Reflections on Virginia Tech


Reflections on Virginia Tech


By Billy McMorris
Apr 17 2007

<b>John Manetta Once Told Me</b>

In early modern Europe the infant mortality rate was astronomical. Crude medical practices led to a high casualty rate for mother and child alike. In many cases, new mothers would be forced to rely on lying-in-maids to handle maternal responsibilities, while they recovered from the exhausting and traumatic experience of child birth.

Lying-in-maids were generally post-menopausal widows, who were unable to mother children themselves. If new- born children were to become sick or die, grieving mothers, in some cases already afflicted with post partum depression, would look for some sort of explanation for why their child did not survive infancy.

In some cases, the dazed and depressed mother would come to a genius conclusion: the lying-in-maid was a witch. Accusations were launched against close family friends and next door neighbors ... even the child&#39;s grandmother could find herself burned at the stake if she did not make sure that baby survived until the mother could fulfill her maternal role. These infertile women could not use their feminine power to care for the infant, and instead chose to use sorcery to bring about harm. Apparently all one needs is a scapegoat to survive the grieving process.

America, however, is no different than these mourning mothers. Any major tragedy is immediately followed with a blame game of epic proportions. Calls for inquiries, hearings, firings and resignations are launched before words of condolence are even expressed. When we as a culture engage in this sort of "dialogue," we take the event away from those who are affected by it, and try to center it around our own vanity. It is perhaps the most despicable thing about our culture; it&#39;s even more revolting than a cult following of Paris Hilton. But still, everyone is chiming in on Virginia Tech.

The student activists are complaining that, "if it wasn&#39;t for Charlton Heston or the &#39;gun nuts,&#39; this would have never happened." Can&#39;t the explanation for such an event simply be an evil person doing an evil thing? Is it really Charlton Heston&#39;s fault that some kid went crazy?

Campus police representatives say that "there was no indication of any possible motive." Evil sounds like a pretty fair assessment of the situation. Nothing but pure evil could truly describe what Cho Seung-Hui did just four days before the eighth anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre.

Psychotherapists have called the murderer&#39;s suicide note "disturbing." "Evil" however, seems a more appropriate word. This is, after all, the same note that the 23-year-old South Korean before killing two people. This is the same note that he wrote before before reloading and taking away 30 more bright futures. In the note, he used the cliché suicide phrase, "you caused me to do this," as if writing it down on paper would make it true. But no one caused him to do this; only pure evil can drive someone to do something so remarkably despicable and cowardly.

Various Virginia Tech students and their parents are calling for resignations and firings because their children could have been killed due to the inadequate response to the first vicious killing. These same people have not given a second thought to the actual victims or their families that did lose a child.

That idiot who lives in your hall is probably still telling that story about how "he almost went to Virginia Tech." Whoa, that&#39;s spooky you herb, some people actually go there; in fact, some people just got murdered there. You might have even seen it on the news. These self-centered malcontents try to do everything they can to make the tragedy about them.

The presidential candidates have begun explaining their positions concerning gun control and second amendment rights. At a time like this, it is disgusting to hear Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton (in her new Southern accent) discuss their stance toward gun control, just as it is repulsive to hear John McCain pander to the National Rifle Association. They are no better than Michael Moore, who is now drooling over the prospect of a sequel to Bowling for Columbine.

These brats and blamers only serve to shift the attention away from the tragedy that befell 32 students and professors, and instead make this horrifying event an impersonal political debate or personal tale. We have plenty of time to do that later.

For now, let&#39;s put down those petitions advocating enhanced gun control or handgun-friendly campus buildings. Why don&#39;t we raise money for the families of that coward&#39;s tragic victims instead? Rather than telling the story about a kid you know who went to Virginia Tech, why don&#39;t you sit down and think about that anonymous Hokie who was robbed of his future.

For now though, let&#39;s think about the victims, their families and those that protect us.

Let&#39;s think about Ryan Clark, one of the first two victims; he died trying to calm that murderous coward down.

Let&#39;s think about the heroism of Prof. Liviu Librescu, who blocked his classroom door with his own body to give his students time to escape before suffering a fatal gunshot wound.

Be thankful that we, too, have professionals willing to protect our university and its students. Thank your R.A.; thank a CUPD officer; thank Robert Davis and Antwan Sampson for making sure you have a Cornell I.D. before entering the library. And thank God for giving us men and women that are here to make sure we never suffer a tragedy of this magnitude.

But most of all, think about the terror that all these victims must have experienced before meeting an untimely end.

Now tell me; do your anecdotes and agendas seem that important now?

<i>Billy McMorris is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be contacted at John Manetta Once Told Me appears alternate Wednesdays.</i>


&#39;only pure evil&#39;?

Hi Billy,

I agree with you that it is appalling that the blame game started even before all victims are identified. It is quite ridiculous to start blaming gun control laws, finger pointing the president and police, and forming inquiry panels to find every little fault.

But I strongly disagree with you when you say Cho&#39;s motivation was &#39;only pure evil&#39;. In a way, Cho was a victim himself - a victim because no one tried to help him. He was very lonely, angry, and troubled. There were many warning signs before the massacre happened. He didn&#39;t just wake up one day and snapped; he didn&#39;t get up early 5:30am in the morning because he suddenly wanted to kill.

