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My take on the Virginia Tech murders 

[Cross-posted] Sadly, I had no idea of the horrible shooting at while I was escorting Laural and Sharaine Barrett around yesterday. In fact, I spent most of the day out or at meetings. I learned about it probably 18 hours after most other people. By today, its impact was felt strongly, particularly at Facebook, where netizens changed their profile photographs to a VT black ribbon.
   I join the millions who are sending prayers and thoughts to the victims, and the families of the victims.
   I am no expert of what happens inside the minds of people such as the alleged shooter, . The BBC paints a picture of a loner who has aways felt distant, even as a child. The coverage has tended to discuss , before finding parties to blame, with the Virginia campus being a target.
   If I am to add anything to this debate, I believe we need to go past the same scapegoats. After , we have already asked these questions and these school shootings continue. In a country like New Zealand, where we are not immune from , we do find armed students a foreign idea associated most strongly with the . Le Monde says the massacre taints the American Dream. At the same time, I look at Switzerland which has (unofficially) one firearm for every man, woman and child, yet no one seems to go on rampages there—and this begs the question: why?
   Men like Cho seem to be loners, and in this case, the that grips post-9-11 USA alerted Virginia Tech staff to his odd behaviour. Despite this, the murders of 30-plus people still could not be prevented. Teachers and counsellors were on alert. There is nothing that could have been done because it seems as though the faculty was diligent, delayed emails and text messages aside.
   My guess is that the issues predate any faculty involvement into Cho’s conduct. I do not know about the community in . If the Korean community is well integrated, we still hear that Cho’s peers left him alone. Perhaps this is the lesson: to not let our peers be. To be concerned with someone other than ourselves. To end a selfish, me-first society.
   Some teenagers go and get boob jobs for self-image reasons. But negative self-image comes from a society that chooses to shun, forcing some to say, ‘Look at me.’ That same society did not reach out to Cho Seung-Hui. They, we, effectively let Cho stir in his own hatred.
   There is much negativity in the modern United States, and that must seep in to people’s consciousness. I wonder if Cho was sickened by the gulf between his traditional Korean upbringing and what he witnessed among his peers. His family were decent, Christian, and churchgoing. If the United States is about and , would Cho have been sickened by the hypocrisy that he saw through his filter? I often have discussions with Asians—Japanese, Pakistanis, or my own race—and this comes up. We identify sexual among westerners as one thing that seems out of place with the stated values of our adopted nations, for example.
   Is it the breakdown of societal values, or his perception thereof, that broke Cho on that horrid, dark day?
   Ironically, through that darkness, there was light. Students and professors who shielded others from the bullets. Those acts of heroism were restatements of American values. It is an indescribable sacrifice, how some gave their lives to show that.
   Why it takes the loss of lives to show us the selflessness of some great Americans, young and old, is sorrowful. But let us not let their passings be in vain. 
   I still hear the huge bollocks here in New Zealand about ‘ keep to themselves’ or ‘They don’t like getting involved in public life.’ If the US is anything like that, then the US is dead wrong. I have not sensed this sort of prejudice on my Stateside visits, but I have only been to 10 or 11 states. Cho may have cried out in his own way for help but that was mistaken as a preference to be alone. Others may be crying out right now, and it is our job to help them.
   One school shooting this year is enough to last us through the rest of our lifetimes.
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On hopes that there isn't an anti asian kneejerk reaction in the area.

Its also good to see that in the aftermath there isn't a call for widespread bannination of firearms (except for here). And people are asking those hard questiosn which its usually not politicaly correct to ask.

Such as what would hav happened if one of the many students whoc ould have legally carried a concealed weapon (and who were vetted by the federal government to do so) had one of these locked in their dorms, cars or whatever, and had been prepared to use it.

Would there be less dead today?

Who knows - as they never had the chance.

Its a very sad day for the school, and my thoughts go out to the victims. They never deserved this.  
So far, I haven’t noticed any anti-Asian behaviour, fortunately. Your points are valid, Mike, though it would be a sad day if there had to be an increase in gun-carrying. I think of our unarmed cops here, and in Britain, where there has been less tendency for criminals to over-arm themselves as a result.  
Question Marks

"This didn't have to happen", Cho Seung-Hui said, after murdering thirty-two people at Virginia Tech University.

And this terrible tragedy of sons, daughters, mothers and fathers didn't have to happen, if we'd only listened.

But we never listen.

We never listen to those that are different from us- the outcasts, the lonely, the homeless, the ones that are unspoken for. We don't try to understand. We shun them and put them out of our minds because of our fear that we will become like them.

And these people become more and more lonely and alienated in their isolation.

Words like "creep", "deranged misfit" and "psycho" devalue this killer's humanity so we don't have to face how similar he is to us. Cries of "how could he have been stopped" are uttered by media quick to sensationalize and gain market share, when the words "how could he have been listened to" are never considered.

Because we don't want to listen.

We don't want to hear about loneliness and alienation when we're all so busy with our lives, making money and making friends. And the unpopular, the ones that don't fit in, the lonely ones are ignored or made fun of because we don't care to understand anything about them.

This man who clearly needed help, Cho Seung-Hui, devalued himself so much that he called himself "Question Mark".

There are more "Question Marks" out there. There are millions of them. And if we don't listen to them, they will follow the same path again and again, because people are not connecting. We are becoming more and more disconnected from each other, creating more and more "Question Marks" every day.

Most "Question Marks" don't become murderers. Some just kill themselves. Most harm no one and live just as we do, needing antidepressants to appear what we call "normal". They may be someone you know, someone you love.

This "Question Mark" was once a little boy, who cried, and smiled and loved, He wanted to fit in just like you and I. But that desire to fit in transformed itself into anger towards a society that shunned and ignored him.

How many more times will we shun and ignore the one that doesn't fit in, the one in the corner, the one that's different? When all we have to do is listen, before it's too late.

But we won't.

Thirty-two human beings who did not know Cho Seung-Hui were murdered.
They were sons, daughters, fathers and mothers, with dreams of futures that will never come and children that will never be born. The thirty-two leave behind people that love them. People that are now scarred for life by this horrible day of death.

To most of us that have not been directly involved, this tragedy will become a memory and fade like all the others that came before.

And the "Question Marks" will appear with more frequency, again and again, because we don't listen.

We never do.


X, thank you so much for your well thought-out words. You are quite right: the more we deny elements of Cho Seung-Hui that we all have, the more dangerous our world becomes. He was still someone’s son and someone’s brother, and we need to keep our own behaviours in check.  
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