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Stop explaining away brutality [Letter]

For the first 36 years of my life, there was little if any reason to think about the horror of murder except as it happened elsewhere. Then we moved to Baltimore. It is now front and center, if for no other reason than the fact that we read the newspaper.

It is an inescapable reality and one which seems at times to suck the very sacredness, beauty and preciousness out of life. The recent article ("Two teens are arrested in killing of woman, 51," Feb. 3) referred to the murder of Kimberly Leto as "a robbery gone wrong." Two boys, ages 14 and 16, broke into her home, apparently in a burglary attempt, and ended up beating a perfectly innocent, apparently sweet 51-year-old woman to death. I try to imagine what Kimberly Leto must have experienced during her last minutes of life, the brutality of it, the ugliness. I think of the facial expressions of her killers, the rage and hate they must have felt and displayed in order to actually take her life. The last thing Kimberly Leto saw was that — hate, hate aimed at her.

Why? Can anyone possibly make any sense out of this? I cannot see this as "a robbery gone wrong." There's more here than that, and it is this "more" which is the biggest threat to our safety of all. Darion Aguilar, who killed Brianna Benlolo and Tyler Johnson at the Columbia Mall, kept a journal and mentioned his general hatred of others. Hate, like all emotions, is energetic, seeking to find its release in acts of violence. We can theorize about all the forces that could lead to actions such as these murders, all the possible forms of sadness and perhaps even traumatic events in the lives of these and other killers.

But in the final analysis, we as a society need to stop explaining away brutality. It has become far too commonplace for people to actually justify anti-social behaviors, including hatred for others, as their right. There is a better way.

Myra MacCuaig, Towson

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