Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Shooter was "the loneliest person"

A professor tried to warn them. Teachers can see these things in the words students put on the page. This Virginia Tech creative writing prof felt the vibe and tried to convince administrators to intervene. But "there were too many legal hurdles," she was told.

More of the story is at ABC News online. Here's an excerpt:

Lucinda Roy, a co-director of the creative writing program at Virginia Tech, taught Cho in a poetry class in fall of 2005 and later worked with him one-on-one after she became concerned about his behavior and themes in his writings.

Roy spoke outside her home Tuesday afternoon, saying that there was nothing explicit in Cho's writings, but that threats were there under the surface.

Roy told ABC News that Cho seemed "extraordinarily lonely—the loneliest person I have ever met in my life." She said he wore sunglasses indoors, with a cap pulled low over his eyes. He whispered, took 20 seconds to answer questions, and took cellphone pictures of her in class. Roy said she was concerned for her safety when she met with him.

She said she notified authorities about Cho, but said she was told that there would be too many legal hurdles to intervene. She said she asked him to go to counseling, but he never went.

16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So sad. So many young people died for no reason. I blame the lack of gun laws in this nation. It is a travesty. When one man can easily purchase a gun and then use it recklessly.

I also blame the school for not listening to the professor. Why don't they use metal detectors in the buildings? Why would they be afraid of legal threats if they addressed the problem with the young man? High schools and elementary schools meet with troubled students and their parents every day. They don't get sued.

12:55 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I don't believe this is a lack of gun laws problem.

It is a mental health/illness problem.

No one, not the feds, not the docs, not the MHMRA, not the college administrators, truly know how to deal with the mentally ill.

I don't know the answer.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you happen to read the 2 plays he wrote? They are included in the article on CNN.com's site. They are very disturbing.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All these post-facto analyses suffer from hindsight bias: ascribing "causes" to now-preventable-in-hindsight effects, and then try to trammel up the cause to prevent these effects.

I've been a literature/composition professor for 10 years. I've probably had 2-4 students who rivaled the VT killer for the crazy/creepy vibe award. Extrapolate out to all of America, and we're talking tens of thousands of creepy students.

And every forty years, like clockwork, one of them will shoot dozens of students.

Point: This event, though sad, is statistically an outlier and thus, from a policy standpoint, should be disregarded.

Not trying to be cold here. Just hate it when policy is made in moments of extreme emotional reaction to an ANOMALY (think Patriot Act).

Oh, yes, and I resist the mantle of clairvoyant self-importance that English teachers (shut up, I'm one) are donning now that VT's English Chair got the willies. She did the right thing, and good for her. But the kid was outlier. End of story.

(And speaking of "creepy" plays, check the movies Saw, Saw II, Saw III, Touristas, et al. in the current torture porn line. And those guys aren't slaughtering students....)

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not that the gun laws are to blame, but can anyone tell me why people who are not US citizens can legally buy guns in this country? Perhaps it should have been more difficult for this young man to obtain firearms.

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah!
Kid should've been made a citizen!

It was a cool piece of banbang that he got though. Hey, killed more than thirty, even; give the dead some break.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Mike M. said...

As for their being too many legal hurdles to intervene in a person's life against their will, especially where mental health issues or competency issues are concerned, there are good reasons for this. Our society values personal autonomy. The idea that someone can force you to seek medical treatment or commit you against your will in all but the most extreme cases is abhorrent to most people. But, there are costs to this personal freedom. On rare occasions, people who need help don't get treated. On very rare occasions, those people hurt themselves or others. On exceedingly rare occasions, they may run completely amok and due to another of other factors (such as the freedom we have to easily by firearms) kill a not insignificant number of people.

All of that being said, I don't think that the answer is to make it easier to involuntarily commit people.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of that being said, I don't think that the answer is to make it easier to involuntarily commit people.

On the other hand, it would be nice to be able to sau "if you don't get treatment, you can't attend this institution".

9:16 PM  
Blogger renita said...

Not that the gun laws are to blame, but can anyone tell me why people who are not US citizens can legally buy guns in this country? Perhaps it should have been more difficult for this young man to obtain firearms.

that's the stupidest logic i've seen in a long time. him being an immigrant (and a perfectly legal resident of the US) has nothing to do with his mental stability. there are plenty of crazy people out there who ARE citizens -- that's got exactly jack to do with it. perhaps we should have mental-health screenings for everyone who wants to buy a gun instead?

1:28 AM  
Blogger David said...

"All of that being said, I don't think that the answer is to make it easier to involuntarily commit people. "

Of course that is the answer. People that are a danger to society need to be restricted. No system is perfect, but always the wrong response is to throw up your hands and walk away from the issue.

8:27 AM  
Blogger L K Tucker said...

In Japan there are no guns in the general population. Recently a video game player rented a truck, drove it into a crowd, then jumped out to stab seventeen, killing seven.

The problem is complex. But the tools used to commit the murders are not the problem.

Sudden violence has been known around the world as Culture Bound Syndromes. The one for the United States is Going Postal in Malaysia it is Amok, among the Navajo it is iich'aa.

There is nothing new on the face of the Earth.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous online sports writing jobs said...

I think you're right i think it is a mental illness problem. However, it is also a problem of gun control, and listening to professors.

Maybe the school should have talked to cho and there would not have been any legal problems for confronting someone. Not just this school, but all schools need to pay more attention to 'complaints' or warnings made by professors and students as well.

Maybe her claim was silly. She claimed he was lonely, and expressed loneliness in his writing.

Many writers do, i think she needed to explain more thoroughly due to the fact that this happens a lot. However, i do agree with what Mike M. said "As for their being too many legal hurdles to intervene in a person's life against their will, especially where mental health issues or competency issues are concerned, there are good reasons for this."

Thanks for this great post,
Tamira

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