April 19th, 2007 07:49 EST
The Face of E-ville
Cho Seung-Hui. What was he thinking?
With all the sympathy for those killed by a murderer, it is easy to overlook the ones doing the killing. The names of the victims tend to be overshadowed by the killers' names and the assault itself. But although we remember the killer's name, we tend to dismiss their purpose and rationale.
And it is easy to put the blame completely on the killer, and portray the targets as innocent victims... but these killers don't live in a vacuum. There is a reason they take such extreme actions. Extreme is the only thing that seems to get our attention.
Sympathizing and empathizing with the killer is difficult, but it is something we should do. We must be willing to hear and understand them if we ever hope to negotiate with them, and mitigate such attacks from happening again.
Cho Seung-Hui was thoughtful and rational enough to compile and make available what the news media tritely and quaintly calls a "manifesto" explaining his motivations.
Cho mentions following Eric and Dylan’s example, which means he should have been aware of the public’s negative opinion of those two after the fact, and would have realized that his actions would not be considered favorably in the mainstream, that his message would be lost and ignored… that he would not be seen as a hero. His actions undermined and negated his stated message— though we should not let this invalidate his valid point against the debauchery of rich kids that so infuriated Cho.
Let's not forget that Cho was also killed, was also a victim of his anger.
Despite what he tells us and himself, he didn't do this for anyone but himself. He convinced himself that his drastic actions will accomplish his objective. His real intent is not the message, it is fame… to achieve significance, to be acknowledged, to go out in a blaze of “glory”. Hence, the manifesto made public, which indicates that point. To hurt those who, in some way, had hurt him was secondary, an advantageous side effect.
What was most important to him was how he thought of himself in the act of violence: powerful, meaningful.
And, in a sense, the gross voyeuristic attentions and dramatizations of the news media (and, by proxy, the public) has given Cho that-- a historical glamorization, even as it tries to take that publicity away from him by focusing on those affected by his actions.
Cho Seung-Hui already has a wiki page.
Ironically, to "conveniently" ignore him is to vindicate him. And because his message is disregarded, we set the stage for others to make the attempt.
Despite his declarations and justifications, Cho's motivation was not amenable to justice, and is actually revenge. Sociopathic, he was not truly seeking to right wrongs, but to hurt his enemies.
The way Cho speaks in the vids implies he’s playing a part, as if possessed or driven by an external agent. He’s not acting as a person, but as a force or avatar.
Which is not to suggest he was serving someone or had an accomplice, though he was certainly coersed (by who or what is the question).
He fantasized about, and revelled in, the hurting. His suicide was the signature to his deeds, the closing act on his performance that made him "somebody" (to be recconed with).
If you thematically analyze his creative writing work, and his attitude in the photos and video-- he is serious, but he is also clearly enjoying his perception of himself as a hero, as like Christ. This is not the face of God.
It is… the face of evil.
-Photos from NBC