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Thursday, April 19, 2007

VTech Shooter Fit Profile of Assassin

The point of this post is to discuss how, as usual, in hindsight, those who saw the signals and signs of a very disturbed sign should have dealt with it in a more urgent manner. How a judge's report that Cho was an imminent danger to himself and others didn't make it into his record, so that he couldn't purchase a gun is beyond me. Virginia has issues, and this is just one among many. Virginia is also one of the states that REFUSES to pass Jessica's Law that would result in a minimum prison sentence for pedophiles and predators that sexually molest or rape children under 12 or are repeat offenders. But, let's not kid ourselves here. All those partisans that have turned this horrific massacre into a gun control issue are missing the point. Yes, Virginia should have more responsible gun control laws, but the type of person Cho was dictated that no matter how stringent the gun laws were, he would have find a way to get them. Had the judge's report been put into the system and Cho denied a hand-gun, he would have found a way to procure a weapon. If necessary, as we saw from the pictures, he would have used other weapons to carry out his plan. Yes, people, he was that determined. This was premeditated and coldly plotted. He was going to do anything to carry out his plan. So, seriously, while gun control discussions are relevant, they completely miss the point of what happened and are just disgusting exploitations of the dead.

As happened with the "Flying Imams", America is once again told to turn a blind eye to the symptoms of the problem. The concept of "If you see something suspicious, report it" is being challenged and ignored in this case as well. Other college students knew something was up and didn't report it. Teachers knew this kid was a problem and didn't think to go the extra distance. A judge saw there was imminent danger, but for some wild reason, this report didn't find its way into the police's hands. As disasters go, this was a series of events that led to a tragedy. As we look at the profile of a murderer, I'll comment on how they fit in with the evidence so far presented on Cho's character. It's eerily scary. Why? Because as you wonder how some-one could do this or why; that somehow this person's actions are unique and unpredictable, they actually fit very well with the characteristics of the assassin. The press is defining him as a madman or a psycho, but that's detrimental to understanding him. By putting him in those terms, he becomes almost like a comic book character. It's almost as if he isn't a real person. It trivializes his actions. But, he was very real and very very much in control of his actions. A madman is not in control of his actions. He's not responsible for what he does. Cho knew exactly what he was doing, and he CHOSE to commit these actions. He was NOT a madman. He was far more 3 dimensional than that.

I warn the readers that this analysis will be cold and may at times become graphic. Reader discretion is advised. READ THE REST...

When studying profiling and Forensic Psychology, the most famous name you will hear about is John Douglas, the FBI agent who created the profiling methodologies and revolutionized criminal behavioral science around the world. The book we will be using to analyze Cho is called "The Anatomy of Motive", by John Douglas and his associate, Mark Olshaker. Specifically, we will be using the chapter entitled Shadow of a Gunman. Studying past assassins, like school shooter dubbed "the sniper in the tower", Charles Whitman, we can develop the patterns of these types of characters.

Charles Whitman was a former Marine who, on August 1, 1996, went to the top of a clock tower of the University of Texas at Austin and randomly shot 13 students and faculty along with his own wife and mother before-hand. Let's see who we're dealing with here:
"Assassin personalities tend to be white male loners with self-esteem problems - no surprises there, since that describes a huge chunk of the violent predator population. More specifically, they tend to be functional paranoiacs. They shouldn't be confused with paranoid schizophrenics, who have a serious psychosis often described as shattered personality. The people we're dealing with may be delusional, but they're not hallucinatory. Rather, their paranoia may be described as a highly organized or methodical delusional system... In other words, if you accept the basic (but delusional) premise that everyone is out to get a particular individual and is ready and able to do harm, then it becomes a convincing argument that this individual should strike out and neutralize these enemies before they can act against him.
Sometime the delusional system will be based on a kernel of truth, but there will be no correlation between the defined problem and the action taken to deal with it."

How does this apply to Cho? Well, Cho was not a white male, but he was a male loner in his twenties with very apparent severe self-esteem problems. But, not just regular self-esteem problems. No, he was overtly arrogant and "hoity" to his teachers while displaying his low self-esteem. His teachers were able to see right through this. He stuck to himself and didn't talk to any-one. His delusion was obvious; girls or perceived "rich girls" or "brats" that rebuffed his supposed attention and admiration. The kernel of truth probably lies in the two girls that put a restraining order out against him. He may have seen his attention towards them as a natural way to show affection and to say that he liked them. When the restraining orders came out, it just reinforced his opinion that it wasn't that he had done something wrong, but they saw themselves as too good for him, and that all the "rich kids" on campus were out to get him, and they all thought they were better than him. On the tapes that were released yesterday, this becomes even more apparent. He keeps saying "YOU did this", "YOU pushed me into a corner", "YOU tortured me on purpose, for your own sick little game", "YOUR Mercedes and gold bracelets weren't good enough for you. You had to torture me as well and stomp callously on my heart". All fault is projected on this seen aggressor. Finally, we see how the action has nothing to do with the perceived truth. He did NOT gun down only women. He spread out his wrath between women, men, and even older teachers.

