More than 43 years ago a great sports writer of blessed memory named John Gilhooly wrote this lead that appeared in his newspaper on November 23, 1963 -
"The words won't come; the tears won't stop."
He was writing, of course, about the president of the United States who had been murdered in the streets of Dallas the day before.
And so Gilhooly's lead comes to mind in the aftermath of that mindless slaughter in Blacksburg, Virginia, last week.
The words that wouldn't come are those that would give explanation or comfort. There was none then years ago for that terrible day and there is none now for that terrible event in Blacksburg.
Where does one begin to try to get a handle, mentally, on an event that has no meaning other than heartbreaking horror?
I'll tell you very frankly - the day after it happened, I put on the news on my early rising and there it was, still being reported, and so help me, I couldn't stop myself . . . I started sobbing.
The thought of 32 young lives wiped out - for nothing. What
great talent was among them? What great contributions to our life and country were wiped out?
I do not know any of the victims who were shot down in mindless insanity. But I cherish them all and am stung with some of the terrible pain their families are feeling.
What is the answer to this sort of stuff?
There is none.
It is this simple and plain - if someone wants to go nuts and start shooting up the world in his vicinity there's nothing anyone can do about it.
This is not about gun control. The old saw, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people," is absolutely true.
Institute gun control and you take weapons away from the good folks and leave them in the hands of the bad guys.
The shooter last week most likely would have qualified as a responsible citizen and good person had he gone through proper procedure to get the guns he had.
I am sure he didn't. The point is emphasized - there is no controlling human behavior.
There is no way of spotting a nut early on and keeping him confined. Our law in this country does not allow for anticipatory action. You've got to commit the crime before action can take place.
The pundits and cud chewers can go over this until hell freezes over and whatever they come up you come back to that proposition - you can do nothing about someone who is bent on destruction.
The human condition contains a base streak of meanness, murder and mayhem. That is why the Ten Commandments were instituted. That is why the books are full of laws proscribing activities.
If, indeed, we were basically good those rules and restraints would not be necessary.
It is in the nature of our humanity that some among us go nuts and when they do they lash out and hurt the innocent. In their minds it is payback time.
A man in Germany did it 70 years ago - so full of hate and murder he set out to destroy a fine people.
This sickness is among us and there is nothing to be done about it. The free will given to us by a Creator is often misused.
Right now, as I write this, the armchair psychologists are on television picking apart the brain and behavior and motives of the shooter.
What a ferocious waste of time.
Face it, folks.
There is no protection against insanity.
And when it lashes out victims are counted, pain reigns.
And so the tears come and the words are never adequate.
And heaven weeps.