September 21, 2007

Another School Shooting-- Sort Of?



"A student gunman remained on the loose Friday after shooting two students..."  He's male. No motive known.  Classes have been cancelled. School is on lockdown.

"The shooter is still at large," Carlos Holmes, a university spokesman, said at a press conference near campus. "Given the lessons of the past year, we cannot assume that he is not on campus."

The FBI is involved.  And everyone wants to know: is this Cho all over again?

Before you answer, let me give you one single piece of information, that should be irrelevant, that turns out not to be.

If I tell you that the shooting happened at Delaware State-- formerly, "State College for Colored Students"-- do you still think it was a case of a "Cho?"  Why or why not?

I'm not saying he is or is not mentally ill.  I'm asking, why does the racial makeup of the students-- shooter and victims-- change the bias?  Do we think blacks can't be mentally ill?  Or that blacks are naturally violent?  Or do we think whites-- and especially Asians-- would only be violent if they were  mentally ill?

When Cho went nuts-- no pun intended-- I could find almost no one, and absolutely no psychiatrist-- willing to consider the possibility that his behavior did not stem from a mental illness.  If he had only been in treatment, none of this would ever have happened.

Now, when and if this shooter turns out to be black, will psychiatry make that same, very vocal, assumption?  What about the legal system?  And what happens when legal system asks for psychiatry's opinion?


I don't think this was a r... (Below threshold)

September 21, 2007 5:24 PM | Posted by Jennifer Emick: | Reply

I don't think this was a rampage, seems like it might have stemmed from a fight/drinking situation. That IS an intewresting question, though- I actually DO have a hard time picturing a black student going on a killing spree...but I have no real idea why.

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But your post belies the ob... (Below threshold)

September 22, 2007 12:57 PM | Posted by Joe: | Reply

But your post belies the obvious fact about this race-based question: Asian-Americans are rarely involved in public violence compared to blacks. Thus, when we hear a story like Cho, it is so out of the ordinary for someone of his background, that we start to think of mental illness. For blacks, unfortunately, violence is common, and thus, the association between violence and mental illness, less convincing.

I realize this is not PC, but that doesn't make it untrue (in fact, it probably makes it more correct).

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Asian-Americans are not inv... (Below threshold)

September 24, 2007 12:46 AM | Posted by Devon: | Reply

Asian-Americans are not involved in public violence? Ask someone who has lived in New York about the Korean gang wars. It's my understanding that they have a higher rate of injury to bystanders than the gangs of other ethnic groups. (Probably there's a study somewhere, but I haven't read it, so I can't back this up with numbers.)

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Devon's right. I suspect t... (Below threshold)

September 26, 2007 7:36 PM | Posted by Erik: | Reply

Devon's right. I suspect the years upon years of media coverage of black people and violence have created a self-perpetuating vortex: the media created a market, as it were, for hearing about black people robbing stores, and now they won't report on asian people robbing stores because their studies show that they haven't established a market for that kind of reporting. Which means that cases like Cho seem spectacular and unique.

Also, a point of interest: Mr. Holmes said that they couldn't assume the kid wasn't on campus. They've had enough time to comb every inch of the place over (as they're now holding a conference), and they still assume he might be on campus? I know it's taken out of context, but still.

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devon, i do not know where ... (Below threshold)

January 18, 2008 10:20 PM | Posted, in reply to Devon's comment, by Jon Finchworth: | Reply

devon, i do not know where you live or where you came from but ive lived in NYC all my life and every ethnic or non-ethnic gang equally poses a threat to society, whether white, black, asian, hispanic, indian, or arab. i've seen em all and they can all be dangerous.

"Ask someone who has lived in New York about the Korean gang wars. It's my understanding that they have a higher rate of injury to bystanders than the gangs of other ethnic groups."

i do not find that to be true. every ethnic gang has gang fights. whether they are interracial or intraracial, there is no difference to how motivated these individuals are or how dangerous they can be to bystanders. i do not know where you heard this myth but there is NOTHING specific about Korean gang fights that makes them stand out from other ethnic gang wars. if anything, to my personal experience, drivebys are most dangerous to bystanders. the perpetrators of drivebys usually aren't korean. i also have not heard of any Asian-perpetrated school shootings before the VT tragedy but I am willing to negate that statement and I am prepared to stand corrected

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I think Erik's right to a d... (Below threshold)

March 27, 2008 6:32 PM | Posted by Jim: | Reply

I think Erik's right to a degree. The perception of most Americans is that blacks are violent. It's a stereotype. I think the whole point of this blog is that when some people hear a shooting happened on a black campus, some people think, "Boy, it's sad African Americans keep killing each other." When there's a shooting by a supposed white student, some people think, "Boy, that kid needed some help." See what happened? In one case, they take the event as evidence their stereotype is true, and indicative of behavior that can be attributed to the group, whereas in the other, we view the behavior as outside the norm for that group.

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To Jon: The only Australian... (Below threshold)

April 10, 2010 1:45 AM | Posted by Jemma: | Reply

To Jon: The only Australian proper school shooting was commited by a psychotic Asain student. I dont expect any Americans to know this, Americans tend to not know about other countries. This occured in 2002...years before Virginia Tech. Generally Rampage school shooters are put into three catagories traumatized, psychotic and psyhcopathic so african americans shooters would be put in a catagory too. Not that there are many documented african american perpetrated school shootings most are white.

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