Dangerous Minds: From Hate Fantasies to Antisocial Behavior
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 23, 2014
Summary: The Sunflower Student Movement revealed the younger generation's
political concerns and rebelliousness. Cheng Chieh's random killings
revealed the younger generation's antisocial mentality, and their
dangerous lack of conscience. These are two sides of the same coin. We
cannot ignore either of them. Therefore we must reflect upon this
incident. Insisting on increasing the number of transit police is
probably not the solution. Instead, we must understand what lurks in the
hearts of people such as Cheng Chieh. What kind of hate fantasies led
him to cold-bloodedly murder innocent people? Where did his desire to be
an antisocial killer come from?
Full Text Below:
The earliest reports said a knife-wielding drunk on the Taipei MRT was hacking away at people. But later everyone could see that the killer was a college student little different in general appearance from countless other young men. He was not drinking, nor had he lost his mind. He brandished a knife and stabbed people, killing four and wounding 24 others. The perpetrator was the first spree killer in the history of the Taipei MRT. The incident provoked gloom and anxiety.
Why was the killer mistakenly characterized as a drunk. Because it was easy to jump to that conclusion. Perhaps he came from a broken family. Perhaps he had been unemployed too long. Perhaps he experienced a sudden shock, then after getting drunk, lost control and committed these terrible atrocities. But 21 year old Cheng Chieh "always wanted to achieve something great." He originally intended to put his plan into action after graduating from college. But "As it happened, today there was no class." So he bought a knife, rode around on the MRT for a while, then attacked his fellow passengers on the longest stretch between MRT stations.
Had he been drunk, others would have noticed. Had he exhibited any mental disorders, others would have had advance warning. But Cheng Chieh's dangerous mind hid behind a calm exterior. His antisocial personality hid behind the mask of a college student. Upon graduating from high school, he wrote "I did not set fire to my house" in his yearbook. His comment was dismissed as mere youthful rebellion. On his college dormitory room door he wrote, "I will not accept treatment even if I am beaten to death." His roommates shared his morbid humor. They considered it fashionable. Within such a culture, hatred of the world feels like fantasy. Youth feel no guilt. Even if the government were to station police in every MRT station, could they really control such dangerous elements?
Cheng Chieh is reminiscent of Anders Breivik, who took over 70 lives in Norway. He is also reminiscent of the Tsnarnaev brothers, whose bombings during the Boston Marathon killed three and wounded nearly 200 others. They all had something in common. Their plans were drawn up and carried out by individuals, not organizations. They all chose to attack in a public place, without specific victims in mind. None of them had traumatic childhoods. All of them chose random killing as a way to uphold "justice." All of them considered their actions heroic.
Anders Breivik killed because he felt immigrants were inundating Europe. He opposed multiculturalism. The Tsarnaev brothers detonated bombs because they were unhappy with the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, The wanted to exact revenge on behalf of Islam. What was Cheng Chieh's motive for cold-blooded murder? That remains a mystery. Was he really determined to "do something great?" Did video games take him to the dark side? Killing people with a knife and setting off bombs is different. In the former case, the victim's blood spatters everywhere, and his guts spill out on the ground. Killing people with a knife is doubly bloody, Cheng Chieh hacked away at over 20 passengers without letting up. His coldness and cruelty defied belief.
A key feature of the antisocial personality is a lack of remorse, a serious lack of conscience, an inability to feel guilty or upset. The day before yesterday police interrogated Cheng Chieh. He showed no remorse. Police reminded him of his parents and younger brother, but he remained unmoved. He exhibited these very psychological traits. So far no one has been able to determine why he did what he did. But yesterday, immediately following the incident, someone set up a "Cheng Chieh Fan Club" on FaceBook. They said they supported Cheng Chieh. They said they "worship him, love him, and are grateful he helped society take out the trash." Within hours, thousands of people had signed up. As we can see, certain corners of society and certain social networks contribute to this anti-social psychology, and constitute a catalyst for evil. Other voices on FaceBook are responding to the atrocities by demanding "capital punishment for Cheng Chieh," and screaming, "Cheng Chieh die!" These are equally dangerous and equally worrisome.
Cheng Chieh moved up his plan for random killings. Did this bear any relationship to the recent street protests? That is hard to say. But in April he boasted on FaceBook that he "would do something great." His comment included 21 examples of the word "hack," (as in "to hack with a knife"). This was precisely when protestors on Taiwan were opposing the STA, opposing the NPP4, and demanding an "appendectomy." Was the atmosphere of rebellion a factor? Even the police were helpless in the face of the crowds, Perhaps this touched a nerve in Cheng Chieh. In fact, some people around him noticed the signs. They informed the university administration. Unfortunately the school counselor was unable to penetrate the darkness of his heart .
The Sunflower Student Movement revealed the younger generation's political concerns and rebelliousness. Cheng Chieh's random killings revealed the younger generation's antisocial mentality, and their dangerous lack of conscience. These are two sides of the same coin. We cannot ignore either of them. Therefore we must reflect upon this incident. Insisting on increasing the number of transit police is probably not the solution. Instead, we must understand what lurks in the hearts of people such as Cheng Chieh. What kind of hate fantasies led him to cold-bloodedly murder innocent people? Where did his desire to be an antisocial killer come from?
We salute the elderly white-haired gentleman who bravely subdued Cheng Chieh with his umbrella. When others were panic-stricken, he reached out his hand to uphold justice and defeat evil.
2014.05.23 03:50 am