Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Who Was Watching Cho?

I haven't posted anything of my own in a while, because I keep finding great stuff written by other people. Here's the best thing I read anywhere on the VaTech tragedy.


Anonymous Joel said...

That is certainly an interesting read, but I'm not sure it parallels Cho's situation well. We now know that well-meaning professors, at least one acquaintance, and Cho's parents attempted on several occassions to lead him to seek help. On at least one occassion, they were successful in obtaining court-mandated therapy (albeit, outpatient, which in hind-sight was woefully inadequate). These individuals can be seen as analogous to the farmers in the linked story. They followed and attempted to help. The community was there to support Cho. For whatever reason, that support was not embraced.
I do take a bit of contention with this statement by the author, "Is society somehow to blame for the horrors perpetuated at Virginia Tech this week? Of course not. We must affirm personal culpability; to do otherwise is simply reprehensible, especially in light of subsequent information discovered about the murderer."
We live in a society and culture that accepts violence as a tool for solving grievances. This acceptance is apparent in the music prevalent in society, in the "entertainment" we watch and pay to be exposed to, and in the foreign policy of our nation. Society did not pull the trigger, but we could probably do more to create a culture that makes violence an unacceptable response for redresing grievances.

8:39 PM  
Blogger chris said...

Good points, Joel. I agree that attempts to help were made, but they were inadequate. I don't live up to the ideal in Berry's books either, but I grieve that no one was committed enough to Cho to follow up on his obvious troubles. It is so easy to fall through the yawning cracks in our "communities."

My guess is that the author (Patrick Rist) said that (society is not to blame) as a corrective for those who would want to place the entire blame on society. He is clearly affirming that society bears a great deal of the responsibility.

If you removed all the influences you mentioned, it might help some, but human beings (esp. men) don't need much help to hone their appetite for violence.

But, I will have to defer to you at this point, given your expertise in beahvioral/mental health.

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The distinction I'm trying to draw in this post/essay/whatever is that there's a enormous difference between state-ordered therapeutic invervention, and a community of people who care for each other and are bound to each other, even if they're not "friends" in the normal sense. I do not see what the teachers and courts did in Cho's case as being analogous to what Berry is fictionally describing at all. However, I wish it had "worked", of course.

As for society's share of the blame for, in a sense, "creating" Cho, there's some things to think about there, for sure. But, and this is a very important "but", Cho and no one else, no other entity, murdered those people. It wasn't violent video games, or Martin Scorcese films, or gangsta rap or anything else, however distasteful or lamentable those things might be. Nor was it a lack of security or text messaging or emergency planning. Those poor people lost their lives because a man murdered them. This is not the whole story, but it is the necessary beginning of it. To start anywhere else would lead us to very wrong conclusions.

-- Patrick Rist

11:02 AM  

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