Don’t feel bad. Reasoning the deaths of three people and wounding of three more in Saturday night’s shooting in Auburn is futile.
How does an argument over who dances with a woman turn into charges of capital murder and a manhunt?
Punches would have been over the top, but has gunfire become the new punch?
“It’s absolutely senseless and tragic,” said Handley football coach Mike Battles, who coached the late Ladarious Phillips in high school. “I don’t know any other words to say.”
Well said, coach.
There are no words to make sense of the shooting, but people can pile ridiculousness on top of senselessness.
Sadly, it’s happening, and it prompts a serious question. Can the grieving at least bury their dead before the hardest of hard partisans in a sports rivalry start playing partisan football?
Can folks who stopped noticing their watches Saturday night have time to sort through sorrows before sad souls eat up by the politics of race and gun control seize the floor?
Can those underserved by perspective wait before fully utilizing today’s ungated media culture to over-represent their view?
Take it from anyone who has stared into the pained faces of family members affected by Saturday’s shooting. Now is not the time.
Sadly, some have no sense of time.
Anyone who tuned into Paul Finebaum’s radio show Monday, the show’s first air day since the tragedy, heard it. He did his best to manage callers.
After a man claiming to be the father of an Auburn student criticized police officials for pointing out that Auburn football players were victims, not the bad guys, Finebaum correctly pointed out how news stories evolve. He also said he knew of no reason to question the motives of Auburn police.
When a regular caller later launched into a race-baiting and all-too-typical rant, Finebaum correctly cut him off.
Such calls made it good to get out of the car and away from the radio, and one might have felt safe from the ugliness — until turning on the computer and viewing social media.
An Auburn-fan Facebook friend — and I have plenty on both sides of the Alabama-Auburn divide — tired of partisan pinging from Alabama fans he knows.
He posted an article from this past November, showing the most recent six-year crime data from 11 Alabama universities.
The article included a chart, and say this much. Those who want to paint campus crime as strictly an Auburn problem might want to avoid a losing argument.
And let’s try these factual reminders:
• Saturday’s shooting occurred off-campus.
• The man sought in the crime lives in Montgomery and has no known ties to the university.
Anyone feeling ashamed?
Know someone who should?
Anyone who wants to use Saturday’s shooting as a partisan argument should have heard Semaj Nunn, Ladarious’ 18-year-old brother, talk about the day Phillips signed with Auburn.
“We were really excited,” he said Sunday, less than 24 hours after the shooting. “I was an Alabama fan, but I was glad for him, because he had a good thing going for him.”
Or how about these posts from an Alabama-fan Facebook friend, and she never misses an opportunity to post Bama brags and Auburn gags.
She decorated her profile page with a new logo featuring an awareness ribbon that’s part blue-and-orange and part hound’s tooth. It featured the slogan Tide Support around “together” and the familiar Auburn slogan, “All in.”
“Let the entire Alabama & Auburn defensive line take Desmonte out!” she posted, referencing the man police are hunting in connection with the shooting. “R.I.P.”
The post included pictures of Phillips and Ed Christian, the two former Auburn football players killed in the shooting.
She also posted a picture of Auburn players and a coach kneeling in a prayer circle with the following message: “From, not just a fellow football fan, whether rival or not, but also from a fellow human being, saddened by these tragic events & praying for other human beings during their time of loss & grievance. R.I.P.”
Now, that’s the closest thing to sense we’ve heard since Saturday night.
Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @jmedley_star.