A brutal mind

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A brutal mind

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11.15am
Media reports portray Cho Seung-hui as a troubled boy with a murderous imagination

<b>Michelle Pauli
Wednesday April 18, 2007</b>
<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/usguns/Story/0,,2059933,00.html">Guardian Unlimited</a>

Just one face stares out of the front pages of the papers today. With the naming of the perpetrator of the Virginia Technical College massacre, all attention is focused on Cho Seung-hui, the South Korean loner who shot dead 32 of his fellow students and professors.
The Telegraph and the Mirror both use the killer&#39;s own words as their headline: "You made me do this." The line comes from the note left behind by Cho, which also rails against "rich kids", "debauchery" and "deceitful charlatans".

The picture that is emerging of Cho is of a troubled loner with a history of mental health problems. Roommates at the dormitory where he lived called him "weird", while fellow students in his creative writing class describe being frightened by his "morbid and grotesque" plays.

The Washington Post has an interview with the head of the English department, Lucinda Roy, who had taught Cho in one-to-one sessions after a colleague had been disturbed by his work.

According to the Post, Roy said she warned school officials. "&#39;I was determined that people were going to take notice. I felt I&#39;d said to so many people, &#39;Please, will you look at this young man?&#39; "

The question of whether Cho could have been stopped - if not before the first two killings then in the period before the further shootings - continues to be examined. The Guardian says that "angry" students want to know why the campus was not locked down and classes cancelled and why it took more than two hours for them to be sent a warning email. Details from those two and a half hours "remain sketchy" says the paper but it is believed that the police thought that the first two shootings were a domestic murder committed by someone who had then left the campus, leaving them surprised when the second shootings occurred.

"The university has blood on their hands," says one student, Billy Baston, in the Guardian.

But what about the gun vendors? As attention, in the UK press at least, turns once again to America&#39;s gun laws, it was revealed yesterday that the pistols used by Cho had been bought legally on March 13. "It was a very unremarkable sale," says the owner of the shop. And, the assumption is, such sales will continue to be unremarkable in America.

The National Rifle Association is too potent a foe for any party to take on, says the Guardian, which flags up the $14m donated by the lobby group to politicians over the last 14 years. "Once again the rest of the world will look on in amazement as America proves itself unable to defend its ordinary citizens from armed maniacs," says the paper.

Elsewhere, commentators generally agree that little is likely to change in the area of gun law. And why should it, asks Richard Wolffe from Newsweek, in the Independent. You can&#39;t take the guns out of American life and you can never really stop another Virginia Tech, he says.

Magnus Linklater in the Times thinks that "probably" tighter gun control would have prevented the Virginia Tech shootings but that banning guns is a salve rather than a solution. "What is needed s a wholesale shift in the national culture - and that will take rather longer than an arms ban," he comments.

The Telegraph, meanwhile, has a rather odd comment piece from David Frum, a former speechwriter for George Bush. Headlined "No policy can outwit the Grim Reaper", Frum argues that we must blame the criminal not the gun culture. "Death lies waiting around the corner for us all," he remarks and "no public policy can rescue us from that grim human fact".

Along with profiles of the perpetrator and the analysis of how he could have been prevented, the third area of focus in the pages and pages of coverage of the tragedy are, of course, the victims. And, among the tributes, the papers pay particular attention to Liviu Librescu, a 79-year-old professor of engineering who had survived Nazi death camps but died saving the lives of several of his students by blocking his classroom&#39;s doorway as Cho approached. Professor Librescu has emerged a hero, says the Telegraph, which describes how he barricaded the door of his classroom and told his students to jump from the second floor window. Many leapt to safety. He was shot dead.

"It is worth reflecting on the significance of Professor Librescu&#39;s life of quiet heroism, which encompassed the Holocaust, a career of internationally admired teaching and research, and a final act of sacrifice that saved at least nine other lives," says the Times in its leader.

The Guardian describes how friends of the victims are gathering online to remember the students through videos, blogs and message boards. An instant memorial to Emily Hilscher, the first victim, has been created on the social networking site Facebook. The page asks "everybody that joins to post one or more things that made Emily cooler than you". The paper reports that within a day of the shootings, more than 120,000 people have joined a discussion group to pay tribute to the victims.

<B>On Guardian Unlimited</B><BR><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/virginiashooting/">Full coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/usguns/0,,182056,00.html">Gun violence in the US</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/gun/0,,178412,00.html">Gun violence in Britain</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/0,,759893,00.html">Full US coverage</A><BR><BR><B>Related articles</B><BR><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/usguns/Story/0,,2059217,00.html">Virginia massacre gunman named</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2059103,00.html">Unofficial list of shooting victims emerges</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2058887,00.html">Massacre on campus</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2059250,00.html">Q&A: US gun laws</A><BR><BR><B>World news guide</B><BR><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldnewsguide/northamerica/0,,618255,00.html">North American Media</A><BR><BR><B>Media</B><BR><A HREF="http://edition.cnn.com/">CNN</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.nytimes.com/">New York Times</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.washingtonpost.com/">Washington Post</A><BR><BR><B>Government</B><BR><A HREF="http://www.state.va.us/cmsportal2/">Virginia state government portal</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.usa.gov/">US government portal</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.whitehouse.gov/">White House</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.senate.gov/">Senate</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.house.gov/">House of Representatives</A>

Copyright Guardian News & Media Ltd 2007.

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Original Source:<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/usguns/Story/0,,2059933,00.html">http://www.guardian.co.uk/usguns/Story/0,,2059933,00.html</a>






Creator

Michelle Pauli

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Guardian Unlimited

Date

2007-08-12

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Adriana Seagle

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In consideration of the fee of GBP 0.00 ("the Fee") Guardian News & Media Limited ("GNM") grants the Licensee the right to: publish on its website for 10 years.

Contact info: Eve Thompson;permissions.syndication@guardian.co.uk

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Michelle Pauli, "A brutal mind," in The April 16 Archive, Item #1000, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/1000 (accessed December 18, 2014).