With the seemingly increasing regularity of mass shootings in the United States recently, it’s given us a chance to see a horrible pattern repeating itself.
The first part is the breathless live coverage of the event that is hard not to get sucked into. We are hard-wired to see how stories end so it’s understandable.
The next step is when the national media tries to put a face on some of the victims and the shooter. That’s the stage where the killer is inevitably described as a loner and kind of weird.
Perhaps this has always been part of he story too, but it seems the family of the killer is now being asked to comment as well.
After the Navy Yard shootings in Washington last Monday, Cathleen Alexis had to find the words to explain why her son Aaron was suspected of gunning down 12 people.
“I don’t know why he did what he did and I’ll never be able to ask him why,” she wrote in part. “Aaron is now in a place where he can no longer do harm to anyone, and for that I am glad. To the families of the victims, I am so, so very sorry that this has happened. My heart is broken.”
It’s not a popular notion, but I remain convinced that the family of the killer, provided they were surprised by the person’s actions, are among the victims of any mass shooting.
This woman didn’t make any excuses for her son’s alleged actions. She condemned what he did, apologized to the victims and now has a lifetime to reflect on what she could have possibly done differently.
Imagine the grief of losing a family member mixed with repulsion and misplaced guilt.
I’m not sure how you could even live in the community anymore if your son was one of the Columbine killers.
On top of that, if an adult starts to lose their way, it’s not the easiest thing to get them help. With the toxic mix of mental illness and some sort of provocation -- whether it’s real or imagined -- it would be difficult to intercede.
Having written that, the focus rightly should remain on the victims. Nobody goes to work in the morning expecting to get shot. It’s just another day until suddenly it’s not.
The victims include Michael Arnold, 58; Martin Bodrog, 54; Arthur Daniels Sr., 51; Sylvia Fraser, 53; Kathleen Gaarde, 63; John Roger Johnson, 73; Frank Kohler, 50; Mary Knight, 51; Vishnu Pandit, 61; Kenneth Proctor, 46; Gerald Read, 58; and Richard Michael Ridgell, 52.
I wish nothing but the best to their family and friends as they deal with their sudden loss.
• • •
I share this anecdote with you despite the fact that it might make you dumber just reading it.
I occasionally take a peek at some of the WHL fan forums on the Internet to see what the local faithful are thinking.
I do it with the full knowledge that there are some insightful hockey fans and some, well, not so insightful hockey fans.
I actually laughed out loud recently on one of the forums after the team played their first preseason game.
Before I share the comment, I want you to remember that four of the Raiders were in pro camps. Other veterans were sitting out. The team had practised twice since camp had ended and coach Cory Clouston’s new offensive system wasn’t in place.
They hadn’t played a game against another team in months. The lineup had a pile of rookies in it.
So I guess you’ll have to decide what constitutes valid criticism under those circumstances.
Here’s the comment.
“If the way we were outworked most of the game by a very young Pat’s squad last night was any indication, we are in for a very long season. I hope I’m wrong, but honestly, I don’t think we should even be in the same league.”
After the first preseason game, someone cleverly named radrguy has decided all is lost. Really, there’s no use playing the season.
We might as well send the kids home.
If this guy is being ironic, it’s a great joke. If he’s trolling for people to yell at him, he got what he wanted.
If he’s serious, he should be banned from the rink.
I’ve been a Western Hockey League fan for decades. This year, for the first time, I spent hours around the rink during camp and had the opportunity to chat with many of these young men.
They are unfailingly polite.
As a result, they stopped being hockey players and became young men who play hockey, an important distinction.
When I recognized the obsessive component of being a fan, I stopped watching most sports. When I go to a game now, it’s to watch players on two teams trying to succeed at something they love.
I’m not reflecting my own neuroses on a group of a 16- to 20-year-olds. If they win, great. If they don’t, hopefully they worked hard and learned.
Please remember that fact when you’re in the crowd hollering at a 17-year-old because he missed the net or writing a snarky comment on an online forum about a 19-year-old because he took a bad penalty.
Some of the Raiders will go on to pro careers; most will likely be starting into their adult lives with some kind of job outside the game.
They’ll have many great memories of their time in the WHL; let’s hope those memories aren’t polluted by the random stupidity of keyboard warriors.
• • •
If you haven’t had a chance yet, it’s worth taking a peek at our revamped website. It’s a clean, modern look that is uncluttered and easy to navigate.
I’m a big fan of the “less is more” philosophy of website presentation and I think our company’s designers knocked this one out of the park.
And approving the comments remains under my control, so you don’t have to worry about comments like the ones above.
Perry Bergson is the Daily Herald’s managing editor. You can reach him at 765-1302 or by email at email@example.com