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Friday, April 18, 2014
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Published: 10/8/2012

Some explanations of evil will never be found

BY THOMAS WALTON
BLADE COLUMNIST

News me­dia cov­er­age of the mass mur­ders at the movie the­ater in Aurora, Colo., in July was ter­ri­bly fa­mil­iar. Twelve peo­ple were killed and doz­ens more were in­jured, al­leg­edly by a weirdo whose con­cept of ra­tio­nal be­hav­ior dif­fers rad­i­cally from yours or mine. 

Shortly there­af­ter, the fu­ner­als started, and news re­ports said the fam­i­lies were gath­er­ing “to make sense of the trag­edy.”

Some months ear­lier, four sib­lings were killed in a shoot­ing ram­page in Texas, and the shooter — the hus­band and brother-in-law of the vic­tims — then killed him­self. 

Hun­dreds of friends and fam­ily at­tended a me­mo­rial ser­vice in an at­tempt, the story said — wait for it — “to make sense of the trag­edy.”

How many times have we read about a mass ho­mi­cide or a fam­ily dis­pute that ends in mul­ti­ple deaths, of­ten fol­lowed by the sui­cide of the per­pe­tra­tor? 

It’s a trag­edy be­yond be­lief for most of us, yet we are told that sur­viv­ing rel­a­tives have gath­ered to make sense of it all.

Make sense of it? 

The shooter, it is usu­ally ex­plained, re­ally didn’t like his in-laws, or his co-work­ers, or in the Texas case his ex-wife and her sis­ters and brother, and was des­per­ate for a way out of a bad sit­u­a­tion.

Oh, that ex­plains it. Yeah, now it makes sense. The fam­ily feels so much bet­ter, right?

No, I’m sorry. There is noth­ing about it that makes sense, so let’s quit say­ing it. 

Fam­ily mem­bers are gath­er­ing to mourn their dev­as­tat­ing loss, not to find jus­ti­fi­ca­tion col­lec­tively.

As we slog through the mud to­ward the fin­ish line of yet an­other elec­tion sea­son (are we ever re­ally out of elec­tion sea­son?), an old and fa­mil­iar lament of mine re­sur­faces: lack of brev­ity. 

Pol­i­ti­cians never use one word when 10 will do. So of­ten they have noth­ing to say and take an hour to say it.

It’s the same with those of us who earn our keep by com­ment­ing on pol­i­ti­cians and of­fer­ing our opin­ions. 

Syn­di­cated col­um­nists are guilty of it. The talk­ing heads on tele­vi­sion are guilty of it. I’m guilty of it.

So I was sin­gu­larly im­pressed by one can­di­date’s per­for­mance a few years ago, when I served as mas­ter of cer­e­mo­nies for a tele­vised pre-elec­tion de­bate at WGTE-TV.

Some two dozen lo­cal can­di­dates showed up be­fore dawn for the live 90-minute event, spon­sored by the Toledo Re­gional Cham­ber of Com­merce.

Be­cause the turn­out of can­di­dates was so good, most of them shared the plat­form with their op­po­nent. So at one point I asked each of them in turn to de­scribe his or her op­po­nent in just two words.

Down one row and then the next came the care­ful re­sponses: “pleas­ant fel­low,” “nice look­ing,” “good friend,” that sort of thing. 

Then we came to a can­di­date who leaned into his mi­cro­phone, glanced at the empty chair next to him, and said sim­ply: “Not here.”

I wish I could re­mem­ber who the clever can­di­date was. I hope he won.

Some­body should tell the peo­ple who mea­sure out spaces in those big park­ing ga­rages that they need to make the spaces a lit­tle wider.

I had oc­ca­sion to visit the big park­ing struc­ture at Toledo Hos­pi­tal re­cently. Although there were sev­eral open spaces, I couldn’t fit my small car into any of them.

The rea­son: Every avail­able space was squeezed on both sides by gi­ant SUVs. I found one I man­aged to slide into, but I couldn’t open my door to get out. So I care­fully backed out, man­aged to avoid scrap­ing their doors with my mir­rors, and re­sumed my search. 

By the time I found a spot I could use, I was late for my ap­point­ment.

Noth­ing against SUVs per se. They do pro­vide a feel­ing of safety and pro­tec­tion. If peo­ple can af­ford the gas­o­line, more power to them.

But in fair­ness, nar­row park­ing places in struc­tures and sur­face lots are only part of the prob­lem. 

Some of the driv­ers of these big Es­ca­lades and Nav­i­ga­tors need to prac­tice park­ing be­tween the lines.

Sorry about the rant.

People have been ask­ing whether there will be a “cli­ches, part 3” col­umn any time soon. 

I’m afraid that ship has sailed. Or per­haps that train has left the sta­tion.

Either way, it’s off the ta­ble, if you catch my drift. No Part 3 is loom­ing on the ho­ri­zon, so let’s just let sleep­ing dogs lie.

On the other hand, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. I never say never.

Tho­mas Wal­ton is the re­tired ed­i­tor and vice pres­i­dent of The Blade. His col­umn ap­pears ev­ery other Mon­day.

Con­tact him at:

twal­ton@the­blade.com



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