02 Aug 2003 I’m Cold, Uninformed and Void of Compassion… And Unrepentant
A dissent to my July 18 blog entry about the Washington Post’s coverage of a murder-suicide case in which a mother killed her toddler son:
Dear Ms. Ridenour,
On reading your reaction to the suicide of Reetika Vazirani, I wonder what makes you so sure your comments aren’t hurtful. I find them cold, uninformed, and void of compassion. It’s clear that the Washington Post published limited information of the tragedy to avoid dragging family members through more grief by quizzing them on whether or not Jehan Vazirani Komunyakaa had a dimple when he smiled. It’s my guess this information is not automatically on file @ the Post and they had the good taste not to disturb people in a terrible time of grief. Besides which, personal information should not always be up for public consumption. The Post did their job, which was to report the facts. Who can know what’s in another person’s heart? Who can know what drives people to do the mad things they do? It is not for us to judge, but to react with compassion for all.
First, thank you for writing and for reading the blog. I mean that sincerely.In all sincerity, also, I hope my comments are disturbing to the authors and editors of the Washington Post piece that repeatedly praised the killer while sparing scant attention for the child victim.
I believe the “it is not for us to judge” attitude helps lead to situations such as the one we discuss today. I will always, always, always be willing to judge the matter of the murder of a two-year-old child as wrong, wrong, wrong.
I also strongly suspect — I cannot tell for sure, since this Post account and a subsequent Post follow-up ignored these issues, and for obvious reasons I have not telephoned the surviving family and friends to ask — that the other adults in this child’s life wrongly left him vulnerable. The Post tells us the killer phoned a friend hours before the deaths and said she might hurt herself. The friend presumably knew a toddler was in this woman’s care. Why not call 911? Was the killer-to-be known for this sort of behavior? If so, why was a child left alone in her care?
Which leads me to my next bout of rampant judgementalism: Where the hell was Daddy? Whether the killer acted from evil impulses or mental problems or both, they presumably were apparent to other adults, especially her spouse, before the day the boy was killed.
These are questions the Post should have asked. Instead it asked about poetry.
You may ask what good it does to say all this, because little Jehan Vazirani Komunyakaa is still dead. Here’s what good it does: the remote chance that someone who reads this someday knows someone who could do this, and realizes the need to take action to prevent tragedy. This tragedy was preventable. So is the next one.