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April 16, 2007 9:38 AM   Subscribe

NewsFilter: At least 20 are dead in multiple shootings at Virginia Tech. Just last week, Virginia Tech closed part of its campus as it was the target of multiple bomb threats.
posted by phaedon (1146 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think I'm going to be sick.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:41 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Apparently, Norris Hall, where the majority of the shootings took place, is where the "Department of Engineering, Science and Mechanics" is located. Last week, that's the department the bomb threat was sent to, through interdepartmental mail.
posted by phaedon at 9:41 AM on April 16, 2007


AP reporting 22 now. Jesus Christ.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:41 AM on April 16, 2007


How many more people gotta die, man?
posted by Flashman at 9:44 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


What the fuck, people?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:45 AM on April 16, 2007


The attacks mark the worst school shooting incident since 1999 when Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris killed 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

I hate that this is common enough to warrant a term of its own and that there is a scorecard comparing the number deaths between the incidents.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:46 AM on April 16, 2007


I just talked to a friend of mine in engineering classes at Tech.

He heard both shootings - two hours apart on two different parts of campus. Said the first sounded pretty low-calibre. he guessed a pistol. He missed the second, in a lecture hall, because he was running late.

Awareness of the shootings only started to spread a full two hours after the first shots were fired. Many are questioning the administration and police handling of the situation.

people were saying that there was some confrontation between an RA and a girls boyfriend. He shot the RA and then the gf

well, it seems like it might have started as a passion thing and then it devolved into a "oh well i'm fucked anyway"
posted by phrontist at 9:46 AM on April 16, 2007


Let the healin blaming begin. Video games? Godlessness? Dungeons and Dragons? Neo-Nazis?
posted by adipocere at 9:47 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fucking hell. I was hoping that "multiple shootings" was awkward copy, but no.
posted by cortex at 9:47 AM on April 16, 2007


Another friend:

there was a shooting in the dorms at 7am, the shooter was still at large, public schools went into lockdown yet the campus staid open until the shooter moved to an academic building and shot a bunch of people
posted by phrontist at 9:48 AM on April 16, 2007


I hate that this is common enough to warrant a term of its own and that there is a scorecard comparing the number deaths between the incidents.

I hate the fact that we're within three days of the anniversary of Columbine and the Oklahoma City bombing, which were both at one point suggested in a connection to Hitler and/or Waco. What the fuck is it with this particular week?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:48 AM on April 16, 2007


Please let us not spread rumors or unattributed theories regarding motives.
This only makes people more upset.
posted by Dizzy at 9:48 AM on April 16, 2007


Aw, god damnit. God damn it. Shit can go down anywhere. A big part of my heart lives in Blacksburg and this hurts. A lot.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:49 AM on April 16, 2007


Yikes. Just about all of the links are loading very slowly or timing out, I'm sure there are lots of people trying to find out what the heck is going on. I can't imagine how devastating this will be to so many students and families.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:51 AM on April 16, 2007


I remember all too clearly following (from less than a mile away!) the Columbine shootings on the news (and remembering that I had met Harris and Klebold a few months back in a diner, and thought they were egotistical and self-centered jerks).

"Ever" is too soon to hear about another shooting like this.
posted by ziz at 9:52 AM on April 16, 2007


I was hoping that "multiple shootings" was awkward copy, but no.

Same here. I had heard 1 fatality on the radio. I turned on CNN, I saw them reporting 20 fatalities, and hoped the caption writer had confused "fatality" with "injury". No such luck. This is just so sad and crazy.
posted by booksherpa at 9:53 AM on April 16, 2007


.
posted by dead_ at 9:53 AM on April 16, 2007


A coworker's son was there. He's fine, but Jesus fucking Christ.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:55 AM on April 16, 2007


I'm just beyond words. I'm sitting here with other Ph.D. students looking into a full undergraduate classroom from an observation lab and none of us are saying much of anything. No one is thinking of anything but this.
posted by mrmojoflying at 9:57 AM on April 16, 2007


Jesus. I've got a lot of friends at Tech. I hope they're okay. (Well, I know they won't be okay, but I hope they're alive...)

My thoughts are with all of them and their families.
posted by armage at 9:57 AM on April 16, 2007


There's now a Wiki page up on the event to try and clarify some of the conflicting information floating about.
posted by thanotopsis at 10:00 AM on April 16, 2007


. posted by dead, not funny smart arse
posted by baker dave at 10:00 AM on April 16, 2007


.
posted by dhartung at 10:01 AM on April 16, 2007


What the fuck is wrong with people? I'm so sorry for the families of the slain.
posted by Mister_A at 10:01 AM on April 16, 2007


21 dead, 21 injured
posted by Happy Dave at 10:02 AM on April 16, 2007


baker dave, dead_ is an established 21K user with an actual posting history.
posted by dhartung at 10:02 AM on April 16, 2007


wonder what the 'explanation,' behind this one is going to be. I dunno if there's any point in looking for sense where there isn't any.
posted by jonmc at 10:03 AM on April 16, 2007


VT has not reported that it will be easier for students to obtain single-occupancy dorms for the remainder of the semester.

WTF, Wikipedia?
posted by drezdn at 10:03 AM on April 16, 2007


Fuck
posted by cloeburner at 10:03 AM on April 16, 2007


Blacksburg was a place where you felt like this would never, ever happen. I truly feel for those families and all of their friends. Going back is going to feel different from now on. Damn shame.
posted by dopamine at 10:04 AM on April 16, 2007


Brady Campaign
posted by matteo at 10:05 AM on April 16, 2007 [6 favorites]


From the wiki page linked by thanatopsis:

VT has not reported that it will be easier for students to obtain single-occupancy dorms for the remainder of the semester.

It's shit like that -- no matter how shortly it will stay on the page -- that will prevent wiki from ever reaching the esteem to which it aspires.

Oh, and

.
posted by pardonyou? at 10:05 AM on April 16, 2007


Like you Wolfdog, Blacksburg and Va Tech are simply part of who I am. This is just sick and sad and heartbreaking... don't know any other way to say it.
posted by Witty at 10:06 AM on April 16, 2007


Holy shit.
posted by brundlefly at 10:07 AM on April 16, 2007


Jesus, life is so random and fleeting. No control. No sanity. No guarantees. What a tragedy. Terrible.

.
posted by aacheson at 10:08 AM on April 16, 2007


Coral Cache link to the statement by University President President Charles W. Steger
Quoted below since it times out a lot:
Shooting at Virginia Tech / Statement by President Charles W. Steger

By Larry Hincker

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 16, 2007

The university was struck today with a tragedy of monumental proportions. There were two shootings on campus. In each case, there were fatalities. The university is shocked and horrified that this would befall our campus. I want to extend my deepest, sincerest and most profound sympathies to the families of these victims which include students There are 22 confirmed deaths.

We currently are in the process of notifying families of victims. The Virginia Tech Police are being assisted by numerous other jurisdictions. Crime scenes are being investigated by the FBI, University Police, and State Police. We continue to work to identify the victims impacted by this tragedy. I cannot begin to covey my own personal sense of loss over this senselessness of such an incomprehensible and heinous act The university will immediately set up counseling centers. So far centers have been identified in Ambler Johnston and the Cook Counseling Center to work with our campus community and families.

Here are some of the facts we know:

At about 7:15 a.m. this morning a 911 call came to the University Police Department concerning an event in West Ambler Johnston Hall. There were multiple shooting victims. While in the process of investigating, about two hours later the university received reports of a shooting in Norris Hall. The police immediately responded. Victims have been transported to various hospitals in the immediate area in the region to receive emergency treatment.

We will proceed to contact the families of victims as identities are available.

All classes are cancelled and the university is closed for the remainder of today. The university will open Tuesday at 8 a.m. but classes are cancelled. The police are currently staging the release of people from campus buildings.

Families wishing to reunite with the students are suggested to meet at the Inn at Virginia Tech. We are making plans for a convocation tomorrow (Tuesday) at noon at Cassell Coliseum for the university community to come together to begin to deal with the tragedy.

-----------------

Counseling is available in the Bowman Room in the Merriman Center (part of the athletic complex) for employees who seek assistance following today's events.

Faculty and staff on the Burruss side of the Drillfield are being released and asked to go home effective immediately. Faculty and staff on the War Memorial side are asked to leave at 12:30 p.m.

-----------------

Virginia Tech has closed today Monday, April 16, 2007. On Tuesday, April 17, classes will be canceled. The university will remain open for administrative operations.

There will be an additional university statement presented today at noon.

All students, faculty, and staff are required to stay where they are until police execute a planned evacuation. A phased closing will be in effect today; further information will be forthcoming as soon as police secure the campus.

Tomorrow, there will be a university convocation/ceremony at noon at Cassell Coliseum. The Inn at Virginia Tech has been designated as the site for parents to gather and obtain information.

-----------------

In addition to an earlier shooting today in West Ambler Johnston, there has been a multiple shooting with multiple victims in Norris Hall.

Police and EMS are on the scene.

Police have one shooter in custody and as part of routine police procedure, they continue to search for a second shooter.

All people in university buildings are required to stay inside until further notice.

All entrances to campus are closed.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:09 AM on April 16, 2007


Sweet Jesus.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:10 AM on April 16, 2007


.
posted by everichon at 10:11 AM on April 16, 2007


Blacksburg was a place where you felt like this would never, ever happen.

I spent a year at Virginia Tech but left because I found something about the school desperate and depressing. While I was there a guy who was in a few of my classes jumped to his death off the top of Lane Stadium. It's sad and surreal to hear about this shooting, but I wouldn't consider Blacksburg to be somehow blessed as a tragedy-free town.
posted by peeedro at 10:14 AM on April 16, 2007


.
posted by moonbird at 10:15 AM on April 16, 2007


Two students were injured after they panicked and jumped out an upper level window.

Fuck. What the fuck.
posted by odinsdream at 10:15 AM on April 16, 2007


VT website reporting that the gunman is dead.
posted by moonbird at 10:16 AM on April 16, 2007


well, it seems like it might have started as a passion thing and then it devolved into a "oh well i'm fucked anyway"

If they are saying 25 now there is no way this was a spur of the moment passion thing. This sounds like one or more people walking around w/ a duffel bag full of guns and ammo in something that was planned in detail.
posted by well_balanced at 10:16 AM on April 16, 2007


I think this part of the story is kind of weird, in a way I can't really quantify:

Madison Van Duyne said she and her classmates in a media writing class were on "lockdown" in their classrooms. They were huddled in the middle of the classroom, writing stories about the shootings and posting them online.

The university is updating its 26,000 students through e-mails, and an Internet webcam is broadcasting live pictures of the campus.


I can't even imagine what I would be writing were in this situation other than "HOLY FUCK, FUCK FUCK."

My immense sympathies to the families/friends of the victims - this is beyond tragic.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:20 AM on April 16, 2007


.

What a waste.
posted by The Power Nap at 10:21 AM on April 16, 2007


Classes are canceled Tuesday, but what about Wednesday? Thursday? When would you be able to get back to your studies? My first thought (after Oh shit-- how horrible) is will they give every student at the school an "A" for the semester? How are these kids ever going to continue on?

I would jerk my child so fast out of that college she would have whiplash.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:21 AM on April 16, 2007


"Brady Campaign
posted by matteo at 10:05 AM on April 16 [+] [!]"

you should be ashamed of yourself for even posting that bullshit, matteo.

This is not the time or the place to start up the gun control debate.

I wish there was a "Total Jackass Post" flag.
posted by drstein at 10:23 AM on April 16, 2007 [8 favorites]


.
posted by dead_ at 9:53 AM on April 16


Eponytragic.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 10:24 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Werd
posted by Witty at 10:24 AM on April 16, 2007


I would jerk my child so fast out of that college she would have whiplash.

What would that solve, exactly?

If you were able to read the future and get your child out of the school BEFORE the shooting, well, that's another matter.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:25 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Confusion reigns here.

First off, the reports state that there was a single shooting incident at the dorms at 7:15, with 2 dead there, then 2 hours later 18-20 more people were shot? And then there are reports of a single shooter, then multiple shooters, then one shooter dead, either by his own hand, or by police fire. So, um. Yeah.

A lot of dead, not a lot of facts. This one is going to be interesting.
posted by daq at 10:26 AM on April 16, 2007


A shockingly horrible event.

I can't help but wonder whether this will do to college campuses what Columbine did to high schools (shooting drills, lockdowns) or whether (God forbid) there might be a shooting trend in higher ed as we've seen at the secondary level.

My thoughts and sympathy to anyone affected by this situation. I shudder to consider the possibility of such a thing at my own university campus.
posted by washburn at 10:26 AM on April 16, 2007


Yeah, I'm really looking for more info. Are the cable news channels giving much information?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:27 AM on April 16, 2007


there might be a shooting trend in higher ed as we've seen at the secondary level.

There was a scientist who claimed around the time of the Amish school shooting that these things happen in waves.

I can't even imagine what a locked down university would be like.
posted by drezdn at 10:29 AM on April 16, 2007


I agree with Gravy. I can't see how I would be able to troop back into class and start studying after only one day off. Even at a school that big, a lot of kids are bound to have at least some sort of passing relationship with at least one of the victims. It would be hard as hell to concentrate on work that soon.
posted by octothorpe at 10:29 AM on April 16, 2007


On the afternoon of July 8, 2006, four private security guards rolled out of Baghdad's Green Zone in an armored SUV. The team leader, Jacob C. Washbourne, rode in the front passenger seat. He seemed in a good mood. His vacation started the next day.

"I want to kill somebody today," Washbourne said, according to the three other men in the vehicle, who later recalled it as an offhand remark. Before the day was over, however, the guards had been involved in three shooting incidents. In one, Washbourne allegedly fired into the windshield of a taxi for amusement, according to interviews and statements from the three other guards.


Blame video games, right?
Our own government promotes a culture where we kill people different than ourselves for fun.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 10:31 AM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


It takes a real asshole to kill people like this. There's no excuse for doing something this shitty. I know that sounds like an idiotic thing to say, but it bears saying: people have reasons for getting mad and doing all sorts of things, but only assholes have reasons to go on killing sprees.

I'm terribly sorry to hear this and my heart breaks for the families and friends, and the university, involved.
posted by breezeway at 10:32 AM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Supposed myspace profile of killer. Emphasis on supposed, since the killer hasnt been identified by police. (via fark)
posted by SirOmega at 10:32 AM on April 16, 2007


The Roanoke Times has been updating a page with information throughout the day. (Roanoke, for those who don't know, is the closest "big" city to Blacksburg, about 40 miles away).
posted by skynxnex at 10:33 AM on April 16, 2007


Ok, now updated to saw single shooter, dead, with 21 dead victims.

That makes more sense now. Though, man, this guy came prepared. If we're talking handgun, he had to reload at least 3 times, unless he had a pre-ban clip, and even then, we're talking a .22 if your getting anything more than 16 rounds in a single pistol. So 2 clips of ammo, minumum, or a six shooter with a box of shells. Then you've got how he got from one side of the campus to the other, with a weapon that was recently fired, and possibly witnesses who saw him leaving the original scene of the crime. So 2 hours after the initial shooting, he opens up on a classroom. Wow. Can't wait until the network televisions dramatization. And the "dramatic recreations" on 20/20, Nightline, Fox News, etc, etc, etc.

VA Tech is also one of the most "wired" and wireless campuses in the country. The last time I was there I was able to maintain a network connection from one end of campus all the way to downtown Blacksburg. There _will_ be CC camera footage of this, there will be phone cams, webcams, and every other type of camera footage. It will be graphic. Are you entertained yet?
posted by daq at 10:34 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


21 dead, 21 injured

Jesus, what did he have, an AK47?
posted by jokeefe at 10:34 AM on April 16, 2007


Are the cable news channels giving much information?

Any information you get there will be based on speculation, rumor and conjecture. Such outlets no longer feel any moral or journalist compunction to check and verify info before reporting it. At this point, the best thing to do is ignore what you're hearing from the cable channels and the web and just watch for official reports from local law enforcement.

... And if you're inclined, to pray for the victims and their families and friends. This is awful. My heart goes out to them.
posted by psmealey at 10:34 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wikinews
posted by Rhomboid at 10:36 AM on April 16, 2007


Supposed myspace profile of killer.

Wow. This is the world we live in now, I guess.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:36 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was doing some web research last night on cross-cultural studies of violence, prompted by the Pinker article thread. Anyway, there's lots of ambiguity and controversy on the topic. There is a correlation between cultures at war and violence domestically. Ember and Ember's model of predilection for warfare shows the external factor of resource unpredictability with an internal factor of socialization of fear.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:37 AM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Jesus christ. When I heard on the way to work this morning that 1 had been killed I was horrified - and now...

April 19th (used to be) Patriot's Day, which was really an excuse for us in high school (in Boston) to have the day off and watch the marathon. I hate that it's been co-opted by the Columbine/OK City/etc. awfulness.

Poor kids....

.
posted by rtha at 10:37 AM on April 16, 2007


ABC says it's up to 29 dead and counting...
posted by jaysus chris at 10:38 AM on April 16, 2007


Wait, it was one shooter? And the first shooting occurred two hours before the second?

What?!
posted by odinsdream at 10:40 AM on April 16, 2007


ABC is saying 29 dead now.
posted by octothorpe at 10:40 AM on April 16, 2007


Jesus. Christ.

CBS radio just reported that the Justice Department now says that at least TWENTY NINE have been killed.
posted by rosemere at 10:40 AM on April 16, 2007


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:41 AM on April 16, 2007


.
posted by ztdavis at 10:41 AM on April 16, 2007


Wait, it was one shooter? And the first shooting occurred two hours before the second?

I think this situation is one of those times where people didn't expect it to escalate. After all, if things happened as described, it sounded like the initial shooting may have been relationship related. In general, those don't seem to be followed with mass killings.
posted by drezdn at 10:42 AM on April 16, 2007


VT is my alma mater, and being a Hokie is a huge part of who I am.

That something this awful can happen in Blacksburg is horrible. My heart goes out to every person hurt, and every family that is going to be indelibly changed because some shit-for-brains couldn't control himself.

I'd really like to make some insightful comment on man's inhumanity to man, but I can't seem to find the words today...

Fuck.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:42 AM on April 16, 2007


Jesus, what did he have, an AK47?

News reports are that it was two 9-mm pistols. That would be plenty, if he had clips for them too.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:42 AM on April 16, 2007


This is not the time or the place to start up the gun control debate.

I really don't understand this. If not now when? We are not physically at the heart of the situation here. I see no reason why it is intrinsically disrespectful or shameful to bring up gun control at this time. Or more open gun rights, for that matter.

It would be an absolute abomination to be walking around the campus going "See? See? This is what I've been talking about" right now, but doing it on some dumb website is not at all the same thing. The reality of horrible events like this is why there is a debate over firearms in the first place. Of course the subject is going to come up now.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:43 AM on April 16, 2007 [21 favorites]


I think Gravy's (hypothetical) daughter would benefit from staying at the school -- she'd be surrounded by people who had gone through the same trauma she had. Plus you know it would be one of the safest places around.

But I would want my kids home with me, too.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:44 AM on April 16, 2007


Why can't assholes like this just turn their guns on themselves and spare everyone else their lunacy?
I hope the numbers are off.

THIS IS NOT WHAT PEOPLE GO TO COLLEGE FOR GODDAMMIT!!(or high school...)
posted by a3matrix at 10:45 AM on April 16, 2007


A White House spokesman said President Bush was horrified by the rampage and offered his prayers to the victims and the people of Virginia.

"The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed," spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
posted by banishedimmortal at 10:45 AM on April 16, 2007


Absolutely tragic. Just oversaw a funeral today for a 33 year-old who died of cancer - it was almost unbearable. I can't even begin to fathom the depths of this tragedy for the students and their families.

this has also completely ruined my birthday.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:46 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Secret Life of Gravy writes "I would jerk my child so fast out of that college she would have whiplash."

Why? As far as I know there has never been a repeat at any school. And the school is likely the best place to get councilling if required.

washburn writes "I can't help but wonder whether this will do to college campuses what Columbine did to high schools (shooting drills, lockdowns) or whether (God forbid) there might be a shooting trend in higher ed as we've seen at the secondary level."

Montreal's École Polytechnique shooting didn't have extreme changes in operating policy though the police changed there methods significantly.
posted by Mitheral at 10:46 AM on April 16, 2007


Campus map

It looks like the first building was right in the center of campus and the second was across the large field and in the lower right (ish) corner of this map.
posted by ztdavis at 10:47 AM on April 16, 2007


you know, I could give a shit about what Bush says...

Can we end this derail now?
posted by HuronBob at 10:47 AM on April 16, 2007


There were a LOT of gunshots in that video on CNN.
posted by empath at 10:47 AM on April 16, 2007


Jesus Christ. I just--can't.
posted by atayah at 10:47 AM on April 16, 2007


I was thinking exactly what Lentrohamsanin was thinking. Now is the time to talk about gun control, not when memories fade and denial sets in. Though it seems to set in earlier each time, anyway.

.
posted by Rumple at 10:47 AM on April 16, 2007


Oh and also - I think I'm ready for the handgun ban now.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:48 AM on April 16, 2007


Because, Lentrohamsanin, this dumb website isn't as remote from this tragedy as you seem to think. There's already been at least four alumni of Virginia Tech posting in this thread. This hits close to them. Because of this, and the scope of the tragedy being sufficient to quite upset people personally remote from it, then a political debate that is already fraught with high emotions and loose and inflammatory rhetoric becomes entirely unproductive and will be a clusterfuck. That's why. You talk about things when you can productively talk about them.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:48 AM on April 16, 2007 [7 favorites]


I can't help but wonder whether this will do to college campuses what Columbine did to high schools (shooting drills, lockdowns)

Why? School violence at all levels has been going on for nearly fifty years as far as I know. This isn't a "new" problem, and it frustrates me that the media and many people consider it so.
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:49 AM on April 16, 2007


Jesus, what did he have, an AK47?

News reports are that it was two 9-mm pistols. That would be plenty, if he had clips for them too.


I guess I'm just trying to wrap my mind around the idea that he would have had to fire single bullets at each individual. I can imagine a spray of automatic gunfire in a lecture hall killing and injuring so many, but to fire over 50 times? Jesus.

(Note: What I know about different types of guns I learned from television. So I might be off base here.)
posted by jokeefe at 10:49 AM on April 16, 2007


Interesting aside:

MSNBC had an FBI agent on earlier today saying that the Feds already keep a pretty good eye on VT, because the student body has students from 49 states and 27 foreign countries.

So, in effect, not only did this tragedy happen in rural SW Virginia, it happened right under the government's eye. I guess it goes to show you can't stop determined crazy people.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:49 AM on April 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Speaking for my not-so-long-ago student self, I would have wanted to be back to the campus and back to classes as soon as possible. That was and is my place and I would be loath to be driven from it.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:50 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Lentrohamsanin writes "I really don't understand this. If not now when? We are not physically at the heart of the situation here. I see no reason why it is intrinsically disrespectful or shameful to bring up gun control at this time. Or more open gun rights, for that matter.

"It would be an absolute abomination to be walking around the campus going 'See? See? This is what I've been talking about' right now, but doing it on some dumb website is not at all the same thing."


Agreed. I'm not a big advocate of gun control (a bit conflicted on the issue, actually), but saying "now is not the time to debate" reminds me of the "now is not the time for the blame game" bullshit right after Katrina. Unless you're out there helping the victims and their families, why shouldn't you be talking about this.
posted by brundlefly at 10:52 AM on April 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Scary - my brother is an undergrad in engineering at tech. He's okay, but doesn't know if he knows any of the victims yet.
posted by taliaferro at 10:52 AM on April 16, 2007


"hough, man, this guy came prepared. If we're talking handgun, he had to reload at least 3 times, unless he had a pre-ban clip, and even then, we're talking a .22 if your getting anything more than 16 rounds in a single pistol."

As an FYI,
* That ban expired years ago, so it wouldn't be "pre-ban."
* The stock 9mm Glock 17 ships with 17 round magazines. Except in states that still have the 10 round magazine limit, such as MD and CA.
posted by drstein at 10:53 AM on April 16, 2007


.
posted by buzzman at 10:53 AM on April 16, 2007


fox news says 32. but they say a lot of shit.
posted by quonsar at 10:53 AM on April 16, 2007


Some photos of police there on flickr
posted by mattbucher at 10:54 AM on April 16, 2007


It's hard to get solid info at this point, as they try to figure stuff out.

22 dead seems unreal. Hopefully the number will go down.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:54 AM on April 16, 2007


Gun control would have made the Appalachian Law School shooting worse; it certainly led to many additional deaths in the Luby's massacre.

Washington, DC has the strictest gun control in the country, to the point of violating the Constitution. How's that working out for them?
posted by commander_cool at 10:55 AM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


I have a friend on the faculty there. Thankfully he wrote back immediately that he's safe. What a fucking tragedy this is.

.
posted by felix betachat at 10:55 AM on April 16, 2007


The composure on this gunman to do what he did is very, very rare. Killing random people is not easy, which is why death tolls from such events are usually rather low in regards to the fire power used. This person managed to maintain absolute composure, enough to reload several times and fire accurately in complete chaos, then walk across campus for several hours to do it again without breaking down.

I would not be surprised to find he was ex-military or police. This is not something you just pick up and gun and do. He had to have at least some basic firearm training.
posted by geoff. at 10:56 AM on April 16, 2007


Jesus, what did he have, an AK47?

News reports are that it was two 9-mm pistols. That would be plenty, if he had clips for them too.

Wiki Entry: "News reports indicated that the gunman used two handguns, one of which was a 9mm pistol, and the other a DAO-12 Shotgun (!) to carry out the shootings before turning a gun on himself"

WTF?!
posted by mazola at 10:58 AM on April 16, 2007


Rumple writes "I was thinking exactly what Lentrohamsanin was thinking. Now is the time to talk about gun control, not when memories fade and denial sets in. Though it seems to set in earlier each time, anyway."

If you want irrational policy and laws make them when irrationality is running high. Personally I'd rather see calm legislation rather than that passed when emotion is running high. Otherwise you get crap like PATRIOT.
posted by Mitheral at 10:58 AM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Killfile over at Newsvine has some up to the minute details. I believe he is based in Blacksburg.
posted by deern the headlice at 10:59 AM on April 16, 2007


Ethereal Bligh writes "Yeah, I'm really looking for more info. Are the cable news channels giving much information?"

EB, you should remember from Columbine and 9/11 that what the cable channels say today doesn't really matter much. It won't be until tomorrow at the earliest that the information is going to start being reliable (I remember that in Columbine, the reported casualties started around 20, got even higher, and then dropped down to the final 13).
posted by Bugbread at 11:00 AM on April 16, 2007


Sure gun control wouldn;t work... Thats why in the UK this kind of workplace/school mass slaying is practically nonexistant.
posted by Artw at 11:01 AM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


29 people. Jesus christ. Has there ever been a mass killing on this scale anywhere in the U.S. in the past?

Just my luck to work on a college campus now, I'm worried this is going to make everyone paranoid and crazy.
posted by delmoi at 11:01 AM on April 16, 2007


This is not the time or the place to start up the gun control debate.

This is the standard GOP argument. Whenever the tide turns against one of their sacred positions, it's "not the time or place to start up that debate."
posted by eriko at 11:02 AM on April 16, 2007 [9 favorites]


Unless you're out there helping the victims and their families, why shouldn't you be talking about this.
posted by brundlefly at 12:52 PM on April 16


Because it is crass politicization of tragedy? Because it is disgusting to see people see a tragedy and immediately think "Sweet! A data point to help me argue for my preferred political view!"

But the reason why it is so asinine to be arguing right now is because we don't know the facts yet of what happened. We know nothing except that a grave tragedy has occurred. But some people are so obsessed over their politics, that they will make the necessary assumptions in order to use this as a pretext for advancing their pet ideological issues.

Do you know if this was a guy or a girl? If so, where did this guy/girl get his/her weapons? Oh, that's right, you don't have a fricking clue. Until you know that this could have been prevented by whatever policy you advocate, then you are wise to shut your piehole because all you are doing is derailing this thread where we are trying to find out the basic facts. Feel free to go circlejerk on guncontrol.com or whatever, but lets not try to exploit the emotional energy of this group to push your pet issue.
posted by dios at 11:02 AM on April 16, 2007 [23 favorites]


After all, if things happened as described, it sounded like the initial shooting may have been relationship related. In general, those don't seem to be followed with mass killings.

My surprise is due to the fact that the same guy wasn't caught before moving to another location and having that much time elapse. Either he should have been caught, or the school should have been under heavy, heavy lockdown immediately after it was known he was missing. Maybe it was, I'm just having trouble following the story.

MSNBC had an FBI agent on earlier today saying that the Feds already keep a pretty good eye on VT, because the student body has students from 49 states and 27 foreign countries.

Is this what passes for dialogue on an interview with an FBI official? I sure as hell hope the followup question was "Sir, don't most schools have students from many diverse backgrounds and locations? Why was VT on the FBI's radar, and what exactly does "keep an eye on" entail?"
posted by odinsdream at 11:02 AM on April 16, 2007


The reality of horrible events like this is why there is a debate over firearms in the first place. Of course the subject is going to come up now.

I totally agree. One of the images I remember most clearly from the aftermath of the Columbine shootings was the father of one of the victims standing up at a gun-control rally and speaking of how he was doing it for his son, who would have wanted to spare anyone else the fate that he suffered.

That father was hardly "removed" from the tragedy and I fail to see how it's disrespectful to suggest that one of the best ways to honor those who died would be to do our collective best to prevent such a fate from happening again.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:03 AM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Sure gun control wouldn;t work... Thats why in the UK this kind of workplace/school mass slaying is practically nonexistant.

Well, it's practically non-existant here in the U.S. as well, but when it does happen it's big news.
posted by delmoi at 11:03 AM on April 16, 2007


29 people. Jesus christ. Has there ever been a mass killing on this scale anywhere in the U.S. in the past?

yes. yes, there has. perhaps you recall oklahoma city? waco? 9/11? and those are merely the recent ones. do you EVER think before you yammer?
posted by quonsar at 11:05 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pretty frightening story. I look forward to a time when more details come out because it seems like total confusion at the moment. My first reaction is that I'm surprised there wasn't more of a manhunt/lockdown after the first shooting incident. I suppose if there is any takeaway from this tragedy, it'll be that a shooting on a college campus will result in a total evacuation for the day.
posted by mathowie at 11:05 AM on April 16, 2007


Fuck.

And for fuck's sake, what fucking good does having a gun control debate do when they're still counting the bodies? Not that I think waiting until it's at least clear what happened would make the perennial gun control argument magically end in a resolution we can all be happy about, but fucking christ, it's not this is a somehow different situation from every other shooting anywhere in the country. The gun control debate isn't unresolved because of a fucking lack of examples.
posted by Skorgu at 11:05 AM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:05 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Another vote for this being an entirely appropriate time to discuss gun control, violence in our culture, and other issues/reasons dealing with how this happened, could have been avoided, and how best to prevent it from occurring in the future. In many other countries this does not happen, time and again, like it does in the United States. It seems reasonable to ask why.
posted by billysumday at 11:05 AM on April 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


to carry out the shootings before turning a gun on himself

If only more of these people would reverse the order of those two steps.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:06 AM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


"That father was hardly "removed" from the tragedy and I fail to see how it's disrespectful to suggest that one of the best ways to honor those who died would be to do our collective best to prevent such a fate from happening again."

Can we do this tomorrow, then? Already the sarcasm, insults, and yelling have started in this thread. And they don't need to be here. I favor strong gun control, myself, and I don't have a problem with this tragedy spurring a new national debate on it. But right now I'm interested in news of this tragedy, not the usual suspects making their usual snarky arguments. Which is what has already started to happen.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:07 AM on April 16, 2007 [7 favorites]


.

(via wedge and me)
posted by Stynxno at 11:07 AM on April 16, 2007


If you want irrational policy and laws make them when irrationality is running high. Personally I'd rather see calm legislation rather than that passed when emotion is running high. Otherwise you get crap like PATRIOT.

Concern about the families has already taken second stage for concern about the Second Amendment. Drudge and as such all the usual right-wing suspects are now tossing around a 2006 article about the Virginia legislature rejecting a bill allowing concealed guns on the VT campus.

Because obviously when an unidentified gun-toting madman is running around creating a condition where people are so freaked out they're leaping out of windows, the situation would be so much better if dozens of people all had guns and no thought in their head other than killing anyone else they see with one.

If you don't want to "have the gun control debate" now, fine. But if anyone seriously believes this would have been better if everyone was armed you have to tell me what you would say to the parents of an accidentally murdered student who someone "thought was the guy" first.

29 people. Jesus christ. Has there ever been a mass killing on this scale anywhere in the U.S. in the past?

Assuming you mean gun-related (as opposed to things like 9/11, etc.) then no. This is the worst school shooting ever and one of, if not the, deadliest gun-related killings in history not involving military action.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:07 AM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


This is awful. Several of my friends are VT alumni. I can't imagine seeing this on the news about my alma mater.

.
posted by swerve at 11:07 AM on April 16, 2007


Because the entire history of our country, since its "discovery," has been one continuous, obsessive focus on solving problems with violence?
posted by Saucy Intruder at 11:08 AM on April 16, 2007


22 dead seems unreal. Hopefully the number will go down.

Unfortunately I just heard from someone working in the emergency department of one of the local hospitals that the official number is now 30 dead. I'm trying to think of something else to say but right now "I feel sick" is all that comes to mind. I have to say though, the snarl of cars I got stuck in as I was trying to make my way home from campus was, like, the most polite traffic jam ever.
posted by purplemonkie at 11:09 AM on April 16, 2007


yes. yes, there has. perhaps you recall oklahoma city? waco? 9/11? and those are merely the recent ones. do you EVER think before you yammer?

I meant shooting deaths, as opposed to bombs. I guess I wasn't that clear.
posted by delmoi at 11:09 AM on April 16, 2007


Recent history, sorry.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:10 AM on April 16, 2007


.
posted by awesomebrad at 11:10 AM on April 16, 2007


odinsdream writes "My surprise is due to the fact that the same guy wasn't caught before moving to another location and having that much time elapse. Either he should have been caught, or the school should have been under heavy, heavy lockdown immediately after it was known he was missing. Maybe it was, I'm just having trouble following the story."

What exactly is the goal? These campus are small cities. A "heavy, heavy lockdown" would be like declaring martial law every time a town has a shooting. You don't think that may be just a mite excessive?
posted by Mitheral at 11:11 AM on April 16, 2007


There's never a bad time to debate gun control policy, but please let's do it in another thread, not here.

I'm a VT graduate, and I lived in Ambler Johnson for two years, where I met some of my lifelong friends. Thanks to those who have posted informative links or updates.
posted by Loudmax at 11:13 AM on April 16, 2007


Port Arthur massacre, 1996
posted by Saucy Intruder at 11:13 AM on April 16, 2007


................................
posted by cellphone at 11:14 AM on April 16, 2007


Oh and also - I think I'm ready for the handgun ban now.


That's stupid. I can almost guarantee you that the school has a "no handguns on campus" rule.

On the other hand, if every student in those classrooms had a gun and knew how to use it properly, the body count wouldn't have gotten beyond 2.

An armed society is a polite society.
posted by tadellin at 11:14 AM on April 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


. from this cavalier.

I was on campus at Duke when an escaped convict took people hostage in the hospital and was shot by a sniper, and living in the area when Wendell Williamson went on his Franklin Street killing spree. This shit sticks in your head.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:15 AM on April 16, 2007


Well, it's practically non-existant here in the U.S. as well, but when it does happen it's big news.

We had the ipod killer on Mefi just a few days ago. I hear about similar incidents all the time. There were To me practically non existant means it happens once ever ten years or so, not about once a month.
posted by Artw at 11:16 AM on April 16, 2007


Port Arthur is interesting and topical, I think, because one can see quite clearly the difference in how Australia, and Australians, handled the incident, and how America has handled the numerous shooting sprees of the past ten, twenty years.
posted by billysumday at 11:17 AM on April 16, 2007


Are there any details on the bomb threat from last week? I wonder what the point of that was, did VT start a program that sparked controversy or anything recently? It seems totally random to just threaten a state university without some odd motivation beyond "he's crazy".
posted by mathowie at 11:18 AM on April 16, 2007


That's stupid. I can almost guarantee you that the school has a "no handguns on campus" rule.

I'm in the "take it outside, fellas" camp when it comes to whether this thread should become a referendum on gun control (like a lot of others, I keep reloading it in hopes of learning something new, not for political debate), but I do have to say...if this is really the best you got, you're not gonna win this argument. For fuck's sake.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:19 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, if every student in those classrooms had a gun and knew how to use it properly, the body count wouldn't have gotten beyond 2.

It would be great if this could be tested. I can't imagine a classroom full of students pulling out guns and only two people people dying, but I do try to keep an open mind.
posted by poppo at 11:20 AM on April 16, 2007 [9 favorites]


Is this what passes for dialogue on an interview with an FBI official? I sure as hell hope the followup question was "Sir, don't most schools have students from many diverse backgrounds and locations? Why was VT on the FBI's radar, and what exactly does "keep an eye on" entail?"

I agree with you completely that the media is (ahem) "inept".
But, having been a student there, I can tell you VT probably gets the scrutiny because they are an advanced engineering school that does tons of government research, and has not a few students from India, Pakistan, and the Middle East. ( And I am not supporting the scrutiny; I'm just giving you my take.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:20 AM on April 16, 2007


An armed society is a polite society.

Oh obviously
posted by Flashman at 11:21 AM on April 16, 2007 [8 favorites]


dios, chill the fuck out. Like I said before, I'm not a gun-control advocate. I just see no reason not to discuss it. Did you actually read what I posted?
posted by brundlefly at 11:21 AM on April 16, 2007


Let's leave the gun control debate to the talking heads who are going to shout at each other all week about it.

.

I keep wondering if some small good thing can come of this but I really can't figure out what.
posted by dig_duggler at 11:21 AM on April 16, 2007


This is terrifying. I just don't understand this world sometimes.

.
posted by fair_game at 11:22 AM on April 16, 2007


Lets talk about gun control:

VT has a blanket ban on weapons. They fought defending their right to prevent lawful Virginia concealed weapons permit holders from carrying weapons on campus. They went so far as to try to expel a student who challenged their unlawful attempt to supersede Virginia law just because they don't like it.

Might an armed student or professor been able to end this before 50 some people were shot?
posted by Megafly at 11:22 AM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is certainly fucked up. It certainly sounds premeditated. You need a fair amount of infrastructure to run around and kill 20+ people.

An armed society is a polite society.

As polite as the US? Because if there is one thing the US is known for, it's being polite and non-violent.
posted by chunking express at 11:23 AM on April 16, 2007 [14 favorites]


What exactly is the goal? These campus are small cities. A "heavy, heavy lockdown" would be like declaring martial law every time a town has a shooting. You don't think that may be just a mite excessive?

We really must be misunderstanding eachother, because I am a little surprised by this question.

It's my understanding that a guy shot two people, then this same person, two hours later and in a different location, shot an unknown number of more people.

To your question, my answer is no, I don't think it's excessive. If there was a shooting in your area, and the shooter is missing, it would be critical that he be found quickly and put into police custody. It is also highly likely, you should agree, that without knowing his motives, he be considered extremely dangerous. Obviously, I would hope, the best move would be to inform everyone of this fact (easy in a college setting, given the high level of internal communication), and have them do everything they can to protect themselves.

I'm not suggesting martial law. I'm suggesting extreme vigilance - i.e., locking all external and internal doors, limiting movement of individuals between locations, and ensuring that those who are in safe locations remain safe.
posted by odinsdream at 11:23 AM on April 16, 2007


Like I said before, I'm not a gun-control advocate. I just see no reason not to discuss it.

How about because several people have asked you not to?
posted by Witty at 11:24 AM on April 16, 2007


That's stupid. I can almost guarantee you that the school has a "no handguns on campus" rule.

What people mean is a nationwide ban, so that people can't sneak them in. Obviously, if you're planning on shooting people, you're not worried about breaking other rules as well. The idea is to make it much more difficult for people to get weapons.

I agree with people who think that it's best not to make rules immediately in response to a tragedy like this, but I don't think that's really going to happen.
posted by delmoi at 11:24 AM on April 16, 2007


An armed society is a polite society a society with a capability for acting on really, really stupid impulses.
posted by Artw at 11:24 AM on April 16, 2007 [12 favorites]


But, having been a student there, I can tell you VT probably gets the scrutiny because they are an advanced engineering school that does tons of government research, and has not a few students from India, Pakistan, and the Middle East.

Yes, but isn't that true of just about every major university in the US?
posted by deanc at 11:24 AM on April 16, 2007


An armed society is a polite society.

Exactly. For a perfect example, see Baghdad.
posted by dhartung at 11:25 AM on April 16, 2007 [22 favorites]


Holy crap. I work at VT, my wife is a PhD student there. We first heard about the shootings at about 9:15 with a series of frighteningly terse emails. Almost immediately after that the swarm of police cars and ambulances overwhelmed the drillfield in the center of campus. From the windows of my coworkers across the hall, you could see the cops running in, evacuating people, and dragging the injured out.

Still, we had no idea how bad it was until the news conference. They sent us home right after noon, and I heard there were 20 dead on the radio on my way out of the parking lot. I'd only heard one before. I could barely drive home.

My building was also one of the ones evacuated twice in the last two weeks for bomb threats. It's been a crazy year here in Blacksburg...
posted by daveadams at 11:25 AM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


The reason this isn't a good time to do the gun control debate is:
  1. You're not going to magically reach a conclusion in a discussion here on MeFi that you wouldn't have already reached.
  2. Some people are very close to this issue, and tempers and tensions are high.
  3. So there are going to be people who get very pissed and emotional because of the debate.
  4. As such, you're far less likely to reach the magical conclusion.
  5. Even if you do reach a magical conclusion, it means fuck all, because it's just a debate on MeFi. It's about as useful as signing something at onlinepetition.com.
  6. So engaging in that debate has the drawbacks of: getting folks angry and hurt, and the advantages of: nothing.
Now, debating somewhere where it matters, writing congressfolks, organizing a march, whatever the fuck? Good idea. But debating it here on MeFi right now? Stupid unless you want to watch flameouts and flying personal attacks.

I mean, honestly, fuck, how "effective and valuable" do you think a debate on this will take place when people are stuck (amazingly and unusually for MeFi) debating about whether or not they should debate??
posted by Bugbread at 11:25 AM on April 16, 2007 [24 favorites]


guys, we have all day long tomorrow to discuss gun control.

Meanwhile, as someone with college age children, I am horrified, shocked, and very, very grieved.
posted by konolia at 11:27 AM on April 16, 2007


I live in Blacksburg. My wife was on campus. My kids are in the schools. I didn't know anything for a few hours. You can imagine how that was.

I have heard 32 dead now.

It's just sickening.

.
posted by idb at 11:27 AM on April 16, 2007


I meant shooting deaths, as opposed to bombs. I guess I wasn't that clear.
This?
posted by Thorzdad at 11:27 AM on April 16, 2007


MeTa
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:28 AM on April 16, 2007


.

It does make you a little antsy hearing these stories while working at a college campus. Most shootings on campus are of the distraught lover murder-suicide -- we just had one two weeks ago -- and these mass killings remain thankfully rare in the US. Still, you wonder if someone is just going to snap one day and take it out on some office or classroom.

This just sucks.

As for the "we don't have shootings in the UK" part, I've talked to one paramedic who said they spend a lot of time in casualty pulling pieces of broken pint glass out of faces. Banning guns or regulating the sale of kitchen knives isn't going to stop violence. I'll share my gun control thoughts in another derail at another time.
posted by dw at 11:28 AM on April 16, 2007


Good points all, bugbread.

Take note, dios. You could have made your point without being a dick.
posted by brundlefly at 11:29 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's a good point bugbread. I don't really think debating it now would be good either.
posted by delmoi at 11:30 AM on April 16, 2007



.
.
.

I know it's solipsism to seek connections between this tragedy and my real life, but I can't help it. My mom's neighbor can't get a hold of her son, a master's student in engineering. My brother can't reach some of his friends. They're probably fine. My mom says phone lines are down because of the high winds. But the uncertainties, the temporary absences .... I don't know.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:31 AM on April 16, 2007


mathowie: Are there any details on the bomb threat from last week?

Nothing was found after either of last week's bomb threats. There's currently a $5,000 reward out for any information leading to the conviction of the person responsible, but no leads have been announced as of yet. As far as I know, neither of the bomb threats involved the buildings where today's shootings took place. I would not be surprised if the incidents are unrelated.

I have heard from students that one of the victims at the residence hall was the gunman's girlfriend... but that could be total BS, who knows.
posted by purplemonkie at 11:31 AM on April 16, 2007


Direct link to .mp3 of President Steger reading his statement to the press.
posted by phaedon at 11:32 AM on April 16, 2007


The ABC News article uses phrases like "the biggest mass shooting in modern American history." Good lord.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:32 AM on April 16, 2007


"As for the "we don't have shootings in the UK" part, I've talked to one paramedic who said they spend a lot of time in casualty pulling pieces of broken pint glass out of faces."


The difference is that you're not likely to have someone go on a 30+ fatality pint glass rampage.
posted by stenseng at 11:34 AM on April 16, 2007 [14 favorites]


This is totally senseless. It leaves me horrified and speachless. I can't imagine the trauma those students are going through.
posted by willthethrill at 11:35 AM on April 16, 2007


I don't understand the whole concept of "politicizing" something. Everything is politicized. Everything occurs within a political context, is affected by politics, and affects politics. Whenever someone writes "Let's not politicize this" I see "Let's decontextualize this and pretend that it happened in a vaccum so as not to make anyone feel bad."
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:35 AM on April 16, 2007 [10 favorites]


It's being reported that the killer had a DAO-12. That's about as controlled as guns get in this country -- class 2 destructive device. Most states won't even allow civilians to own them, and the Feds require registration for those that do. On top of that, Virginia bans shotguns with a barrel length of less than 18 inches (the DAO-12 comes in 12 and 14 inch configurations).

I'm not gonna bother to argue, here, so take from that what you will.
posted by vorfeed at 11:35 AM on April 16, 2007


Please take the debating gun control debate here.
posted by drezdn at 11:36 AM on April 16, 2007


.

One of the last fond memories I have (or had) from my brief time at Tech was buying a bunch of Nerf guns with the guys in my hall and running around the dorm shooting each other. Jesus fucking christ.
posted by Espy Gillespie at 11:36 AM on April 16, 2007


Move your gun control talk over here. I'll be removing additional new gun control talk from this thread.
posted by mathowie at 11:36 AM on April 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Artw: go to the meta talk thread if you want to debate.
posted by delmoi at 11:36 AM on April 16, 2007


"I meant shooting deaths, as opposed to bombs. I guess I wasn't that clear."

Well, there are some pretty brutal massacres, like the Mountain Meadows massacre of 1857, in which 120 people were killed by a small band of Mormons. If we're counting only individuals (which would technically exclude Columbine), I think the previous record in the US was the postal killings of 1986, at 14.
posted by klangklangston at 11:37 AM on April 16, 2007


31 confirmed dead per AP.
posted by deborah at 11:37 AM on April 16, 2007


It's being reported that the killer had a DAO-12.

Interesting... because when I watch the cell-phone video, I thought the shots sounded like a shotgun, but assumed it wasn't because of the number of shots and their rate of speed.
posted by Witty at 11:38 AM on April 16, 2007


After the second bomb threat, they dragged all the staff and faculty from the three buildings affected (as noted, not the same ones in which the shootings occurred, but they are all related to the Engineering school) to the main auditorium and showed us the threat note to see if there was any recognition. That was last Friday. I don't know if anything came from that, but a couple of things including the timing make me assume it is related.
posted by daveadams at 11:38 AM on April 16, 2007


klangklangston:I think the previous record in the US was the postal killings of 1986, at 14.

Apparently, it was The Luby's Massacre.
posted by drezdn at 11:40 AM on April 16, 2007


Detailed map of Virginia Tech shootings
posted by kirkaracha at 11:40 AM on April 16, 2007


Thank you, mathowie.
posted by taosbat at 11:41 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


daveadams, I didn't realize those other buildings were related to the Engineering school. I guess that's what I get for isolating myself in my little biochemistry bubble. Maybe there is a tie after all.
posted by purplemonkie at 11:41 AM on April 16, 2007


The ABC News article uses phrases like "the biggest mass shooting in modern American history." Good lord.

yes. they tend to do things like that. it makes people shake thier heads and say "Good lord." of course, since "modern American history" is a vague and non-specific designator, the hyperbole tends to go unchallenged. fucking media hos. real pieces of shit.
posted by quonsar at 11:43 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


.
posted by ba3r at 11:44 AM on April 16, 2007


Where is the cellphone video? And has the shooter been identified?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:44 AM on April 16, 2007


I was in McBryde Hall (in room 129, which is sort of in the basement) when this happened. McBryde is two buildings over from Norris, where most of the shootings took place. Being in the basement, I didn't hear anything. But then again, I didn't know anything about it at all until one of my friends checked his email on his laptop and got:
Subject: Shooting on Campus

A shooting incident occurred at West Amber Johnston earlier this morning. Police are on the scene and are investigating.

