Han Han and the Kindergarten Killings

I have just translated an essay written by popular Chinese blogger Han Han about the spate of kindergarten attacks that took place last week. The essay has since been deleted from his blog, but is available here among other places. It was passed along to me by Bill Bishop of Sinocism and Digicha.

Because I have agreed to translate Han Han’s posts for chinaSMACK, I won’t post the translation in its entirety here unless Fauna turns it down, but I have chosen a few choice excerpts to paste below. Here is the link to my full translation at chinaSMACK. EDIT: Danwei translated it first, though. Damn. EDIT 2: It has also been translated by China Elections & Governance. Still, I think my translation is best, and I’m a totally impartial observer.

Excerpts from “Kids, You’re Spoiling Grandpa’s Fun”

“Aside from Yang Jia, nearly all killers choose to begin by killing the weak. If they feel there’s no way out in society, then killing those even weaker than themselves becomes their only way out. I recommend that all the police guarding the doors of local officials nationwide be transferred to guard kindergartens. A government that can’t even protect children doesn’t need so many people protecting it.”

[…]

“After the Taizhou kindergarten murder incident, the media was controlled. These children were born at the wrong time [i.e., unlucky] and they died at an even worse time. In this jubilant atmosphere [of the opening of the Shanghai Expo], this incident is just noise to the relevant government departments. All we know is that according to the government, 32 people were injured and no one died, but on the streets there are rumors that many children were killed. So who should I believe? If the government is telling the truth, then why are they not letting parents see their children? They’ve also blocked off the hospital and shut off the news, and there are no photographs or video of children. Moreover, a murderer chops up thirty two people with a knife and no one dies? Was he really committing murder or performing surgery? [On the other hand,] if I want to believe what people are saying, I must remember that the word on the street is usually exaggerated, and with no evidence at all, there’s really no way to trust it. So I searched [the web] for Taizhou and unexpectedly came across this article from April 30 [i.e., the day after the killings]: “The Three Happinesses Come to Taizhou”.”

[…]

I was very astonished. The Taizhou government has successfully sealed information, closed the hospital, controlled the media, forbidden visitors, and diverted public attention, but now they have successfully taken the people’s anger at the killer and directed it at themselves, and for what? It’s not that they have some other motive. Aside from wanting to cooperate with singing the Shanghai Expo’s “harmonious song”, this is just inertia; it’s the government dealing with a situation according to their habits. It’s their usual process: eat, drink and be merry all night until something happens, then hide, isolate, remove the media, make prohibitions, send press releases, make compensations, cremate the bodies — then go back to eating and drinking. Their way of dealing with things isn’t much more noble than a murderer’s. No wonder I saw a kindergarten on the internet ((I looked in vain for a photo of this. If anyone has seen this picture and could provide a link, I would be eternally grateful.)) with these scrolls posted around its door: “Every injustice has a perpetrator. Out the door and to the left is the government building.”

[…]

Wretched children, it is you who are poisoned by milk powder, harmed my vaccines, crushed by earthquakes, and burnt in fires. Even if there’s a problem with rules in the adult world, you are the ones adults stab in retaliation. I truly hope it is as the Taizhou government says, and you’re all just injured and no one has died. We elders have failed in our duties. I hope that when you grow up, you will not only protect your own children but build a society that protects everyone’s children.

Our Thoughts

The rash of killing is indeed disturbing, as is the sadly predictable media stifling that’s been occurring to assure that Haibao can keep putting on a happy face for the Shanghai Expo. At one point in the essay, Han Han says that he doesn’t want to get into a discussion of the social causes for these attacks, and I can certainly see why. I have yet to see any really convincing reason why anyone, dissatisfied with society or not, would attack a kindergarten. Han Han suggests that these killers choose children because children are weak, and also because killing children sends a kind of shock-wave through society. Certainly, hearing about children being stabbed produces a rather immediate emotional reaction in sane, empathetic adults. And certainly, kindergartens are comparably easy to attack, especially compared with government offices.

Still, what evidence do we really have that these men were trying to get revenge on society, or were driven to the point of murder by social injustice? That’s a genuine question — I’ve been away for a few days on business so perhaps there is plenty of evidence for this and I just missed it. In any event, I invite all thoughts and speculation as to why these attacks happened, what you think it signifies, and whether you expect it will continue.

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0 thoughts on “Han Han and the Kindergarten Killings”

  1. What the freak have Han Han been smoking? Is the so called ‘Kindergarten Killings’ milk poisonings, vaccines, or earthquakes caused by the government?