Like serial killers, the assassin usually comes from a troubled childhood. However, since we know nothing, as of yet, about Cho's childhood, we can't comment about that here.

Moving on:
Assassins try to "compensate for what they see, either consciously or subconsciously, as their emotional shortcomings... One of the most common way, as you might suspect, if gun fetishism... they begin to stockpile weapons and ammunition. [ed. note: While it is still unknown whether Cho had more guns than the 2 he used in the shooting, it was found that he had more that 320 rounds of ammunition stored in his car. They haven't even thoroughly investigated his dorm room or house yet. It would not be surprising if more was found.] "The gun is a means of empowering this inadequate personality, ensuring them that when they want to, they can attain our three old standbys of manipulation, domination, and control".

The pictures that Cho sent to NBC are very telling. The way he's wielding and even posing with the guns show that this is true. It is clear that he felt empowered by his weapons, and for the first time in his life, probably felt a sense of control and dominance.

"Another telling characteristic is the way assassins tend to express themselves. A very large number of them will keep diaries or journals, recording not just events that happened or the way they're feeling on a particular day as most people would, but also every slight done to them and imagined conspiracies, as well as detailed plans for what to do about them. Since they don't have any close friends or trusted confidantes, these social isolates express themselves to themselves in these detailed secret communications. In many cases, they actually use this journal writing to program themselves to commit the crime."

One doesn't have to be a genius to see how startlingly true this is in Cho's case. His room-mate and those who knew him have stated that they never saw him with friends or talking to anybody, but they did see him constantly writing. In their words, he was writing all the time and in almost every minute of his free time. He wrote plays and poems detailing the violence that he wanted to commit. The 23 page manifesto and hours long video he recorded is also ripe with this fact, pointing to perceived aggressors who were responsible for his feelings and actions. Ramblings to us were not ramblings to him. (That point should be driven home. We might not be able to see what he said or did as rational, but they were VERY rational to him.) They were mere precise repetitions of the same words. "You did this to me, and now I'm going to get you back." The video is just a 21st century version of the diary. In the end, he wants people to know why he was doing it, believing in his delusional mind that finally those at fault will realize the extent of their crimes. He wanted people to see him and know why he did what he did also for the reason that like assassins before him, "...he figured out a way to do something spectacular."

The next point we will go through goes into why Cho mentioned the Columbine shooters, spoke in some Jihadist language, signed his mail Ismail Ax, and, most importantly, likened himself to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
"I think this seemingly silly anomaly is tremendously significant, because what he's essentially saying is, 'I don't belong here with all the wealthy, important people who park here and then go fly on airplanes. I'm just a grain of sand on the beach. I'm not as worthy as anyone else. I'm just an inadequate nobody, and the only way I can become important is by some great act that affects all these important people'.... And finally he goes on to wrap his mission in the trappings of a cause, saying this is a 'job I feel has to be done for mankind'... But here is the point I want to make: ... I can conceive of rare instances in which there might be a higher, even altruistic purpose... No matter who we look at, we're going to find an individual - overwhelmingly, a white male in his twenties - who does not feel good about himself and never has. In some way, he sees the violent act as the solution to his problem.... The cause was a convenient justification."

In one of the videos, Cho likens himself to Jesus Christ, dying for those that are just like him, so the world can see what kind of people "YOU" are. He relates his admiration for "martyrs" like the Columbine shooters and does mention certain Jihadist principles. There are those that have been wondering whether Cho had actually become a Jihdist since there are supposedly also references to the 9/11 hijackers. Don't jump to the wrong conclusion. It is more than likely that he is not a "practicing" Jihadist. In many ways, he is a poser. With his personality type, he will cling to those that he sees as either sympathetic to his "cause" or as superior and strong characters. He's an admirer and believes that he is just as "great" as those that came before him that committed deeds just like his. This is just a pathetic attempt to boost up his meager personality. "I am special. In death, I will achieve the glory that I could never achieve in life. YOU will finally see me for who I really am; a Jesus like martyr." In another video clip, he asks the "YOU" whether they had ever experienced torturous acts like having their throat slit, garbage shoved down their throat, being burned alive, etc. He then says that they had never experienced any sort of pain or misery. Of course, Cho is alive, so he's never experienced having his throat slit from ear to ear either. Whether he was being metaphoric of literal, he is once again trying to put the blame and justifications for his actions onto "YOU". "YOU have never experienced pain". Basically, saying "I have experienced torturous pain at your expense". So, please, dispel any Islamic conspiracy theories for this guy. It's not warranted. His "mission" had no ideological or political purposes. He was out to "avenge his tortured soul" and create worth in his life. People have also asked how he could be so cool and calm when he committed his crimes. Well, that's easy. "Once they decide on their course of action, stress and conflict are lifted."

