Lots of people have come out of the woodwork this week making asinine statements about the supposed root cause of the Virginia Tech shootings, and pretty much every one of them has been incredibly stupid. Of course, some people distinguished themselves with exceptionally moronic scapegoats: video games, co-ed dorms, the teaching of evolution… but I think the winner has to be this bit from Fox News (of course):
Could Cho have been possessed by the Devil? Could that explain the massacre at Virginia Tech?
Dr. Richard Roberts, president of Oral Roberts University, shouts an unequivocal “Yes!”
“Based on what I’ve seen in the news,” Roberts said in an interview, “there’s no doubt that this act was Satanic in origin.”
Congratulations, Dr. Roberts and Fox News. This is the stupidest thing I’ve heard all week, and it’s been a long and stupid week.
On a related note, I remembered this piece from David Brin in 1999 arguing for a law that changes the names of attention-seeking criminals to something mocking:
[A]ny criminal sentenced for a truly heinous crime could be renamed as part of his punishment, with a moniker that invites disdain. New history books might state: “Robert F. Kennedy was slain in 1968 by Doofus 25 *.” The asterisk is there to let anyone find the assassin’s former name in a footnote, if they are truly interested, so no one is actually suppressing knowledge.
Cho Seung-hui seems like an excellent person to start with. (We can’t really punish a dead man, but who knows, it might help deter potential copycats.) Why not refer to him by the title of his (reportedly awful) play, “Richard McBeef”? Or if that’s not silly enough, one of the remarkably similar names from the MST3K episode Space Mutiny. Crunch Buttsteak! Roll Fizzlebeef!