    So what you should think the Chinese government should do? Put the pictures of the hacked kids in front page news so that it can instill fear to the citizens so that Parents will lock up their kids and not let them play outside? Make schools a virtual jail so that every kid are strip-searched? Have the government put am amber alerts for every man or woman had nervous breakdowns who has to potential to be the next butcherman so that they can be watched by the government like the next pedophile? Will this stop from the next incident from happening?

    There’s so much that the government can do about this situation, but beefing up the security in schools and train them to deal with the butcherman is a good place to start.

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  2. It is not to say that there are problems with the Chinese government. Perhaps these people who decided to do these horrendous deeds doesn’t have anything to lose by doing it. China has a bad record of dealing people with mental illness and perhaps they should better train psychologists with these issues.

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  3. pug_ster, not sure how to directly reply but anyways…

    I don’t know what they should do, but I know that they shouldn’t ignore the kids who were stabbed and/or killed. The only thing worse then living in a country of irrational fear is living in a country of irrational happiness.

    Ignoring the problem doesn’t solve anything. Finding a solution and being accountable might not solve anything, but it sets a good example to others.

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  4. mattman_183

    The only thing worse then living in a country of irrational fear is living in a country of irrational happiness.

    irrational happiness? That’s the first time I heard of that. Also, if you go to Chinadaily, they are NOT ignoring the problem. There’s articles there about tightening school security to debates of Mentally ill patients.

    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-05/05/content_9809242.htm
    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2010-05/04/content_9805007.htm

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  5. Here’s a different perspective on the how this news should be reported. I agree with him maybe 50% of what he is saying, but interesting perspective nevertheless.

    http://cmp.hku.hk/2010/04/30/5851/

    The reason why I disagree with him is because of how news should be conveyed. The thing I really hate about Western Media is the kind of shock and awe tactics of how they sensationalize the news so that they can boost their readership. There’s much less of that in the Chinese Media.

    I think the job of the news is to inform you of what’s happening, not telling you how you should feel or what to think because if it did, it is nothing but propaganda. I think that showing bloody and bruised kids and screaming parents would probably does nothing but to emotionalize and sensationalize the news.

    I do agree with the author above and he should report the profile of the monster who attack the kids and perhaps portray if there is some kind of problem within China of how people with mental illness are being dealt.

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  6. Yes, sensationalism is a danger—see, for example, the American media’s initial coverage of the Columbine killings. It is possible, however, to soberly reflect on the horrible things individual human beings do and draw lessons for a society as a whole. Salon’s Dave Cullen did just that for Columbine.

    It is precisely this reflection that is being prevented by censorship, along with the release of any meaningful details relating to the violence (and China Daily, aimed largely at a foreign, English-speaking audience, doesn’t count).

    Local authorities have long adopted a “move along, nothing to see here” attitude toward tragedies, as Han Han describes perfectly.

    But the national government has more at stake than some small embarrassment. They seem to be constantly unsure of whether they want to welcome the public into any discussion of the country’s overall direction and they seem to see killings, stories of corruption, abuses by rich people, etc as openings to such a discussion—and thus waffle.

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  7. OTR,

    Chinadaily didn’t give any meaningful details relating to the violence either besides the number of people whom are injured. Second, Han Han is making speculations that some children died also. I’m sure that if some child died as a result of the injuries, the human flesh search engine would be live and humming.

    Second, Han Han didn’t mention about censoring any discussion in private forums about this incident. Maybe the same reason why Han Han describes “move along, nothing to see here” attitude is why the Western Media is so mum on news about suicides. Do you see people complaining of why we should know more gory details of how people take their own lives? Give me a break.

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  8. @ pug_ster,

    I think there’s a difference between reveling in gory details and having a real discussion of what’s going on. If there is a string of school killings—or a dramatic event, like Columbine or VA Tech—then it deserves some thought. A failure to release details hurts the space for that thoughtfulness, too.

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  9. The complaint here in the United States is that guns are the reason there are mass killings in schools and colleges. But the sudden violence happens around the world.

    The most likely cause is Subliminal Distraction exposure. One of the killers was believed to be mentally ill. That is a common mistake in Subliminal Distraction exposure cases. This simple phenomenon cannot be distinguished from mental illness.

    The Virginia Tech killer created this problem when he studied and used his computer in the suite common room while roommates walked by ignoring him. That’s a description of SD exposure.

    We don’t have the same level of information available from China.

    Did any of the killers use Qi Gong? Too frequent group Qi Gong exercises will cause mental breaks.

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  10. Perhaps is it because in China the individual value of life is not high enough for a killing to have real impact. If these killings are not personal in some way but premeditated act of rebellion perhaps babies have a larger influence on the general public.

    I m against any kind of senseless killing, but I must say that killing children or adults it is still killing in the end. I may just take really strong nerves or complete craziness to be able to inflict pain on young ones.

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