Why do we remember the villains?

The VA Tech massacre is beyond my scope, and I have nothing to say that hasn’t been said elsewhere, better.

I would, however, like our society to resolve to forget the contemptible coward who killed these people. Nobody except their families remembers the names of those killed at UT, but everyone can place the name Charles Whitman.

And that’s a complete perversion of how life ought to be lived. Grotesque mass-murderers have no right to fame; quite the converse, they richly deserve ignominy, and anonymity. Let’s resolve to shun this subhuman and his memory, forever.




  1. Amen….

  2. Earlier today, I followed links to the “Bath School Disaster” of 1927. After that incident, the man who dynamited an elementary school, killing 43 children and adults, as well as himself, was buried in an unmarked grave. His wife, whom he also murdered, had her maiden name on her tombstone.

    (Bath School Disaster – Ed.)

  3. Frankly, that sounds like a good start.

  4. Exactly. Do just like in Tasmania, Australia after Port Arthur- remember those who have gone. The one who does that should be forgiven and forgotten. My prayers for all those who are affected.

  5. Events like this suggest some kind of paranoid psychotic break. Nothing like the careful plotting of 9/11. I’m not trying to generate empathy for this person, but what if this was your son, your nephew, your child’s friend?

    I think we can anticipate some kind of memorial at VT that will not mention the perpetrator.

  6. I agree about not glorifying (courtesy of the media) mass murderers who destroy 31 sons and daughters.. and … though crazies and terrorists are dramatic, we need to recognize how we senselessly kill 50,000 Americans per year: traffic accidents. Year after year for the past 60 years we (you and I) have killed each other. We killed more than 3 million of us (more than ALL the wars, all the crazed gunmen). We do it by driving drunk (more than half of them), road rage, running from the police, being tired and refusing rest. Worse: by reading, talking on cell phones, shaving and putting on make up. We can’t personally do much about terrorists or crazed gunmen, but we can do a lot about how we drive. Get OUTRAGED about the ones WE kill (tens of thousands). More than Iraq or sensational gunmen or deluded crazies; more than Iraq + Vietnam + WWII, Korea + WWI + Civil War and all the other wars. More than cancer or heart attacks. (and we can stop doing it)

  7. Personally I don’t get it – constitution to buy a semi automatic weapon with a credit card and kill people when you are having a bad day. What do the supporters of guns say? No comments http://www.nra.org/Article.aspx?id=8442

  8. Well YoungUn, that’s easy enough to fix. Just sit down and write a letter to Nancy Pelosi and tell her you are tired the Bill of Rights since you are not using any of them and couldn’t she just get rid of them for you. That way we’d spend a lot less money on a Supreme Court and all the windy lawyers arguing over them … If someone gets noisy about rights, well, just run over them with a tank. Better to correct things like this while you still know everything.

  9. Aerospace Genius says:

    Superb reasoning to cover the two comments above can be found here:


    If you want to learn a thing or two and gain hope for the future, buy the book.

  10. Unfortunately most Americans (like the young one) are ot even aware OF the Bill of Rights, cannot name even two of their rights and do not know how many ammendments there are. And yet are so willing to extinguish their rights and become pawns to a government (including our elected officials). Most have no idea WHY they have rights and other countries do not. Most Americans have no idea why millions of Mexicans will risk their lives to cross the border so they can mow grass for $5/hr. or that Communist China (a workmans utopia) grants no rights (especially to workman) and uses tanks to quell resistance in Tienamen Square. Most Americans have no idea what the U.S. Constitution says, who wrote it, why it is a unique experience in world history, or why so many powerful entitites want to get rid of it (in favor of a “new world order” that is more like Communist China than the U.S.)

  11. Charles Whitman, famous or not, is something of an exception as he had autopsy-documented (but undiagnosed pre-mortem) brain tumor. Certainly he killed in the pattern, but the typical personality traits of the mass-shooter were not as obvious.

    Perplexingly, the worst examples of these crimes seem to occur in countries where there is very strict gun control: Dunblane, Scotland, Port Arthur, Tasmania, Erfurt, Germany, Montreal, Quebec. Certainly the ease of gun purchase may make the incidents more common, but they seem to be rare everywhere.

    The common thread of depression, social isolation, combined with paranoia, anger and usually a triggering event of significant loss–money, self esteem, job–appears to exist in nearly every instance. Thought disorder, as in paranoia and grandiosity with an idea of an external locus of control and perceived malevolence is almost always present. The firearm provides the means of amplification of displaced rage against those the perpetrator believes have forced him to suicide.

