Friday, April 20, 2007

Cho Seung-hui - symptom of an ugly social disease.


Don't Poke The Aspie! shirt When Cho Seung-hui fired his last round into his own head, I am personally, morally certain that he did so feeling both a sense of relief and with a sense of having struck a blow for justice.

He was wrong, of course.

But after looking over such information as I've been able to find, I strongly suspect that there was a high barrier to him coming to a more "reasonable and rational" viewpoint - and a great deal that leads me to suspect that - within his own narrow, but probably quite sane perspective - his actions were completely rational and justified.

It's pretty damn clear that within his lifetime, there were few, if any reality checks or positive, useful interventions, nothing to introduce a bit of reasonable doubt regarding the universal malevolence of "normal people."

That would be the distinction between him and me - the realization that as strange as "those others" were, they were not all out to get me - and that from time to time, I was just as able to misinterpret their actions and misunderstand their motives as they were apt to screw up with me. Which leads us to the current spectacle, which is providing me no little morbid amusement, with patches of deja vu as the media and blogoshere attempts to "understand" Cho Seung-hui and his rampage in Blacksburg.

Why, how; everyone wishes to know - so long as they are reassured that there is absolutely no fault to be found with them, the institutions they value or the prejudices and odious assumptions they hold dear. All are concerned with finding a "reason" that will permit society to continue as usual, or at least, find some identifiable group to impose restrictions upon in the name of safety.

As a "person of difference," with many characteristics in common with Cho Seung-hui, I am understandably concerned that I will be so singled out. I'm even more concerned on behalf of my Aspie step-son.

But let's call a spade a spade - seeing that is what I do - all this amounts to is a wish to be "kept safe" from people who may possibly react violently in response to bullying and harassment. So if you want YOUR child to be safe - you should ensure they are not a bully or abuser. And that, of course, requires a reality-check on your part, if for no other reason than this; if you live like that, it's sometimes true that you die like that. More likely, you live to regret that other people are harmed or die as a result of attitudes and behaviors you helped reinforce. Among adolescents with Autistic Spectrum issues, suicide is one of the leading causes of death.


Va. Tech shooter was laughed at - Yahoo! News

BLACKSBURG, Va. - In high school, Cho Seung-Hui almost never opened his mouth. When he finally did, his classmates laughed, pointed at him and said: "Go back to China."

As such details of the Virginia Tech shooter's life come out, and experts pore over his sick and twisted writings and his videotaped rant, it is becoming increasingly clear that Cho was almost a textbook case of a school shooter: a painfully awkward, picked-on young man who lashed out with methodical fury at a world he believed was out to get him.


Hm. Is it delusional to believe the world is out to get you when most or all personal interactions clearly demonstrate the truth of that belief?

There's increasing speculation that he may have been autistic to some degree, as descriptions of personal presentation and behavior emerge. (The first mention may have been here; julietpain.blogspot.com.)

Another possibility is that he was autistic to some degree, and unable to communicate or express himself appropriately; a constant theme amongst those who were acquainted with him is that if he replied at all, it was most usually with a single word, whilst the intensity of some of his attempts at communication were alarming enough to be regarded as stalking.

Katherine Newman, a professor of sociology at Princeton University, said most school shooters are rarely loners, but rather failed joiners.
"People who continuously try to join social groups and are rebuffed," said Newman, the author of "Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings." "And their daily experience is one of rejection and friction." CBS

The room-mates interviewed so far have spoken of their attempts to be friendly towards him, and of how they soon gave up, as he didn't respond or didn't respond well. Initially, though, he had gone out to eat with them, and to parties; at one of these he had revealed the existence of his imaginary supermodel girlfriend, and 'their' nicknames for each other - Jelly and Spanky. That sounds a bit like the sort of thing a somewhat autistic kid says as the exact moment his new friends stop being his friends and start thinking he is weird, and saying, "Watch out, here comes Spanky..."

Not that his family was much help, even given early indications that autism might be a possiblity.

''From the beginning, he wouldn't answer me,'' Kim Yang-soon, Cho's great aunt, said in an interview with AP Television News on Thursday. ''(He) didn't talk. Normally sons and mothers talk. There was none of that for them. He was very cold,'' she added

''When they went to the United States, they told them it was autism,'' said Kim, 85, adding that the family had constant worries about Cho.

Neither school officials, who have Cho's educational records, nor police who have his medical records, have mentioned such a diagnosis this week. Autistic individuals often have difficulty communicating, but the diagnosis would not necessarily explain his violence.

Ah, well, as to that, google "aspie rage." But it seems family concern was limited to being concerned - and prayer.

Meanwhile, the young man, whatever his mental issues, was in a nutcracker, between religious and family pressures at home and reportedly constant bullying in school. Whether or not he had mental issues to begin with, bullying is one of the most common precursors of such events.

Va. Tech shooter was laughed at - Yahoo! News

A 2002 federal study on common characteristics of school shooters found that 71 percent of them "felt bullied, persecuted or injured by others prior to the attack."

The report said that "in some of these cases the experience of being bullied seemed to have a significant impact on the attacker and appeared to have been a factor in his decision to mount an attack at the school. In one case, most of the attacker's schoolmates described the attacker as the kid everyone teased."

So this is far from being a unique or unexpected incident. Frankly, those who persist in being surprised are those who do not wish to face the disease that these events symptomize. If you must have something to blame; a pointer toward doing something to truly address the situation, then let us see it for what it is; a reaction toward the casual, routine abuse of power.

Whether it is bullying in school, a toxic work environment or a government that cannot seem to formulate any policy that doesn't involve the use of force, we live in a culture that values having power and the presumption that those who have power deserve to be able to wield it against those they see as weak or "outside the group" with impunity.

