“Despite that, I chose to believe that the truth will out…”

31 08 2007

As reported by GmePolitics, The Virgina Tech Review Panel has released its final report, and low and behold, videogames (or video games) were not to blame. In fact, Seung Hui Cho barely played games at all. But I think the panel can say it better than I can. This paragraph discusses his early years:

“He was enrolled in a Tae Kwon Do
program for awhile, watched TV, and played video
games like Sonic the Hedgehog. None of the video
games were war games or had violent themes. He
liked basketball and had a collection of figurines
and remote controlled cars.”

And on his college years:

“Cho’s roommate never saw him play video
games. He would get movies from the library
and watch them on his laptop. The roommate
never saw what they were, but they always
seemed dark. Cho would listen to and download
heavy metal music. Someone wrote heavy
metal lyrics on the walls of their suite in the
fall, and then in the halls in the spring. Several
of the students believed Cho was responsible
because the words were similar to the
lyrics Cho posted on Facebook.”

This is great news for the industry, considering how many “prominent” political and psychological–if you can actually call him that–figures were screaming to god and all who would listen that video games beget violence, like the sky was falling. Video games have been absolved of creating violent psychos, at least in Virginia. That should make me feel pretty good.

But it absolutely doesn’t. One thing I’ve been saying since the whole thing happened is, why weren’t the students on campus properly informed? So much death could have been avoided had there been more notice than a two-hour-old e-mail telling young men and women that there might be a problem. So I decided to read the Panel’s report, top to bottom—Ok, so I skimmed through a few paragraphs here and there—and found some interesting stuff.

“At this point, the police may have made an error
in reaching a premature conclusion that their
initial lead was a good one, or at least in conveying
that impression to the Virginia Tech
administration. While continuing their investigation,
they did not take sufficient action to deal
with what might happen if the initial lead
proved false. They conveyed to the university
Policy Group that they had a good lead and that
the person of interest was probably not on campus.
After two people were shot dead, police needed
to consider the possibility of a murderer loose on
campus who did a double slaying for unknown
reasons, even though a domestic disturbance
was a likely possibility.

So why did those in charge of the University wait so long to inform students? Well, there were a number of factors. For one, the police were telling the University’s President and its emergency Policy Group that the first shooting—a double murder that took place on a campus dorm was most likely a domestic dispute, and that the murderer was probably no longer on campus. Statistically, the change of this being a much bigger incident was very low—hurray for resting on statistics. The Group was given no instructions or warnings by police to cancel classes or dismiss students from the campus, or even to tell them what had happened. Why did they wait for police instructions instead of taking control of their own campus and students who rely on them? Because in August 2006, a series of misinformation had SWAT teams swarming the school for an escaped convict who may have been on the campus, since the prison was nearby.

“In the eyes of the Policy
Group, including the university president, a
dangerous situation had been created by their
warning in that August 2006 event coupled with
the subsequent spread of rumors and misinformation.
The Policy Group did not want to cause
a repeat of that situation if the police had a suspect
and he was thought to be off campus.”

All of this being said, I think the most interesting thing covered in the report is whether or not the school should have canceled classes or put the school under lockdown after discovering the first two victims in WAJ. The panel states that stopping classes would have been feasible, if not difficult. They also state that, had the university taken any measure of action—because quite honestly, what they did was the epitome of inaction—lives could have been saved. But not all of them:

“It is the panel’s judgment that,
all things considered, the toll could have been
reduced had these actions been taken. But none
of these measures would likely have averted a
mass shooting altogether. There is a possibility
that the additional measures would have dissuaded
Cho from acting further, but…from what we know of his
mental state and commitment to action that
day, it was likely that he would have acted out
his fantasy somewhere on campus or outside it
that same day”

This is all pretty sad, and actually has made me pretty damn depressed for the day. I think I’m going to go take a nap, and have a good long think. Frankly, it’s moments like these that make me question who we really can rely on other than ourselves. What do we do when those whose job it is to protect us fail so gravely? /sigh, maybe slaughtering splicers will make me feel better.





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