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April 19, 2007

the true nature of evil?

The Virginia Tech killer did us a great service by mailing videos of himself to NBC News. This has offered us a rare, unvarnished glimpse into the true nature of evil. For perhaps the first time, we know that evil is, at its very core:



And we a™re not talking about the routine tedium that comes from repetition. We are talking about almost supernatural levels of monotony. People are not turning away after watching for a few seconds out of horror. They are turning away, as we did, out of fear that they might lapse into a coma, pitch forward, and impale themselves on their dinner fork.

Hollywood has long portrayed homicidal maniacs and serial killers as fascinating, complex individuals possessed of a kind of diabolical genius. The most advanced level of genius Cho Seung-Hui achieved was to know to attack an institution where non-homicidal maniacs were prohibited from possessing firearms (Thanks Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker!) and where the greatest threat to his rampage posed by authorities would be the "€œcoordinated, prompt and professional" manner in which they sprang into inaction. (To their credit, they did send out an email alert two hours after the initial attack. It'€™s right there in your inbox, after the one about male enhancement but before the one about lowering your mortgage rate.)

People who knew Cho Seung-Hui described him as being "€œquiet."€ We suspect that he was not actually quiet, but rather once he opened his mouth, listeners quickly lost consciousness, waking moments later with no memory of the event, the pure banality of the episode having not engaged even a single disinterested neuron. In fact, we had this very same experience, even after listening to NBC News'€™s repeated airing of the same clips hundreds of times (causing them such great emotional distress that Meredith Vieira may need her own grief counselor)  we can'™t remember a word he said. Something about being anguished. Or maybe textile quotas?

Seriously, we can'™t remember.

There are those who express the concern that airing these videos serve to glorify the killer and may inspire copycats. We prefer to take a more optimistic view. Perhaps other potential homicidal maniacs will see the video and say, "€œWhat? Do I really come across like that? Good Lord, I had no idea. Like that? Really? I need to change some things. Maybe a different haircut. Turn the ballcap back around. Skip the whole murderous rampage thing."€

"œBecause that is just NOT working."€


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April 19, 2007 at 11:42 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink


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Wow. You mentioned to have a funny piece on the VA massacre that wasn't offensive. You even worked in a little gun rights. Nice job!

Posted by: Paul | Apr 24, 2007 9:18:11 PM

so i know you better than you know yourself? awesome.

Posted by: mary | Apr 20, 2007 2:15:38 PM

Yes, you may (with a link of course!) and thanks for asking.

And despite Mary's confidence in me I hadn't planned on posting anything on this. I was just so struck at how utterly tedious and boring those clips were. Maybe that's the really disturbing part.

Thanks for your comments! I was hoping this would be taken the right way, at least by most people.

Posted by: Planet Moron | Apr 20, 2007 8:00:11 AM

this is so well done, please allow me to paste it on my blog! You captured it well...in one word - BORING!

Posted by: Therandomone | Apr 20, 2007 12:27:26 AM

Very well said.

Posted by: kickstand | Apr 19, 2007 2:29:39 PM

i knew you'd post something about this story.

i just didnt think it would be so ...perfect :)

Posted by: mary | Apr 19, 2007 1:10:04 PM

I didn't think anyone could make a humourous comment about this.

It's still true.

Posted by: Vanya | Apr 19, 2007 11:50:14 AM

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