Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Whatever Happened to Crazy?

Back in 1999, after Columbine, there was a rush to ‘blame’ somebody or something for Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris’ actions. They finally settled, for the most part, with music. Columbine was Marilyn Manson’s fault. Case closed. Everybody can sleep soundly at night knowing exactly who was to blame for that tragedy. Uh huh.

Well, we’re going through the exact same thing now with Virginia Tech. Only, we haven’t quite narrowed down the list of culprits yet. Too many guns, not enough guns, video games, liberalism, Korean culture, anti-depressants, Oldboy, “our culture of tolerance for diversity” (I’m sorry, but Camille Paglia just makes no damn sense to me)...really, I’m not totally sure why we haven’t yet tried to find out if he listened to Marilyn Manson. I mean, that worked pretty well last time.

As I wait for the media to actually start mixing in some journalism with their reporting (As Salon’s Joan Walsh said, “I've rarely seen such a big story produce so little great journalism.”), I’m reminded of a classic Chris Rock bit (and after a quick Google search, I’m apparently not the only one):

Everybody is wanting to know what music were the kids listening to, or what movies were they watching. Who gives a fuck what they was watching! Whatever happened to crazy? What, you can't be crazy no more? Did we eliminate crazy from the dictionary?

(Here's the YouTube...it's at the 1:31 mark)

Quite simply, Cho was a tortured soul (for many reasons... shyness, language barrier, rich kids made fun of him, girls wouldn’t talk to him) who had actual psychological problems that weren’t correctly addressed (for many reasons as well). That’s it. There were probably 1,800 different things that could have happened or not happened that might have prevented this from happening. But that doesn’t mean it’s specifically anybody’s fault, nor does it mean that blaming somebody/something for it will magically prevent the next crazy kid/tortured soul from doing the same thing.

From Maha Barb:

Instead of incessantly looking for scapegoats like Prozac, what we need is a massive overhaul in the way our nation, society, and health system deals with psychiatric disease.

I agree with Joan Walsh that we humans tend to look for patterns or causes in order to reassure ourselves that episodes like the Virginia Tech massacre are not completely random. Well, in a sense, it wasn’t completely random; it happened because a young man with a serious psychiatric disorder wasn’t getting proper treatment and supervision. It just didn’t happen because of cultural rot or video games or even Bill Clinton.

The last time a college kid snapped like this was 1966 in Austin. Let’s just say that circumstances were probably 1000% different for him, but it happened anyway. I know it’s harder to sleep at night without somebody or something to blame for all the bad things that happen in the world—though, if you’re conservative, you can just blame Michael Moore and Nancy Pelosi and those evil lie-burals...and if you’re a potential Republican candidate for President, you can get away with blaming these people on national television without any consequences*—but sometimes the world is just too complicated to let you sleep at night. Sorry.

* Again from Joan Walsh: “[C]an you imagine if a major Democratic Party figure, who was once third in line for the White House and who might run for president again, was saying such idiotic and hateful things about Republicans? Can you imagine if, say, Al Gore blamed the Bush administration, or the conservative movement generally, for the Virginia Tech massacre? He would be howled into political exile by braying right-wingers, but it's an acceptable part of mainstream discourse to blame liberalism for the nation's most jarring tragedies. And mainstream media elites wonder why they're losing their audience.” Amen to that.