I often like Leonard Pitts, but not his column on the tenth anniversary of the Columbine shootings. His point, essentially, is that there is no point at all in trying to understand why people do things like this; it’s just evil and he’s not evil and that’s the end of it.
Did Adolf Hitler murder six million Jews because he had a strained relationship with his father? Would it matter if he did?
As a matter of fact, the answers are, first, yes, if you can call brutal physical abuse “a strained relationship”, and second, only if you think it’s more important to try to keep other children from growing up to do the same kind of thing that Hitler did than it is for us to maintain our comfortable illusions of ego and separateness by pointing at things that grieve us and saying, I am somebody who could never possibly have been that — while never looking too closely at anything that risks upsetting our fine high notions of who we are, and aren’t.
As for him, Mr. Pitts says,
I will give them not an hour of my one and only life trying to comprehend their incomprehensible deed.
Well, yay him. Deliberately choosing not to work to understand something difficult and unpleasant — oh my yes, that’s certainly something to boast about.