But either way, society has some explaining to do.
If the 26-year-old is as mentally ill as he appeared to be in court Monday – shaking head, dazed look, incoherent – then you have to wonder how it got to the point where he would shoot his pregnant girlfriend, Cayce Vice, and Aiken police officer Sandra Rogers. Were there warning signs that were ignored? How did he get his hands on a gun?
And, of course, we ought to discuss the dearth of services for those with serious mental illnesses and their family members, who are variously besieged by a lack of help or are negligent in not seeking what help there is.
Others in the area who believe they may be dealing with a severe mental illness – in themselves or those around them – need to take it seriously and seek help immediately. A possible first step: Call 2-1-1, a referral line for social services administered by the United Way of the CSRA.
If, on the other hand, it’s not mental illness, then we’re dealing with undiluted evil. In this instance, too, we have some probing, painful questions to ask and answer.
Even if this case is a result of mental illness, many other outrages and tragedies we’ve seen over recent years are simply the harvest of a society out of control: people seeking buffets of gratification without accountability; children being raised by daytime television and tossed about from one dysfunctional live-in arrangement to the next; illicit drugs making parents so incapable of handling their children that a grandparent or foster parent must step in; and on an on.
Whichever societal ill pertains in this case – and perhaps there is more than one at play – the tragedy is a reminder that we’ve got plenty of ills to deal with that we just flat-out aren’t. Often, that’s because the media and political correctness have choked off such discussions. They try to paint people with strong values as “extreme” and even dangerous to the body politic – which is ludicrous. As if alternative lifestyles aren’t dangerous!
One supposes that people of principle are expected to mind their own business these days. Funny thing, though: “Other people’s business” often ends up getting innocent people killed. Imagine that; ignoring society’s ills doesn’t make them go away.
Aiken Public Safety Master Cpl. Sandra Rogers was one of those innocent victims of a society that’s increasingly sick. She spent nearly three decades protecting that society, too.
That such a good person can be struck down in such a callous, senseless and cruel manner – the third law enforcement officer the area has lost in the past few months – is so wrong on so many levels. A conviction in the case can go only so far in setting things right again. The rest will be up to us.
Officer Rogers’ funeral is Wednesday. A memorial to her, on the other hand, should be a better society for the next officer to protect.