I’ll take up the claims regarding Columbine last, since LaRouche’s writer, Walsh, chooses not to address them directly in the article. Instead, let us take up the case of Cho, not to slight the unfortunate victims in Finland or Germany, but because Walsh’s article argues, perhaps rightfully, that it was the “the deadliest mass shooting by a lone individual in U.S. history.” Walsh claims that “Although it’s obvious, from study of the facts, that Cho was addicted to and driven, by violent games, this element of the story has been the subject of a major cover-up, reaching as high as the former head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge.” To support these claims, he argues that:
“On April 18, 2007 the Washington Post website, under the headline ‘Centreville Student Was Virginia Tech Shooter,’ wrote, ‘Several Korean youths who knew Cho Seung Hui from his high school days said he was a fan of violent video games, particularly Counterstrike…’ Hours later, the article disappeared from the site, and was never published” and also that “In a videotape Cho made before the massacre, he called out the names of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the two Columbine killers, who had trained tirelessly on Doom.” Cho said to others, he ‘planned to repeat Columbine.’ Training on Counterstrike, as his heroes had on Doom, was essential preparation for that plan.”
Walsh further argues that the evidence of Counterstrike gameplay could be found in Cho’s methodology in the attacks, including headshots and the systematic moving from room to room hunting for victims. Backing up these claims are references to Grossman’s interviews with LaRouche in April of 2007 in which he describes Counterstrike‘s gameplay and its reliance on headshots.
Are you convinced? You might be, unless you’ve read the Report of the Virginia Tech Review Panel like I have. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to read the whole thing. I direct you to the summary of key findings, a modest four page PDF.) A quick review of the document will reveal three things. First, Cho had a mental health history of suicidal thoughts that dated back to middle school. Second, he purchased his firearms illegally. Third, administrators and mental health professionals knew he was having mental health problems and might become a threat, even receiving treatment for these problems, but due to confusion over federal privacy laws, they failed to coordinate with one another or communicate with his family. What you won’t see is anything about Counterstrike, video games, computer usage or anything speaking indirectly of those things. Why not? You’d think that might be pertinent to a full investigation of what lead to the massacre. You might even think that school administrators would want to strip the offending software from school computers and prohibit it on campus. That is, unless there is no actual causal connection between the two.
And therein lies the problem. We will see this again when we examine Columbine, but coincidence does not equal causation. You might have heard of cum hoc ergo propter hoc, which is a fancy term for the logical fallacy that means just that: just because two things happen together or are related does not necessitate a causal connection. It’s a logical fallacy because it’s faulty reasoning. To support a claim like that, you need lots of evidence; after looking at all the evidence, including all kinds of forensics and metal health records not normally discussed widely in public, the government of Virginia decided that video games were so unimportant to the events that they didn’t even mention it in the key findings.