Cheat-Seeking Missles

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Can We Learn What Made Him "Go Cho?"

Would that he had pulled the trigger when he took this picture, passing on in the anonymity of the scores of troubled young people who end their misery with the same loneliness in which they lived, but Cho Seung-Hui was rotten with evil and he had many, many deaths in mind.

As bits and pieces of his manifesto are released by NBC, an astonishing realization takes hold: Finally, we have a fully documented tour of the cruel insanity of the spontaneous grudge killer. Cho didn't feel he owed any of us anything; in fact he felt the opposite ...
“You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today. But you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off.”
... but he actually left us something that will help us better understand his sickness and perhaps identify its hallmarks in others before they "go Cho." Don't think those last two words were typed lightly. I fully expect the phrase to appear again in some future multi-media manifesto left by someone who evilly replicates the evil Cho left behind.

From the limited amount of the manifesto I've read so far, there are no big surprises; just confirmations. Loneliness, anger, feelings of superiority contrasting sharply with the harsh rejection of others. Educators and counselors will pore over this fare and try to apply it. It won't be easy because educators and counselors are, by and large, a nonjudgmental lot. It will force them to deal with making evaluations based not just on actions, but on the morality expressed in the actions, something that will make them more uncomfortable still.

Cho's stuff is not that different from the testosterone-drenched male teenage angst that's common fare in high schools and colleges, so I imagine a lot of not particularly dangerous young men will get caught in the new "safety nets" we'll see in the post-Cho era. That's tragic; in fact, it could push some poor guy who's nowhere near going Cho over the edge.

Still, the opportunities for stopping tragedies far outweigh the chances of inadvertently creating one. I just don't have any confidence that those who have been trained in education or psychology any time in the last few decades will be able to do it well, since their minds have been filled with meaningless academic pablum.

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