Wednesday, April 18, 2007

V Tech shooting - dying for nothing

Time: 15:43

Why? Why? Why?

That's the question ringing in everyone's minds. What was the hatred, the despair, the anger that drove 23-year-old Cho Seung-Hui to act the way he did? Why were the laws so lax, a young man could purchase firearms, no questions asked? How was he allowed to kill two, trek across an entire campus and kill another 30 and injure scores of others?

Why in school, a supposedly safe place for young people congregate to gain knowledge and to better themselves and the world.

In fact, how can a country, in the name of freedom, allow the legal sales of firearms to literally anyone when it is precisely this freedom that imprisoned people in fear? Fear of knowing guns are everywhere and fear of not knowing if they will be shot today, for five dollars, for looking at someone's girlfriend...for nothing, not a reason.

Thirty-two people had died for deepest, sincerest, heartfelt sorry to the victims, whose lives had been cut short at the brink of achieving their hopes and ideals; and to their parents, family, friends and everyone associated with them. To the instructors and their knowledge annihilated forever. Think of those parents whose darkest, deepest fears are realised; whose children will never go home, the convocations and weddings and career advancements they will never see, let alone live through. To them. All the victims who died, and the people who were hurt and scared, and everyone left behind to deal with the pain, grief and trauma.

No anger, no hatred can justify a fellow student opening fire at random people who've never crossed him. Nothing justify it. If he felt he needed to die, he should've had jumped off a building alone. Such irony of a country that advocated all the counseling and freedom of expression and resources available to its people to seek help. Irony of a society that encouraged individualism. Irony that one felt so compelled to express one's anger in the most expletive, obscene way possible to make himself heard and to make a mark and a statement.

But as a student of the media, and having watched CNN for the past two days, I had mixed feelings about the coverage. The repetitiveness couldn't be helped. Insufficient "meat" to fill in alloted airtime made 9/11, Katrina and Iraq War news repetitive in their own days. The tribute given to the victims was touching; an aspect I respected of CNN and American journalism that allowed audience to comprehend that the dead weren't just numbers; they were someone's child, a friend, a loved one, a person who had a life, a somebody.

What I despised was the way Cho was both demonized and glorified. His murder weapons and MO was mentioned over and over; I wondered why. It's glorifying him to place his mugshots over half the screen while they interview someone in a small window. Copycat crimes, anyone? And he was demonized... by the way he was described, by the interview of his roommates whose claims and potrayal of him, I'm sorry to say, I am skeptical over. Cho is dead; anyone can say anything about him now. He had mental problems. His writings worried his lecturer. He was a loner. He was quiet. He was a boy with so much pent up pain and a streak of violence that ended up in such tragedy...demonizing Cho, making him sound like a hopeless, trigger-happy mental case. What of his parents? Were they not interviewed? They went out of their way to interview neighbours and even the postman, but not the parents or his friends?

And why was his Korean native background emphasised? He migrated to USA along with his family in 1992 when he was eight. He spent all his developing years there. Why do they use the word "resident alien"? It's so deragatory. Why did they point out even a resident with a green card can purchase guns? So if laws change and only lawful citizens can purchase guns...will crimes involving violence go down?

Why are the stories framed again and again in such a way that it exposes his Korean roots? Whatever was his issue and his pain and anger, it was bred and incubated and hatched in the US, not the land he was born in once upon a time.

Does it matter that he was Korean? Does it matter what sort of nationality or status he had? The point of the issue is - this young man, whoever he was, held guns and killed people - Why?

But from the way they angled the coverage... is the American media trying to say that the US had been kind and opened their arms for people to enter and live there, and now they've been stepped on, violated, by an alien? Or are they simply too quick in trying to say "Its not us, Americans' fault. It's someone else's and we're victimised." Is that why they emphasised he was Korean native? He lived in the States for 12 fucking long years, fer God's sake. They even felt the need to emphasised his green card was renewed in 2003.


What if it was a 23-year-old white male who did it? Would they dig up his Irish/Italian/Jewish background? And if it was an African-American, would they frame it that blacks are prone to violence? If it was a Middle Eastern or a Muslim, would 'terrorism' be a catchphrase?

But no. Unfortunately, it was a deranged person who also happened to be a black-eyed, black-haired yellow-skined immigrant who did it. Someone labelled "Resident Alien".

Cohen's Agenda setting is a theory where the core principle stated that "The media does not tell people what to think, but what to think about". It is perhaps the first and most important concept in understanding, interpreting and analysing media content. Think about it. Why should you let the media tell you how to think?

And the agenda in this tragedy has been set. The stage has been prepared for a Korean/Asian-hating manifesto. I fear for the yellow-skinned Asians there now. Would they be looked differently? Harassed? Judged? Obstracised? Killed? Hated? And now Korean descents, whether they are Korean-Americans or Korean migrants (and other Asians with yellow skin) are leaving campus or huddling up together in fear of retribution.

Prejudice and discrimination exist and will continue to be reinforced given the opportunity. People who never admitted to this fact are either in denial or live in their own bubble. And now there is a new excuse to dig up old scars.

Objective newsreporting is bullshit, even in the land of the free.


gianne said...

Even with this, the people in the office are resisting the idea of gun control. Gun ownership is a RIGHT for them. They conveniently ignore that gun ownerships, at the hands of a murderer or someone deranged, infringes someone's right to live.

As for possible racism and prejudice, I won't deny the fact that it MAY happen. But it won't be as bad as if it were a Arabian or a Muslim to did it (due to the history that made society link violence with a race/religion). But it's hard to imagine that from now on, Koreans will be associated with "mad trigger-happy loner". There's no reinforcement for that belief, no preconceived notions for that.

People should be smart enough to understand that one bad apple exist in ANY race, religion, gender etc. But I also understand that some would feel that the Malay proverb to be more appropriate: one drop of 'nila' ruins a whole barrel of milk

meatbag said...

You know what PY, i totally agree with you. Now that it has come to this point, i can foresee that some of the Asian community in the US (particularly around V Tech) will no doubt be ostracized. Well saying that, the Arabs & African Americans have had it bad all these while and the Asians will join them in the never ending battle for "equality" in the face of white supremacy.

I know what i said was not fair in parts. Not all white people are racist. Not all white people behave like they are one level above everybody else. Definitely not. Hell, I have plenty of white friends and all of them are nothing short of wonderful, kind, generous, friendly, you name it! But what i was trying to emphasize in the paragraph above was that IF (like you said) a white person was the crazed gunman. Would everyone be suspicious & give a Caucasian looking person the "look"? Would there be extra security precautions put up to check someone who's white? A resounding no. But if someone from a MINORITY RACE did it, (i.e. Asian, African American, Latino, Indian, Middle Eastern etc) i can definitely see those things happening. And that's what gets to me the most. I just hope that the community at V Tech wouldn't give Asian people a hard time just because they look the same.

melia said...

Very well said. Stating he was Korean was totally unecessary. All they're doing is just fueling people's hatred and bringing out the racist in them. It's in all of us. We're all racist to a certain extent. I don't understand why the media would include such irrelevant information. What? To create more news?

And yes I found the term 'resident alien' to be very very disturbing. Such open discrimination. It's happening already in the USA. I was watching StarNewsAsia and they interviewed this Korean student and he said that he was harassed and showed the middle finger.

What I don't understand is how can people take the words of the media just as it is. Why can't they ever stop and think for themselves? It's so frustrating. Where is logic in all of this. Arghhhhhhh!

You know at this rate I might as well blog. Haha.