Watching the news coverage of the shooting spree at Fort Hood, I feel a part of me crying out at the way the event is covered in the media. Everyone keeps speculating on “why” the shooter did what he did. There is NO WHY in murder that justifies the taking of another life. Even if the perpetrator sat down and laid out every detail of what he or she was thinking at the time, it would still make no sense to a reasonable person. Murder isn’t a reasonable way to resolve anything – not personal problems, religious ideas, or even balance the scales for another death. Yes, the murderer will always have an excuse. Blame will fall on the victim, or society, or a terrible childhood, or even on God. None of this matters. Many people have financial difficulties, or were abused as children, or have deep religious convictions, yet they never even think about committing murder. The blame for murder belongs squarely on the shoulders of the murderer, and no where else. They committed the act that took another precious human life and there is no excuse that is good enough to hide from that. I hate it when people want to find a reason behind the murders of my boys, and I hate hearing the pundits speculating on a reason behind the murders at Fort Hood. Will listening to the lame excuse or assigning some kind of motivation bring the fallen back or ameliorate the grief of the survivors? No. It just causes more pain – pain for the families of the fallen and the family of the murderer, pain for others who share the same beliefs as if somehow a whole people or an entire religion can be blamed for the horrendous acts of one person.
It also makes me upset to listen to reporters continually questioning how this could have been avoided. What were the red flags? Why didn’t someone see what he was thinking and do something about it? That’s crazy! In the first place, no one thinks that someone they know is going to suddenly commit multiple murders. Trust me, this is something I know about from experience. No matter your relationship with the person or what you think of their day to day behavior, you don’t think they are going to kill people. Why? Because NO REASONABLE PERSON THINKS LIKE THAT. It’s unthinkable to walk into a room and start shooting, just as it is unreasonable to hold a pillow over the face of a sleeping child. Would it occur to you to solve your problems that way? No? Then why should you be expected to think that someone else will do so?
In the second place, red flag or no red flag, this is a free country. You can express any opinion that you like. Will expressing public admiration for suicide bombers get you put on a “watch list”? Perhaps. But until you do something that is illegal, you are free to admire as much as you like. What exactly do these questioners think that the authorities could have done? You can’t arrest someone for their opinions. It isn’t against the law for someone to give his furniture away to the neighbors and there is no law against purchasing a gun or ammunition. Until the law was broken, there was nothing that could have been done. Then, of course, it’s too late. But that’s our system. It’s an imperfect system, but what’s the alternative? You can’t arrest someone for what they might be thinking or punish someone for plans that you guess that they might carry out some day. There has to be something concrete to act on before the authorities can act. If you thought that someone you knew was mentally ill or depressed, I suppose you could suggest that they get treatment. Of course, you could be sued then, so you might not want to open that can of worms. And even at that point I doubt you would think they were about to do the unthinkable.
The focus in this awful mess should be on the victims – those who were injured physically or mentally, and those who have been left behind to grieve. Having a loved one torn from you by murder is a terrible thing to try to deal with. Let them mourn, let them grieve. Let them remember and celebrate the moments of their dear one’s life instead of constantly rubbing their noses in how that life ended. We speculate quite enough on what they felt at the last or whether they were frightened or in pain. We don’t need any help on that score. Nor do we need constant reminders of the person who plunged us into this dark sea of grief.