Now You Have Blood On Your Hands That Will Never Come Off
Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old senior majoring in English at Virginia Tech, has completed his transformation from Clark Kent to, well, Rambo. Having killed and maimed over thirty people, in a calculated and merciless way, he has shown another facet of evil and pain to the world. Alone, bitter, unhappy and insane, his sad story reverberates on several levels.
Is it better to have stricter gun control, or have more guns in the hands of law abiding people to protect themselves? Have privacy laws and rights for the mentaly disabled gone too far, or should involuntary committment for treatment be easier to order? Has community and the support of family been destroyed by the cheapening of our culture, or has the stigma of needing help become so great that those most in need shun it?
There were heros at Virgina Tech - Professor Lucinda Roy, who tried so hard to get Mr. Cho the help he so badly needed; another Professor, Liviu Librescu, a 76 year old Holocaust survivor who gave his life offering his body as a shield for his students; during the aftermath the poet, Nikki Giovanni, leading students in a cheer to affirm that they will survive and be stronger - 'We are HOKIES!'.
But there is one party who will not be a hero during all this, and that is the National Broadcasting Company news organization. After Mr. Cho shot his first two victims in his dormitory, he made a rambling videotape with his jeremiad on debauched rich students and how they had driven him to this action, shortly before he entered a classroom, chained the doors shut and killed thirty more people. This insane person took the time to film and mail his video between murders, and NBC chose to make it public.
Poor Dylan Klebold -he never thought of making videos before killing his classmates at Columbine High School. Now, Mr. Cho has created a new item in the iconography of mass murder, one that we will surely see again. We have come a long way from the days when shooting Ronald Reagan to impress Jodie Foster was a ticket to fifteen minutes of fame and becoming an answer on a Trivial Pursuit card. Now we present a news network with 27 videos, 43 photographs and an 1,800-word narration described as "multimedia manifesto" from a "uniquely sick mind." NBC was quick to turn the package over to the FBI, right after making copies for itself.
Mr. Cho could be speaking to NBC when he observes, "You had 100 billion chances and ways to have avoided today, but you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now, you have blood on your hands that will never wash off." By choosing to give this presentation the validation of a platform, NBC has sent our nation and our heritage just one more step down a dank and violent road.