The university community is urged to be cautious and are asked to contact Virginia Tech Police if you observe anything suspicious or with information on the case. Contact Virginia Tech Police at 231-6411

Stay attuned to the www.vt.edu. We will post as soon as we have more information.
That was at 9:26. Then, at 9:50, we got:
Subject: PLease stay put

A gunman is loose on campus. Stay in buildings until further notice. Stay away from all windows
And again, at 10:16:
Subject: All Classes Cancelled; Stay where you are

Virginia Tech has canceled all classes. Those on campus are asked to remain where there are, lock their doors and stay away from windows. Persons off campus are asked not to come to campus.
Other than these warnings, we had no idea what was going on. People crowded up into the stairwells to try to see, but cops that were stationed at the doors weren't letting people near the windows, let alone outside. So we just sat and waited. The Tech website was down the whole time -- people with laptops got their info from CNN and MSNBC. Eventually, we were sort of herded into one of the lecture halls where the projector was set hooked up to a TV. Local news was reporting "1 dead, 1 or 2 injured", but that local hospitals were full, and they were having problems medevac-ing people to Roanoake because of the winds.

Which was weird, because to me, a couple injured doesn't seem like it would fill hospitals. But there were 10 ambulances dispatched, according to what we saw, and that still wasn't enough. Some guys in the room talked about friends they were chatting with online who saw people being loaded onto stretchers, professors covered with blood. Everyone was confused. I, personally, was trying to get in touch with people on my cell and most of the calls I tried to make didn't go through.

Eventually, a couple of police clad in full body armor with assault rifles came into the room. "Everbody listen up," one said. "If you live on campus, get straight to your dorm. If you live off campus, just get the hell out of here." So I went. My girlfriend eventually picked me up at a shopping center nearby, and we went back to my apartment where she had, thank God, spent the night (she lives on campus).

And that's where we were hit with the figure of over twenty people dead.

My two cents.
posted by malthas at 11:45 AM on April 16, 2007 [27 favorites]


Where is the cellphone video?

CNN's frontpage, under "I-Report: Gunshots captured on a cell phone".

And has the shooter been identified?

I believe he's been confirmed dead.
posted by Witty at 11:47 AM on April 16, 2007


.
posted by elfgirl at 11:47 AM on April 16, 2007


yes. they tend to do things like that. it makes people shake thier heads and say "Good lord." of course, since "modern American history" is a vague and non-specific designator, the hyperbole tends to go unchallenged. fucking media hos. real pieces of shit.

What's with the hostility at this, quonsar? I already noted in a link above, this is in fact true. Outside of war, this is the deadliest gun-related killing in history since at least the end of WWII. Why should the news not mention that?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:48 AM on April 16, 2007


What would that solve, exactly?

If you were able to read the future and get your child out of the school BEFORE the shooting, well, that's another matter.

posted by ThePinkSuperhero

This school has had what, 2 shootings now? And bomb scares? There is some bad mojo working there and I would no longer pay tuition for her to attend this school. I would make sure she got counseling at home and I would have her take a semester off, possibly involve her in something else like horseback riding or volunteer work or art class. Having a change of atmosphere would not be a bad thing. Who will be able to walk by those buildings and not think about the shootings for years to come?

Whenever I hear about college kids being murdered I can't help but feel some special sorrow for the parents. You do everything you can to raise your child right, you make sure they study and get good grades, you make sure they stay safe through high school and just when you think it will all pay off, that you have done a good job of parenting and they are in college, it all comes to a horrible end. What was it all for? There is no good time to loose a child, yet somehow I always imagine this as the worst.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:49 AM on April 16, 2007


Cell phone video
posted by jaimev at 11:49 AM on April 16, 2007


[shrug] i had a little spare hostility on hand, and i'm always willing to share it with the media types.
posted by quonsar at 11:50 AM on April 16, 2007


Damn malthas. Thanks for sharing; that's messed up.
posted by knave at 11:50 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Secret Life of Gravy - Shooting #1 (last year?), if I'm not mistaken, was by an escaped convict... not quite the same here, as in it wasn't directly linked to campus violence, and therefore, a fair comparison.
posted by Witty at 11:52 AM on April 16, 2007


......................
posted by IronLizard at 11:52 AM on April 16, 2007


Where is the cellphone video?

Cellphone video

Also, the roanoke.com page was recently updated with this account:
2:20 p.m.

One man was hanging out the window of a Norris Hall classroom when the gunman entered, according to freshman Douglas Cobb.

Cobb said that Jake Grohs, the resident assistant for the fourth floor of Peddrew-Yates residence hall, told him he climbed out the window of an engineering class as the gunman apparently made his way from room to room in Norris.

"He was in the room next door to the shooting" and decided to try climbing out the second-story window, Cobb said. "He was hanging out the window when the person came in" and heard people being shot, Cobb said. He said that four of six people who were in the room at that time where shot.

Grohs jumped out the window onto a hill and is OK, Cobb said.

Cobb and other friends showed up at the Inn at Virginia Tech this afternoon to try to get information about a missing friend.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:53 AM on April 16, 2007


*an unfair (sorry)
posted by Witty at 11:53 AM on April 16, 2007


You can understand Columbine, two kids marginalized and mistreated for being outcasts coming back to rain pain on their tormentors.

College is a completely night and day difference from the perverse social system that bred that incident. What could have driven this incident?
posted by dr_dank at 11:54 AM on April 16, 2007


daveadams, I didn't realize those other buildings were related to the Engineering school.

I didn't really either but some faculty mentioned it last Friday. Whittemore, Torgersen, and Durham apparently all have Engineering ... stuff--classes? offices? in them. And Norris, too.
posted by daveadams at 11:54 AM on April 16, 2007


Where is the cellphone video?

It's over at cnn.com and they've been showing it on tv, nothing special just police approaching a building and the sound of gunfire. I couldn't help but think it was kind of stupid to film so close to a police shoot out, considering how a cell phone might be mistaken for a hand gun.
posted by bobo123 at 11:54 AM on April 16, 2007


malthas, daveadams, purplemonkey, idb and everyone else with a connection to VN present or past, my heartfelt condolence and sorrow for what you are going through
posted by madamjujujive at 11:55 AM on April 16, 2007


Whittemore is the Electrical and Computer Engineering building, Torgersen is a sort of general technology building with a lot of lecture halls, and Durham is the Industrial Systems Engineering building.
posted by malthas at 11:58 AM on April 16, 2007


This school has had what, 2 shootings now?

To be fair the first one (first day of classes last August) was an escaped convict, not a student or anyone associated with the university.
posted by daveadams at 11:59 AM on April 16, 2007


I have a friend who is an engineering student at Virginia Tech. I have not been able to get ahold of him.

I know such a thing probably does not exist yet, but is there a list of the dead and wounded available anywhere?
posted by kyrademon at 11:59 AM on April 16, 2007


kyrademon: Jeez, I wish there was. Most of the people I know are accounted for, but I'm still concerned.
posted by malthas at 12:02 PM on April 16, 2007


I'm really having a hard time with the connection between Norris and WAJ. The walk between those buildings is a haul, plain and simple. 15-20 minutes, easy.

And my heart is breaking for all of those kids, families, and faculty at Tech. I spent a semester down there and left because it wasn't the school for me, but I lived in AJ and had classes in Norris, so this is hitting a little close to home.

Nothing -- I mean, nothing -- happens in Blacksburg aside from the occasional (every 12 years or so) uproar over an escaped convict, so this is just shocking and heartbreaking.
posted by wildeepdotorg at 12:03 PM on April 16, 2007


A horrible tragedy.
posted by FunkyHelix at 12:05 PM on April 16, 2007


I know such a thing probably does not exist yet, but is there a list of the dead and wounded available anywhere?

I find it highly doubtful something like that will be available until families are notified first.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:05 PM on April 16, 2007


Condolences to anyone here connected to this terrible tragedy.
posted by twistedonion at 12:06 PM on April 16, 2007


Considering the distance could there have been two separate incidents/people and the timing was just really really wacked?
posted by edgeways at 12:07 PM on April 16, 2007


Update from here:
The mass media are reporting Norris Hall as an "Engineering Building." This is not the case. Engineering does have offices and classes in Norris Hall, but it also houses classes for various other departments from Political Science to Business.

High winds have grounded helicopters from Duke, UVA, and Richmond. While this has made the transport of victims more difficult, it has not denied EMTs access to life-saving equipment. Ambulances have served to supply necessary equipment without incident.

The shooting is being reported as the most lethal school massacre in US history. This is incorrect. This is the most lethal school shooting in US history; but the 1927 Bath School Disaster was a bombing which killed 45 people and injured 58. This is not to detract from the horrific magnitude of today's shooting but simply to maintain historical accuracy.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:07 PM on April 16, 2007


Might an armed student or professor been able to end this before 50 some people were shot?

The killer was using a weapon rarely seen outside of Resident Evil and was evidently expert in its use. I do not give our hypothetical professor good odds.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:08 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


College is a completely night and day difference from the perverse social system that bred that incident. What could have driven this incident?

It sounds (to me) that the guy was upset with an RA who wouldn't let him see his girlfriend. So he shot the RA and then went on a rampage. Maybe he had also been kicked out of school? No one really knows, but we'll learn more soon, I imagine.
posted by delmoi at 12:09 PM on April 16, 2007


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
posted by nasreddin at 12:13 PM on April 16, 2007


the 2 hour gap is mystifying.
posted by andywolf at 12:16 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Man, how weird to present the cell video as an "i-Reporter" for CNN? Funny how that student wasn't employed as an iReporter (I prefer the Apple-esque form) prior to this morning.
posted by klangklangston at 12:17 PM on April 16, 2007


Livejournal of a current VT student.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 12:17 PM on April 16, 2007


President Bush will be issuing a statement at 4:15pm Eastern.
posted by phaedon at 12:19 PM on April 16, 2007


For those questioning the rate of fire in the video, the DAO-12 is a semi-auto shotgun.
posted by Big_B at 12:19 PM on April 16, 2007


This might not be appropriate, but this situation that happened today is as close to Iraq as we can get. I mean, these sorts of shootings happen everyday over there.

The world's so messed up.
posted by j-urb at 12:20 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Man, how weird to present the cell video as an "i-Reporter" for CNN?

Why not just call it what it is? Terror Porn.
posted by psmealey at 12:21 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


President Bush will be issuing a statement at 4:15pm Eastern.

he's going to invade iran in retaliation.
posted by quonsar at 12:23 PM on April 16, 2007 [11 favorites]


posted by drezdn Apparently, it was The Luby's Massacre.

Actually, I think it was the McMassacre.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:23 PM on April 16, 2007


Why not just call it what it is? Terror Porn.

Yep. Another newscaster's wet dream come true. I know it's hard, but turn off the coverage of this right now. What good is it doing for you to wallow? Just get up and do something else.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:24 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Whoops, no.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:26 PM on April 16, 2007


Regarding the DAO-12 business, it's worth noting that the only source for that was an unattributed claim in a Wikipedia article, which has since been removed.

The first time I loaded the Wikipedia article, it said that over 200 people were killed, so I wouldn't put much faith in the (very unlikely) DAO-12 claim either.
posted by designbot at 12:31 PM on April 16, 2007


Another livejournal. It sounds like students on campus are pretty frustrated with the way this was handled.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 12:33 PM on April 16, 2007


It sounds like students on campus are pretty frustrated with the way this was handled.

I'm sure it's standard procedure and I just don't understand it, but it was really weird to see the university's website (according to reports) saying there was a gunman loose on campus - stay put where you are. Basically, be a sitting duck.

I'm sure someone's reply is something about keeping calm and order, but I'm sorry, it just sounds like madness to me.
posted by cashman at 12:39 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


For those of us with connections to VT and Blacksburg, it's impossible to just do something else. Today I've watched my hometown turned into a carnival of death and yes, a newscaster's wet dream. How do I look away?

.
posted by junkbox at 12:39 PM on April 16, 2007


“ ‘He was in the room next door to the shooting’ and decided to try climbing out the second-story window, Cobb said. ‘He was hanging out the window when the person came in’ and heard people being shot, Cobb said. He said that four of six people who were in the room at that time where shot.”

That is a terrifying story. I feel certain that, were I in this person's position, I'd have horrible survivor's guilt, at least eventually. Alternatively, and based upon a past experience, I have a strong intuition that in this or similar situations I'd feel obligated to try to help the people around me first, knowing that I'd be dooming myself. The past situation was when I was young (and resolved without anyone being hurt) and I don't recall feeling anything but coldly rational. However, imagining myself in such a situation now, I believe I'd act the same but feel a deep and acute kind of sorrow, maybe self-pity, that I was probably about to die. Being much older, I'm well aware of my mortality now. Maybe that means I'd just save myself. I don't know.

Hearing the shooter next door and knowing he was on his way is easily one of the most terrifying things I can imagine.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:40 PM on April 16, 2007


Let's leave the gun control debate to the talking heads who are going to shout at each other all week about it.

Shouting heads, then?
posted by Foosnark at 12:45 PM on April 16, 2007


so sad
posted by Flood at 12:47 PM on April 16, 2007


I'm sure someone's reply is something about keeping calm and order, but I'm sorry, it just sounds like madness to me.

I don't have alink for this i'm afraid, but I'm sure at some point I'm sure I saw a study which showed that in the event of a burning building/aircraft (I forget which) everyone panicing and running like hell saved more people than the calm, orderly exit.

Weirld I haven't heard this idea talked about much since.
posted by Artw at 12:50 PM on April 16, 2007


I'm sure it's standard procedure and I just don't understand it, but it was really weird to see the university's website (according to reports) saying there was a gunman loose on campus - stay put where you are. Basically, be a sitting duck.

It is safer. You can lock the doors. You can put walls between you and the gunman. If he's out for prey, give him less prey to shoot.

The only other alternative is the herd instinct (ordering everyone to run for their lives), and that's as bad as a classroom killing, only with trampling and screaming.

I'm sure someone's reply is something about keeping calm and order, but I'm sorry, it just sounds like madness to me.

Where this failed was VT not locking doors on buildings during those two hours and preparing an orderly evacuation while they tracked the killer. Even then, he could have gone to a Denny's and opened fire.
posted by dw at 12:50 PM on April 16, 2007


.
posted by avriette at 12:54 PM on April 16, 2007


From the foxnews.com article:
Virginia Tech student Blake Harrison said he was on his way to class near Norris Hall when he saw chaos.

"This teacher comes flying out of Norris, he's bleeding from his arm or his shoulder ... all these students were coming out of Norris trying to take shelter in Randolph [Hall]. All these kids were freaked out," Harrison said.

The students and faculty were barricading themselves in their classrooms after what one person described as an Asian male wearing a vest opened fire.

The shooter was "wearing a vest covered in clips was just unloading on their door, going from classroom to classroom … they said it never seemed like it was going to stop and there was just blood all over," Harrison said.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:54 PM on April 16, 2007


From NY Times:
The identification of the gunman was proving difficult because the suspected shooter did not have identification among his effects and was further complicated because of the severity of an apparently self-inflicted wound to the head, according to a federal law enforcement official.
I'm guessing one of his weapons was more than just a handgun.
posted by mazola at 12:55 PM on April 16, 2007


This is sickening, and my heart goes out to anyone involved.

.
posted by Drexen at 12:56 PM on April 16, 2007


odinsdream writes "I'm not suggesting martial law. I'm suggesting extreme vigilance - i.e., locking all external and internal doors, limiting movement of individuals between locations, and ensuring that those who are in safe locations remain safe."

But why? There was no apparent immediate indication that this would escalate after the first incident. The guy might have fled to the country and the school would have been on lock down for an indeterminate period.

Secret Life of Gravy writes "This school has had what, 2 shootings now? And bomb scares? There is some bad mojo working there and I would no longer pay tuition for her to attend this school."

Bomb threats happen all the time (anyone with access to a pay phone or throw away internet email can institute one), rarely are they more than that.
posted by Mitheral at 12:57 PM on April 16, 2007


This is such a tragedy. My guts literally hurt. I can't imagine the pain the families are going to be dealing with. My god.
posted by hojoki at 12:59 PM on April 16, 2007


The DAO-12 sounds far-fetched, but then again, so does the idea that he did all of this with a .22 and a nine. Ultimately, though, it doesn't much matter how he did it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:03 PM on April 16, 2007


Either MSNBC or CNN has been carrying a telephone interview with a sophomore biology major who was shot through the upper arm. He sounded calm and self possessed. He said the shooter was a college aged Oriental guy who just came in and stared shooting, fired around a dozen rounds and then left. Then that student and at least one other guy shut the door and held it with their feet so the shooter couldn’t get back in. The shooter tried to push the door back open and fired several shots through it.
posted by Huplescat at 1:03 PM on April 16, 2007


A friend just pointed out to me that today is Yom Hashoah, aka Holocaust Remembrance Day. Not implying there's a connection, especially with the limited info we have, but I just thought I'd toss that in the pot. I wonder how much of the student body at VT is Jewish.
posted by brundlefly at 1:04 PM on April 16, 2007


you know, even as a general advocate for gun control, I have to side with the folks who say that this is not the best time to talk about it.

it would be like following a tragic, shocking terrorist attack with an immediate demand for Congressional lawmakers to pass sweeping new laws revising the national security apparatus and to 'do something about it'. We can, of course, rely on lawmakers to maintain a cool and rational level of debate in the immediate aftermath; and produce a law that is both effective and just.

... or not, as the case often is.
posted by bl1nk at 1:05 PM on April 16, 2007


I don't have anything informational to add. I just wanted to say my heart goes out to the 31 (and sadly, possibly more) families affected, not to mention the students who may have escaped physically unharmed, but surely emotionally distressed...

This is tragic...

.
posted by twiggy at 1:05 PM on April 16, 2007


Suddenly the fact that my alma mater's cops had M-16s in their vehicles bothers me not at all.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:08 PM on April 16, 2007


everyone panicing and running like hell saved more people than the calm, orderly exit

You may be thinking of this article: panic: myth or reality? In general, people don't actually panic. (For example, I recall being present at a very bad car accident. Most people just milled around as if they felt their presence could help, but didn't actually do much. Nobody entered anything resembling a panic. One victim was badly injured but in quiet shock. Another was unconscious.

I've since learned that in the absence of anyone doing anything, anybody can pretty much take control of these situations. And the classic "go boil some water" for the befuddled husband in a maternity crisis has close resemblance to the advice to make specific requests, e.g. not "somebody call 911" but "you, I need you to call 911 and have them send an ambulance right away".

Panic is a factor in stampedes and tramplings, from E2 to Coconut Grove to the hajj, but probably less important than the simple fact of having enough room for traffic flow.

As for the University, I'm not sure what specific policy could have prevented this, but telling people to stay put was not the best advice. There will be many lawsuits.
posted by dhartung at 1:09 PM on April 16, 2007


Washington Post chat with the executive editor of Planet Blacksburg, a news site run by Virginia Tech students.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:11 PM on April 16, 2007


I don't have alink for this i'm afraid, but I'm sure at some point I'm sure I saw a study which showed that in the event of a burning building/aircraft (I forget which) everyone panicing and running like hell saved more people than the calm, orderly exit.

The people who survived on 9/11 were the ones who ran for it, not the ones who sat around waiting for rescue.
posted by delmoi at 1:12 PM on April 16, 2007


so does the idea that he did all of this with a .22 and a nine

Not at all. 50 casualties? With plentiful ammunition, plenty of time in an unarmed and sufficiently dense cluster of victims all trapped in a confined space? Plus ensuing panic and some firearms training it is HIGHLY likely and easily accomplished. Even with a single 9mm. Hell. A chainsaw.
posted by tkchrist at 1:14 PM on April 16, 2007


Suddenly the fact that my alma mater's cops had M-16s in their vehicles bothers me not at all.

Uh. How do we know some of these casualties were NOT caused by cops, too?
posted by tkchrist at 1:15 PM on April 16, 2007


What advice would have been better than "stay put" once the shooting had started? How would the scores of police been able to handle hundreds or thousands of people trying to flee campus while they were still getting people to the scene and trying to get access to the building?
posted by daveadams at 1:17 PM on April 16, 2007


Oh, thank God, Bush is going to do everything he can. Floodwaters on the campus of VT in 5.....4......3......
posted by nevercalm at 1:17 PM on April 16, 2007


I've often wondered what I would do if confronted with a situation like this. I remember getting a group lecture at school from some cops saying "don't be a hero", "comply with the gunman" etc. but these days you really got to wonder about that kind of logic. Seems like either action or inaction can get you killed. If this ever happens when I'm around I'm thinking the best thing to do is grab the heaviest object you can pick up, charge, and hope for the best.
posted by well_balanced at 1:18 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


What advice would have been better than "stay put" once the shooting had started?

"Blockade your doors with furnishings. Stay away from windows and doors. Stay low. If you hear shots call this number and report where you are."

Though I would have still ran like a mother fucker the second I heard shots.
posted by tkchrist at 1:19 PM on April 16, 2007


Not at all. 50 casualties? With plentiful ammunition, plenty of time in an unarmed and sufficiently dense cluster of victims all trapped in a confined space? Plus ensuing panic and some firearms training it is HIGHLY likely and easily accomplished. Even with a single 9mm. Hell. A chainsaw.

Well, it's the confined space part that catches me, because this is a BIG campus. Lots of places to run and hide. These are the things that kept me reloading these stories for a while, because it's like, "What the fuck? HOW the fuck?" I guess it's a way of trying to make sense of it. But there isn't any sense to be found, whatever the fucker did it clearly worked, and...well, yeah. There you have it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:20 PM on April 16, 2007


I see on that NBC that the killer chained shut the doors of the building in which he did most of the shooting.
posted by washburn at 1:20 PM on April 16, 2007


Alas, there's really nothing to say.
posted by MarshallPoe at 1:22 PM on April 16, 2007


Newsvine's update 19 says:
Live reports indicate that the Virginia Tech's ROTC has been mobilized.

Those kids must be scared shitless. My heart goes out to all those affected.
posted by CiaoMela at 1:27 PM on April 16, 2007


Just flipped on the TV to see CNN with split screen: student video on one side of the screen and had a counter on the other side of the audible shots heard on the video, like a score card. What fucking ghouls.
posted by tula at 1:27 PM on April 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


I see on that NBC that the killer chained shut the doors of the building in which he did most of the shooting.

Yup.

And even if he did not bar doors most class rooms only have two doors at the most.

So. Stand in the doorway and shoot. 30-60 kids per class? 9 round clip. Two semi-auto pistols? Close range? TWO FUCKING HOURS OF PRACTICE! And a guy who was assuming he wasn't getting out alive anyway?

30 kills could be on the low end of the spectrum.
posted by tkchrist at 1:31 PM on April 16, 2007


I have a former student who goes there. Hope she's safe.

And yeah, not locking the campus down after the first shooting is ridiculous.

Fwiw, Tech has an interesting mix of students. It's a relatively rural part of the state, where familiarity with guns and hunting would be fairly common. At the same time, it's kind of a magnet for more affluent, computer-science types from the DC suburbs.

This fuck killed over 30 people. If this wasn't premeditated, and he doesn't have a police or military background, I don't see how the hell he did as much damage as he did. Unbelievable.
posted by bardic at 1:33 PM on April 16, 2007


I saw that too, tula. No more tv news for me. I'm sure CNN will be running that clip on a loop for the next two days.
posted by maryh at 1:34 PM on April 16, 2007


.

...is all I can say right now.

My heart and prayers go to the friends and family of those who have fallen, those who were wounded and those who were witnesses.
posted by seawallrunner at 1:34 PM on April 16, 2007


daveadams: What advice would have been better than "stay put" once the shooting had started?

I strongly agree. The problem was not in the fact that people were told to stay put, but in the fact that this announcement -- along with orders to lock down all campus buildings -- came over two hours after the first shootings took place. When I heard there had been a shooting my instinct was to get home, and I felt a little anxious being 'trapped' in my building. But a huge campus full of people all trying to get home at the same time makes for quite a mess and is not exactly conducive to tracking down an a gunman that is still at large.

The first incident happened early enough that if VT had been shut down immediately rather than two hours later, many students, staff, and faculty would not even have been on campus yet.
posted by purplemonkie at 1:34 PM on April 16, 2007


Yeah, the two-hour gap is egregious.

I remember my college dorm, freshman year. It was a shithole. It had puke green cynder block walls. It also had a fairly thick wooden door and lock, and nobody would get in there if they didn't want to. Even if I didn't barricade it, which I would have.

Letting hundreds of these kids go to classrooms together, after a shooting has already taken place on campus? Disaster.
posted by bardic at 1:39 PM on April 16, 2007


So is the implication here that the gunman shot somebody on the south side of campus, and in the course of an hour or so, made it to the north side of campus, and shut himself inside a hall - and only then did the campus police in fact issue an alert?
posted by phaedon at 1:45 PM on April 16, 2007


Flickr group.
posted by brittney at 1:46 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Cause life ain't hard enough so we need this kind of shit to make it really real.
Like people don't live with bad luck, but that ain't enough is it?
Cause people don't get kicked in the teeth on this god damned planet from dawn to dawn already, so pour a bunch of salt in the wound.

Any chance we can stop killing each other? Since life is in point of fact, hard enough.
posted by nola at 1:47 PM on April 16, 2007


33 confirmed dead according to MSNBC. Shooter thought to be Asian male in his 20's, but can't be identified as of now due to head trauma. Fingerprints haven't matched anything yet, which could mean he has no previous record.

When they do identify the guy, they'll want to check his house. His parents and siblings might possibly be dead as well.

Jesus fucking Christ.
posted by bardic at 1:47 PM on April 16, 2007


Yeah, the two-hour gap is egregious.

But why would you assume there would be any additional shooting after the first event? To any police investigating (especially if the estranged boyfriend angle is true and was known) it must have seemed like the action was over. Yes, you had a shooter at large, but what are the chances he then goes out and shoots innocents after a fairly significant delay?
posted by Rock Steady at 1:47 PM on April 16, 2007


I am just so sad and infuriated at every level of my being. I caught a glance of the anti-gun-control argument already being spin about this on a slightly right blog and my blood started boiling.
posted by spiderwire at 1:47 PM on April 16, 2007


This just cements my opinion of most school administrators being completely useless drains on the education system. It is horrifying that the police didn't do anything to shut down the campus after two hours.

This admin giving the news conference now is explaining that two hour gap by saying that thousands of commuters were already on the way to school. "Where do you keep them safe?" I have a good idea: NOT ON A CAMPUS WHERE A SHOOTER IS RUNNING LOOSE! Jeez.
posted by MegoSteve at 1:50 PM on April 16, 2007


Letting hundreds of these kids go to classrooms together, after a shooting has already taken place on campus? Disaster.

I thought so at first, but I looked up the number of students they have - just south of 30,000. That'd be like locking down a medium-sized town.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:52 PM on April 16, 2007


But why would you assume there would be any additional shooting after the first event?

You ALWAYS assume that if you have not identified the shooter - or - have witnesses that testify to the shooter leaving the scene.
posted by tkchrist at 1:52 PM on April 16, 2007


>You can lock the doors. You can put walls between you and the gunman.

That's exactly how one group of students got away according to CNN. They barred the door with a table. The gunman shot through it. Then reloaded, then shot again. Became frustrated and walked to a different classroom.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:53 PM on April 16, 2007


20/20 hindsight. Is this where we start assigning blame now?
posted by edgeways at 1:55 PM on April 16, 2007



I thought so at first, but I looked up the number of students they have - just south of 30,000. That'd be like locking down a medium-sized town.

You close the parking lots. You put up highway flares on every road to campus you have the State Patrol tell radio stations put out EBS alerting travelers to NOT come to campus. All of that can be coordinated in half an hour.
posted by tkchrist at 1:55 PM on April 16, 2007


But why would you assume there would be any additional shooting after the first event?

Because they didn't capture and/or kill the 7:15 AM shooter.

but what are the chances he then goes out and shoots innocents after a fairly significant delay?

You're kidding, right?
posted by bardic at 1:55 PM on April 16, 2007


20/20 hindsight. Is this where we start assigning blame now?

Who is responsible for YOUR kids when they are at school?
posted by tkchrist at 1:56 PM on April 16, 2007


posted by nola Any chance we can stop killing each other?

Sorry, but killing each other has been approved by the sacred texts and our elected leaders.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:57 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


20/20 hindsight. Is this where we start assigning blame now?

Yes.
posted by MegoSteve at 1:57 PM on April 16, 2007


phaedon: So is the implication here that the gunman shot somebody on the south side of campus, and in the course of an hour or so, made it to the north side of campus, and shut himself inside a hall - and only then did the campus police in fact issue an alert?

The first shooting took place at about 7:15 AM. I received the first announcement, which simply stated that there had been a shooting and that people should "be cautious," at 9:26 AM. My understanding is that the second shootings had already occurred at this point. Regardless, it was not until 9:50 that we were told to "stay put" until further notice, and not until 10:16 that classes were cancelled. At 12:13, employees were told to evacuate. This is all based on the timestamps on the emails sitting in my in box at the moment.
posted by purplemonkie at 2:02 PM on April 16, 2007


20/20 hindsight. Is this where we start assigning blame now?

How can we do that if we don't even fully know what happened? Maybe we should wait until we have better view of all of the facts? Just asking....
posted by Durwood at 2:03 PM on April 16, 2007


Who is responsible for YOUR kids when they are at school?

This isn't high school. This is a college. These are adults.

Colleges are not and should not be run like a high school. Think more like what Lucent should do if there was a shooting at one of their big campuses in NJ.
posted by gregvr at 2:03 PM on April 16, 2007


Is this where we start assigning blame now?

This is the world we live in. I think of it as being prepared for the next time, to be completely honest.

As for a "lock-down" being too tough, look -- this guy wanted blood, and he would have got it regardless. But why give him 30 kids clumped together in a classroom?

It's a big campus, with a lot of people. But there's high percentage of commuters as well, who were nowhere near the place. Apparently, they weren't told to stay away. Not right away at least. That's stupid.
posted by bardic at 2:08 PM on April 16, 2007


Wow. 100 Iraqis killed in a day, it gets a mention. 30+ Americans die in one freak tragedy and you actually get Bush to address it. Just wow. Oddly enough, 40,000 Americans die in traffic accidents alone every year, which surely amounts to more than 30 a day. But of course, I won't interrupt the jerk-off. Sexy tragedies > tragedies that require thought and have no media angle.
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 2:10 PM on April 16, 2007 [8 favorites]


The 1991 Gang Lu massacre at the University of Iowa took place in the building where I currently work and the engineering building next door. My mother was in the building at the time; one of her good friends was killed.

Last year, a phD student in the Chemistry department issued some threats against faculty members. University administrators shut down the entire campus for the day.

I'm sure there was a lot of "it can't happen here" going on in the minds of the Virginia Tech administrators, after the first shooting. All I can say is, I bet it will never happen there again.
posted by rockabilly_pete at 2:11 PM on April 16, 2007


.
posted by about_time at 2:12 PM on April 16, 2007


Gnostic, it is worth pointing out that...

a) Iraq is currently a war zone, and so nobody is in the least bit surprised when deaths occur (no matter how wrongful each one might be);

b) When people drive, they knowingly take on a certain amount of risk, just like when they fly -- and besides, those deaths are accidents or due to negligence for the most part;

c) These deaths happened in a University. Not a war zone, where deaths are expected, and not in a car, where a certain amount of risk is knowingly taken on. And they were intentional deaths.

So apples, oranges, and bananas, is what I'm saying.

Also:

.
posted by davejay at 2:14 PM on April 16, 2007 [5 favorites]



It is easy to look at this now and say they did it wrong, what if the fellow had gotten on top of a roof and picked off people in the open as they ran home? Or waded trough the crowd doing the same thing... things CAN ALWAYS be handled better, but it doesn't mean they where handled badly

Where does it end? the fellow could have wandered into the nearby residential neighborhoods. Should they have told everyone at home to run too? At what radius? A poster above said it was a 15 - 20 min walk from the initial building to the next, and he wasn't heard of for two hours, should they have drawn a circle 2 hours wide and told everybody to run and or barricade themselves within that circle? There where just too many variables for there to be a perfect solution.
I don't have the answer, and I understand where this frustration and anger is coming from, but I think it would be wise to wait till the dust settles and there is a comprehensive evaluation before calling for blood.
posted by edgeways at 2:15 PM on April 16, 2007


31 dead in the classrooms, 2 dead in the dorm. Was it the same killer? Maybe, but, according to the Roanoke Times rolling article:

Steger [VPI president] also said it is not confirmed that the shootings in Norris Hall, which killed 31 and wounded 15, are linked to the shootings two hours earlier in West Ambler Johnson Hall, where two people died. Tech officials said they could not say a single shooter was to blame in both instances, but said there is no search for additional suspects. No one is in custody in connection to the shootings, officials said.

Tech police Chief Wendell Flinchum said the shooter shot himself inside Norris Hall. Officials have not named the shooter, or described him beyond saying he was male.

Tech officials defended their decision to continue classes after the first shootings, saying their information at the time indicated that it was an isolated incident and that the shooter left campus.
posted by CCBC at 2:15 PM on April 16, 2007


Crass, Gnostic Novelist. Very crass.

It's not a "sexy" tragedy. It's one that hits close to people we know. It's shocking and unexpected and the result of astonishing malice.

What is wrong with you?
posted by felix betachat at 2:16 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


This isn't high school. This is a college. These are adults.

Please. So. It's every man for himself then?

Okay. if we are talking about adults then AS an adult I have then have certain expectations for the people who run the facility I pay for. If there is a fire they have extinguishers. Smoke detectors. Fire escapes. Right? Somebody tells me what to DO if there is fire. We have fire drills, right?

While fires are far more common that Spree Shooters, the point is you have a plan. You have people responsible for that plan.

For fucks sake I thought of a dozen things that could have been done in 30 seconds just sitting here that would have saved a couple of lives.

There are PAID professional campus safety officers. There is PAID profession administration. There are PAID professional LEOs.

I will tell you what the issue is. It's this. Nobody felt they had the responsibility OR the authority to what needed to be done. NOT that there was "nothing" that could have been done.
posted by tkchrist at 2:16 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Gnostic Novelist, this is sexy. This is awful, sad, tragic, and if you read the thread, many members are familiar with this place and the people who live/work there. Grow up.
posted by Elmore at 2:18 PM on April 16, 2007


A DAO-12 is basically just a 12 gauge shotgun that will hold 12 rounds. I believe this is a version of the same gun manufactured in the US. If I'm not mistaken only the versions with barrels less than 18 inches would require any sort of special permit under Federal law.
posted by Carbolic at 2:20 PM on April 16, 2007


tkchrist: I look forward to when you rule the world.
posted by mazola at 2:20 PM on April 16, 2007


Salon says: University officials waited two hours to warn campus, students say

The as-yet-unnamed gunman apparently shot and killed a victim on the fourth floor of the West Ambler Johnston dorm at approximately 7:15 a.m., according to the timing of a 911 call to Virginia Tech police. Two hours later, at approximately 9:30 a.m., the same gunman allegedly shot scores of people in Norris Hall, an engineering classroom building across the Virginia Tech campus. But residents of West Ambler Johnston say they were not informed of what had happened in their building until 9:26, when an e-mail was apparently sent to all students telling them that there had been an incident in the dorm. By that time, the gunman may already have been inside Norris Hall.
posted by paddingtonb at 2:21 PM on April 16, 2007


Think more like what Lucent should do if there was a shooting at one of their big campuses in NJ.

Okay. During the WTO riots we "locked" down our building and blocked the entrance and created relay escorts to the parking garage. We made this fucking plan on-the-fly for 70 co-workers.

When there was an earthquake we had a plan.

When a nut blocked the entrance of th building holding a samurai sword we had a plan.

This school had no excuse to take nearly two god damned hours figuring out what to do.
posted by tkchrist at 2:21 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


To those with a connection to VT, my condolences.

.
posted by Nabubrush at 2:22 PM on April 16, 2007


tkchrist writes "You ALWAYS assume that if you have not identified the shooter - or - have witnesses that testify to the shooter leaving the scene."

Of course, it's entirely possible that there were such witnesses. We really don't have that information yet.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:23 PM on April 16, 2007


Can someone please explain to me why this "cellphone video" looks unlike any video recording I've ever seen? Why, for instance, does the video flutter like that? Has is been enhanced in some way?
posted by ColdChef at 2:24 PM on April 16, 2007


Reuters was friendly enough to inform us that the Department of Homeland Security says there's no indication of terrorism, but it will be part of the investigation.

That's good. Cos that was the first thing I thought of. A terrorist attack. And if I wasn't, I am now. Thinking that there's no indication, says DHS. But that doesn't mean there couldn't be. So they'll investigate. That's good.
posted by Wataki at 2:24 PM on April 16, 2007


tkchrist: I look forward to when you rule the world.

Two down 5,999,999,998 more to go. Spread the word.
posted by tkchrist at 2:24 PM on April 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Please. So. It's every man for himself then?

I didn't say that. I'm just saying that there is a feeling in this thread that "Oh, dear god, why won't someone think of the children?!?"

And all I'm trying to say is that I would expect IDENTICAL BEHAVIOR from the "PAID professional campus safety officers, PAID profession administration, PAID professional LEOs." at a non-educational campus.

...

On review, tkchrist, I agree with everything that you are saying! By calling people adults, I am not saying that it is "every man for himself..."
posted by gregvr at 2:25 PM on April 16, 2007


I'm with you tkchrist. Some school administrators and security people are going to have a hard time looking themselves in the mirror after this. A two hour delay while a gunman is on the loose on campus is criminally negligent. Of course, if it turns out that there were two shooters, that's another matter altogether.
posted by felix betachat at 2:25 PM on April 16, 2007


This is awful, sad, tragic, and if you read the thread, many members are familiar with this place and the people who live/work there. Grow up.

Actually what does growing up have to do with it? Aren't children the ones who get sad at what they are close to while ignoring what they aren't familiar with?
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 2:25 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


.
posted by C.Batt at 2:26 PM on April 16, 2007


I'm a little surprised that this happened nine hours ago and no one has yet identified the shooter. Surely someone recognized him.
posted by mattbucher at 2:27 PM on April 16, 2007


Wataki writes "That's good. Cos that was the first thing I thought of. A terrorist attack. And if I wasn't, I am now."

How was this not a terrorist attack? It's pretty terrifying.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:29 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Sorry, I meant be more mature. I thought you would understand that.
posted by Elmore at 2:30 PM on April 16, 2007


felix betachat writes "mirror after this. A two hour delay while a gunman is on the loose on campus is criminally negligent. Of course, if it turns out that there were two shooters, that's another matter altogether."

It's also possible that witnesses at the first scene did see the shooter fleeing the campus. It apparently took him two hours to travel between two buildings that are a 20-minute walk apart. It's entirely possible that he had left the campus and returned two hours later for the second shooting spree. If this is what happened, I think it would be reasonable for authorities to assume that he had fled; they would have no reason to expect him to return.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:32 PM on April 16, 2007


. . .enough, 40,000 Americans die in traffic accidents alone every year. . .Gnostic Novelist

The fact you don't know the difference between a car accident and a bullet fired at some one is amazing. Violence , look it up. and on preview you should really just shut up now.
posted by nola at 2:32 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


I work on a campus about the size of Virginia Tech's-- perhaps even a little larger. It takes the better part of an hour to walk the grounds from north to south, almost as long east to west. So I can understand a little bit of what was going through the heads of the Administration: cancelling classes for the day is a huge disruption, they all have to be rescheduled, it's close to the end of term, everybody has meetings to attend, it's year end and budgets need to be worked on, etcetera.

But on the other hand I cannot understand, not even a little bit, the logic that keeps a University campus open after two people have been shot and killed and the gunman is still at large. It fucking boggles my mind. It was 7:15 a.m.-- plenty of time to alert department heads, trigger phone trees for support staff, get the police to set up barriers at the campus entrances, lock down the residences. That's what campus security is for. I'm speechless.
posted by jokeefe at 2:33 PM on April 16, 2007


adipocere writes "Let the healin blaming begin. Video games?"

Saucy Intruder writes "Blame video games, right?"

Jack Thompson is on the scene.
posted by Bugbread at 2:33 PM on April 16, 2007


Hey, Gnostic, am I allowed to be sad about both?
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:35 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


mattbucher: I agree, but I'm sure we'll find out soon enough. A NY Times article explains:

"The identification of the gunman was proving difficult, because the suspected shooter did not have identification among his effects and because of the severity of an apparently self-inflicted wound to the head, according to a federal law enforcement official. He said investigators were trying to trace purchase records for two handguns found near the body."
posted by inoculatedcities at 2:35 PM on April 16, 2007


Gnostic, you are so evolved. Please tell us how you did it.
posted by docpops at 2:36 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


The lack of good communication dispersal strikes me as a big problem at large universities. It's not like high school where there is a heirarchical information structure and PA systems. Professors know just as little as students, if not less, and there are no other liasons to the central administration.

Though completely uncomparable in scope, I was at the University of Washington in 2001 during an almost-serious earthquake that took place in the middle of classes. My professor canceled the class I was in immediately after the shaking stopped, but at that point it was absolutely impossible to find any information, even a "don't worry." And that's for earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest, which are rather sure events. I can't imagine the confusion and frustration from just receiving the emails that have been described here for something exponentially more serious and ongoing.

My heart goes out to everyone affected by this.
.
posted by Schismatic at 2:36 PM on April 16, 2007


Mr Roboto,

Terrorism isn't terrorism because it's scary, but rather because it's "unofficial or unauthorised violence with a political goal". You are right that it is scary. I just find it interesting that American society is so ingrained with the idea of terrorism that it becomes standard practice for journalists to declare that there's no reason to believe that a given event is terrorism.
posted by Wataki at 2:36 PM on April 16, 2007


I'd imagine it might be faster if they ID'd the first girl he killed, then asked her family and friends who the psycho was. IANALEO, however.
posted by bardic at 2:37 PM on April 16, 2007


Sorry, I meant be more mature. I thought you would understand that.

I think understanding that the world doesn't revolve around American tragedy is pretty mature. This isn't that different from what happens every day. If these people died from a lack of health care, or died individually in some inner city ghetto across the country it wouldn't even be reported (except maybe locally). I'm not saying it isn't a tragedy, and my heart goes out to the family members, etc, I'm not talking about them, I'm talking about the media whores that depend on issues like this for ratings and the people who are removed from the issue. In fact, I would say they are more related to the tragedies of imperialism (by virtue of being politically active and/or taxpayers than they are to this tragedy).

It's mini-9/11 all over again.
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 2:38 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


mr_roboto writes "How was this not a terrorist attack? It's pretty terrifying."

"Terrorism" doesn't mean simply "instilling terror". It means "instilling terror as a means of intimidation or coersion". We can niggle over the details (for example, he may have pointed a gun at someone to scare them at some point), but definitions of words are nebulous concepts based on what people use them to mean, and I think you'd find that for most people, terrorism doesn't refer to this.
posted by Bugbread at 2:39 PM on April 16, 2007


Bugbread Jack Thompson is on the scene

Oh, wonderful. I guess this is all to do with Bully? Gears of War? Viva Pinata?
posted by Elmore at 2:39 PM on April 16, 2007


By calling people adults, I am not saying that it is "every man for himself..."

Okay then. No worries.

I'd just like to remind people that becuase we set the bar so high for our public safety and security professionals we avoid just this kind of tragedy 90% of the time. We can't look at avoiding this kind of thing as impossible. Certainly we can't stop the psychotic individuals from perpetrating mid-deeds. But we can —and do— through plans and systems —mitigate the potential damage they can do all the time.

The only way to keep the bar high is by holding these officials responsible and nip the excuses in the bud.

I remember right after Columbine everybody wanted to give a Buy to the cops. "What could they have done?" people said. And NOW we know. Plenty. Most of those kids did not have to die at all.

BTW. Though this is certainly not the thread for it remind me one day and I will tell you a funny and true story in which the phrase "Every man for himself!" plays a significant role. You think you won't ever hear somebody really say something that dramatic in it's "intended context" and then one day you do!
posted by tkchrist at 2:39 PM on April 16, 2007


> Can someone please explain to me why this "cellphone video" looks unlike any video recording I've ever seen? Why, for instance, does the video flutter like that? Has is been enhanced in some way?

Cellphones have relatively low framerates and screen fills. In other words, the bottom of the screen is painted after the top of the screen, slowly enough to be noticeable if you try. For videos with relatively low differences between frames (eg, a talking head), this doesn't matter. For videos where the whole camera's waving around a contrasty field, you can't miss it.

On CNN, they are projecting it across four tiled screens, and I think the camera's spasming is being emphasized by whatever latency exists between each monitor's electronics.
posted by ardgedee at 2:40 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Resident Evil 4 or Battlefield 2 feature the DAO-12, FWIW.
posted by mazola at 2:41 PM on April 16, 2007


According to CNN, the cellphone video was taken on a Nokia N70, would that explain why the video footage looks so odd?
posted by ColdChef at 2:41 PM on April 16, 2007


Wataki writes "Terrorism isn't terrorism because it's scary, but rather because it's 'unofficial or unauthorised violence with a political goal'."

And how the hell does DHS know that this wasn't political? The shooter hasn't even been identified yet.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:41 PM on April 16, 2007


I don't exactly agree with what gnostic novelist is saying, but what a weak response davejay. I won't even address the driving thing because frankly I don't see the relevance. How banal to condemn people to death because of where they live. Nobody is surprised when people die in a warzone?? Why the FUCK is it a war zone?

woe that precious college students are massacred in a senseless, ultimately unpredictable tragedy, meanwhile dirty savage arabs are in harms way, dying every day and nobody gives a shit. oh sure, we are sorry they are dying, sorry and bloody unmoved, aren't we.

this might be hypocritical of me at this point, but I second the no soapboxing movement, lets just say this is a terrible tragedy, a human tragedy, and leave it at that, at least until tomorrow.
posted by ryanfou at 2:42 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


I think it would be reasonable for authorities to assume that he had fled; they would have no reason to expect him to return.

Point taken. But this puts us in a post-9/11 handwringing situation in which the people in charge say something like: "How could we have anticipated such cunning malice?" I don't think these sorts of "reasonable assumptions" wash anymore. A campus of 30,000 should have some sort of evacuation contingency plan on hand. And shots fired by an unapprehended gunman should reach the threshold of evacuation.

I will guarantee that this is the "positive" outcome of this tragedy. University administrators are going to be under a lot of pressure to develop evacuation plans and implement them on short notice. Whether or not this is overreaction is not for me to say, but I hold to my original assertion that, barring two gunmen, this is a tragedy that could have been averted by foresighted leadership.
posted by felix betachat at 2:43 PM on April 16, 2007


The "not terrorism in case you're worried" canard always pisses me off, too.

If there are two dead in the dorm, it's possible that the shootings are unrelated (assuming murder/suicide in the dorm) and the second one is opportunistic.

As someone said, I wish these nutjobs would go about this stuff in reverse order (kill self, then kill others). I guess the folks at VT learned an important lesson today, it's just one I wish was never taught.
posted by maxwelton at 2:43 PM on April 16, 2007


tkchrist writes "You ALWAYS assume that if you have not identified the shooter - or - have witnesses that testify to the shooter leaving the scene."

They haven't identified the shooter in Seattle from the 22nd, are you at home cowering behind your door?

tkchrist writes "Who is responsible for YOUR kids when they are at school?"

As adults they are. They can decide on there own whether to follow the instructions of administration or run for the hils or what ever they deem necessary.
posted by Mitheral at 2:43 PM on April 16, 2007


Sorry. "Evacuation" may be overstating my case. But at least campus lockdown and controlled movement of students and staff to a secure location.
posted by felix betachat at 2:44 PM on April 16, 2007


Wow. 100 Iraqis killed in a day, it gets a mention. 30+ Americans die in one freak tragedy and you actually get Bush to address it. Just wow. Oddly enough, 40,000 Americans die in traffic accidents alone every year, which surely amounts to more than 30 a day. But of course, I won't interrupt the jerk-off. Sexy tragedies > tragedies that require thought and have no media angle.

It's all perspective. When you grow up you might find some.
posted by caddis at 2:45 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Gnostic Novelist - I believe that this tragedy may quite possibly be due to a lack of health care. Perhaps not. I am not so naive to view something that has terrible causes as not having a terrible effect. I am looking at the effect and it is terrible, sad, and tragic. I will wait some time, hear some evidence, and then look at the cause. Not that it's important, but I'm not American as you seem to think I am.
posted by Elmore at 2:47 PM on April 16, 2007


felix betachat writes "And shots fired by an unapprehended gunman should reach the threshold of evacuation."

But at what point do you call off the evacuation? Do you give police an hour to find the gunman? A day? What if he's never found? In two hours, this guy could have been over 100 miles away...
posted by mr_roboto at 2:48 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


posted by tadellin if every student in those classrooms had a gun and knew how to use it properly, the body count wouldn't have gotten beyond 2.

posted by solid-one-love On the other hand, if every student in those classrooms had a gun and knew how to use it properly, there wouldn't be more than two people in each classroom.


Two students enter, one student leaves!
posted by fandango_matt at 2:49 PM on April 16, 2007


According to CNN, Alberto Gonzales won't testify tomorrow because of this event.
posted by ColdChef at 2:49 PM on April 16, 2007


A Collegiate Times article describes a German class of 20+ students, of whom only four walked out alive. A "normal-looking" Asian kid wearing a tan "Boy Scout" vest peeked into the class twice before returning and shooting. Suggests he was looking for someone in particular.

