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Inside The Mind of A Murderer

by D. E. Carson (writer), , April 19, 2007

Loneliness. Anger. Hate. All of these things have been said to be inside the mind of Cho Seung-Hui, the 23-year-old South Korean native who slaughtered 32 innocent people at Virginia Tech then turned his weapon on himself.

A package received by NBC today contained a written work and video of a killer preparing for his “project.” All day long, speculation has raced through all of the major news talk programs, from Sean Hannity to NBC Nightly News trying to answer the one simple question: “Why?”

He hailed from a working-class family who has immigrated to America. His parents operated a dry-cleaning business. His sister attended Princeton and currently works as a contractor in the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office, a part of the State Department. So what would make Cho fly so far off the handle?

Jealousy, lust, anger, pride, greed – five of the Seven Deadly Sins can be found in his final words. He was no sloth nor was he a glutton, but he certainly personified the others. In reading some of the excerpts Cho references Mercedes, gold chains, trust funds, cognac and vodka, calling all of them “hedonistic needs” and calling those around him, “brats” and “snobs” and railing against “debaucheries”. He certainly seemed angry with those around him. These certainly are not the words of one who has it all together.

Perhaps Cho was jealous because others at VT seemed, at least to him, to have more than he did. The sight of people his own age driving Mercedes Benz automobiles, wearing gold chains and heirs to trust funds must have been more than he could stand. Perhaps Cho desired to have more than he had, in terms of material possessions. With either of the first two, anger would build. The possibility of unrequited love could also incite anger. He was labeled a stalker, though no legal charges were ever filed. Lustful individuals tend to stalk the object of their affection, so having a woman refuse to reciprocate his affection could have set him off. This would certainly stoke the fires of anger. He obviously felt some level of pride. The package sent to NBC would confirm this. He wanted the world to know who he was. Murdering 32 innocent individuals on a college campus must not have been enough. Finally, the cold-blooded method of his rampage reveals his greed for power. He was in control and he knew it. He knew no one would stand to challenge him, so he had power.

The message here is clear. Cho’s life was wrought with evil. He wasn’t a madman. The term “madman” implies he was not in control of his mental faculties. Cho was in complete control. He obviously had been planning this for some time. One of the pistols he used had been purchased back in March. Both purchases were within the legal codes for buying small arms in Virginia. A madman doesn’t go through this kind of planning.

In order for the families of the victims to have closure, Cho needs to be labeled for exactly what he was: an agent of evil. The families need to deal with the fact that evil murdered their loved ones. Proper passage through the grieving process requires that they and the rest of the world accept that on Monday, people were murdered by evil. Saying that Cho was mentally unstable absolves him of his responsibility for his actions. “Oh, you can’t be angry at him, he was mentally unstable.” This is of little comfort to those who lost family members. The families have the right to be angry. They have the right to want to see Cho rot in Hell. They have the right to go through all of the stages of grief so that they can come to terms with what has happened. Then, and only then, can they finally let go. Denying evil for what it was denies the families their rights to grieve.

It is with great hope for the comfort of the families that this article is written. None of them may ever read it, but hope that they can see evil for what it is, call it by its proper name and then move on is the purpose of this article. What Cho did was evil. Does that make him evil? What do you think?


About the Writer

D. E. Carson is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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6 comments on Inside The Mind of A Murderer