  12. ED PharmD says:

    OldFart, with respect to the second amendment, I think we can agree on at least two things. First, the second amendment prohibits a gun ban. Second, the second amendment does not guarantee an individual right to own nuclear weapons. Between these two extremes is gun control. We can argue about the proper amount of gun control, but we must agree the right to gun/weapon ownership is not absolute. For example, I think that all gun sales should involve a federal background check. It would not have prevented the VT incident, but it would make it more difficult for the bad guys to get guns.

  13. Ed, there is a federal background check for any gun purchase. (The checks for nukes seem to be more arbitrary given the countries that have or want them).

  14. ED PharmD says:

    For used guns? Private individual sellers?

  15. While “nuclear weapons” is an example, ED PharmD, of reductio ad absurdum please note that there are entitites who apparently have had some success in bringing weaponsized nuclear into the U.S. and who are planning to do exactly what the shooter did regardless of laws or controls. It seems the same is true of biological and chemical weapons which have already been used on the American public. No doubt you are aware that it is absolutely forbidden to steal an airliner and fly it in to a skyscraper. So regulatory measures do not actually make it difficult for “bad guys.” It only makes a few people feel secure at the expense of those who respect laws; the “good guys.”

  16. Ed PharmD says:

    So…are you advocating that all laws be repealed (ie, anarchy) since laws don’t stop bad guys and only reduce the freedom of good guys?

  17. Think how New York and Washington DC became the gun-free garden spots that they are today: liberally applied doses of gun control! Perhaps Virgina would like to draw a lesson from experience of those happy cities and repeat their formula.

  18. Ed PharmD perhaps you are a academic? Your swings from one extreme to another are remarkable. We have LAWS in existence which prohibit murder (regardless of instrumentality). We have laws that prohibit premeditation, planning, or acting to commit murder. The VT shooter ignored ALL of the laws 32 times within 5 minutes. [get this: laws did not change his behavior] The entire U.S. Code (and Virginia statutes) did not affect him.

    OK, try this: pharmD .. why do pharmacists neglect to count pills when there are laws requiring it (and it is life threatening)? They just dump a bottle of something into a container and assume it is 30, but do not actually count. How many more laws would be needed to get ALL pharmacists to count always? See the problem? MORE laws and more Phd’s do not a better pharmacist make? Most of them do not count? If pharmacists don’t count then what else do they FAIL to do in violation of existing laws? See the problem? More laws do not RESOLVE the behavior. More laws only complicate. More laws (or more Phd’s) are not a solution to the counting problem. So how many people are killed by their pharmacists (32? 320? 3200?) — and how could we collectively change the behavior with laws or Consitutional ammendments?

  19. Ed PharmD says:

    Where did I swing from one extreme to another?

  20. Hello – I went to VT as an undergrad. Words cannot describe the sadness I feel when I see the beautiful campus where I had some of the best times of my life reduced to a murdering ground.

    Personally, I’m not sure that more gun laws will change anything. Apparently laws exist that in theory prevent at-risk mental health patients from purchasing handguns, but for who-knows-what reason, that didn’t help. I sure hope that gun owner sleeps fine at night knowing he made some money selling the Glock and the hollow points for $571.

    The problem is that several people identified the kid as dangerous, but ultimately nothing happened. Why did Carillion allow the kid to walk? Did it have anything to do with minimizing the outpatient stay in the mental health department or whatever it is called?

    In my opinion, the Gun/Pawn shop owners and the Hospital are directly to blame. You can’t expect psychotic individuals to follow the “law.” What an absurd notion! “Gee, I’ve been deemed a danger to myself, but I think it’s okay to buy a gun, so I’ll buy one anyway, even though I’m psychotic.”

    The Gun Shop owner described him as a “…nice, clean-cut college kid.” Lemme aks this: WTF does a nice, clean-cut college kid need a 15-round-clip-Glock 9 mil and hollow points for? Why stop there? Why not sell him some C4, an MP-5, body armor, and anything else that his credit card limit will allow?

    Does the gun shop owner think “Oh, well he probably does part-time body guard work for some VIP. Nothing wrong with that.” Seriously, people!?!?!?! I repeat, why does ANY law-abiding citizen need a 15-round-clip-Glock 9 mil and hollow points?

    There’s a difference between allowing law-abiding citizens to own reasonable weapons to use for protection and/or hunting, and allowing people to purchase weapons that are designed for assault and “…putting rounds down range.” (ESPECIALLY PEOPLE OF QUESTIONABLE MENTAL STABILITY!!!) If anyone out there feels that the latter is a necessity of a “free” society, then I hope you sleep well at night knowing this kind of ignorance keeps Glocks and Tec-9’s popular.

