Current events, Virginia Tech

Keystone Kops Go To College, by Beverly Hicks Burch

In the early days of Hollywood and movie making, there were some characters called the Keystone Kops. They were from the silent film era, and if my memory serves me correctly, they were characters from some of Charlie Chaplin’s “Little Tramp” films. The concept was the inept cops follow the Little Tramp, a hobo (gasp, a decidedly politically incorrect term and image) on the lam from the cops for various infractions of the law. Usually, the Keystone Kops fail to get their man…and their act is a comedy of errors.

So, what made me think of this and recall the Keystone Kops? I thought of them when I was watching the story unfold of the gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, horrific, tragic Virginia Tech Massacre. As the story broke early on the morning of Monday, April 16, 2007 news accounts first told us there was one death…then as if some giant, virulent, mutant mushroom had grown and exploded and spread its toxin the news changed in the twinkling of an eye…there were 20 dead and as many injured…and the death toll and carnage climbed. When it was over, there were 32 lives taken from this earth and many more maimed and injured.

My mind and reason asked, “How can this be?” I had seen the show of force and the first responding units on the scene. But, then the details…and the lack thereof, began to come out. As the scene unfolded, it looked like a full scale battle…like a terrorist attack in the happening and the responders had reacted. I thought, “Surely, they’ll take control and get their arms around this thing! They’re in full battle gear…flack jackets, weapons, helmets, dogs, swat teams, etc. There’s an army there.” But, then, it seemed as if the scene faded to black and white and the Keystone Kops began to take over. In all fairness, I must say, it seems as if some, if not a lot of the confusion starts with the Administration of the college…and here is how it seems to transpire:

A few weeks ago, the college had several bomb threats. In my world, this is a definite red flag warning, and I’m sure and I hope behind the scene it was for the administration of Virginia Tech. At the same time, there was a very disturbed young man among the students on the campus at VT…his name was Cho Seung Hui. He was a 23 year old South Korean national who had come the US with his parents at the age of eight in 1992. His hometown was given as Centerville, VA where he is said to have graduated from high school. Seung Cho was an English major at VT and described as a loner who rebuffed the attempts of others to reach out to him. There were signs along the way that Seung Cho had many serious problems…warning signs he was a ticking, time bomb…and a sign the administration and the system had a serious breakdown.

Seung Cho had written two plays, one of which has been posted on The Smoking The play is entitled Richard McBeef and was so dark, alarming and disturbing to fellow English students and the professors that Seung Cho was referred to the Administration which in turn referred him to counseling. In the play, a 13 year old boy interacts with his step-father Richard/Dick McBeef and with his mother. The boy, John, accuses his step-father of killing his biological father a month before for the purpose of marrying his mother; of molesting him (which is a used to get a reaction out of the mother). John rants against Catholic priests, Michael Jackson and accuses the government of killing John Lennon and Marilyn Monroe. Thirteen year old John tries to cram a cereal bar down Dick’s throat and in the end, Dick kills John. The play was a pure rant of paranoia, and evil. If this wasn’t a warning sign and a red flag…nothing was…Seung Cho should have been flagged as a point of concern by the Administration.


Then there were the other reported incidents. One teacher and class tells a tale of non-participation from day one. Cho signed in as a question mark and was known as the “Question Mark Kid”. He sat in the back of the class with a hoodie on, sullen and quiet. He sat a dorm fire, some girls reported incidents of stalking and then there were the bomb threats. One news report accounts that Seung Cho had a pending court appearance for May…so, how did he legally buy two guns?

Seung Cho brought the chain to Norris Hall to chain the doors to prevent the human being within the walls of that building from escaping his evil…that is premeditation. So, one 23 year old South Korean boy, consumed and eaten up with evil held at bay an Administration and a army of first responders at Virginia Tech. Had there been a terrorist attack, or multiple perpetrators they might have been able to have handled the situation better, but as it was…one boy…ONE BOY…went to a dorm (Ambler) at 7:15 a.m. on Monday morning, murdered a girl and a male…why we don’t know…because the authorities still don’t know. What did the Administration and the authorities do at this point? Sent emails. Oh, my gosh, can we say Stone Age…how urgent is that?! Yes, I see shades of the Keystone Kops here! Then, sometime between 9:15 and 9:45 a.m. Monday morning, a good two to two and half hours later, Cho had been allowed to go to the engineer building (Norris Hall), lock the doors with chain he brought and began using two automatic handguns to cherry pick and execute, maim and injure scores of others. One survivor reported he was laughing manically while shooting. Predictably, like other evil psychopathic cowards before him, Seung Cho turned his own gun on himself and killed himself. He had cryptically scribbled “Ismail Ax” on the inside of one of his arms. (Ismail is the Islamic name for Abraham’s son Ishmael by his wife Sara’s maid Hagar/Hajar. Quran CXIV: 5) (

All the first responders could do, besides look on helpless, was pull survivors away from the building…no attempts to rescue…to stop the carnage. More Keystone Kops to the rescue…God help us… And, then the second and third responders arrived and the EMT’s…thank God for them…there are many more survivors today because of the triage they gave that fateful Monday.