The cell phone video, judging by satellite maps, was taken due west of Norris Hall, the building you see in the center.
posted by dhartung at 2:51 PM on April 16, 2007


Gnostic's Law. As any online discussion about death grows longer, the probabibility of a comparison involving Iraq approaches one.
posted by phaedon at 2:51 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


But at what point do you call off the evacuation?

Again, good point. But indications are that most of the students on campus had only the most basic news about what had happened. And that the lockdown information came a full two hours after the original shooting. So this isn't a situation where an evacuation or a lockdown order was given and then rescinded. The administration apparently did little or nothing to inform or protect the student body at large. That's simply unacceptable and I'm quite sure that people will lose their jobs over this.
posted by felix betachat at 2:52 PM on April 16, 2007


In the long run, we're all dead.

Meanwhile THIS thread is about the victims of the VT shootings. Got it? Good.

Carry on.
posted by konolia at 2:52 PM on April 16, 2007


It's all perspective. When you grow up you might find some.

The 'grow up' fallacy has already been addressed. It can be applied universally: "When you grow up, you may recognize that tragedy happens every day and more people suffer and those people aren't blessed enough to die one after other on an American campus while providing an easy media angle."

See, the 'grow up' fallacy is the easiest of sophist tactics [followed by (insert something) Hitler/Nazis (insert something) and then followed by (insert) you're a racist (insert something)]
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 2:53 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


According to CNN, Alberto Gonzales won't testify tomorrow because of this event.

Please, please, please tell me that's a sick joke.
posted by felix betachat at 2:53 PM on April 16, 2007


They haven't identified the shooter in Seattle from the 22nd, are you at home cowering behind your door?

Who? What? What the hell that have to do with anything?

When Jonathan Rowan shot Rebecca Griego on the UW a few days back they shut down that building and evacuated it and that part of the UW until they KNEW what happened. Even though they had his dead friggin body right there.

As adults they are. They can decide on there own whether to follow the instructions of administration or run for the hils or what ever they deem necessary.

Not if they don't KNOW about it.
posted by tkchrist at 2:56 PM on April 16, 2007


Gnostic's Law. As any online discussion about death grows longer, the probabibility of a comparison involving Iraq approaches one.

If this is a tragedy (and it is) then the estimated 600,000 Iraqi civilian deaths are also a tragedy. In America, non-American life is worth less than that of pet animals
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 2:57 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Gnostic Novelist, I think you've made your little point. Bully for you. Now go away.
posted by bardic at 2:58 PM on April 16, 2007


tkchrist writes "When Jonathan Rowan shot Rebecca Griego on the UW a few days back they shut down that building and evacuated it and that part of the UW until they KNEW what happened"

Sure, but they probably didn't shut down all buildings in a radius sizerd to encompass 30K people. They probably didn't even shut down the buildings across the street.
posted by Mitheral at 2:59 PM on April 16, 2007


Gnostic Novelist. This is not a thread about Iraq and you are trolling. Do it elsewhere.
posted by felix betachat at 2:59 PM on April 16, 2007


I love it when morally superior specimens such as Gnostic Novelist descend from the higher planes to remind us that we are hypocrites for mourning certain local tragedies whilst not equally weeping over larger tragedies thousands of miles away. How dare we express any concern or sympathy for extraordinary outbursts of inexplicable violence in our own neighborhoods when we are not taking the time to march in the streets in solidarity with the suffering of others elsewhere.

Also, more and more people are dying of morbid obesity, and we demean their loss by dwelling upon the victims of this attack instead. Thanks to Gnostic Novelist and his introduction of the Sympathy Equalizer, I'll never make that mistake again.
posted by Midnight Creeper at 2:59 PM on April 16, 2007 [13 favorites]


felix betachat writes "And that the lockdown information came a full two hours after the original shooting. So this isn't a situation where an evacuation or a lockdown order was given and then rescinded."

Is it clear that the lockdown order was a response the first shooting? It may have been issued after the big shooting spree started two hours later.

I wouldn't be surprised to see people lose their jobs over this, but I'm hesitant to conclude that there was negligence while the details are still so fuzzy. I can easily imagine that the authorities had facts in hand which would have made their response seem reasonable. As to whether they actually had such facts, we'll just have to wait and see. I'm sure CNN will be happy to provide us with a minute-by-minute recap of events once they can assembly it.

felix betachat writes "Please, please, please tell me that's a sick joke."

Rescheduled to Thursday.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:00 PM on April 16, 2007


Is this really from the Virginia Tech Shooting Club?
posted by theemperorhasnoclotheson at 3:02 PM on April 16, 2007


4:45 Update from VT:
Two shootings on campus today have left 33 dead. Thirty-one, including the gunman, died at Norris Hall; two died at West Ambler Johnston Hall. Fifteen other victims from Norris are being treated at area hospitals....

Dear God. I have nothing I can say, honestly. Why?

...and now I head off to my campus.
posted by niles at 3:02 PM on April 16, 2007


As to the shooter's name, he didn't have any ID on him, and they say his face is messed up from wounds. But I suspect the reason they're being really cautious is because of the consequences of identifying him incorrectly. There's no cost to them in waiting, but if they say a name and it turns out to be wrong they're going to get sued by whoever does own that name.

Also, if it turns out that they identify the body of a victim as being the shooter, by mistake, then the lawsuits fly later. So they're going to wait until they're absolutely certain before releasing his name.

Especially if "Asian" turns out to mean (ahem) the "M" word.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:03 PM on April 16, 2007


Jack Thompson is on the scene
Already? He couldn't even wait until after the funerals?

Seriously, what's it going to take to get people to ignore this idiot?
posted by JDHarper at 3:04 PM on April 16, 2007


but I'm hesitant to conclude that there was negligence while the details are still so fuzzy

Wise counsel. I guess I'm just flailing around looking for someone to blame just like everybody else. It's hard simply to stare at such malevolence.
posted by felix betachat at 3:04 PM on April 16, 2007


“Especially if ‘Asian’ turns out to mean (ahem) the ‘M’ word.”—Steven C. Den Beste

Motivated?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:06 PM on April 16, 2007


I love it when morally superior specimens such as Gnostic Novelist descend from the higher planes

It's got nothing to do with moral superiority (I'm as amoral as the next American) but I don't put on shows. I don't know the same of a single Iraqi who has died due to an imperialist invasion. I can't name a single foreigner who isn't a celeb, government official, or a friend, but I keep perspective and know that I, as an American taxpayer, am thereby funding the imperialism. It's hard to be morally superior when I'm in that sort of position.
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 3:07 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


They haven't identified the shooter in Seattle from the 22nd

You mean the campus shooter on the 2nd? Uh, yeah, they did, well enough to get an awkward Stranger article out of it.

Sure, but they probably didn't shut down all buildings in a radius sizerd to encompass 30K people. They probably didn't even shut down the buildings across the street.

Hell, the building was across the street from campus. They did little on campus (though for once they were good about getting the word out over e-mail).
posted by dw at 3:07 PM on April 16, 2007


Seriously, what's it going to take to get people to ignore this idiot?

Have you seen his xbox live achievements? Lam0r!!!
posted by Elmore at 3:07 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Steven C. Den Beste writes "Especially if 'Asian' turns out to mean (ahem) the 'M' word."

For shits and giggles I checked out Little Green Footballs' thread about this. Lots of people making that assumption over there. "The lie-berals are using the word 'asian' to cover up that he's a Muslim!" Pretty silly. At least I assume that's what you're referring to, Steven.
posted by brundlefly at 3:11 PM on April 16, 2007


Steven C. Den Beste: "Especially if 'Asian' turns out to mean (ahem) the 'M' word."

Mexican?
posted by JDHarper at 3:12 PM on April 16, 2007


I can't name a single foreigner who isn't a celeb, government official, or a friend

How many people from Axtell, Kansas can you name who aren't celebrities, governmetn officials, or friends? Yes, people react more strongly to things that are closer to them and to things that are more visible to them. It's a complicated issue, and one worth examining but harping on it repeatedly (in two threads at once, even) does little to support the idea that you're not just grinding an axe. Your point is made, and then some; consider dropping it.
posted by cortex at 3:14 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Gnostic, on one level I actually agree with you in that greater atrocities are happening daily and if such events are reported it's usually bitched about as being "Iraqfilter" or "newsfilter" etc. In a way that's wrong.

But

How people are reacting is just human. Metafilter is predominatly American I'd say. Personal tragedy is always greater than some tragedy far away. To the average American this is a personal tragedy. Rightly or wrongly that's the way it is whatever corner of the planet we live on.

It's hard to change human nature and although you seem to have reached the next level of understanding in that regard, you have regressed in regard to understanding human feelings. That, or as others have said, you just haven't grown up yet.
posted by twistedonion at 3:15 PM on April 16, 2007


Steven C. Den Beste Especially if ‘Asian’ turns out to mean (ahem) the ‘M’ word.

Math Major?

Go to hell, Steven.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:16 PM on April 16, 2007 [6 favorites]


It's not like this was a high school -- it's more like a 30,000 person town that it takes an hour to even walk across. I can understand why they didn't close everything down on the first incident -- can you imagine closing every road in and out of a town for an indefinite period because two people were shot there? Telling the whole town that they cannot leave their homes?

I agree that the campus police didn't handle it as well as they might done -- but then again I doubt the police forces of most towns of 30,000 would have done any better. They were simply out of their depth. It's something to be regretted more than to assign blame for. Thank God he police forces of 30,000 person communities don't usually have to think about this kind of thing.

And while you may disagree on that, I know we can all agree that our thoughts are with the victims' families.
posted by tyllwin at 3:19 PM on April 16, 2007


For shits and giggles I checked out Little Green Footballs' thread about this.

I don't read the comment threads on LGF any more. The signal to noise ratio is too close to zero.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:19 PM on April 16, 2007


The "M" word? God, the right is just so fucking weird these days.

So let's take this to its logical consclusion SCDB. Most acts of mass murder are committed by white males. Guess we need to lock them all up, huh?
posted by bardic at 3:20 PM on April 16, 2007


Why? Why? Why?

Holy fucking shit. :( I just...

.
posted by perilous at 3:21 PM on April 16, 2007


Sure, but they probably didn't shut down all buildings in a radius sizerd to encompass 30K people. They probably didn't even shut down the buildings across the street.

What are you trying to say mitheral?

That at the UW if it was NOT obvious the shooter was dead and there were NO witnesses they just keep Red Square bustling like everything was okay? For nearly two hours? And not tell anybody?

Because THAT, it seems, is what happened at VT.

I wasn't advocating evacuation or nuking the school from orbit. I was advocating INFORMATION and having a plan in place for these kinds of things. It seams if they had plan it failed to be implemented. There was obviously a serious communication breakdown. The plan should be you - the school officials and administration - inform the student population. Then you lock down the school (close lots to incoming traffic and get EBS message out on the radio) and cancel classes if LEO informs you the shooter is not found.

I was telling you what cops actually DO do as far securing a crime scene - what is SOP.

It seams that the Campus Security and local LEO (if they were on the scene of the first shooting) did NOT do this in any methodical way.
posted by tkchrist at 3:22 PM on April 16, 2007


Sigh. Well, consider the troll fed.

There are reasons, real reasons, that a tragedy like this hits us harder that what happens in other countries. Even if we didn't go to Virginia Tech, we probably went somewhere very similar. And right now, we're all picturing it happening there.

Maybe we'd be better off as a species if we had an instant connection to suffering that we don't understand so well. Almost certainly, in fact. But we don't.
posted by bicyclefish at 3:22 PM on April 16, 2007


Ah, yes, the time-honoured tradition of mods poking their heads in but not actually moderating the personal attacks directed at unpopular opinions.

Gnostic, I don't exactly disagree with you, but this isn't the place. Neither is this the place for the abuse you're taking.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:23 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


This was terrorism.
posted by parmanparman at 3:23 PM on April 16, 2007


.
posted by es_de_bah at 3:27 PM on April 16, 2007


Y'okay.

I've only scanned this thread, but based on what I've seen, over three hundred and fifty posts into this, those of us who didn't just put a little dot and leave it at that? That's what we shoulda all done. We didn't. Myself included. We shoulda.

So.

.

how many more, man?
posted by ZachsMind at 3:28 PM on April 16, 2007


If 110 people died as a result of a series of auto accidents that occurred within the small footprint of a single college campus in the span of a few hours I'm sure we'd be having a lengthy thread about it too.
posted by mazola at 3:29 PM on April 16, 2007


bicyclefish: Maybe we'd be better off as a species if we had an instant connection to suffering that we don't understand so well. Almost certainly, in fact. But we don't.
Yeah, I made this feature request to God some time ago, but it's been sitting in a Pri3/Sev3 bucket for ages.
posted by hincandenza at 3:30 PM on April 16, 2007


I don't know what to say. I'm sitting in front of the computer, about to leave for uni.


RIP.
posted by cholly at 3:31 PM on April 16, 2007


dw writes "You mean the campus shooter on the 2nd? Uh, yeah, they did, well enough to get an awkward Stranger article out of it."

Nope, I mean random Metro Shooting apparently on the 22nd. The point is tkchrist is advocating for what amounts to martial law for upwards of 30K people because of a single shooting of two people. What makes university students less deserving of their civil rights?

Think about the administration at your university. Now think whether you would trust them with the power of determining who (IE: you and me) can leave the campus and when. They are rarely accountable to the student body in any meaningful way and I sure wouldn't want to give them War Measures like power.

If you believe they should have locked down the university after the first shooting please explain why every shooting (or other murder for that matter whether it be by gun or arson or other means) shouldn't result in a lock down of a radius encompassing 30K people in your town. What makes the university so special? My take is people should be free to leave if they want.
posted by Mitheral at 3:32 PM on April 16, 2007


.
posted by Smart Dalek at 3:33 PM on April 16, 2007


“...but not actually moderating the personal attacks directed at unpopular opinions. ”—solid-one-love

“But of course, I won't interrupt the jerk-off.”—Gnostic Novelist

His wasn't just an unpopular opinion, he was deliberately offensive.

I agree with his basic idea and I've said something very similar in some similar thread here on MeFi in the past. And, if I recall correctly, just as provocatively. I was wrong to do so. You can tell when someone wants to make a point as part of a productive discussion and when they are being provocative as part of some kind of performance. There's a lot of performance in this thread.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:35 PM on April 16, 2007


to me, as an outsider, it seems that calling this a sexy tragedy is actually quite right.

i sit here in Amsterdam, watching CNN and Fox News go berserk over this (indeed) tragedy, but what the fuss ?
why the hours-on-end-non-coverage, why the need to be there, why the almost insane zoomed-in focus on details yet sill unknown, in short, why not a little more distance and why is this the national headline right now, is it something you folks in the USofA expected or anticipated or what is going on ?

i won't make the comparison to Darfur or Irag, but the relentless focus of the media force (even here) seems off-balance.
posted by Substrata at 3:35 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Mitheral writes "The point is tkchrist is advocating for what amounts to martial law for upwards of 30K people because of a single shooting of two people. What makes university students less deserving of their civil rights?"

I think you're overthinking his use of the word "lockdown". As far as I know, he's not talking about policies with force of law, but just giving specific and timely directions instead of vague and late ones. Like evacuation plans and fire drills: you tell people "Go out the west door! Do not attempt to get your bags out of your room!", but you aren't removing their rights, because they're free to pay attention or ignore you as they see fit. (I assume this because he gives examples of his company's past contingency plans, which are obviously not martial law but "suggestion" based, and he's using them as parallel examples).
posted by Bugbread at 3:36 PM on April 16, 2007


.

As for the future, communication needs to happen more quickly in emergencies. I work in higher-ed and one of the universities I was at was considering a plan to automatically send text-messages to students in case of emergency. These days cell phones are in almost every student's hands (the university even eliminated land-line phone service in the dorms).

Washington, DC has an emergency alert system that works like this. When I was living there I would get messages about severe weather, traffic delays, and crime, all very quickly:
When an incident or emergency occurs, authorized DC Emergency Management personnel can rapidly notify you using this community alert system. Alert DC is your personal connection to real-time updates, instructions on where to go, what to do, or what not to do, who to contact and other important information.
posted by pithy comment at 3:36 PM on April 16, 2007


meta
posted by pyramid termite at 3:37 PM on April 16, 2007


"seems" heh.
posted by tkchrist at 3:40 PM on April 16, 2007


“why is this the national headline right now”—Substrata

It's the largest non-military mass shooting in American history. This would dominate the news in any country in the world. This is a massacre. One individual with two guns has managed to achieve a kill count that's in the same range as a suicide bomber.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:44 PM on April 16, 2007


The point is tkchrist is advocating for what amounts to martial law for upwards of 30K people because of a single shooting of two people.

Martial law? mithreal that is bullshit and you know it.

Okay. Discussion over.

I pray to Christ you are in no way responsible for or involved in public safety.
posted by tkchrist at 3:44 PM on April 16, 2007


His wasn't just an unpopular opinion, he was deliberately offensive.

It wasn't, however, personal, and I wasn't speaking to that separate issue. Even if he's trolling, "focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site" still applies. I don't care how angry the mob is or how much of a moron GN is*, that's no excuse for a pile-on in the Blue. If he's trolling the mods should be nuking the troll posts, too. We know that they're here deleting unflagged posts about gun control, so the "we don't go out searching for stuff to delete" line doesn't wash.

Anyhow. I don't have an opinion on the main topic other than "Bummer. That's bad news."

(* I'm not calling GN a moron)
posted by solid-one-love at 3:45 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


.
posted by every_one_needs_a_hug_sometimes at 3:45 PM on April 16, 2007


I think you're overthinking his use of the word "lockdown".

Bugbread actually I was thinking nerve agent over a tri-state area. Or simply executing anybody with a book bag.
posted by tkchrist at 3:46 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


"The point is tkchrist is advocating for what amounts to martial law for upwards of 30K people because of a single shooting of two people. What makes university students less deserving of their civil rights?"

I think you miss the point. About 7 or 8 years ago, I was working in a small dot-com office in Seattle's Freemont/Wallingford neighborhood. One morning, an assailant walked into one of the many boat repair shops in the area (on the locks and Lake Union) and shot three people, killing two. With a matter of minutes, the SPD had the entire neighborhood in lockdown, businesses included, not knowing what to expect, while they conducted house to house searches. The whole thing was over in a matter of hours, thankfully as they apprehended the guy at about 2 or 3pm, but it seemed to be reasonably effective. Now if he had remained at large past then, I honestly have no idea what the plan would have been, so go figure that.

At any rate, on a University Campus, in theory, this sort of thing seems much eaiser to do given normally order distribution and fortress like nature of most university dorms. That said, I've never been to Va Tech, so I'm no expert in that specific instance. But, suffice it to say that I'm a little incredulous at your increduilty.
posted by psmealey at 3:48 PM on April 16, 2007


TK, according to some of the reports I have heard, after the first shooting, an asian student was detained in handcuffs. Turned out not to be the guy, but a reporter went on record as saying the shooter had been apprehended. This may be partly to blame for the lack of action.
posted by vronsky at 3:49 PM on April 16, 2007


It's the largest non-military mass shooting in American history.

no it isn't.
even i know that.

technicalities, answer my questions.
posted by Substrata at 3:51 PM on April 16, 2007


What an unspeakable tragedy - my prayers are firmly with those killed and injured and their families tonight.

On a point of pragmatism, all sensible people should revile those who seek to make political capital out of this horror today. Note in your minds the ambulance chasing lawyers or shrill PR people from whatever side of whatever argument and cross them off the list of reasonable human beings. For them their argument is more important than the real human tragedy of today - in itself a much smaller tragedy.

There will be plenty of time in days and weeks to come to apportion blame - now is not the time.
posted by prentiz at 3:52 PM on April 16, 2007


Gnostic Novelist is right actually. Because the Internet causes a disconnect between insiders and outsiders. Outsiders react all "gotta debate gun control" or "gotta analyse Bush's speech" when the insider's neighbour just got murdered.

I will butt out of this thread out of respect, but the very self-righteous here would pay to remember the blood-boiling feeling they're getting today before they opine so wisely/ignorantly about what the blown up markets means for the surge etc.
posted by dydecker at 3:52 PM on April 16, 2007 [6 favorites]


bugbread writes "I think you're overthinking his use of the word 'lockdown'"

Maybe this is a difference in term definitions. I guess I got started when odinsdream advocated a under heavy, heavy lockdown. I've confused the two positions.
posted by Mitheral at 3:52 PM on April 16, 2007


At any rate, on a University Campus, in theory, this sort of thing seems much eaiser to do given normally order distribution and fortress like nature of most university dorms.

And yet, the first thing that came to mind when I heard about this was that the building at the university I teach at is unsecured 16 hours a day. The building and 95% of the classrooms in the building (except the computer labs) are not securable by anyone other than custodial staff and campus police. These rooms also do not have phones or a call system in them or accessible to them. In the event of a "lockdown," my students and I would literally be holding the door shut with our feet, waiting for help to find us.
posted by mrmojoflying at 3:58 PM on April 16, 2007


“no it isn't.
even i know that.”
—Substrata

“At least 33 people were killed today on the campus of Virginia Tech in what appears to be the deadliest shooting rampage in American history, according to federal law-enforcement officials.”—New York Times
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:00 PM on April 16, 2007


tkchrist writes "Martial law? mithreal that is bullshit and you know it. "

Give mitheral some credit. That's what I misread it as as well, until you gave the company examples. It was just a misreading. It happens.

Ethereal Bligh writes "It's the largest non-military mass shooting in American history."

Substrata writes "no it isn't.
"even i know that."


Yeah, that was badly phrased by EB. Probably the best phrasing of it would be:

"It's all over the media because it's the largest shooting on American soil that has happened in the lifetimes of most people watching the news."

(And I realize that approaches the frequent "This is the largest reconstructed wooden Nichren sect temple containing a Buddha trinity in all of Japan!" line, but I do think "in the lifetime of most people" is a pretty important factor here)
posted by Bugbread at 4:00 PM on April 16, 2007


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
posted by Atreides at 4:02 PM on April 16, 2007


Especially if "Asian" turns out to mean (ahem) the "M" word.

People have already described him as "Oriental" This is America, not Britain. Asian generally means east asian.

Gnostic Novelist related comments should go in the meta talk thread, especially since a gun control debate never really materialized.
posted by delmoi at 4:02 PM on April 16, 2007


What an unspeakable tragedy - my prayers are firmly with those killed and injured and their families tonight.

On a point of pragmatism, all sensible people should revile those who seek to make political capital out of this horror today. Note in your minds the ambulance chasing lawyers or shrill PR people from whatever side of whatever argument and cross them off the list of reasonable human beings. For them their argument is more important than the real human tragedy of today - in itself a much smaller tragedy.

There will be plenty of time in days and weeks to come to apportion blame - now is not the time.


The choices aren't only getting political gain or it being an 'uspeakable tragedy'. One could, if there were such people so inclined, speak about these issues in a honest manner before the attention span of the public wanes. Seeing as they do keep happening and all.

People with little to no attachment to a situation emoting digitally strikes me as merely narcissistic and hardly any better than those politicizing the issue.
posted by kigpig at 4:04 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


“ ‘It's all over the media because it's the largest shooting on American soil that has happened in the lifetimes of most people watching the news.’ ”

No, because that's not what I was trying to say. I shouldn't have attempted to be specific and, instead, simply said that it is “the largest event of its kind in American history”. Which it is.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:05 PM on April 16, 2007


“People with little to no attachment to a situation emoting digitally strikes me as merely narcissistic and hardly any better than those politicizing the issue.”—kigpig

How is “emoting” about this any more or less narcissistic than anything else?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:08 PM on April 16, 2007


all sensible people should revile those who seek to make political capital out of this horror today.

That's as pointless a sentence as any I have seen today. No one can possibly know what exists in the heart of the Other and judge them on that basis. People "making political capital" of this are likely just as horrified, saddened as angry by this as those who are not.

I don't have much to add to this other than that I feel horrible for everyone that was personally touched by this tragedy today, and this kind of talk hurts my brain.
posted by psmealey at 4:11 PM on April 16, 2007


psmealey writes "People 'making political capital' of this are likely just as horrified, saddened as angry by this as those who are not. "

Except Jack Thompson, of course.
posted by Bugbread at 4:13 PM on April 16, 2007


.
posted by lostburner at 4:14 PM on April 16, 2007


“the largest event of its kind in American history”. Which it is.

no, it isn't.

but i want you (all) to read my comments when things are quieter, no way i want to offend anyone here, just asking.
posted by Substrata at 4:15 PM on April 16, 2007


Substrata writes "no, it isn't."

EB's talking shootings, not bombings.
posted by Bugbread at 4:16 PM on April 16, 2007


There are reasons, real reasons, that a tragedy like this hits us harder that what happens in other countries. Even if we didn't go to Virginia Tech, we probably went somewhere very similar. And right now, we're all picturing it happening there.

Narratives trump numbers, but not for an insidious or inhuman reason. You might argue that 110 people die every day and we shouldn't get upset over ~30, but we will: this is the nature of tragedy. What happened today is deeply, deeply tragic; students gunned down senselessly... this is truly terrible.

In the case of car accidents, or heart attacks, or cancer ... these are all inherent risks of activity or age and are not entirely outside the realm of possibilty. An event such as this is almost incomprehensible in its suddenness, and we should not nitpick people's emotional reaction for perceived hypocrisies.

On a point of pragmatism, all sensible people should revile those who seek to make political capital out of this horror today.

Absolutely. There may be relevant political issues... but they can wait for tomorrow, or next week, or month. Calm and rational discussion is highly unlikely. sigh.
posted by mek at 4:19 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's the largest non-military mass shooting in American history.

no it isn't.
even i know that.

technicalities, answer my questions.


Apparently you don't know the difference between a bombing and a shooting, of which this is the largest.
posted by puke & cry at 4:20 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


My God, the senseless tragedy.

.
posted by MythMaker at 4:21 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


EB's talking shootings, not bombings.

let me repeat that:

EB's talking shootings, not bombings.
EB's talking shootings, not bombings.
EB's talking shootings, not bombings.
EB's talking shootings, not bombings.
EB's talking shootings, not bombings.

see the difference ?

read, folks, don't argue.
posted by Substrata at 4:22 PM on April 16, 2007


posted by XQUZYPHYR What the fuck is it with this particular week?

He didn't like Mondays. What reason do you need to be shown?
posted by fandango_matt at 4:23 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:30 PM on April 16, 2007


Holy fucking shit.

For the dead, for their loved ones, for the ripple effect this will have on their lives and ours...for our leaders and those in positions of power, and for everyone who's ever had to experience anything similar, my prayers are with you. I can't imagine the pain.

Senseless. I need to go spend time with my family now. This is too much.
posted by diastematic at 4:31 PM on April 16, 2007


Substrata writes "technicalities, answer my questions."

Ok.

what the fuss ?
- A lot of people got shot in the US. More than probably anyone can remember ever getting shot within their lifetimes.

why the hours-on-end-non-coverage
Because people want to know, and because news outlets want viewers/readers

why the need to be there
You mean having reporters on-the-scene, even if they're just standing in front of a nondescript building? Because with the advent of easy remote broadcasting capabilities, for better or for worse, viewers gravitated to on-the-spot folks because they figured they'd have more first-hand information, and now it's become expected

why the almost insane zoomed-in focus on details yet sill unknown
Filling empty screen time with what little info you have

why not a little more distance
See above.

why is this the national headline right now
It's the most unusual thing that happened in the US today that people want to know about

is it something you folks in the USofA expected or anticipated
In the sense of "something like this will happen someday", yes, some people probably expected it. However, the expectation of "someday" doesn't really change much of the surprise of "someday = today", so it's still unexpected and unanticipated on a certain level

what is going on?
You're going to have to phrase this question a bit more clearly.

Any other questions?
posted by Bugbread at 4:33 PM on April 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Kraftmatic: take it to the metatalk thread.
posted by delmoi at 4:33 PM on April 16, 2007


What really makes me sad is that this sort of thing just fosters distrust and fear, really out of proportion to the scale of the tragedy. It seems like everyone's afraid of each other these days.
posted by delmoi at 4:35 PM on April 16, 2007


It seems like there's a bloody massacre every other week now

But there isn't. This upsets me as much as anyone, but schools and college campuses are still some of the safest places around. Things like this are still horrible, obviously.
posted by bardic at 4:35 PM on April 16, 2007


Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese writes "Or are we just going to stand by and let these massacres become so commonplace they don't even rate news coverage, like all the other murders that happen every day here?"

One of the moments (of many, many moments) of my experience of living in Japan that has stood out in my memory is when they reported on the national news about a handgun being fired somewhere in the country. Nobody was hit. It wasn't a sniper. It was just a gun, not owned by a policeman or SDF member, that got fired. And that was (admittedly minor, but nonetheless) national news.
posted by Bugbread at 4:36 PM on April 16, 2007 [6 favorites]


I'm late here, but I'd like to state that Jack Thompson is an ambulance-chasing dickhead. For shame, Jack.
posted by Dr-Baa at 4:37 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


People have already described him as "Oriental"...

Suits me. All other things being equal, I'd prefer the "lovelorn wacko goes postal" explanation for this terrible tragedy.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 4:40 PM on April 16, 2007


Kraftmatic Matt wants GC talk in Meta. "mathowie writes "Move your gun control talk over here. I'll be removing additional new gun control talk from this thread.""

tkchrist writes "I pray to Christ you are in no way responsible for or involved in public safety."

Your deity has failed you.
posted by Mitheral at 4:40 PM on April 16, 2007


.
posted by zach4000 at 4:41 PM on April 16, 2007


From that MySpace link|:
Court TV wanted to interview me because you were reported as the shooter today. Then they apologized and said the information was inaccurate. Just thought you might want to know, assuming the second part was true.
posted by PHINC at 4:43 PM on April 16, 2007


.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 4:44 PM on April 16, 2007


That MySpace can't be the shooter, can it? No reason to think it is. He's "online now" and all. It's some other fuck.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:50 PM on April 16, 2007


.
posted by meditative_zebra at 4:55 PM on April 16, 2007


Or are we just going to stand by and let these massacres become so commonplace they don't even rate news coverage, like all the other murders that happen every day here?

Something like that, I'd think.
posted by ryanshepard at 5:00 PM on April 16, 2007


. So this isn't a situation where an evacuation or a lockdown order was given and then rescinded. The administration apparently did little or nothing to inform or protect the student body at large. That's simply unacceptable and I'm quite sure that people will lose their jobs over this.

They'd better. This was disgraceful negligence.

Also, the comparisons to a campus the size of Virginia Tech's and a small town are useless in terms of anything else but size. No, you wouldn't shut down a town of 30,000 people after two shootings; but this is a University campus. Very different thing.

I just saw a portion of the University's president's speech on CNN, in which he stated that they didn't close the campus because they thought it was a "domestic dispute". In other words, your average guy shooting his estranged girlfriend, and nobody else is likely to be harmed. This makes me ill both in its implication of the normalization of violence directed at women, and the idea that two people dead and a gunman at large is a situation of acceptable risk, so that classes can continue with nothing more than an email sent to the campus-wide mailing list (and that far too late).
posted by jokeefe at 5:02 PM on April 16, 2007 [7 favorites]


Wow, Fark was wrong?
posted by dhartung at 5:03 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also worth pointing out again that there's a pretty high number of commuter students at Tech. It's not as if all 30,000 students were there there all at once, and calling for a lockdown would have led to mass pandemonium or something.
posted by bardic at 5:08 PM on April 16, 2007


jokeefe writes "This makes me ill both in its implication of the normalization of violence directed at women"

I don't know that it indicates normalization of violence directed exclusively at women (I would be very surprised if the tables were turned (i.e. a woman shot a man) and the administration acted any different) as much as the relative frequency of domestic violence, to/from either gender. Still sucks, but I don't think it's an example of misogynistic suckiness.
posted by Bugbread at 5:10 PM on April 16, 2007


speaking to pithy comment comment (ahem) on the DC Alert system, I think a big ass message sign on the side of a few campus buildings would be a good idea on university campus's that are this size. Even if the message was sent out as fast as they could (and I'm with tkchrist/etc. on this - 2 hours before notifying the campus population that there had been a shooting seems almost negligent) email is not a super efficient way to reach large populations of people on the move.
posted by concreteforest at 5:12 PM on April 16, 2007


Gnostic Novelist --

The logic of your position seems to be, that if a maniac came to MY street today, and went door-to-door killing people, and killed 32 people on my street, that the appropriate response on my part should be:

"Even though this killing of 32 people happened on my street, I must acknowledge that many MORE people died in car accidents today in the U.S. alone, and a lot of people died in Iraq today as well, and it would be morally infantile for me to be differently upset about these 32 people, and furthermore it would be morally infantile to want to talk, specifically, about how upset I am that this happened on my street today, simply because those people died on my street and not in Iraq or elsewhere in the U.S."

Is that a correct reading of your position?
posted by jayder at 5:26 PM on April 16, 2007


Jayder: Sorry, it's mentioned in the MeTa thread, but Gnostic Novelist has been given a timeout, so he won't be able to answer your question.
posted by Bugbread at 5:32 PM on April 16, 2007


The community does appear to prefer well-marbled troll steaks, ones that are juicy and tender. And thus they feed their young trolls the finest verbiage... nay, they overfeed them! Mmmm, mmm.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:37 PM on April 16, 2007


concreteforest writes "I think a big ass message sign on the side of a few campus buildings would be a good idea on university campus's that are this size. Even if the message was sent out as fast as they could (and I'm with tkchrist/etc. on this - 2 hours before notifying the campus population that there had been a shooting seems almost negligent) email is not a super efficient way to reach large populations of people on the move."

In the same vein, most college students use cells instead of land lines, right? Maybe it would be possible to send out a mass text message to all students, faculty and staff. Hell, use Twitter!
posted by brundlefly at 5:42 PM on April 16, 2007


CNN should be ashamed of their barely concealed glee in their coverage of this tragedy. Wolf Blitzer and his ilk are all dickheads. Who watches this shit outside of the gym or the airport? CNN (in the US, the international version is marginally better) so accurately mirrors for me what is broken in America today.
posted by msali at 5:46 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


There's a lot of performance in this thread










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posted by voltairemodern at 5:53 PM on April 16, 2007


A shame, and tragic all around.

.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:57 PM on April 16, 2007


A friend of a friend of mine is missing. She had class in Norris this morning.

.
posted by naoko at 5:58 PM on April 16, 2007


I'm a student at Tech, and I don't really have time to read 445 comments, but thanks to everyone who commented. So far, everyone I know is ok, even though I had a close friend that was in the building a floor up. Here's hoping none of the names released tomorrow are anyone I know. Thanks again.
posted by CipherSwarm at 5:58 PM on April 16, 2007


This is awful. What a waste.
posted by Lucie at 5:58 PM on April 16, 2007


I find myself strongly compelled to turn on the tv to learn the latest details about this tragedy.

But why is that?

One thing is that it is a vivid and shocking event. Second it was perpetrated by someone acting malevolently (rather than being say, a result of a natural disaster). Third, it was unexpected. Fourth, it is an act of profound injustice.

All of these things trigger the primate fear response. It's deeply unsettling.

But we're being fooled by our primate brains. The fear response is being triggered on a possibility of this happening (to me) in the future and not its *probability*. I figure the more we understand this neural false alarm phenomena, the better we can truly deal with the real dangers in the world.
posted by storybored at 5:59 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


..
posted by autodidact at 6:01 PM on April 16, 2007


This is awful.

I feel sorry for everyone who has had their lives shattered by this.

I also feel sorry for someone who was so broken that they could do something like this.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:02 PM on April 16, 2007


Hell. I hope your friend's okay, Naoko.

.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 6:02 PM on April 16, 2007


How is “emoting” about this any more or less narcissistic than anything else?

Because of this part "People with little to no attachment to a situation". i.e. it's a display of false emotion (of course only for those who didn't have attachment to the issue and jumped in just to say how bad they felt). I would presume it's just for attention which is why I called in 'narcissistic' though I guess I can't really claim to know the psychology of why people need to feign sadness and it's probably a bit oversimplistic.
posted by kigpig at 6:05 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


.

(awful)
posted by amberglow at 6:14 PM on April 16, 2007


no words.

.
posted by samsara at 6:15 PM on April 16, 2007


I'm a grad student and English teacher at mega-university on the opposite side of the country. This makes me tremendously sad, and even sadder when I think about the possibility of my students (even the dumb ones) and my friends being murdered in the same way. I don't really know what to say beyond that.

.
posted by papakwanz at 6:23 PM on April 16, 2007


It's a strange feeling, to feel like nothing you do will affect the situaition.

It will happen again, and amid the grief and uptick in cable news ratings there will once again be nothing I could have done to prevent it.

What am I supposed to do.
posted by four panels at 6:31 PM on April 16, 2007


My true condolences to all those directly affected. Because indirectly, aren't we all?

Too little to say, too soon, too late. I don't know. I took my two little kids for an evening walk around the local campus tonight, almost against feelings of fear and shock, fighting off thoughts of an improbable recurrence, I am sad to admit. There were candles lit outside the Journalism building. I bet 32.

At this moment I do not care whether gun control would have prevented that (I do believe that, though) but I am shattered that such young people have so little respect for other (esp. unknown to them) people's lives. What the fuck can trigger a young mind/soul into such utter desperation and emotional numbness? Who the fuck is going to address that eventually and seriously, not like video-games seriously.
posted by carmina at 6:35 PM on April 16, 2007


read, folks, don't argue.

We did read, Substrata. You said that this wasn't the largest non-military mass shooting in U.S. history. You're flat-out wrong.
posted by oaf at 6:36 PM on April 16, 2007


Otherwise uncorroborated report from Chicago Sun-Times that the shooter was a 24-year-old Chinese man on a student visa.
posted by jonp72 at 6:38 PM on April 16, 2007


CNN should be ashamed of their barely concealed glee in their coverage of this tragedy.

Thank god we have a local tragedy to take our minds off... what was it? Something. This and the nor'easter should keep our dedicated news journalists busy for at least a couple of weeks.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:41 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is ugly beyond comprehension.

The way cable TV's gonna choke us with this is pretty ugly, too. They would interview the bullets if they could.
posted by EatTheWeak at 6:44 PM on April 16, 2007 [7 favorites]


This is so sad.

In my nursing school class just this morning we had a lecture on disaster preparedness. The professor, a NP at a small town ER, told us the story of a high school bus accident that overwhelmed the tiny community she worked in. It was right after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita so the area was full of national and local media with nothing to do. The healthcare workers and the community stepped up. The media swarmed the hospital. Film crews kept trying to film into the ER. Reporters posed as parents and tried to interview injured kids in the hospital.

For the love of all humanity, give this town some space to heal.
posted by dog food sugar at 6:56 PM on April 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


So, are we looking at a tragic American iteration of the “suicide bomber”. The outcome is the same. A lot of people get killed and the killer kills himself.

The Muslims die before their victims and the Americans die after... cultural preference... nevertheless everyone dies.
posted by Huplescat at 6:56 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


.
posted by nile_red at 6:56 PM on April 16, 2007


Because of this part "People with little to no attachment to a situation". i.e. it's a display of false emotion (of course only for those who didn't have attachment to the issue and jumped in just to say how bad they felt). I would presume it's just for attention which is why I called in 'narcissistic' though I guess I can't really claim to know the psychology of why people need to feign sadness and it's probably a bit oversimplistic.

You've just told a large number of people that their feelings are either "false" or "for attention" because you personally don't share them or understand them. You've also claimed that you know more of what's going on in other people's minds than they know themselves.
posted by watsondog at 6:57 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


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posted by gcbv at 6:59 PM on April 16, 2007


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posted by theiconoclast31 at 7:02 PM on April 16, 2007


If storybored's comment didn't get you mad, and if you're concerned with "what can we do so this doesn't happen again", a security professional has some advice.

And:

.
posted by anthill at 7:08 PM on April 16, 2007


kigpig: I think you are being overly cynical and deeply unfair. Why does any vocalization of sadness over the situation need to be some ploy for attention. Did this tragedy make you sad? Did you discuss it with your friends and colleagues? How is that different here than what's going on here? MeFi is a community, and though only marginally a part of the core of that community myself, it's pretty apparent to anyone who can tell the time of day. Even aside from the fact several MeFites are touched personally by this horror show and might appreciate any show of compassion, discussion of shared anxiety and grief is part of what community is all about.

I think you misunderstand the nature of this place, at least in terms of some users, if you think the rain of dots, et al is pure theatre. Of course, I can't speak for everyone, but I'd bet at least a strong minority have real feelings of attachment and affection for each other. Like I said, I know we talked about this at my workplace. (Of course, I work in a school. Oddly, our discussion did not center around "this could happen to us" so much as how these sort of crimes tend to be a phenomenon only or largely of the affluent.)

Odd that of the multiple train wrecks in this thread, this is the point I decide to talk about, but who knows why I do half the things I do.

Now, I won't be so narcissistic as to post links to my own (dusty with age) work on the subject, but the real-life attachment to fake-life friends and acquaintances is not a new idea.

Anyway, to make a long story short, give people the benefit of the doubt and there's no reason to attack perceived motives.
posted by absalom at 7:14 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


On preview: I cannot form a sentence and watsondog beat me to it.
posted by absalom at 7:18 PM on April 16, 2007


According to CNN, Alberto Gonzales won't testify tomorrow because of this event.
posted by ColdChef at 5:49 PM on April 16 [+]
[!]


and there we have it, folks.
posted by quonsar at 7:18 PM on April 16, 2007


Reading Chinese forums at the moment. Full of some outrageous nationalist filth that's blaming America for turning a good Chinese boy bad on 强国论坛 at the People's Daily, where lots of the Han equivalent of LGF types hang out.
posted by Abiezer at 7:28 PM on April 16, 2007


mithreal: Your deity has failed you.

Then, if you have one shred of integrity at all, you should quit until you can get re-trained to be less hysterical. Or at least inform the rest of us which public sectors are under your influence so we can avoid them.
posted by tkchrist at 7:35 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


.
posted by cerebus19 at 7:40 PM on April 16, 2007


People have already described him as "Oriental"...

Suits me. All other things being equal, I'd prefer the "lovelorn wacko goes postal" explanation for this terrible tragedy.


Steven C. Den Beste, you consistently make me sick.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 7:46 PM on April 16, 2007


I am so sorry.... I totally misread that and overreacted..... sorry....
posted by OverlappingElvis at 7:49 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


grow up' fallacy
obviously, it isn't a fallacy all the time



Thank god for the $5 sign up. My nine year old tried to sign up and this put him off.
posted by caddis at 7:54 PM on April 16, 2007


It's interesting if the guy was a Chinese citizen - that would mean that the last two incidences of crimes like this were commited by non-nationals.
posted by Artw at 7:56 PM on April 16, 2007


Screw the politics... for now.

.
posted by mmahaffie at 7:57 PM on April 16, 2007


It frustrates me to no end that the school yard is the location of choice for this sort of thing.

.
posted by furtive at 8:06 PM on April 16, 2007


Reading Chinese forums at the moment.
Isn't that just as silly as someone saying "Reading American forums at the moment" and expecting something meaningful and generalizable to follow?
posted by cashman at 8:08 PM on April 16, 2007


Well, yes cashman, hence I tried to point out that the particularly offensive one was home to a certain type, just as different US forums attract different users. Sorry if that point wasn't clear.
I was saddened to see so many first responses there be a knee-jerk defence of China for the actions of one crazed individual who may turn out not even to be a Chinese citizen. Wasn't attempting any larger point.
posted by Abiezer at 8:15 PM on April 16, 2007


Okay, thank you for the further explanation, Abiezer.
posted by cashman at 8:18 PM on April 16, 2007


It's interesting if the guy was a Chinese citizen - that would mean that the last two incidences of crimes like this were commited by non-nationals.

wow, Artw. You are on to something!
posted by carmina at 8:18 PM on April 16, 2007


.
posted by spitbull at 8:29 PM on April 16, 2007


Leave it all alone and get some rest.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:41 PM on April 16, 2007


.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:58 PM on April 16, 2007


Sheesh, did anyone see the horrid technical error on Dateline a bit ago? Brian Williams was interviewing 2 men (survivors? rescue workers? they were in matching windbreaker-type outfits) and every time they cut to a close-up of one of the subjects, it had an overlay on the screen, which I'm sure is for control room use. The lower left had those audio level meter bars, but the middle had a crosshair! Terribly unfortunate. And not just once, it was for the whole interview.
posted by The Deej at 8:58 PM on April 16, 2007


I find it interesting that they haven't even been willing to say whether the two shooting incidents were the same guy. They're also still bottling up any information about who he was (or they were). Given that the first shooting (2 dead) was almost certainly a crime of passion, you'd think that they'd have identified that murderer already.

And if it actually was two different shooters, then...

...then it means the reason they're being circumspect is that they're still hunting for the first one and don't want to give away that they're after him.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:06 PM on April 16, 2007


the horrid technical error on Dateline

its the most horrid technical error in modern American broadcast history. good lord!
posted by quonsar at 9:08 PM on April 16, 2007


Reading Chinese forums at the moment.
Isn't that just as silly as someone saying "Reading American forums at the moment" and expecting something meaningful and generalizable to follow?


ummm - cashman, Abiezer lives in China... it's great that he is providing some "local" reaction
posted by madamjujujive at 9:09 PM on April 16, 2007


its the most horrid technical error in modern American broadcast history. good lord!

Hey q let's not get carried away. 2nd or 3rd maybe.
posted by The Deej at 9:16 PM on April 16, 2007


Second Male May Be Involved in VA Tech Massacre

The title hints at a second gunman, but the article suggets nothing of the sort.
posted by dgaicun at 9:17 PM on April 16, 2007


Two shooters? Connected or unconnected? That would be either the most insane co-incidence ever... OR... something possibly very scary is happening at VT since number one would still be at large.

I doubt it though. That seems too frigg'n weird to be possible.
posted by tkchrist at 9:24 PM on April 16, 2007


I doubt it though. That seems too frigg'n weird to be possible.

There's some v.cool tin foil hat theories regarding the Port Arthur massacre. Strange how something so simple like a one-shooter spree killing can have doubts generated about it.

Not saying this will also generate conspiracy theories.

Just sayin'.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:40 PM on April 16, 2007


Actually, who am I kidding?!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:44 PM on April 16, 2007


On the scroll beneath Olberman ithe ATF is saying that the shooter was not a VT student. First I had seen this.
posted by vronsky at 9:45 PM on April 16, 2007


An entirely different explanation for the delay: some sites I was just reading seem to think that the sole shooter was from China. What they were saying was that last year he was a student; this year he arrived a few days ago on a tourist visa. If so, and given the reports that he had no ID on him and his face was partially ruined when he shot himself, then the delay may be due to contacting the Chinese authorities for things like dental records and/or fingerprints in order to confirm his ID before they announce it.

When it comes to anything that makes China or its citizens look bad, cooperation from the Chinese authorities tends to be slow and grudging. But even with enthusiastic cooperation, it would take some time to get the appropriate records from China to make a positive ID of the corpse. So a long delay in releasing a positive ID doesn't argue against the "lovelorn wacko" theory.

As to those links about the Port Arthur massacre, I note that the first one is to stuff written by Joe Vialls. He's a real piece of work (or he was). Among his other wonderful theories is the one about how the Bali bombing was actually an Israeli micro-nuke.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:53 PM on April 16, 2007


Larry Johnson: Now Do You Understand?

Ouch.
posted by homunculus at 10:02 PM on April 16, 2007


OverlappingElvis, I certainly accept your apology, but I'll be damned if I know what it was you thought I said that got you heated in the first place.

No explanation for what happened today will bring the dead back to life, or heal the wounds of the surviving victims, or comfort the families and friends of the wounded and dead in their grief.

But if this was committed by a jihadist then it could be the first attack in a campaign, and other similar attacks might be in the offing, leading to many more dead and wounded elsewhere, some other day. That's why I hope that the lovelorn wacko theory turns out to be right.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:08 PM on April 16, 2007


Ok so I get the crime o' passion part:
He was said to have quarrelled in a dormitory with his girlfriend, whom he believed had been seeing another man. A student adviser was called to sort out the row. But the killer produced a gun and shot dead both his girlfriend and the adviser.

Two hours later he rampaged through an engineering building on the other side of the campus in the town of Blacksburg, killing indiscriminately.
. . . but why the rampage?? If the Chicago Times is correct that he was a Chinese national, was he transferring anger over a cheatin' American girlfriend to Americans in general?
posted by dgaicun at 10:34 PM on April 16, 2007


.
posted by ialwayscryatendings at 10:35 PM on April 16, 2007


So we still have this:
Authorities said they are still trying to determine whether the shootings at West Ambler Johnston Hall and Norris Hall are related. They have identified a “person of interest” in the Ambler Johnston shootings but do not have anyone in custody. That person is cooperating with authorities, they said.

