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Getting Seung-Hui Cho's Parents to Talk

Journalist Dave Cullen, who is writing a book on the Columbine killers, and wrote a diary at TalkLeft on the Virginia Tech killings, The Myth of the School Shooter Profile, has an op-ed (free link) in today's New York Times, proposing a compromise solution to allow the parents of Virginia Tech killer Seung-Hui Cho to talk about his early years and psychiatric issues so that the public can glean some insight, without being exposed to lawsuits.

In Columbine, the federal court sealed the depositions of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold's parents for 20 years, to protect their privacy.

Dave first explores the questions the public wants the answers to:

More....

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Bush Uses Va. Tech to Push Religion

Dan Froomkin at the Washington Post notes President Bush used his speech at Tipp City to push for religious revival.

One of the things I try to assure the families and the students and the faculty of that fine university was that there are a lot of people around our country who are praying for them. It's interesting here in Tipp City, the first thing that happened was a moment of silence, a moment of prayer, to provide -- at least my prayer was, please comfort and strengthen those whose lives were affected by this horrible incident. It really speaks to the strength of this country, doesn't it, that total strangers here in Ohio are willing to hold up people in Virginia in prayer. And I thank you for that. And my message to the folks who still hurt in -- at Virginia Tech is that a lot of people care about you, and a lot of people think about you, a lot of people grieve with you, and a lot of people hope you find sustenance in a power higher than yourself. And a lot of us believe you will."

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Comparing Cho Seung-Hui to the Columbine Killers

Journalist Dave Cullen has an article on Slate today about the similarities and differences between Va. Tech killer Cho Seung-Hui and Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the Columbine killers.

Dave, who is writing the definitive book on Columbine to be published in 2008 (and who wrote this TalkLeft diary on the myth of the school shooter profile a few days ago) spent the better part of this week conferring with top experts on psychiatry and violence, to sort out the leading theories on what drove Cho. He also examines how Cho compares to the Columbine killers, and in particular, how he does not.)

This being the anniversary of Columbine, also take a look at Dave's 2004 Slate article on Columbine and the myths behind it.

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CNN: 2005 Order Declared VA Tech Shooter Mentally Ill and "Imminent Threat"

Update [2007-4-18 18:51:54 by Big Tent Democrat]: Some images from NBC of the VA Tech shooter.

Update [2007-4-18 17:28:28 by Big Tent Democrat]: On Hardball, NBC reporter Jon Dienst said that the NBC Nightly News will air some of the video which the VA Tech shooter mailed to them between the first snd second shooting.

CNN reporting on TV. Will provide more when I can get it.

Also, the NYTimes is reporting that the VA Tech shooter, Cho, sent materials to NBC between the first and second shootings.

From the NYTimes:

A Virginia court document said that in 2005 a special justice in Virginia declared Mr. Cho mentally ill and an “imminent danger to others,” a CNN report said. The new information, disclosed by police in a news conference today, raises questions about whether warning signs about Mr. Cho’s behavior and problems were handled effectively by police and the university.

More to come.

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Beware the Loner Myth and Profiling Efforts to ID School Schooters

Journalist, author and TalkLeft pal Dave Cullen, who is writing the definitive book on Columbine, A Lasting Impression: The Definitive Account of Columbine and Its Aftermath (to be published this year) has posted a diary on TalkLeft, The Myth of the School Schooter.

The loner myth has been going on all day. CNN was talking about it all morning--how these shooters all turn out to be outcasts and loners. No, what actually happens is that the media got the loner/outcast narrative down years ago, and always jumps to that conclusion, so the repetition convinces them that it's true. In the Virginia case it's looking like it was true--however, in Columbine, and two-thirds of the other cases, it was a wild misconception.

The larger point is that the media does the public a major disservice by trying to convince us that there is such a thing a particular profile that these shooters fit. They try to fit all these ghastly events into a single personality type that we can be afraid of, but it's just not so.

Go read the whole thing, and I hope you'll click the "recommend diary" button so more people will read it.

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Portrait of the Enigmatic, Violent Obsessed Loner

The Washington Post has some new details on Cho Seung Hui, the Virginia Tech shooter, including statements by Nikki Giovanni, a poet and teacher who warned others about him when he became a problematic student that scared others in the class.

Days later, seven of Giovanni's 70 or so students showed up for a class. She asked students why the others didn't show up and was told that they were afraid of Cho. "Once I realized my class was scared, I knew I had to do something," she said.

She approached Cho and told him that he needed to change the type of poems he was writing or drop her class. Giovanni said Cho declined to leave and said, "You can't make me." Giovanni said she appealed to [Professor] Roy, who then taught Cho one-on-one.

...Roy said she warned school officials. "I was determined that people were going to take notice," Roy said. "I felt I'd said to so many people, 'Please, will you look at this young man?' "

The Smoking Gun has posted one of his "plays." It's predictably ugly.

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Gun Control is Not a Cure

Predictably, the networks are still milking the gun control debate for all its worth. At least Sen. Harry Reid isn't buying it.

Guns effected, but did not cause the killings. They were the means by which an unbalanced, disturbed individual carried out his rage.

I also think the arguments to increase guns on college campuses are a bad idea.

We should never enact laws as an emotional response to a single tragedy, no matter how horrific. Cooler heads are needed.

Rather than playing the blame game, look to what made Cho Seung-Hui want to kill people and himself. Maybe there's a lesson in there.

