No Motive in Va Tech Shooting

From the AP, on the continuing motivation of Seung-Hi Cho's murderous shooting spree:

In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, State Police Superintendent Col. W. Steven Flaherty said authorities have found no evidence that could begin to explain the massacre that ended when Cho took his own life.

Authorities also have no link between the 23-year-old loner and his victims.

"We certainly don't have any one motive that we are pursuing at this particular time, or that we have been able to pull together and formulate," Flaherty said. "It's frustrating because it's so personal, because we see the families and see the communities suffering, and we see they want answers."...

Flaherty, who is overseeing the investigative team looking at the shootings, said police also have been unable to answer one of the case's most vexing questions: Why the spree began at the West Ambler Johnston dorm, and why 18-year-old freshman Emily Hilscher was the first victim.

Police have searched Hilscher's e-mails and phone records looking for a link. While Flaherty would not discuss exactly what police found, he said neither Cho's nor Hilscher's records have revealed a connection.

Flaherty said there was also no link to 22-year-old senior Ryan Clark, who was also killed at the dorm. Nor do investigators know why Cho, an English major, selected Norris Hall - a building that is home primarily to engineering offices - to culminate his attack. Cho killed 30 people there before taking his own life.

More here.

I'm guessing that they will never find a "motive" in any clean, easily comprehended sense of the term. This was madness, for lack of a better term, and even as we might come to understand what pushed Cho's buttons, there's simply no sufficient explanation for his actions.

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  • Guy Montag||

    This was madness class envy , for lack of a better term, and even as we might come to understand what pushed Cho's buttons, there's simply no sufficient explanation for his actions persuit of an English degree at an Engineering school.

    There Nick, fixed that bit.

  • ||

    Anybody know if Cho's "manifesto" has been made public?

  • Penry||

    Why has no one mentioned the small penis theory?

  • Guy Montag||

    Anybody know if Cho's "manifesto" has been made public?

    I have not seen anything public on it yet. A few months after it does go public expect the post-modernists and other folk of 'advanced intelligence' to be all gaga over it.

  • norbizness||

    From Bart Simpson's ultimately unsuccessful campaign against Martin Prince for Class President: "He says there aren't any easy answers. I say, he's not looking hard enough!"

  • norbizness||

    Penry: Please, there's no use in trying to explain Guy's comments like THAT.

  • Guy Montag||

    Why has no one mentioned the small penis theory?

    That is not implied by living in the Humanities Department for 4 years and the use of a 9mm?

  • ||

    This was madness, for lack of a better term

    I believe that term is nucking futs.

  • Marc||

    Why the spree began at the West Ambler Johnston dorm, and why 18-year-old freshman Emily Hilscher was the first victim.

    Um, because if I were a nutso about to go nuts, I would have to start somewhere? Does every action involved in the massacre have to be infused with meaning?

  • VM||

    Ah yes, Marc!

    the "why do you always find things in the last place you look" theory. :)

    (cuz after you find it, you stop looking)

    [ducks]

  • Marc||

    [whoosh]

  • Guy Montag||

    Um, because if I were a nutso about to go nuts, I would have to start somewhere? Does every action involved in the massacre have to be infused with meaning?

    The same way one finds all sorts of unwritten meaning in plays and poems, of course.

    In short order every literature department in the Ivy League will be on this, with other liberal arts institutions to follow in short order.

  • ||

    It wasn't about class envy. Cho ranted about Mercedes driving punks, but he went to VT. VT is an engineering and science school. Engineers and scientists are middle-class adults and come from middle-class families. They can't afford (or should be too smart to waste money on) a Mercedes, and I can't imagine there were many of them on VT's campus.

    The rich major in business, law, and medicine. They generally go to liberal arts colleges and universities. I could see that rant making sense at UVA, but at VT? That makes no sense.

    - Josh

  • Guy Montag||

    Josh,

    Class envy makes no sense to start with.

  • ||

    Here's a motive:

    He was fucking nuts.