I posted this hours ago but no one picked up on it. The question is: do you still lock down the campus if there may be a second shooter out there? At what point should you unlock the campus? This question arises from the harsh criticism on this site and in the media of VPI's handling of this matter.
posted by CCBC at 10:36 PM on April 16, 2007


My brother is a senior at Virginia Tech. Lucky for me, I heard he was okay before I even knew why he might not be okay. He graduates in like, 20 days -- God. He was in the classroom building next to Norris, and they watched out the window. He seemed pretty freaked out, for him. Said things like "that guy could've come to our building just as easily" and kept coming back to "it's just crazy."

naoko, I hope your friend is okay.
posted by salvia at 10:36 PM on April 16, 2007


DGaicun, it's probably a mistake to try to find a rational explanation for a deeply irrational act. Sometimes the only explanation is that there are evil people in the world, or people who are very sick. What the shooter did may not ever make sense to those who are rational, because if the shooter himself had been rational he wouldn't have done it.

But if you're really looking for an explanation for the rampage, about the best you'll do is, "If I'm gonna go out anyway, I may as well go out in a blaze of glory." For a person who has nothing to lose and is already completely around the bend, that might make sense.

Even if it doesn't to you and me.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:52 PM on April 16, 2007


Maybe I'm wrong but it seems the main media are missing the apparant arrest of this guy at the campus.
posted by theemperorhasnoclotheson at 11:09 PM on April 16, 2007


I'm actually kind of scared. Every time I see a tragedy like this, I imagine myself not in the shoes of the students, but those of the gunman. I think I need to see a psychologist or something.
posted by tehloki at 11:14 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


The problem with the idea that this started out as a crime of passion was stated somewhere above... who happens to carry around enough ammo for a rampage? If the two shootings were carried out by the same person, then obviously the shooter was planning something big.
posted by papakwanz at 11:21 PM on April 16, 2007


Yeah, I think you're right. The chain on the door, the ammo, multiple handguns. Whatever the issue with his girlfriend, the massacre was considered in advance. Perhaps after the passion killing he figured there was no better time. Or perhaps the whole thing, including killing his girlfriend, had been planned in advance.
posted by dgaicun at 11:30 PM on April 16, 2007


Interesting link theemperorhasnoclotheson.

Certainly looks like an arrest. The wrong guy? Racial profiling?

Couldn't they have carried that (other) fella a bit more carefully? I know they're in a shit-hot hurry. But wouldn't they move faster if they had a better hold of him? *shrugs*
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:37 PM on April 16, 2007


Furthermore (from my CS-T article):

"Police believe three bomb threats on the campus last week may have been attempts by the man to test the campus’ security response, the source said"
posted by dgaicun at 11:37 PM on April 16, 2007


theemperor, there was a caller on one news program that claimed that that man apparently worked for the campus newspaper and was over aggressive in his photo taking or his question asking and the police temporarily detained him. He was released shortly later.

There were other people who were also inside the second shooting site who were also handcuffed and brought out of the building. Once outside and everything secured, they were released.
posted by yupislyr at 11:50 PM on April 16, 2007


Whatever the issue with his girlfriend, the massacre was considered in advance.

Not necessarily. He could have quarreled with and shot the girlfriend, drove home, fumed about it for an hour or so, picked up a vest, a bunch of clips, and some chains, and drove back to campus for part two.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:06 AM on April 17, 2007


Having that kind of arsenal ^^^^ on hand indicates premeditation in some degree.
posted by Roach at 12:24 AM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:29 AM on April 17, 2007


theemperorhasnoclotheson, that photo is of a reporter who has subsequently been released, at least that's the word on other sites (such as a +5 mod comment on Slashdot.) The police are saying the suspect killed himself, thus it is surely not this guy who is alive while being arrested.
posted by bhouston at 12:30 AM on April 17, 2007


.
posted by Many bubbles at 12:36 AM on April 17, 2007


I thought they got my sister in Trolley Square.

Strength.
posted by OrangeDrink at 12:49 AM on April 17, 2007


.
posted by rux at 1:05 AM on April 17, 2007


why the hours-on-end-non-coverage
Because people want to know, and because news outlets want viewers/readers


and

One thing is that it is a vivid and shocking event. Second it was perpetrated by someone acting malevolently (rather than being say, a result of a natural disaster). Third, it was unexpected. Fourth, it is an act of profound injustice.

All of these things trigger the primate fear response.


It also triggers the rubberneck response. A lot of OMG TELL ME MORE. And that is the reason for the intermediate coverage of nothing, sensationalized editing and newscasting. It used to be that stations would get back to you when they know more. I can't believe that people would take issue with substata's central point to quibble about the "biggest of its kind" issue. The events themselves are bad enough. The media's attempts to titillate with tragedy (and the fact that it apparently works) is appalling.
posted by dreamsign at 1:50 AM on April 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


.
posted by Fence at 2:12 AM on April 17, 2007


Oh, good. Word is that the Phelps group is thinking about crashing the funerals. Just marvelous.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:01 AM on April 17, 2007


God hates frags?
posted by dgaicun at 3:51 AM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


This freaks me out because about a month ago my daughter's college (a SUNY school) sent home letters urging parents to be sure that we had discussed disaster plans with our kids.

You know, what would you do if a disaster happened? The school would close, would your kid know what to do and how to get home if they are out of state.

It struck me as odd to be getting that in the middle of the spring semester. I figured that NY had passed some bill requiring the schools to get prepared.

But it makes me wonder....were the colleges warned about some potential threat?

Its so sad. I told my kids to pay attention if they hear something that sounds like a gun, run the other way if they can, hide if they can't, and if they can't hide, get ready to fight.

and
.
posted by gminks at 4:39 AM on April 17, 2007


The events themselves are bad enough. The media's attempts to titillate with tragedy.

It's disgusting, I agree. The only extent to which people "need" to know about some of the details here, is to enable them to hold law enforcement and emergency management officials accountable for maintaining adequate emergency response procedures.

The rest of it is pornography.

It's particularly bothersome when news outlets feel like they need to interview eyewitnesses to give the viewing public a "flavor" of it. They are exploiting the victims' psychological need to talk about it, come to terms with it to benefit their own and their viewer's sick voyeuristic interest in it.

Best thing we all can do at that point, is just to turn the shit off.
posted by psmealey at 4:40 AM on April 17, 2007 [6 favorites]


Let me be the first to blame John Woo.
posted by furtive at 4:44 AM on April 17, 2007


And our fucking fearless administration's *first* response is to triangulate on the gun control implications. They can stoop lower, but it's going to require a chiropracter's help.

Goddamn. Now will the reporters please shut up until they know something new and true? Violence porn is right.
posted by spitbull at 4:48 AM on April 17, 2007


Oh, good. Word is that the Phelps group is thinking about crashing the funerals. Just marvelous.

i've got a GREAT idea ... when that old guy goes, let's crash HIS funeral
posted by pyramid termite at 5:00 AM on April 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


kigpig writes "it's a display of false emotion"

I hear this kind of argument all the time. I find some sort of music really emotional? Someone who hates it says "People who listen to band X pretend to be moved by it to show off how emo they are". I find some sort of music really interesting? Someone who hates it says "People who listen to band Y claim to find it interesting because it makes them look intellectual and avant garde".

When people who neither lived in nor knew anyone who lived in New York talked about how they felt sick or cried about 9/11, I didn't empathize. When people here who know no-one at VATech talk about feeling sad or sickened or whathaveyou, I don't empathize.

But you know what? Just because I don't feel what they're feeling doesn't mean they're faking it. Their buttons are just pushed by different things than my buttons are. The world's emotions don't just happen to perfectly line up with my own. So unless you have some damn good evidence that the emotions they're describing are false, other than "I don't feel that way, and I don't understand why they would", you can shove it.

matteo writes "and yes, as obliquely explained by our usual suspect here, keep praying Allah that the killer is by any chance a Muslim"

Who is the "usual suspect"? The two known conservatives in here are Dios and Beste, and Dios hasn't even touched the Muslim issue, while Beste is praying that it isn't a Muslim.

dreamsign writes "I can't believe that people would take issue with substata's central point"

I agree that the media coverage is disgusting, but regarding Substrata's central point: What central point? He asked a lot of questions, and then kept repeating "answer my questions".
posted by Bugbread at 5:01 AM on April 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Candlelight vigil in SL.
posted by ColdChef at 5:04 AM on April 17, 2007


.

hoping good ole bburg can get past the media feeding frenzy and retain some of the charm that kept me there for 11 years...
posted by garfy3 at 5:38 AM on April 17, 2007


Having that kind of arsenal ^^^^ on hand indicates premeditation in some degree.

Not necessarily. If you are a member of a gun club who does Practical Pistol, you are entirely likely to own a shooting vest and multiple pistol magazines. Since we still really don't know much about the details yet, we simply can't know. He could have been a guy who shot for fun and then completely lost it. There is that two-hour gap to account for.

On the other hand, if he is an Chinese national on a visa living in a dorm, then it's hard to see how he legally could have owned any guns. According to Virginia state law:
A buyer who is not a citizen of the United States must have lawful alien status and must establish that he or she is a resident of a state by providing a valid photo identification and documentation such as a utility bill or lease agreement which would establish that he or she has resided in the state for at least 90 days prior to the date of the sale.
Given the fact that you can't have firearms on school grounds and the assumption that the dorms are on them and that was his legal place of residence, then it seems that he shouldn't have been able to legally get the weapons in the first place.

I hope the above isn't in violation of the gun control debate ban on this thread. I'm just trying to point out that we just don't know enough to assign motive.

In any event, this has been big news here in Germany and several of my friends and students have expressed condolences to me (the token American) about the event, which I pass on to all of those who are actually directly affected by this. You have their and my sympathies.
posted by moonbiter at 5:43 AM on April 17, 2007


moonbiter writes "Given the fact that you can't have firearms on school grounds and the assumption that the dorms are on them and that was his legal place of residence, then it seems that he shouldn't have been able to legally get the weapons in the first place."

I'm not following. The regulation just says you have to be a legal state resident, not that the rules of where you reside have to allow gun ownership. Why would the fact that you can't have firearms on school grounds disqualify him for legally getting the license?
posted by Bugbread at 5:58 AM on April 17, 2007


Bugbread, don't pay any attention to matteo's sign waving in obit threads. He's a far left Phelps. Same coin, different side.
posted by vronsky at 6:08 AM on April 17, 2007


posted by Roach Having that kind of arsenal ^^^^ on hand indicates premeditation in some degree.

It also indicates he found the powerups.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:14 AM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


BLACKSBURG, Virginia (AP) The Virginia Tech Police Department
identified the campus gunman as Cho Seung-Hui, 23, a student and
native of South Korea.
posted by AJaffe at 6:31 AM on April 17, 2007


I watched a few seconds of that cellphone video and had to turn it off- why are things like that offered to the public? What possible pleasure can someone get out of the image of a man bursting into a room and shooting complete innocents? I heard the gunshots and it got too real for me, then read the names of some of the dead on that guy's livejournal and I got that sneeze-feeling in my nose and a prickle in my eye- this is sadistic.

Why has the gunman not yet been identified? Or his motives? I keep getting images of this happening in my university, we sitting in a lecture theatre or labs and the doors swinging open. Such a fucking waste.
posted by D J Robertstein at 6:33 AM on April 17, 2007


The regulation just says you have to be a legal state resident, not that the rules of where you reside have to allow gun ownership.

You know, I'm not going to make the obvious connection, but here in my state we've been subjected to a solid year's drumbeat of wailing about illegal Mexican handymen being able to obtain a driver's license. And yet.
posted by dhartung at 6:36 AM on April 17, 2007


Just turned on the news, and the gunman is a 23 year old Korean student called Cho Seung Hui.
posted by D J Robertstein at 6:38 AM on April 17, 2007


.
posted by jwells at 6:49 AM on April 17, 2007


People seem to be seizing this myspace profile as his.
posted by The Straightener at 6:51 AM on April 17, 2007


Well, that sure was deleted fast.
posted by atayah at 6:53 AM on April 17, 2007


Well, the VA governer, visiting Japan, is being restrained and thoughtful.

Just thought you'd like to know.

And .
posted by lysdexic at 6:55 AM on April 17, 2007


Well, that sure was deleted fast.

The page itself was written in extremely poor English and the profile picture was a chubby Asian boy in a soccer outfit giving a sidelong glance to the camera; it wasn't his picture, I've seen it variously captioned and posted on other sites. The last login date for the page was in 2005. In the ten minutes after the news of the name was released there were about 20 comments that went up condemning him to hell, etc.
posted by The Straightener at 7:01 AM on April 17, 2007


More info: He was a student and lived in one of the dorms. He was from Centreville, Virginia, about 25 miles outside of Washington, DC. The weapons were a 9mm semiautomatic handgun and a .22 caliber handgun, both with the serial numbers obliterated. The guns were used at both scenes according to ballistics tests. The police initially detained and question the boyfriend of the woman that was killed in the dorm.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:13 AM on April 17, 2007


I'd seen the picture, too--figured it was a "fake" profile, even if made by a real person, shooter or not. Was just amazed at how quick they nabbed it off. Wonder if the same will be done for all profiles; funny, how one of the things we wondered aloud about last night was their Myspace profiles. All these immediate memorials we leave behind online.
posted by atayah at 7:15 AM on April 17, 2007


He would have to be Korean, too. he only thing worse would have been if he had been Iranian.

More fuel for hate, then.

The only thing I've wanted to know throughout is why he did it. I can feel sorry for the victims and their families, and extreme regret that such a thing should happen to innocent students, but I didn't know them and my sympathy can only go so far. Just as I didn't know anyone in the London bombings, 9/11 and so on. The fact it's in a university reminds me too much of my own university and makes it that little bit more real. Creepy.
posted by D J Robertstein at 7:28 AM on April 17, 2007


Liviu Librescu, Romanian-born engineering professor and Holocaust survivor, presumably died while holding the door shut so his students could escape through the windows.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:30 AM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Librescu was my engineering science and mechanics professor back ca. 1991-1995.
posted by Mapes at 7:42 AM on April 17, 2007


Well, I guess this explains whether or not he has had military training.
posted by Bugbread at 7:45 AM on April 17, 2007


D J Robertstein writes "He would have to be Korean, too. he only thing worse would have been if he had been Iranian.

"More fuel for hate, then."


Eh? Since when are people hating on South Korea?
posted by Bugbread at 7:46 AM on April 17, 2007


What central point? He asked a lot of questions, and then kept repeating "answer my questions".

Eh, fair point. And bad on me for projecting more structure than was there. I was reacting to some pretty flimsy rejection of his implications. Hey wait. That was your flimsy rejection.

"What's the fuss" and "why is this a headline now" are both self-evident. Asking whether this is anticipated -- I just don't understand that question at all.

But hours of non-coverage, the need to be "on the scene", the emo-cam close-ups. I've seen it time and again and it's all part of the unfolding tragedy as entertainment. Do people need constant camera sweeps of the area, reporters pressing numb survivors to talk about how "terrified" they were, and minute by minute updates to provide information? I don't think so.

You make good points about differing personal reactions, though, and not wanting to pee in the communal well I won't address that further here.
posted by dreamsign at 7:48 AM on April 17, 2007


D J Robertstein could you explain your comment? If the perpetrator were black, mexican, chinese, japanese, etc do you think they would have had less implications for racial perceptions?

Am I missing something about how koreans are viewed in the states nowadays (been living overseas for about 6 months now) also, fwiw, I am (south) korean and received full US citizenship 3 years ago. I mean, I know that Kim Jong-il has been considered a wack job, but he's kind of on a different level isn't he?
posted by like_neon at 7:50 AM on April 17, 2007


I didn't mean haiting on South Korea and I understand they are two very different countries, but to many people there is no distinction between the two. I think maybe with this sort of thing happening more people will be inclined to back the US Governments anti-N. Korea/Iran agenda.

I may be wrong, it was purely a thought.
posted by D J Robertstein at 7:50 AM on April 17, 2007


I agree that it's possible people don't really distinguish between the two countries but still, I honestly don't think people combine the unfavorable policies of the N.Korean government with prejudices against koreans in general. From my understanding, I think people are *sympathetic* to the citizens of n. korea because of what they're government is doing to them.

Politics aside though, I'm not saying koreans do not have their share of negative stereotypes... I just didn't think gun violence was one of them. We're mostly convenience store/dry cleaner/nail salon owning math nerds aren't we? ;) I just didn't see how this tragic event would "fuel" any existing view of koreans.
posted by like_neon at 7:58 AM on April 17, 2007


dhartung writes "I'm not going to make the obvious connection, but here in my state we've been subjected to a solid year's drumbeat of wailing about illegal Mexican handymen being able to obtain a driver's license. And yet."

I think it's a bit too early to say "and yet". I wouldn't be surprised if we're about to see a solid year's drumbeat about this as well. Depends on whether he got the guns legally.
posted by Bugbread at 7:59 AM on April 17, 2007


Fair enough. Like i said, it was me thinking out loud. I live in an area, however, where if one member of an ethnic minority commits a crime then the entire minority is often tarred with the same brush. It's a sad fact, but it happens.

But I agree- Asians don't have that sort of negative stereotype- it's the the muslims who are recieving that sort of unwarranted attention at the moment
posted by D J Robertstein at 8:01 AM on April 17, 2007


Well I do agree with you that this certainly doesn't help the racial stereotype. I'm already cringing at the thought of the exhaustive discussions that are about to commence, not just in mefi but in news in general (gun control debates, immigration law, racial stereotypes, college safety, etc).

It's very heartbreaking all around and I definitely feel for everyone that has been impacted.
posted by like_neon at 8:07 AM on April 17, 2007


We're mostly convenience store/dry cleaner/nail salon owning math nerds aren't we? ;)

You forgot that you all smell of kimchi. :)

I just didn't see how this tragic event would "fuel" any existing view of koreans.

I think there will be a period of the "Oooh! Don't get him angry! He's Korean and might snap!" sort of stuff. But I don't think people are going to attack Koreans on the street or spray their houses with racist graffiti like Muslims and Sikhs were after 9/11.

As for confusing the North and South, I just don't think there are that many who do. We've been allies with the South since before the Korean War. People know "Made in Korea" means it came from the South. Thinking this shooting is going to fuel some national outcry to bomb Pyongyang is silly. If a Colombian were the assailant, would there be a national outcry to bomb the bomb the crap out of Caracas?
posted by dw at 8:15 AM on April 17, 2007


It makes me sick to see it was a Korean name. I worked with a lot of Korean nationals and actually felt something in common with them, felt close to them. I found them to be relatively intense emotionally, and of course the guys all have I think it's 26 months of real military training. This cannot be seen as the actions of "one of them" a member of some inflamed anti-American nation in any way. This was one crazy nut very much going against the trend of feeling of his people, who tend to admire and aspire to much of American culture and lifestyle. The fact that it was a Korean national in a way underscores the individual derangement driving the course of action.
posted by Listener at 8:16 AM on April 17, 2007


I predict at least one comment in the next month, in some thread about this, blaming Bush for supporting tensions with North Korea, which provides a foundation for the national conscription in South Korea, which provides the gun training which may have enabled this guy to do this. I hope we're not going to be subjected to that kind of tortured logic, but I've been a reader of MeFi long enough that I'd be surprised if it didn't occur.
posted by Bugbread at 8:25 AM on April 17, 2007


Prof. Librescu should be honoured. He protected his students.
posted by QIbHom at 8:28 AM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


What a moving story about Professor Librescu goodnewsfortheinsane. What a brave, good man.
There's something always kicks me in my guts hard when I read about older people who have survived all sorts just to have their life taken by random lunacy like this. I suppose I should try to see it as I suspect he may well have, letting a life well lived end so younger people could live.
posted by Abiezer at 8:29 AM on April 17, 2007 [5 favorites]


If a Colombian were the assailant, would there be a national outcry to bomb the bomb the crap out of Caracas?

I don't mean any specific actions, or public outcry- I just mean it may change people's attitudes, at the lowest level subconsciously.
It also worries me that the police chief referred to him as a "resident alien". I don't know, but I think using terms like "alien" is a bad idea for a starter. Gives the wrong sort of image.
posted by D J Robertstein at 8:32 AM on April 17, 2007


Hilzoy of Obsidian Wings wrote an excellent blog post about a friend of hers that seriously considered going on a mass killing spree (he didn't, thank God). Here's an excerpt:

It should, I think, go without saying that there was something badly wrong with this person, above and beyond the fact that he wanted to go out and kill people. It manifested itself in ways that are similar, in some respects, to major depression. If you've ever talked to someone who is very, very depressed, you know that their thoughts tend increasingly to go round and round the same topics, as though they are trapped in some sort of horrible rut, which moreover tends to constrict with time. And it's very hard to get them out of this: I often have the feeling, when talking to very depressed people, that they are trapped within some entirely smooth sphere, which I am turning over and over in my hands, thinking: there must be some way to open this -- some point which, when I press it, will cause it to unlock, or some way of twisting it that will make its halves swing open. And I try and try, pushing now on one point, now on another, and nothing works; and all the while I can see the person I'm talking to, trapped inside, and I feel helpless.
posted by Kattullus at 8:32 AM on April 17, 2007 [13 favorites]


It also worries me that the police chief referred to him as a "resident alien". I don't know, but I think using terms like "alien" is a bad idea for a starter. Gives the wrong sort of image.

Well, it is correct. He emigrated from South Korea as a child, and he wasn't a US citizen. But his family was legally here. IOW, they had their green cards.
posted by dw at 8:37 AM on April 17, 2007


Why would a mass killing spree stem from depression? Is it a result of rejection?
posted by D J Robertstein at 8:38 AM on April 17, 2007


Well, it is correct. He emigrated from South Korea as a child, and he wasn't a US citizen. But his family was legally here. IOW, they had their green cards.

I just mean the word "alien". To me it suggests someone completely seperate from society- like from outer space or something. Maybe its different in the US, but it has that sort of conotation to me in the UK.
posted by D J Robertstein at 8:41 AM on April 17, 2007


Already I'm getting reports through friends that asian community nonprofit groups back east are getting death threats and "Go back to where you came from" type messages.
posted by yeloson at 8:42 AM on April 17, 2007


Jesus Christ guys, it's not enough to get angry at the discrimination that happens every day, now you're looking for something to get pissed about? And on behalf of a spree killer, no less? Do you really think the police chief who called him a "resident alien" was making a comment about immigrants? Or people are going to change decades of stereotypes about quiet, studious Asians to include "crazy gun-wielding maniacs"? If anything, this example defies stereotypes, it doesn't reinforce them.

Damn. If this guy was black we'd be talking about how urban life creates violent conditions for residents and worrying about the KKK using him as their poster boy. If he was white this would turn into an argument over suburban frustration and people would trot out stastistics about serial killers being white men. And on and on.

Quit jousting with windmills and do something productive.
posted by schroedinger at 8:48 AM on April 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


My point is, sometimes the public sees crazy people for crazy people and nothing more, and that "backlash" we're all so worried about is just us jumping at shadows.
posted by schroedinger at 8:51 AM on April 17, 2007


Thanks for the link Kattullus. One thing really struck me in that post:

I therefore tried very hard to figure out what to do. And it turned out that there were, as far as I could tell, no resources at all for people in my situation. (This was before the web, so that might have changed.) There were lots of books in the Counseling/Self-Help sections of bookstores with titles like: When Someone You Love Is Thinking Of Suicide; but there were no books called: When Someone You Love Is Thinking Of Going Postal. I went to the counseling center at the college I worked for, but they had very little help to offer. (Though it was sort of amusing, in a morbid way, that I only realized after saying "I have a friend..." that I would necessarily spend the next twenty minutes or so convincing the counselor that it really was a friend, not me.)

I tried every means I could think of to find some information about what on earth I should do, or even how to think about cases like this, to no avail. And I'm
good at research.

It's been what, 21 years since the Edmond post office massacre? And yet, it seems like we're still in the dark as to how and why this happens, and what a lay person can do about it. There isn't even a "What To Do When Your Friend Is Talking Mass Murder" website.
posted by dw at 8:53 AM on April 17, 2007


If anything, this example defies stereotypes, it doesn't reinforce them.

What you fail to see is that when a crazy white guy goes off shooting people or blowing people up, innocent white people don't get "randomly" harassed or attacked.

You don't see instant speculation on the entire ethnicity of people the same way as when it's POC.

Yes the killer was insane. So why do I, or people who look like me have to pay for his crime? You don't have to watch your back because of the deeds of Timothy McVeigh or Jeffrey Dahmer do you?
posted by yeloson at 8:54 AM on April 17, 2007 [10 favorites]


The guy spent half his short life here. He was American, not Korean.

(Obnoxious comment about ignorant blather deleted.)


Meanwhile, he reportedly had the words the words "Ismail Ax" in red ink on the inside of one of his arms.
Any theories?
posted by poxuppit at 8:59 AM on April 17, 2007


Best thing we all can do at that point, is just to turn the shit off.

You're right. And for me, that includes turning off this shit and going outside for a walk. Or calling my loved ones.

I'm a Canadian, and too young to really remember the one massive school shooting we've had, but I hear this and think about my university and my town. We all talk big, but as humans we are so pathetically vulnerable to each other. Every time I go to the grocery store I am putting myself in a position where I have to trust that all the random strangers around me are not malicious or dangerously careless. It's scary, that vulnerability, but it is also what allows us to have such deep and emotionally meaningful relationships with each other. Incidents like this are tragic on behalf of the people directly involved, but also on a bigger scale. They ruin our capacity to trust each other, and lead us all down that path towards individualized, privatized, distrustful, loneliness.

And now I need to turn my computer off and go outside.

.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:59 AM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I just mean the word "alien". To me it suggests someone completely seperate from society- like from outer space or something. Maybe its different in the US, but it has that sort of conotation to me in the UK.

It's an American legal term used to imply the person is not a naturalized citizen. Alien of the outer space kind came much later.

I'm not sure what the UK would use. I think "resident alien" could translate to "indefinite leave to remain."
posted by dw at 9:01 AM on April 17, 2007


Sepia Mutiny discussed some of the initial reaction to the shootings -- all the "it must be the Muslims!" stuff.

Seconding what yeloson said.
posted by chunking express at 9:02 AM on April 17, 2007


My point is, sometimes the public sees crazy people for crazy people and nothing more, and that "backlash" we're all so worried about is just us jumping at shadows.

Um...yeloson's comment right before yours? That shadow seems to have a figure behind it.

I think the 'alien' terminology is fine, but I can't pretend like people won't cleverly use that to link it to illegal immigrants to pre-stock a debate of this issue.
posted by cashman at 9:03 AM on April 17, 2007


Meanwhile, he reportedly had the words the words "Ismail Ax" in red ink on the inside of one of his arms.
Any theories?


I have a conjecture, but I don't know if I really want to share it, because I've never read The Prairie, and it's really wild speculation.
posted by dw at 9:09 AM on April 17, 2007


"Broadcast reports claim that Cho [Seung-Hui] had shown recent signs of violent, aberrant behavior, according to an investigative source, including setting a fire in a dorm room and allegedly stalking some women. A note believed to have been written by Cho was found in his dorm room that railed against 'rich kids,' 'debauchery' and 'deceitful charlatans' on campus.

Investigators believe Cho at some point had been taking medication for depression. They are examining Cho's computer for more evidence..."*
posted by ericb at 9:11 AM on April 17, 2007


It's bizarre that there is a discussion now about Koreans in this context. I remember reading the Ian Fleming book "Goldfinger" in which Oddjob, Goldfinger's bodyguard, is a violent Korean and Fleming wrote a lot of racist stuff about Koreans in there and it now reads like the kind of antiquated racism we can't relate to, but now this guy Cho might have single-handedly resurrected some of these old stereotypes that older people might still remember.
posted by mattbucher at 9:21 AM on April 17, 2007


I teach first-year composition. This week my class is doing small group conferences, so I'm not going to see the students as a whole until next Monday, and I'm thinking about saying a little something to my students. I want to tell them that the best protection against this sort of thing is to be decent and kind to each other, and to themselves. Anyone else have any input?

I know this should go on AskMefi, but I've got 5 days until I can ask another question, and since you're all already here...
posted by papakwanz at 9:22 AM on April 17, 2007


We're mostly convenience store/dry cleaner/nail salon owning math nerds aren't we? ;)

"His family runs a dry cleaning business and he has a sister who attended Princeton University, the source said." *

Uh-oh, let the invenctive resulting from stereotyping zip through the ether of the Internet in the upcoming days.
posted by ericb at 9:26 AM on April 17, 2007


I want to tell them that the best protection against this sort of thing is to be decent and kind to each other, and to themselves. Anyone else have any input?

Sage advice.
posted by ericb at 9:29 AM on April 17, 2007


I've had lots of "go back to your own country" comments since I can remember. However, if yeolson's report is truly correlated with recent events, that makes me very sad indeed. It's really too bad we can't avoid the topic of race as soon as it was confirmed, when it's very clear that this was an insane act by a very sick guy.
posted by like_neon at 9:37 AM on April 17, 2007


Photograph of Cho Seung-Hui, former Montreal resident.

From PubMed: Prevalence of major depressive disorder in the general population of South Korea.

Stress brought on by economic growth blamed for South Korea's suicide surge.

Suicide in South Korea.

Statistics by Country for Depression.

My sincere condolences to all the friends and families concerned, including those who knew Cho Seung-Hui, who are likely in terrible shock and grief and probably will be for many years to come, probably the rest of their lives. 33 young people died and for each one gone, an entire family and community of friends will be bereft.

May those who died rest in peace and loving thoughts of comfort for those who live to deal with grieving this tragedy.
posted by nickyskye at 9:57 AM on April 17, 2007


Meanwhile, he reportedly had the words the words "Ismail Ax" in red ink on the inside of one of his arms.
Any theories?


I thought it was Ismail's father Ibrahim--and not Ismail--who performed the mass destruction of idols with an ax??? I can see a connection, but it would have to be one that was messed up. Or maybe I'm misremembering the story?
posted by zeugitai_guy at 9:58 AM on April 17, 2007


When I was in college every girl I knew walked around with pepper spray on a keychain. Whatever happened to that? Seems like it might be a good idea to start putting pepper spray in with the fire extinguishers. Cheap, highly effective and relatively safe. I can understand how some people might have died but 32? I still find it almost unbelievable that this was one kid with a 9mm. Please tell me that somebody at least tried to fight back.
posted by well_balanced at 9:59 AM on April 17, 2007


I'm reading some Korean forums (equivalent to Fark), and the reactions range from "I'm sincerely sorry" to "Why did the fuck we blame the Chinese earlier?" to "Great, this is so embarassing for Korea" to "It's all a conspiracy" to "This is a US gun control law problem" and back to "On behalf of my country, I'm sorry, rest in peace."

Don't take this the wrong way, but I would have rather had
the shooter be Korean-American, not Korean. If he had been, say, 2nd or 3rd gen Korean-American, no doubt people would have been confused, attempted to understand, and then perhaps the view towards Korean-Americans would have changed slightly to accommodate a larger attitude beyond the 'industrious Asian' stereotype. People would have said, "Huh. This is different. This is a US issue, I guess. What's wrong with our society?" And in the process, Asian-Americans would slowly be considered more American, more as citizens, and the common ignorant exchange
- Where are you from?
- I'm from [American City].
- No, where are you originally from?"
wouldn't prevail. Or so I had hoped.

But instead, the shooter was came to the US when he was in early elementary school, 8 or 9 years old, went through the same awkward periods of middle and high school, and eventually went to major in English at an American university. He was '1.5th gen' Asian-American, as people like me sometimes call it, but this all will get glossed over to 'resident alien', as has already done in this thread. His Korean citizenship will be discussed strongly, at least more than his American life will, and this will be treated as an outside issue, a not-our-society's-fault thing.

Oh dear. As someone who's heard "go back to where you came from" when in both Korea and America alike, this is unsettling.


.
posted by suedehead at 10:03 AM on April 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


D J Robertstein writes "Why would a mass killing spree stem from depression? Is it a result of rejection?"

Having peeked over that edge I can say that it's often a feeling of powerlessness. You know that saying "The best revenge is living well'? Well if you can't ever see yourself living well an option is to make sure your tormentors aren't living well.
posted by Mitheral at 10:05 AM on April 17, 2007


Any theories?

Well, there's this, as the Intarweb CSI team has noticed.

Four Google results as of now, but that will surely rise in the coming days.

Where did you get that anyway, poxuppit? It's certainly an intriguing detail, if somewhat morbid, obviously. And what's the Prairie connection, dw?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:10 AM on April 17, 2007


Oh okay, here's a source.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:12 AM on April 17, 2007


Just out of curiosity, since the shooter had South Korean citizenship, did he ever return to Korea for mandatory military service? That might explain his apparent proficiency with weapons...
posted by armage at 10:12 AM on April 17, 2007


"[Cho Seung-Hui’s] creative writing was so disturbing that he was referred to the school’s counseling service.

…Professor Carolyn Rude, chairwoman of the university’s English department, said she did not personally know the gunman. But she said she spoke with Lucinda Roy, the department’s director of creative writing, who had Cho in one of her classes and described him as ‘troubled.’

‘There was some concern about him,’ Rude told The Associated Press. ‘Sometimes, in creative writing, people reveal things and you never know if it’s creative or if they’re describing things, if they’re imagining things or just how real it might be. But we’re all alert to not ignore things ike this.’

She said Cho was referred to the counseling service, but she said she did not know when or what the outcome was. Rude refused to release any of his writings or his grades, citing privacy laws."*
posted by ericb at 10:13 AM on April 17, 2007


Suggested Islamic connection (conjecture, obviously)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:14 AM on April 17, 2007


Associated Press: Korea Fears Prejudice With Shooting Link.
posted by ericb at 10:15 AM on April 17, 2007


CNN's headline: "Police: Virginia Tech shooter an English major, 23"

Thank God our media, as hyperbolically sensationalist as it is, shirks from foregrounding the race issue on our behalf. I really think that's to its credit.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:16 AM on April 17, 2007


Just out of curiosity, since the shooter had South Korean citizenship, did he ever return to Korea for mandatory military service? That might explain his apparent proficiency with weapons...

Apparently - no.

"Cho Seung-hui...had been in the United States since 1992, Cho Byung-je, a ministry official handling North American affairs, told reporters late Tuesday." *
posted by ericb at 10:18 AM on April 17, 2007


Maybe it's a misspelling of Ishmael. This from Genesis 16:12,
And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren
posted by Buck Eschaton at 10:20 AM on April 17, 2007


And what's the Prairie connection, dw?

In The Prairie, there's a character named Ishmael Bush, and one of the recurring themes of the book is the axe, which is used to bring civilization to the wild parts of America.

And being that he was talking about how decadent his other students were, maybe he was a J.F. Cooper fan and attached himself to a line in the book (which I've never read).

Like I said, wild conjecture.
posted by dw at 10:25 AM on April 17, 2007


Jeez, Debbie Schlussel is running with the Ismail thing now.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:26 AM on April 17, 2007


So the story about the cheating girlfriend, is that all just rumor? Because now they're saying he was a loner, and aside from some joke about women, having a girlfriend doesn't match with being a loner.
posted by cashman at 10:26 AM on April 17, 2007


Meanwhile, he reportedly had the words the words "Ismail Ax" in red ink on the inside of one of his arms.
Any theories?


Here's one theory I got from the Chicago Tribune news blog:

Ismail Ax, I think it has to do with the biblical reference of Abraham taking an Ax to his son. Abraham had two sons one was Ismail (Hagar's son) the other was Isaac (Sarah's son). There is controversy over which son was the one Abraham sacrified, b/c the Bible says the first son, Isaac. Ismail was the first son (13 years older).

Another theory circulating among the Little Green Footballs crowd is that it's actually a reference to "Ismail X," a Muslim name taken on by the shooter. Given Ismail's connection to Abraham in the Bible, the Torah, and the Koran, any of the three major monotheisms could be involved here.
posted by jonp72 at 10:27 AM on April 17, 2007


Two law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information had not been officially announced, said Cho’s fingerprints were found on the two guns used in the shootings. The serial numbers had been filed off, the officials said.

Law enforcement officials told Williams that Cho was carrying a backpack that contained receipts for the purchase of a Glock 9mm pistol in March. As a permanent legal resident, Cho was eligible to buy a handgun unless he had been convicted of any felony criminal charges.


Huh? Why would you file off serial numbers if you purchased the guns legitimately? Doesn't make sense.
posted by TeamBilly at 10:28 AM on April 17, 2007


Thanks, dw. FWIW, an essay with some background on The Prairie's axe theme.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:28 AM on April 17, 2007


Apparently a Korean superstition: "Do avoid to use red ink, since red ink traditionally was used to convey an insulting message. Especially, do not write names in red ink - this symbolises death!"
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:30 AM on April 17, 2007


Except Ismail/Abraham took a knife. I don't think you can translate it as knife in Hebrew, and I don't think it's axe in the Quran, either.
posted by dw at 10:31 AM on April 17, 2007


Currently in Wikipedia, unsourced: "He signed the note "Ismail Ax", which means 'Kills for Ishmael'". Puzzling. How would it mean that? In what language?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:34 AM on April 17, 2007


What's the deal with Debbie Schlussel? Is she "slow" or something?
posted by chunking express at 10:35 AM on April 17, 2007


For those thinking about psychological profiles, read this one about Dunblane.
posted by dhartung at 10:35 AM on April 17, 2007


A "handful" of victims haven't been identified, officials said, and their identities won't be released until they are.

loljournalists!
posted by quonsar at 10:37 AM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Gun dealer posts on the 16th that he sold Glock to Cho.
posted by commander_cool at 10:38 AM on April 17, 2007


Its going to turn out to be some online name like a warcraft or xbox live account.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:41 AM on April 17, 2007


Whoa, from the victims list over at the wikipedia:

Liviu Librescu, 76, Professor, Engineering Science & Mechanics, and Holocaust survivor. Killed while holding off the gunman so his students could escape out the window.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:45 AM on April 17, 2007


What's the deal with Debbie Schlussel? Is she "slow" or something?

She's a tool.
posted by dhartung at 10:47 AM on April 17, 2007


fucking hell.
posted by Busithoth at 10:48 AM on April 17, 2007


Huh? Why would you file off serial numbers if you purchased the guns legitimately? Doesn't make sense.

Indicates to me that the original intention when buying the guns didn't include suicide.
posted by saraswati at 10:50 AM on April 17, 2007


Its going to turn out to be some online name like a warcraft or xbox live account.

Totally. I bet it's ax is his CS clan.
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:52 AM on April 17, 2007


She's a tool.

Is she popular like Malkin or Coulter is what I should have asked? The tool part I worked out on my own. Its kind of sad these people attract a captive audience.
posted by chunking express at 10:52 AM on April 17, 2007


CNN talks to Zach Petkewicz, whose quick thinking may have saved lives yesterday.
posted by ericb at 10:53 AM on April 17, 2007


...............................
posted by mattbucher at 10:54 AM on April 17, 2007


From TrueHoop:

"In real life, however, he teaches journalism at Virginia Tech. Last night, he responded to my email wondering if he was in Blacksburg teaching at the time of the shootings."

Yes, I've been reporting with my students all day, starting at 9:30 when my class room was locked down. Students on the floor in the darkened room making phone calls to start reporting the story. I'm very proud of them."
posted by pwb503 at 10:57 AM on April 17, 2007


More about Cho's note:
"Sources have now described the note, which runs several pages, as beginning in the present tense and then shifting to the past tense. It contains rhetoric explaining Cho's actions and says, 'You caused me to do this,' the sources told ABC News.

Sources say Cho, 23, killed two people in a dorm room, returned to his own dorm room where he re-armed and left the note..."
posted by ericb at 11:02 AM on April 17, 2007


TeamBilly writes "Why would you file off serial numbers if you purchased the guns legitimately? Doesn't make sense"

Either he planned on living or the gun used in the murders isn't the legal purchased weapon.
posted by Mitheral at 11:04 AM on April 17, 2007


Neighbors didn't know Cho Seung-Hui [video] -- "Very quiet guy."
posted by ericb at 11:05 AM on April 17, 2007


"Richard McBeef" by Seung Cho.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:10 AM on April 17, 2007


Is she popular like Malkin or Coulter is what I should have asked?

Not quite as popular, but unlike them she's had her own radio show.

Also, I'm with the online-persona theory.

And for myself, I'm awfully glad I wrote my teenage revenge fantasy short story for a college writing class long before school shootings became a thing. I had no intention (not to mention means) of living it out, but today it would probably be taken that way.
I did write a suicide poem that was a lot closer to possible enactment.
posted by dhartung at 11:11 AM on April 17, 2007


I don't feel much like contributing to the sensation-mongering in this thread except to say that a) apparently the shooter did NOT wear a black trench coat, 2) it struck me while looking at the Wikipedia article's list of victims that I don't understand going to a tech school to major in History and International Relations, and 3) "Call me Ishmael."
posted by davy at 11:14 AM on April 17, 2007


Liviu Librescu, 76, Professor, Engineering Science & Mechanics, and Holocaust survivor. Killed while holding off the gunman so his students could escape out the window.

Wow.
posted by scody at 11:15 AM on April 17, 2007


"ismailax.com is parked free, courtesy of GoDaddy.com."
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:16 AM on April 17, 2007


Looking at Librescu's research history on his department profile page, I'm almost certain he either taught or worked with at least one of my old professors. He was working on some pretty neat stuff.

I'm extra sad now.
posted by casarkos at 11:22 AM on April 17, 2007


goodnewsfortheinsane writes "'Richard McBeef' by Seung Cho."

That is some bad writing...
posted by Bugbread at 11:46 AM on April 17, 2007


it struck me while looking at the Wikipedia article's list of victims that I don't understand going to a tech school to major in History and International Relations

UVA is a highly competitive school to get into. VT isn't. It's also the largest university in western Virginia.

Texas A&M has some good liberal arts programs, despite the A&M standing for "agricultural and mechanical."
posted by dw at 11:47 AM on April 17, 2007


This is a tragedy, and my heart goes out to the victims and their families.

But I swear to gods, I want to hunt down various heads of multiple networks and smack the special effects button right out of their fear mongering, sensation building, pseudo pathos, broadcasting hands.

Report the damn news. I don't need special graphics, zoom in music and interviews with people who aren't related to the story in anything other than a publicity seeking capacity. Remember journalism class? Rule One: Report the damn news.

I'm furious about the sensationalizing of this story, and think every broadcaster responsible should be smacked with wet herrings.
posted by dejah420 at 11:54 AM on April 17, 2007


.
posted by joecacti at 11:55 AM on April 17, 2007


UVA is a highly competitive school to get into. VT isn't.

Moreso than it used to be. If I didn't know what my major was going to be, I might rather go to Tech than to Madison or Mason.

William and Mary is also hugely competitive.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:55 AM on April 17, 2007


I'm not following. The regulation just says you have to be a legal state resident, not that the rules of where you reside have to allow gun ownership. Why would the fact that you can't have firearms on school grounds disqualify him for legally getting the license?

My thinking was that a reviewer would see the application for the license, notice that the only official residence of a visiting foriegn national was a dorm on a campus, and would use common sense to turn down the applicant. After all, if he couldn't keep it at home, where was he going to keep it? I was assuming that the licensing agencies have the perrogative to turn people down even if they strictly meet the rules, but I could definitely be wrong about that.

It's a moot point anyway, since his parents have an off-campus residence.

Others have remarked upon the staggering death toll: folks, you don't need military training. I have been to many civilian pistol shoots. The speed at which even amatuers with a little bit of practice can shoot, and shoot accurately, is fucking scary. Goddamn this bastard who went and proved it in real life.

And although I curse this man's memory, I really hope this doesn't metastasize into an anti-Korean thing. He was, for all intents and purposes, American. He grew up here. What makes you a member of a society if not that? [And again I'm talking in common sense terms, and not strict legalese bulljive about what papers you have or don't have.]
posted by moonbiter at 11:59 AM on April 17, 2007


Google search for "Ishmael Ax" turned up a single link to this story (google cache) by E.D.E.N Southworth.

I don't think the story is related to this tragedy, though its possible, him being an English major, that he was exposed to Southworth.
posted by forforf at 12:06 PM on April 17, 2007


it struck me while looking at the Wikipedia article's list of victims that I don't understand going to a tech school to major in History and International Relations

Many tech schools offer majors in the Liberal Arts. For example, M.I.T. offers undergraduate majors in American Studies, Ancient and Medieval Studies, Anthropology, Comparative Media Studies, East Asian Studies, Economics, Foreign Languages & Literatures, German, History, Latin American Studies, Linguistics, Philosophy, Literature, Music, Political Science, Psychology, Russian Studies, Science, Technology, and Society, Theater Arts, Women's Studies and Writing and Humanistic Studies.
posted by ericb at 12:06 PM on April 17, 2007


Reading this helps me with understanding things a bit better. [via boingboing]

A previous classmate (the one who is providing the plays) talks about him. This seems better than all the 'journalism' I've seen up to this point about Cho.

I hope psychologists are creating plans to deal with this. Loners are nothing new, but I keep seeing people say they had no idea what to do with the guy (though he was referred for 'general' counselling).
posted by cashman at 12:07 PM on April 17, 2007


My thinking was that a reviewer would see the application for the license, notice that the only official residence of a visiting foriegn national was a dorm on a campus

He likely used his "official" family address in suburban D.C. (Centerville, VA) where he has lived since 1992 on any applications for firearms.
posted by ericb at 12:10 PM on April 17, 2007


NY Times reports Cho was a 23 yr old senior at VTech. His family moved to the US in 1992 which wouldve made him about 8 or 9. He probably did not go back to Korea for mandatory military service because service can be delayed if you're pursuing higher education (he graduated high school in 2003 which would not have given him any time to go to Korea for 2 years).

Ive known many Korean nationals who serve in their late 20s after college. In some cases, depending on their job/skills, they can forgo military service entirely in exchange for working in a Korean company, eg. Samsung, Hyundai, etc. for a period of time. Also, if he became a US citizen, he would not have to serve in the Korean military. I would bet that with relative ease, he could've been a US citizen (given his family's 15 years in the US).

None of those Korean depressive/suicidal facts make any sense here. My guess, he was a crazy person that probably identified himself more as american than korean and should never have been able to purchase guns. All guns should be illegal.
posted by paulinsanjuan at 12:14 PM on April 17, 2007


.....an English major?
posted by jokeefe at 12:16 PM on April 17, 2007


Earlier this afternoon CNN correspondant John Roberts relayed the story about fellow corrrespondant John Henry's off-camera interviews with emergency personnel who had to attend to the scene in Norris Hall. They were obviously troubled by the gory scene(s), but were particularly disturbed by the ringing and buzzing mobile phones on each of the bodies, knowing full-well that it was parents, friends and family members calling to see if their child, friend or sibling was okay. What a haunting image.
posted by ericb at 12:18 PM on April 17, 2007 [12 favorites]


*correspondent*
posted by ericb at 12:19 PM on April 17, 2007


"Richard McBeef" reads fine if you imagine it as a Kids in the Hall sketch.
posted by mazola at 12:20 PM on April 17, 2007


This reminds me of an excellent novel by Terry Woo about the day to day lives of five 1.5th/2nd generation Asian kids in Toronto. Contains one murder/suicide.
posted by anthill at 12:38 PM on April 17, 2007


I didn't realize that she taught at Virginia Tech. Poet Nikki Giovanni gave a rousing closing statement at this afternoon's Virginia Tech Convocation -- which ended with sustained applause and the crowd shouting in unison their "Old Hokie" Cheer.
posted by ericb at 12:44 PM on April 17, 2007


i'm no psychiatrist but that kid's got a raging oedipus complex. John from McBeef could be the next Hamlet.
posted by gman at 12:48 PM on April 17, 2007


Mr. Brownstone, by Seung Cho, is, shockingly enough, far worse writing than Richard McBeef.
posted by gatorae at 12:48 PM on April 17, 2007


After hearing about the mass shootings, I sent one of my friends a Facebook message asking him if he knew anything about Seung Cho and if he could have been involved. He replied: "dude that's EXACTLY what I was thinking!
posted by jonp72 at 12:49 PM on April 17, 2007


pithy's referred system of sending a txt message to all students in case of an emergency should be a done deal on most, if not all campuses already.

submit your number, they put it in a database, and send it out in case of emergency. the teachers would be the ones to focus/worry about then, as student saturation of cell phone usage has to be in the 90th percentile.
posted by Busithoth at 12:49 PM on April 17, 2007


After reading both stories, I'm assuming that Cho had been sexually abused in the past. Serious issues with adult males "raping" him, molesting him. To think, too, that if he hadn't done what he did, he might have graduated with a college degree. Then what?
posted by billysumday at 12:53 PM on April 17, 2007


To think, too, that if he hadn't done what he did, he might have graduated with a college degree. Then what?

Oh No, College Degrees In The Hands Of Madmen? I don't follow.
posted by cortex at 12:54 PM on April 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Then what? Like, a) he doesn't have a grasp of the English language. Good luck getting a job. And b) what does a person who refuses to speak to other people do... you know, as an occupation?
posted by billysumday at 12:56 PM on April 17, 2007


I second the sexual molestation theory, and I haven't even gotten to Mr. Brownstone yet.
posted by jragon at 12:58 PM on April 17, 2007


Mr. Brownstone, by Seung Cho, is, shockingly enough, far worse writing than Richard McBeef.

