A man grieves at a memorial of 32 granite blocks representing each of the people killed by Cho Seung-Hui at Virginia Tech.(Mario Tama/Getty Images)
A man grieves at a memorial of 32 granite blocks representing each of the people killed by Cho Seung-Hui at Virginia Tech.
(Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Commentary

A Lesson From Virginia Tech

The consequences of failing to confront evil
 

Cho Seung-Hui allowed evil to grow in his heart for years. He hid in the back of his classes, silently, sullenly, behind shades; he sometimes, creepily, took pictures of his classmates under his desk with his cell phone; he stalked two female coeds; he set a fire in a dorm room; he wrote nightmarish, violent screenplays for one class. His miserable, lonely life was punctuated by run-ins with campus police and other authorities. After one incident, a district court declared him “mentally ill and in need of hospitalization” and said he posed “an imminent danger.” No correction he ever received, however, caused him to rethink his path. He failed to fight the evil that was swallowing his spirit.

Fellow students found Cho unnerving. Some stopped coming to class to avoid him; some worried he could become a school shooter. Several of his professors regularly communicated among themselves about how to deal with him; one threatened to quit if Cho wasn’t removed from her class. Everyone knew he was a time bomb. Still, everyone from student affairs to the dean’s office to the campus police said there was nothing they could do if Cho wasn’t making overt threats against himself or others. Constrained by politically correct policies and, undoubtedly, a mixture of sympathy and cowardice, school officials allowed this obvious evil to remain in their midst. Cho continued as a student until the day he turned the university into a mortuary, murdering 32 people and then killing himself.

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