But perhaps we need to remember an Old West aphorism - "Sam Colt made all men equal." And there's another very pragmatic observation made by Robert Heinlein: "Never frighten a little man - he'll kill you."

Ultimately - and in no small part due to the typical ending - I tend to view this as "death by natural causes," in a sense. That is to say, a dangerous situation was allowed to persist and fester, a situation that (like living in a trailer in the midwest without access to a storm cellar, or going into Grizzly terratory with neither gun nor bear-bells) can be statistically predicted to have a high potential of ending badly. Getting hung up on the moral or ethical culpability of such persons does nothing to prevent more such outbursts of deadly rage.

In this case, if one lesson is to be derived from it, I would say that it should be summarized as "don't poke the aspie." On rare but very dramatic occasions, you might find yourself pulling back a bloody stump.

Illustration : Don't Poke The Aspie! by webcarve

tag: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 comments:

thepoetryman said...

The truth is lost between the lines of blame gaming by the politicians, media, and party. Shame on us all for not understanding this, or trying to, from a perspective that seeks not to blame any one side or thing. we need deal with this as a whole. That includes the Chos of the world. The lesser. The elite. The middle ground. we mourn the loss of 33 and Iraq mourns the same and more daily. until we come to grips with our war mongering selves we, I'm afraid to say, are never going to make sense of ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Cho has severe mental illness (may be bipolar, schizo...) Autism is only a symptom. It doesn't have to be associated with rage and violent.

Don't read too much into him. Just a deranged mind. No lesson to be learnt, except that people like him should have been treated, or detained, or at least denied from having guns.

jm4847 said...

I applaud you for saying what the media is affraid to say: That society is at fault here too.
Don't get me wrong. Cho did kill a lot of people that probably never harmed him and he had no right to do what he did.
But the hypocresy of blaming games, tv, movies instead of even suggesting that there's something wrong with the school environment and society itself, is the reason why Columbine didn't change anything, and VT won't change anything either (not for the better, at least).
People like Cho won't be helped, they'll be bullied and discriminated against even more, and in a few weeks, months or years someone will top him, and the debate about videogames and gun control will start before the bodies are even cold...

Julie said...

Hi, you have quoted from my blogpost regarding Cho's autism without putting in a link to me, thus:


"Another possibility is that he was autistic to some degree, and unable to communicate or express himself appropriately; a constant theme amongst those who were acquainted with him is that if he replied at all, it was most usually with a single word, whilst the intensity of some of his attempts at communication were alarming enough to be regarded as stalking."

http://julietpain.blogspot.com

I would appreciate it as I was the first blogger (in fact person on-line) to point to the possibility of Cho's autism.

Cheers,
Juliet

Julie said...

Actually, you have used more than that:

"Another possibility is that he was autistic to some degree, and unable to communicate or express himself appropriately; a constant theme amongst those who were acquainted with him is that if he replied at all, it was most usually with a single word, whilst the intensity of some of his attempts at communication were alarming enough to be regarded as stalking.

Katherine Newman, a professor of sociology at Princeton University, said most school shooters are rarely loners, but rather failed joiners.
"People who continuously try to join social groups and are rebuffed," said Newman, the author of "Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings." "And their daily experience is one of rejection and friction." CBS



The room-mates interviewed so far have spoken of their attempts to be friendly towards him, and of how they soon gave up, as he didn't respond or didn't respond well. Initially, though, he had gone out to eat with them, and to parties; at one of these he had revealed the existence of his imaginary supermodel girlfriend, and 'their' nicknames for each other - Jelly and Spanky. That sounds a bit like the sort of thing a somewhat autistic kid says as the exact moment his new friends stop being his friends and start thinking he is weird, and saying, "Watch out, here comes Spanky..."


Would appreciate credit, thanks.

Bob King said...

Sorry about that - corrected above. And thank you for catching it!

Julie said...

Hi, Bob -
thanks, you have an interesting blog.
Cheers,
Juliet

auntiegrav said...

Thanks. You covered it pretty well.

I look at it like this: Society is a contract between the individual and 'civilization'. Civilization (the group) agrees to not always try to kill you if you behave in certain ways. You agree to follow the rules of civilization as long as civilization follows them, too. When there is a breech of contract, then the individual or the society has to take some kind of action, or it isn't civilized: live outside civilization or live outside the rules within civilization. In Cho's case, the rules were continually broken by both parties, but neither party got off their comfortable ass and acted upon it to remedy the situation as soon as they saw the snake. This lack of action exacerbated the situation until the System of systems couldn't handle it, and handed it off to the 'news' marketing department, where the priority task is in making Spectacle out of anything and anyone who can be made into Spectacle in order to sell the things that don't matter. If you aren't Outraged, you're not watching enough TV. If you are outraged, you need to ask your doctor about XXX. (long list of side effects to follow, spoken by a VFT).
As Derrick Jensen puts it, "Violence is only supposed to flow downhill, not up."

Andrew said...

Lame. Here's a reality check- Cho killed innocent people he didn't know.

Bob King said...

Aw. A comment troll!

Andrew: In reality, you do not know whether the people he killed were known to him, or if they were innocent. Not in the sense of being truly innocent, or merely innocent in a criminal sense. He's dead, they are dead and you are guessing.

If you do think you know I'd like to know what you base that on.

In reality, dude, you just don't want to think about this and resent folks who do. So why are you reading about it? More to the point, why are you reading Graphictruth? I'm not here to blow smoke up your butt and tell you that everything bad that happens is the fault of other people. We have Limbaugh for that.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Popular Posts