So basically, these works reveal the killer as a total fucking moron. Well, I sure didn't see that coming.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:58 PM on April 17, 2007


So basically, these works reveal the killer as a total fucking moron. Well, I sure didn't see that coming.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:58 PM on April 17 [+]


Are you being facetious? If I recall, the Columbine kids were pretty intelligent.
posted by billysumday at 12:59 PM on April 17, 2007


Oh No, College Degrees In The Hands Of Madmen?

And -- oh, noes -- some even have/had advanced degrees.
posted by ericb at 1:00 PM on April 17, 2007


billysumday: I don't think a fixation on sodomy as the most reprehensible form of violence tells anything about the writer other than issues of defensive masculinity and male privilege. It seems to be a hot trick lately to act like anal rape is the worst thing a person can do, and it's really just a huh huh huh culture thing. This fuck shot people, and probably is consoling himself in hell that he was no sodomite.

Also, lots of people with ESL problems are highly employable if you overlook their occasional misspellings and malapropisms.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:00 PM on April 17, 2007


Could this be related?

Woo Bum-Kon was a Korean police officer who carried out the worst incident of spree killing in known history, killing 58 (including himself), and wounding 35 in Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:02 PM on April 17, 2007


what does a person who refuses to speak to other people do... you know, as an occupation?

Well, there's always this profession.
posted by ericb at 1:02 PM on April 17, 2007


Further, these writing reveal the guy to be dumb. Really dumb. In a way that some people are sort of, well, physically inhibited from being intelligent. Perhaps he just should not have gone to college. How does someone like that even get into college? He didn't talk to anyone. Ever. Then, when he does turn in his assignments, they are psychotic. Now, I don't claim that college should be run like a high school - call the parents when little Johnny acts oddly - but rather, that people who clearly should not be in college and do not benefit from it shouldn't be admitted, or allowed to stay.
posted by billysumday at 1:04 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Then what? Like, a) he doesn't have a grasp of the English language. Good luck getting a job. And b) what does a person who refuses to speak to other people do... you know, as an occupation?

It's maybe appalling that a lousy writer would get so far into an English program, but Cho's writing honestly doesn't read worse, technically, than your average American. People in general aren't writers; they certainly aren't playwrights or good with dialogue. Hell, you should see the email I get from coworkers. And writing skill does not necessarily synch up with spoken fluency; I've read accounts of Cho as a loner so far, but not as a poor speaker.

So we've got someone who would have perhaps scraped through a college program; a bit of a loner, perhaps not terribly hireable for some jobs. That isn't really that much of an outlier, on the face of it.
posted by cortex at 1:05 PM on April 17, 2007


Ive known many Korean nationals who serve in their late 20s after college. In some cases, depending on their job/skills, they can forgo military service entirely in exchange for working in a Korean company, eg. Samsung, Hyundai, etc. for a period of time. Also, if he became a US citizen, he would not have to serve in the Korean military. I would bet that with relative ease, he could've been a US citizen (given his family's 15 years in the US).

All true. With a green card and being in college in the U.S., his family and he had many available avenues to delay or avoid military service.

I wonder if the English major thing is a factor? He might not have had the support of his parents, who could have pushed him to major in something more financially promising. Like many immigrants from all over, many Korean parents feel they've sacrificed a lot to give their kids a chance of a life in the US, giving up more "respectable" jobs in Korea in the process. And they want their kids to get "respectable" jobs. And clearly an english degree is not going to be as helpful as a tech degree if you want to get a job with Samsung.

I'm Korean-American, and back when I was deciding between two colleges based on whether I wanted to major in English (esp. poetry) or compsci, you can guess which one my parents nudged me towards.
posted by shortfuse at 1:05 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


billysumday: I don't think a fixation on sodomy as the most reprehensible form of violence tells anything about the writer other than issues of defensive masculinity and male privilege. It seems to be a hot trick lately to act like anal rape is the worst thing a person can do, and it's really just a huh huh huh culture thing. This fuck shot people, and probably is consoling himself in hell that he was no sodomite.

My thoughts, too -- I've been in more than a few creative writing workshops myself, and frankly, Cho's plays are not exactly sui generis. The dementia is evident with hindsight, but if I'd read these in a class, I'd figure this was just a closet case with issues, among them his inability to write.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:09 PM on April 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


moonbiter writes "After all, if he couldn't keep it at home, where was he going to keep it?"

Range/Gun club?
posted by Mitheral at 1:09 PM on April 17, 2007


Could this be related?

Are you fucking shitting me?

Though I suppose they are related in the same way any two crimes are.
posted by chunking express at 1:10 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Are you being facetious? If I recall, the Columbine kids were pretty intelligent.

Their actions say otherwise. Their SATs may have been off the charts, for all I know.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:14 PM on April 17, 2007


Also, lots of people with ESL problems are highly employable if you overlook their occasional misspellings and malapropisms.

I tend to agree. Also, judging by his prolonged stay in the US and from reading his writing (admittedly no flowering prose, but not too far from common fare in a creative writing class from what I can gather), and lastly, considering I am really an ESL speaker myself (albeit from what might be considered a more comfortable linguistic background, as far as English is concerned), I would have to conclude that in my opinion, his English isn't bad at all. I'd wager a person like him would - despite the real and inevitable obstacles along the way - have been quite able to find employment one way or another in an English-speaking country.

(Except for the homicidal maniac thing, of course. And I don't intend for that remark to be funny - let's just be reminded that whether he spoke and wrote English well or not has no bearing on the fact that this is a grim and unfathomable tragedy. It goes without saying, but still.)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:17 PM on April 17, 2007


Apparently there was a heroic prof who held off the shooter to save the lives of students. Amazing story, but still -- two handguns, 30 killed. No Pancor Jackhammer, no AK-47.

I'm not saying I'd have been the guy to try and tackle him while he was re-loading, multiple times, but I'm surprised someone didn't manage it.

It's overly morbid I realize. But still, I've been thinking about it.
posted by bardic at 1:18 PM on April 17, 2007


Wha? Shooting people doesn't really speak to their intelligence, IMHO. Their emotional intelligence, maybe. The Unabomber was pretty darn smart.
posted by billysumday at 1:18 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Could this be related?

Are you fucking shitting me?


them slanty-eyes all know each other, right?
posted by quonsar at 1:18 PM on April 17, 2007


The devil is in the details.
posted by Saddo at 1:18 PM on April 17, 2007


I teach playwriting and have read a whole variety of plays on a whole variety of subjects. Some of them were much more violent and depraved than these and were written by perfectly lovely people who were social and friendly.

All his plays prove, in my opinion, is that he was a bad writer.

The fear he provoked in his classmates, however, is another matter entirely. That they were afraid to offer him criticism for fear that he might snap is a much bigger deal than what he wrote in the plays.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:21 PM on April 17, 2007


quonsar writes "them slanty-eyes all know each other, right?"

Worse than Canadians in that regard.
posted by Mitheral at 1:26 PM on April 17, 2007


>Some of them were much more violent and depraved than these and were written by perfectly lovely people who were social and friendly.

Joey Michaels, what you just wrote is too calm and logical to make sense. Everyone knows you can look deep into the soul of anyone through any of their homework assignments. What would armchair mefite psychologists be talking about if that wasnt 100% possible and accurate? Next you'll tell me that if he had a couple more friends he'd be a great stand-up guy.

Hate, violence, murder, and mental illness are lot more complex than "look at these telling plays" and "schools should screen out loners."
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:28 PM on April 17, 2007


billysumday writes "he doesn't have a grasp of the English language."

Huh? He's a lousy writer, sure, but his writings indicate the same level of verbal competence as your random shopper at Safeway. I've seen horribly written things by people who sound just fine when talking.

kittens for breakfast writes "Their actions say otherwise. Their SATs may have been off the charts, for all I know."

If your definition of "moron" is "shooting people", then why would you say "I'm not surprised he's a moron" when reading his writings? I mean, at the point when you know he shot people, you already knew he was a moron.

That's like walking outside in the pouring rain with an umbrella, and then stepping in a puddle and saying "I'm not surprised it's raining".
posted by Bugbread at 1:28 PM on April 17, 2007


The fear he provoked in his classmates, however, is another matter entirely. That they were afraid to offer him criticism for fear that he might snap is a much bigger deal than what he wrote in the plays.

Of course, there's the question of fear provoked vs. fear fostered—how much of that was isolated reaction and how much was feedback and reaction-to-reaction. Was a raised eyebrow amplified by the group dynamic, etc. And it's pretty much unanswerable/unmeasurable now; objective seperation from the context at this point would be damned hard.
posted by cortex at 1:29 PM on April 17, 2007


I personally see no or very little ESL issue in his plays. And I agree with Joey Michaels in that I've been in workshops where people wrote some pretty violent/awful/depraved/"um.." things, but--you know, we were conceiving them as just that, fiction. Cathartic fiction, in a lot of ways, and these are in now way good fiction, but fiction nonetheless. It's very much a suspension of disbelief kind of environment.

But jeez, as seen in hindsight, they are disturbing. I'm not sure if it's pity I'm feeling--not for the young man as he was yesterday, but for all those days leading up to yesterday. Obviously there was some shit going on, long before it went down.
posted by atayah at 1:30 PM on April 17, 2007


I think the plays don't read like ESL so much as a high-schooler who shops at Hot Topic a bit too much.
posted by casarkos at 1:32 PM on April 17, 2007


The media and blog frenzy has already turned me numb. I've read the story of the heroic Israeli professor in eight or nine places. People complain about violence porn, then propagate it on their journals.

I don't get it.
posted by swerve at 1:32 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Unsurprisingly, Faux News is spinning the M Word on the "Ismail Ax" detail.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:34 PM on April 17, 2007


billysumday writes "Further, these writing reveal the guy to be dumb. Really dumb. In a way that some people are sort of, well, physically inhibited from being intelligent."

It's also possible that he just banged them out in 15 minutes before class started. Just quick stream-of-consciousness bullshit until he hit the page minimum. It certainly reads that way.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:36 PM on April 17, 2007


I guess that what I'm saying is that it's disappointing and sort of alarming that a 23 year old English major, a senior preparing to graduate, would be such an awful writer. From the basis of reading the two plays, it seems like he was only capable of writing about one kind of thing, and that was of violence perpetrated by young adults on older adults. Older adults who molested/raped the younger adults. If you were the teacher, you wouldn't think anything of that?

As to whether or not colleges should screen out oddballs, sure, why not? When you get accepted by a university, should you not have to interact with someone first? From all the stories I've been reading, he spoke to absolutely nobody. Never said a word. When asked to write his name, he would put down a question mark. The kid didn't belong in college. He didn't want to be in college. Not everyone should feel forced to go to college. I don't know how you filter certain people out - clearly it's nothing more than wishful thinking. In hindsight, yes, things seem to have more clarity. But when you have students emailing each other saying, "Dude, I thought it was going to be that kid, too!" then obviously people saw something wrong with the guy and it wasn't completely out of the blue.
posted by billysumday at 1:36 PM on April 17, 2007


If your definition of "moron" is "shooting people", then why would you say "I'm not surprised he's a moron" when reading his writings? I mean, at the point when you know he shot people, you already knew he was a moron.

That's like walking outside in the pouring rain with an umbrella, and then stepping in a puddle and saying "I'm not surprised it's raining".


That's pretty much exactly what I AM saying. Nothing about this guy seems especially surprising.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:36 PM on April 17, 2007


Mark? Medication?
posted by thirteenkiller at 1:37 PM on April 17, 2007


I don't get it.

Personally, I am looking for whatever answers I can find by ferreting out details, even though I know that details are not answers.

I like that the internet gives me the tools to research this on my own. But when a cable station puts us into 24/7 CARNAGE REPORT 2007 mode, it's different:

1. It's eclipsing other things I may want to know about
2. They do it longer than I want
3. They deliver it in such a crass way

So. Information: yes. "Coverage": no thank you.
posted by jragon at 1:37 PM on April 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


Yeah, having been in quite a few creative writing classes, those plays just read more like blow-offs, last-minute fill-up-the-page-with-bullshit efforts.

"Richard McBeef" seems to deliberately invoke Hamlet, MacBeth, and presumably one of the Richards, but Shakespeare it ain't. Still, it does read like a bizarre comedy sketch, with deliberately shocking material (and from reading many submissions to workshops and a college journal -- yawn, least interesting way to be interesting).
posted by dhartung at 1:38 PM on April 17, 2007


Please don't use the phrase "the M Word." You're encouraging people to avoid thoughtful analysis of the construction of cultural sensibilities. Islam should not be a taboo subject, just as it should not be and absolute evil.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:42 PM on April 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


As to whether or not colleges should screen out oddballs, sure, why not? When you get accepted by a university, should you not have to interact with someone first?

I find that suggestion completely fucked. Not Being Weird should not be a necessary qualifier for higher education.

From all the stories I've been reading, he spoke to absolutely nobody. Never said a word.

That's my freshman roomie for the first four months we were in school. He came out of his shell; I'm flying out to play guitar at his wedding in a few days.
posted by cortex at 1:43 PM on April 17, 2007 [4 favorites]


It's also possible that he just banged them out in 15 minutes before class started.

After all, one of the plays had an entire page of the characters quoting guns and roses.
posted by drezdn at 1:45 PM on April 17, 2007


From the basis of reading the two plays, it seems like he was only capable of writing about one kind of thing, and that was of violence perpetrated by young adults on older adults. Older adults who molested/raped the younger adults.

For what it's worth, I read something different:

McBeef:
Out of control kid spews vile at his stepdad. Stepdad tries to talk to child, mostly keeping his temper. Then he puts his hand on the kid's leg, leading to more angry verbal abuse. Kid is saved by mom. Kid frames stepdad (or airs genuine complaint, but it seems to me to be a lie). Kid continues abusing stepdad.

Dad kills kid in single blow.

Brownstone:
Kids hate teacher. Spew filth about how awful teacher is. Make fun of teacher to face. Flaunts authority. Wins 5 million dollars at a casino they aren't old enough to be in.

Teacher lies to cop and gets all the money.


The common thread I see is that the kids are angry, but in some way deserving of the smack down they end up getting from authority in the end.
posted by jragon at 1:46 PM on April 17, 2007


Weird is different than not being able to interact with people. It was an exaggerated point. Ultimately, I suppose I don't understand the culture of a large university - I went to a smaller school and if a person chose to be this anti-social, there would have been some sort of an intervention, as many students at VT claimed should have or was about to happen.

Coming out of your shell is great. I'm really happy for your roommate!!
posted by billysumday at 1:47 PM on April 17, 2007


drezdn writes "After all, one of the plays had an entire page of the characters quoting guns and roses."

Yeah, seriously. Quick lyrics search, cut & paste, only one page to go!
posted by mr_roboto at 1:47 PM on April 17, 2007


kittens for breakfast writes "That's pretty much exactly what I AM saying. Nothing about this guy seems especially surprising."

Of course it doesn't. If you admit evidence that supports your assertion ("See! He writes like a moron!"), and throw out evidence that doesn't support your assertion (good SAT grades), then, hey, whatayou know, you'll always find your assertion supported. Nothing can surprise you. That's a tautology.
posted by Bugbread at 1:52 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's strange but not at all surprising that the media is harping on his being a dirty English major (like I was).

But was he a creative writing major? Or did he have a concentration in play-writing or something? Becuase I took some creative writing courses, but to get the degree most of what I did was take survey courses and write a big long critical paper my senior year.

I dunno. It really doesn't matter in the long-run, if only to provide fodder for the video-games/Marilyn Manson/no God in the classroom crowd. Everybody has an angle now, except for 32 souls in Blacksburg.
posted by bardic at 1:52 PM on April 17, 2007


And, my last thought before I have to go: this kid did show signs. I don't blame anyone for not seeing them, but putting them together now, it seems really obvious that this kid had problems and was going to lash out. Wrote very violent material in writing classes. Spoke to no one. Had no friends. Lit dorm room on fire. Stalked women around campus. Refused to interact in class. Intimidated classmates, who were already afraid that he might come to class and do something violent. I'm looking for something that is not a cliche here, like "volunteered on the weekend" or "had great relationship with his grandma" but so far I haven't seen anything.
posted by billysumday at 1:53 PM on April 17, 2007


I finally got around to looking at the various lists of victims that have been compiled around the internet, because while all of my friends were safe, I still had this sinking feeling in my stomach that I knew someone who was in Norris.

Turns out that my French professor from freshman year, Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, was one of those killed.

My hands are shaking as I write this. She was an absolutely wonderful woman. Kind and witty, though still very respectful of her students; she was probably the only French professor I've ever had who didn't poke fun at me for being an engineer.

So, um, yeah. This is weird.

.
posted by malthas at 1:56 PM on April 17, 2007


Weird is different than not being able to interact with people.

Weird is sometimes precisely not being able to interact with people. This is not hypothetical. The human psyche is enough of a mystery and a mess that we'll likely never suss out cause vs. correlation for weirdo loners who flip out, but it sure doesn't help to suggest that rejecting the rejected is a viable solution. Charismatic, likeable people do insane and terrilbe things too, for example; and most loners don't go on killing sprees.
posted by cortex at 1:57 PM on April 17, 2007


"Conservative Nathaniel Blake at Human Events Online links positively to John Derbyshire’s post, then writes that the students at Virginia Tech should feel 'heartily ashamed' for not acting more bravely:
'College classrooms have scads of young men who are at their physical peak, and none of them seems to have done anything beyond ducking, running, and holding doors shut. Meanwhile, an old man hurled his body at the shooter to save others.

Something is clearly wrong with the men in our culture. Among the first rules of manliness are fighting bad guys and protecting others: in a word, courage. And not a one of the healthy young fellows in the classrooms seems to have done that. …

Like Derb, I don’t know if I would live up to this myself, but I know that I should be heartily ashamed of myself if I didn’t. Am I noble, courageous and self-sacrificing? I don’t know; but I should hope to be so when necessary.'"*
posted by ericb at 1:58 PM on April 17, 2007


Uh ... reports are coming out about heroic efforts of other students and faculty members -- example.
posted by ericb at 2:00 PM on April 17, 2007


ericb, I think the question is worth asking at a later date. Effectivly, he had one handgun that was capable of killing (the .22 going off probably caused a lot of panic though, and compounded the tragedy). There's been some speculation that he might have had an extended clip, but it sounds like he didn't. He probably did have to stop and re-load multiple times.

My larger question is this, however -- cops were on campus, presumably, soon after the 7:15 shooting. Where were they when the second wave of shootings began?

Obviously, framing the issue as to indict namby-pamby librul godless America is disgusting.
posted by bardic at 2:05 PM on April 17, 2007


That's a tautology.

Not really. I suspected a thing was so; it was so. The offhanded reference to the Columbine kids acing their SATs is kind of irrelevant, since no evidence was put forth in defense of the Columbine kids as being especially intelligent. But even if it had been, we then have to run with the idea that testing well is an indicator of intelligence. It isn't, necessarily.

On the other hand...

"Emotional intelligence" sounds kinda pop-psych to me, but it IS maybe what I'm talking about here. Regardless of how well one can take things apart and put them back together, memorize historical fact, perform algebraic equations, etc., if ultimately the best you've got in terms of problem-solving is "I'm gonna kill a lot of people because, y'know, fuck 'em, and then I'm gonna eat a bullet because, y'know, fuck everybody," you may be somewhat limited as a person. It's probably unfair to conflate that limitation with a lack of intelligence, as it must accompany a lack of empathy and (usually) self-preservation in order to become physically dangerous. That said, it is my understanding that the brilliant psycho killer is pretty much the exclusive property of fiction.

(As to the Unabomber, I'm not sure he counts in all of this, since I at least would consider him a terrorist. I'm not so sure that's really the same thing as Cho or the Columbine kids.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:10 PM on April 17, 2007


Wow, a person who shoots a bunch of random people isn't a terrorist? What is he/she, then?
posted by billysumday at 2:13 PM on April 17, 2007


"Like Derb, I don’t know if I would live up to this myself, but I know that I should be heartily ashamed of myself if I didn’t. Am I noble, courageous and self-sacrificing? I don’t know; but I should hope to be so when necessary."

I think we'd all like to think so, but since he really has no idea at all, maybe Blake should shut the fuck up. What a douchelord.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:14 PM on April 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Wow, a person who shoots a bunch of random people isn't a terrorist? What is he/she, then?

A homicidal maniac. A terrorist would presumably be involved with terrorism, which, latter day dilution and abuse of the word notwithstanding, has more to do with fostering fear than with flipping out and shooting up a college and then capping yourself. Terrorist != anyone who does anything that could be described as terrifying.
posted by cortex at 2:16 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow, a person who shoots a bunch of random people isn't a terrorist? What is he/she, then?

I mean in the sense that the Unabomber seemed to have political goals. I'm not saying what he did was any better -- it wasn't -- just that I'm not sure whether the motivation comes from the same place.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:16 PM on April 17, 2007


and most loners don't go on killing sprees.

I don't think most "weirdo loners who flip out" even go on killing sprees with guns. I think people are assumed to flip out all the time. Many of those people are weirdos and some are loners. It's just the addition of a deadly weapon that changes it from being things thrown around a room or someone assaulted, to a bunch of people dead.

As far as why people didn't defend or attack - they had no way of knowing if it was one person shooting with two guns or 5 people armed to the teeth with automatic weapons.

Additionally, they were told to "sit there and wait", and so they listened to authority. Essentially the same force that says "sit there and wait" at a red traffic light. Different dangers, but the same voice that we all follow every day.
posted by cashman at 2:17 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


quonsar writes "them slanty-eyes all know each other, right?"

please wake me up when all the reactionary racist backlash is over.
posted by cazoo at 2:20 PM on April 17, 2007


If we'er going to start testing people, lets at least keep these tests out of the schools and put them in the office that hands out gun licenses and permits. Want a gun license to buy a handgun? Pass this 500 dollar mental assessment test first. Signs of aggression, history of abuse, etc? No permit for you.

Its amazing how much more difficult my drivers license was to get compared to my FOID card. Hell, I gave them my own photo for the FOID! If this tragedy changes things, i really hope they dont crackdown on 'weird' kids applying for college but on potentially murderous gun owners. I'm not holding my breath.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:21 PM on April 17, 2007


kittens for breakfast writes "But even if it had been, we then have to run with the idea that testing well is an indicator of intelligence. It isn't, necessarily. "

Ah. Ok. That position makes a lot more sense. Sorry.

billysumday writes "Wow, a person who shoots a bunch of random people isn't a terrorist? What is he/she, then?"

A mass murderer.

That's like saying "What, a person who has a vice-president isn't the President of the United States?"
Well, it may be. Or it may be the president of another country. Or the president of a club. Or the president of a company.

"Terrorist" is a subset of "mass murderer", not a synonym.
posted by Bugbread at 2:25 PM on April 17, 2007


billysumday writes "As to whether or not colleges should screen out oddballs, sure, why not? When you get accepted by a university, should you not have to interact with someone first? "

No. Many brilliant (and admittedly non-brilliant) people are extremely introverted.

bardic writes "My larger question is this, however -- cops were on campus, presumably, soon after the 7:15 shooting. Where were they when the second wave of shootings began?"

All the way on the other side of campus dealing with the first crime scene, what appears to be a substantial distance away.
posted by Mitheral at 2:26 PM on April 17, 2007


Boing Boing reports that this lj has entries about the accused shooter, including a photo of him in her flickr stream. The two entries about him are in Indonesian, however. I tried running them through an online translator but I don't know if I got more than the gist of them. I have to say I am troubled what the press might do if there does turn out to be an Islamist streak in Cho's online interests (which I don't think anyone can say with confidence yet).
posted by aught at 2:27 PM on April 17, 2007


Wait, actually, that's inaccurate too. A person who takes hostages and makes political demands is a terrorist, even if they haven't killed anyone.

So we'll have to define "terrorist" as "someone who uses fear or coercion with the goal of achieving political goals". Which, hey, what a surprise, is the actual definition of "terrorist".
posted by Bugbread at 2:27 PM on April 17, 2007


This seems as good a time as any to give some thought to the victims (BBC).
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:32 PM on April 17, 2007


All the way on the other side of campus dealing with the first crime scene, what appears to be a substantial distance away.

An open crime scene, presumably, since they either didn't have the shooter or had the wrong one. Either way, some pretty grave mistakes may have been made. It's too early to get into blame now, but these are important questions.
posted by bardic at 2:37 PM on April 17, 2007


aught writes "Boing Boing reports that this lj has entries about the accused shooter, including a photo of him in her flickr stream. The two entries about him are in Indonesian, however. "

That's not the same guy. It's not even the same name (Seung-Hoo as opposed to Seung-Hui).
posted by mr_roboto at 2:46 PM on April 17, 2007


Boing Boing reports

Yeah, that's all I needed to hear. Maybe Cory can spin this into an anti-DRM rant before its all over.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:52 PM on April 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Well, as it's a transliteration (romanization), I'd say that's not relevant in and of itself. But no, it's probably not him.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:02 PM on April 17, 2007


That was in response to mr_roboto.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:03 PM on April 17, 2007


goodnewsfortheinsane writes "no, it's probably not him."

It's been pretty thoroughly debunked in the Flickr comments for the picture.
posted by Bugbread at 3:20 PM on April 17, 2007


Cowardice? Reacting appropriately in this kind of high-stress situation isn't a matter of cowardice, it's a matter of training. There's an automatic fight-or-flight reaction to these kinds of things. It's easier for the "fight" reaction to kick in when you're being punched in the face, but if it's a gun? People are taught to be afraid of guns, and for damn good reason--you have to hope the shooter's reaction time is longer than your ability to react in a moment and run across a classroom and tackle him. Sure, it's more likely you'll succeed if a bunch of people are going for him--but then you're depending on multiple people to be trained to automatically react aggressively when confronted with a gun. This is a difficult thing, something that is mental and not related to physical ability at all. Those commentators are demanding we have a culture of soldiers.

People might bring up situations like United 93 as comparison, but remember, these do not require the instinctual reaction, people are given the time to choose bravery. They have time to calm down, assess the situation, and plan a method of attack. If a shooter was taking a classroom hostage, rather than just killing as many people as possible, we might have seen a similar reaction from these students. As it is, it's tremendously unfair for people to attribute what is a matter of instinctual conditioning to cowardice.

I'm currently taking a rape defense class that is based around this principle. With every move we're trained to yell "No" or "Stay Back". If we yell "No" when we're supposed to yell "Stay Back", the instructor corrects this. Of course, the words don't improve the move, but there's a good reason. The point is to keep the woman yelling and moving, to train her body and voice to react precisely and automatically. So when she must react in seconds her muscles know exactly what to do, and she doesn't have time to freeze up in fear.
posted by schroedinger at 3:25 PM on April 17, 2007


quonsar writes "them slanty-eyes all know each other, right?"

please wake me up when all the reactionary racist backlash is over.


ah, sleeping must explain your confusion. pay attention.
posted by quonsar at 3:26 PM on April 17, 2007


Yeah absolutely, especially the chin comment is spot-on.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:26 PM on April 17, 2007


“[Former classmate Ian McFarlane] said he and other students ‘were talking to each other with serious worry about whether [Cho] could be a school shooter.’

‘We always joked we were just waiting for him to do something, waiting to hear about something he did,’ said another classmate, Stephanie Derry. ‘But when I got the call it was Cho who had done this, I started crying, bawling.’

…’He was very quiet, always by himself,’ neighbor Abdul Shash said. Shash said Cho spent a lot of his free time playing basketball and would not respond if someone greeted him.

Classmates painted a similar picture. Some said that on the first day of a British literature class last year, the 30 or so students went around and introduced themselves. When it was Cho's turn, he didn't speak.

On the sign-in sheet where everyone else had written their names, Cho had written a question mark. ‘Is your name, `Question mark?'‘ classmate Julie Poole recalled the professor asking. The young man offered little response.

Cho spent much of that class sitting in the back of the room, wearing a hat and seldom participating. In a small department, Cho distinguished himself for being anonymous. ‘He didn't reach out to anyone. He never talked,’ Poole said.

‘We just really knew him as the question mark kid,’ Poole said.” *
posted by ericb at 3:55 PM on April 17, 2007


I saw the CNN interview with Zach Petkewicz, the kid with other students thought to barricade the door into the classroom with tables and their brute force, where they were able to keep Cho out and leave him only to fire a couple of shots through the door. Quick thinking saved the lives of the 11 students in the classroom.

And having seen him break down at the suggestion that he is a hero, I, an evangelical Christian with conservative political and social tendencies, would like to say the following to John Derbyshire:

Suck my dick, you motherfucking asshole. A pile of shit for brains like you can't tell the difference between a hero and a coward, so why don't you just shut the fuck up for once in your fucking life. People like Petkewicz remind me that there is cleverness in youth, people like Librescu honor in elders. People like you remind me there are motherfucking assholes in every age group whose small dicks don't deserve rescue by the clever and the honorable.

Thank you. I will be e-mailing that to him shortly.
posted by dw at 3:56 PM on April 17, 2007 [13 favorites]


Of course Derbyshire is an asshole--he's so very overcompensating for his own lack of guts he probably gets hard when he speaks of "bravery" and "heroes", like it's all a movie or something.

This is making me gag: Suzanne Malveaux of CNN just compared President Bush's appearance today at Virginia Tech to his famous "bullhorn moment" where he allegedly brought the country together after 9/11.
...
Ugh. The bullhorn scene was not a "healing moment" in tragedy. It was a war cry, a far different thing. It did not bring the country together --- virtually the entire world was united after 9/11. Within months Bush's policies, especially the preposterous invasion of Iraq, began to tear the country apart and made us loathed throughout much of the world. God, I hope this isn't one of "those moments" because his track record is just terrible. ...


You don't need assholes like Derbyshire when the media makes assholes into heroes and "national healers" just for speaking and appearing.
posted by amberglow at 4:03 PM on April 17, 2007


Is this thread still going on? What's the VT fight song? The Hokey Pokey!

And quonsar was making an ANTI-racist JOKE in response to THIS idiocy.

Jeez. I'm going away again.
posted by davy at 4:08 PM on April 17, 2007


dw - as a Marxist anti-war atheist college professor, let me say hear, hear. Exactly what Mr. Derbyshire deserves to be told.

If Imus can be fired for what he said (I'm glad), and Bill Maher for telling the truth that whatever the 9/11 hijackers were, they weren't the "cowards" they were being branded as and more than people who drop bombs from the sky on civilians, then Mr. Derbyshire should lose his NRO column for this, and the NRO should be publicly shamed.

Why is it that every tragedy becomes an opportunity for political grandstanding these days? Is it the cable TV spectacle? Hunger for a story we can believe in? A need to see Big Daddy authority figures standing on piles of rubble with bullhorns?

A national moment of media silence would be a thing of beauty right now.
posted by spitbull at 4:13 PM on April 17, 2007


I used to drive a cab in Baltimore and I’ve been center stage at one shooting with multiple shots fired and been threatened with guns and knives on other salty occasions. Every time reality kicked in with basic instinct and I skated. But that was driving a cab, where I was running the show, not sitting in a university classroom. The social dynamics and cultural expectations are as different as night and day.

In any case, having read those “plays” I can’t help but think that VaTech failed three times. First they let this idiot almost graduate as an English major. Second they never flagged him as a potentially dangerous nutcase. Third they weren’t proactive enough after the initial murders.

On second thought I’m pretty dubious about the capacity of any bureaucracy to correct for the second and the third failures. OK, and the first as well.
posted by Huplescat at 4:21 PM on April 17, 2007


Why is it that every tragedy becomes an opportunity for political grandstanding these days? Is it the cable TV spectacle?

With Derbyshire, it dosen't even seem like political grandstanding, it seems like personal grandstanding, which is almost worse! He took the "oppurtunity" of a tragedy to write about great he is.
posted by Snyder at 4:24 PM on April 17, 2007


. . . whose small dicks don't deserve rescue by the clever and the honorable.

So dumb people are murderers, and men with small dicks are immoral, and shy people are scary.

You learn a lot about American fears and prejudices when things like this happen. Basically "inferior" people are dangerous. Everybody that is below average in any valued domain: education or intelligence, number of friends or extraversion, attrativeness or masculinity, is actually a potential murderer and threat to public security.
posted by dgaicun at 4:25 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


In terms of anyone politicizing this or using this for their own agendas, it started in the White House itself shortly after the shootings: ... As far as policy, the President believes that there is a right for people to bear arms ...

Remember this as you hear more calls for gun control (and there should be more).
posted by amberglow at 4:32 PM on April 17, 2007


Like those people in Seung-Hu's class who "just knew" it was him when they saw the news; after all he was quiet. Idiots.

Smug that some killings allow them to flaunt confirmation bias of their bigotry.
posted by dgaicun at 4:33 PM on April 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


dgaicun writes "So dumb people are murderers, and men with small dicks are immoral, and shy people are scary.

"You learn a lot about American fears and prejudices when things like this happen. Basically 'inferior' people are dangerous. Everybody that is below average in any valued domain: education or intelligence, number of friends or extraversion, attrativeness or masculinity, is actually a potential murderer and threat to public security."


You learn a log about dgaicun's view of things when he posts things like this. If someone says "a man with a small dick doesn't deserve to be rescued", he somehow interprets that to mean "a man with a small dick is a potential murderer and threat to public security".

I think you're parsing what people say at a below average level, so perhaps you have an agenda. And understanding people is a valued domain. It may surprise you to know that, while I consider you to be below average in this one respect, "perhaps you have an agenda" is not code for "you are a potential murderer and threat to public security".
posted by Bugbread at 4:43 PM on April 17, 2007


During President Bush's "bullhorn moment" he vowed that "the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon." Since Osama bin Laden's still on the loose, maybe it should be called a bullshit moment.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:48 PM on April 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


And why doesn't the small dick deserve to be rescued?

Because he is immoral and/or cowardly. He is inferior in masculinity. These thoughts aren't just "metaphors" as peoples' reactions to Seung-Hui and countless other cherry-picked cases indicate. People focuse in on any and all "inferiority" to explain evil actions, as if the two were synonymous.

People who are below-average in socially valued domains are viewed as threatening. This is not helpful, it is bigotry against vulnerable people.

Even if e.g. young people or poor people or rap fans do commit more crime, it is simply bigotry to go 'Oh, of course, he did that, he listened to Snoop!'. since the grand majority of people who fit this description are not evil or criminal.
posted by dgaicun at 4:56 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I would just like to say that while there's nothing funny about what happened yesterday, I just switched around all the evening news, and the coverage is hilarious.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:57 PM on April 17, 2007


goodnewsfortheinsane, thanks for the BBC link. RIP.

schroedinger: Reacting appropriately in this kind of high-stress situation isn't a matter of cowardice, it's a matter of training. There's an automatic fight-or-flight reaction to these kinds of things. It's easier for the "fight" reaction to kick in when you're being punched in the face, but if it's a gun? People are taught to be afraid of guns, and for damn good reason--you have to hope the shooter's reaction time is longer than your ability to react in a moment and run across a classroom and tackle him. Sure, it's more likely you'll succeed if a bunch of people are going for him--but then you're depending on multiple people to be trained to automatically react aggressively when confronted with a gun.

Agreed.

Even if multiple people had rushed him, they may not have succeeded in disarming him. There was an armed robbery last year at a local restaurant, at about 1:30 in the morning. There were still a dozen customers there, and they "angrily confronted" (!) the robber, attempting to disarm him. Two of them were shot, one fatally; the robber escaped.
posted by russilwvong at 5:00 PM on April 17, 2007


Ok, so the shooter was pretty seen as a timebomb by those around him. His rampage doesn't come as a surprise.

The next question is not "Why didn't they say/do something?" but "What can you say or do in those situations?" Are we going to force people who behave as loners to be committed? Arrest them? What?

And I have a ton of questions for his parents.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:03 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dgaicun: I'm losing track of your argument.
Is it that Americans think of people they consider inferior as potential murderers?
Is it that Americans think of people they consider inferior as immoral?
Is it that Americans think of people they consider inferior as inferior?
posted by Bugbread at 5:05 PM on April 17, 2007


I don't live too far away from Centerville, and we're hearing rumors the shooter's parent's attempted suicide, and that the father succeeded.
posted by forforf at 5:05 PM on April 17, 2007


Is it that Americans think of people. . .

Yes, yes, and yes. This is the public dialogue we go through everytime: "Of course he was a killer, look at [insert some below average or unconventional trait]".

Let me just say that I am very happy that I just barely graduated highschool in time to miss the Columbine backlash against those subversive and dangerous "goths" (i.e. any counter-cultural, creative types).

Even though this description did not easily fit the Columbine killers! (the dangerous "outcasts" were just normal kids with normal social lives, and normal dress. But whatever; people wanted any excuse to go after the same 'inferior' types that they didn't trust and bullied to begin with)
posted by dgaicun at 5:15 PM on April 17, 2007


Students of Liviu Librescu, 76, an engineering science and mathematics lecturer in at Virginia Tech for 20 years, sent e-mails to his wife, Marlena, telling of how he blocked the gunman's way and saved their lives, said the son, Joe.
This moved me. Not the "heroism" but the abnegation , the desperation that , I guess, suggested this man to put his life on the line. Or maybe the knee jerk reaction of a man who immediately tought it made sense to help his students flee. Some would call him hero, some stupid, some like me are now a lot more curious about him and just him, not only the "type" he is part of.
-------------

What will likely follow is another "war on weapon in schools" waged by more or less sophisticated detection methods , with the effect of just moving the problem away to some other place...maybe a mall, maybe an office.

Two more expected effects of this event are an increase in the use of profiling practices in order to "single out" potential troublemakers , with in turn I guess will produce even more harrasment for anybody that will be labeled as "weird" or not fitting a necessarily oversimplified stereotype of "antisocial" or "asocial".

The approach, I guess, will be preventive-punitive..while I guess this approach should NOT overcome nor command more resources than
then a preventive-curative one ; this people must be reached (and on tangent, not with religious based initiatives)

I personally would invest a lot more in scientific, psycological/psychiatric approach to the issue of rampages. The shooter didn't live in a void, decouple from any external influence..his apparent anger and resentment toward "rich kids" was certainly his own , but it wasn't necessarily caused ONLY by his own disposition.

It would be dangerous to oversimplify, just consider him another "nutso" and then forget about the problem altogheter, just because it is not frequent enough and it only affected an "handful" of people (compared to the number of humans on the planet).
posted by elpapacito at 5:18 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dgaicun, if I can venture a guess:

Are you saying "Americans see 'inferiority' in things other than morality and control of immoral desires as being causes of immorality and inability to control immoral desires, instead of possibly being additional symptoms of an underlying cause (i.e. "He did this because of a chemical imbalance, and he was antisocial due to the same imbalance"), or possibly being completely unrelated ("He did it because he was a lousy writer")?
posted by Bugbread at 5:19 PM on April 17, 2007


amberglow writes "Remember this as you hear more calls for gun control (and there should be more)."

Matt's asked that gun control talk be put in the Meta thread
posted by Mitheral at 5:20 PM on April 17, 2007


dgaicun writes "Yes, yes, and yes. This is the public dialogue we go through everytime: 'Of course he was a killer, look at [insert some below average or unconventional trait]'."

You're reversing the order, then. You're saying that people are considering Inferiority A to be a direct cause of B. But people aren't saying that (otherwise you'd expect 50% of the US population to die every year, as the 50% who are, say, intellectually inferior, go on killing sprees). They're saying "Inferiority A, or some other inferiority, is a necessary but not sufficient condition for B". Which, don't misunderstand me, I think is absolutely wrong. But what you're saying people say, which teaches you "so much about what Americans think", isn't what I see them actually saying.
posted by Bugbread at 5:30 PM on April 17, 2007


In the wake of the deadliest single-gunman shooting in American history, Boing Boing blogger Mark Frauenfelder has this to say: "I love these blood puddle pillows."

At first, he writes, "I wonder if these same people would have complained had I posted these blood pillows before the tragedy? After all, over 3000 Americans and a great many more innocent Iraqis have been slaughtered in a similarly horrible way. Where's the outrage over those deaths?" Later, he removes the photograph and the comment about the war. Moreover, the link goes to the blog for Make, Mark's online magazine.
posted by WCityMike at 5:31 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't live too far away from Centerville, and we're hearing rumors the shooter's parent's attempted suicide, and that the father succeeded.

That rumor was forcefully debunked at the 5:00 press conference. Unless something has happened since then, there were no suicide attempts and both of Cho's parents are alive.
posted by purplemonkie at 5:33 PM on April 17, 2007


Very nice pillows. Look comfy. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 5:34 PM on April 17, 2007


I don't live too far away from Centerville, and we're hearing rumors the shooter's parent's attempted suicide, and that the father succeeded.
"A spokeswoman made quite clear also that 'news' reports that the parents of Cho Seung-Hui had committed suicide were erroneous and untrue." *

"A Virginia Tech spokeswoman who appeared at the news conference denied that Cho's parents, who live in Virginia, had committed suicide.

She said some media had erroneously reported that the couple, who moved to the U.S. in the 1990s, had killed themselves.

She emphasized that both are very much alive.

She would not disclose where Cho's parents are currently staying." *
On preview, what purplemonkie said.
posted by ericb at 5:34 PM on April 17, 2007


Profiles of the Victims.
posted by ericb at 5:38 PM on April 17, 2007


Even if multiple people had rushed him, they may not have succeeded in disarming him.

This bears repeating for those fools like Derbyshire who think that some strapping young men should have just got up and rushed the shooter. You can reload an semi-auto pistol like a Glock in seconds if you've practiced it at all, and have the spare magazines handy, say stuck in your belt or vest.
posted by moonbiter at 5:55 PM on April 17, 2007


But people aren't saying that (otherwise you'd expect 50% of the US population to die every year, as the 50% who are, say, intellectually inferior, go on killing sprees).

Prejudice doesn't have to be logical. What people are saying really boils down to these feelings:

"God I hate I hate [blacks, uglies, freaks, effiminates, etc, etc]. They are scary and dangerous. . . Look a [gay, etc] man on the news just did something terrible! That family he killed let him stay with them. They were stupid. Didn't they see the warning signs of [gayness]?? That one [gay] guy in my class is also always acting [gay]. He is very likely to do something similar! He needs to be watched more closely and just bullied more in general. "

And it really doesn't matter if the killer on the news actually even was [gay], or if [gays] are even more likely to kill. The prejudice is there to begin with and is self-reinforced.
posted by dgaicun at 5:59 PM on April 17, 2007


I think it's entirely possible that he could have been disarmed and subdued. But it's asking a lot of random people, confronted by a heavily armed and terrifying mass murderer and having probably never been involved in a truly violent act in their lives, to do such a thing. And he had two guns. He may have always had at least one loaded gun available. We don't know that none of the victims tried to rush him—I'd bet that someone did. And was killed. It could have turned out differently, but it didn't.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:07 PM on April 17, 2007


dgaicun, did it ever occur to you that when people are angry at someone, they insult him? And that the insults about, say, bad writing, is not necessarily an implication that all bad writers are spree killers, but that the insulter is simply venting their anger on the subject?

Who in God's name says "Man, that guy may have killed all those people, but I bet he was a great person. His plays may have not been the best, but I'd like to see his other work before passing judgment on him." We're talking about a mass murderer here, not two days after his attacks--most people are not ready to start heaping sympathy and understanding on him quite yet.

I will never understand why people immediately equate any natural expressions of anger and frustration with the downfall of society.
posted by schroedinger at 6:07 PM on April 17, 2007


Yes, yes, and yes. This is the public dialogue we go through everytime: "Of course he was a killer, look at [insert some below average or unconventional trait]".

How the hell do you go from me lobbing a schoolyard taunt at this waste of carbon and water that is John Derbyshire to suggesting that us Americans are out to tag people as inferior?

I mean, I sat there listening to Harris and Klebold's story and kept wondering why I didn't solve my personal hell that was elementary and secondary school by shooting up the place. On some level I even have empathy for their dark deeds.

I have been branded as inferior a multitude of times. And while I apologize to any man with a less than average penis size here, I am using a schoolyard taunt here to make a point:

John Derbyshire is a coward. A yellow-down-the-back coward who doesn't deserve the HTML tags his crap is printed between.

This has nothing to do with your ideas of what Americans are. This has everything to do with John Derbyshire being an inferior being.

There. I said it. Happy?
posted by dw at 6:10 PM on April 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


And still, they had no way of really knowing if there was just one person or what kind of gun he had. Rushing a guy with an automatic weapon is just a joke, isn't it?

Maybe the best advice, if they're going to tell people to sit tight, is to advise everyone to get something to throw. It's better than just sitting there and getting shot, and I bet there were cell phones, unopened pop cans, laptop batteries - all kinds of stuff to throw. Maybe unarmed people should be advised to quickly look for something heavy in cases like this. Because the alternative is to rush defenseless and get gunned down, just sit there and pose zero threat, or run away (and pose no threat).
posted by cashman at 6:14 PM on April 17, 2007


Malthas, I'm sorry to hear about your professor.

I learned this morning that my friend's friend was one of the students who died. I never met her, but the whole thing feels very real and personal all of a sudden. I don't have anything else to contribute to the conversation. I know it's important to figure out how this happened and how to keep it from happening again, but right now I all I can think about is how do I help my friend cope with this?
posted by naoko at 6:23 PM on April 17, 2007


“Rushing a guy with an automatic weapon is just a joke, isn't it?”

Except for brain or heart shots, people don't instantly die when they've been critically shot as we see in TV and movies. A lot of time, people don't even know they've been shot.

I think even barehanded you'd have a good chance at disarming someone, though you'd likely get shot doing it. You'd be taking your chances as to whether it's going to be a fatal wound. But that's with the guy only holding one gun. Seems to me that disarming a guy with a gun in each hand is about, though not quite, twice as difficult.

On the other hand, several people armed with things with which they could clobber the guy and rushing him together, would probably work. But, as someone said upthread, the odds of one person alone deciding to risk their life like this are not high—getting several people to do it at the same time in the face of their terror of the gunman is another matter.

Where people like Goldberg are going wrong is that since they rightly estimate that a single gunman is not invincible they wrongly conclude that it's reasonable and expected that a number of people will take him down. But there's a lot of factors here—not the least that we don't know that such a thing didn't happen and failed—and it's incredibly uncharitable to judge others' courage in that position if you've never been there yourself.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:25 PM on April 17, 2007


I think barricading doors and hiding is by far the only sane thing to do. Live, and protect those around you if you can (like that guy did in that classroom--he deserves the label "hero"). Live to show that bad doesn't triumph, and that violence (and fear) isn't the answer.
posted by amberglow at 6:32 PM on April 17, 2007


Being that the students are unarmed, the only way they could have taken him down was a coordinated attack from two sides, or maybe a risky diversionary tactic that gave them a way to hit them from the side or back. They could have thrown things, perhaps, though he still has a semiautomatic and can fire through the incoming.

Now, if you're going to rush him from two fronts, how do you coordinate the attack if you can't necessarily talk to the people in the next room? If you're going to divert his attention, you still need to be quick enough to hit him from behind without him pointing the gun at you in time.

And there's one other thing: A classroom has one or two doors for one person at a time. Now, move 30 people out at once, maybe the mob has a chance, but one at a time, he can just pick them off one by one.

If the students were armed, perhaps it's a different story. But then you have bullets flying everywhere, and you can't rush him en masse while firing the gun. People will be caught in the crossfire. Collateral damage, as they say.

So, there were two options left: Flee via a different route (e.g. out the window), or use what they have to defend their position. And the students that survived did exactly that.

In the Goldberg-Derbyshire world, John Wayne walks out and snarls at the kid before gunning him down like it's High Noon. Or Arnie says something punny and blows his head off. Or it's United 93 and everyone is a hero. But John Wayne and Arnie aren't real, and there was no time for people to come up with a plan to take him down with hot water and a service cart.

People in these moments lean back on their survival instincts, and those instincts can do some things we would consider insane or immoral. But these instincts are what have helped us survive as a species by gauging threats and working out the best option in a millisecond.

I'm sure Goldberg and Derbyshire would have rushed the shooter. They would have made pretty corpses. Half a league, half a league, half a league onward....
posted by dw at 6:55 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Never missing the opportunity to take advantage of a tragedy, Fred Phelps and his gang of haters at Westboro Baptist Church plan to picket the funerals of those killed in the Virginia Tech shootings, according to a message on their website ...
posted by amberglow at 6:56 PM on April 17, 2007


“Being that the students are unarmed, the only way they could have taken him down was a coordinated attack from two sides, or maybe a risky diversionary tactic that gave them a way to hit them from the side or back.”

Well, I don't think a gun is as formidable as you do. That people believe that a gun makes someone unstoppable by anyone unarmed is part of our cultural myth about guns now, I think it's why so many people that attempt to actualy use a gun in a home-protection scenario get hurt. A gun doesn't make you invincible. Being shot with a gun doesn't usually stop you dead in your tracks, even if it does kill you within seconds or minutes.

Granted, this guy was probably very adept with his guns and apparently very calm. I do think these things all add up to a situation where it was unlikely the unarmed college students were going to be able to stop him.

At any rate, I wonder if Goldberg and Derbyshire would have rushed the shooter. I can't imagine doing something like that without a sort of fatalistic "I'm probably already dead, so why not?" mindset. People like Goldberg strike me as far too enamoured of their own supposed importance to the world to ever really believe they are likely to be shot to death.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:09 PM on April 17, 2007


All you they-should-have-rushed-him people: how were the students supposed to know that there was only one shooter? If I had just heard 50+ shots echoing around the building, I'd probably be thinking that there could be two or more shooters.
posted by Mid at 7:12 PM on April 17, 2007


heavily armed

A relative notion. When I first heard that the guy had killed 30 people, I assumed he must have had, at least, a shotgun and lots of people in a confined space and at worst, some sort of illegally rigged automatic. (I'm not an expert, but I guess if you know what you're doing you can get kits do turn semi-auto rifles into full autos.)

