Bear with me while I rattle off the top of my head....
Managed to get my ass out of bed this morning and got to the gym where Fox News spent my entire hour and 15 minute workout covering the Virginia Tech shootings. The death toll keeps rising. It was 28 last night, now up to 32 and I fear will be even higher than that when all is said and done. From all accounts the scene was a nightmare.
Confusing matters is an initial shooting of two people in a dorm on the opposite side of the campus about 2 hours before the massacre in the school. Police still aren't sure if the shootings are related and were even interviewing a 'person of interest' when word of the school shootings crackled through their radios.
Now school and police officials are taking flack for not getting out word to the students in time. One student was quoted as saying the school has 'blood on their hands'. Look, we can all agree this was an unnecessary, horrible event, but you cannot blame officials for failing to predict the unpredictable. Officials still weren't sure what was going on after the first series of shootings. How are they suppose to handle something they didn't yet comprehend?
I understand parents are angry and grieving, but don't take it out on the officials that were just as confused and horrified as everyone else when details started filtering through. Just listen to the shaky voice of the Police Chief at his news conference. They're people, too, and let's face it, there is no way to predict this. There isn't any 'proper' way to handle it.
Expect criminologists and other behavioral experts to be all over CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News trying to rationalize the irrational or trying to extract some sanity out of the insane. Simply put, there is no rationalization for this. None. You can try to get inside this kid's head, but there is no human way we can understand what he was thinking, what he was planning, or what he wanted.
Most people want tragedies like this justified in some way, if only to make us feel better about leaving the house or give us the ability to wrap our feeble little minds around it. We don't want to realize that there are people we work with or associate with that could, under the right (or wrong) circumstances take this same drastic turn. We want to know that this kid who lined up and shot more than 30 people in cold blood is a freak of nature or an abnormality.
We'll hear things about the killer like 'he kept to himself', 'he was a quiet kid', or maybe a 'seemed like a normal guy to me'. Truth is, he probably is like just one of us or at least came off that way to most. But that's not comforting enough for us. We need a 'Why?' and not just a 'How or how many?' We want justifications and not just facts.
The news programs will, of course, try to accommodate us, but we'll never know. They'll send Geraldo Rivera to the student union to interview random students. They'll show us the grisly photos of overweight policemen clumsily removing victims from the scene (they don't have stretchers or body bags?). They'll even throw experts at us to tell us what to do if we ever find ourselves in this situation (Run! Hide! Get out!).
I just hope they don't delve too deeply into the psyche of the shooter. I don't want to know about him. I would much rather know about the lives of the victims or what the school is doing to cope with this disaster. Just please do not try to justify this killer. Don't try to explain the inexplicable.
For once any and all sorts of human behavior become understandable, when the worst of human behavior can be explained and rationalized, then just let me off at the next stop. This type of mass murder made no sense in 1966 when that shooter climbed to the top of the University of Texas tower and killed 16 people and it will make no sense in 20 years when it happens in some other yet-to-be-named school.
Questions I hope will be asked during the coverage:
Will anyone question the lax gun laws of Virginia?
Is there a physical fitness requirement for the police in that state? They all looked to be at least 250.
Why are girls letting Geraldo into their dorm at 5 AM?
Today's distraction: Check in on CNN.com for the latest on this. A news conference is scheduled for 9am that should (hopefully) provide new details.