21 April 2007

Dealing with Evil

I suppose that there is always more and bigger news around. That’s how 24-hour news networks stay in business, selling us the never-ending stream of shocking-amazing-devastating (rarely inspiring) stories that appears to make up our world. At the moment, we are being fed from every direction the image and imagined inner workings of some evil man named Cho. NBC, the lucky recipient of Cho’s last rage-filled bulletin, apparently decided that it was good press to show us more of this evil man. I haven’t seen much of the video…only a few shots of him (pun intended) holding guns in both hand as if he’s in some Tomb Raider flick. If he had two bananas in his hands, I’d laugh at him.

Along with the “updates” on Cho’s mental state by the media is a desire to somehow explain him, to reduce his evil through some scientific deconstruction so that we can “understand” it. Honestly, I hope I do not ever truly understand his motivation, his reason for being. I believe that I would be too close to him if I did.

It seems that the calling cards for his evil are fairly easy to tell, though. At least some of them anyway. David von Drehle does a good job of this in an article in Time.

There is a much larger, much more important issue here. In the course of my reading about this, I happened across a Wall Street Journal editorial link from 1993 entitled “No Guardrails”. It’s en excellent read, and the age of the article does not impede its point. What has happened since society tacitly agreed that individual liberty and freedom are more important that social norms and social control? What happens to self-control when society (or the shapers of society) prizes rapid individualism above service, sacrifice, and living for reasons beyond the self?

I’m no social scientist – and I’m probably fairly happy for that. But it seems to me that there must be some answer as to how social norms and controls can inhibit the self-creation of men like Cho or at the very least can identify them before they unleash their evil. There are indications that many folks knew Cho would probably become totally unhinged at some point but were relatively powerless to do anything – the logic being that since he hadn’t hurt anyone yet, he couldn’t be forcibly restrained. Individual freedom trumps public safety until that safety has been violated.

Cho was identified, from what I’ve read, as a danger to himself and others, yet he was not restrained in any way. He was not removed from campus, he bought guns, he committed evil acts. Is individual liberty so important that even someone labeled as “dangerous” is still allowed to wander free (not to mention buy guns)?

At some point, this will have to be re-thought. Colleges and other open places can’t be locked-down cells just in case someone decides to pull a Cho in the future. Imagine airport type security on a college campus… “Sorry, you can’t come into this quad without a boarding pass to ECON310.” With that in mind, whose “liberty” and “freedom” are more important?


Biby Cletus said...

Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.

Warm Regards

Biby Cletus - Blog

kmb said...

I liked this post and the Time article you linked to. I still think it is important to look on people with some sort of compassion, even when they act in an evil manner. I'm not saying I'm actually achieving compassion - I'm not. But it seems noble and right to try.

Your ideas about personal liberty trumping the greater good of society are timeless and especially interesting in the context of what's going on in our world today.

Nice blog, btw.