A more truthful (and therefore more useful) explanation of the Virginia Tech murders focuses not on Cho’s character but on the interaction between it and the situations he was in, not on his personal identity but on the interplay between who he was and how other people treated him.
In social settings, he froze. He was diagnosed at the age of 14 as having a disorder called selective mutism, the loss of ability to speak, out of fear of being laughed at. Cho found it sheer torture to speak in class.
From information that has so far come to light, Cho appears to have been the target of an uncommon but distinct and devastating social process called workplace mobbing. It is the impassioned ganging up of managers and/or peers against a targeted worker, the object being the target’s absolute humiliation and elimination from respectable company. It is a matter of turning a person who is different or troublesome into a nonperson, rubbing his or her nose in dirt.
The single main setting appears to have been Cho’s creative writing course. It was taught by Distinguished Professor Nikki Giovanni, a poet of such fame and scholarly authority that degradation by her would cut to the bone. By Giovanni’s admission, she and Cho locked horns, and the conflict between them was played out in full view of the class. Unable to understand or tolerate Cho’s extreme introversion, Giovanni badgered him, asking him to remove his sunglasses, show his face, and participate in class as other students did. When he resisted, she decided he was, as she put it, a bully, an evil presence in her class. Eventually, Giovanni demanded that Cho leave the class. He refused. In a letter to her department chair, Lucinda Roy, Giovanni threatened to resign her position if Cho were not removed.
The other form of participation in a mob is action that forms part of one’s job description. Lucinda Roy, as chair of English, had to do something in response to Giovanni’s threat. Similarly, the police, mental-health professionals, and judge who dealt with Cho on December 13-14, 2005, were just “doing their jobs,” fulfilling the duties for which they were being paid. – K. Westhue
When social reality determines success in a society, the words of others are more than emotionally damaging — they damage your prospects.
His teacher, an execrable poet, decided to make it morally acceptable to target him, and so he was mobbed.
When you step outside of social reality, as he had to, because of his social fear, you see the truths others are too busy being social to see.
That, plus a hatred for his insane and pompous teacher, could be a strong motivating force.
Either way, he showed us like Holden Caulfield the hollowness of this time — with hollow points.