No one is born evil; no one truly wants to hurt another. If something like this happens, we must examine the circumstances that make people so resentful that they feel they have no recourse but to commit suicides and homicides.

So I will make blame. I blame the university for not heeding the long warning signs. I blame the university counseling for not trying to help him. Cho voluntarily went to a mental hospital and was released; he was taking prescription drugs. Are the psychologists so incompetent that they couldn&#39;t see he was depressed enough to be suicidal? Did no one at the hospital try to reach out to him, connect with him, and get his trust enough to reveal what is troubling him?

There is reason to believe he may have been sexually molested. When police went to search for his parents, the house was deserted. If it were the case that Cho was abused at home or at one point assaulted, then it is not his fault he came to saw the world as not a happy place. No one tried to show him otherwise; no one.

I don&#39;t blame the students for not trying to be friends with him. But I am shocked at the behavior of some of the professors especially Nikki who saw him as a troublesome student that should be kicked out of her class. I commend Professor Roy for having to courage to help Cho and giving him one-on-one workshops. It is the responsibility of professors to not only teach students but also help them and try to make them individuals who will make society thrive.

It is therefore only appropriate to not only give condolences but also try to find reasons that could have led to this nightmare so that this could have been prevented. Yes, blaming the president and police for two hour delay in e-mail message and asking for tighter (or looser) gun control laws is ludicrous because they amount to nothing but finding scapegoats and furthering political agendas. But blaming the university counseling, callous people who drove Cho to his isolation and depression, and people for not heeding the long warning signs is not only appropriate but wise so that in future we can help people like Cho.

-May Zaw
Senior in College of Arts and Sciences
President of Origami Club

<i>By May Zaw (not verified) at April 18, 2007 - 4:46pm</i>


I agree with you. It really bothers me how many people&#39;s knee-jerk response to such a tragic event is to find a scapegoat, without even taking time to mourn for the victims and their loved ones.

It does seem strange that he was allowed to stay at VTech despite all the warning signs. Even though hindsight gives you 20-20 vision, the suicidal tendencies coupled with the plays he wrote for writing class ought to have set some alarm bells ringing. But there is no use pointing fingers at anyone - none of it will ever change the fact that over 30 people died on Monday. My prayers are with Virginia Tech.

<i>By Nikhil Chandra (not verified) at April 18, 2007 - 11:55pm </i>

To the Editor

Almost as distressing as the horrific event at Virginia Tech is the incessant focus of the media and public on understanding the "rationale"behind the killings. That focus is misplaced. As a psychiatrist it is obvious to me and many of my colleagues that what is really at work here are
the manifestations of an underlying mental disorder. From all the descriptions Mr. Seung-Hui demonstrated an almost textbook example of paranoid schizophrenia. He was motivated to kill because of his delusional thinking. He had grandiose delusions- irrationally saw himself as a martyr like Christ. He was seen giggling to himself and avoiding eye contact on the campus (he was responding to voices in his head, i.e., auditory hallucinations). He had systematized delusions about his fellow classmates- they hated him and were out to harm him (paranoid delusions). He was guarded and suspicious- he kept to himself and had no attachments to others (further support for his paranoia). He had nihilistic delusions- false negativistic views of the world and fellow students. This rage and paranoia may lead to violent behavior that is just as likely to be directed at others as it is to be turned on the self. That is why many psychotic
killers turn the guns on themselves following a mass shooting spree.

There is no mystery here. As much as we can hope that pathology like schizophrenia can be spotted before it can harm the individual or other that is not always feasible. The overarching tragedy is that unlike other societies for the sake of "protecting our freedoms" mentally ill individuals have easy access to weapons that permit them to act out their delusions on a massive scale.


Joyce E. Myers, MD

Prison Staff Psychiatrist

<i>By Joyce Myers (not verified) at April 19, 2007 - 2:25pm</i>



"Now tell me; do your anecdotes and agendas seem that important now?"

It&#39;s ironic how your arrogant, didactic, self-important writing trivializes your subject matter. If anyone wonders why our school&#39;s ranking isn&#39;t as high as it should be, take a look at Billy McMorris&#39;s columns to see why.

<i>By AlbertN (not verified) at April 19, 2007 - 2:33pm</i>


Why blame Charlton Heston?

Yes, why blame Charlton Heston for the Virginia tragedy? One of the most respectable Americans in todays America. He did his best for the country. Serving the nation in World War II. Giving an exemple as a father and grand father. As a professional, always showing that the good should prevail on our lives.

Blame him because he defends the Second Amendment? Doesn&#39;t he has the right to? Or any responsable citizen?
Gun problem, is not on good people, but on bad people. This is the real problem, bad people. This people yes should never be able to get a gun. Unfortunately, it is happening all over the world.
It is not only an American problem, it is a world problem.

<i>By Jaime Pimentel Oliveira (not verified) at April 21, 2007 - 10:00pm</i>


Original Source: <a href=> Cornell Daily Sun - April 17, 2007 </a>


Billy McMorris


Cornell Daily Sun




Sara Hood


Jonny Lieberman <>, <>




Billy McMorris, “Reflections on Virginia Tech,” The April 16 Archive, accessed April 15, 2024,