  21. To Dave:

    It might be comforting to think that a gun shop owner or a hospital, had they done differently might have made all these tragic events different. That is unlikely. A gun shop owner has only to follow the guidelines imposed on him by the state and federal laws that regulate sales of guns and ammunition for them. A gun shop owner is not expected to be an investigator into the mental status of his customers. If their customers are not felons or have any other court-ordered prohibition to buy weapons, then he really has no reason to refuse the purchaser his services. If you have a reasonable suggestion how the transaction might work differently, please say so.

    As to hospitals and their admitting and releasing patients, you must remember that they are hospitals and not jails. Even in states like Florida, where there are many persons lawfully authorized to arrest and detain persons for up to three days of involuntary psychiatric observation (mind you, not immunized from litigation for doing so), there is only so long a person can be held in state approved psychiatric locked wards until they must be allowed to leave. If a judge does not extend the emergency committment order, the person held is allowed to leave in 72 hours or sooner, if they are examined and detrmined not to be an imminent threat to themselves or the public. Even if they are psychotic, even if they have a documented history of violence, they can’t be held unless a judge orders them to be held. It isn’t up to the doctor, or the hospital. And in this tragic case, it isn’t up to a hospital where the college student and mass-killer was evaluated two years ago, either.

    Several decades ago, the American public decided to liberalize the way it treated the mentally ill. Instead of locking them away in state psychiatric hospitals, those who hadn’t committed what would be considered crimes were allowed to be released. The wisdom of that can be debated, as so many of the homeless in our cities who have disabling mental illnesses might be better served and better cared for in the sheltered environment of a humanely operated state hospital facility, but the present situation is the result of public policy, a policy that holds that it takes more than the word of a doctor in a hospital to involuntarily commit another person to a psychiatric hospital for an indeterminate time.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Thanks CHenry. I have no problem with keeping Homeless/Mentally Ill people under restricted/supervised care. The problem in our society is that it would never work as a state-run program under the current dogma.

    To others who say “Well, the kid was just evil and it’s all his fault – I blame him …” I would submit that you can’t really blame a mentally ill person for what they do anymore than you could blame a tornado or a hurricane. And to people who say he “got what he deserved – he should be dead for that…” I would also say – you should be happy now, because the kid is dead. I would bet that the kid’s death doesn’t make anyone feel any better, because it certainly doesn’t make me feel any better. Not when I look at the beatiful faces of 32 Hokies that were killed in the same place I had freshman Biology.

    And again, I would say there’s no need to sell assault weapons. Since ultimately everyone wants to play cowboy or hunt anyway, (inclucing me) What guns do you need beyond rifles, shotguns and revolvers? Seriously! If your clips were limited to 6 rounds, would that really affect a private citizen? Unless your profession calls for it, why do private citizens need hollow point handgun ammo? And furthermore, why do you need 15 round clips or whatever they hold? Who fires that many rounds at once except the NYPD? Why should Glock and everyone else be allowed to flood the market with assault-style weapons for joe-shmoe to buy? B/c of the second ammendment? Maybe that point needs to be revisited since it was written in 1787 or whenever before the advent of modern weaponry.

  23. The emotional illogic is remarkable. PC feelings about gun control is not logic. It is PC to predicate personal responsibility of the perpetrator so that Cho was 1:300000000 nut was entirely overlooked. If gun stores and hand guns are responsible for Cho being a nut, then equally to blame are vehicles which transported him, doors through which passed, glasses he used to see (and eyeglass doctors). If not, then the emotions expressed are mere PC emotions.

    Doctors deemed Cho OK despite absolute evidence he was nuts, and failed to notify authorities. VT officials and CHO’s families had opportunity to intervene and did not. His family could have turned him as ted Kazinski’s brother did; so they participated in his crime far more than any purveyor or instrument.

    officials who were warned and did not believe it; failed to act. “Political Correctness” itself needs to be included. ALso a filed immigration policy that both parties refuse to fix.

    When it is politically correct to blame inanimate objects, instrumentalities, instead of nutty behavior — by a certified nut — then logic is gone.

    Ed Pharm’s extremes: I thought it was extreme to jump from one 9mm pistol to nuclear weapons. I know a people who have a 9mm pistol, but nobody I know wants a nuclear weapon. (Islamic radicals?) So that is an example of “extreme”

    It is extreme (to me) to advocate Constitutional ammendments without have used all of the incremental intermediate steps. Confiscation of firearms bothers me, and confiscation of private property. The entire phsychology of confiscation bothers me. I find that extreme.

    It is kind of interesting to me that those who suggest such extremes advocate UNIVERSAL control measures to fix an individual event (which is past). It is extremely illogical.

