Murder on the ‘Connecticut Express’

Dec 21 2012 - 4:12pm

In Agatha Christie's classic mystery, "Murder on the Orient Express," Hercule Poirot, solves a most unusual murder in which the blame could be placed squarely, not on a single evil doer, but on a variety of perpetrators in which each bore a small measure of culpability such that in total, the victim perished, but no single act by any individual perpetrator was sufficiently egregious by itself to cause the death.  This allowed each guilty party to proclaim individual innocence. 

As heartbreaking as last Friday was, my heart broke all over again Tuesday morning in seeing the picture of beautiful Emilie Parker on the front page of the Standard-Examiner. This national tragedy though in far away Connecticut has hit very close to home. This Christmas season my home will be filled with a many faces that are in age and appearance much like that of Emilie as my dozen or so grandchildren arrive with their parents from towns in far away Maryland, Kentucky, Ohio, and California. 

A pall of national grieving hanging heavy in the air will dampen the joy of this Christmas season. Yet I watched Robbie Parker, Emilie's father, on national television express with stoic grace and uncommon dignity an attitude of love and forgiveness toward the family of the perpetrator. I could not help but reflect on how a father, so young and in the very midst of suffering the most piercing emotional pain this world has to offer, could articulate with so much dignity such a deep forgiveness, while laying the blame at no one's feet. 

Robbie Parker's maturity in such a difficult situation speaks well of the families from the Ogden neighborhood in which the Parkers and Cottles called home. I know it well having spent several years raising my own children in that neighborhood (north of 12th Street along the eastern bench) before moving to California.  

Unlike Robbie Parker, the nation is now fixated on assigning blame for the causes of this national tragedy. I do not own a firearm nor am I against others right to do so, but I couldn't help but notice how Hollywood and the politicians who live off the largess of Hollywood's political contributions immediately placed blame on gun enthusiasts for impeding the enactment of tighter gun control while ignoring the promulgation of a culture of violence, immorality, and glorification of the breakdown of the traditional family which is the stock in trade for the Hollywood crowd. The crossing of a previously uncrossed line in the portrayal of violence in movies makes it much easier to go over a previously uncrossed line in the portrayal of sex in movies and vice versa. The more lines that we see crossed in the movies, the more lines we see crossed in real life.

Hollywood, much like the perpetrators in Agatha Christie's classic novel, proclaims innocence because the cause and effect relationship of their movies and television shows isn't so overwhelmingly evident as to lay all of the blame at their feet.  The same is true of the makers of violent video games. They argue that thousands of people play their games without going on a murderous rampage. Though that is true, many inexpressible acts of violence can be committed by the very few unstable individuals at the margins of sanity. Such a person can cross the line from sanity to insanity with even a small nudge from a violent video game.  

The secular progressive movement as characterized by a majority of the national media is another group which is quick to point the finger of blame at gun enthusiasts. Since this tragedy has occurred they have incessantly called for stricter gun control laws. They would have you believe that people of faith are bitterly clinging to outmoded notions of guns and religion. 

In a secular progressive society, morality is not imbued from an all-knowing God, but is the sum product of the morality of the majority of society. We saw that in the sexual revolution of the late sixties when sexual inhibitions were tossed aside and the old immorality became the new morality until the advent of AIDS.  In general, people of faith will self-inhibit narcissistic acts out of respect toward their religious beliefs.  While that is not to say religious people never have or never will commit criminal acts, secular progressive morality more easily breaks down in individuals at the margins of mental sanity requiring one less hurdle to clear before committing an unspeakable act.

There are many other groups in society to whom a partial finger of blame could be pointed, however, space limits the identification of many of these groups (other than gun enthusiasts and the three other groups discussed above) that contribute to the type of acts we have recently witnessed in Connecticut. However, they all have one thing in common, like the perpetrators of "Murder on the Orient Express," since not all of the fault can be ascribed directly to them, they will accept none of it and point their finger at another, all the while proclaiming their own innocence.

Dickson is a retired executive in the energy and natural resources sector who lives in Pleasant View.

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