Updated: Removed a confusion from the last paragraph. Also, Hugh is furious at NBC, as are these folks. On the other side of the aisle, this bloke wants the tapes released to everyone. (End Update)
The tragedy at Virginia Tech took a bizarre turn today that I certainly didn’t expect, and my hunch is others didn’t either. I have no doubt it will be used as effective rhetoric against the slow response of the administration and security at the school (John from Verum Serum has asked some very pointed questions in this regard).
Cho Seung-Hui went to the mailbox inbetween the stops on his rampage and dropped a package in the mail. To NBC. It has some very disturbing pictures, as well as CD containing an 1800 word manifesto. From the AP story:
Cho repeatedly suggests he was picked on or otherwise hurt.
“You have vandalized my heart, raped my soul and torched my conscience,” he says, apparently reading from his manifesto. “You thought it was one pathetic boy’s life you were extinguishing. Thanks to you, I die like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and the defenseless people.”
The comparison to Jesus obviously couldn’t be more off-base. James Taranto wisely pointed out yesterday that these sorts of events are difficult to speak about because they are senseless.
The murder of 32 people by South Korea native Cho Seung-hui is no less evil than massacres carried out by suicide bombers or hijackers, but it is harder to comprehend. Terrorism is carried out by an organized enemy with a political agenda; we can rally to defeat the enemy. The Virginia Tech shooter seems to have been a lone nut. He murdered all those people only to render his own life a nullity by committing suicide in the end.
The struggle, of course, is now to understand Cho’s apparent sense of mission and purpose. He was a “lone nut,” to be sure, but had enough presence of mind to mail NBC a package to ensure his actions were that much more prominently featured in the nightly news. There is something about it that suggests it was not senseless, but calculated and coldblooded, with the sort of sense that is only found in a madman–one that is perfectly clear to him, but obscure and opaque to everyone else. The saga of Cho Seung-Hui is certainly a disturbing one.