When politicians are made to address the issue because the crime is so heinous, such as the massacre at Virginia Tech, they often do so with willful blindness—they deliberately fail to make a reasonable inquiry into the crime despite the reasonable awareness of wrong-doing; in this case, the wrong-doing of University President Charles Steger and Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum.
According to the dictionary, “willful blindness involves conscious avoidance of the truth and gives rise to an inference of knowledge of the crime in question.” The Governor’s Review Panel Report, The Addendum, to which we earlier devoted extensive posts, appears to fall into the category of willful blindness. Even after two revisions, the report still contains errors, including the timeline and other important details, such as when and where the murderer killed himself.
Remember, “corrections” to the report had been requested of Governor Kaine following the publication of the original panel report released in August of 2007, based on information that was only discovered by or disclosed to the families after the legal settlement had been agreed to in April 2008. Prior to that, Governor Kaine refused to reconvene the panel, or to do anything about correcting the record. His successor, former Attorney General and now Governor McDonnell must have been aware of those errors as well, yet remained silent. What more evidence of willful blindness does anyone need? In effect, then, this says that state officials spent nearly $700,000 on a report that was factually a sham, a report that is supposed to do something in analyzing this nation’s worst school shooting and in fact does nothing—and doing nothing is not an option.
According to Christopher Strom, a retired sergeant of the New York police intelligence division, if you look at the Virginia Tech tragedy, you see:
· Criminal possession of stolen property (Seung-Hui Cho’s medical records were found in the home of the former director of the university’s Cook Counseling Center);
· Tampering with evidence in a criminal/civil investigation (critical information about the timeline of events on April 16, 2007 was withheld);
· Witness intimidation (Professor Lucinda Roy who tried to get Cho help, was blackballed by the school administration—some were afraid to have any contact with her for fear of losing their job);
· Obstruction of an official investigation (the police, the ATF, and gun dealers refused to cooperate with the Governor’s investigative panel); and
· Possible conspiracy (pressure on school faculty and staff to coordinate with the school administration before talking to the Governor’s Review Panel).*
Governor McDonnell was Attorney General at that time, and didn’t pick up on any of those things.
Most school administrators, professors, and instructors are not clear about their rights and responsibilities here in Virginia. They don’t understand that many of the actions of the shooters at the Appalachian School of Law and Virginia Tech fell under laws governing illegal stalking, and they don’t understand their responsibilities to notify families and school officials about potentially violent behavior.
This lack of understanding remains precisely because of the willful blindness by the universities’ administrators and state officials participating in the follow up investigations. Doing something poorly, as Tech has done so many times in dealing with the families, is nearly as bad, if not worse, as doing nothing at all. (To be continued)