Should we be surprised this type of thing happens? Is it is an “American” thing? I answer no to both questions. When we breed an amoral culture on violence, the end result is pretty much what we see and what happened in Seung Cho. If you live by the sword, you die by the sword. We feed our kids a bunch of phony empty values and then pump them full of and glorify and honor the likes of Quentin Tarantino. It’s not just our kids who eat up movies like Kill Bill, Natural Born Killer and Tarantino’s latest gorefest, Grindhouse. It is not just an American “thing”. In 2006, the Asian community awarded Tarantino an excellence in cinema award, the Bridge award.

On a personal note, I knew not long after this tragedy started unfolding there would be some who would want to politicize this it by bringing in the second amendment argument. Let me say this, the very ones who argue the loudest and hardest against the second amendment right (Rosie O’Donnell to name one) are the ones who employ people…not legitimate law enforcement officers…who carry weapons to “protect them”. Ms O’Donnell just doesn’t want regular folk to have the same right. Well, that infringes upon my right, and it might have cost me my life, and let me tell you how.

Several years ago, I was terrifyingly stalked for several years. I did everything I was suppose to do. I notified the authorities, called the phone company…the whole nine yard. I ended up having to live my life like a prisoner. The police told me not to go anywhere alone…to park under lights in parking lots…blah…blah… some things were out of reach of my budget. (The police even told me I was a “hot” woman and that was why I was being stalked. Totally inappropriate I thought. Stalking, rape, etc. is about power and control not sex.) The phone company had me keeping a diary. My home was vandalized; my ex’s truck was vandalized. More than once, I had to call the police to the house. Our German Shepherd dog was poisoned and killed. The kicker was, my stalker worked for the phone company and knew how to get around their “catches”; the police knew who was terrorizing me…they just couldn’t do anything until it was too late, and I didn’t want that to happen.

My stalker had been a neighbor and he and his wife had gone through a divorce. She was unaware of what was going on. One day the ex and I were out in the yard when she pull out of here driveway with her kids. They were on the way to the Dairy Queen. The police had been to the house the night before, and I knew she was curious. She stopped and spoke and I explained what was going on. I explain very carefully I was being stalked and gave just enough information. I told her where some of the phone numbers had been traced to, but never mentioned we suspected her ex-husband. She listened and blurted, “Well, it might be Joe (name changed) he’s that crazy.” I looked at her and said, “Well, give him a message for me, I have a gun, and I will use it.” She looked kind of startled, and said, “oh she was just kidding”…but, it’s kinda strange I was never bothered again…the stalking stopped. It was a terrible time and I’ve overcome it, but as a result of that deranged person, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I pray these kids at VT get help and counseling to help them deal with their ordeal.

There were tales of heroism that day. One professor was a holocaust survivor who later escaped Communist Romania. He sacrificed his life for his students when he tried to keep his classroom door shut while his students escaped out the classroom window. Seung Cho in return shot and killed the professor. I’m sure we’ll here more stories like this. And, those stories will help erase the specter of the life of Cho Seung Hui.

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “Keystone Kops Go To College, by Beverly Hicks Burch”

  1. The VT Massacre affected me and my husband personally. As the news and facts continue to surface, we do know now that Cho was a psychopathic evil monster who should have never had the right to own a gun here in the State of Virginia. His priviledge to attend school at VT should have also been either suspended or revoked with the continuing incidents involving his stalking charges and the fire in his dorm. Shame on the “authorities” who did not act responsibly! Keystone Cops, indeed.

    May the victims of VT rest in peace…..

  2. It seems university campuses are a zone of law by administrative fiat…no enforcement of local, state, and federal law. Probably the “tenured” professors choose to make it up as they go, knowing they cannot be fired or dealt with in any other way. I mean, let’s not interfer with the student’s or the professor’s intellectual development by telling them there is such a thing as law and rules that society demands they follow. It might warp their personalities or give them some kind of psychosis! ! Even worse, the students probably behave at school just like the behave at home.

    Yes, the VT massacre is a sad, devastating commentary on the breakdown of common sense on our university and school campuses. Yes, it can happen in the private and public world also, but it does not seem as rampant as in schools where little renegades can get by with attrocities of enormous manitude. In our town a friend signed up for subsitute teaching in elementary school. Her first day was shock treatment. One little guy just walked around the room all day, calling all his classmates “M-F”…and you full in the meaning. Education? Totally absent in that kind of environment. Yet the pols turn cherry red when one criticizes the state of our public education. Restoring displine and order to our educational system MUST happen or we will continue to see tragedies of this nature (VT)…or worse, God forbid.


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