People have two reactions after a tragedy such as the horrific scene at Virginia Tech a year ago today. First, everyone tries to figure out what the closest relationship is that they have to a person who was present. Second, they start to point fingers. Both of these mechanisms allow individuals to get involved. When they have a “someone” they can mention was there, they feel that they have reason to be informed and to have an opinion. They then take those opinions and start the blame game.
Everyone blames someone or something different. The ultimate scapegoats are the media, for displaying violence, and our nation’s leaders for not doing more to keep devastating events from occurring. Three days after the most recent tragedy, most of us found how many degrees of separation we have from a Virginia Tech student and many of us are grateful our loved one was not injured. Now, who do we blame?
In the mid-1980s, parents of a young boy who shot himself in the head sued Ozzy Ozbourne because the child has listened to Osbourne’s song, “Suicide Solution,” shortly before completing suicide. After Columbine’s school shooting, many blamed Marilyn Manson, despite the fact that it was known that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris did not even like Manson’s music. Video games, movies, and cable television are also often on the other side of outstretched fingers. Was the time Cho Seung-Hui spent alone used to play “Grand Theft Auto” or to watch “Natural Born Killers” and other similarly recognized violent games and movies?
Congress is blamed for not taking quicker and stronger actions to regulate the media, to regulate weapons, to protect our borders from traffickers. In the wake of the mass murder at Virginia Tech, voices across the nation are blaming the lack of truly enforceable and functional gun control laws. Did Seung-Hui commit this mass murder because of the ease with which he purchased a weapon?
Perhaps someone else is to blame. Maybe his parents did not love him enough. Maybe his sister made fun of him. The possibility remains that he was molested by a neighbor or taunted by classmates. There is a chance he was rejected by the girl of his dreams. Or, maybe just maybe the blame rests on Cho Seung-Hui.
Tragedies such as this rock our nation to its core and make many of us question our beliefs and our safety. We fear the unknown and mass murderers like Seung-Hui remain a mystery because their crimes normally result in a suicide, leaving us without many answers and, sometimes, without many clues. Even when we can develop a profile of a possible killer, the great majority of those who match the profile will never do anything similar to these heinous crimes.
There is no denying the effect abuse, bullying, and rejection have on a fragile psyche, but the fact remains that some people turn to violence, but most do not. Counseling may have helped this young killer, but we know healing of a psychological disorder this deep is unlikely from simple outpatient counseling. We can blame everyone else, or we can blame ourselves for not acting before it was too late, but the truth is that the blame rests on the criminal and him alone.
Maybe Seung-Hui did play violent games and watch violent movies. Perhaps he is a victim of abuse. Maybe he simply felt there was no way out of his tortured world. In the end, though, he made a decision and acted upon it. Were murders not on television, Seung-Hui would still be aware of violence and the possibilities of what he acts could concoct are still endless. Were guns not legally available, Seung-Hui would have found one on the black market or found another way to exercise his hatred and violent nature. We know now, thanks to the package he sent to NBC, that his decision was cold and calculated, premeditated and well-planned.
Call the person you know who is closest to the tragedy and let them know it is not their fault. We know that Cho Seung-Hui is to blame.