If he couldn't buy a gun, he would have stolen one. Or used explosives, in which case the death toll might have been higher.

This was an isolated event that was neither predictable nor preventable.

We elected a Democratic Congress to get us out of Iraq, provide universal health care and preserve Social Security. I hope they don't get diverted by a simplistic non-cure.

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I.R.S. Gives Extension to Those Affected by Va. Tech Shootings

The Virginia Tech shootings overlapped with tax day, which is today. The I.R.S. has shown compassion.

The IRS said the extension until Oct. 15 applies to victims, their families, emergency responders and university students and employees.

"Taxes are the last thing the Virginia Tech family should be worried about at this time," IRS Commissioner Mark Everson said in a statement. Midnight Tuesday was the deadline for most taxpayers to file their taxes for 2006.

True, anyone can get an extension with minimal paperwork. But it's a nice gesture not to have to think about it.

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Univ. of Oklahoma Locked Down for Suspicious Object: A Yoga Mat or Umbrella

From the Norman Transcript:

The Norman campus of the University of Oklahoma briefly experienced a lockdown this morning after officials received a report of an unidentified Caucasian male of student age carrying a “suspicious object.”

According to a campus-wide email issued at 9:32 a.m., university deans, directors and chairs were ordered to “Immediately take action to keep all individuals within their current buildings into further notice.” A second email was sent by President David L. Boren’s office at 9:50 a.m. to students, faculty and staff. The note stated, “students, faculty and staff should stay in their buildings or dorms until further notice.”

Shortly after 10 a.m. the lockdown was lifted and Boren issued a statement attributing the action to a yoga mat mistaken for a weapon. Later, officials said it was an umbrella.

Are we now in the paranoia stage?

[hat tip to my cousin Miles, brother of Max, who was on campus and received word someone was on campus with a rifle.

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Va. Tech Shooter Had Disturbing History

More details are coming out about Cho Seung-Hui, the 23 year old shooter in the Virginia Tech killings. To call them warning signs might be an understatement.

Cho had shown recent signs of violent, aberrant behavior, according to an investigative source, including setting a fire in a dorm room and allegedly stalking some women. A note believed to have been written by Cho was found in his dorm room that railed against "rich kids," "debauchery" and "deceitful charlatans" on campus.

Cho was an English major whose creative writing was so disturbing that he was referred to the school's counseling service, the Associated Press reported.

He had been referred to counseling, but apparently no one followed up to see if he went. Authorities believe he was taking anti-depressant medication at some point.

Did he abruptly stop taking it? Shades of the Columbine killers seem to be emerging here.

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Va. Tech, and the recriminations come

Last night's MSNBC's Countdown spent the hour on the Va. Tech massacre, which is on every news website today.  Questions were raised about why the campus was not locked down after the first shooting which was two hours before the mass murder.

Who could expect that this would be the one in a million chance that one murder would turn into 32?

For a more poignant perspective, ABC News this morning interviews survivors and family members and shows many pictures taken from the campus on cellphones by students waiting it out.  And, do not forget the Va. Tech website itself discussing today's events on campus.

Remember the dead, comfort the living, but consider the possibilities in a calmer, more sober light light.  Now is not the time for fingerpointing because it will take awhile to gather all the facts.

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Late Night Music: I Don't Like Mondays

The silicon chip inside her head
Gets switched to overload.
And nobody's gonna go to school today,
She's going to make them stay at home.
And daddy doesn't understand it,
He always said she was as good as gold.
And he can see no reason
'Cause there are no reasons
What reason do you need to be shown?

Tell me why?
I don't like Mondays.
Tell me why?
I don't like Mondays.
Tell me why?
I don't like Mondays.
I want to shoot
The whole day down.

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Checkpoints or Guns?

It is too early to be debating these things in light of today's Virginia Tech tragedy, but I found these reactions worthy of notice. Atrios is against security checkpoints on campuses:

Without meaning to minimize the tragedy, can we stop the hysterical calls for increased security measures on college campuses. Large residential college campuses are like small cities, places where people live, work, and study. Calling for absurd things like random bag checks and metal detectors in such an environment is like calling for such things on city streets.

Glenn Reynolds is for more guns on campuses:

. . . These things do seem to take place in locations where it's not legal for people with carry permits to carry guns, though, and I believe that's the case where the Virginia Tech campus is concerned. I certainly wish that someone had been in a position to shoot this guy at the outset. Had [guns been allowed on campus], things might have turned out differently, though we'll never know now.

I leave you with your thoughts on these thoughts.

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Breaking: Virginia Tech Shootings

Bump and Update (TL): 33 dead (including the shooter). I just got to the airport to fly back to Denver and this is all over the tv monitors. It's now officially the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. The gunman is dead.

Second update (TChris): 28 additional victims were taken to the hospital. It isn't clear whether the shooter was responsible for bomb threats earlier this week.

The first two victims were killed at about 7:15 a.m. local time at West Ambler Johnston dormitory, Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum said. Police said they didn't close the campus because they believed it was an isolated incident and the shooter had left the grounds.

"We secured the building, we secured the crime scene," Flinchum said. "You can second guess all day. We acted on the best information we had."

More here.

original post:

Tragic news at Virginia Tech:

At least 20 people were killed this morning at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University after a shooting spree at two buildings on the campus. ... The university's Web site later posted a notice that 22 had been confirmed dead.

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