Talk about networking. Methinks this is one very special group that needs its own LinkedIn category. Call it Friends of Wackos:
When Jared L. Loughner was identified as the gunman who shot 19 people here two Saturdays ago, his parents joined a circle whose membership is a curse: the kin of those who have gone on killing sprees. Now, others in this circle of relatives are beginning to issue invitations to the Loughners.
David Kaczynski, brother of Theodore J. Kaczynski, the Unabomber, left a message with Mr. Loughner’s public defender offering his ear if the parents wanted to talk to “someone with a similar experience,” he recalled.
Robert P. Hyde of Albuquerque had the same instinct. The brother of a mentally ill man who killed five people, two of them police officers, Mr. Hyde looked up the Loughners’ address and mailed them a letter inviting them to contact him. The gist of his letter, Mr. Hyde said by phone, was that “what happened is not your fault.” –NYTimes
Others in the Very Special In Crowd are the parents of John C. Salvi III, who murdered two abortion-clinic receptionists, and Bill McVeigh, the father of the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy J. McVeigh. Unfortunately, the list is open-ended.
All of a sudden, these folks go from ordinary Joes to “the parents/brother/children of the maniac mass murderer.” There they are, minding their own damn business, and suddenly their every thought and action is under a national media microscope because of some horror show put on by a close relative over which they had no control whatsoever.
They become fodder for dime-store shrinks and headline-hungry media monkeys. They’re villified and/or pitied — neither is pretty — freaks to be pointed at, pariahs in the workplace and own neighborhoods. Overnight they sprout an elephant in the room. An incontinent elephant at that.
Does Jimmy Carter belongs in this group? Remember Billy?
The other nagging thought I’ve entertained is that Gabrielle Giffords, the unfortunate and most prominent shooting victim of the Tucson Second Amendment rally that left 19 people dead or wounded, is a member of Congress, and as such, her expensive health care and lengthy rehabilitation are covered by the most generous policy this country has to offer. You and I bought it for her: isn’t that grand? The same invertebrates who won’t address the insane circumstances that put automatic and semi-automatic weapons in the paws of the demented are protected when injured, while the rest of us unwashed peons scratch around on our own dime.
If you resist calling her “lucky,” I’ll understand. But compare her situation to yours: if what happened to her happened to you, where would you be?
Just a thought. I’ll stop now.