Friday, April 20, 2007

Va. Tech gunman reportedly bullied in high school

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Long before he snapped, Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung-Hui was picked on, pushed around and laughed at over his shyness and the strange way he talked when he was a schoolboy in the Washington suburbs, former classmates say.

Chris Davids, a Virginia Tech senior who graduated from Westfield High School in Chantilly, Va., with Cho in 2003, recalled that the South Korean immigrant almost never opened his mouth and would ignore attempts to strike up a conversation.

Once, in English class, the teacher had the students read aloud, and when it was Cho's turn, he just looked down in silence, Davids recalled. Finally, after the teacher threatened him with an F for participation, Cho started to read in a strange, deep voice that sounded "like he had something in his mouth," Davids said.

"As soon as he started reading, the whole class started laughing and pointing and saying, 'Go back to China,'" Davids said.

Click here for the rest.

Yes, the person responsible for the killings was an individual. Yes, countless individuals are bullied in our public schools everyday, and they don't commit murder as a result. But it's impossible for me to not go back to Columbine on this one. Numerous reports have asserted that the shooters for that tragedy were also bullied mercilessly in the pressure cooker atmosphere we call "school." Again, I'm not at all trying to suggest that anybody besides Cho is directly responsible for the Virginia Tech murders, but society definitely bears some indirect responsibility, just as it does for Columbine.

I've written repeatedly about how our public schools primarily serve to indoctrinate children into the culture of obedience and authority: a not insignificant part of that is encouraging social elitism among groups of students, and turning a blind eye when bullying inevitibly results. Invariably, our fucked up schools do more than socialize kids into a sick socio-economic system; we actually fuck up a large number of kids' heads. Mass murder is simply the most extreme manifestation.

And, really, because our society strongly reflects the twisted authoritarian schooling system that trains people for participating in it, we've got lots of fucked up adults, too. How many people do you know who have anxiety or depression? Who are taking meds of some kind to simply cope with day-to-day existence? We're drowing in consumer goods, but our souls are dying. That this happened isn't amazing. What's amazing is that it doesn't happen every fucking day.