Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hermits Don't Belong in Dorms

Even without the insightful study reported by the AP with regard to Seung-Hui Cho, I posit that any 10-year-old could tell you that anti-social people with severe anxiety issues don't belong away from home in a dorm environment.

Of course, hindsight is always 50/50 (or is that 20/20? - depends on who you ask), and it's easy to look back and "see" the warning signs that would have warranted help had anyone paid adequate attention.

By now, mental illness is understood - at least to the extent that it is not a rarity and that it can be treated in many instances. Like any illness, the sufferers should not bear the stigma once associated with it. They didn't ask for it. They didn't expose themselves to it. But with that understanding comes responsibility. Ultimately, Cho is at fault and fully responsible for his deadly actions on that overcast early-Spring day. But how many others crossed his path saw the red flags, the flashing lights, and the warning signs that all was not well?

At the least, his parents had to realize that something was amiss when he stopped writing home. They knew he had problems - they spent nearly 14 years addressing them in various ways. His high school teachers were overly accommodating enabling his anti-social tendencies later masked under the guise of selective mutism. He wrote two papers and drew pictures that clearly identified pain, angst, depression, and the desire to hurt others; these papers were separated by a gulf spanning seven years. However, any person that could celebrate the Columbine massacre as he did should warrant closer attention to determine the root cause of their elation.

All too often, our society (and perhaps even more so, Asian society) will focus on IQ; Cho was a very intelligent individual. Ted Bundy was intelligent too. Sadly, inadequate emphasis is placed on EQ, or emotional quotient. What Cho had in intelligence, he lacked in emotional skills. As time progressed, this became a larger issue resulting in the anger and rage that erupted with enough violence to create a murderer.

The warning signs were all around. Too many people saw too many things to have ignored it as they did. Sadly, no amount of hindsight or investigative panels will restore the life and the innocence that was lost on that college campus in Virginia. But, this doesn't warrant the typical knee jerk reaction that causes the pendulum to crash into the opposite side of the clock either. No. People need to raise their concerns when they have them. We have become a nation paralyzed by political correctness. Ten years ago, the media was ready to send Jewell to the gallows for a crime he didn't commit. Today, suspicious-looking imams on a plane will sue if you question their actions. Thirty years ago, God was removed from the classroom. Today, Allah has to be tolerated. It defies all manner of logic and common sense.

How many more people must die and how many more panels will be convened simply because society was afraid to speak-up? I would rather say I'm sorry for someone being asked a few questions than mourning the needless loss of my children to a troubled soul.

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