Can we 'do something'?

According to one story I read, the little girls murdered at West Nickel Mines Amish School in Pennsylvania were executed under a sign in the classroom that read, "Visitors Brighten People's Days."

The horror at the Amish school happened just a few days after Emily Keyes was murdered at Platte Canyon High School in Colorado.

Keyes was the high school girl killed by Duane Morrison. He took six teenage girls hostage at the high school, sexually assaulted them, freed four, then shot Keyes whom he used as a human shield when police stormed the classroom that he had turned into an armed bunker.

Morrison was described as a transient, living out of a Jeep. Charles Carl Roberts, who killed the Amish girls, was a deliveryman. He bound the girls together and shot them execution-style.

Both killers shot themselves at the end of it all.

The story that came out of the Amish school killings is that the oldest girl held hostage at the Amish school asked the killer to shoot her first in the hope that the young ones would be spared. He shot them all anyway.

The story out of Platte Canyon High School is that the teenager managed to send a text message to her family on her cell phone: "I luv U guys," the typed message said.

So what do we do now?

These horror stories seem to bring out the platitudes. Gun-control editorials. Naval gazing on the mystery of evil.

I don't have anything to say, any great insight that hasn't been said far better by someone else. But it almost seems at times that we could pull out a sheet, change the names and the places and issue the same statements of sorrow, the same bewildered reflections that we said the last time.

And we always end up wondering what we do now. And we never do anything. Except maybe more guards at schools -- until they're cut in the next round of budget reviews.

We move from these stories, one to the other. Then they reach the point of old news. Or, in the case of Keyes, they get pushed off the front page quickly by the next horror. Got to keep feeding those 24/7 news channels.

A madman with an arsenal that could take out a military platoon used it on little Amish girls. The guy in Colorado -- who murdered Keyes within about an hour's drive of Columbine High School, where two kids murdered 13 before killing themselves in 1999 -- had 20 guns stolen from his apartment last year. I guess that was before he moved into the Jeep. And he still had more than enough weapons left to do the job.

Violence permeates our world. It fills newspapers, television shows and movies. It's almost sacred on the Internet. It dominates popular music and is a pillar of the video-game industry.

Violence is simply the new pornography. It is hardly surprising that the young girls at Platte Canyon High School were molested before the shooting began, or that reports whispered that molestation may have been Roberts' plan before everything went crazy at the Amish school.

Abhor violence? Hell, we don't abhor violence. We celebrate it every day.

The Amish buried their dead, the girls dressed in white from head to toe. They wanted to hide their horrific wounds from their loved ones.

And so what do we do now?

How about just one thing: no longer cater to violence, no longer be entertained by violence no matter how elevating the alleged art, no longer bless violence with television ratings and movie tickets.

At least that's doing something.

Robert P. Lockwood writes from Pennsylvania.