Contemporary Horror

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Today the NYT reports:

Computer forensics are playing a key role in the probe of the Virginia Tech gunman, with investigators revealing he bought ammunition clips on eBay designed for one of two handguns used to kill 32 people and himself. …

… A search warrant affidavit filed Friday stated that investigators wanted to search Cho’s e-mail accounts, including the address Blazers5505@hotmail.com. Durzy confirmed Cho used the same blazers5505 handle on eBay.

Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said investigators are ”aware of the eBay activity that mirrors” the Hotmail account. …

Here’s the “contemporary” part of all this that is new and unsettling: You can google blazers5505 and see some of this for yourself, including confirming the parts of the NYT article that say:

… He also sold many books about violence, death and mayhem. Several of those books were used in his English classes, meaning Cho simply could have been selling used books at the end of the semester. …

… Cho sold the books on the eBay-affiliated site half.com. They include ”Men, Women, and Chainsaws” by Carol J. Clover, a book that explores gender in the modern horror film. Others include ”The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre”; and ”The Female of the Species: Tales of Mystery and Suspense” by Joyce Carol Oates — a book in which the publisher writes: ”In these and other gripping and disturbing tales, women are confronted by the evil around them and surprised by the evil they find within themselves.”

Books by those three authors were taught in his Contemporary Horror class. …

The next sentence in the NYT article is this: “Experts say things like eBay transactions can be hugely valuable in trying to figure out the motivation behind crimes.” I’m not sure that would be true about books that were purchased for a class. Some people claim that violent video games deeply affected Cho, but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence he actually played them. Others have asserted that violent movies may have influenced him so I guess it isn’t suprising that books he read are coming under scrutiny as well. It’s strange to be able to see some of the same evidence that investigators do simply by using a widely available search engine like Google, even though it may not be of any importance.

–Ann Bartow

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0 Responses to Contemporary Horror

  1. Eric says:

    Well, I guess his eBay purchase of ammunition clips is revealing. But, as for the rest, this sort of “expert analysis” — like most “profiling” — smacks of junk science pop-psych mumbo-jumbo.