I can’t get the story of those five Amish girls murdered by a demented loser out of my mind. Such things no longer seem inconceivable; we have become all too familiar with school shootings and the meaningless slaughter of children.
And yet, the innocence of these particular victims makes the story even more horrifying. They lived in a society that turns its back on much of what the modern world has to offer. They felt safe in their religion, in the bonds of community, in the gentleness of all around them.
In a few horrific hours, that sense of security was shattered.
If the basic story is heart-wrenching in itself, the fallout from it is equally depressing. First there is the news that a group of freaked-out religious nuts from an outfit called the Westboro Baptist Church is planning to demonstrate at the girls’ funerals, claiming that the deaths are somehow God’s retribution for the Pennsylvania Governor’s tolerance of gays.
This is the same bunch of moronic low-lifes who have demonstrated at soldiers’ funerals to let us know God took the soldiers in punishment for America’s failure to wipe out homosexuality.
There have to be limits to freedom of expression in a sane society. This group is far beyond those limits. I hope the authorities will ensure that these so-called “Baptists” can’t manage to set foot in the state of Pennsylvania.
Worse is the emergence of little hints, here and there of sympathy for the killer. Yes, I feel sorry for his family; I can’t imagine coping with having a husband, father or relative who would commit such an unspeakable act.
But I don’t care what happened to him in his youth, don’t care about his twisted dreams. There is no excuse for what he did. None. Not even close.
If we are truly honest, few of us can say we have never had inappropriate dreams, or have never wished for someone else to feel pain. Few of us can say we have never harbored thoughts of suicide. I will admit to the latter two, though I have no memory of ever experiencing the first.
But there is a vast gulf between the thought and the act. People should have sympathy for those who feel the pressures of life are too much for them to deal with. As long, that is, as they limit their subsequent actions to themselves only, and do not injure anyone else in the process.
Those who are disposed to see the best in everyone wonder what could have been done to help the killer before he committed his final acts. If he had survived, no doubt some would have tried to “rehabilitate” him. They would have opposed any attempt to punish him properly, on the grounds that even the life of a rabid menace is somehow worth saving.
Wrong. He forfeited all rights to be considered a member of the human race when he walked into that one-room school. He became something loathsome, worthless.
If humanity is to survive, there is a point at which each person must take responsibility for their behavior, no matter how much pain they have had to endure. For those who go beyond that point, there can be no sympathy, no consideration, no excuses.
Not that any of this matters to those five little girls. Nothing can bring them back.
There are no answers. Only questions. And sorrow.
19 hours ago