I'm not trying to belabor the "Why didn't someone rush him?" argument. But it does shock me that after the 7:15 AM murders (which could have easily occured in seconds), he managed to land 28 killing shots with a 9 mm and a .22 (the latter being a relatively low powered weapon by any standard) with, apparently, no military or law enforcement training. Again, I'm no expert personally, but hitting something with a handgun at more than 15 feet is not the easiest thing in the world to do. I can only imagine that he did most of his killing at point-blank range, which is awful to consider, but worth remembering. I'm not saying that I or anyone else should turn into Rambo in a situation like this, but it does make you think, along with what happened on Flight 93, that our instincts to find shelter and stay put aren't always the best ones.

Anyways, here's something I thought was at least a little comforting and way classy -- the DC Nationals wore VT caps for their game this evening.
posted by bardic at 7:17 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


“All you they-should-have-rushed-him people: how were the students supposed to know that there was only one shooter? If I had just heard 50+ shots echoing around the building, I'd probably be thinking that there could be two or more shooters.”

I'm not saying they should have rushed him. I'm just saying that the flat claim that it wouldn't have worked is wrong. I think it might have worked. And it might not. It's possible that someone(s) did, and they were simply killed.

Anyway, that there might have been more shooters seems to me to be not something that would settle the matter. For example, I can't imagine that I'd do anything else but try to to escape (though I suspect and hope that I'd try to help others while doing so) if escape seemed possible. So, for me, I can only imagine trying to rush the killer if he was already in the classroom or something similar. And in that case, I think I'd feel I had nothing to lose anyway.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:21 PM on April 17, 2007


Again, I'm no expert personally, but hitting something with a handgun at more than 15 feet is not the easiest thing in the world to do.

I'm guessing the victims were cowering under desks and such, like at Columbine. 15 feet is probably 3x the distance he was shooting from.

That said, I have a lot of experience with handguns and you're right that hitting anything moving at 15 feet is actually very hard. Especially if you're not practiced.
posted by Mid at 7:37 PM on April 17, 2007


On reflection, maybe more like 25 feet is really hard. Anyway, I'm guessing this was all point-blank anyway.
posted by Mid at 7:40 PM on April 17, 2007


Mid : "All you they-should-have-rushed-him people"

Er...who? I see a few people saying "technically, it could have been done, but practically, expecting people to do it is hogwash".
posted by Bugbread at 7:57 PM on April 17, 2007


At this point, all I want to know is "why?"

I figure that all we'll have are theories - that this "note" doesn't really clarify anything beyond "he went/was crazy".

What was the motivation?

There are so many snippets but nothing of real substance. Everything, at this point in time, is basically just fodder for speculation.

Worse, we're so emotionally charged about this (for as many reasons as there are people involved) that we're clucking like hens in a frenzy over any topic that may be tangentially related to the event.

I guess that's what we do when all we have is a flood of useless information and no statements of fact.

posted by C.Batt at 8:06 PM on April 17, 2007


My husband was taught while young that "you run FROM a knife fight and RUSH a gun."

I suspect that the element of surprise plus the positioning of shooter/victims might have rendered that folk wisdom moot in this case.

That, or my husband was taught by idiots.
posted by konolia at 8:07 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I just saw a photo of one of the victims, Lauren McCain, on the New York Time's "The Lede" blog. I know that it's partly because she's a young woman who seems very attractive to me, and that it's such a nice photo of her, but I just got really sad with tears in my eyes and pain in my chest. I hate it that people die.

“That, or my husband was taught by idiots.”

Maybe, maybe not. Not ever having been in such a situation, or training thereof, I can only say that my intuition is that a knife in very close quarters very well may be more dangerous than a gun in very close quarters. I'm sure it depends upon both the kind of knife and the kind of gun.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:15 PM on April 17, 2007


Well, I don't think a gun is as formidable as you do. That people believe that a gun makes someone unstoppable by anyone unarmed is part of our cultural myth about guns now, I think it's why so many people that attempt to actualy use a gun in a home-protection scenario get hurt. A gun doesn't make you invincible. Being shot with a gun doesn't usually stop you dead in your tracks, even if it does kill you within seconds or minutes.

True, but if you're rushing him unarmed, he still has the advantage.

Again, I'm no expert personally, but hitting something with a handgun at more than 15 feet is not the easiest thing in the world to do.

With practice, it's pretty easy. 30, 40 feet, it's hard. The fact he was using handguns and landed so many killing shots suggests he had practice.

You also need composure in order to aim well, and he clearly had that. I can't hit the broad side of a barn with any firearm because I can't hold still.

I'm not saying that I or anyone else should turn into Rambo in a situation like this, but it does make you think, along with what happened on Flight 93, that our instincts to find shelter and stay put aren't always the best ones.

No, but again, the passengers had time to consider their options. The students didn't. One is instinct, the other calculation.

I'm not saying they should have rushed him. I'm just saying that the flat claim that it wouldn't have worked is wrong. I think it might have worked. And it might not. It's possible that someone(s) did, and they were simply killed.

Fair enough. But given incomplete information (how many shooters and what are they armed with) and their terrain (single or double entrance doors), I have a hard time seeing how a rush could have worked.

To me, the big problem (besides incomplete information) is the fact he was outside and the students were inside. It's like a valley -- you can only put so many people through a door, and all he has to do is pick them off as they come through. Now, if he'd entered a classroom they might have stood a chance if everyone rushed him at once. Why didn't that happen? Probably because there's no ESP. I'm sure more than a few tried to charge him, and he just gunned them down. Had everyone been on the same page and rushed him at once, it could have worked.

My husband was taught while young that "you run FROM a knife fight and RUSH a gun."

I've heard it before too, and it does make sense, the idea being that the gun is mechanical and could miss, while a knife won't miss at close quarters. The problem in this case is that you have someone with the tactical advantage beyond just having a gun.
posted by dw at 8:21 PM on April 17, 2007


Faces of some of the victims. Emily Hilscher, the first to be murdered.

- Cho wrote the “long, disturbing note” AFTER the first round of killings when he stopped back in his dorm room. “You made me do this” is one of its standout lines.

- Police believe he made 3 bomb threats last week to test campus security

- No Accomplices Suspected

- 2 professors, one wounded, one killed, cited as heroes for resisiting shooter at classroom doors.

CNN:

Asked why the campus, which has more than 26,000 students, was not shut down after the first shooting, ( V-Tech President ) Flinchum responded that police received information that “it was an isolated event to that building and the decision was made not to cancel classes at that time.”

( V-Tech Police Chief ) Steger added, “We had, uhm, some reason to believe the shooter had left campus.”

Student Described As Loner. He Was Already Well-Known For Stalking Women, Setting His Dorm Room On Fire, And Refusing To Say “Hello” Back To People In Hallways. “Crimes Were Well Thought Out, Not Spontaneous”, Say Investigators. First Gun Bought March 13.


Stalking/imaginary girlfriend issues discussed re Cho.
posted by nickyskye at 8:45 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


The names of the victims.

Virginia Tech University page re tragedy.
posted by nickyskye at 9:02 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hitting something the size of a human torso less than 15 feet away with a 9mm semi-auto is very, very easy - even one handed. At 25-plus feet it requires a practiced aim to do so consistently. To do so with any regularity at 75 feet requires a good weapon with which you are familar through consistent practice.

Though a .22 caliber pistol cartridge is not really an effective round for dropping someone on the spot it is still deadly, particularly in the hands of an experienced shooter and a victim without access to immediate medical attention.
posted by mrmojoflying at 9:06 PM on April 17, 2007


MSNBC profiles of the victims.
posted by delmoi at 9:08 PM on April 17, 2007


Kieth Olberman's show on MSNBC is, so far, the only news program to discuss current news in the attorney general scandal, and to talk about the young soldiers dying in Iraq not recieving the same attention as the deaths at VT. Nice to see someone trying to give us something a bit different on the 24 hour news channels
posted by rbf1138 at 9:17 PM on April 17, 2007


PBS is running a series all week about America and Iraq that has been absolutely excellent so far: America at a Crossroads.
posted by homunculus at 9:42 PM on April 17, 2007


.
posted by brevator at 9:43 PM on April 17, 2007


Man, there are way too many posts on this topic for my feeble attention span.

I live near VT, and I'm just fucking weirded out. Fuck this. I want my Christiansburg, my Pulaski...my Southwest Virginia back. I'm from NJ originally and I don't know anyone within the six degrees of separation. But most of the people I do know are somehow connected with VT. That, along with the media swarm, makes the vibe thick and uncomfortable and surreal.

These VT students are some strong kids. If I were in their shoes, I'd go bonkers under the strain of having a media orgy breathing down the collective necks of my alma mater on top of trying to comprehend and process the scope of what happened in my world.
posted by Modem Ovary at 9:57 PM on April 17, 2007


why didn't anyone rush the guy? It's not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness' sake

Apparently this is John Derbyshire's email address: gxnmvw7e@gmail.com, maybe a better bet is to try thecorner@nationalreview.com - the publishers of the cowardly piece.
posted by meech at 10:38 PM on April 17, 2007


People on Flight 93 knew they were dead, they had every reason to risk their lives fighting back.

People in the classrooms had pretty good chances hoofing it out a window or blocking a doorway. According to this security expert who studied Columbine, those are the top choices for people facing a shooter. After that, it's hide, or play dead, with fight back ranking dead last among the five options in terms of survivability.

So an expert who's studied this thinks fighting back is a bad idea.

Anyway, I have a theory. I'm just putting this out there because I haven't seen it anywhere yet. Nobody's deciphered "Ismail Ax" yet.

But he had a fascination with Guns'N'Roses, and the song on which he based a play, "Mr. Brownstone", was written by Izzy Stradlin and Slash .... and sung by Axl Rose (unless I'm wrong). I figured that if it were an online moniker (e.g. "Clan Ax") the people who knew that would have appeared by now, so that can be discarded. But what if it some kind of personal mythology where he memorialized the band members he admired?

Stradlin's real last name is Isbell; Ax may be part of Axl; and Rose's real first name is William, of which the last four letters backwards are "mail". Of course, the "mail" part could also be taking parts from some other names, too.

I'm probably just wasting time. This is about as probable as the FreeRepublic speculation that it's actually a Turkish doctor named "Ismail AK" (and they don't realize that AK are his initials, A.K. Ismail). Cho doesn't show much proficiency for wordplay in the two plays we've seen, anyway, and he chose totally generic names for the characters in the play based on the song. But I think this is at least based in something we know about him, as opposed to theories using it to reveal something we don't.
posted by dhartung at 10:59 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Guardian: Details of Virginia Tech Campus Rampage.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:04 PM on April 17, 2007


Faces of the victims, on Flickr.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:07 PM on April 17, 2007


What's weird to me is that there's all this talk of the Asian background, when the setting is so just... like everywhere else in the US. I can picture so many of the places he spent the last decade.

My parents moved to Centreville after I started college. One of my brothers graduated in this guy's high school class, and was in the Virginia Tech classroom building next to Norris Hall when the shooting happened.

Centreville is your classic suburb. No town center, nowhere that feels like anywhere in particular. Newly built strip malls and grocery stores, basically. Obviously, that didn't make him a shooter, but the way we live does promote isolation and have people living in meaningless places cut off from wider support networks. But putting aside my own soapbox...

Everyone is asking "what would make this guy kill all these people?" I can't really ask that -- I just imagine him basically living the same life, or at least moving through all the same places at the same time, as my young brother. That has got to be weird for him. I feel bad for Cho's parents.
posted by salvia at 1:17 AM on April 18, 2007


Blood on Textbooks: Campuses Under Fire
posted by homunculus at 1:46 AM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Let the healin blaming begin. Video games? Godlessness? Dungeons and Dragons? Neo-Nazis?"


Women, apparently, or at least their oh-so-provocative faces. "THIS is the face of the girl who may have sparked the worst school shooting in US history."
posted by gignomai at 2:30 AM on April 18, 2007


Good God. If the Guardian article is correct and it isn't just confusingly written, he went through 5 or 6 magazines in just the French classroom. [The standard Glock 19 magazine holds fifteen rounds.]
posted by moonbiter at 2:46 AM on April 18, 2007


.
posted by Tarrama at 5:06 AM on April 18, 2007


Faces of the victims, on Flickr.

I completely stepped away from this thread yesterday, from my tv altogether, and that's the first link i clicked tonight. Good God. I cannot believe these peoples lives were taken away. For nothing. I pray that they've all gone to a better place. I pray for healing, and forgiveness.

This dot is to remind us that there is hope. In remembrance of Emily Murray. And all the rest who have been taken too soon.

.

From Tolstoy's Russian Stories and Legends (via)

An honest and hardworking Russian peasant named Aksenov left his dear wife and family for a few days to visit a nearby fair. He spent his first overnight at an inn. That night a murder was committed there. The murderer placed the murder weapon in the sleeping peasant's bag. The police discovered the peasant with the murder weapon in the morning. He was stuck in prison for twenty-six years, surviving only on bitter hopes of revenge.

One day the real murderer was imprisoned with him and soon was charged with an escape attempt. He had been digging a tunnel that Aksenov alone had witnessed. The authorities interrogated the peasant about his crime. At long last, Aksenov got his opportunity for revenge. At his word, his enemy, the one who destroyed his life, family, and future, would be flogged almost to death.

However, a strange thing happened. Aksenov suddenly felt the grace of God to well up in his heart. He found that the darkness that filled his heart for the past 26 years has fled. It was replaced by light. He found himself saying to the officers: "I saw nothing." His enemy was saved from the punishment. That night the guilty criminal made his way to the peasant's bunk and, sobbing on his knees, begged his forgiveness. And again the light of God flooded the peasant's heart. "God will forgive you," said he. "Maybe I am a hundred times worse than you."

And at these words his heart grew light and the longing for home left him.

posted by phaedon at 5:28 AM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Va. Tech hero: 'We were just sitting ducks'.

Washington Post: Nobody Understood Him.

Newsweek: He was‘just off’.
posted by ericb at 7:21 AM on April 18, 2007


Ok, so we're officially at Step 3 of the Media Guide for Reporting on Mass Homicides: "Identify Heroes". Step 1 of course, being, get as much sensational and/or grotesque footage as you can and play it non-stop for the first 24 hours. Step 2 is deconstructing the life of the killer.

What's Step 4, is it assigning blame to the authorities, or is that Step 5?
posted by psmealey at 7:32 AM on April 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think Step 4 is "it's too early to assign blame, what we need now is to come together and begin the healing process"
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:39 AM on April 18, 2007


Planet Blacksburg: Community News at a College Level re Virginia Tech via mjjj.
posted by nickyskye at 8:46 AM on April 18, 2007


Cho Seung Hui's plays.
posted by nickyskye at 8:59 AM on April 18, 2007


Fred Phelps & The Westboro Baptist Church will be protesting the funeral service for the people that lost their life at VA Tech.

I suppose this should surprise me.

It doesn't.
posted by Industrial PhD at 9:10 AM on April 18, 2007


Sorry, day late and buck short on that last post. Flagged it myself even.
posted by Industrial PhD at 9:28 AM on April 18, 2007


CNN interview with Cho's two roommates.
posted by ericb at 9:49 AM on April 18, 2007


The Question Mark Kid
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:04 AM on April 18, 2007


I think Step 4 is "it's too early to assign blame, what we need now is to come together and begin the healing process"

Made the mistake of following that Derbyshire link. Wound up reading a frothing screed by Canada's very own homegrown sneering hateful cunt Mark Steyn. (I use each of these adjectives advisedly, and this worthless piece of shit deserves every one of them. He deserves insults that haven't even been coined yet.)

Anyway, Steyn's got a tidy little blame gumbo all stewed up and ready to go. The responsibility for this massacre lies with (*drum roll*) . . .

. . . "a selectively infantilized culture" of "awful corrosive passivity"!

What a blow to the liberal media and their hateful videogames and satanic music, but don't despair because Steyn spews his bile so widely that there's a dollop for the way we "portray" soldiers as kids but Monica Lewinsky (!) as an adult (!) (?). Also it would appear the Canadian media in toto is to blame for failing to accurately portray Ecole Polytechnique mass-murderer Marc Lepine as a jihadist (and the lesson of that mass murder, kids, is that Canadian masculinity is the most infantalized of all!). Also, this is all a betrayal of the Spirit of 9/11!

Quite a tour de force from the shit Steyn! Congratulate him at mark@steynonline.com!

Anyway, I hate to ramble on, but if there can be the slightest, thinnest silver lining to such an awful black cloud on this day, it would be that Mark Steyn's remaining shreds of credibility and soiled dignity are finally tossed upon the dustbin of the end of history with the rest of the bilious corpse of his twisted dwarf of an intellect.
posted by gompa at 10:17 AM on April 18, 2007


I really wanna ignore this. When the media started referring to this as a "college Columbine" I just rolled my eyes. The only thing more tragic than the loss of thirty-two lives to such utter stupidity on the part of this shooter is that the media - and we the people - our reaction to it... it's just tragic.

The more we learn about the shooter, the less i like this. He's the loner. The guy in the classroom that doesn't talk much who may have 'issues' at home. Maybe sometimes other kids try to get him to open up, but they approach the guy on their terms. Not his. So naturally their efforts only cause his defenses to go up and he crawls that much further into his shell.

I really don't like where this is going. After Columbine, every kid across the country who liked wearing trenchcoats to school came under suspicion. Now it's gonna be any kid who expresses himself violently through writing. Poetry. Playwrighting. So how come Quentin Terrantino doesn't go around killing people?

I really don't like where this is heading.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:59 AM on April 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


.
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 11:07 AM on April 18, 2007


“But we must also not lose sight of the fact that I am right on every significant moral and political issue.”
posted by homunculus at 11:29 AM on April 18, 2007


"Nonetheless, it’s deeply damaging to portray fit fully formed adults as children who need to be protected."

Can arch-conservatives stop going on about how college students are "indoctrinated" by liberal professors and whatnot, then?
posted by raysmj at 11:50 AM on April 18, 2007


Michelle Malkin: "Enough is enough, indeed. Enough of intellectual disarmament. Enough of physical disarmament. You want a safer campus? It begins with renewing a culture of self-defense — mind, spirit and body. It begins with two words: Fight back."

A response: Michelle Malkin is a dangerous idiot .
posted by ericb at 11:52 AM on April 18, 2007


Keith Olbermann’s World’s Worst: Derbyshire's offensive remarks about VT shootings.
posted by ericb at 11:58 AM on April 18, 2007


Derbyshire takes pride: “I’m still not too clear about who this Keith Omdurman character is. He’s plainly a leftie, though — one of that legion who pine for the days when they could tongue-polish Stalin’s boots — so I am proud to be top of his Worst list.”
posted by ericb at 11:59 AM on April 18, 2007


So, how do you like America, Carl? [...] This is so crazy - a blizzard in April (!).

14 minute, mostly unedited amateur video shot by visiting Swedish students Martin Arvebro and Carl Nordin. Aside from showing police presence and waves of students fleeing Norris Hall, it illustrates the eerily light-hearted and unfazed atmosphere in a neighboring building before the gravity of the situation would become clear. Contains strong language.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:04 PM on April 18, 2007


It begins with two words: Fight back.

wrong, it's five: Punch the mouthy Asian bitch.
posted by quonsar at 12:09 PM on April 18, 2007


Quonsar is kinda like having our own Imus.
posted by Mid at 12:32 PM on April 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


Can anyone clue me in on what the period posts are all about?
posted by NotMyself at 12:45 PM on April 18, 2007


Notmyself, it's usually intended as a moment of silence, or a symbol of sadness.
posted by drezdn at 1:03 PM on April 18, 2007


Why does the Bush administration have a list of everyone who has ever used anti-depressants?
"Guess what? They do. From ABC News, regarding the VA Tech shooter:
'Some news accounts have suggested that Cho had a history of antidepressant use, but senior federal officials tell ABC News that they can find no record of such medication in the government's files. This does not completely rule out prescription drug use, including samples from a physician, drugs obtained through illegal Internet sources, or a gap in the federal database, but the sources say theirs is a reasonably complete search.'
We don't even have a list of gun owners, and we have a list of everyone who has been prescribed anti-depressants? And in fact, the article suggests that this isn't just a database of patients who use anti-depressants, it's a federal database of every prescription drug you've ever bought.

What exactly do the Bushies do with that list? And what other lists do they have of which medications you've ever taken?"
posted by ericb at 1:17 PM on April 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


The FAQ entry on the dot.
posted by cortex at 1:28 PM on April 18, 2007


"A court order from 2005 states that Virginia Tech killer Cho Seung-Hui was declared mentally ill and "an imminent danger to others," a district court clerk tells CNN."

Current headline on CNN right now.
posted by NotMyself at 1:38 PM on April 18, 2007


Prescription medications are controlled substances. Is shouldn't come as a surprise that some government agency is aware of what drugs we take.

Even so, the access to such records should be heavily restricted as part of medical privacy. The question is: is it?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:38 PM on April 18, 2007


Gunman in massacre contacted NBC News
"Cho Seung-Hui sent NBC News a long and rambling communication and video about his grievances, the network said Wednesday. Network officials turned the material over to the FBI and said they would not immediately disclose its contents pending the agency’s review.

The communication is the last known red flag raised by Cho..."
posted by ericb at 1:51 PM on April 18, 2007


"NBC says materials from Cho were sent between first and second shootings."

MSNBC video on the materials received.
posted by ericb at 1:55 PM on April 18, 2007


NBC News received the materials in a US Mail package today. Investigators believe it was mailed between the two shootings. It appears that Cho spent the two-hours between shootings writing the note he left in his dorm room and putting together his "multimedia manifesto" and then mailing it.
posted by ericb at 2:09 PM on April 18, 2007


In related news: Student shoots self after threatening students at high school.
posted by ericb at 2:12 PM on April 18, 2007


Associated Press: "The package, time-stamped and mailed in the two-hour window between Monday's shootings, was sent to NBC News head Steve Capus. It contained digital photos of the gunman holding weapons and a manifesto that 'rants against rich people and warns that he wants to get even,' according to a New York law enforcement official familiar with the case, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about it."

BTW -- NBC will show portions of the video this evening on NBC Nightly News wth Brian Williams.
posted by ericb at 2:17 PM on April 18, 2007


As a writer and an artist, he has succeeded in gaining an audience. I'm very surprised that he sent the materials to the head of NBC, and not to Brian Williams or to a local affiliate. How entirely odd. One can only imagine what and how copycats will try to trump the media spectacle this kid has created.
posted by billysumday at 2:24 PM on April 18, 2007


The package, time-stamped and mailed in the two-hour window between Monday's shootings

Among the many fucked up aspects to it all, this takes the cake.

Total speculation here on my part, but was he walking around campus with his extra clips? (Concealing two handguns on a cold day wouldn't be too much of a problem, multiple clips would be.) Was there blood on his clothing from the first two murders? Did the administration not lock the freakin' campus down with a double-murderer still on the loose?

I realize we hashed a lot of this out yesterday, and in all sincerity, it is the time to heal, but fuck me. Campus security and the local cops seem to have fucked up big time, really big fucking time, on this.
posted by bardic at 2:42 PM on April 18, 2007


Jack Thompson is on MSNBC being interviewed by Chris Matthews. Thompson is blaming this massacre on videogames -- no kidding.
posted by ericb at 2:45 PM on April 18, 2007


Yeah, and Matthews is running with it, asking the roommate "Is there a subculture around this Counterstrike game?"

Ugh.
posted by bardic at 2:49 PM on April 18, 2007


NBC has released one of the photos Cho sent to them.
posted by ericb at 2:50 PM on April 18, 2007


Well, now we know what he did that morning. He went postal.
posted by dhartung at 2:57 PM on April 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Jesus Fucking Christ. Straight out of a John Woo film.
posted by bardic at 2:57 PM on April 18, 2007


Matthews said, of the picture, "reminds me of the suicide bombers in Iraq, wanting everyone to know who they are."
posted by billysumday at 2:57 PM on April 18, 2007


What a dick.
posted by mazola at 3:01 PM on April 18, 2007


Campus security and the local cops seem to have fucked up big time, really big fucking time, on this.

christ, what an asshole.

bardic, murders happen all the time, and the perps flee. do the cops shut the city down where you live every time this happens? no, because there is no fucking reason to think that any given shooting has been committed by a lunatic who is about to rampage. statistically the overwhelming number of shootings are crimes of passion, heat of the moment events where the perp hauls ass and goes into hiding. what is up with your pathological need to assign blame to the local authorities? turn off your tv now and give it a break.
posted by quonsar at 3:04 PM on April 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


do the cops shut the city down where you live every time this happens? ... statistically the overwhelming number of shootings are crimes of passion, heat of the moment events where the perp hauls ass and goes into hiding.

Exactly.
posted by Bookhouse at 3:08 PM on April 18, 2007


I have this feeling that I don't feel like I can articulate well, of wanting to know what happened inside of Cho in those two hours of interim. I guess the content and volume of what he sent to NBC, and whatever other evidence eventually comes in, will help answer some of the specifics, but I don't know if it will ever be really knowable.

I guess it's this: two hours of down time right after killing two people, presumably his first act of deadly violence—did he simply spend it doing some administrative housekeeping, as it were, for his flipout, or was he killing time waiting for his door to be kicked down, for someone to catch him or stop him or just give him a sign that a killing spree wasn't in the books after all?
posted by cortex at 3:11 PM on April 18, 2007


Shutting down a city/campus != alerting students/faculty that a double murder occurred and the assailant was not apprehended.

What is your pathological need to jump down people's throats for having opinions? Turn your computer off and give it a break.
posted by billysumday at 3:11 PM on April 18, 2007


I have this feeling that I don't feel like I can articulate well, of wanting to know what happened inside of Cho in those two hours of interim.

To me, that's the most fascinating thing about all of this. How much he accomplished in those two hours, the distance he traveled, how he got there (on foot or in a car), what was going through his head, why the engineering building, etc. There's still a lot mystery out there.
posted by billysumday at 3:14 PM on April 18, 2007


Also, who took that photo? He took it himself? Right before the shooting? Was it on the video? So, what, he sets up a tripod in his room? In the hallway? And shoots a video of himself to send to NBC. Well, he must have done it in his dorm room somewhere, or elsewhere on campus. Just amazing that no one saw him. No one caught him as he left the first building. It's just so odd and puzzling.
posted by billysumday at 3:18 PM on April 18, 2007


billysumday, you may note that i was addressing this line of bardics:

Did the administration not lock the freakin' campus down with a double-murderer still on the loose?

you may note that he did not say "Did the administration not alert the students/faculty with a double-murderer still on the loose?"

you may note he said "lock the freakin' campus down".

you may note that he's been grinding his "local authorities to blame" axe quite a bit in this thread. he also grinds it on his own blog.

you may note these things now, or you may note them sumday, billy.
posted by quonsar at 3:18 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Korean newspaper Chosun-Ilbo interviewed Cho's aunt in Korea. Says she had little contact with the family in the US since they moved. She remembers her nephew as a kid who got good grades but who was not talkative and was introverted, with a sad/depressed personality (wooeulhan sungkyuk).
posted by shortfuse at 3:20 PM on April 18, 2007


I think that when the media runs this guy's picture is should be be accompanied by an arrow and a mandatory & prominent "DINK" label.
posted by mazola at 3:20 PM on April 18, 2007


quonsar, just shut the fuck up and go away. Seriously, if you were a tenth as funny as you thought you were, you'd be a minor plus for this place. As it stands, fuck off. You're a callous jagoff, and now you're trying to call me out for asking some obvious questions? Fwiw, I'm not a serial "cop hater." I know they have tough jobs. I just wonder if some huge mistakes weren't made here by campus security and local authorities. I'm not asking for people to be fired. I'm asking that people be prepared for when this happens next. I'm sure you're excited by this prospect, since you'll get to once again try, and fail, to be funny regarding the deaths of others.

VA Tech is big. Fine. It's not a city. It's an enclosed area, albeit a large one. I'd say a double murder is enough of an event for the inconvenience of a campus-wide shutdown.
posted by bardic at 3:21 PM on April 18, 2007


quonsar writes he also grinds it on his own blog.

What the hell are you smoking?

Please quonsar, go make some shitty music or something. This is not your finest day in the blue. Not that the standard is very high, but still.
posted by bardic at 3:23 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


you may note that he's been grinding his "local authorities to blame" axe quite a bit in this thread.

So let him grind it. Lots of people have been grinding that axe. People are upset. Who's to say that a campus full of people aware that a double murder had recently occurred wouldn't be more vigilant, more alert? If you're going to yell at bardic, you should yell at pretty much every Virginia Tech student and parent of a student who has said, in the last couple of days, WTF SECURITY?
posted by billysumday at 3:25 PM on April 18, 2007


(Thanks for reading my blog btw. Can't say I've ever checked out your own.)
posted by bardic at 3:26 PM on April 18, 2007


eat me, bardic.

of course "you'd say a double murder is enough of an event for the inconvenience of a campu-wide shutdown" because you've been saying it repeatedly.

that doesn't change one iota the fact that the overwhelming number of shootings are crimes of passion, heat of the moment events where the perp hauls ass and goes into hiding, and that there was no fucking reason to think that this shooting had been committed by a lunatic about to rampage. in fact, it was being portrayed to the police as a boyfriend/girlfriend quarrel.

i may be a callous jagoff but i'm not deliberately ignorant, my ignorance is calculated. mostly to confound navel-gazing blather-filled spoutoffs like yourself.
posted by quonsar at 3:29 PM on April 18, 2007


So I suppose like 800 comments into a thread, I can let loose with a little conspiracy theorizing:

1. Cho probably practiced with those guns.

2. Cho must have had some connection to the first victim in the dorm.

3. The police first went after the first victim's boyfriend because the first victim's roommate said that the boyfriend had guns and had taken the two women to a shooting range.

4. The police are still being cagey about the boyfriend, calling him a "person of interest" and saying that they aren't 100% sure Cho did the first killing, but that the gun was the same for all of the killings.

Is it possible Cho and the boyfriend were shooting range pals?
posted by Mid at 3:31 PM on April 18, 2007


Look, you're a mediocre court jester at best. When you take that hat off and try to play "SRSLY I'M QUONSAR AND HAVE OPINIONS AND STUFF," you're bound to fail. It doesn't help that your opionions are lame, but still. Structural issues going on here.

You honestly don't know much about law enforcement. If a murder occurs, cops don't stand around and tell themselves, "Gee, at least we know another one won't happen due to statistics!" They do their best to capture the murderer. They secure the area as best as possible. (I realize that a magical lockdown might not have prevented the 2nd wave of 30 murders, but it might have helped.)

"blather-filled"? C'mon man. Those kids haven't even been buried yet! Why not make some jokes about them? I'm low-hanging fruit, by comparison. But cortex should be along soon to bail you out, so I'm done with you.
posted by bardic at 3:38 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


"A court order from 2005 states that Virginia Tech killer Cho Seung-Hui was declared mentally ill and "an imminent danger to others," a district court clerk tells CNN."

ABC News: Va. Tech Killer Ruled Mentally Ill by Court; Let Go After Hospital Visit.
posted by ericb at 3:39 PM on April 18, 2007


MSNBC site has photos up, including ones not shown on NBC. Very disturbing.

Makes me wonder how long before some other nutty person does a Justin.tv thing and tapes / broadcasts his POV as he commits the killings.
posted by shortfuse at 3:47 PM on April 18, 2007


There's nothing but dick-measuring pique preventing either of you from dropping it, you know.
posted by cortex at 3:48 PM on April 18, 2007


I'm usually skeptical about the fears of "copycats," but something about this is intangibly weird and sad. With graduations coming up, I'm sure security will and should be high, hopefully needlessly so.
posted by bardic at 3:49 PM on April 18, 2007


The package to NBC was sent from "A. Ishmael".
posted by mazola at 3:51 PM on April 18, 2007


"The package included an 1,800-word manifesto-like statement diatribe in which he expresses rage, resentment and a desire to get even.

The material is 'hard-to-follow ... disturbing, very disturbing — very angry, profanity-laced,' [NBC News President Steve] Capus said in an interview late Wednesday afternoon.

The material does not include any images of the shootings Monday, but it does contain 'vague references,' including 'things like "this didn’t have to happen,"' Capus said.

'You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today,' Cho says on one of the videos. '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.'

...The package bore a U.S. Postal Service stamp recording that it had been received at a Virginia post office at 9:01 a.m. ET Monday, about an hour and 45 minutes after Cho shot two people in the West Ambler Johnston residence hall on the Virginia Tech campus and shortly before Cho entered Norris Hall, where he killed 30 more people.

'We probably would have received the mail earlier had it not been that he had the wrong address and ZIP code,' Capus said.

Among the materials are 23 QuickTime video files showing Cho talking directly to the camera, Capus said. He does not name anyone specifically, but he mentions 'sin' and 'spilling' his blood and talks at length about his hatred of the wealthy.

The production of the videos is uneven, with Cho’s voice so soft that at times it is hard to understand him. But they indicate that Cho had worked on the package for some time, because he not only 'took the time to record the videos, but he also broke them down into snippets' that were embedded paragraph by paragraph into the main document, Capus said.

The package also includes 29 photographs. He looks like a normal, smiling college student in only the first two. In the rest, he presents a stern face; in 11, he aims handguns at the camera that are 'consistent with what we’ve heard about the guns in this incident,' Capus said.

Other photographs show Cho holding a knife, and some show hollow-point bullets lined up on a table." *

Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News -- The Multimedia Manifesto.
posted by ericb at 3:51 PM on April 18, 2007


Wonder if the kid had watched Zero Day.
posted by NotMyself at 3:56 PM on April 18, 2007


I haven't posted in this thread yet, but I do subscribe to the "the local authorities dropped the ball" opinion.

I believe that, as soon as they spoke to the first female victim's best friend and heard that her boyfriend owned a bunch of guns, they not only had a Person of Interest in mind, but I'm fairly confident that the officers on the scene believed they'd cracked the case.

I'm of the firm belief that, had the first victim not had any boyfriend and there was no "slam dunk" suspect (which is what he was, for darn sure), they would have, at the very least, made it a strong point to notify the campus community that there was a double homicide shooting with the perpetrator still at large.

But they had a specific suspect in mind, a person who lived off-campus, and because of jumping to that conclusion (the conclusion, which I add, is perfectly reasonable, here, and I do not take issue with that), they from that point did not perform their due diligence in notifying as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, that an UNKNOWN perpetrator was at large.

Perhaps that notification would've had some students choose not to go to class that day. Perhaps that notification would have decreased the death toll by as much as three. Or one.

Based on what appeared to be an open and shut domestic violence case, they closed off the reasonable notification channels of informing the community of a gunman at large as soon as possible. A lockdown would have been clearly over the top for this kind of case, but NO notification whatsoever was a foolish risk, and indicates a presumption of having solved the case before it even began.

And that is irresponsible on the part of any law enforcement agency.

Even if so much as one of those injured or killed students had remained at home that morning because they got a text message within 15 minutes of the police arriving on scene, that WOULD have been worth the extra effort.

Rather than having a shrewd idea who the murderer was, they behaved already as if they knew conclusively, and treated it as though Emily and Stack were killed by Emily's boyfriend Karl. It is simply a heap of more tragedy atop the mound of dead bodies that Karl, innocent and by pure coincidence, happened to be a gun enthusiast.

If he weren't, I am certain that more effort would have been undertaken to notify the community of a gunman at large. And perhaps one or more lives would have been saved because of it.

That is why I hold the VT police responsible, in part, for the painfully high death toll, and whoever is the responsible decision-maker that chose NOT to broadcast -- fast and loud -- that the perpetrator of a double homicide was at large should resign from their position. Maybe it's Flinchum, maybe it's the VT president. Maybe it's both.

But they screwed up. They thought they knew who their guy was and because of that, they didn't take a simple step that, in all likelihood would not have prevented the massacre, but may have saved one or more lives.

Perhaps one of those students or teachers who, when the crew was covering the building in the hours after the attack, lay dead in a classroom or in the stairwell, would otherwise have been able to answer their cellphone at home and tell a loved one that they were all right.
posted by chimaera at 3:56 PM on April 18, 2007


Well, at least he used QuickTime, not WMV or Real.

ericb - Thanks for the updates.
posted by shortfuse at 3:56 PM on April 18, 2007


The photo with the hammer puzzles me.
posted by ColdChef at 4:07 PM on April 18, 2007


A slideshow of some of the materials in Cho's "Multimedia Manifesto."
posted by ericb at 4:24 PM on April 18, 2007


i really have to wonder how useful it is to give psychotic murderers a nationwide platform to spew their hate and narcisstically pose in front of the camera
posted by pyramid termite at 4:24 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


You can see why some of the initial reports said it looked like he was dressed in a boyscout uniform.
posted by Mid at 4:34 PM on April 18, 2007


File this new development under holy fucking shit.
posted by The Straightener at 4:36 PM on April 18, 2007


Is there a link to a downloadable file that doesn't require flash?
posted by Anything at 4:41 PM on April 18, 2007


I just took a look at the slideshow posted at MSNBC's website.

What is particularly interesting about his videos, photos, and manifesto, is how much they sort of encapsulate our current media-saturated culture. You'd expect a young mass murderer like him to want to express himself in portfolio form.

I wonder whether he actively thought this through --- "In order for my rampage to leave the biggest mark on the culture, I must leave images, videos, and text behind. That way, I will control the story to some extent. Without me leaving a cache of multimedia content, the media will have to write the story themselves."

It's a Youtube approach to mass murder.

Note the distinction here between the Columbine killings and the Virginia Tech killing. With Columbine, the killers' diaries were found by the authorities among the personal effects of Harris and Klebold, and were not released to the public. The Columbine sheriff's department has vigorously fought the attempts by media and others to get access to the diaries. I've never thought about this before, but it makes perfect sense that they do not want the diaries released --- in releasing such diaries, the killers are given a "voice." The authorities, naturally, do not want the killers to be able to have a "say" in the telling of the story.

In the Virginia tech massacre, the killer was savvy enough to send the content DIRECTLY to a media organization. He knew that the media is hungry for content, would cherish any opportunity to have multimedia content produced by the killer, and that any images he provided would receive enormous exposure. Perhaps Cho did not think it through so meticulously, but I can't help but think that by sending the package to the media, he chose a very effective way of shaping the story and having a voice in how the story is told.
posted by jayder at 4:48 PM on April 18, 2007 [18 favorites]


Well, now with the help of NBC, Cho has manged to push all the photos of the victims off the front page of nearly all media outlets.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:54 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


So true, jayder.
"The Youtube Murderer", coming to a blog near you.
posted by Dizzy at 4:54 PM on April 18, 2007


"In order for my rampage to leave the biggest mark on the culture, I must leave images, videos, and text behind. That way, I will control the story to some extent. Without me leaving a cache of multimedia content, the media will have to write the story themselves."

It's a pity he couldn't write for shit then.

Have you seen his plays? Fucking awful.
posted by Artw at 4:55 PM on April 18, 2007


It's a Youtube approach to mass murder.

That gave me chills for some reason. Very insightful jayder.
posted by NotMyself at 4:57 PM on April 18, 2007


You know, in some of those photos he looks damn scary.

In others, he just looks scared.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:58 PM on April 18, 2007


The Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University covers 19.6 square miles, and it is the biggest thing around. There's no practical way to lock it down, and no nearby resources to drawn upon to even try.
posted by NortonDC at 4:59 PM on April 18, 2007


AP News video showing a bunch of Cho's Quicktime clips.
posted by jayder at 5:04 PM on April 18, 2007


It's a Youtube approach to mass murder

I'm not sure giving attention to this tortured psychopath's multimedia manifesto is gonna work out well. Video responses in 3, 2, 1...
posted by HyperBlue at 5:16 PM on April 18, 2007


Holy fucking shit indeed. Like millions of others I was curious about the shooter's motivation, but receiving so much, so directly and in such a - literally - neat little package is much, much more than I had ever expected. Shocking. "You know you're living in the 21st Century when..." and all that. Jesus Christ.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:29 PM on April 18, 2007


one inaccuracy in the accounts here - i don't think it's a "manifesto" - it's a "media kit"
posted by pyramid termite at 5:33 PM on April 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


the personal effects of Harris and Klebold

BTW -- in Brian Williams' closing segment on 'NBC Nightly News' tonight he points out that Cho references and acknowledge's "Eric and Dylan" in his written diatribe.
posted by ericb at 5:37 PM on April 18, 2007


As much as I cringed watching that shit, at the end of the day, I don't think there's much wrong with releasing it in this way. He comes across a foaming at the mouth, childish, petulant and unintelligent jackass with a huge persecution complex. There is absolutely nothing sympathetic about him.

It reminded me a bit about the initial stages of the aftermath of the Columbine killings. The thing that was scary about that was the way the facts were divulged. Initially, despite the senseless carnage, tragedy and horror, there was a kernel of story in there that was seductive, something a lot of people could relate to. Being bullied by jocks and popular kids, not getting any protection from faculty members, etc. and exacting revenge on them was a fantasy of more than a few people, I'd be willing to bet.

Of course once they released the other material about Harris and Klebold later on, it was instantly apparent what a couple of self-important, racist, idiotic fucks they were. It was key to blowing the myth of these guys somehow acted heroically on behalf of millions of abused high school kids throughout the country.

As much as I harp on the media for exploiting these tragedies for ratings and to feed the sick voyeuristic cravings of people that should not be humored in that way... seeing these videos, I think it might do more good than harm. What I mean to say is that now, his lasting portrayal is as someone who was pathetic, driven by murderous rage by demons that only he could see (and certainly couldn't describe).
posted by psmealey at 5:43 PM on April 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


chimaera writes "But they had a specific suspect in mind, a person who lived off-campus, and because of jumping to that conclusion (the conclusion, which I add, is perfectly reasonable, here, and I do not take issue with that), they from that point did not perform their due diligence in notifying as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, that an UNKNOWN perpetrator was at large.

"Perhaps that notification would've had some students choose not to go to class that day. Perhaps that notification would have decreased the death toll by as much as three. Or one. "


Or perhaps if that was policy the continuous flood of previous alerts flowing from the security office would have made the alert over the homicide blend into a sea of never ending "Boy who cried wolf" alerts ignored far and wide.

You're on your way to maybe your final class of the semester and an alert from the rent-a-cops tells you a murder was committed on campus and they haven't caught the guy. Do you really skip class? I wouldn't, the murder was way on the other side of campus. Besides how often does a guy kill someone; disappear for 2 hours then start on a killing spree? I've got a several orders of magnitude better chance of being struck by a car on my way to class than being caught up in his spree.
posted by Mitheral at 5:45 PM on April 18, 2007


Jesus. Does this go too far? I mean, isn't it exactly what the shooter would have wanted?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:49 PM on April 18, 2007


Ishmael (Hebrew: יִשְׁמָעֵאל, Standard Yišmaʿel Tiberian Yišmāʿêl; Arabic: Ismā'īl; translates as "God will hear" (Strong's Dictionary)) was Abraham's eldest son, born by his wife's handmaiden Hagar. Though being born of Hagar, according to the Mesopotamian law, he was credited to Sarah (Gn. 16:2) According to the Genesis account, he died at the age of 137 (Gn. 25:17).

Islamic tradition has a very positive view of Ishmael, ascribing a larger role to Ishmael in comparison to the Bible and viewing him as a prophet and the son of sacrifice (according to certain early theologians whose ideas prevailed later). The Bahá'í writings consider him a lesser prophet.

Both Jewish and Islamic traditions consider Ishmael as the ancestor of Arab people
(wiki)
posted by HyperBlue at 5:52 PM on April 18, 2007


I have to say, that this is the most postmodern killing spree ever. Referencing Columbine? Multimedia? Biblical and classical references? Coming to a state as a not-quite-resident from a state that is not-quite-a-state. And look at the plays he left behind. No character development, in medias res. Things appearing out of nowhere (chainsaw), one-dimensional personas who talk in almost hyperbole and use trite, cliche metaphors.
posted by geoff. at 5:52 PM on April 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Do you really skip class? I wouldn't, the murder was way on the other side of campus.

Not sure where you went to college or uni, but that's simply ridiculous. What event short of the Apocalypse would be suitable for a campus shutdown?
posted by bardic at 5:54 PM on April 18, 2007


Or,

Ishmael (Moby Dick) the narrator (and arguably the protagonist) of the 1851 novel Moby-Dick by U.S. author Herman Melville. It is through his eyes and experience that the reader experiences the story of the ship Pequod, and the fight between Captain Ahab and the white whale. He is a central character in the action in the early part of the novel, essentially fulfilling all the requirements of being a conventional protagonist. After the Pequod leaves Nantucket, he increasingly recedes into the background as a commentator, with his voice approaching that of an omniscient narrator at times, able to see into all parts of the ship and into the private motivations of other characters. (wiki)
posted by HyperBlue at 5:55 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's a Youtube approach to mass murder

Interestingly, when I first saw the cellphone video Monday, I idly wondered how long it would be until we got cellphone video from a perp taken during one of these.

Cho has manged to push all the photos of the victims off the front page of nearly all media outlets.

Just in time, really. I think the country was starting to go in for a real masturbatory wallow, there, for a bit.
posted by dhartung at 6:02 PM on April 18, 2007


Very good point Jayder, but you know what's off about it? He mailed it instead of emailing it or putting it all on a website. Some day, one of these will happen, and when we Google the guy's name, we'll find a fully functional website with the killer's video manifestos pre-loaded.
posted by Bookhouse at 6:31 PM on April 18, 2007


Yeah, but he express mailed it. He's thinking: yeah, I will be dead in an hour or so, but it's really important to me that the media get my pictures tomorrow rather than the day after tomrorow. Insane.
posted by Mid at 6:38 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one weirded out by the fact that NBC saw fit to plaster their network's logo all over the pictures that Cho sent? I mean, I know he sent the package to them, but damn.
posted by the_bone at 6:40 PM on April 18, 2007


“Or,

Ishmael (Moby Dick) the narrator (and arguably the protagonist) of the 1851 novel Moby-Dick by U.S. author Herman Melville.”


You'd think, what with Cho being an English major, there would be more consideration of this as a possible meaning rather than Abraham's son.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:40 PM on April 18, 2007


Am I the only one weirded out by the fact that NBC saw fit to plaster their network's logo all over the pictures that Cho sent?

There is no such thing as bad publicity.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:43 PM on April 18, 2007


Alluding to a classic that I can't imagine he ever read sounds...about right for this guy, actually.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:00 PM on April 18, 2007


Am I the only one weirded out by the fact that NBC saw fit to plaster their network's logo all over the pictures that Cho sent?

Then they had someone on decrying free speech as a 'Victorian Anachronism'. Then some bigshot anchor popped in and could hardly keep a straight face, he was so happy. He then proceeds to go on about how, even though the material arrived as their property, they did their civic duty by not airing it for a few hours (just to make sure everyone knew it was coming and build suspense).

There's much more that disturbed me about the broadcast, like: "First I want to say, and this should be obvious, that no one here is happy about this". If it's so fucking obvious, why do you have to say it? Because it's not. Well, there's one news source I won't be checking anymore. I bet the rest were only grieved because they didn't get the video.
posted by IronLizard at 7:08 PM on April 18, 2007


When I read the breaking-news articles saying that MSNBC had received this package, I was struck by the following passage (see the bold part):

There was no indication why Cho chose NBC News to receive the package, which was immediately turned over to FBI agents in New York. Capus said NBC News was cooperating with Virginia State Police and the FBI, which is assisting the state police.

I actually took that passage literally, and assumed that MSNBC did not make copies of the material. When I was describing this latest development to my wife, I said, "NBC received materials from the guy, but they turned it over immediately to the FBI, so who knows if we will ever see it." I assumed that NBC had not made copies of the material.

What do the rest of you think --- how can you immediately turn something over to the FBI, but still have made a copy? Wouldn't the more accurate phrase be, "There was no indication why Cho chose NBC News to receive the package, which was turned over to FBI agents in New York after MSNBC made its own copy of the text, videos, and photos.

Seriously --- if you watch this video, NBC president Capos makes it clear that the package was flagged by a mailroom employee before it was even opened. They could have turned the package over without opening it, but apparently they DID open it and make copies.

I found the videos interesting --- but it disappoints me that NBC couldn't resist the temptation to open it and make copies, even when they admit they realized it was evidence related to the crime.
posted by jayder at 7:19 PM on April 18, 2007


For fuck's sake, he was media savvy too? Someone said something about controlling the story. I agree.

Also: he sounds (deep voice) and acts (bravado) like Napoleon Dynamite. I'm not trying to be funny.
posted by jragon at 7:53 PM on April 18, 2007


In the slideshow of pictures, Cho's face looks bruised to me, especially over his left eye. I can't help but wonder if he might have been in a fight/been beaten up a day or two before he had his meltdown...?
posted by tomboko at 8:00 PM on April 18, 2007


What event short of the Apocalypse would be suitable for a campus shutdown?

