Thursday, April 19, 2007

VA Tech shootings: information overload

By now, you've doubtless seen the NBC news clips about VA Tech shooter Cho Seung Hui's video, which he had sent to NBC studios in New York City. If not, click the video links on this page and just keep watching. Cho sent NBC a video and a manifesto of sorts, in which were text and photos of Cho in various poses with guns and ammunition.

You're probably also aware that Cho was checked into a hospital at one point, and was released after being found a danger to himself; that he freaked out teachers and classmates with his creepy, belligerent behavior; that there is research going on as to the significance of the red-lettered inscription on one of Cho's arms: Ismail Ax; that one of Cho's menacing photographs shows him in a pose remarkably similar to that of Choi Min-shik in the Korean revenge drama "Old Boy."

Of great interest to me was a link (via Drudge) to an article about a high school girl named MacKenzie Swigart, who started up a website devoted to the forgiveness of Cho for his crimes. While I'm in no mood to forgive, I appreciate Swigart's efforts and take a dim view of the people attacking her and her site. Registering disagreement with her is one thing; insulting her for being compassionate is another.

The massacre is not merely a matter of private grief; its horrifically public nature guarantees that it will be picked apart by all manner of interested parties: religious figures, politicians, lawyers, journalists, college students and professors across the country, conspiracy theorists, diplomats, and so on, each with an agenda. The feast has already begun and will continue, especially as we obtain more clues about what Cho was doing and thinking.

The human desire to make sense of this tragedy will inspire a wide variety interpretations. I share Charles's opinion that it is hopeless to make sense of nonsense, though I remain curious as to what other hints Cho left behind for us, the living, to ponder.

Like Charles, I'm curious about Cho's parents, about his family life, about how he dealt with life in America, and what might have caused him to shut himself off from basic human interaction. I'm curious about what made Cho different from other Koreans who have come over to the States and, despite whatever hardships they have endured, have managed to achieve something in our society. I doubt there will be any clear answers to these questions, but I'd be lying if I said such questions weren't thronging in my mind.



Anonymous said...

Forgiving Cho is not possible, he no longer exists and neither do 32 people due to his actions. I must not be a very good Christian, but my sympathy for him went to zero when he pulled the trigger. He had choices, he choose to kill people at random. The media will find some "root" cause since no one is capable of being individually responsible anymore.

Kevin Kim said...


I agree with your sentiment re: having zero sympathy for Cho. I do think, however, that forgiveness of the dead is possible, because forgiveness can be a one-way street. It's better when it's a two-way street, of course, but that's not always how it works out.

Thanks for the comment.