It's going to take some time to sort out the facts in Blacksburg. But what's undeniable is this: some waste of life gunned down 33 people, for no reason whatsoever, in the most savage way imaginable.
Our culture has to an extent trained us to look past these sort of events, to just go on, because such ugly things happen at times, and as we are regularly (and properly) reminded, could happen anywhere, anytime. But some just are too much to get over. Columbine. 9/11. And now, Blacksburg.
What we've read so far is sickening and need not be repeated here. But what optimism there is is in the reaction to this wanton slaughter. People from all around the country are supporting Virginia Tech, its students and faculty, the families of the murdered, in whatever way they can and we know everyone who hangs out here is just as horrified as we are, and that everyone's thoughts and prayers go out to our friends at Tech.
And one of the worst parts of cases like this is that the killers kill themselves, too. When Timothy McVeigh was caught after the Oklahoma City bombing, watching him being escorted from his car was frightening, because you got the sense that mob violence was being restrained, but not by much. But there was a certain catharsis in hearing the crowd hiss and curse that was undeniable. And of course he was tried and convicted in open court and that was definitely cathartic.
But whoever this guy was in Blacksburg, he checked out before he could be held accountable. It's gotten tiresome to hear people in authority describe a vicious act like this as cowardly - not that it's not - but it's gotten to be a ritualistic denouncement and lost some meaning.
But it's so much more than cowardice. It's beyond pathetic, beyond any words we really have to describe contempt, disgust, and outrage. We haven't yet learned how to deal with such events, but the anger they earn is real and powerful and in search of expression, which is something of which we should all be wary.
There's nothing anyone can say to lessen this or to make it better. But all hopes and prayers go to Blacksburg today, to the whole campus, but primarily to the loved ones of the slain and to anyone who might be fighting for life. Everyone's hearts are with you.