- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 10, 2002

At the end of the movie, the younger man hands the rifle to the older one and they take turns firing shots at innocent bystanders, shooting them at random for no apparent reason.
No, it's not the soon-to-be, made-for-TV movie based on the recent events in the Washington area. Rather it's how the satirical cartoonist and writer Jules Feiffer ended "Little Murders," a film from 1971 based on his play of the same title that premiered in the late 1960s in New York City. In it, the typical nuclear family comes apart at the seams when one of its members is cut down by a sniper's bullet in a random, senseless shooting.
During those tumultuous years it was what the poet Rimbaud would have referred to as the Season in Hell the country was still in shock over the murders of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy. We looked for answers back then to those murders, for what caused them, and even today we still struggle with finding those who were responsible.
Oliver Stone's controversial film "JFK" came out in 1991, years after that fateful day in Dallas, and pointed the finger of accusation at our own government and its complicity in the assassination. No lone gunmen peering through the rifle scope from the Dallas Book Depository. Rather, Mr. Stone had the CIA, the FBI, the Dallas Police, Black Ops (code for the Pentagon's secret agency) and the Mob all working in perfectly timed orchestral unison to assassinate President Kennedy. Hard to believe such a scenario now, given that today's U.S. Intelligence has been likened to a virtual Tower of Babel.
Before his death from kidney failure, James Earl Ray won an embrace from Coretta Scott King and her family. Ray claimed the Martin Luther King assassination was a conspiracy and part of a collaborated effort.
Whether it's the death of a remarkable man like King, the fall of Camelot or the hapless ordinary citizens whose lives are taken by a sniper's gun, we all mourn and look for reasons, because we share a collective pain inside. A part of each of us gets killed.
Yet the difference between the assassination of leaders and the recent sniper shootings lies in an endless array of motives. There were innumerable motives for the Kennedys' deaths and King's. They each had a swarm of enemies. Here, we'll never find a reason.
All during and throughout the snipers' rampage, we had all the pundits, profilers and cockeyed witnesses theorizing on MSNBC, Fox, CNN and the like. Yet, it turned out there was no white van, no white truck and not one of the talking heads had their sights lining up with these two killers.
No motive during, no motive now either.
With O.J., we had a jealous rage. In Columbine, we had ostracized kids who were outsiders gone berserk.
Trying to get a clue, TV reporters even exhumed old tabloid headlines and delved into the ghostly prison sarcophagus of David Berkowitz within his dungeon walls to ask the Dean of Serial Killers for his sage advice. At the height of the spectacle, he was the headliner on CNN's "Larry King Live."
We turned over every rock looking for answers and found slithery creatures instead. To listen to Larry King, you would think Berkowitz was some evil genius comparable with Anthony Hopkins playing Hannibal Lector.
We'll keep looking for answers until this latest craze is finally over. But if history is any guide, it never really will be over because there will be trials, books, movies, several anniversaries, commemorations and more until the scarring blends into the gray fog of television's endless run of tragedies.
What Mr. Feiffer was trying to tell his generation still rings true today. It's the little murders occurring daily, the ones we do to ourselves and to our souls, where we kill our feeling for life by becoming emotionally indifferent to the problems and ills of the world that are most dangerous.
The only motive that will ever be found for the past month's coldblooded shootings will be that these two men, John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo, somehow had that feeling for life killed, and, so in turn, killed it for others.

Abe Novick is senior vice president for Eisner Communications in Baltimore.

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