Today, I watched, dumbfounded, as events at Virginia Tech unfolded. The number started at 21 and kept climbing. The current total is 33 dead, including the perpetrator. That's 32 innocent lives ended. 33 families sundered. The concept is staggering, almost impossible to comprehend.
As the enormity of what we were seeing began to permeate, people in the break room at work were hardly speaking above a whisper. Our thoughts turned to the families. Anyone with kids at Virginia Tech must have been waiting by the phone, hoping it would ring but at the same time dreading it. Police urged students to phone their families. 32 families never received a call, at least not the one they wanted. It's enough to make anyone pause and ponder the fragility of life, how easily it's ended. Such a situation demands pause and reflection, requires dignity and consideration.
Unless you're CNN.
The coverage I saw came from CNN's "Situation Room", with host Wolf Blitzer. CNN had secured some footage, shot by a student, in which gunshots - a lot of gunshots - could be heard.
CNN showed that footage - and this is not a joke, trust me - with a counter ticking off the shots. A counter. A cheerful little graphic with numbers changing as merrily as Sesame Street's resident bloodsucker counting cupcakes. 27 shots. 27 bullets. How many dead were being ticked off by that counter?
But that's not the worst. Blitzer introduced the segment by saying something to the tune of "watch, and count along with us."
I'll leave you with your speechlessness.