You know what’s crazy? I’ll tell you what’s crazy
The Capital Gazette Shooting.
Five people dead.
A madman in custody.
A nation, once again, shaking it’s collective head wondering why.
Are you angry? I’m angry.
Are you sad? I’m sad.
Are you disillusioned? I am.
How much of this can we tolerate? How much of this should we have to endure?
There are a lot of moments in this massacre that stop me cold and force me to ruminate on what the hell’s really going on here.
I am most amazed at the bravery of the Capital Gazette staff.
While the families were preparing to bury their dead and the police were working on a motive and the pundits were pontificating whether this was an act politically motivated barbarism, the paper went to press.
The horror of the moment is paralyzing. A man crazy enough to file off his fingerprints, wielding a pump action shot gun, blasting anything that moves.
And the next day, the brave souls at the paper, tears streaming down their cheeks, put out a newspaper because that’s what they do.
What an heroic act of journalism. What an heroic act of humanity.
Despite being assaulted by the spray of shot gun pellets, exploding shards of glass and the wails of their fellow co-workers dying by the water cooler, the men and women who print truth and matters of relevance found the fortitude to go to work. They went back to their computers, and their note pads and their telephones, surrounded by a foreign work place where the blood was still wet and the air filled with stagnating finality.
AND THEN THEY LABORED TO TELL THE STORY OF THEIR OWN DEMISE.
I have such admiration for these people.
A crazy man tries to shut you down and you do the very thing he abhors, carry on.
I’ve often been asked how I can interview so many people in pain, who are suffering, who are desolate and lost. My answer? I suck it in, only long enough to expose myself to their reality, then when the time is right, I spit it out, like so much rattle snake poison pulsing through my veins.
But rarely am I the subject of my story. Never are my friends and colleagues the victims of a madman’s evil indiscretion.
How would I react to a similar atrocity?
I hope I never know.
I hope that I am brave like these men and women. I hope that, if afforded the opportunity, I can also be heroic and do something that saves lives.
When I first started my career in the late 80’s, I would have said “It’ll never happen.”
But sadly, the chance of experiencing something like this is now very real.
Every week, something awful happens somewhere. A calamity of monstrous proportions rockets across the AP Wire. Then CNN and FOX light up on your phone. Then the networks break in with another sad and desensitizing holocaust. Is it a school?, a church?, a sporting event?
How many Killed? It’s the new score card of how much attention this story will garner.
As I watch the ubiquitous images of the newspaper living walking from the building, hands over head, police inspecting every movement for signs of a shooter, I think about how journalists have become targets.
I am a local crime reporter. I go looking for the dregs of society. I whistle for them to come to the camera like a lost dog to a bone.
During my hunt for these human scabies sores, I am often ridiculed for being fake news or politically biased.
While I sit on the fence on almost every political issue, the perception of my job precedes me. Being a reporter was once a sign of respect among the masses. More times than not, I am now met with ambivalence or rancor.
The anger in this country is palpable. I live in a world of bad guys and felons. I knock on doors for a living. Behind every peep hole exists a troubled soul who may take exception to my intrusion.
Civility is not usually a part of the equation. I need to be aware of the danger. I need to keep my head on a swivel and watch out for my partner.
We don’t have guns. We don’t wear vests. We don’t have a badge.
Could we be hurt? Yes.
Could we make enemies who want to retaliate? Hell yes!
Every day I hold my breath and remind my camera man to roll on the door knock no matter what might happen.
If it goes bad, the police will need evidence and our families will need closure.
Sadly, I understand how a madman can shoot his way into a newspaper and begin counting scalps. I have imagined it at my own work place. There is delusional anger simmering all around us.
Crazy with bad intent shuffles down the sidewalk outside our studio. They are zombies who are under the influence and fighting demons that exist in their own head.
There is evil that is twisted, living in a phased reality, where right and wrong is defined by a hazy periphery of grey.
There are millions of felons in this world, who don’t respect law and order. These men and women live in a different reality. They run from the law, they despise what’s right. They have been arrested so many times, their mug shots are like selfies.
What better way to gain notierety, than to blast your way into a tv station and take over the anchor desk.
It would be cataclysmic. We are not ready to handle that degree of evil.
The bad guys have the guns. Our corporate policy prohibits weapons.
Like I said. The crazy people don’t care about laws. Only law abiding citizens care about laws.
Am I appalled? Yes.
Am I saddened? Yes.
Am I on guard, prepared for crazy to intercept my personal space at any given moment? Yes.
The men and women of the Capital Gazette are intrepid souls. I will think about them every day moving forward as I knock on the next door wondering what evil lurks within.