  • ||

    It wasn't about class envy. Cho ranted about Mercedes driving punks, but he went to VT. VT is an engineering and science school. Engineers and scientists are middle-class adults and come from middle-class families. They can't afford (or should be too smart to waste money on) a Mercedes, and I can't imagine there were many of them on VT's campus.
    Amen. He was just making excuses, or creating for himself a fantacy world in which he was a Charlie Brown-esque hero. (or someother armchair psych reason) He's like those kids in highschool who bitched about how oppressive the school was but could never really think of any examples.

  • ||

    I still think he was envious of the offers the engineering students get, while he was looking at a probable job at Starbucks, which might have been exacerbated by high family expectations or sibling comparisons.

  • ||

    This was madness...

    Must... resist... played... out... movie... quote...

  • ||

    "A few months after it does go public expect the post-modernists and other folk of 'advanced intelligence' to be all gaga over it."

    And the Guy Montags will be filled with outrage when Bill O'Reilly rants about how much he hates foreigners or the damage done to children when spring tits making their appearance.

    "In short order every literature department in the Ivy League will be on this, with other liberal arts institutions to follow in short order."

    And since these institutions have little to no effect on the politics of the nation, it really doesn't matter, except that the right will continue to use it as a wedge issue and people like Guy Montag will continue to buy into the spoof.

    The motive in this shooting? It looks like a suicide with enough anger to make "why don't I take as many as I can with me" seem like a good idea.

  • Chris Rock||

    Cra - zy! What, you can't be crazy no more? Did they eliminate crazy from the dictionary?

  • Rhywun||

    exacerbated by high family expectations

    I was thinking that too. There's no other explanation I can think of for a student who can barely put a sentence together being a college senior. I bet he started out in Engineering or something and couldn't hack it and wound up in English. Anyway, he obviously had social problems and issues of paranoia. So yeah, to put it (very) simply, he was nuts, but surely it's instructive to examine just how he was nuts, and thereby learn some lessons. For example, if your kid has zero social skills due to some mental illness and mediocre academic ability, it's probably not a good idea to send him to college.

  • VM||

    "while he was looking at a probable job at Starbucks"

    ???

    oh. The "if you were a liberal arts student you can't get a 'good' job" theme.

    right. dammit. All those kids at Williams, Amherst, Colby, Grinnell, Carleton are screwed. Poor bastards.

  • ||

    One of the rules of American mass murder is that there is nothing to understand, the shooter was just Crazy.

  • Marc||

    As opposed to the rules of Swedish mass murder, in which the shooter's motives are analogized and categorized in terms of different kinds of cured fish. Or is that Norway?

  • ||

    One of the rules of American mass murder is that there is nothing to understand, the shooter was just Crazy.

    Not in every case, Dan, but it's usually more true than all the things that people project onto such cases as "the cause".

  • ||

    David, I think there's some circular logic in place with the "crazy" diagnosis. Only a madman would shoot 32 strangers, therefore anybody who shoots 32 strangers is a madman.

    Cho's mental state is hard to pin down post-mortum. But it is clear that he had a motive and was trying to express something with these shootings. Much like other Crazy killers like the Unabomber and the Columbine kids.

  • ||

    Yeah, but this guy was severly mentally ill. Did you get to see any of the footage he sent to NBC?

    Paranoid schiz, not like Harris/Klebold or the Unabomber at all. They were terrorists with a point to make, he was hearing people's secret thoughts and shit.

  • ||

    He may have had a motive that made sense to him, but similar to the way many people talk about God, what people assume the motive was always neatly mirrors their own prejudices.

    Besides, for every incident like this, there are many people with similar profiles, lifestories, etc. to the killer who don't harm anyone. Obviously, there is something more that pushes a person to to what Cho did. I don't think there's a better word for it than "madness".

  • ||

    "oh. The "if you were a liberal arts student you can't get a 'good' job" theme"

    a) he was a rather untalented guy, at an engineering school not a liberal arts school, probably surrounded by techies talking about their job offers, which would tend to be significantly better than his.

    b) I don't doubt that liberal arts majors can get good jobs. Especially students at excellent liberal arts schools. That isn't particularly the case here. I don't know how VT's English deparment rates, but it probably isn't treated as an important core competency.

