Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Laws out of sync with reality
Gene Lyons

Posted on Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The mass murders at Virginia Tech strike most of us as the human
equivalent of tornadoes: random, terrifying and senseless. A killer like
Cho Seung-Hui can be described, but never fully understood. Partly
that’s because we lead blessedly sheltered lives. On the day after Cho
ran amok in Blacksburg, Va., more than 200 civilians were slaughtered by
car bombs in Baghdad. Distracted by the carnage closer to home, many
Americans hardly noticed. Writing about the Spanish Civil War, George
Orwell pointed out that atrocities are common in wartime on all sides.
He speculated that many people fantasize about murderous rampages and
that “war provides an opportunity of putting them into practice.” The
latter observation is no longer controversial. Much popular
entertainment aimed at young men consists of hyper-violent revenge
fantasies. Whether blasting rival street gangs in “Grand Theft Auto” or
slaughtering unbelievers in the apocalyptic “Left Behind” video games,
players can experience the vicarious thrill of homicide. Rappers boast
about “capping” each other, and sometimes do. I’m fond of shoot-em-up
movies myself, preferably with horses. I’ve seen Clint Eastwood’s “The
Outlaw Josey Wales” several times.

Do murder fantasies cause or reflect the violence in American life? Will
NBC’s (and other networks’) repeated airings of Cho’s ranting stimulate
copycat killers or teach us to be more alert to fragmenting
personalities? Nobody really knows. Yes, Cho and the Columbine killers
craved a bizarre immortality. But then, so did Lee Harvey Oswald, John
Wilkes Booth and Marcus Junius Brutus. What was NBC to do Keep Cho’s
ravings secret?

Elsewhere, the usual idiots vented the usual idiocies. Rush Limbaugh
decreed that left-wing professors undermined Cho’s sanity.

“You got a guy that hates the rich, you got a guy that thinks that
American culture’s debauched,” he explained. “Who is it telling us all
this...? It’s the liberals.”

After expressed dismay, Limbaugh claimed he’d been
joking, his usual dodge.

Newt Gingrich echoed the claim on ABC’s “This Week.” How this smug
crackpot, who blamed Susan Smith’s 1994 drowning of her children and the
1999 Columbine massacre on liberals, can be spoken of as a legitimate
presidential candidate escapes me.

Another GOP candidate, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (a Baptist
minister), allowed as to how if students or faculty members had been
packing heat, Cho’s rampage might have been prevented—presumably after a
Hollywoodstyle gun battle.

Heaven forfend that we toughen laws making it easier for a disturbed
individual to buy a semi-automatic handgun than a six-pack. Mustn’t
inconvenience “varmint hunters” lest the nation be overrun by small
rodents. So powerful is the National Rifle Association gun cult in
Washington that it’s considered impractical to suggest otherwise.

But enough of that. For Cho’s kind of evil to manifest itself on a
university campus strikes us as more grotesque because we see them as
idealized communities set apart from the rough and tumble of American
life. Indeed, reading the delusional harangue he mailed to NBC between
killings, I wondered if his psychosis (if that’s what it was) might have
been worsened by panic over the scary prospect of graduation.

As bizarre and isolated as he was, Virginia Tech tolerated Cho’s
eccentricities—tolerated them far too generously, it’s tragically clear.
He wasn’t the stereotypical, quiet serial killer next door. He’d exuded
menace from childhood. Cho’s relatives in Korea told The New York Times
that his mother prayed for God to transform him almost since birth.
Everybody at Tech who dealt with Cho understood that there was something
grievously wrong.

Cho’s creative writing assignments struck his instructors as psychotic.
He spoke hardly at all, but did tell people he had a supermodel
girlfriend named “Jelly” from outer space. He confided to a roommate
that he’d spent spring break vacationing with Russian President Vladimir
Putin, a childhood friend. After reading one of Cho’s plays, one student
told his own roommate, “This is the kind of guy who is going to walk
into a classroom and start shooting people.” Cho’s last manifesto read:
“You have vandalized my heart, raped my soul and torched my conscience.
You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today. But
you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me
only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your
hands that will never wash off.” It’s unclear if he was addressing his
victims or voices inside his head. And yet, nothing could be done.
Committed to a psychiatric hospital as a danger to himself and others,
Cho was basically released on his own recognizance either to undergo
outpatient treatment or not—as if he’d had the capacity to choose. And
that’s because the laws governing treatment of disturbed individuals
like Cho reflect a romantic concern for their liberty and privacy
completely at odds with everything we know about the compulsions that
drive them.


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