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April 17, 2007

"Ismael-AX"?

Or "Ismail-AX"? FoxNews is reporting the killer had this written on his arm, and signed his suicide note by this name.

Sources told the Tribune that the words "ISMAIL AX" were also found written in red ink on the inside of one of Cho's arms.

The reference may be to the Biblical sacrifice of Abraham, in which God commands the patriarch to sacrifice his own son. Abraham begins to comply, but God intervenes at the last moment to save the boy.

In the Jewish and Christian traditions, the son is Isaac, father of the Jewish people; in Islam, it is his older half-brother, Ismail (Ishmael in Hebrew).

Abraham uses a knife in most versions of the story, but some accounts have him wielding an ax.

A more obscure reference may be to a passage in the Koran referring to Abraham's destruction of pagan idols; in some accounts, he uses an ax to do so.

This blog notes the connection between "Ismail" and Islam, but that seems pretty silly to me. The Ismail reference is explained more simply and directly by recourse to the Judeo-Christian tradition. And who the hell knows what a madman is really thinking? If it doesn't quite make sense, that's to be expected -- we are talking about a lunatic, after all.

More details about this "troubled" maniac:

According to the Chicago Tribune, the note railed against "rich kids" and "debauchery" and "deceitful charlatans" on campus.

The Tribune also said Cho had been behaving strangely lately, setting a dorm room on fire and allegedly stalking women. Other reports said he had been taking medicine for depression.

A Virginia Tech professor said Cho's work in creative-writing class was so disturbing that he had been referred to the school's counseling service.

Professor Carolyn Rude, chairwoman of the university's English department, said she did not personally know the gunman. But she said she spoke with Lucinda Roy, the department's director of creative writing, who had Cho in one of her classes and described him as "troubled."

"There was some concern about him," Rude said. "Sometimes, in creative writing, people reveal things and you never know if it's creative or if they're describing things, if they're imagining things or just how real it might be. But we're all alert to not ignore things like this."

She said Cho was referred to the counseling service, but she said she did not know when, or what the outcome was. Rude refused to release any of his writings or his grades, citing privacy laws.

I trust the media isn't going to turn this story into a "lower-class-loser wages class warfare against 'rich kids'" metanarrative similar to the ethnographic fairy tale they ran with in the Duke 3 case.

Links via Flopping Aces, which has a long, long tick-tock update post, thanks to RocketBrainTrust.


"He Tried To Touch My Privates!" Cho's comically bad attempt at a creative writing class play, titled, ahem, "Richard McBeef."

It's not disturbing enough, I don't think, that this bit of idiocy would of course alert a school to someone's psychpathic tendencies. (There may of ccourse be other writings of his which were so disturbing as to put people on notice.)

It does seem to reveal he 1) has issues and 2) was destined for failure in just about any endeavor he attempted.

Incidentally, I kind of get the feeling that if anyone had ever, at any point, actually attempted to touch this loser's "privates," we may not have witnessed yesterday's tragedy.


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posted by Ace at 01:57 PM





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