studying violence as a prison psychiatrist in Massachusetts, and as a professor at Harvard and now at N.Y.U., believes that some debilitating combination of misogyny and homophobia is a "central component" in much, if not most, of the worst forms of violence in this country.

There is an interesting local angle to Herbert's op-ed because Texas Ranger Ramiro "Ray" Martinez, who shot Whitman in the tower in 1966, was one of 50 authors, and one of the more prominently featured ones both at the college's website and in our local paper, to appear Sat. April 14 at San Antonio College's (just north of downtown) Book Fair.

http://www.accd.edu/main/html/news/2007/040907_3.htm

Here's a description of Martinez's book:

http://www.amazon.com/They-Call-Me-Ranger-Ray/dp/0976016206/ref=sr_1_1/103-3518630-1413407?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1176989399&sr=1-1

I won't forget meeting Martinez since he attended the grand opening of our local branch Maury Maverick Library and I chatted with both him and his wife. There were many, many children with their parents at that day-long Saturday event over a year ago. Both Martinez and San Antonio Express-News editor Robert Rivard were in the main aisle beyond our local branch library's main entrance for the grand opening, hawking their books about murders--Rivard about the murder of reporter Phillip True in Mexico in his "Trail of Feathers" and Martinez, in his "They Call Me Ranger Ray," about felling the UT sniper. I bought neither.

As for CIA (crime insta-analysis) RD Padouk, bringing us the latest graph from the feds showing a drop in violent crime, I'm not sure what to say or make of his comment. I think it's interesting that feds can cherry-pick what they call violent crime in the U.S., and not acknowledge the other forms of violence that I called out (and linked to) from former California Attorney General's Dan Lundgren's 1994 assessment of violence in America.

RD, perhaps you are aware of the 1999 Milton Einsenhower Foundation's assessment of violence in America, the Washington Post's coverage of the same, and conservative columnist William F. Biuckely's railing against the foundation's report shortly threafter? I can provide links.

Am I self-flagellating, I believe you asked, Padouk? I'm making odd noises when I exhale since the bad cold I have has now moved into my lungs. I'm not a member of Opus Dei, the last time I checked. I have no idea what your question meant or was intended to mean.

But when I think of you, Padouk, what comes to mind is the song, "It's a Wonderful World," from Moore's film, "Bowling for Columbine."

http://www.bowlingforcolumbine.com/library/wonderful/index.php

Posted by: Loomis | April 19, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "What a Wonderful World"

Posted by: Loomis | April 19, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Linda -I'm not in the mood for your rant. If you want to accuse the Department of Justice of cherry-picking data, feel free but please leave me out of it.

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

Let's keep it peaceful on the blog. Our slight contribution to a more beautiful society.

I've posted a new kit. Please feel free to repost any relevant/important comments there. Linda that looks like an interesting Herbert column that fits nicely with the theme of the new kit.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 19, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

new kit, and some boodlers are featured...

Posted by: omni | April 19, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

If you would take the time to expplore the DOJ website you will see that other crime is also down. But I agree that it is still far too high.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 19, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

FYI I think the NBC decision is a really tough call and am eager to hear what others think on this. I've put into the next kit some of your comments.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 19, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Linda -to compare me with that video is unfair. My positions on gun ownership have been posted. My whole point was just that instead of wallowing in a sense of hopelessness we need to recognize that some progress is being made, try to figure out why nearly all violent crime is down, and then determine how to do even better.

I can only assume that you must simply hate me because of what you assume I do for a living.

This is a shame because I really do enjoy many of your posts. You actually welcomed me to this blog, which made me feel very good.

I agree with Joel that this place is an opportunity to make the world just a little bit nicer, even among people who disagree.

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

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!

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