Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Last week an armed man managed to walk into a Colorado high school not far from Columbine, site of the worst mass killing in U.S. educational history. Undeterred by guards, metal detectors, or any other sort of system designed to keep armed strangers from walking into schools, he seized several young girls and reportedly molested them. In a final confrontation he allegedly* shot and killed one of the girls before killing himself.

Yesterday a heavily armed 32-year-old milk truck driver walked into an Amish school near his house in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and in what may have been a copy of the Colorado incident, selectively seized the school's girls and killed or tried to kill them. According to reports, among the many items he took with him into the school was what amounted to a bondage-and-rape kit, which he apparently never had an opportunity to use. He too allegedly killed himself.

This morning the Country Junction in Lehighton, a sprawling wonderland of retail items that calls itself "The World's Largest General Store", burned to the ground. Millions of dollars in inventory were lost, as well as all the buildings located on the three-acre facility. While all but one of the animals in the petting zoo escaped (one llama was too terrified to flee), all of the animals in the pet department died.

Why does the last incident affect me more strongly than the first two? Is it because I have been to the Country Junction many times, have played with the animals, have seen the petting zoo? Is it because this is someplace real to me, while the other two incidents are very nearly abstractions? Or have I just become so numb to human suffering that the accidental deaths of animals affect me more than the brutal murder of children?

*Please God, let this be true. I hope there isn't a forensics report buried at the bottom of a locked cabinet somewhere that shows that the girl was killed by friendly fire during the attempted rescue.


Anonymous said...

Monday night I heard sirens from my bedroom, and then on my way to work (very early) I saw one police car after another going the other way. Now I know what it was about. I had no idea.

Very sad about the pets in the pet department. And the loss of the store will be devastating to the area -- that was one of my connections to civilization. When my mother came to visit a month ago, she was blown away that there was an espresso bar only a mile from my house, even though my house seemed like it was in the middle of nowhere.

Just very sad.


Anonymous said...

The deaths of animals is extremely sad, particularly that way, DB. It's the proximity that impacts you, IMHO. You've been in the pet department, and seen the llama ... I don't think that you're even slightly inured to human suffering. While I disagree with you on many issues, your essential humanity is not remotely up for discussion. Peace.


D.B. Echo said...

Thanks, Bill.