Virginia Tech not responsible for one man’s actions
After four months of reexamining what occurred at Virginia Tech on April 16, a governor-appointed panel placed the blame on school administrators for being too slow to contact students and too quick to assume that the first two shootings were the result of a domestic dispute. Many parents of the victims of the massacre are calling for VT President Charles Steger and campus Police Chief Wendell Flinchum to be fired post haste, but Gov. Timothy Kaine has no plans to do that.
But no one aside from Seung-Hui Cho can be held accountable for the events, injuries and deaths that stemmed from his rampage. Although the victims’ families find little solace in knowing that the man at fault is dead and cannot be punished, sublimating his guilt onto others does nothing to help anyone.
Death is finality, and in grief many people forget this. Perhaps in this case a person can easily understand how the families of the victims would blame the administration and the police force of Virginia Tech, but if one looks at the situation using less sensational imagery, the idea of placing blame is moot. If a man pushes his friend off a cliff and then he himself also jumps, does this man’s family blame the cliff? Does his friend’s family blame the cliff? It is unlikely.
Cho was an unstable person who, although alienated, could have sought help if he had chosen to.
Administration at Virginia Tech did not have access to Cho’s medical records; thus, they cannot be blamed for being unable to realize that he would eventually lash out. Additionally, Cho was recommended for psychological help because of his writing, not mandated to it. Since Cho was a legal adult, no one could force him to get help if he did not want it for himself.
All of Cho’s problems aside, though, who would plan for a mass killing at a university? Yes, the Columbine High School incident taught everyone not to underestimate the abilities of those who truly want to kill, but normally a college informs students of class cancellations due to flooding or storms – the sort of events that students notice and plan for.
Hindsight, however, is 20-20. As for the police of Virginia Tech, it is also unlikely that they willingly placed people in danger. On the morning of April 16, they assumed that a domestic dispute had occurred. That meant the killer had already completed his or her crime. What reason would the police have had to upset an entire campus if this had been the case?
Essentially, the world is looking for a scapegoat, and since the only truly responsible party is beyond the reach of public humiliation and punishment, people are looking for another party to blame. The assignment is very nearly arbitrary, and, honestly, who can be held responsible for another adult’s actions?
Brady, an English senior, can be reached via [email protected]