For two days, pretty much all I did was watch television.
CNN to Fox News to MSNBC. Back and forth for hours, clicking to see who was reporting what. Just waiting for the next grisly tidbit.
Most of us woke up to the news Monday morning that a gunman had indiscriminately opened fire on a Las Vegas outdoor country music festival from a hotel suite turned sniper’s perch.
Who the hell does that? Who knocks out the windows on the 32nd floor of a hotel, aims and fires? Who’s that sick? Who values human life so little they would do that?
I wish I could say it was stunning, but in this era of mass shootings, very little is stunning any more. It was chilling. It was sick and demented. It was even perplexing as the facts began to dribble out of Vegas.
But it wasn’t stunning. Because we have had a generation of Columbine, Sandy Hook, Orlando, Fort Hood, San Bernadino shooting and more.
With a week off, my goal was to get away from the news for a few days. Do nothing — and do it well. Then you get the coffee and turn on the TV to check out the headlines so you can turn the news off as quickly as you turned it on.
The TV went on Monday morning and didn’t go off for a couple of days.
It was a country music festival, for heaven’s sake. It was just off the Vegas strip, where people go to party and forget about the troubles back home.
One thing was obvious Monday morning as news anchors and reporters began unpacking the details of the deadly shooting that took the lives of 58 people on Sunday night: what happened in Vegas wasn’t going to stay in Vegas.
The coverage was maddening and captivating, at the same time. We learned the gunman’s name quickly. We heard his brother, interviewed at his Florida home, search for some kind of explanation for the dastardly act.
We got to know a Las Vegas lawman, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, who handled news briefings in a professional manner, but was not void of feeling. You could see and hear the impact these senseless killings had on Lombardo as he outlined what he could and answered questions.
But, after hours of watching it, the thing I wanted to know was more about the victims. I wanted to know who they were, where they were from, and anything else I could get.
Friday night, in an hour of prime-time television, we got that. CNN’s Anderson Cooper did a gripping special with video vignettes of the victims. It was powerful and it showed clearly the scope of the carnage.
There were veterans who had survived in war zones only to be killed at a Jason Aldean concert in Las Vegas. What in that makes any sense?
But the one thing you saw, a common thread among many of the victims, was the number of children who lost their mother or father. It was gut-wrenching to hear them talk about their loss.
As more details come out about the killer, Stephen Paddock, hopefully there will be a motive or some kind of unforeseen reason for this. There has to be some explanation for someone being that sick, that immune to the value of human life.
After a week of watching the news out of Vegas and a few years of writing about homicides in Columbus, I have a question. And it’s a serious question.
What happened to the value of human life?
OK, maybe I have a second question, too.
Have we lost our minds — have we all lost our damn minds?