How about any for real in progress safety hazard: Fire, Chemical Spill, Gas Leak, Earthquake, Tornado Warning, Civil unrest; Bomb Threat; Flood; Plague etc. etc.

No doubt once the spree was under way more aggressive measures would be called for but a domestic dispute (even one resulting in a double murder) is hardly in that class of catastrophe. What percentage of double homicides escalated hours later into a killing spree in the US in the last 50 years? A tiny fraction of a tenth of 1%? What percentage of domestic dispute homicides? A still tinier fraction of that fraction? When was even the last two time a guy killed his wife and her lover and then, after taking a two hour break, proceeds to murder even a handfull of otherwise unrelated people? Why alarm and desensitize all those people on such an off chance?

Cripes I'll have students attempt to refuse to leave computer labs during an honest to god fire alarm because they assume "it's just a drill" and "I need to get this in by Friday".
posted by Mitheral at 8:13 PM on April 18, 2007


Seriously --- if you watch this video, NBC president Capos [sic] makes it clear that the package was flagged by a mailroom employee before it was even opened. They could have turned the package over without opening it, but apparently they DID open it and make copies.

New York Times: Package Forced NBC to Make Tough Decisions.
posted by ericb at 8:13 PM on April 18, 2007


Mitheral, I kind of see your point, but I doubt the parents who've undoubtedly contacted lawyers now to sue Va Tech and Montgomery County, VA do.
posted by bardic at 8:16 PM on April 18, 2007


Package Forced NBC to Make Tough Decisions.

That's rich.
posted by Kwantsar at 8:24 PM on April 18, 2007


Package Forced NBC to Make Tough Decisions.

Like "how are we going to exploit this and still look like we're taking the moral high ground?"
posted by mazola at 8:30 PM on April 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but he express mailed it. He's thinking: yeah, I will be dead in an hour or so, but it's really important to me that the media get my pictures tomorrow rather than the day after tomrorow. Insane.

Like he needed to pocket the $8 he would have saved with Priority Mail?

And, am I correct in my presumption that the text of the manifesto is not yet online?
posted by Kwantsar at 8:38 PM on April 18, 2007


Excerpts from Cho's "Manifesto."
posted by ericb at 8:39 PM on April 18, 2007


Ah. This explains the hammer thing.
posted by ColdChef at 8:48 PM on April 18, 2007


NBC is saying they copied all of it and then turned it all over to the authorities. They also say much of it is unairable due to cursing and stuff.

(I'm watching on TV and wish i wasn't--it's so sad--such anger he had--furious cold anger--and what's with the religious stuff? Are his parents religious? Did they try to make him religious? Did they turn against him if he didn't? ...)

We really really need better mental health here--he had been for examination, and then released with no follow-up apparently.
posted by amberglow at 8:49 PM on April 18, 2007


Maybe someone already mentioned this and I missed it. The thing about Ishmael is that his covenant is innocence...both in Genesis and on Ahab's Quarter Deck.
posted by taosbat at 8:56 PM on April 18, 2007


Associated Press: Campus Community Reacts to Cho's Words.
posted by ericb at 8:57 PM on April 18, 2007


I'm also worried too, they'll do what they did after Columbine and drag every shy or weird kid in for questioning or something. It's hard enough to be out of the ordinary regularly, and to add suspicion and unwanted attention is not good.

konolia, did he ever say why that was? I'd think a knife is much much more survivable and blockable. Even i could use my arms to stop a knife blow or slash to my chest or head i think, but a shot to the head or chest is not as easy. And most people don't die from a slashed or stabbed arm, or even multiple slashes or stabs in an arm or leg. (These things always make you think, and game out situations: "Well, if my family or friends were behind me, letting myself get slashed would stop him for a while, and give them time to run away down the hall..." or something--it's stupid but i always wonder, and thank God i haven't yet been in that situation. And then you look at your everyday life, and recognize the little things everyone does, like at crosswalks if traffic is coming or something...)
posted by amberglow at 8:58 PM on April 18, 2007


Mental Health Problems Common on College Campuses
"The fact that Cho Seung-Hui, the 23-year-old senior who allegedly killed 32 people and himself at Virginia Tech on Monday, was mentally troubled sheds harsh new light on a sad truth: For many students, the college years are far from the best years of their lives.

Depression, anxiety, and other serious mental health problems are increasingly common among college and university students in the United States. Consider:
About 10 percent of students have seriously considered committing suicide.

Forty-five percent of students say they've been so depressed it was difficult to function.

More than 30 percent of freshmen report feeling overwhelmed a great deal of the time."
posted by ericb at 9:00 PM on April 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


A lot student health offices have good medical and std care and stuff, but not so much for mental stuff--i wonder if places like Cornell (which used to be known as a suicide school) have better services?
posted by amberglow at 9:11 PM on April 18, 2007


taosbat writes "his covenant is innocence"

taosbat, could you explain further what you mean? I've never heard that wording before....
posted by mr_roboto at 9:14 PM on April 18, 2007


mr_roboto, in both books Ishmael is an innocent caught up in circumstance and that innocence is his survival, hence, his covenant.
posted by taosbat at 9:22 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


ericb writes "Cho Seung-Hui"

Very weird stuff going on with this guy's name in media reports. A lot of journalists are choosing to use the Korean name order convention, which is pretty much unheard of for Korean-Americans (or even Korean nationals living and working in America), who almost always use European/American name order. Is this an attempt to exoticize Cho, or is it simply habit carried over from referring to Korean leaders (especially Kim Jong-Il)?

And what's the proper capitalization convention for hyphenated Korean personal names? I always thought it was Jong-Il, but I'm seeing a lot of Jong-il in a Google search.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:23 PM on April 18, 2007


Is that how his school records had it? I thought it was how he was known officially.

I mentioned Suzanne Malveaux of CNN up above: It turns out she made those statements about another "bullhorn moment" even before he appeared in VA: ...can we wait until we actually hear the president’s remarks before praising their historic significance?
posted by amberglow at 9:31 PM on April 18, 2007


From ericb's article:
In an interview last night on MSNBC, Mr. Williams said NBC had been concerned about the sensitivities of broadcasting as much of the material as it did.

“This was a sick business tonight, going on the air with this,” he said.


Sounds like he wasn't happy about airing that material...
posted by minda25 at 9:37 PM on April 18, 2007


that innocence is his survival, hence, his covenant.

Honestly, that still makes no sense. A covenant is a sacred agreement between a deity and his or her followers a la Abraham and Yahweh. In Hebraic tradition, Ismael is the least favored son, as opposed to Isaac. who is beloved by Abraham. Ismael is later driven into the desert. The roles are switched in Islamic tradition.

The narrator of Moby Dick is an unreliable, suicidal, and utterly captivating narrator. "Innocent" isn't a word I'd use to describe him. Presumably he's named after Ismael of the OT because he's a wanderer and an outcast.

The larger point being, even if he never read Moby Dick, it's possible that he associated the name with being an outcast adrift at sea as well. Honestly, who the hell knows.
posted by bardic at 9:40 PM on April 18, 2007


bardic:
Yeah, and Matthews is running with it, asking the roommate "Is there a subculture around this Counterstrike game?"

He also interviewed the shooter's suite-mate who said that he never saw the shooter playing video games, but that he was constantly using Word.

No word if Jack Thompson is going after Microsoft.
posted by beowulf573 at 9:41 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


amberglow writes "Is that how his school records had it? I thought it was how he was known officially."

Not according to NPR (the explanations in the audio link near the top). I'm sure that in official documents indicated the order in which his personal and family names were to appear; it would be very unusual for this to be anything other than "Family, Personal" or "Personal Family".
posted by mr_roboto at 9:42 PM on April 18, 2007


From the end of the Times article:

In an interview last night on MSNBC, Mr. Williams said NBC had been concerned about the sensitivities of broadcasting as much of the material as it did.

“This was a sick business tonight, going on the air with this,” he said.



I've always suspected Brian Williams had a soul. While he didn't protest showing the footage by not appearing on air, he at least seems to acknowledge that it's sick that it was aired at all.
posted by rbf1138 at 9:43 PM on April 18, 2007


He also interviewed the shooter's suite-mate who said that he never saw the shooter playing video games, but that he was constantly using Word.

No word if Jack Thompson is going after Microsoft.



As a matter of fact, he's doing exactly that...


posted by rbf1138 at 9:45 PM on April 18, 2007


This strikes me as an unusual thread. I suspect much of it is explained by considering it to be an outlet for all the anger, anxiety, and outrage that everyone's been repressing. Here, at least, is a target everyone can agree upon. And it's closer to home, too, and doesn't involve Iraqis, and isn't about economic collapse, and is all innocents and the bad guy is self-evident.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:51 PM on April 18, 2007


bardic, innocence, at a little lower level, is the only reason Melville's Ishmael floats out to be found by the sorrowful Rachel...it's rather like the Chapel Perilous where only the innocent hero can answer correctly.
posted by taosbat at 9:59 PM on April 18, 2007


Well, he also survives because he's the narrator and there'd be no Moby Dick otherwise.

Anyhoo, it's strange to think that this was partly predicted by the movie Heathers re: Moby Dick references.
posted by bardic at 10:13 PM on April 18, 2007


"Shipmates, have ye shipped in that ship?"
posted by taosbat at 10:17 PM on April 18, 2007


Cho Seung-Hui: "Now you have blood on your hands..."

Hey! Stupid dead dude! You were the one shooting the gun. By definition, that means the blood's on your hands, or did they not teach you that in college?

I've often said that the act of suicide is the most selfish act a human being can commit. This guy though... took thirty-two souls with him, and did it for what?? A photo op? A chance for his name to make front page news for a day? He even sent NBC a Media Kit as if he were trying out for a part in a TV movie or something! Pathetic!

Did he send the same kit to Fox, ABC, CBS, and elsewhere, and NBC is the only one stupid enough to fall for his sickest of all pranks? He might as well did a video that was twenty minutes of him going "neener neener! I killed all you guys! nyah nyah nyah!"

Cho wanted to be somebody, and wasn't willing to put in what it takes to be somebody in this society. Work hard. Network. Interact with people. Find something you're good at and excel. Put up with shits and support nice people who come along in your life to support you. Train yourself to be prepared for opportunities when they come along. Educate yourself. Better yourself. Support charities you believe in. Help other people. No. He was too selfish and self-involved for all that.

He wants us to feel sorry for him that he was introverted and felt put down by rich people and couldn't deal? Other people had it better than him? Wah wah wah. Join the fuckin' club asshole. Cowboy up.

So instead of contributing to society and trying to make it better, constructively looking at his situation and improving the world around him, he decided instead to be a violent prick. He took the easy way to fame and fortune. He used a gun. He paid in blood. He used his life and the lives of strangers AS COLLATERAL. That's all this is! Collateral he had no right to take in the form of blood and spirit, and that he had intention of having to pay back cuz he'd already be dead. The ultimate in selfishness. The ultimate in pranks. Nyah nyah nyah.

He took his life and the lives of thirty-two people, put them on a counter like he was at a seven eleven ordering a slurpee, and in return asked fate for a half hour of time on the NBC Nightly News. That's what he bought with those lives, and he has the gaul to bitch and whine and moan about rich kids having it easy. Rich kids have no concept of a buck? He obviously has no concept of the value of a human life! I'm not gonna feel sorry for him cuz he can't grasp that life is precious! Screw him!

What right had he to treat his life and the lives of others as if it were more meaningless than the money Clinton and Obama have saved up to get a few half minute spots on prime time tv in the next year?

As for whether or not there will be copycats? THIS was a copycat of Dylan and Klebold! Cho practically admits to that! He couldn't even be creative in his guilty pleasure of laying out other lives to minimize his own pain.

He was a selfish, misguided prick, and the world is all the richer without him. However, the world is poorer for the thirty-two souls he felt righteous and just in taking out with him. This is the ultimate in selfish acts - and he had the nerve to call his victims hedonistic. Look in the mirror dead dude.

We've given this chump more prime time, and more posts in the Blue, than he ever deserved. Please for the love of God can we close this thread, before it gets longer than his 'manifesto'?
posted by ZachsMind at 10:34 PM on April 18, 2007


I read an article about Nikki Giovanni, and some of her statements about her interactions with Cho seem kind of stupid.

She seems to be saying that Cho wouldn't have been helped by counseling; that, in her view, Cho was Pure Evil. He was a Mean Person. Perhaps this is her way of healing, but it seems like such a simplistic view of this catastrophe. It is perfectly appropriate to hate him --- it would be insane not to hate someone who did what he did --- while at the same time recognizing that something terrible happened to make him this way. Decent people don't just decide to become murderous lunatics. Some sickness, that they did not ask for, sets in and puts them on the course to becoming homicidal. (From everything I have read, the state-of-the-art in psychology and philosophy is that we don't really have free will.)

Anyway, here's what I am talking about, from an excerpt from an article about Giovanni in the New York Times:

"I know that there's a tendency to think that everybody can get counseling or can have a bowl of tomato soup and everything is going to be all right," she said. "But I think that evil exists, and I think that he was a mean person."

Giovanni encountered Cho only once after she removed him from class. She was walking down a campus path and noticed him coming toward her. They maintained eye contact until passing each other.

Giovanni, who had survived lung cancer, was determined she would not blink first.

"I was not going to look away as if I were afraid," she said. "To me he was a bully, and I had no fear of this child."

posted by jayder at 10:53 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


He took the easy way to fame and fortune. He used a gun.

There's a sick dimension of our culture that treats even mass murderers as if they've accomplished something of note, because they are "famous." Such murderers (like the Columbine killers) have a certain aura of authority because of the gravity of what they have done; this aura of authority derives, for example, from the small industry of specialists and aficionadoes has sprung up around the Columbine killings, writing books and maintaining websites and databases that track ever last bit of information about the Columbine massacre.

To someone deeply mentally ill, the idea of having a rapt public, and later, a dedicated community of scholars studying your actions, motivations and thoughts might be very attractive; you can take brief solace (prior to your suicide) that the attention you felt you were denied in life you will get after death. Inevitably, there will be novels written about Cho and his rampage; he will be featured in pop songs; demented fan websites will be created commemorating him; and the scholars will busy themselves untangling his psychology. I have no doubt he pondered all this and savored it as he was planning his rampage.
posted by jayder at 11:09 PM on April 18, 2007


I imagine some off-Broadway hipsters are dying to put on productions of some of his plays.
posted by bardic at 11:11 PM on April 18, 2007


err, poor choice of words
posted by bardic at 11:14 PM on April 18, 2007


Decent people don't just decide to become murderous lunatics.

Some decent people very much do. It all depends on who they kill and how they view the people they kill. In their minds they may ridding the world of un-decent people. Think of the holocaust.

This kid was very, very, ill. But it's also obvious that his soul was poisoned. I think this Giovanni lady was seeing that and it frightened her.

People will go knee deep in to save you but not many people will go over their heads into another persons darkness. It's difficult to expect them to.

It appears that some tried to help him but he was alone in the torture chamber of mind for way too long. The kid had shut out the world. He was going to have to DO something to get the serious intervention he needed. He was going to have to be locked up.
posted by tkchrist at 11:28 PM on April 18, 2007


Well, mr_roboto, the school still calls him Cho Seung-Hui. I don't know why they'd suddenly reverse his name order now.

There's an interesting sidebar that's take place off the front pages, at least in the US. That early report by the Sun-Times gossip columnist Michael Sneed (female) that the shooter was a 24-year-old Chinese national has really ticked off China and Chinese students at VT.
posted by dhartung at 11:34 PM on April 18, 2007


Why does the Bush administration have a list of everyone who has ever used anti-depressants?

The Federal Prescription Database Law
posted by homunculus at 12:01 AM on April 19, 2007


How Many Dead Equal Failed Government?
posted by homunculus at 12:19 AM on April 19, 2007


dhartung: I don't know why they'd suddenly reverse his name order now.

How about because he didn't go by "Cho Seung-hui"? The guy apparently went by "Seung Cho" (it's how he wrote his names on his plays). Why is the media putting the surname first for someone who grew up and spent most of his life in the U.S.? The media doesn't even do it for Korean nationals who are in the U.S. just to play baseball (e.g., Chan Ho Park, Byung-Hyun Kim, Hee-Seop Choi). But they go out of their way to exoticize the name of a mass murderer who happens to be Korean American? I'm with mr_roboto. It's plain weird.
posted by foonie at 2:05 AM on April 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


That former instructor, Giovanni, said she wanted him out of her class because he was disruptive to the point of other (female) students not attending because of his behaviour. He was photographing them under the tables. Now, that's deranged. Interestingly, Giovanni had a comment she would resign if he wasn't taken out of her class (going from memory here.) This reminds me of a not quite as psycho student I had that I sent home -- and of course the school doesn't like that. There were no provisions for sending anyone home, actually. Somehow everyone who's a nominal adult is supposed to fit in. And some people don't want to. There's a gap in the system there. Anyway, she got him out and he became someone else's problem.

I don't think there's a problem with being quiet or a loner or writing creepy violent plays. But there's a problem with scaring and harassing people. Formal complaints should be made in those cases and there should be some disciplinary action and records kept. Too much of this behaviour is tolerated.

And all that tough-guy gansta shit should be ground up and composted.
posted by Listener at 2:34 AM on April 19, 2007


Is Seung Cho the killer who has best taken advantage of the US media circus? The last one who I can think of who played the media for all it was worth would be Ted Bundy.

[warning follwing contains descriptions of violence]

amberglow, here is a list of targets for a knife that can be fatal. There is another artery similar to the femoral on the inside of the upper-arm. If either of these is completely severed you have less than 15 minutes to save the person.

If he stabs him in the neck, he can sever the exterior and/or interior carotid artery and/or jugular vein; if he stabs downward behind the clavicle (collarbone), he can sever the subclavian artery; if he ducks out the throat strike, and attacks the leg, he can sever the femoral artery; if he punctures a lung, he could cause immediate or post-pneumothorax respiratory failure; if he stabs at the center of the chest, he could puncture the heart; if he sidesteps to his left and stabs the lower right abdomen he could puncture the liver. Any of those injuries is likely enough to be fatal, as could for that matter the schock associated with being stabbed in any part of the body.

From here.
posted by asok at 2:47 AM on April 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think you probably don't have to go back as far as Ted Bundy. What about John Muhammad and Lee Malveau, the D.C.-area sniper team?
posted by emelenjr at 4:14 AM on April 19, 2007


Good point. They were holding the area to ransom, weren't they? A slightly different technique though, not creating a media personality.
posted by asok at 4:40 AM on April 19, 2007


Cho wanted to be somebody, and wasn't willing to put in what it takes to be somebody in this society.

really? ... unfortunately, he WAS willing ... all the things that you and i and damn near everyone point at and condemn worked for him ... he's somebody now ... he got his half hour on nbc nightly news and a damn sight more than that ... and then the chickenshit killed himself to get away from the consequences

like i said ... i really have to wonder if giving this stupid asshole a platform was the right thing to do

i've seen 5 of his emotionally manipulative photographs ... i haven't seen the video yet and i'm not sure i will ... fuck him and fuck the horse he rode in on and fuck the media for giving him space to speak

he already said too much with those damned guns of his
posted by pyramid termite at 4:57 AM on April 19, 2007


yeah, bardic, heathers came to mind for me yesterday, too. "Dear Diary, my teen-angst bullshit now has a body count."

He wasn't a teen, but that's all he managed to display.
posted by NortonDC at 5:03 AM on April 19, 2007


I don't think he was looking for fame. I think he felt that he had been mistreated, and he felt others were being mistreated by the same class of people that mistreated him.

I think he thought he was giving himself up as a martyr, and he sent the materials so people would understand that [he felt] he had been mistreated by people, and this is what this type of mistreatment leads to.

How does someone's mind get to that place? I just don't get it.

the whole freaking thing makes me sad. mostly the media now making me sad....instead of talking about how hard it is to get help when you have issues on a college campus, talking about how to get rid of any kids that have issues. My aspie daughter doesn't like to look at people in the eyes or talk to people. What are they going to be saying about/to her?
posted by gminks at 5:04 AM on April 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Airing the videos isn't the only problem.

Airing the videos so soon is the a major problem. People haven't even been buried yet and NBC, with almost no tac or sensitivity goes and airs the damn things, plastering their logo all it.

Wait a while, give it some time, allow people to grieve a bit more. and then, only offer it on the website, where people have to go and get it. Instead, you get the guy's photo and videos and goddamn voice plastered all over the 24 hour news cycle.

There is no such thing as bad publicity, which is a sad statement on Western culture.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:12 AM on April 19, 2007


really? ... unfortunately, he WAS willing ... all the things that you and i and damn near everyone point at and condemn worked for him ... he's somebody now ...

He's somebody, all right -- he's somebody without a pulse.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:31 AM on April 19, 2007


There's some clear signs that this individual had lost touch with reality (ala schizophrenia).

To me, it's another example of where a person's mental health is dismissed as "just the way he is" or a personality trait. Different people in a position to make a difference saw pieces of the puzzle, but it's not clear anyone ever had enough of the pieces to forsee what had happened.
posted by docjohn at 6:07 AM on April 19, 2007


One point of anecdotal evidence that it's not typical police procedure to "lockdown" an area around a normal shooting...

Last summer there were two people shot (at least one of whom was killed) a block from where I lived. The gunmen escaped but the police didn't notify anyone on the block or seal anything off besides the crime scene.
***
Personally, I think this shooting spree has become a magic box for too many people, something they can look into and see it reflect whatever ills they want to see in America. Really, at it's heart it only reflects on the actions of one now-dead English major.
posted by drezdn at 6:17 AM on April 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


There is one indisputable fact about Monday’s shootings at Virginia Tech: if Seung-Hui Cho had not been allowed to immigrate to the U.S. in 1992, he would not have been able to murder 33 innocent people here in 2007.

You gotta love the anti-immigration crowd. Christ.
posted by chunking express at 6:39 AM on April 19, 2007


The new Oldboy connections are rather disturbing.
posted by The Straightener at 6:50 AM on April 19, 2007


The new Oldboy connections are rather disturbing.

Do we know that Cho was a fan of Oldboy, or is this just more reaching and speculation? Either way, I can't see how it matters, except to the sort of people who generally see all fans of violent horror as psychotic rapist-killers in one stage or another of development (not that anyone here on Metafilter feels that way!). Oldboy is a fairly popular cult film, and the subject matter does sound like it'd be Cho's bag. So what?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:25 AM on April 19, 2007


just arbitrarily blaming everyone but himself for indeterminate wrongs in a hazily formed rant at nobody in particular, his complete lack of effort to try connecting with the people who made an effort with him and then blaming his actions on them for enjoying their lives in his absence. his 'make me immortal' media kit and 32 cold bodies.

what an absolute fuckend.
posted by 6am at 7:32 AM on April 19, 2007


Do we know that Cho was a fan of Oldboy, or is this just more reaching and speculation?

Detectives say Cho Seung-Hui repeatedly watched the South Korean movie Oldboy in the days leading up to the massacre in which 32 people were killed.

So what?

It's an interesting and disturbing cultural development. Korean cinema has become increasingly twisted and violent (also, often totally brilliant, as well, like Oldboy) in recent years. The night before the shooting I saw this awesome and extremely violent Korean gangster movie called A Dirty Carnival. I remember wondering if all this gangster glorification and extreme violence in Korean film would accompany an uptick in violent crime in Korea. The next day a Korean American kid kills 32 people and sends a package to NBC containing pictures of himself acting out scenes from Oldboy, a twisted and violent Korean movie. It maybe says something about violent images in film and how mentally disturbed people are impacted by them, which has in the discussion here on Metafilter been largely considered an American problem that is unique to American culture. For example.
posted by The Straightener at 7:40 AM on April 19, 2007


his 'make me immortal' media kit

We all know that's the standard procedure now, so it's not really exceptional or anything--or even indicative of anything other than our media culture--Son of Sam, Zodiac, Unabomber, Hale-Bopp, Columbine, and many many other killers, etc, all have statements or manifestos, etc, and all are either found with statements on them, or to be easily found and disseminated, or sent to the media during or after the events.
posted by amberglow at 7:59 AM on April 19, 2007


...I wonder about normal.
posted by amberglow at 8:04 AM on April 19, 2007


Something tells me that Oldboy remake is off the table for good now.

I've been doing my best to follow this monster thread, so forgive me if I missed this, but is the media not following up on the idea that this guy was sexually abused? Watching the clips (out of context, of course) from his videos really, really makes me think that somebody did something pretty awful to this kid. (Of course, he could just be crazy).
posted by Bookhouse at 8:10 AM on April 19, 2007


To clarify, I know some people talked about it when the plays were released, but it seems more obviousl to me now.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:12 AM on April 19, 2007


Well...

To be honest -- and this isn't just me being PC over here -- I'm not sure how relevant Cho's nationality is to his enjoyment of Chan-Wook Park's films. Cho had lived here since he was eight, and appears to have been quite immersed in American culture, pop and otherwise; I don't know that he would even have identified himself as Korean. More to the point, though, Park has a LOT of born-and-raised American fans. I think Cho's nationality is a non-issue.

A mentally disturbed person may be impacted by all kinds of things, and I wouldn't want to live in a culture that walked on eggshells in an effort to keep its latent crazies latent (I have a feeling you wouldn't, either). In no small part because it wouldn't work anyway. I highly doubt that a steady diet of "Seventh Heaven" and Julia Roberts movies would have kept Cho from killing anyone. The causes are just not that simple. Would that they were.

Re: American culture, American problems...our big export is film, and the movies we make that sell best overseas are the most violent ones (not because people are looking for violence, necessarily, but rather because people are looking to not read subtitles...hence the emphasis on action). In cinematic terms, anyway, America's problems are everybody's problems.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:19 AM on April 19, 2007


old boy trailer
old boy hammer scene
posted by phaedon at 8:29 AM on April 19, 2007


Did watching "Old Boy" cause Cho to go on his rampage? No. Is it interesting to note that he was obsessed with the film and watched it repeatedly in his last days? Yes. Someone upthread (or maybe on another site) said something about there being sexual molestation/incest themes in "Old Boy." Any credence to that? Cho does seem to bring up molestation/sexual assault in his writings. Either he's being really transparent with something that happened in his life, or perhaps he's cribbing from "Old Boy" and creating a persona of himself similar to a character in the film.
posted by billysumday at 8:35 AM on April 19, 2007


re: Campus lockdown, or lack thereof.
Seems to me that the police were fairly sure they had the perpetrator after the first shooting. The boyfriend was still breathing after all. He's got some story about how a mysterious Asian man broke in and shot the place up, somehow managing to not kill him... the police assumed he was the perp, naturally—the boyfriend/husband/ex is almost always the perp in these circumstances (meaning the circumstances the police encountered at the initial crime scene).
posted by Mister_A at 8:35 AM on April 19, 2007


Mister_A: What? The boyfriend was there to witness Cho shooting things up? And then instead of calling the cops he just drove away? I haven't read that anywhere...
posted by billysumday at 8:39 AM on April 19, 2007


Billysumday, I'm not sure if the boyfriend was at the scene of the shooting, but someone (one of the first victim's roommate) identified the boyfriend as the shooter.
posted by drezdn at 8:47 AM on April 19, 2007


Yeah, thanks. That's a little different than what Mister_A is implying. Am just wondering if he read that somewhere or what.
posted by billysumday at 8:51 AM on April 19, 2007


Yes, it appears I've got some misinformation or some crossed synapses. I thought the boyfriend was the one who ID'd the shooter. Sorry!
posted by Mister_A at 8:53 AM on April 19, 2007


Don't (just) mourn: ORGANIZE.
(with lots of links to various organizations)
posted by amberglow at 8:58 AM on April 19, 2007


I was a little off on the details, but the essence of it is similar:
Investigators told Haugh, 18, that her roommate had been shot. They began asking about Hilscher's romances. Haugh told them what she knew: Her roommate had spent the weekend on another college campus with her boyfriend, Karl Thornhill. (LA Times)

The police asked about guns; Haugh told them Thornhill had recently taken both girls to a shooting range for fun. She told police she believed he kept the weapons at his home in Blacksburg, Va. (LA Times)

Though Haugh described her roommate as having "a perfect relationship with her boyfriend," investigators suspected the shooting was prompted by a lovers' quarrel. They relayed their theory to university administrators at an 8:25 a.m. meeting. By then, classes were already under way, and Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger saw no need to cancel them. "We had no reason to suspect any other incident was going to occur," he said.
via.

I post this because I want people to think it through before they start yelling for the heads of the school administrators, police, etc. They made the right call. You can not plan police procedure around the assumption that everyone is a mass-murdering psychopath.
posted by Mister_A at 8:59 AM on April 19, 2007


totally. hindsight is always 20-20.
posted by 6am at 9:01 AM on April 19, 2007


I think Cho's nationality is a non-issue.

I think it’s a pretty major isse.

Take this interview with Katherine Newman from Princeton University, a sociologist with some expertise on school shootings. She’s talking about another recent school shooter in Minnesota. Newman has some very interesting ideas in her book Rampage, The Social Roots of School Shootings. Included is this idea about anti-hero fantasy and masculinity:

De: Can you tell us a little more about this "anti-hero" idea and why it might appeal to someone like Jeff Weise?

Newman: I think if you look at many of the most popular figures that exemplify male identity in our society, you'll see a Rambo, you'll see a Matrix, you'll see many examples of the lone gunman, who achieves a degree of masculine superiority over others through shooting. And so what I've argued in my book is that this is not a question of media inspiring violent rage in a kid so much as media providing a script, if you like, a popularly recognizable sequence that displays the male in this admirable violent role.

And a shooter who feels socially marginal, who is not accepted by his — by kids he'd like to be friends with, is looking for a way to reverse his reputation, go out as a notorious character rather than as a loser.


Violent films like Oldboy along with similarly plotted video games have become as much a staple of the Korean diet as they have in America. Newman stresses the repetition of these images and scenes in the lives of young kids, calling them “templates.” I think her ideas are interesting, I think the fact that Seung Cho choose the protagonist of Oldboy, who speaks his native language and has the same Asian physical features that he has (as opposed to, say, Rambo) is very significant and I think the connection between a Korean American school shooter and the twisted and violent Korean movie directly before killing 32 people is pretty undeniably significant.
posted by The Straightener at 9:19 AM on April 19, 2007


but rather because people are looking to not read subtitles...hence the emphasis on action). In cinematic terms, anyway, America's problems are everybody's problems.

I thought most American films shown in nations with primary languages other than English were dubbed, not subtitled.
posted by raysmj at 9:20 AM on April 19, 2007


Was there a separate motive for the first two shootings and the carnage that took place a couple of hours later? Did he have a relationship with them? From all accounts, it seems he was incapable of a relationship with anyone, even those who tried to reach out to him, so the first two murders stand out even more bizarre than everything that came later. Like it was a test run. I wonder if the first two was mostly a spur of the moment thing that triggered all of the madness that came later. Chilling.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 9:23 AM on April 19, 2007


We never should have known about his medical info: ...The federal database of your private medical information is now being used by federal law enforcement to investigate crimes that have nothing to do with prescription drug abuse. We know this because yesterday ABC News disclosed that the feds checked the database to see what prescription meds the Virginia Tech shooter might have been on. How does the mass murder of students and faculty at Virginia Tech have anything to do with prescription drug abuse? It doesn't. ...
posted by amberglow at 9:25 AM on April 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes, amberglow, I am afraid that the response to this tragedy will be further erosion of privacy rights, criminalization of mental illness, destruction of campus life, etc. None of these address the underlying problem here. I mean, what did this guy kill those kids with? A shovel? A board with a nail in it? Anyone remember how he did it? Shame on the media and the government for their cowardice in ignoring the elephant in the room.
posted by Mister_A at 9:30 AM on April 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think the fact that Seung Cho choose the protagonist of Oldboy

The Straightener, do you have any evidence to back this up? Or are you going on hearsay alone?

Violent films like Oldboy along with similarly plotted video games have become as much a staple of the Korean diet as they have in America.

Violent films are a staple of kids everywhere. So what's your point?
posted by suedehead at 9:35 AM on April 19, 2007


TommyG: My best guess is that there is some connection between Cho and the boyfriend of the first victim. The police are still calling the boyfriend an "important witness" or a "person of interest." And there are reports that his initial statements to the police seemed to be evasive/untruthful.

I don't think the boyfriend participated in the murders or was even Cho's friend (Cho seems to have had no friends at all) but I wonder if there some was connection/acquaintance between Cho and the boyfriend, possibly through guns or the shooting range.
posted by Mid at 9:42 AM on April 19, 2007


So what's your point?

It's always ever been thus. With the Columbine kids it was the Matrix and Marilyn Manson. With Hinckley it was Taxi Driver and Jodie Foster, with Chapman it was The Catcher in the Rye, and with the Charlie Manson Tate/LaBianca murders it was a Beatles song about a roller coaster.

On the one hand, trying to find an explanation (no matter how trite) for something that is utterly inexplicable isn't necessarily a bad thing; it's human nature. But, when it becomes an obsession that prevents real lessons from being learned or problems solved, then truly it's terrible.
posted by psmealey at 9:43 AM on April 19, 2007


They made the right call. You can not plan police procedure around the assumption that everyone is a mass-murdering psychopath.

They were following what appeared to be a promising lead.

How Virginia Tech Massacre Unfolded
"The first call came into campus police at 7:15 that morning. A female resident assistant on the fourth floor of West Ambler Johnston Hall, a short walk from where Cho lived. She said there had been a shooting. She had heard screams, then more screams, then a pop, pop, and went down the hall to discover two bodies, a male and female, near Room 4040 in what was known as the 'elevator' section, an area in the middle of the dorm between the men's side and the women's side.

Police later identified the female as Emily Hilscher, a freshman from Woodville, Va. The male was one of the dorm's resident assistants, Ryan Clark, from Georgia. The officers began interviewing other students. Aside from the resident assistant, most had not heard or seen anything, even though there was a trail of bloody footprints down the hallway.

...Investigators, in their initial interviews with those who knew Hilscher, learned about her boyfriend, a student at nearby Radford University. Maybe it was a domestic incident, they concluded. Most are. Some officers were dispatched to go find the boyfriend, Karl D. Thornhill, operating under the assumption that they had the problem contained.."
_____

"According to a search warrant filed by the police, Hilscher's roommate had told the police that Thornhill, a student at nearby Radford University, had guns at his townhouse. The roommate told the police that she had recently been at a shooting range with Thornhill, the affidavit said, leading the police to believe he may have been the gunman....But as they were questioning Thornhill, reports of widespread shooting at Norris Hall came in, making it clear that they had not contained the threat on campus. Thornhill was not arrested, although he continues to be an important witness in the case, the police said....At the time of the dormitory shootings, Col. W. Steven Flaherty, the superintendent of the Virginia State Police, said, 'There was certainly no evidence or no reason to think that there was anyone else at that particular point in time.'" *

_____

"Police suspected Karl of being involved in some way with her death, a wrong suspicion that inadvertently appears to have led to a delay in dealing with the real killer.

Officers quickly apprehended Karl as he was driving away from the college shortly after the first shootings. It appears this may have contributed to the decision not to 'lockdown' the campus.

But police had the wrong man and Cho was free to make his way to the engineering block and continue his murderous rampage." *
_____

"The long delay between the first and the second set of killings at Virginia Tech on Monday — presuming there was only one gunman — puts the attacker in a small minority of mass killers. In a database of murder and mayhem that goes back more than 100 years, Michael Stone, an expert on personality disorders and killers, said he found only a few apparent delays among more than 40 rampage killings, at offices and schools.

...Several experts said yesterday that the nearly three-hour delay between shootings may have been a matter of nerves, or practical necessity. The gunman may have gone into hiding or abandoned one plan for another, for maximum effect." *
posted by ericb at 9:56 AM on April 19, 2007


Was there a separate motive for the first two shootings and the carnage that took place a couple of hours later?

New York Times: "It was reported yesterday that guns found with Mr. Cho, one of which was used in the first killings, had their serial numbers scratched out, suggesting that the killer may have had two plans, not just one, said Roger Depue, former chief of the behavioral science unit at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and founder of Academy Group Inc., of Manassas, Va., which advises corporations and schools on security.

If it was the same person, Mr. Depue said: 'One possibility is that he had a primary target and a secondary one. If the first shooting had gone as planned, maybe he doesn’t do the second one. If it doesn’t go well, he thinks, "Well, if they’re going to take me, then I’m going to plan B."'

Mr. Depue added, 'There’s a suicidal idea as well as a homicidal one.'"
posted by ericb at 10:01 AM on April 19, 2007


Cho does seem to bring up molestation/sexual assault in his writings.

Not just in the plays: he mentions John Mark Karr and Debra Lafave in his writings to NBC as well.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:08 AM on April 19, 2007


Whatever, foonie. From reports, he often went by ?. Maybe the media should call him that? But when the media is calling him what the school and the police are calling him, I don't feel you have a strong case for intent to exoticize.

Now, if FOX had started the trend ...
posted by dhartung at 10:09 AM on April 19, 2007


If I was at university or college and I was notified that there was a double shooting on campus, I would have packed up my shit and gone home. Especially if they said the killer was still on the lam.

I can't help but think that if these students had better/earlier notification...

.
posted by Totally Zanzibarin' Ya at 10:12 AM on April 19, 2007


Yeah, goodnewsfortheinsane, I noticed that as well. And then you have Mr. Brownstone, in his play, a teacher who "raped" the kids in the story. It's almost too obvious and too transparent, though. I think the most simple explanation is that the guy was a paranoid schizophrenic, and whatever was going on in his head was loosely tethered to reality. But it does get the mind thinking - maybe some of these delusions were triggered by an actual incident. It's certainly a subject he goes back to often.
posted by billysumday at 10:14 AM on April 19, 2007


Violent films like Oldboy along with similarly plotted video games have become as much a staple of the Korean diet as they have in America. Newman stresses the repetition of these images and scenes in the lives of young kids, calling them “templates.” I think her ideas are interesting, I think the fact that Seung Cho choose the protagonist of Oldboy, who speaks his native language and has the same Asian physical features that he has (as opposed to, say, Rambo) is very significant and I think the connection between a Korean American school shooter and the twisted and violent Korean movie directly before killing 32 people is pretty undeniably significant.

It may be interesting, but significant? How? Are you saying you see causation -- that Cho watched a movie, hence he killed thirty-plus people? If this film had never been made, all of these people would be alive today? I'm sorry, but however well-meaning this psychologist may be, that's a huge line of bullshit. It's a joke, and a dangerous one.

Also, I'd be careful about phrases like "the same Asian features he has" -- seriously. I...guess I know what you meant, but it really does not sound good.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:18 AM on April 19, 2007


(Psychologist = sociologist. Like, whatever this person is.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:20 AM on April 19, 2007


John Mark Karr and Debra Lafave? WTF???

I am reminder of the bogus suicide note from Heathers written up by the Christian Slater and Winona Ryder characters: "I've already started underlining meaningful passages in her copy of Moby Dick". It's like this shit he's ranting about (plus the use of Ishmael and the other obscure shit) is nothing more than a bunch of red herrings meant to fuck with whomever is trying to interpret it.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 10:23 AM on April 19, 2007


I wish people stopped attacking OldBoy the movie. I personally liked it a lot and I know others who did too, and really -come on, I have trouble hiding my incredulousness- we are not wackos! If people cannot separate life from fiction, artistic licence from licence to kill, that is a whole other problem. If people have such disregard of another being's life, it is a deep societal problem which has to do with the way we live, our priorities, our self-centered culture.

There are a lot of lobbies to go after in the wake of a horrentous event like VT. Obviously, the gun manufacturers, the gun sellers, the gun culture. In the name of a hobby or of a doubtfully relevant constitutional allowance, mentally ill people like Cho buy guns. Doesn't that strike those speaking about movies as odd first?

Prescription drugs. Is that lobby invincible or sacred or what? Why isn't the issue of so many drugs prescribed so easily to young people addressed? These drugs are not thoroughly tested and are often found dangerous themselves. Is this news to anyone, really?

A gun culture and a drug-loving culture should address those issues first, not movies and comics and video-games.
posted by carmina at 10:23 AM on April 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's like this shit he's ranting about (plus the use of Ishmael and the other obscure shit) is nothing more than a bunch of red herrings meant to fuck with whomever is trying to interpret it.

I would bet that it made a hell of a lot of sense in his crazy, delusional head. We'll never know, though.

If he had had any sense of humor, then yes, maybe he sprinkled his rantings with pop-culture clues (he didn't mention anything about Corn Nuts, did he? Or Perrier?) for random people on the internet to sift through and parse and debate about. Though it's a potentially interesting prospect, this guy was not on that level.
posted by billysumday at 10:30 AM on April 19, 2007


Violent films are a staple of kids everywhere.

Really? Around the world? Are you sure?

Can you tell me about some of these indigenous examples of widely consumed violent films in other parts of the world that aren't recast American exports or substantially influenced by existing American films?

We don't need to do this derail, I'm just pointing out that there's a Princeton prof with very sharp observations about the direct parallels between violent films and games and the way they influence the minds of young children who are conditioned by them, especially the vulnerable among those children who in small numbers become killers. By extension, I'm raising the question of what potential fall out there might be from exporting this to other cultures, where the masculine anti-hero identity aspect of it might dovetail with their existing patriarchies and social isolation issues.
posted by The Straightener at 10:33 AM on April 19, 2007


People are looking for a simple explanation where there will never be one.

Video games didn't make him do it.
Movies didn't make him do it.
Depression or schizophrenia didn't make him do it.
His parents didn't make him do it.
Classmates didn't make him do it.
His (ex)girlfriend didn't make him do it.
Guns didn't make him do it.

He did it. Understanding *why* he did it may be impossible since he's gone, but given the irrationality and senselessness of the act, I doubt any rational explanation is ever going to answer all of the questions.
posted by docjohn at 10:45 AM on April 19, 2007


By extension, I'm raising the question of what potential fall out there might be from exporting this to other cultures, where the masculine anti-hero identity aspect of it might dovetail with their existing patriarchies and social isolation issues.

Those simpler peoples may indeed be dazzled by the power of our magic picture show, but I am willing to give them a bit more credit than all of that.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:45 AM on April 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Those simpler peoples may indeed be dazzled by the power of our magic picture show, but I am willing to give them a bit more credit than all of that.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:45 AM on April 19


Take that, strawman!
posted by billysumday at 10:48 AM on April 19, 2007


By extension, I'm raising the question of what potential fall out there might be from exporting this to other cultures

Can you tell me about some of these indigenous examples of widely consumed violent films in other parts of the world that aren't recast American exports or substantially influenced by existing American films?

I think you just asked me whether there are violent films in other countries that aren't inspired by the US, right? Jeez. Your US-centric view is suffocating.
posted by suedehead at 10:49 AM on April 19, 2007


offtopic: oldboy is a kick ass film.
posted by chunking express at 10:56 AM on April 19, 2007


Take that, strawman!

Please, Billy, do enlighten me as to your meaning.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:10 AM on April 19, 2007


Straw man.
posted by billysumday at 11:14 AM on April 19, 2007


But really, your feud with The Straightener is not all that interesting. Sorry I stepped in the middle of it. No more from me, promise.
posted by billysumday at 11:19 AM on April 19, 2007


No, no, I know full well what a strawman argument IS, but I'm missing how it applies here. Allow me to repeat what was said:

By extension, I'm raising the question of what potential fall out there might be from exporting this to other cultures, where the masculine anti-hero identity aspect of it might dovetail with their existing patriarchies and social isolation issues.

If you don't see how this is a patronizing attitude, I'm not sure what to tell you.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:20 AM on April 19, 2007


Well, I'm sure the Straightener is as disappointed as I am myself that we've failed to entertain you today, Billy. I promise to do better in the future.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:22 AM on April 19, 2007


A student arrested over remarks that wanting to kill a bunch of people is understandable.

The killer's psych history, feeling afraid of people and unable to include oneself. I can relate to that. Groups of kids are incredibly cruel. Look at all the stories of swarming in the past decade. There's an imbalance in groups that at high energy oscillates between the one attacking the group and the group attacking the one. I feel lucky I didn't get sucked into either pattern over many extremely unpleasant years. Lucky I was tallest and strongest. Lucky I chose to remove myself and not act out the anger too much. Lucky I was raised with a sense of justice. It was hard.

I'm not excusing the guy's violent choice of action. Just trying to understand how it happens.
posted by Listener at 11:42 AM on April 19, 2007


"The rock band Collective Soul told CNN Wednesday that they were startled to learn that their song 'Shine' was a favorite of Cho Sueng-Hui, the Virginia Tech killer.

His roommates said Cho listened to the song over and over, even inscribing the lyrics on the wall of their dormitory room.

...Some of the lyrics that the taciturn student pored over include:
Teach me how to speak
Teach me how to share
Teach me where to go
Tell me will love be there (love be there)
Oh, heaven let your light shine down." *
posted by ericb at 11:44 AM on April 19, 2007


From Listener's link: "A University of Colorado student pleaded not guilty Wednesday to making comments that classmates deemed sympathetic toward the gunman blamed for killing 32 students and himself at Virginia Tech, authorities said."

I'm going to assume that that is just egregious or journalism, because otherwise, it's against the law to make comments deemed sympathetic to... WTF?

I college I pleaded guilty to not liking James Joyce, but there was no room in the literary dungeon for me, so my sentence was commuted.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 11:54 AM on April 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Netflix featuring Oldboy -- deliberate or coincidence?

Sky News -- Copycat: Killer Re-Enacted Violent Film
posted by ericb at 12:03 PM on April 19, 2007


dhartung writes "Well, mr_roboto, the school still calls him Cho Seung-Hui. I don't know why they'd suddenly reverse his name order now."

But according to the NPR piece I linked to, his drivers license said Seung-Hui Cho. In the US, it's standard to give someone's personal name before their family name. It's not clear to me when the school's press office, like other media outlets, is violating this convention.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:21 PM on April 19, 2007


That "when" should be a "why".
posted by mr_roboto at 12:23 PM on April 19, 2007


I'm absolutely not joking or trying to be funny:
That guy needed to get laid.
Apparently, he was so socially incompetant, that when he hit on two different girls on two different occasions, he not only got rejected each time -- on both occasions, they actually called the cops. (Heard this on NPR, can't research links right now.) The cops came to his room and warned him not to contact the girls.

Not saying he didn't totally deserve the rejection, but from an insecure, oversexed guy's perspective, DAMN that's harsh! And he got busted tryin to take upskirt pics in class? Gotta be pretty crushing and immasculating. I mean, imagine you're such a social pariah that some girls won't even come to class because you freak them out so much.

I mean, I definitely had my moments of social awkwardness, but Wow.

I see his "vengence" (against totally "innocent" people) as his last attempt to reclaim personal power. Like, "Fuck You! You* may have rejected me and rendered me socially impotent, but I'll show you that I'm so powerful I can fucking KILL ALL OF YOU!"

It may sound trite, but had he gotten laid or been even marginally successfully romantically, it may have been enough of a social connection and ego boost that this wouldn't have happened.

I dunno... just trying to make sense of this.

* "You", in the vague sense of "anybody that knew him and rejectedhim" as well as "anybody who didn't know him but presumably, based on past experience, wouldn't accept him if they did".

on preview: Hmm, the "Shine" song would seem to support this hairbrain theory. I can see the headlines now, VA Tech Killer Just Needed to Get Laid. ::sigh::
posted by LordSludge at 12:25 PM on April 19, 2007


But really, your feud with The Straightener is not all that interesting.

I’m not feuding with anyone. Once more, I think the rush to argue gun control in the wake of each and every individual school shooting unfortunately winds up superseding the need to understand the minds of young people who go on rampage killings. How they process violent images and media differently from others is, I think, pretty crucial to formulating that understanding. I think this Princeton professor is the first to articulate a coherent theory about the subject, which I think is pretty right on and backed up by facts from previous similar murders. It applies seamlessly to Cho, despite having been written before the VT rampage. The fact that it was a Korean kid inspired by a Korean movie is a new spin that perhaps has larger implications for the issue on a cross cultural level, as other countries adopt the American models of violent gaming and media.

I’ve said this about three times now. I don’t think kittens for breakfast has actually grasped any of it yet, but whatever.
posted by The Straightener at 12:35 PM on April 19, 2007


At Oregon's Lewis & Clark College, another student was detained by campus police Wednesday shortly before a vigil for the Virginia Tech victims when he was spotted wearing an ammunition belt. Portland police later determined that it was "a fashion accessory" made of spent ammunition, and said the man did not have a weapon. The belt was confiscated.
PUNX NOT DEAD
posted by nasreddin at 12:44 PM on April 19, 2007


"That guy needed to get laid."

In these situations, I always just "did the load by hand." If you know what I mean. Never once did it cross my mind to go on a killing spree.
posted by NotMyself at 12:46 PM on April 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


That's why you're going to hell.
posted by Artw at 12:51 PM on April 19, 2007


Oh, I grasp it, I just don't agree with it. And even if I did agree with it, Cho -- at twenty-three -- hardly qualifies as an impressionable youth.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:02 PM on April 19, 2007


My anecdotal experiences around a lot of twenty-three-year-olds then contradict that argument, kfb.
posted by cortex at 1:11 PM on April 19, 2007


Oh, I grasp it, I just don't agree with it.

