Thursday, April 19, 2007
What Are We Prepared To Do With The Next "Cho"?
There are two separate courses of study which make up the foundations of any MBA program. On one side you have the heavy duty accounting, statistics, and economics courses. Some people really love that part of the program. Those people are in serious need of heavy-duty counseling.
On the other side you have the leadership, organization, and marketing classes. The hard-core numbers people refer to these classes as “fluff” because said coursework focuses on issues which are, more often than not, non-quantifiable. That said, neither the heavy-duty numbers nor the “fluff” classes can be avoided. You take one, you take ‘em all.
As a part of one of my “fluff” classes, I was required to take several “personality” tests. The most well known of this test battery is the Myers-Briggs. Some corporations use these tests during the hiring process to get more information about the candidate than is provided by his/her resume.
The most interesting of all the “personality” tests – the exact name of which escapes me at present – was a 500 question behemoth of a test where you are required to answer yes or no to each one of the questions. About one-quarter of the way through the test, people in the classroom started laughing. By the end of the test, the whole class was almost on the floor in hysterical laughter. This laughter was caused by the following types of questions:
Sometimes I think about things too terrible to contemplate.
I’d be a lot better off today if everyone wasn’t out to get me.
I feel like everybody hates me.
I don’t think I can survive much longer in this terrible world.
Without exception, everyone in the classroom wondered who would answer “yes” to such nutball questions. Until this Tuesday, I had yet to find anyone who would fit the profile those questions were seeking.
Cho Seung-Hui would have answered “yes” to those questions.
MSNBC was brave enough – or stupid enough – to give Cho a soap box from which to broadcast his vitriol from the grave. I haven’t seen or read much of it, and I don’t intend to. I’ve seen enough to draw my own conclusions about this sick deranged sorry excuse for a human being.
Cho was a product of an anti-social counter-culture whose fundamental principles are hard for most functionally normal people to understand. He hated pretty much everybody and believed the entire world had committed heinous crimes against him simply because other people existed. Look hard enough and you’ll find he was laughed at in school. I’m sure the grade school bully probably took his lunch money too. He idolized the Columbine killers and considered them “martyrs”. I have little doubt the media will find his high-school classmates and ask them if they feel guilty for driving Cho to murder.
There were those who saw the danger signals. Virginia-Tech authorities referred him to the university’s disciplinary system in 2005 after he harassed a female student. Citing “privacy” laws, the university was unable to provide any information to anyone – including Cho’s parents. He was also briefly hospitalized for psychiatric evaluation in 2005. How much of that information was given, or even available to, Virginia Tech is not know, but my guess is not much. Yes, dear reader, the days have come when we are more concerned with privacy of dangerously violent nut-cases than we are of the innocents upon whom they inflict their insanity.
Current reports indicate Cho’s violent leanings were reported by a professor and at least two women. Several current and former roommates were less than surprised when Cho was identified as the shooter. These facts are troubling. Should more have been done to take Cho out of the college environment? Probably.
The question which remains is what – if anything – could have been done to pre-empt Cho’s murderous rampage. To that question there is no easy answer. Our society has become one in which the worst thing someone can do to another is to offend them, their cultural group, or their “community”. The fear of offense paralyzes those whose responsibility it is to pass judgment on others. Had Cho’s mental state been called into question and used as a tool with which to remove him from Virginia Tech, he would have most likely had his choice of civil-rights and other such lawyers at his beck and call.
There are no doubt more people similar to Cho among us. No amount of hand-gun or ammunition limiting legislation will prevent them from planning – and sometimes executing – their violence on innocent people. If anything good comes from the senseless acts of April 17th, I would hope it would be willingness to recognize people like Cho before they snap. More importantly, I would hope that after having found them, steps could be taken to remove them from an environment where they can take so many lives and forever impact countless others.
Here endeth the lesson.