    (At the engineering/business/design school I went to, most of the humanities departments were little more than a set of mailboxes on a wall. Music had some dedicated facilities, but not history, or English.)

  • VM||

    Jon H - I know - after I posted it, it read snarky and not funny to boot. hrumph.

    *gets forced to smell the glove

  • Dave W.||

    I think a more interesting issue with Cho (and Harris and Kleebold) is how strong their motivations were, regardless of coherency.

    If it had been more difficult for Cho to get guns, would he have been motivated enough to get them?

    If it had been more difficult for Kleebold and Harris to get guns, would they have been motivated enough to get them?

  • ||

    I think it's safe to suspect that a liberal arts guy who wrote Richard McBeef was pretty screwed...

  • ||

    "A few months after it does go public expect the post-modernists and other folk of 'advanced intelligence' to be all gaga over it."



    I'd go gaga over it. What's the problem with finding a murder's writings intresting?

    I think if some asshole began preforming his shitty plays (which is most likely going to happen) in a silly cry for attention, that is another story.

  • ||

    Josh,

    Class envy makes no sense to start with.

    I disagree. Humans are primates. We evolved in rigidly heierarchical societies. For millions of years we had no possessions - all we had was our place within the tribe. Status meant better food and more sex. Class envy is just the modern equivalent, and, right or wrong, it is perfectly understandable from our history.

    What makes no sense is this rant applied to VT. VT is full of smart lower and middle-class kids studying middle-class subjects in preparation for middle-class lives. These kids are driving around their parents' last cars, most likely Toyotas and Fords.

    - Josh

  • ||

    Besides, for every incident like this, there are many people with similar profiles, lifestories, etc. to the killer who don't harm anyone. Obviously, there is something more that pushes a person to to what Cho did. I don't think there's a better word for it than "madness".

    How about "moreness" or "extraness"?

  • ||

    Obviously, there is something more that pushes a person to to what Cho did. I don't think there's a better word for it than "madness".

    I guess we don't really disagree, I just think that the term "madness" is often used so we don't have to figure out exactly what it was that made him tick.

  • ||

    I have to agree with joe here. The unabomber and the Columbine murderers seem much, much, more rational, in their own way, than this guy. His affect and tone of voice really seemed similar to that of a homeless person one sees pushing a shopping cart, mumbling to himself. The tragedy may be that he didn't outwardly go obviously full-blown nutters prior to dreaming up this plan, thus allowing him the opportunity to put it in motion. Perhaps similar to the UT clock tower sniper.

  • ||

    As a wild guess, I think he wanted to make a statement - if only, "Fuck you." After already making a murderer of himself, he sent off the video to NBC and, once he was ready, just started killing people. As he didn't start in the post office, he may have meant to direct a good portion ..of that message to the people of his school.

  • ||

    We live in a self professed christian nation. Christianity is pure socialism where everyone is at the same level of unworthiness in the eyes of God. we are all the same. We are all supposed to treat each other with love and compassion.
    We also live in a capitalist society economically speaking. This implies competition and a wide spread of social classes. We treat each other with disdain, distrust and hate at times in the name of the competition for the next rung. We also enjoy a wonderful standard of living.

    Some of us just find it difficult to operate effectively in both.
    Some find it impossible.

  • ||

    "I think if some asshole began preforming his shitty plays (which is most likely going to happen) in a silly cry for attention, that is another story."

    Don't go to YouTube and run a search for "Richard McBeef" whatever you do.

  • ||

    oops, meant to add

    Cho's mental illness made it impossible.

  • ||

    No, I think he was inspired by Madness

    Note the the similarity in body-count

  • ||

    There's a good article over on Slate.com which argues pretty effectively that Cho was psychotic (basically nutso), and that the Columbine killers were a psychopath and an angry depressive.

    So, three different mental "disorders" in three different mass killers. Plus, the vast majority of people with these "disorders" will not turn violent. So, really, how explanatory is any of this?

  • ||

    I just think that the term "madness" is often used so we don't have to figure out exactly what it was that made him tick.

