Saturday, April 21, 2007

Bullying Is Bad For Health - Cho Seung-Hui

I've been mulling over this issue for the past few days. Amazingly on the day that 32 people were murdered at Virginia Tech by Cho Seung-hui I made it to work before hearing anything about this quite horrific event. I missed 9-11 although I was awake I was doing uni homework and didn't see or hear any news about the World Trace Center until the following day when it had all happened. It did sound like another massacre in the United States and America does it better than anyone. Quite chilling to watch the mobile phone video by Jamal Albarghouti where shots were constantly ringing out. It's quite possible that the video will be removed under copyright claims but I'm sure it will be out there in one form or another.

Further news came to light later in the day. The killings had been split into two shifts, if you like, and the wrong guy had been arrested following the first lot of shootings. Then it was revealed that the killer was a Korean, albeit one who had been living in America since the age of eight.

Not a lot of print media in english mentioned bullying having been a factor in pushing Cho over the edge. Nothing much in the way of causal at all. Instead the english media kept pushing his Korean nationality "He's not one of us", his stalking of women and his history of mental illness.

Miky was shocked when I told her that a Korean had been responsible. But then she came to realise that she understood a lot of how this young man felt. Many of the Korean news sites have posted stories related to how he was humiliated in school for his poor pronunciation and this is something that Miky faces regularly. At least she was an adult before it started but it is humiliating just the same. One wonders why he was majoring in English literature if it was a source of such pain.

Miky discovered that he'd had some girlfriend problems. I did make mention that if it was a Korean girl I could fully understand his actions. Ooh, that's grabbing the tiger by the tail. But, she didn't bite. I'm sure she'll store that in the memory bank for later use.

Cast your mind back to Columbine. Two American kids, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, killed 13 people before killing themselves. Bullying was a factor too. Did anything in particular happen to address bullying and the mental health issues raised? What about gun control?

I've noticed a distinct lack of gun control talk relating to Cho's rampage. And Cho was very well organised it seems. After the first killings he emailed NBC with a video. He obviously wanted to make an impact. His morbid plays and writings had no real significance in isolation. But now that make for more impressive reading. With his "Ismail Ax" inscription on his arm he will have brought about one of the 100 most popular search items of the year, I'd say. Calculating. Cunning. Cold.

Australia had Martin Bryant. If anybody points out to Miky about Cho being Korean so they must be bad by nature then she'll make sure they remember Martin Bryant. Don't tease her about it. You're starting to see what Koreans are capable of when riled. Australia brought in gun control laws, which weren't popular in many places, but I'd say we are a safer place because of it.

We actually feel a bit of sympathy for Cho. Apart from the fact that almost nobody on the TV can pronounce his name correctly. But we're not condoning his actions, rather, we can understand them to some degree. Here was a guy crying out for help after years of mental abuse and the only assistance he got was pretty slack gun laws that allowed him to obtain a fearsome handgun or two. The comment made by the owner of the gun store which sold Cho his Glock was along the lines of, "It's not unusual for students to buy guns." What sort of society is it where that is the case? Not the sort of society that most Americans want, I'm sure. The silent majority may need to find some voice here. Ok, he was diagnosed as in need of mental health counselling but didn't accept this. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.

So what is the future for gun control, not just in America, but worldwide? Is bullying going to have more attention paid too it? Is mental health in the developed nations in need of serious development and resources? Will we learn anything from this?

I was bullied a lot at school. When you have ears like those of Prince Charles you are ripe for it. That did leave me a little bit scarred. When I started my apprenticeship following school I was shell-shocked at the amount of shit that was thrown my way in the form of insults etc. I would say it was about eight months after starting my working life before I came to the realisation that it was an accepted part of work. In most cases we Aussies don't find it much fun if the victim doesn't bite. And if you are prepared to dish the dirt you must be prepared to receive it. By the end of my apprenticeship I found myself going around and hanging shit on people before they even gave it too me. But there were a couple of quiet blokes at work I didn't do it to because it seemed to hurt them, both were apprentices who had relocated from interstate when their jobs were threatened due to a downturn in the industry, and it is the quiet ones that you must be careful of.

I never got to the stage of seeing the necessity of having a gun. It was all part of the knock-about Aussie larrikin character. But it did take some getting used to. I'm big enough to handle it now. And it certainly didn't come from every direction so I can't compare myself to Cho.

Time for a bit more compassion and understanding people. Before I forget, the students and teachers murdered didn't deserve to die. At the moment I feel greater sadness for Cho and his family because I can see it from his point of view and he was dealt a poor hand. His treatment at the hands of his peers appears to have a lot to do with the creation of a motive strong enough to carry out this massacre which had been several months in planning.

Could have been worse - what if he had done his military training and was a better shot?

Could have been better - he may have appeared on American Idol and relieved us all of the controversial human headline in Simon Cowell. Cho seemed to be detached enough to warrant an appearance on American Idol. One could only imagine how the ratings would have gone through the roof had he criticised Cho for his poor pronunciation and, probably, rendition of whatever song he had chosen. Having a judge culled in prime time TV sounds a little to Italian though.

P.S. The reasoning behind having more sympathy for the gunman is that I know none of the names or any of the faces of the victims. That will come in time but so far we have only heard the gunman's side of things.


Susan Ham said...

I know all about bullying, too. Got it from home, and school. From the kids AND teachers, with few exceptions. Your sister suffered too.
If it was just because of your ears, then it shows how petty, nasty and narrow minded people can be.

James said...

Come on Hammy, I reckon Backa and Alex Tralala would have been able to handle the abuse, but old Chopper(aka knuckle dragger)I think he would have gone postal on us all.

Hammy said...

Alex could handle anything you threw at him but he was an emotional guy and it hurt deep down. Backa hated being called "Timmy Toolbox" so there was a bit of a postal look about him. Chopper, he was positively Postmaster General looking.