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Good decision, bad decision

It looks like my blog yesterday was a pretty accurate assesment of the climate surrounding the media's decision to air Cho Seung-Hui's multimedia manifesto. For once we as an industry showed proper restraint and limited the disturbing contents to one 24-hour media cycle. We got the news and perspective we needed from it. Now it's in the archives. I certainly understand why victims and their families are upset it aired in the first place. But as I said, it was newsworthy. But again, further airing at this time would have been salacious. We will see it again, though. You can be sure of that.

As the news media made a good decision to stop airing Cho's manifesto, the Virginia Tech marching band made a poor one that it probably didn't even realize. You've probably seen by now video of the school's band playing outside a Virginia hospital where several shooting victims are recovering. The band apparently played several typical marching band songs, one of which immediately struck me as a bad choice in the current context: Carry on Wayward Son by Kansas.

Just about every marching band in the country plays this song. I'm not sure why. They just do. And if you're not a fan of classic rock, you probably wouldn't even realize what the song is or what its lyrics are. But once you find out, I think you'll see why I think it was a bad choice. Just look at the chorus of the song and think about what Cho Seung-Hui did Monday:

Carry on my wayward son,
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

Some of the verses in the song are even more disturbing in this context:

Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion
I was soaring ever higher, but I flew too high
Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I'm dreamin', I can hear them say

Carry on my wayward son,
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

Think that's bad? Wait. It gets worse. This verse is most troubling in the context:

Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don't know
On a stormy sea of moving emotion
Tossed about I'm like a ship on the ocean
I set a course for winds of fortune, but I hear the voices say

CHORUS

Carry on, you will always remember
Carry on, nothing equals the splendor
Now your life's no longer empty
Surely heaven waits for you

CHORUS

Yes, I'm probably reading way too into this. But as soon as I heard the band playing the song, the title alone made me think it was a bad move. Cho was, to say the least, a wayward son. Looking at the lyrics only made it worse. Cho was certainly "masquerading as a man with a reason" and his "charade" has certainly become "the even of the season." I know the band didn't mean to do it. Heck, most of the kids in the band probably have no idea what the lyrics are. It is surely an unfortunate coincidence. But Cho definitely claimed to be a wise man. Surely, though, he did not know. But I can think there's little doubt one line of the song does not apply to him: There's no way heaven is waiting.

By: Kevin Wuzzardo

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