William F. Buckley

So then, despairing of external measures, the scientists went to work. Here is a digest of one report, written by John Schwartz and Benedict Carey for The New York Times:

"People with so-called avoidant personality disorder shun social situations because of a paralyzing dread of disapproval or criticism. Those with paranoid personality disorder nourish a deep distrust of others and see insults and malicious meanings in almost every interaction. Both are stubborn patterns of behavior that can begin in adolescence or earlier, and in his influential book, 'Disorders of Personality' (Wiley, 1996), Dr. Millon identifies a blend of the two as 'insular paranoid' disorder."

Long live the scientists.

But magnify such research by a factor of 1,000, and we would still not come up with a test that imposed a big X mark on the application for admission by Cho Seung-Hui. We can retroactively pluck from him signs of aberration, but they did not come together beforehand to spell out "Not Fit for Admission."

So you are left with the most violent shooting attack in American history committed by someone you don't have an apparatus for successfully disqualifying or isolating.

We need, then, to return to the paradox: The most modern scientific methods aren't refined enough to discover the most dangerous people in our society. Pretty soon we'll forget, not the horror of what happened, but the presumption that we can discover and attack evil, other than by the cultivation of biblical rules for human behavior.


William F. Buckley

William F. Buckley, Jr. is editor-at-large of National Review, the prolific author of Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography.

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