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August 15, 2012

Living in a madhouse

What madness we have wrought. I really wanted to write about football this month. I love football. In fact, I’m writing this while watching a replay of the Bears/Broncos game on the first night with a full slate of preseason games. Alas, I know football is simply another escape for me (and millions of others). We must entertain ourselves because the reality of the world is sometimes a bit much to deal with.

In our 24-hour news-cycle culture, we have become numb to exactly how mad our world has become. Last month, James Holmes strode into a theater in Aurora, Colo., and opened fire on men, women and children at the premiere of the latest Batman movie. Using an AR-15 assault rifle, a Remington 12-gauge shotgun, and a .40 caliber Glock handgun, Holmes shot 58 people and killed 12.

A few weeks later, Army veteran and white supremacist Wade Michael Page marched into a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin and killed six worshippers in cold blood before police killed him.

In Worchester, Mass., 41-year-old Daryl Benway, who had recently separated from his wife, shot and killed his 7-year-old daughter, Abigail. He then shot his 9-year-old son, Owen, before committing suicide. At last report, young Owen was in critical condition.

In Louisville, 36-year-old John Devine killed his ex-girlfriend, Sade Goldsmith, and then murdered their two sons, ages 5 and 6, while they slept. Devine then shot himself, but didn’t die. Though it was originally thought someone else killed Goldsmith and their young boys, Devine eventually admitted it was he who had done the deed. The Devine scenario was replicated in Columbus, Ohio, and Columbia, S.C. In separate incidents in Florida and Massachusetts, men killed their girlfriends while the women’s children watched.

Things got even gorier in Los Angeles. Police arrested Shazer Fernando Limas after a high-speed chase. Prosecutors later filed three murder charges against Limas, claiming he slashed his girlfriend and two children to death. They allege the 31-year-old man disposed of his girlfriend’s body 10 days after killing her, just hours before the corpse was discovered in a gutter. They also believe Limas may have disposed of their 2-year-old and 4-month-old children in an apartment Dumpster.

Just outside Atlanta, Emmanuel Alfredo Tadeo was kicking and beating his girlfriend when her pet Chihuahua came to her defense. Tadeo then kicked and stomped the dog before taking the pet outside and killing it. He then used the dog’s body to beat the woman.

In San Antonio, Texas, 33-year-old Otty Sanchez was accused of beheading her 3-week-old infant son using a knife and two swords, then further dismembering him. In Vancouver, Wash., 51-year-old Donna Williams admitted that she beat her husband to death with a hammer and waited two weeks to call 911.

A federal jury found Floridians Narcy Novack and her brother guilty of orchestrating the killings of the woman’s millionaire husband and his mother in a grab for the family estate. Apparently, Novack orchestrated the savage beatings of Ben Novack Jr. in a suburban New York hotel room and Bernice Novack at her Fort Lauderdale home.

My God! What have we become? I’m not sure what’s scarier — the fact that these insane acts continue to happen at a steady clip (believe me, there are a whole lot more) or that we have normalized it all. We see this stuff on the news or in the paper (for the few of us who still actually watch the news or read the papers instead of immersing ourselves in Reality TV) and move on without flinching these days.

Maybe Morris Berman was right in his thought-provoking book, “The Twilight of American Culture.” Maybe we have descended into a cesspool of apathy and cold, vulgar self-centeredness. We are rife with violence, death and hopelessness. We hold ourselves up as an example for the rest of the world but clearly have problems with our own moral compasses on so many fronts at home.

In the immortal words of Charlton Heston, “It’s a madhouse!” Maybe you hadn’t noticed it, but Rome is burning … and we all are fiddling.

I often close this column by saying, “Do not leave the people in the hands of fools.” Whatever gods may be, help us … for the fools are winning!