    By comparison those who are a-twit over this specific shooting do not show the slightest concern over (as I originally posted) 50,000 traffic deaths in the U.S every year (136 per day — each and every day for the past 50 years!!) Four times as many people die every day in violent and brutal traffic accidents as the 32 who were shot at VT. Every day!

    3,000,000 Americans have died in traffic deaths — almost as many as the Nazi halocaust — and there isn’t the slightest concern. They have died more violently than in the Nazi death camps. Nobody dares.

    By definition more than half of those deaths are preventable since half of them involve alcohol. But there is no repugnance for bad driving (felony bad driving). Many people think DUI is a joke. More than half of the remaining traffic deaths are caused by road rage, cell phones, make up application, sleeping, drug use and other illegal activities (which laws fail to control — and yet no clamor for confiscation).

    Even worse: more than 100,000 Americans are killed each year by the HEALTH CARE systems (doctors, hospitals, pharmacists, technicians). I asked Ed PharmD about that and he ignored it. Yes 100,000 a year by neglegent (and in some cases intentional) medical treatment. 260+ per day! Eight times as many people as were shot at VT die every day by health care treatment.

    I asked Ed pharmD about pill counting — just about everyone has experienced incorrect pill counting (it is that common) and some pills can be deadly. Accidentally switching prescriptions (by working too fast) is less common .. someone takes the WRONG medicine and is killed by it.

    Beyond that there are numerous cases of patients being injected with cleaning solutions, having instruments left in them, having the wrong organ removed, being burned to death by oxygen misuse, bleeding to death, falling off tables, being neglected in hallways and so on. And yet Ed pharmD completely ignored that issue (and offer no suggestions of WHAT laws to creat about that?)

    We’d hardly advocate confiscation of cars, closing hositals or other extreme measures to resolve traffic deaths, medical deaths or even job related deaths. We realize and accept that deaths “happen” and are part of the cost of existing. We voluntarily use our cars every day (insuring the risk) knowing there is a great risk of accident and death.

    We go to doctors and hospitals and accept the risks associated with treatment. Often we discuss risks and sign releases before surgery. We use the airlines knowing there are risks in spite of 9/11. In short everything from working to sports to driving cars and fixing our homes have risks and some of us will be killed doing it. We do not advocate extreme measures (like confiscation), but rather resolve to take reasonable precautions, buy insurance, and go on with out lives.

    Which of us refuses a tasty slice pizza because it may damage our heart? Which of us has not been on a roller coaster? How many of us have gone white-water rafting or skiing or sky diving knowing there are extreme risks associated with it?

    There are risk assocaited withhaving a free and open society. There are dangers in allowing anyone to get an education (who knows how they might use it?) There are dangers in allowing people to have cars, electric tools, guns, skis, hang gliders, dune buggys, boats and medical centers. We take the risks and live free.

  24. Ed PharmD says:

    For the sake of brevity and the desire to stay at least marginally on topic, I will limit my reply to the issue of gun control. In my first post, I outlined my gun control proposal: that all gun sales should involve a federal background check. OldFart, what level of gun control seems reasonable to you? Should there be any federal background checks? Should individuals be allowed to purchase fully automatic machine guns? What should the law say?

  25. Old Fart – I think your moniker is quite accurate. The bottom line is that responsible gun sales don’t preclude gun ownership. And I don’t think Mike Tyson is a felon, but given what we’ve all seen him do over the course of his career, I don’t think anyone in their right mind would sell him a gun, even if he met the criteria.

    What is this opposition to changing laws? If something is broken, then you fix it. The 1787 2nd ammendment was written for muzzle-loaders, not assault weapons. I don’t think they even had revolvers then…

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    Moreover, I think the first part of the 2nd ammendment sentence is covered in the Police, Nat’l Guard, and everyone else involved in peacekeeping.

    Comparing a Glock 9 mil to a vehicle and eye-glasses? That’s rich…

    “Handguns are made for killing, they ain’t good for nothing else…” -Lynrd Skynrd

  26. And, this thread exhibits exactly why there’s no answer to gun regulation: reasonable people can find different answers to the same question. For my part, defining ‘assault rifle’ and ‘militia’ is in the eye of the beholder, and I’m for erring on the side of Liberty over regulation. I am a firm believer in the Second Amendment (the one that makes all the others possible), own an eeeevil assault weapon, and believe from our bitter human experience that armed decent people have a better chance of survival than unarmed decent humans vs. armed homicidal people.

    This thread has also strayed very far from the original intent: this murderer should be shunned. NBC has made certain that won’t happen; now a decade of angry evil loners knows exactly how to become famous. Terrific.

    I’ll be closing this thread now. Should you wish to discuss gun control, there are a lot of excellent blogs that specialize in that, but this blog isn’t, and I have no interest in becoming one.