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King: Seek answers, not vengeance, after acts of senseless violence
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There are times when I want to cry. Not just shed a few tears but seclude myself in some quite place and sob for hours.

I am not depressed. I am not suffering some hidden tragedy. I simply want to purge myself of all the craziness in the world today.

When something like the shooting in Colorado occurs, we are all horrified. The media goes into frenzy. Every detail of the tragedy is front-page news, but after a while the horror subsides and we’re left with nothing but an undefined feeling of apprehension. We know what and where, but rarely why.

It the incident involves murder, there will be calls for the death penalty. But if a killer is excruciated, how will we ever know why he or she committed the crime.

We’re told the victims “need closure,” but is such a thing possible? Are we supposed to forget? How do children who were sexually abused by the family priest live with the scars? How can young men who were molested by their coach forget the betrayal?

I am deeply sorry for the victims, but I am more interested in the priest, the coach or the killer. What went on in their heads when they did the unthinkable? Perhaps they can be forgiven, but there is no way to expunge their deeds — and until I can come to terms with the sickness that feeds sexual perversion, until I can understand the hatred that motivates the terrorists and the mass killers, I share in the victimization. We all do.

I work with abused children as a Court Appointed Special Advocate. Sexual molestation is almost a given. The Department of Family and Children Services does the best it can given the limitations of budget and staff, but good foster homes are few and far between, and mistakes happen.

Teachers, medical professionals, legal and social workers are all mandated reporters, but a lot gets overlooked. A mandated reporter must report any suspicion of abuse to the authorities, which is why the Jerry Sandusky case is so unbelievable.

Clergy, lawyers, and psychiatrists have a degree of privilege when it comes to disclosing what is told to them in confidence, and in the Catholic Church the Seal of Confession is absolute, which is one of the reasons sexual abuse within the church was hidden for so long.

But why? Why would a priest risk damnation by violating an innocent child? Why would a coach compromise his own career and his own players’ well-being by engaging in child molestation? And why did those who knew — and there are always those who know — not act to stop it?

Is the human race really so twisted? I know people are capable of amazing acts of heroism and generosity. Parents sacrifice their lives for their children. We are not born monsters. We become monsters. Why? Knowing this is much more important than punishment.

There is a craziness lose in the world today. We’re more interested in protecting a fetus then a living child. We care more for institutions than for people. We treat politics like sports or entertainment. We sexualize our children by constant exposure to erotic lyrics and images, then expect them to remain celibate. We preach abstinence instead of birth control.

We are so afraid of death, we deny individuals the right to end their life as they see fit. It seems we’ve got just about everything backward. And then when someone snaps, we are more interested in vengeance than learning why that individual did the unthinkable.

I don’t care if James Holmes is declared sane or not. He has crossed a line, and there is no way back. But dead he’s of no use to anyone.

Alive there is a chance we could learn the “why” of his act. Dead, he doesn’t suffer. Alive, he might someday feel the pain he has inflicted on others.

Joan King lives in Sautee. Her column appears biweekly on Tuesdays and at

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