Unless you live in a vast, deep cave whose depths light reaches once every ten thousand years, you've probably heard that yesterday a deeply disturbed individual went on a knife wielding rampage in a Taipei Metro station (Taipei Times):
The suspect, who has been identified as Cheng Chieh (鄭捷) from Greater Taichung’s Tunghai University, allegedly started attacking passengers around him with a 30cm-long fruit knife while the train was traveling between the Longshan Temple Station and the Jiangzicui Station at approximately 4:26pm.The world media jumped all over that one (BBC, Reuters, etc). Those students who occupied the legislature for three weeks and struggled to get global media attention should have simply gone out and knifed a few people on the subway. The global media would have come running....
He was apprehended by security guards, police officers and other passengers shortly after the train stopped at the Jiangzicui Station, from where he was taken to the Jiangzicui police station for questioning.
“The suspect told us that he had since elementary school wanted to ‘do something big’ and that he had shared the idea with some of his high-school and college classmates,” Chen said.
Chen said Cheng originally planned to execute the idea after he graduated from university, but decided to move it forward to yesterday after giving it some thought last week.
“He bought two fruit knives of different sizes from a supermarket before he boarded the trains… His blood-alcohol content registered 0.04mg/L and he has no medical records of mental illness,” Chen said.
“He showed no signs of remorse during questioning,” Chen added.
@TaiwanExplorer trenchantly observed that Ma Ying-jeou's sixth anniversary
The attack, the work of a mentally ill person that in no way reflects the safety and security of Taipei (it has had no effect on my movements or use of the metro), triggered three predictable flows of sewage, the usual "if only I had a gun there/if everyone had guns", "it's those violent video games" and "those young people have bad values". Over at Thinking Taiwan J Michael Cole lambasted government shills for blaming, of all things, student activism and the Sunflower movement:
....Meanwhile the China Times, a pro-China publication that relentlessly attacked the movement throughout the standoff at the legislature, published an unsigned article berating a group of activists who have mobilized for the preservation of the Losheng Sanatorium. Their crime was to hold signs of their cause in a subway car as the murders were taking place. Only the article, which called the activists “selfish” and “cold-hearted,” didn’t mention that the group were on a different MRT line (Xinzhuang) and could not have been aware of what was occurring simultaneously at Jiangzicui Station, on the Bannan line.This will no doubt be followed by lectures on parenting for the hapless parents. In local thinking, the first people to be blamed when a kid goes bad are the parents...
The real problem is that local society, like so many societies, strongly stigmatizes the sufferings of the mentally ill and those around them, and expects that people will lift themselves up by their own bootstraps. If only he had been reached by social workers before this. His parents explained that the kid was otaku, a social phenomenon in Japan and in Taiwan in which young males hide in their rooms and play video games all day, without friends or a realworld social life. This gave them a ready-made framework for interpreting his behavior which may also have blunted their ability to get him the help he needed....
UPDATE: David Reid points to a paper on the culture of orderliness on the Taipei Subway that will help understand the reactions to the attack
UPDATE: On Facebook longtime expat Sean McCormack explains:
After the terrible knife attack in a Taipei metro train that has left four dead and more than twenty injured, I'm seeing lots of comments from expats professing how, where they're from, the knife-welding lunatic would have been tackled before he could have done so much damage._______________________
That may or may not be true, and respect to anybody who would have stood up to the guy.
But isn't that kind of combat-ready cultural mentality what many of us are here to escape? Battle-hardened people may indeed be more likely to attack a dangerous assailant, but a peaceful people like the Taiwanese are far less likely to produce this kind of assailant in the first place.
Don't criticize those who didn't attack the madman; they're part of the reason why this kind of horrific event is so rare here.
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