Friday, December 14, 2012

Unfathomable is the new black

Details will unfold through the coming days and weeks related to today's tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The victims will go from a collective of 27 to individuals with names, families and unrealized futures. While five victims short of the Virginia Tech massacre, this has its own special horror as 20 of these victims are reported to be between five and ten; apparently, they were killed with mechanical nonchalance one after another in two classrooms.

There is a new extreme in my mind’s spectrum of terror as I envision these frightened and confused little boys and little girls watching their friends’ murders before suffering their own.

We want to know why this happened and we want to know now. Many have already decided. Take your pick from the usual suspects: a perceived out-of-control prevalence of firearms; suspect video games that desensitize players who spray bullets at digital foes; perhaps the effect of early life bullying on the shooter; how about lax parenting or the allure of fame through 24/7 media coverage; it might be substance abuse; it's any of a cornucopia of emotional disorders, etc.

It sure would be nice if we could pick the reason, fix it, and forever be done with the problem.

I expect that since 1927, this sentiment has been a recurring hope in our society. I pick that year because in mid-May, 1927, Andrew Kehoe, a member of the Bath Township, Michigan school board ignited three bombs that killed 38 elementary school students, two teachers, and four others. This ranked as the number one deadliest non-military massacre in U.S. history until overtaken by Oklahoma City and 9/11. Let’s see, 9/11, Oklahoma City, Bath Township, Virginia Tech, now Sandy Hook Elementary in fifth place. The Aurora, CO Theater shooting and Columbine had twelve deaths each.

Most won't (and certainly I don't) remember Bath Township, but every other incident on this macabre list has happened during my conscious lifetime and I’m certain that most of my readers share this experience.

Does your stomach hurt tonight? Do you need to wave tears from your eyes? Praying? Hugging your children? I hope so – I hope we all are having an awful evening and that we are not getting desensitized nor are we leaping to (or trying to profit from) preferred or emotionally-convenient causation theories.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Bath Township details from here:  Bath Township
Image reported in the public domain and available here: Image 


  1. Pete - so eloquent. I find myself watching CNN, something I don't like to do in these situations as I loathe the repetetive nature of these channels..but there is something about todays events that is drawing me to understand more. What has caused us to come to this? Kindergartners?! All these children wanted to do was learn and have recess with their classmates. Maybe one of them would have become as elegant a writer as you are! We will never know...this is so senseless and even without children I am numb and so terribly sad for these families. Thank you for this arena to voice.. and thank you for your thoughts and words! Love you!!

  2. From :

    Here are the victims' names and ages:

    Charlotte Bacon, 6

    Daniel Barden, 7

    Rachel Davino, 29

    Olivia Engel, 6

    Josephine Gay, 7

    Ana M Marquez-Greene, 6

    Dylan Hockley, 6

    Dawn Hocksprung, 47

    Madeline F. Hsu, 6

    Catherine V. Hubbard, 6

    Chase Kowalski, 7

    Jesse Lewis, 6

    James Mattioli, 6

    Grace McDonnell, 7

    Anne Marie Murphy, 52

    Emilie Parker, 6

    Jack Pinto, 6

    Noah Pozner, 6

    Caroline Previdi, 6

    Jessica Rekos, 6

    Avielle Richman, 6

    Lauren Russeau, 30*

    Mary Sherlach, 56

    Victoria Soto, 27

    Benjamin Wheeler, 6

    Allison N Wyatt, 6

    *The spelling of Lauren Russeau's name here comes from the list released by authorities in Connecticut on Saturday and differs from the spelling NPR and other news organizations have used.



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