Listen, I understand the need to make some sense out of this, and the mere fact that people are talking about gun control is just another way to place meaning and blame onto senseless death. But, unfortunately, it completely misses the point. As I will say over and over again, the United States' culture is in very bad straits because no-one is expected to be held accountable for their actions. Are we not responsible for the choices we make?!? No, unfortunately today, everyone is quick to point to finger at some other variable; anything other than the perpetrator's CHOICE to commit a horrific act because they can't conceive of it. No, for them, it must have been something else, because no-one in their right mind would commit such a heinous act. The Columbine shooters: It wasn't the kids' faults. It was the MUSIC they listened to. Cho: Well, he was a madman and a psycho, AND we need stiffer gun control laws. If we had stiffer gun control laws, this would never have happened. Again, taking the responsibility out of the perpetrator's hands and putting it on an outside force. We can't blame Cho. It's not his fault he could get a gun. Well, people, he posed in those pictures with weapons other than a gun. He also posed with a hunting knife and two hammers. Do you honestly believe for one second that had he not been able to get a gun, he wouldn't have resulted to the knife or the hammers to carry out his crime?!? He might not have been able to kill so many people, but he would have killed none-the-less. Make no mistakes about that. It's sad and pathetic that people are so quick and willing to divert attention from the real crime and sadness of the event in order to make political statements and make some political points. If we really want to prevent this type of thing from happening, we have to do a couple of things. First, we have to wake up as a society and stand firm on the principle that people have to take responsibility for their own actions and be held accountable for their choices. We need to teach our children that they have a personal responsibility to protect themselves and not wait for others to do so. Secondly, we have to have to help those that need it, and colleges need to a better job at protecting the students, the children that their parents entrust to the school to keep safe. Cho was deemed an IMMINENT danger to himself and others. How in the world was he allowed back on campus with 25,000 other students that he could potentially harm?!? The answers to the thousands of questions will eventually come, but one answer is for sure.

Obviously, in a very sick way, Cho achieved his goal. His name will never be forgotten, and he will live forever in annals of American history. However, he will go down as a pathetic loser who CHOSE to kill others to bring meaning to his life. He didn't count on others being heroes that day. He will only be remembered alongside people like Prof. Liviu Librescu, who gave his life to save his students.

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At 3:59 AM, Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

An excellent analysis.

One good way of predicting whether someone's likely to commit violence is in childhood patterns of behaviors, but also adult treatment of animals. If he has a sadistic streak to him and has been torturing animals, it is more likely than not that he will one day become a danger to society. I wonder whether there's any record of that?

At 8:34 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Well, that's why I mentioned the fact that we couldn't comment on his childhood since we know nothing about it yet. Also, the homicidal triad mostly applies to serial killers and rapists and is not always the case in assassin cases.

At 11:38 AM, Blogger Cosmic X said...

After reading this guy's plays I have a feeling that he was probably sexually abused as a child.

At 1:38 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Cosmic, the truth about his childhood will eventually come out. However, I'm not going to make assumptions when the evidence does not yet exist.

At 2:21 AM, Blogger TherapyDoc said...

You might be paranoid sometimes (we all can be) but you'll never suffer from Schizophrenia, Paranoid Type (I sincerely home not).

If you did then voices in your head that say, Kill them, kill them all, would be familiar to you.

When you hear voices like that, you follow orders. You do it and then you follow the last order, which is, then kill yourself, too.

sorry, dude, you're way off.

He was mentally ill. Some people are, and that's the tragedy. We should have seen it coming, and you're right, Virginia is woefully negligent about gun control and protecting young people.

Perhaps that will change.

At 12:14 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

"Dude"? Oh, well, thanks for your expert opinion, DUDE, but I have no idea as to what point you're trying to make.

At 7:38 PM, Blogger Eitan Ha'ahzari said...

Olah: I didn't get what dude there was trying to say, either so maybe dude can translate for us unintelligent types...


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