    And how, exactly, do you plan on doing that? Something tells me Cho won't be very cooperative.

  • The Chosen One||

  • ||

    "If it had been more difficult for Kleebold and Harris to get guns, would they have been motivated enough to get them?"

    Didn't they also have home made bombs? Or is that something I made up... gettin' so I can't remember details.

    CB

  • ||

    brotherben -- I don't know if you intended it, but it sounds like you're saying that "We treat each other with disdain, distrust and hate at times" because we live in a (mostly) capitalist society. Don't you think people will treat each other that way no matter what kind of society they live in?

  • ||

    "Didn't they also have home made bombs?"

    Yes. Lots of them. Their initial plan had been to set off explosives, killing most of the people in the building, and then to shoot anyone who was left. Thankfully they weren't very competent bomb-builders.

  • ||

    And he can see no reasons
    'Cos there are no reasons
    What reason do you need to be shown?

  • Rhywun||

    the vast majority of people with these "disorders" will not turn violent

    I wonder how many of them simply suicide and we never hear about it.

  • ||

    Suicide is for those that lack ambition.

  • ||

    jp,
    Yes I was saying that. And yes I do think people everywhere do that. Hell, I am sitting here trying to think of one christian out of the thousand or so I am aquainted with that doesn't treat others like that. If i leaned toward non-belief, that is the evidence I would site. If folks are so spiritual and have the holy spirit in them, how can they(I) possibly be such assholes to others?

  • ||

    I'm no theologian brothrben, but I believe there is a concept known as "sin" which does much to answer your quesion.

    Also, do you know 1000 people well enough to really judge how they behave towards others? I have a couple thousand acquaintances, and I certainly don't.

  • ||

    We live in a self professed christian nation. Christianity is pure socialism...

    I think I missed the portion of the gospels covering dialectical materialism.

    - Josh

  • ||

    I think I missed the portion of the gospels covering dialectical materialism.

    The Gospel According to Marx - duh!

  • Russ 2000||

    "We certainly don't have any one motive that we are pursuing at this particular time"

    Why are they even wasting one cent of taxpayer money on this? We know who did it and that guy is dead.

  • Egon||

    Perhaps his mother took away his rubber ducky when he was three.

  • Guy Montag||

    Amen. He was just making excuses, or creating for himself a fantacy world in which he was a Charlie Brown-esque hero. (or someother armchair psych reason) He's like those kids in highschool who bitched about how oppressive the school was but could never really think of any examples.

    That is the only thing that comes out of the rest of the class envy whiners in this country. Just go to a protest or the student union and listen to the Anarchists.

  • dhex||

    or a counter protest!

    right, guy?


    there's plenty of cross-class and racial conflict on the subway each day, which if nothing else makes for good anthropology.

  • Kap||

    Egon, I assume you knew that his ebay account has been found, and in addition to buying two mags for his P22, he bought a bunch of rubber duckies.

  • ||

    Kap-

    Most likely purchased for target practice.

  • ||

    de stijl is right - the Boomtown Rats are to blame.

  • stuartl||

    Wild Pegasus, walk through the parking lot of any high tech Northern Virginia company. Besides VT stickers, you will see a lot of BMWs and Lexi. Nearly as many as Toyotas, and way more than Fords. Agreed that you won't find many Mercedes, but that has something to do with the cost to performance ratio.

    Given Cho's words and NoVa background, I don't think it was an accident that he went to an engineering building.

  • ktc2||

    1) Sexual frustration and envy
    2) Class envy
    3) Family expectations
    4) Tiny penis

    Those are the motives. Generally those would not motivate a "normal" person to mass murder so top it off with a big helping of "crazy".

  • ||

    "1) Sexual frustration and envy
    2) Class envy
    3) Family expectations
    4) Tiny penis"

    Thank God my family had low expectations of me.

  • Guy Montag||

    dhex,

    or a counter protest!

    right, guy?


    Well, you could attend a counter protest against the "class protestors" and see plenty of it across the barracade. Get plenty of that crap shouted at you too.

    The easier way is to go to the student union at your leasure rather than waiting for a protest.

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