Paul W: Violent week proves need to help mentally ill

Paul W. Smith

“Outta’ My Mind on a Saturday Moanin’”

The last time we watched a shooting of note take place live on television very well may have been the one that happened on Nov. 24, 1963, in Dallas.

As a 10-year-old, I was still reeling from hearing the news, two days before, on a tiny tinny sounding little speaker over the chalkboard in my classroom at St. Mary’s grade school in Monroe, that John F. Kennedy, president of the United States, had been shot. We were asked to pray for the president and we were sent home.

What followed was nonstop television coverage (and watching) of everything related to the shocking news. So, seemingly, everyone was watching when Jack Ruby stepped forward and shot Lee Harvey Oswald, live, on television.

Some people, at the time (and still today), felt Ruby had done America a favor by carrying out swift and unencumbered justice, with no dragged out and expensive trial. And others believed he was merely making sure that a much more complicated plot to kill the president, a conspiracy, would remain safely covered up.

No such question or confusion over this week’s horrible turn of events in Virginia.

A mentally ill Vester Lee Flanagan (aka Bryce Williams) killed TV journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward while also shooting local chamber of commerce president Vicki Gardner, live, on television. It could be argued that it would be better if the perpetrator were still alive to shed some light on why he did what he did, but truly I think it would have only prolonged the pain all are feeling and to no good end. There is no “why he did what he did,” no explanations worthy, no acceptable “childhood trauma” excuses or cause and effect.

Once again, when a mentally ill person gets a weapon, there’s going to be a bad ending.

It’s not the gun.

Certainly, the family of the woman found stabbed to death in her home Thursday morning, or the woman with the walker stabbed to death on the DDOT bus the day before, know that.

Paul W. Smith is host of “The Paul W. Smith Show” on WJR-AM (760) from 5:30-9 a.m. Monday-Friday.