Thursday, August 30, 2007

8-30-07: The Blame Game

Here's something I'd like to see: a news broadcast about a top story in which the reasoning is simply "the guy was just crazy." A report was released this week about the horrific shootings back in April at Virginia Tech by Seung-Hui Cho (or is it Cho Seung-Hui...?). The report assessed the amount and type of action taken by the university before the shootings. Well, apparently they hadn't done enough. It was a big surprise to me, at least.

But what goes by the wayside is that the kid was just crazy. It was terrible what happened. But, I would bet serious money that if the kid hadn't shot himself, there'd be less blame placed on the school. Apparently Cho had a history of problems that should have been known. But how often do you think a kid like that slips through the cracks? How often do you sit there as a university official and say "Well, this kid's so crazy, he'll probably shoot up the school" ? Society likes to place blame on multiple parties, and I have to hand it to the Governor of Virginia, who said it was disappointing, but he did not think university officials should be dismissed. No, I haven't done nearly as much research as the compilers of the report have done. That's a given. But people love to look at other sources and assume they're also at fault. They pretend everything operates in this perfect state of things, all the time. Where in the world is that true?

The fact of the matter is: the kid was mentally disturbed. So mentally disturbed that he committed and act NO ONE COULD HAVE PREDICTED. Shutting down the entire campus immediately after the shootings in the dorm would have helped, but don't you think Cho could have gone after the locked-in dorm students in a rage of frustration? You simply can't apply normal rules, and there's no reasonable assumption in the making when some one says "It was obvious he was going on a shooting spree." That's Columbine talking, and that's hindsight. There are many important things to learn from the incident, but passing it all off as a fault on the school is a bit unfair. The kid pulled the trigger, not the president of the school.

One thing I did like about the school's response is that they cited their privacy policy regarding Cho's background as a reason why they didn't pursue him more actively beforehand. It may sound bad, but I think they have a valid point. It's just ironic how news broadcasters who blast President Bush and his "illegal wiretapping" policy, yet let people yell and scream about how the school was wrong to hide Cho's mental history. Fair and balanced are just words, not a reality. It's OK to have an opinion, but please by honest, CNN.

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