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By Steven Lane on April 19, 2007 at 11:44 am
yes
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By Matt Weston on April 19, 2007 at 12:29 pm
Nothing says "goner" quite like staging a photo-op of yourself brandishing a hammer and looking all menacing. And then likening yourself to J.C. Evil or crazy - do i have to choose? I'm ready for this story to go away now. I hope his parents are left alone.
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By Jen on April 19, 2007 at 02:29 pm
I don't know that we can argue it’s simply a case of un-diagnosed bipolar, depression, or schizophrenia and wash our collective hands. People had these conditions long before we had names for them. Mental disorders are complex and involve both a genetic and environmental component. For the sake of argument lets assume (yes, I said assume) that the relative percentage of individuals with a genetic pre-disposition towards mental illness has remained the same over the last 100 years or so. Then why is it only NOW that we have such an upsurge in violence among young people? Enter the environmental component. In my opinion we, as a society we have become increasingly isolated and emotionally cut off from our neighbors, friends, and even family. If it bleeds it leads and you simply cannot market a movie or television program without the ever-present sex and violence we all seem so addicted to. Couple that to the current trend to disregard the notion of personal responsibility and consequence and you have a veritable soup full of people that would rather hit than talk. I’m depressed sometimes. And sometimes I would like to hurt those that I perceive to have hurt me. Why do I choose to walk or talk rather than maim or kill? I don’t know. But I do know that to simply write this incident off as un-diagnosed bipolar, depression, or schizophrenia serves to lessen Cho’s personal responsibility to this tragedy and makes it seem an OK course of action for the next would be “Nobody loves me, everybody hates me” assassin. Evil may be a harsh label. I prefer monster and I’m still mad at my mom for lying to me when she told me they didn’t exist. Just my $0.02
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By D. E. Carson on April 19, 2007 at 07:26 pm
Huh? Screaming "evil" is like screaming "witch"? It's washing our hands and sticking our heads in the sand? How do you figure? I can accept this issue goes beyong politics and religion, but to sit there and tell me that this person was the victim of some "chemical imbalance" in the brain is the bigger cop-out. Regardless of whether he is dead, he committed the crime and is still responsible for the senseless slaughter of 32 innocent people who did not deserve to die -- nor did they want to. To kill someone in cold blood is pure and simple evil, like it or not, that is what it is. I refuse to embrace a science that tells me people do not have to be held accountable for their actions. Good, bad, indifferent every person on this planet is responsible for his or her actions, period. This fool Cho methodically planned what he did -- that is pure evil. It is no less evil than commercial airliners ploughing into skyscrapers in New York and it is no less evil than the methodical rounding up of an entire group of people and shipping them off to deathcamps in remote locations throughout the German countryside. To say that Cho was psychotic absolves him of any responsibility for what he did and I, for one, refuse to let him off that easily.
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By Jen on April 19, 2007 at 09:13 pm
El, asking me not to analyze an issue is like asking me not to breath, and I’d hardly call myself uninformed. The manner in which data is presented can affect how we perceive its meaning and in this case I think you have missed a fine point. First, allow me to point out that I did not claim there was an upsurge in violence…I claimed that there is an upsurge in violence among young people, and I stand by my statement. While homicide rates may have declined overall since their peak in the early 90’s what strikes me is that the ONLY group of offenders to have not dipped back below pre-80’s levels is the 18-24 year olds. According to the U.S. Department of Justice in the year 2004 3/10,000 individuals aged 18-24 were convicted of homicide compared to a mere less than or equal to 1/10,000 individuals in all other age groups for which data was collected. That’s 3 to 1. Even assuming that there are simply more un-diagnosed cases of mental illness among this age group it is still irresponsible of us as a society to say “If only he’d got those re-uptake inhibitors”. It’s no excuse. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/teens.htm#oage
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By D. E. Carson on April 20, 2007 at 12:17 am
Hey El G, why don't you at least quote me correctly. I didn't say that I refuse to embrace science, I said, "I refuse to embrace *A* science that tells me people do not have to be held accountable for their actions." I embrace science such as physics/astrophysics, biology, chemestry. I just don't embrace a science such as psychology that tells me everything can be attributed to someone having too much seratonin or not enough epinephrine coming out of his brain. So far, all I've seen of psychology is a bunch of people trying to give criminals a "get out of jail free card". And yes, as a matter of fact, I have investigated more than just my college Psyc 101 class. Psychologists have stripped parents of their right to discipline their children. Psychologists have stripped the right of schools to administer corporal punishment. Psychologists have denied students a decent and proper education. All of these factors have occurred because psychologists want to "protect" children from the harsh realities of life. This is why some little league baseball games no longer keep score. This is why schools have been forced to outlaw such games as Dodgeball. This is why students are no longer held back when they don't complete a grade. Children aren't allowed to experience failure because a bunch of screwed up adults decided that life was too harsh for children to face. Take away discipline and children grow up not knowing boundaries. Take away competition and children grow up not knowing the "thrill of victory or the agony of defeat". Pass children on to the next grade even when they don't know the material so children don't have to experience failure and learn to try harder. Watching Hannity and Colmes tonight, I was disgusted by the former high school classmate of Cho's who had the nerve to go on national television and say that people made fun of Cho and no one bothered to try to be his friend. I blame the parents for not doing a better job of teaching him right and wrong and I blame his junior high and high school classmates for being cruel and I blame those kids' parents for not teaching *them* right from wrong. There is no child alive with a problem that can't be solved with a whack across the bum with a 14" long paddle. But psychologists don't want to hear that... ...as for your argument that if Cho was evil then his parents must have been evil, well if the shoe fits...
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