The following comment was in my inbox this morning from "Anonymous":
Couldn't mandatory therapy and the blessed intervention of medication have helped him?
I've been giving some thought to that over the past few days as well. At what point does any society have the right to pull someone out of the community and force treatment?
While watching TV yesterday, switching between Fox News and CNN, I caught a snippet of a psychologist being interviewed. What she said scared the living hell out of me.
I wish I'd documented the quote exactly but didn't. Essentially what she said is that there needs to be a specific standard of behavior that is viewed as "normal" in the culture and that those who "don't fit" should be forced to get treatment.
Truly, it scared me.
Who ultimately determines what is "normal" and what is not? Who is the final arbiter?
That is what leads me to take a stand against compulsory therapy and forced medication.
There must be a better way.
I believe the way Cho would have been helped most is with compassion. Compassion before he went so far over the edge that it was unlikely that anyone could bring him back.
As anyone who has had therapy knows, there has to be a baseline of trust. A relationship has to be established between the therapist and the client that will allow the client to speak from the heart, to speak his truth.
Once the government insinuates itself into that relationship, forget it. It's doomed.
I've been reading reports this morning about Cho's background. He was ridiculed and made fun of in classes as a young kid. Where was the teacher? Why was it permitted to go on? Where were those who should have been supervising the behavior of those children? Why weren't the bullies stopped? Where were his parents?
It's impossible to say enough about the effect of bullying and ostracizing and what it does to young minds. There are too few words ~ and far too little understanding.
Cho was angry and felt powerless.
Yesterday, I left the following comment on KC's site:
I had many thoughts after the tapes were released to the press of Cho's rants. It generated a few thoughts and I'll put them to you for consideration.
Strip away all the whining and ranting. Beneath it is.. in my opinion...
I'm not trying to excuse his behavior and I'm certainly not trying to use cultural alienation as a convenient catch-all.
But I heard it. The majority of his complaints revolved around US and VT culture.
While I don't have a violent bone in my body and would quickly kill myself before I ever hurt another human being, I've felt those feelings. I was lucky enough to realize that choosing a way of life is just as valid as any other choice we make.
Obviously Cho didn't know that.
It made me wonder how different his life might have been if he'd stayed in Korea.
Speaking from personal experience, I can absolutely say it is possible for cultural alienation to drive a person insane. In 2004, I went there.
In addition to cultural alienation, I should have mentioned pain. The pain expressed in those tapes was so intense that it made my gut hurt. If he'd gone on long enough, I believe he would have dissolved into intense crying.
The solution to the problems these kids develope will never be solved by forcing them into therapy or making them take medication. That is an authoritarian solution to a much deeper problem.
What those kids need is to know that adults will protect them. What those kids need is to know that might doesn't make right and that bullies don't get away with it. What they need to know is that they come with a birthright and part of that birthright is that they get to go to school without being abused by other children under the eyes of those tasked with supervising them. Instead of using the cop-out that every point of view is equally valid, teach kids some values. There are plenty of universal values that are culturally neutral. Give them a foundation to grow with and to stand on. Telling a young child that he has to decide for himself what is right and what is wrong is just plain... excuse me.... stupid. What those kids need is to be held, to be loved, to be protected and educated. And, yes, that includes moral and ethical education.
This culture failed Cho Seung-Hui. That statement might make some of you angry, but it is what I believe. I've seen too many budding Cho Seung-Huis in my life. I see them standing around on street corners in South Sacramento nearly every day.
Maybe with that understanding, we can make some progress in preventing more Chos from being created instead of coming up with authoritarian pseudo-solutions as a means of damage control.