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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

More on Cho; notes found, and a possible answer for Ismail Ax

Like I said yesterday, the deeper we go down the rabbit hole, the more questions start to pop up. Let's start with the timeline. It's been posited by us and investigators that the two hour window between shootings likely meant he went back to his dorm room to write the note and rearm. Allahpundit notes that this theory is now dead, according to the New York Times:

In Room 2121, Mr. Cho went to bed early for college standards, at about 9 p.m. He often rose early, but in recent weeks he had been rising even earlier, often before dawn, his roommate said.
Such was the case on Monday morning, the day of the shootings.


Mr. Cho woke up before 5 a.m., sitting down to work on his computer and waking up his roommate in the process. Mr. Grewal, who shares a room in the same suite, saw Mr. Cho in the bathroom shortly after 5 a.m.


As usual, Mr. Cho did not say anything to Mr. Grewal, an accounting major. No good morning, no hello, Mr. Grewal said. Mr. Cho stood in the bathroom, brushing his teeth, wetting his contact lenses and putting on a moisturizer. He also took a prescription medicine, though neither Mr. Aust or Mr. Grewal knew what the medication was for. Prescription medications said to be related to the treatment of psychological problems were found among his effects, officials said.


Mr. Cho’s room in Harper Hall is located one building away from West Ambler Johnston Hall, the dormitory building where the first shooting occurred about 7:15 a.m. At about 8 a.m., Mr. Aust returned to the room from a class. His roommate was gone, but Mr. Aust noticed something strange on his desk, a battery-powered screwdriver. It was a small thing, but it was one more mystery among many for Mr. Cho’s roommate.

Two things of interest in this section of the story, which are bolded above. In every photo of Mr. Cho shown to the public thus far, he's wearing glasses, yet his roommates noted that he "wetted his contact lenses." That's a bit strange, don't you think? It's possible they might have been recent aquisitions, and it's really only a minor note. Secondly, in the early information that came out from investigators, they stated that checks into prescriptions showed that he had none, especially for any psychological disorders, so where did the 'scrip come from? Where they illegally obtained, or did authorities find that he has a 'scrip or two?

It does seem that the "stalker" theory might pan out though. This, from Allahpundit:

CNN’s airing an amazing interview on Paula Zahn’s show right now with Cho’s two roommates. The details aren’t online yet, but here’s the gist: he stalked three girls on the floor they lived on, including via instant messages he signed with a question mark; he once told his roommates that when he looked in one girl’s eyes he saw “promiscuity,” shortly after which they sent him to a counseling center on campus for a few nights; then, at some point after he was released, they went out drinking and he opened up to them, telling them he had an imaginary supermodel girlfriend … who called him “Spanky,” and whom he called “Jelly.” Oh, and he also liked to listen to “Shine” by Collective Soul over and over and over.

D-i-s-t-u-r-b-e-d.

As for "Ismail Ax," there are a couple of theories,and I'd like to address them. First off, investigators have stated that after thorough checks into Mr. Cho, they can find no connection for him to any Muslim group. This should be enough, at least for now, to talk the nutters down off the ledge. I spent some time in a chat last night trying to explain to the conservative chatters that while the Muslim theory is still out there, NOTHING as yet connects him to Islam.

We need to remember that Mr. Cho was an English major, which brings us to theories two and three -- "Moby Dick" and "The Prairie." We all remember the character Ishmael from "Moby Dick," and while the ax part doesn't exactly play well with that angle, it could very well do so with "The Prairie" by Cooper. In "The Prairie" the lead character, Ishmael Bush, goes off into the wild frontier with two possessions -- an ax and a gun. This makes a lot more sense than the Muslim angle or even the "Moby Dick" angle. Another theory that Allahpaundit picked up was from this Freeper thread:

Professor Ismail AK, M.D. Head, Department of Psychiatry, KTU School of Medicine, Trabzon, TurkeyIsmail AK is Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Head, Department of Psychiatry, KTU School of Medicine, Trabzon, TurkeyHe is an experienced on clinical psychopharmacology of schizophrenia and bipolar disorders.

Dr. Ismail Ak is one of the authors of an
article about patients with mental disorders, psychotic features, etc.

This is also a very highly probable theory. It's a distinct possibility that he wrote the "K" in a way that would make people think it looked like an "X." And a Google search brings us a variety of sites that cite the professor. (And it also brings us a few blogs that have also noted this possible theory.) The letter "K" is the closest one that looks like an "X," so this goes to the plausible side of theequation. The question that remains is how did he know about him? Did he read about him? The nights he was sent to counseling (see above with the Zahn interview) did he see an article by the professor on someone's desk? Again, more questions from a single, possible answer.

