Al Everson: Freedom and responsibility in the USA today

Al Everson

Al Everson

What can I say about the mass murder at The Capital Gazette that has not already been said?

Like others, I was shocked, outraged and saddened, but on second thought — or third, or fourth or 50th thought — I was not surprised. 

We live, after all, in a violent age, in which no one and no place is really safe.

The Annapolis tragedy seems special, inasmuch as the victims are fellow news professionals. To be sure, sudden, violent death for journalists is not new. Ernie Pyle was covering World War II in the Pacific, when he was killed by enemy fire in a battle on Iejima in 1945.

Several correspondents died or disappeared while gathering news about the wars in Indochina, notably Vietnam and Cambodia.

And who can forget Daniel Pearl, beheaded in Pakistan while trying to get a story about al-Qaeda?

Annapolis, however, is on American soil, and we are supposed to be safe from war zones.

As the facts of The Capital Gazette shootings came to light, the image of a deranged individual emerged. The suspect arrested — let’s not name him and give him the publicity he covets — reportedly had a grudge against the newspaper and its staff, a grudge he had nurtured since 2011 when an unflattering story about him appeared on its pages. 

The suspect was involved in a criminal harassment case. He subsequently sued The Capital Gazette for defamation and lost. He continued to grow his malice and ill will. That bitterness, deeply rooted, blossomed into violence and bloodshed.

The alleged killer’s hurt feelings and media mistreatment were supposedly factors in his decision to take blood vengeance on those who had supposedly wronged him. He could not help himself. Taken to its logical end, this line of reasoning ends with the conclusion of the killer as a victim.


We as a society have been brainwashed into believing that we the people are simply not responsible for our own actions. It is always something else and someone else’s fault. Never our own. No one, it seems, wants to take responsibility for anything, anymore.

Let’s come clean: The assailant made a choice. He did not have to kill anyone, but he chose to do so. He made a choice to let hatred hold sway over him.

We all make choices. Choices are the essence of life.

We decide if we will do good or do evil. We decide if we will love our fellow human beings or hate them. We decide what to see, what to do, what to read, what entertainment we seek, how to think, and how we spend our time. Virtually every choice has moral and practical ramifications.

It is so terrible so many lives were lost in the latest mass shooting.

— Everson has been writing and reporting for The Beacon since 2002. He formerly worked in radio news in Tennessee and West Volusia. Everson noted the Annapolis shootings are all the more poignant for him, as he is older than any of the victims.

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