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Friday, April 20, 2007
A Short Walk

I don't really understand how a guy gets from A to B in terms of this shooting at Virginia Tech.

By now, I'm sure most of us have seen the package that Cho sent NBC between killings Monday morning. We've heard bits of the rambling manifesto. We've seen the pictures of him holding the pistols, the knife, the hammer. Those pictures would be almost silly and cartoonish if he had not decided or been compulsively driven to take his walk that day. There were two photos that really stood out for me as I first saw them broadcast Wednesday afternoon:

This doesn't look like a crazy person. I suppose it would make more sense somehow if he looked like a speed-freak Hell's Angel, but he doesn't. Cho looks like scores of people that we all see every single day of our lives.

Based on what we now know of his past, Cho was quite obviously suffering from mental illness, which came out in his writings from classes, his actions toward other students and faculty, and other behaviors. In spite of that, I don't know if anyone could have reliably predicted that Cho would do what he did this past Monday.

There is a lesson in here, although I doubt I could fully elucidate it. I do not intend to trivialize what happened, or glorify the actions of a killer. I don't know what made Cho step over the threshold from revenge fantasy to murder. I look at these photos, and I worry that more of us than would care to admit it toe that line more often than we may even realize.

There are a lot of things that people are angry about, both real and imagined. There are a lot of guns out there.

I used to watch Homicide: Life on the Street on NBC. It's one of the best things that's ever been on television, and as a former resident and survivor of Baltimore, I was in a position to appreciate it more than most.

One episode ended in a way that has been on mind for many years now. A husband whose wife was randomly murdered in a robbery says to one of the detectives, "When this first happened, I used to ask 'Why me?' But that was wrong. The question we should all ask is 'When me?'"

Go live your life and enjoy. Not one thing is guaranteed.

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posted at 12:37 AM

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