The WaPo has some more disturbing news about Mr. Cho's behavior, and what sort of an effect it had on classmates and teachers:

They met across the professor's desk. One on one. The chairman of the English department and the silent, brooding student who never took his sunglasses off.

He had so upset other instructors that Virginia Tech officials asked whether the professor wanted protection. Lucinda Roy declined. She thought Cho Seung Hui exuded loneliness, and she volunteered to teach him by herself, to spare her colleagues. The subject of the class was poetry.

Roy, other officials, investigators, acquaintances and neighbors helped fill in a dark portrait Tuesday of the bespectacled young South Korean citizen who had sought bizarre expression in literature and then massacred 32 fellow students and teachers here Monday in the worst shooting rampage in U.S. history. As police closed in, he shot himself and was found on the floor of a classroom building with his weapons nearby.

Again, notice that the WaPo brings up the fact he wore glasses, so again I have to ask what's with the contact lenses that were mentioned by his roommates in the Zahn interview? But I digress ...

... Cho (whose full name is pronounced joh sung-wee) appears first to have alarmed the noted Virginia Tech poet Nikki Giovanni in a creative writing class in fall 2005, Giovanni said.

Cho took pictures of fellow students during class and wrote about death, she said in an interview. "Kids write about murder and suicide all the time. But there was something that made all of us pay attention closely. None of us were comfortable with that," she said.


The students once recited their poems in class. "It was like, 'What are you trying to say here?' It was more sinister," she said.


Days later, seven of Giovanni's 70 or so students showed up for a class. She asked them why the others didn't show up and was told that they were afraid of Cho.

"Once I realized my class was scared, I knew I had to do something," she said.

She approached Cho and told him that he needed to change the type of poems he was writing or drop her class. Giovanni said Cho declined to leave and said, "You can't make me."

Giovanni said she appealed to Roy, who then taught Cho one-on-one. Roy, 51, said in a telephone interview that she also urged Cho to seek counseling and told him that she would walk to the counseling center with him. He said he would think about it.

Roy said she warned school officials. "I was determined that people were going to take notice," Roy said. "I felt I'd said to so many people, 'Please, will you look at this young man?' "

Roy, now the alumni distinguished professor of English and co-director of the creative writing program, said university officials were responsive and sympathetic to her warnings but indicated that because Cho had made no direct threats, there was little they could do.

Authorities still don't know what set him off, but they did reveal that in his notes -- rants are more like it -- he named several people whom he believed wronged him, though they won't say if any of them were victims in the shooting spree.

Again, this kid was disturbed, but that doesn't excuse what he did. What he did was monstrous in ways that people just can't comprehend. And even though no one's noted this yet, but I'm wondering if the anniversaries of this particular week served as smoe sort of motivation for Mr. Cho's spree on Monday. That remains to be seen.

Publius II

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ishmael we all know from MB; My take on "Ax" - since there is no "e", as in Axe, I believe it is a reference to blackspeak - and symbolic, as well perhaps - identifying poet Giovanni - Ask Ismael, Ishmael Asks, Ask Giovanni - he did not like this woman and probably saw her as hypocrite - being that she was once a radical for black uprising in the Berkley balck movement days and other issues he had with her. From her speech, I can well see his hatred for her and why she was a catylist

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Kriosa Lysia said...

I think Ishmael Ax refers to Luke 3:8-11. This passage refers to Ishmael's father, an ax ready to cut down trees (symbolically meaning people) "that do not bear good fruit," and then goes on to say that people who are rich should share what they have with those who are not. This (or a similar verse in Matthew) is a verse which has been used in the Korean Presbyterian Church.

There are many clues which suggest to me that Cho was someone who had deeply internalized conservative Christian morality but then had his faith shattered (which is why he rants against it, especially against the hypocrisy he sees in Christians around him). His use of a question mark instead of his name might have been chosen because he was questioning society (including Christian society), his faith, his role in life.

Ishmael is not just "a wild donkey of a man," but an outcast, shunned by all. Ishmael taking the "ax" to the "roots of the trees" that "do not bear good fruit" (his rich classmates, in his view) is like the outcast taking vengeance upon the unrighteous...

If this were the case, it would tie a lot of pieces together.

6:23 AM  
Anonymous boeddi said...

... "ismail ax" = "ismailax" = "is mai lax" = "is my luck" ... ?

3:42 AM  

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