Beyond Cho Seung Hui's obvious guilt, lots of other people have had an indirect hand in this pathological event. Conservatives are at fault with their gun culture, liberals with violence in Hollywood and on TV. It's a perfect match with corporations in the background pressuring youth to compete for dwindling jobs while treating human labor as just another commodity to be bought at the lowest market price like crude oil, copper or soybeans.
The conservative who only blames or praises the individual and liberals who blame society and give the individual a pass are both wrong. It's a combination of both, it always has been. Cho is responsible as a madman, but one who got in a combustible mix with a competitive, demeaning and violent society awash with guns.
His sick play that caused his teacher so much alarm is full of allusions to social status and the perceived social and economic failures of the stepfather character. He obviously couldn't handle that pressure to compete in an affluent society where there should be enough to go around but which is so ready to put others down the moment failure is perceived.
As always, these mass murderers are non-descript: you pass guys like that all day long on the street, which may be part of their problem. But would he have done the same if he had stayed in South Korea and not had his personal madness inserted into this out-of-control culture? That is a question that needs to be asked.
Another question that needs to be asked is about the incompetence of the police: the hand they played in this. The mainstream media, perceiving itself as part of the authoritarian structure, is loath to challenge authority. So the police get a pass, like this White House did, until the evidence becomes overwhelming. But questioning authority from the start is what's needed.
An otherwise informative AP report quoted college president Charles Steeger, who seemed checked out, as saying he didn't lock down the college after the first shooting (and didn't send the first warning email to students for more than two hours) because "police believed the shooter had left the campus."
What? How could that statement have gone unchallenged? Based on what information did the police believe he had left the campus? Has any reporter asked the police this question? The cops didn't hear any more shooting so they figured the guy left? Was there a description of him and did someone see him leaving? It seems like the police just assumed he was gone because they didn't hear anything else when in fact he was still on the loose, gone back to his dorm room to reload. Incredible.
And then there's that very telling cell phone video shot by one of the students, Jamal Albarghouti. It plainly shows a couple of cops standing with their guns drawn outside Norris Hall, swaying, but not moving. But most telling is the audio: you can clearly hear five shots going off. Yet these cops never move.
In the Montreal mall massacre last year (god, there's been so many of them) the police stormed the building, got into an old-fashioned gunfight with the psycho and killed him before he could do any more damage. They directed his attention and his targeting away from innocent people and towards the fully armed, bulletproof vested police. After Columbine it was decided that it was best to storm the place and not wait until the slaughter is over (seems like a no-brainer). But obviously that tactic was not used at Virginia Tech.
It looks like these cops were too scared to move. That was their contribution to the web of guilt that has turned our schools and campuses into killing fields.
But no listing of the guilty parties would be complete without mentioning the Commander-in-Chief. Didn't the death count at Blackburg sound eerily similar to the daily death toll in Baghdad?
It's not just fictional violence that has inured us to what is happening and which made the young survivors, drawing on a lifetime of violent images, say, "It looked like something in a movie or on TV."
How about the poisoning climate of real violence we just paid for on April 15 that this administration created in Iraq?
It's a time of slaughter and lots of hands are bloodied.