Last Friday, an 11-year-old boy in western Pennsylvania shot his father's fiancee in the head with a youth model 20-gauge shotgun while she was sleeping, killing her, and leaving her two daughters, ages 7 and 11, motherless. The victim, 26-year-old Kenzie Marie Houk, was eight months pregnant. As monstrous as it is for a boy of that age to kill someone so close in relationship to him, and at point blank range, having no concern even for her baby, and with no doubt bloody and horrible results, what is even even more monstrous is that he was able then to put away his gun, get on the school bus, and head off to school as though nothing unusual had happened.
Though most people have heard this story, I find it remarkable that two stories I have read report this monstrous act while revealing the monstrosity of their own moral attitudes.
The original AP story I read added this comment concerning the baby: "Houk's fetus died within minutes due to a lack of oxygen, Lawrence County Coroner Russell Noga said." It is at least ironic that while reporting on what is clearly a monstrous act by a child, the reporter uses language which is intended to preserve our emotional comfort with acting monstrously toward our unborn children. No unindoctrinated woman suffering this kind of loss would say that she lost her "fetus" eight months into her pregnancy. Unless you want to kill it, convince someone else to kill it, or speak of it with cold, scientific abstraction for some other reason, it's a baby.
Then the psychologist adds an opinion, and the moral understanding takes a nosedive from its already lamentable depths.
The Washington Post quotes psychologist Patricia Papernow, an expert on blended families, saying, "It looks awful from the outside and sort of unspeakable, but these are the kinds of feelings that are pretty normal in a new stepfamily. You just hope there's not a loaded gun around."
You see, from the point of view of the most advanced thinking in social science, there's nothing wrong with the boy. He's perfectly normal. The problem is the prevalence of guns in that part of the country.
Notice that from her enlightened vantage point, this particular slaying is only "sort of" unspeakable.
It seems that when one monster emerges from the woods, he draws out a few more. When that happens, it's wise to make a note of where they're coming from.