Watch out. That weird foreign student in trenchcoat and shades. Does he ever talk to anyone? That’s suspicious. What’s he writing? A play about murder and rape? Arrest him. Now! Quick! Check everyone else! Get their psychology profiled! Watch them. Watch them closely!
Cho Seung-hui took a beautiful photo of his bullets and posed with his guns before he blew away 32 fellow humans — roughly a quarter of the number killed in Iraq by suicide bombs yesterday — and was presumably one seriously sick individual. But in that obese, self-centred tangle of hypocrisy that is America the reaction is, as usual, wrong…
At this point it’s compulsory to say that one is genuinely saddened by the deaths of 32 young people at the hands of a madman. You have to say that, otherwise people won’t allow you to analyse it any further. And yes, I am genuinely saddened. I’ve only ever dealt with one corpse in my life, unless you count cows and koi, and it wasn’t shredded by hollow-point ammunition. So I can’t imagine what it was like to experience that carnage.
But let’s look at what happens next… and here Guy Rundle’s piece in Crikey says it so well:
The ”question-mark kid” who spoke to virtually no one and walked around in wrap-around shades is… scarcely unknown in arts faculties, especially in creative writing courses. Yet, one presumes that from now on every underground weirdo in trenchcoat and dark glasses is going to feel the eye of suspicion upon them.
Which is a pity because I can think of at least two academics, one editor of a national newspaper opinion page, and a bloke who now owns three pizza shops who would fit that bill from my own gun-spree-free student days…
Is every teacher now going to be perpetually on the look-out for the next mass murderer in classes where students are encouraged to explore their imagination in whatever direction it goes?
Seung-hui’s violent play led to his tutor wondering whether she should call the police — yet as Rundle points out, the plot is essentially Hamlet:
The violent plot concerns a sexually overcharged family in which the family friend has killed the father in order to possess the mother, and the son is fuming with the thwarted desire to murder him…
The violent discourse echoes an earlier, funnier Shakespeare work Titus Andronicus in which the heroine has to write her murderer’s name in the sand with a stick held between her arms because the hero has cut out her tongue, eyes and hands.
Rundle makes obvious comparisons to the works of Quentin Tarantino and Woody Harrelson and a zillion chainsaw movies.
In Virginia, you don’t need a license to own or buy a gun, you don’t need safety training, and you’re limited to buying “just” one gun per month. This won’t change, because George W says we can’t restrict freedom.
As Rundle wraps up:
The means of the crime — over-the-counter pistols — will remain free while the fantasy — the free-play of the imagination — will become increasingly criminalised. This, as the second amendment notes, is to preserve freedom.
Ah, what a strange society! The freedom to build an arsenal capable of massacring an entire neighbourhood is enshrined in the Constitution. It’s fine to show a hundred gruesome deaths by gunfire on TV nightly — with slow-motion effects to turn the speeding bullet into a fetish. But the brief sight of a single healthy woman’s breast provokes national outrage.
God Bless America.
This morning the Sydney Morning Herald showed the faces of every casualty on the front page — and they weren’t even Australians, let alone from Sydney. Where are the faces of the 140 killed in Iraq yesterday? The 16,000 children who died of hunger-related causes today and every day this week, and every other week?