That may be the case, but from your comments, you don't seem to be grasping it. The Straightener is raising an interesting question (at least to some) about how we may predict the ways in which different cultures may respond to the importation of pulpy "American" violence and the impact that that glorified violence (especially with regards to the notion of the anti-hero) will or could affect disenfranchised young men - negatively or otherwise - in those cultures. To disagree with him is fine, and I doubt a lot of people are going to put much credence in that observation. But you're not disagreeing with the thesis posed by the woman in the article he linked to, nor are you posing a counter-argument. All I've heard you say, more or less, is: "Asian people aren't stupid!!!" Whereas that is obviously true, it's also dodging the question, and is disingenuous.
posted by billysumday at 1:12 PM on April 19, 2007


Cho -- at twenty-three -- hardly qualifies as an impressionable youth.

He seems developmentally challenged or like he had some other kind of mental health issue to me.

I'm still stunned that this is studying English at undergraduate level.
posted by Artw at 1:15 PM on April 19, 2007


There isn't even a question to dodge! Making it about the fact that the guy was Asian is inherently racist. For all intents and purposes, Cho was an American. He lived here for fifteen of his twenty-three years. Other than the presence of Oldboy in his DVD player, not one thing we have learned about him thus far in any way involves his ethnicity.

How will glorified violence affect disenfranchised young men? It won't. Being disenfranchised will affect disenfranchised young men. How will it affect disenfranchised young men of Asian cultures in particular? It won't. Being disenfranchised will.

At any rate, when I got to the end of his last comment -- the one about "why do people always make it about gun control?" -- I realized I've been taking a smokescreen argument too seriously anyway. It's gotta be the movies; it can't possibly be the guns. Got it. Moving on.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:29 PM on April 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


In these situations, I always just "did the load by hand." If you know what I mean. Never once did it cross my mind to go on a killing spree.

(Sure, why do you think I type slow? Sorry, wrong thread for masturbation jokes...)

But do you have friends? Or is it conceivable that you might, at some point in the future, make some friends? Maybe at some point have a lady friend? Possibly even get laid?

What happens if the answer to all of the above is "no"? What happens when there is no hope of social acceptance... ever?? What happens when you give up?

Meh, it's easier to blame it on teh movies and teh azn...
posted by LordSludge at 1:53 PM on April 19, 2007


According to news reports, he was raised by parents who spoke little or no English, and the Korean community in northern Virginia is large and has significant cultural features distinct from the larger community it is embedded in. These factors contribute to the relevance of inquiries regarding Cho and his experience as a Korean in America.
posted by NortonDC at 1:54 PM on April 19, 2007


And news reports are now saying he was frequently mocked and bullied in high school.

Just please don't tell Jon Katz
posted by NortonDC at 1:57 PM on April 19, 2007


That's funny, because when they showed his neighbors on television talking about his parents, they were white or other non-Koreans. So while that community may exist in that region, I don't think his parents are living in it. Additionally, their business isn't even the type that is overly conducive to being part of an ethnic enclave. There really isn't much that culture-specific about dry-cleaning clothes, as opposed to if it were a grocery store or something.

Is it the same house he grew up in? Did they move from an enclave to where they are now?

I think acculturation is a factor, but truthfully it really seems like the disenfranchised, alienated components of his personality step forward more than any perceived issues or acculturative stress.
posted by cashman at 2:04 PM on April 19, 2007


Hmmmmm. I think the question I have is whether his experience as a Korean in America is relevant to his experience as a mass murderer. One of these things is not like the other...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:07 PM on April 19, 2007


Mister_A writes "I am afraid that the response to this tragedy will be further erosion of privacy rights, criminalization of mental illness, destruction of campus life, etc. None of these address the underlying problem here. I mean, what did this guy kill those kids with? A shovel? A board with a nail in it? Anyone remember how he did it? Shame on the media and the government for their cowardice in ignoring the elephant in the room."

Matt has asked that all the elephant in the room talk be put in the meta thread.

Totally Zanzibarin' Ya writes "I can't help but think that if these students had better/earlier notification..."

Probably not much would have changed. Even if 50% of the student body left he was still in a target rich environment.
posted by Mitheral at 2:26 PM on April 19, 2007


I didn't say he lived in a ghetto. But don't let that stop you.
posted by NortonDC at 2:36 PM on April 19, 2007


Maybe you like to read up on gaes or learn about some other interesting features of Korean communities in America.

No pressure or anything.
posted by NortonDC at 2:44 PM on April 19, 2007


Just to point out:
1) there is only one murder in Oldboy.
2) I don't want to spoil the movie to anyone (it's really a masterpiece you should see) but more than to violent movies it's tied to greek tragedy
posted by darkripper at 2:47 PM on April 19, 2007


HA! see? ... it's those damn greeks and their damn theater
posted by pyramid termite at 3:01 PM on April 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


At first I misread that as "geek tragedy."
posted by ericb at 3:17 PM on April 19, 2007


The fact that it was a Korean kid inspired by a Korean movie is a new spin that perhaps has larger implications for the issue on a cross cultural level, as other countries adopt the American models of violent gaming and media.

The Straightener, Oldboy was based off of a Japanese manga. The decades of Korea under Japanese Rule heavily influenced Korea and its media, and continues to do so, especially after that Japanese culture ban was lifted nine years ago. Korean violence in the media is more inspired by Japanese violence than it is by American.

If you're looking for examples of non-American violence, here's Art of the Devil 2, Whispering Corridors, Ichi The Killer, Battle Royale, etc, etc. There are a lot of examples. Maybe this will help you understand that there do exist some cultures that don't just have re-hashings of American violence.

So -- explain this "American models of violent gaming and media" further, please?
posted by suedehead at 3:44 PM on April 19, 2007


Whoops, that should be "Japanese rule," without the capitalization.
posted by suedehead at 3:46 PM on April 19, 2007


Hong Kong manga of shootings (NSFW + questionable taste).
posted by dgaicun at 4:40 PM on April 19, 2007


Peter Read asks that you turn away from the Cho doofus, and remember his daughter, Mary Karen. Figuring out why Cho was such a doofus is not gonna bring those 32 people back - we should celebrate their lives, not continue breathing life into that doofus' pathetic excuse for time on this planet.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:44 PM on April 19, 2007


Maybe this will help you understand that there do exist some cultures that don't just have re-hashings of American violence.

No kidding. My first exposure to extreme violence in movies was watching all the Mexican-made Westerns (a separate tradition than American Westerns) where gunmen were routinely blowing each others arms and eyes and ears off. And the knife scenes...ugh.

Come to think of it one interesting thing about the media outside the US is how much more they'll show you. Whenever they cover murders on Mexican TV for example, they actually show the corpse if they can. Really disgusting....Anyways...
posted by vacapinta at 4:50 PM on April 19, 2007


The decades of Korea under Japanese Rule heavily influenced Korea and its media, and continues to do so, especially after that Japanese culture ban was lifted nine years ago. Korean violence in the media is more inspired by Japanese violence than it is by American.

Curious - do you think it really "continues to do so"? I thought this was less true nowadays, certainly with movies. Influence will continue to flow one way or another, and Oldboy was indeed a JP manga. But more recent Korean films have found enough of their own voice culturally as well as business-wise, so I don't think you can say generally that the current Korean films are "inspired by Japanese violence".

Just a random example: violence in jopok movies and yakuza movies are usually quite different although they're both about gangsters.

I agree that Korean media business and culture did borrow heavily from Japan, intentionally or not, for many years after the wars. I grew up in Seoul in the '70s and early '80s, and there were tons of (un)inspired copying. A sad day of my life? When the govt decided to shut down all Japanese anime on TV, so I got home one day and ALL THE SHOWS WERE ON AT THE SAME TIME, SHOWING THE FINAL EPISODES. WTF?
posted by shortfuse at 4:55 PM on April 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


We're getting close to that, vacapinta - when I first went to cnn.com Monday, they showed Cho's bloody corpse being carried away.
posted by minda25 at 4:55 PM on April 19, 2007


Tasteless as that is dgaicun, it's a little misleading to call it 'manga.' The Apple Daily's being doing those kinds of prurient infographics for years, but the purpose is ostensibly news, even if they're no doubt well aware of the titillation value.
posted by Abiezer at 5:01 PM on April 19, 2007


There seems to be a link between trying to take pictures up girls' skirts from under the table in classrooms, wearing dark glasses and a hat in class, and Giovanni saying he was mean. He was bullied in high school, and I've never been to Va Tech., but I highly doubt it continued into college. That doesn't fit into my (pretty recent) experience of college life. He may indeed have been ignored, but enough students encountered him and claimed to have tried to talk to him... it sounds to me like he was cultivating an intimidating persona on campus. And it worked. And it's reflected in most of the pictures he sent to NBC. So it's very, very frustrating for me to keep reading how tortured he felt; I literally can find no sympathy. I know the only real explanation is mental illness, for which I do have sympathy. But that also means we will never really be able to understand. God damnit.

Thanks for providing a place to type that out.
posted by juliplease at 5:17 PM on April 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


The man was not insane.

He was sane enough to know that murder is WRONG, and probably educated enough to know that it would get him the death penalty if he didn't shoot himself first.

HE WAS NOT DELUSIONAL about his crime. Yes, he did something wrong. BUT he KNEW that it was wrong before he even did it, and videotaped himself saying something to that effect.
posted by srs at 5:18 PM on April 19, 2007


I don't think he shot himself so as to avoid being punished so much as to commit suicide.
posted by juliplease at 5:21 PM on April 19, 2007


He didn't say that he committed suicide to avoid the punishent of death. He implied that he committed suicide to avoid the punishment of life. But whatever. It doesn't really matter. fwap fwap fwap. What matters is that he DID SAY that the mass murder he was about to commit was wrong.
posted by srs at 5:41 PM on April 19, 2007


srs - I think you have a very different definition of sanity from me.
posted by Artw at 5:48 PM on April 19, 2007


Oh I didn't mean to be argumentative. It was just the idea of him killing himself because otherwise he'd get the death penalty/be otherwise punished by the US legal system, an idea that's been stated in a few places, that prompted my thought.
posted by juliplease at 5:49 PM on April 19, 2007


He killed himself because these fuckers always do. It's the meatspace psycho equivalent of an internet flameout.
posted by Artw at 5:55 PM on April 19, 2007


If I had to guess, I'd say he planned to kill himself long beforehand and figured he'd take a bunch with him, so I'd agree with you. That wasn't my point though.

If his motive were martyrdom, to send a message, he'd send it a lot better alive, through personal interviews and such. I think he was sane enough to realize that. I do not think he did this out of martyrdom, to send a message. He was definitely suicidal first. But this is me fwap fwap fwapping.

My definition of sanity is the one the courts use as far as I know, but I am not a lawyer. I would really appreciate what a lawyer has to say about this as a should-he-still-be-alive thought experiment. If he changed his mind at the last minute and decided "yes I do have something to say now that I have all this attention," he'd still get the death penalty for what he said on video, right? How could he argue his way out of that one?
posted by srs at 5:59 PM on April 19, 2007


If his motive were martyrdom, to send a message, he'd send it a lot better alive, through personal interviews and such. I think he was sane enough to realize that.

I don't think so--we don't as a rule air murderer's rantings when they're alive and in custody. (i guess on Court TV only?)

He had to die also for the whole thing to get an airing, and the curiosity and mystery was needed to make it irresistible, i think.
posted by amberglow at 6:23 PM on April 19, 2007


I'm not well-versed on murderers because they give me nightmares, but isn't Charles Manson probably the favored pop icon murderer? He's still alive and even put out a record or something, right?
posted by srs at 6:35 PM on April 19, 2007


They give me nightmares too--this guy gave me one last night---ugh.

Manson i thought wasn't really given wide cultural attention for his own rantings until the court cases, no? (and he had the Hollywood and hippie connections which probably helped)
posted by amberglow at 6:46 PM on April 19, 2007


I think he may have done the first two murders to get himself past the point of no return --- he had committed the unthinkable at that point --- and so he sent the package.

Can you imagine how disappointing it would be to someone in his mindset to send off a package like that, and then some unforseen circumstance thwarted your plan and you didn't kill anyone? That would be humiliating beyond belief.

So, once he'd done the first two, he sent the package, then returned to campus with the total freedom of someone who has absolutely nothing to lose. Filled with rage, with no limits on his behavior, he enters into the primal anarchy of slaughter, with each additional death just ratcheting up his notoriety.
posted by jayder at 6:48 PM on April 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


jayder- He signed a contract at that point, while trying to remember NBC's zip code.

I kept trying to unravel something like that out of this, but hadn't yet. Thank you.

It did occur to me that his motive for the first two was to see whether he liked it or not and could follow through with the rest (vs. insanity plea for only two murders, passion-related), but I couldnt even begin to empathize with that.

I'm beginning to relate now. Thanks.
posted by srs at 7:11 PM on April 19, 2007


I am afraid that the response to this tragedy will be further erosion of privacy rights, criminalization of mental illness, destruction of campus life, etc. None of these address the underlying problem here. I mean, what did this guy kill those kids with? A shovel? A board with a nail in it? Anyone remember how he did it? Shame on the media and the government for their cowardice in ignoring the elephant in the room. -- Mister_A

Well said.
posted by pwedza at 7:44 PM on April 19, 2007


but isn't Charles Manson probably the favored pop icon murderer? He's still alive and even put out a record or something, right?

Manson recorded some hippie folk-rock albums before the cult murders. Someone later released them and then he also recorded more in prison. Discog.

Not to defend him by any measure, but Manson wasn't ever found to have personally committed the murders (though there were rumors he killed a policeman), but his sway over his cult members caused them to do them.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:51 PM on April 19, 2007


From ericb's link:
It contains stylised scenes of killings and an attempted suicide, and is filled with what one critic called "punishing emotional violence". Similar themes seem to have occurred in Cho's own writings.

Oh come on. His own writings -- the two plays that have been making the rounds, at least -- show themes of poor writing ability and typing up your homework 15 minutes before class. I seriously doubt that Cho spent hours agonizing over his plays and choosing just what sick depraved violence to put in them. I think he didn't give a fuck about the assignment, wrote them up before class, and threw in a few of his favorite obsessions because they popped into his head while he was tossing off his plays. They are not insights into his soul or revelations about his character. They are just bad plays, and honestly, what is most striking to me about them is how boring they are. I'd expect something a lot more vicious from someone capable of going on a murderous rampage. They were almost comical they were so dumb. Sure, I imagine that in class, combined with all his other strange behavior, I would have been a little freaked if that guy turned them in to me, and in retrospect they seem to fit into the "puzzle" of Cho's life, but all in all they just seem like crappy homework assignments that just happen to fit in with the picture people are trying to paint of this guy.
posted by papakwanz at 8:32 PM on April 19, 2007


Seconding papakwanz. There were at least five goth kids at my high school that wrote similar shit, and none of them were mass murderers. Just angsty.

Come on, people. This isn't even, like, Jean Genet-level shocking. It's just a bunch of poopie jokes. Does liking Guns 'n' Roses also totally fit the mass murderer angle?
posted by nasreddin at 8:54 PM on April 19, 2007


Why does the Bush administration have a list of everyone who has ever used anti-depressants?

Both the scope and the number of databases maintained by the federal government on American citizens continue to grow
posted by homunculus at 9:00 PM on April 19, 2007


One of his ex-roommates said on tv he was always on Word, writing. Whether you want to critique his work or not, he apparently wasn't just dashing anything off right before class, i don't think.


Thanks, Burhanistan--i never knew he actually didn't commit any of the murders--i knew he was the leader but thought he did violence himself too (i've avoided Helter Skelter and all that related stuff on purpose--even the South Park version of Manson gives me the creeps)
posted by amberglow at 9:09 PM on April 19, 2007


i knew he was the leader but thought he did violence himself too...

Manson cut off the ear of music teacher Gary Hinman before having him killed, and shot a drug dealer who he believed he killed, as well as being being plenty violent in prison, bot before and after the Family and the Tate-LaBianca murders.
posted by Snyder at 11:15 PM on April 19, 2007


ah (and ewww)
posted by amberglow at 11:18 PM on April 19, 2007


He also, if I recall, tied up the LaBiancas before their murders, so while he may not have actually delivered a killing blow to anyone, he got awful darn close.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:59 AM on April 20, 2007


amberglow writes "One of his ex-roommates said on tv he was always on Word, writing. Whether you want to critique his work or not, he apparently wasn't just dashing anything off right before class, i don't think."

Writing does not necessarily equal "doing his homework assignments". There was a guy in my art class who was always, always drawing, but was always late because he was drawing stuff he wanted to (superheroes), and not what the assignment was (whatever), so he always did it at the last minute.

raysmj writes "I thought most American films shown in nations with primary languages other than English were dubbed, not subtitled."

In Japan they're all subtitled. Dubbing is only used for childrens' movies (since they won't know the kanji to read the subtitles yet).
posted by Bugbread at 1:45 AM on April 20, 2007


Grandfather claims he suffered from untreated autism.
posted by availablelight at 6:42 AM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow, great find, availablelight.
posted by NortonDC at 6:47 AM on April 20, 2007


Some armchair psychiatrists are also speculating about the increased risk of schitzophrenia in children of people who work in dry cleaning.
posted by availablelight at 7:14 AM on April 20, 2007


Dinesh D'Souza says I don't exist: an atheist at Virginia Tech [Updated] on DailyKos.
posted by delmoi at 7:51 AM on April 20, 2007


The event, the tapes, the pictures, and now somebody filmed the killer's plays and put it on youtube. And people aren't even buried yet. This has just gotten all too surreal and sucky. Maybe I'm a prude, but I think our society is sick.
posted by cashman at 7:55 AM on April 20, 2007


Dinesh D'Souza once again proves that he is a massive ass clown.
posted by papakwanz at 8:07 AM on April 20, 2007


Grandfather claims he suffered from untreated autism.

oh, for fuck's sake, NO ... that's the last damn thing autistic people need, to be characterized as ready to go postal
posted by pyramid termite at 8:41 AM on April 20, 2007


that's the last damn thing autistic people need, to be characterized as ready to go postal

I feel the same way about schizophrenic people. They're tiresome but harmless, more often victims of violence than perpetrators. For example, this guy just wanted to be left alone but his family was worried about him and called the police. The cops then broke into his home and murdered him.

We can't relate to Cho, and we can't relate to people suffering severe delusions, so we assume he was delusional because it's easy. It's a lazy way of understanding, but I don't think Cho was insane in the sense of being delusional or living in a fantasy world. He had an imaginary girlfriend, but he knew that she was imaginary. He lacked empathy and respect for human life, but he had a realistic enough understanding of how the world works (putting together a media kit and all).

He knew that what he was about to do was wrong but did it anyway. I don't really care why. The bottomline is that he knew it was wrong. All his layers after that are bad writing and bad acting.
posted by srs at 10:51 AM on April 20, 2007


Maybe I'm a prude, but I think our society is sick.
It's always been that way--penny dreadfuls, Illustrated Crime Newspapers of the 1800s, the Evening Graphic, Crime magazines, etc...
posted by amberglow at 10:56 AM on April 20, 2007


This is the most bizarre thing on this I'd seen all week. Apparently, Cho submitted an audition tape last week to American Idol:
According to a source at American Idol, the Cho Seung-Hui video featured two performances. In the first Mr. Cho, who went by the stage name "Ismail-Ax," sang a karaoke version of the Village People's "YMCA." For an encore he donned an ammo vest and waved two automatic weapons in the air as he sang, "Give me a word, give me a sign" from Collective Soul's "Shine."

"We figured he was a borderline psycho or else he had a hyper-developed sense of irony," said the source. "Either way he would have been perfect for our show."
Sickening on at least three different levels.
posted by psmealey at 11:03 AM on April 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


That's unrepentant satire, psmealey. See the next paragraph:

In related news, President Bush told reporters on his way back to the White House after speaking at Virginia Tech on Tuesday that he was grateful to have an opportunity to address the grieving parents of young people "whose deaths could not be blamed on me for a change."

The only question is whether the joke will get any traction.
posted by cortex at 11:11 AM on April 20, 2007


Fuck. Sometimes I'm a huge chump.
posted by psmealey at 11:16 AM on April 20, 2007


um, I don't think that's real...
posted by every_one_needs_a_hug_sometimes at 11:30 AM on April 20, 2007


It's always been that way--penny dreadfuls, Illustrated Crime Newspapers of the 1800s, the Evening Graphic, Crime magazines, etc...
Yeah, when most people were no big dealing the post about performing Cho's play and putting it on youtube, I figured I'd overreacted.

Actually it kind of started when I was watching the coverage and they were interviewing students who watched all sorts of bloody murder happen all around them and they were telling it in "I'd like a vente mocha latte" voices. Maybe shock is a part of it, but the only people I saw crying were the people whose relatives were overseas. But I guess I just need to process the whole thing and figure out how to deal with it, because as much as I realize many people could care less, I still see it as sick in some way. I mean people got killed. But I guess that's part of life eh?
posted by cashman at 11:32 AM on April 20, 2007


delmoi writes "Dinesh D'Souza"

Christ, what an asshole.

The thing that I don't get about D'Souza is that he isn't even particularly smart or eloquent. His stuff is like Amateur Hour at the Hoover Institution. I guess he paid his dues and got into the club...
posted by mr_roboto at 11:35 AM on April 20, 2007


Practicing Compassion in the Face of Evil
posted by homunculus at 1:23 PM on April 20, 2007


Copycat-ish incident at NASA.

ASA building evacuated amid gun reports: Contract worker barricaded at Johnson Space Center, WPRC says
.

In the article, they refer to Johnson as having a "campus" and then say that "parents" were asked not to show up. This place is some sort of school?
posted by Clay201 at 2:08 PM on April 20, 2007


Clay201 writes "This place is some sort of school?"

From the article you linked to: "Space Center Intermediate School, which is adjacent to the campus, also was placed in lockdown mode as a precaution, district officials told KPRC."

"Campus" is often used to refer to business or hospital sites with multiple buildings spread over an area, in addition to its traditional use in referring to the ground of a college.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:23 PM on April 20, 2007


Cho's name was given as "Cho Seung-Hui" by police and school officials earlier this week. But the the South Korean immigrant family said their preference was "Seung-Hui Cho." Many Asian immigrant families Americanize their names by reversing them and putting their surnames last. -- according to the AP, which is now using the Americanized order.

Also, I have to say, every time I see "Virginia State Police" and "Virginia Tech Police" in the same paragraph, I start to wonder whether the state of Virginia has computer cops that are looking at the case.
posted by dhartung at 3:34 PM on April 20, 2007


By all means, feel free to replace the terse "Virginia Tech" with the mellifluous "Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University" at your leisure.
posted by NortonDC at 3:44 PM on April 20, 2007


Yesterday Dennis Prager was on the radio saying that he doesn't understand how some people have forgiven the murderer. Where are they getting that from, he said? Our society is sick, he was saying. He then speculated that those people offering forgiveness had single mothers.

I almost threw up. I have no where else to post this, but Dennis Prager, it's called "Christianity", you might have heard of it. Asshole.
posted by chaz at 3:55 PM on April 20, 2007


all the animals are coming out of their holes to blame this one thing or another---not enough guns, no bibles in schools, feminism, liberals, immigrants, etc--now single mothers? It's not surprising. Meanwhile, over 1000 Iraqis and many more Americans dead this month in Iraq so far, and it's not over.

This kind of thing always seems to be an argument against wars--we kill each other way way more than enough already--we have to go overseas and do it too?
posted by amberglow at 4:03 PM on April 20, 2007


His family released a statement
posted by amberglow at 4:06 PM on April 20, 2007


Milking The Mayhem and Baiting For More: Inside The Mind Of The Media
posted by amberglow at 4:32 PM on April 20, 2007


all the animals are coming out of their holes to blame this one thing or another---not enough guns, no bibles in schools, feminism, liberals, immigrants, etc--now single mothers?

Funny - if we listen to the murderer himself, he's saying that isolation,victimisation and alienation are what turned him violent. That he was first abused, then did abuse.

Seems like the answer is staring us in the face.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:49 PM on April 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


Cho Seung-Hui Was A Prohibited Purchaser Under Existing Federal Law
posted by amberglow at 4:50 PM on April 20, 2007


Ted Nugent: Voice of Reason.
posted by homunculus at 10:59 PM on April 20, 2007


the voice of gonzo maybe
posted by caddis at 11:13 PM on April 20, 2007


"My hero, Dr. Suzanne Gratia Hupp, was not allowed by Texas law to carry her handgun into Luby's Cafeteria that fateful day in 1991, when due to bureaucrat-forced unarmed helplessness she could do nothing to stop satanic George Hennard from killing 23 people and wounding more than 20 others before he shot himself. Hupp was unarmed for no other reason than denial-ridden "feel good" politics.

She has since led the charge for concealed weapon upgrade in Texas, where we can now stop evil. "


Gonzo was actually a lot smarter than the other muppets gave him credit. I disagree with Nugent a lot but he's got a good point. This is no time for gun control enthusiasts to sound the call to arms. Neither is it the time for the NRA to rally their troops. 32 are dead.

Still, it remains plain: Had Emily Hilscher been packing, it could have been one.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:50 PM on April 20, 2007


Apparently trying to catch up to the johnny-on-the-spot Scientologists, the Jehova's Witnesses just came to my door to tell me that it was foretold in the Christian Bible, and that they have the answer to it.
posted by NortonDC at 8:48 AM on April 21, 2007


NortonDC : According to news reports, he was raised by parents who spoke little or no English, and the Korean community in northern Virginia is large and has significant cultural features distinct from the larger community it is embedded in. These factors contribute to the relevance of inquiries regarding Cho and his experience as a Korean in America.
_____

cashman: So while that community may exist in that region, I don't think his parents are living in it.
_____

"Seung Tae Cho and his wife, Hyang In, told friends they came to America for the sake of their children's education. They settled in a townhouse in Centreville near good public schools. The father worked long hours pressing pants at a dry cleaner in Manassas. The mother occasionally went to church.

...Beyond these broad brush strokes of Cho's life in Fairfax, only bits and pieces have emerged from relatives. The local ethnic organizations that typically gather Korean immigrants -- churches, social clubs and civic associations -- say the Chos were largely unknown and disconnected in the Washington area, which is unusual for the tight-knit community.

'They're like ghosts,' said Ron Kim of the Korean-American Dry Cleaners Association of Greater Washington. 'It is really strange for a family not to be known.'

...Others in the local Korean community, including pastors of the largest Korean churches, civic leaders and members of the dry cleaners association, examined their records and talked to associates to see whether the Chos had any relationship with their groups. So far, none has been found.

Some relatives said the family has kept its distance even from them." *
posted by ericb at 8:50 AM on April 21, 2007


Associated Press: Internet Abuzz Over 'Ismail Ax' Meaning.

Washington Post: The Search for Meaning in a Killer's Hieroglyphics.
posted by ericb at 8:57 AM on April 21, 2007


The local ethnic organizations that typically gather Korean immigrants -- churches, social clubs and civic associations -- say the Chos were largely unknown and disconnected in the Washington area
So indeed they weren't part of that community.
posted by cashman at 9:21 AM on April 21, 2007


The statement by Sun-Kyung Cho, sister of Seung-Hui Cho, on behalf of herself and her family:

On behalf of our family, we are so deeply sorry for the devastation my brother has caused. No words can express our sadness that 32 innocent people lost their lives this week in such a terrible, senseless tragedy. We are heartbroken.

We grieve alongside the families, the Virginia Tech community, our State of Virginia, and the rest of the nation. And, the world.

Every day since April 16, my father, mother and I pray for students Ross Abdallah Alameddine, Brian Roy Bluhm, Ryan Christopher Clark, Austin Michelle Cloyd, Matthew Gregory Gwaltney, Caitlin Millar Hammaren, Jeremy Michael Herbstritt, Rachael Elizabeth Hill, Emily Jane Hilscher, Jarrett Lee Lane, Matthew Joseph La Porte, Henry J. Lee, Partahi Mamora Halomoan Lumbantoruan, Lauren Ashley McCain, Daniel Patrick O'Neil, J. Ortiz-Ortiz, Minal Hiralal Panchal, Daniel Alejandro Perez, Erin Nicole Peterson, Michael Steven Pohle, Jr., Julia Kathleen Pryde, Mary Karen Read, Reema Joseph Samaha, Waleed Mohamed Shaalan, Leslie Geraldine Sherman, Maxine Shelly Turner, Nicole White, Instructor Christopher James Bishop, and Professors Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, Kevin P. Granata, Liviu Librescu and G.V. Loganathan.

We pray for their families and loved ones who are experiencing so much excruciating grief. And we pray for those who were injured and for those whose lives are changed forever because of what they witnessed and experienced.

Each of these people had so much love, talent and gifts to offer, and their lives were cut short by a horrible and senseless act.

We are humbled by this darkness. We feel hopeless, helpless and lost. This is someone that I grew up with and loved. Now I feel like I didn't know this person.

We have always been a close, peaceful and loving family. My brother was quiet and reserved, yet struggled to fit in. We never could have envisioned that he was capable of so much violence.

He has made the world weep. We are living a nightmare.

There is much justified anger and disbelief at what my brother did, and a lot of questions are left unanswered. Our family will continue to cooperate fully and do whatever we can to help authorities understand why these senseless acts happened. We have many unanswered questions as well.

Our family is so very sorry for my brother's unspeakable actions. It is a terrible tragedy for all of us.
posted by merelyglib at 9:23 AM on April 21, 2007


Still, it remains plain: Had Emily Hilscher been packing, it could have been one.
posted by ZachsMind


My God, that's a stupid fucking thing to say.
How do you figure? Was this some sort of Wild West high-noon staredown, where the quickest draw wins? Having a gun doesn't do much good if a guy just walks up out of no where and shoots you in the head.
posted by papakwanz at 10:12 AM on April 21, 2007


Had Emily Hilscher been packing, it could have been one.

Flagged as retarded.
posted by psmealey at 10:24 AM on April 21, 2007


The stupidity and self-serving logic embodied in Nugent's statement is staggering. If everyone is carrying concealed weapons everywhere, it is possible, theoretically, that Columbine/VT type incidents could be stopped earlier. However, it makes just as much sense to figure that whatever lives saved in those incidents would be dwarfed by an astronomical increase in fatalities across the board: road rage incidents, domestic disputes, bar fights, college and high school keg parties, workplace arguments, etc.

Just because you think you are impeccable with regard to the safety and maintenance of your own weapons does not mean that everyone else is. Fuck, most people think they are good drivers, and you tell me what the sort of stupidity and carelessness you witness on a daily basis on the nation's highways and city streets.

Also, Damn Yankees sucked ass.
posted by psmealey at 11:41 AM on April 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


My current impression is that a variety of factors contributed to his sense of alienation: some degree of autism and the social isolation it brings, a strong possibility of other mental illnesses, being a non-native English speaker (majoring in English!), ridicule from his contemporaries, and isolation from the usually "tight-knit" Korean community.

He hurt my school and my community, but when I attended a gathering last night in the home county of several of the dead, including Cho, I was a little disappointed that he was left out of the slide video of the dead. Isolating him again feels like a mistake.
posted by NortonDC at 12:32 PM on April 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


We are humbled by this darkness.

I have never been more impressed by a public statement. Ever. Say what you will about the murderer, but his family definitely has class.
posted by mediareport at 9:20 PM on April 21, 2007 [7 favorites]


Mark Ames, a journalist who wrote Going Postal, a book that compares school and workplace shootings to 19th century slave rebellions, weighs in on the recent VTech shootings with the article, Virginia Tech: Is The Scene of the Crime the Cause of the Crime?
posted by jonp72 at 9:00 AM on April 22, 2007



'They're like ghosts,' said Ron Kim of the Korean-American Dry Cleaners Association of Greater Washington. 'It is really strange for a family not to be known.'

This is not possible at all. They were funneled into Dry Cleaning, and had to have connections to ease the way, just as my greatgrandparents were funneled and helped by their associations and Landmanschafts and things like family and village connections.

... Within the past decade, the growing Korean American population has become a visible economic force in the Washington, D.C. area. From a population of 66,000 Korean Americans, more than 80 percent of the 1,200 dry-cleaning businesses are Korean-owned. In Fairfax, it is 90 percent, nearly 300 of the 325 dry cleaners, according to the Korean American Drycleaners Association of Washington. ...
posted by amberglow at 10:49 AM on April 22, 2007


This happens only with organization and planning--the family would have had to at least pay their way in, and/or know people to get them in and set up. It's a standard immigrant story.
posted by amberglow at 10:53 AM on April 22, 2007


and also from AsianWeek: Fears of Scapegoating after Cho Slayings
posted by amberglow at 10:56 AM on April 22, 2007


Before Deadly Rage, a Life Consumed by a Troubling Silence

Incredibly good synopsis of Cho by the NYTimes, required reading for anyone interested. An even more chilling account, especially given the fact that it appears he spoke more words in the videos than he did the rest of his life before that.
posted by geoff. at 11:24 AM on April 22, 2007


According to the link that availablelight submitted, this is their immigration story:

[Cho's father] also ran a second-hand bookstore. His mother was living in the States on a long term visit to stay with his sister. She asked him to bring his family to live there.

"He sold the house to pay for the emigration costs and rented instead but there were lots of delays and eventually the whole process to get the permissions and organise things took eight years.


They don't discuss how they became involved in dry cleaning in the States. I can't find that info anywhere. I don't think it's impossible that, with family already in place, they didn't need the community's help getting funneled into the business. Surely, if they had, Ron Kim would be one of the people to know, right? When they immigrated in the 90s, the community our great-grandparents took advantage of during immigration would almost certainly not have been the same. Or, they could have used the connections in place to get settled and then drifted away from the community. Especially if they had a troubled kid.

All in all, I don't think Ron Kim's claim is impossible; he himself sounds surprised.
posted by juliplease at 11:30 AM on April 22, 2007


... several of the dead, including Cho, I was a little disappointed that he was left out of the slide video of the dead. Isolating him again feels like a mistake.

He doesn't deserve the attention. He's not a victim in this situation.
posted by Snyder at 12:21 PM on April 22, 2007


In many ways, it is the same i think, especially in terms of which businesses you go into, and how you get in at all, knowing little or nothing about setting up a business here or the cultural and legal differences. And especially if it's a different field than the one you were in back home. The reason many of our ancestors went into retail or clothing or building/construction or food/bars or candy stores or whatever is directly because of those groups/systems already set up to funnel them in. Now you see it in many fields--convenience stores, gas stations, dry cleaners, taxis, restaurants, etc.
posted by amberglow at 12:27 PM on April 22, 2007


Or, they could have used the connections in place to get settled and then drifted away from the community.
That's what i guess happened, but it seems weird--there would have been obligations or a debt of gratitude or something that would have kept them connected, or even just familiarity/common cultural things that would make them want to keep some kind of connection or as an avenue for advice on business stuff.
posted by amberglow at 12:35 PM on April 22, 2007


The Times article states that Koreans go into dry cleaning due to the low communication needed for interaction with customers, and the communication used is often repeated. I would guess this would appeal to Asian people more than other immigrants due to the complete lack of similarities between Asian languages and English -- at least compared to Spanish and European languages.
posted by geoff. at 12:57 PM on April 22, 2007


No one just "goes into Dry Cleaning" tho--you need money, and connections to people who can negotiate equipment, chemicals, space leasing/rental, registration of the business, health and safety and ventilation requirements, etc. It's actually more complex than many other retail or entry-level immigrants' professions.

Rich: President Bush has skipped the funerals of the troops he sent to Iraq. He took his sweet time to get to Katrina-devastated New Orleans. But last week he raced to Virginia Tech with an alacrity not seen since he hustled from Crawford to Washington to sign a bill interfering in Terri Schiavo’s end-of-life medical care. Mr. Bush assumes the role of mourner in chief on a selective basis, and, as usual with the decider, the decisive factor is politics. ...
posted by amberglow at 1:41 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


No one just "goes into Dry Cleaning" tho--you need money, and connections to people who can negotiate equipment, chemicals, space leasing/rental, registration of the business, health and safety and ventilation requirements, etc.

According to this LA Times article, it doesn't sound like they went into dry cleaning as business owners, but simply as employees -- his parents evidently operated the clothes presses at a couple of different cleaners. For those without the patience to deal with LA Times reg. req., on p. 3, it says:
Seung-hui Cho's father pressed pants six days a week at a dry cleaner in Manassas, Va., west of Washington. Cho's mother worked at another Korean-run dry-cleaning business in nearby Haymarket.

She pressed men's suit jackets from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. six days a week, a small woman maneuvering between hisses of steam and lines of hanging laundry.

"I knew life was hard for her," said Susana Yang, owner of the dry cleaner. "Her health was not good, and her husband suffered from a back problem."
posted by scody at 2:31 PM on April 22, 2007


ahh..thanks. that makes more sense--they weren't running one.
posted by amberglow at 2:40 PM on April 22, 2007


Newt Gingrich blames “Liberalism” for VA Tech massacre
posted by homunculus at 2:41 PM on April 22, 2007


Y'know, I feel a little less bad about my current employment. It may be shitty, but it isn't one-tenth as shitty as being a Korean drycleaner's pants-presser.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:48 PM on April 22, 2007


Despicable maniac purchased 37 rubber duckies via eBay!
posted by plokent at 4:56 PM on April 22, 2007


you've got to put down the duckie if you want to play the thunderdrome
posted by pyramid termite at 5:51 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Crackdown-Rubber Ducky of Doom

Crackdown-Killer Rubber Duck
posted by plokent at 9:38 PM on April 22, 2007


I should have done my research on the Crackdown Xbox 360 game, it was released this year (February 20, 2007). The despicable maniac made his purchase back in April 2006. I was just surprised to find the youtube video "Crackdown-Rubber Ducky of Doom" after googling "Rubber Ducky, Violence."
posted by plokent at 10:30 PM on April 22, 2007


Is it just me, or does Newt Gingrich lack certain fundamental language skills:

STEPHANOPOULOS: But what does that have to do with liberalism?

GINGRICH: Well, who has created a situation ethics, essentially, zone of not being willing to talk about any of these things. Let me carry another example. I strongly supported Imus being dismissed, but I also think the very thing he was dismissed for, which is the use of language which is stunningly degrading of women — the fact, for example, that one of the Halloween costumes this last year was being able to be either a prostitute or a pimp at 10, 11, 12 years of age, buying a costume, and we don't have any discussion about what's happened to our culture because while we're restricting political free speech under McCain-Feingold, we say it's impossible to restrict vulgar and vicious and anti-human speech.

posted by papakwanz at 11:31 PM on April 22, 2007


I'm at a total loss to explain how Gingrich works out in his tiny brain that pre-teens dressing like whores at Hallowe'en has something to do with liberalism run amok. To my mind, bad taste cuts across political affiliation.
posted by psmealey at 4:16 AM on April 23, 2007


Time article about Cho's family in Korea.
The plain spoken octogenarian, who managed a motel until her late 1970s, is relieved that rumors of suicide by Seung-Hui's parents proved false. All the same, she doesn't think it would be advisable for the family, who have maintained their Korean citizenship, to return to their native land in the wake of this horrible tragedy. "It would it would be too difficult for them if they returned here as this is a small country and Koreans are very gossipy," she says matter of factly. "We wouldn't let them return and would even try and block them if they tried."
posted by delmoi at 9:07 AM on April 23, 2007


that's hardcore. I'm glad this woman is not my relation.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 9:57 AM on April 23, 2007


"With all the therapy in our great therapized nation, with all our devotion to emotions and feelings, one senses we are becoming a colder culture, and a colder country. We purport to be compassionate--we must respect Mr. Cho's privacy rights and personal autonomy--but of course it is cold not to have protected others from him. It is cold not to have protected him from himself." Peggy Noonan, WSJ

"Cho's Mentor Cannot Reconcile Shooter Images"
posted by plokent at 11:52 AM on April 23, 2007


"In a new video, the right-wing American Family Association attributes the tragedy at Virginia Tech to: a lack of prayer in school, a lack of the Bible in school, a lack of spanking kids, a lack of physical punishment in school, abortion, condoms, Bill Clinton, internet pornography, free speech, the entertainment industry, 'satanic' music, and liberal culture in general."* Watch it.
posted by ericb at 12:01 PM on April 23, 2007


that's hardcore. I'm glad this woman is not my relation.

That woman needs to slapped, and if she's any indication of what the family is like, i'm not surprised there were problems. How bitchy of her to be sliming her own family this way in front of the world. (her quotes and the video of her have been on tv way too much)
posted by amberglow at 2:33 PM on April 23, 2007


Just a small unprofound note: for those of you who haven't seen Oldboy, it is a violent revenge movie with the typical extreme grossout scenes (similar to the reservoir dog ear scene), but it's really different from the typical Korean or Japanese slasher. In fact, it's an incredibly whimsical, ironic movie, less like Saw than like Kill Bill crossed with Amelie. The Manohla Dargis review above is probably the snobbiest review she's written (she takes a few snipes at "fanboys") and seems to ignore a lot of what actually happens in the movie. As in a lot of Park chanwook movies, the color and the music are very stylized and artificial; both Old Boy and its follow-up Sympathy for Lady Vengeance have light Vivaldi music floating over all the fight scenes. The plot itself is rather goofy: the protagonist finds out where the bad guy lives by eating a lot of dumplings to find the restaurant that served him dumplings while he was imprisoned. In another more famous scene, he eats a live octopus. Also, another character hallucinates that she's on the bus with a giant ant, but the scene is filmed not hallucinogenically, but in a laidback, childlike way, like something out of a Roald Dahl story. Park Chanwook does have the wrong sort of Tarantinoey fanbase, so it's possible that Cho did use Old Boy as a protagonist. However, if you actually saw the movie, you'd see that it's a lot less provacative than, say, Grindhouse.
posted by johnasdf at 6:34 PM on April 23, 2007


Slate: What Cho Seung-Hui got wrong about Oldboy.

Here's the conclusion:
In the end, Oldboy bears no more responsibility for the Virginia Tech shootings than American Idol, but it's fortunate that it has come up. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter a few years ago, Oldboy's director Park said, "My films are the stories of people who place the blame for their actions on others because they refuse to take on the blame themselves." And that's one of the smartest things that anyone's said so far about the motives of Cho Seung-Hui.
posted by bodega at 8:51 PM on April 23, 2007


A Tibetan monk who was tortured for his religious beliefs shares his thoughts about compassion
posted by homunculus at 12:04 AM on April 24, 2007


What Cho Seung-Hui got wrong about Oldboy.

Actually there is little evidence that Seung ever saw OB outside of the fact that a) he is an immigrant from Korea, and OB is a Korean movie b) a somewhat disimilar picture of him posing with a hammer, and a scene from the movie, and c) a baseless police theory that he watched the film obsessively in the days leading up to the rampage.

Of course the script has to fit our expectations that violent entertainment is to blame, so OB is singled out. If he had a Marilyn Manson CD we'd never hear the end of it, but instead his roommates say he perpetually listened to. . . Collective Soul. Confirmation bias kicks in, surely he had a horror book, Stephen King maybe, or a metal album we can point to.

What's that, he also listened to The Guns and Roses?

"You're in the jungle baby, you gonna die"??! My Lord, is that what these kids are listenin' to these days? No wonder were in this awful mess.
posted by dgaicun at 7:36 AM on April 24, 2007


Muslim student died heroically in VTech massacre while saving another student who was playing dead.
posted by jonp72 at 8:37 AM on April 24, 2007


Here's some meta-coverage bloggery from Dubner over at Freakonomics.
posted by cortex at 10:03 AM on April 24, 2007


jonp, thanks for that link.
posted by scody at 10:46 AM on April 24, 2007


CHO PAID ME TO BE 'ESCORT'
She said the FBI asked her to describe Cho in three words.

" 'Dorky,' was one of them, maybe 'timid' and 'pushy' - there, at the end, he was a little pushy," she said.

Now she wishes she'd done more to reach out to Cho.

"Sometimes I wonder if I could have said something or done something differently," she said.

"But I wasn't thinking about that at the time. I was thinking, he was creeping me out. I was thinking about getting out of there."
posted by delmoi at 4:29 PM on April 24, 2007


Now that the NY Post has weighed in, it's only a matter of time before the Weekly World News will offer up the BatBoy angle on the story.
posted by psmealey at 5:33 PM on April 24, 2007


CHO PAID ME TO BE 'ESCORT'

More support for my "needed to get laid" theory. I mean, what 20-23yo hires a freakin escort?? That's probably the closest he ever got.
posted by LordSludge at 8:34 AM on April 25, 2007


Cho railed against the rich, and we're told his parents were workers with steady but low-level jobs, but Cho's documented purchases for this horror show must push into the thousands of dollars, with one gun alone costing about $600. Where did this apparently poor student's money come from?
posted by NortonDC at 9:57 AM on April 25, 2007


Where did this apparently poor student's money come from?

What's the mystery? He used a credit card.
posted by scody at 10:53 AM on April 25, 2007


Yeah, according to the NY Times article linked above, the cost was more like thousands (he had rental van for a month, and stayed in a motel for a while):

All told, investigators calculate that Mr. Cho spent several thousand dollars getting ready for April 16, most of it charged to a credit card.
posted by jamesonandwater at 11:12 AM on April 25, 2007


We must institute strict credit card control immediately.
posted by IronLizard at 11:25 AM on April 25, 2007


What's the mystery? He used a credit card.

Yeah, I don't think Cho was worried about his credit rating...to put it mildly.
posted by jonp72 at 3:26 PM on April 25, 2007


Sorry, wrong thread. Flagged self.
posted by IronLizard at 5:21 PM on April 25, 2007


Chris of Cynical-C Blog has compiled a list of who's been blamed for the massacre.
posted by Kattullus at 5:03 AM on April 26, 2007


And last, but certainly not least, everyone's favorite contrarian prick, Christopher Hitchens weighs in on the "orgy of mawkishness" and shallow sentimentality triggered by this terrible event.
posted by psmealey at 5:35 AM on April 26, 2007


I never thought I'd say this, but Hitchins has a point.

Anyhow, that last candlelit vigil seems to have gotten V-Tech out of everyones system, CNN is wall-to-wall "Rap Music is teaching our children not the snitch" instead now.
posted by Artw at 1:35 PM on April 26, 2007


You said it before I did, Artw, but I actually agree.
posted by psmealey at 3:02 PM on April 26, 2007


Virginia Tech students get questionnaires about Cho in search for possible motive.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:33 PM on April 27, 2007


I was just in a kind of bummer mode, and I googled a phrase that's pretty prominent in my head when I'm bummed out and came across some transcripts from Kip Kinkel's journals.


If you don't remember Kip Kinkel, he was a sixteen year old that killed his parents and two other students in 1998, after being expelled from his school.

While compelling, I thought his journals were a bit too morbid for an FPP right now, so I'm placing them here where you can read them after your done with Cho's plays and essays.
posted by elr at 2:05 AM on April 28, 2007


Digital memorial collecting material now.
posted by tellurian at 7:18 PM on April 30, 2007


Utterly reactive bullshit followup incident
posted by Artw at 1:38 PM on May 2, 2007


Re: Artw's link...

WTF? Under what law could they arrest him? He made a video game map of his highschool. How on earth is that illegal?

Friggin' wheels are coming off the train, folks: the nuts and fucknuts out there are going to derail our society and culture.

Y'all gotta read it. Crazy story.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:08 PM on May 2, 2007


Swiss top charts for guns and suicides
posted by taosbat at 10:39 PM on May 2, 2007


Friggin' wheels are coming off the train, folks: the nuts and fucknuts out there are going to derail our society and culture.

I would argue that the nuts who are derailing it, it's the ridiculous overreaction of citizens, media and law enforcement to what are still extraordinarily rare occurrences, but yeah.
posted by psmealey at 4:15 AM on May 3, 2007


...that ^it's not^ the nuts...
posted by psmealey at 4:19 AM on May 3, 2007


The fuck-nuts are the killers, thieves, and suchlike that are breaking social law (informed consensual etcetera); the nuts are the ones that are over-reacting and confusing the behaviours of a real fuck-nut from someone who's lacking communication skills, has a non-mainstream hobby, or is otherwise odd.

Cho was a fucknut. The people freaking out about The Boy are nuts. (The Boy himself is neither a fucknut nor a nut.)
posted by five fresh fish at 8:17 PM on May 3, 2007


Isolation Defined Cho's Senior Year
He played video games, but students from the gaming club never met him. He came from a Christian family, but the campus ministers don't remember him. He knew something about video editing, but the regulars at the student television station had not heard of him. Grewal never heard his voice, didn't know what classes he took. Those in the suite next door, he said, never knew of Cho until April 16.

"They were like, 'That guy lived here?' " Grewal recalled.

Others, though, said they tried to be friends with Cho.

Charlotte Peterson, a former Virginia Tech student, said she shared a British literature class with Cho in fall 2005. She regarded him as a loner but had spoken to him during class. At some point during the semester, she said, "he friended me" on Facebook, meaning that he invited her to his Web page as a participant. His name on Facebook was "?" -- a way Cho often identified himself.

But two weeks later, a friend of Peterson's gave her a warning: Stay away from him. The friend told Peterson that Cho had bothered her and that she had gone to police. Peterson deleted herself from Cho's page.
posted by NortonDC at 6:47 PM on May 7, 2007


Phyllis Schlafly Insinuates Virginia Tech Deserved Murderous Rampage
posted by homunculus at 12:58 AM on May 10, 2007


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