Gov. Brewer has asked that the bells in state government buildings toll 26 times for the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre and that we observe a moment of silence in their honor. It’s a laudable gesture, at least at first blush. I agree that the 26 victims should be memorialized in the wake of this incomprehensibly horrifying atrocity. But I’m disturbed by what I read as a conscious political calculation reflected in the governor’s ostensibly well-intentioned decree. There were, of course, 28 people who died in Newton last week, not 26. The killer’s mother was the first person he shot to death. Like the children and employees of Sandy Hook Elementary, she, too, was a innocent victim. But I believe a bell should toll for the perpetrator, Adam Lanza, as well. Not to memorialize his heinous actions, of course, but because he is, like us, a human being. We cannot know now what went through his mind seven days ago during his murder spree, but it is safe to assume his thoughts were disturbed, distorted and almost certainly rooted in severe mental illness. No man in his right mind could have done what he did. As such, absent any evidence that suggests Lanza was thinking “rationally” last Friday morning, we also should should toll a bell for him and the countless, wounded souls who wander among us every day in clouds of darkly, damaged thoughts and emotions.
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Bio: James E. Garcia is a playwright, journalist, university lecturer, and Phoenix-based media communications consultant. As a journalist, he has been a reporter, columnist, magazine and newspaper editor, foreign correspondent, and television, radio and online commentator. He is the owner of Creative Vistas Media, co-founder of The Real Arizona Coalition (therealarizona.org), immediate past chair of the Arizona Latino Research Enterprise, and the author of more than 20 plays.