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.
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