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Alison Gowling/The Gauntlet

Russian roulette and genocidal clergy?

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Sometimes, when I forget just how messed up people are, I hop on the Internet to look at the news. This is both an enlightening and incredibly depressing endeavour as I gaze in amazement at headline after headline and slouch in my chair feeling a mixture of shame and guilty curiosity. It is strange to look at CNN's Web site and see the best and worst of what we as a species have to offer lined up side by side.

Here are a couple of tidbits that really disturbed me this week:

Right next to a story about the space shuttle and a new medical breakthrough I read that a jury is deciding the fate of a 14-year-old boy who shot his teacher right between the eyes. Nathaniel Brazill is charged with first degree murder and let's face it, does it really make any difference what the verdict will be? The teacher is dead, Brazill is a killer (with premeditation or not) and another school shooting is in the books of the great US of A.

The most ridiculous quote of the trial belongs to defence attorney Robert Udell:

"If Russian roulette was manslaughter, then that was what happened here. Nathaniel Brazill was playing Russian roulette."

Congratulations Mr. Udell, maybe you've saved your client. However, you've failed to realize it's very hard to play Russian roulette with a full clip in your gun.

If Nathaniel and his gun don't disturb you, this next story will. It has more victims than just a simple teacher who happened to piss off the wrong student.

Two Benedictine nuns are being tried in Brussels, Belgium for aiding in the killing of 600 Tutsis in the 1994 Rwandan conflict. Read that again: two nuns are being charged with aiding genocide. Nuns. Those nice little old ladies who are there to help people. One of the nuns is accused of willingly providing gasoline used by Hutu extremists to set a building on fire. As a result Tutsi refugees were driven out and then slaughtered like cattle.

Again, it's hard to say what the nuns' intentions were. Maybe self-preservation instincts took over, so they panicked and helped the Hutusin order to save themselves. Maybe it's all a lie, even though that seems doubtful as there are many other witnesses including fellow nuns testifying against the two accused. The verdict will not matter. The death count is 600. Two nuns may have contributed to genocide.

After reading that string of articles I signed off. I was scared if I kept looking I would see a story about girl guides raping little kids on a playground or something along those lines. Every year, the headlines get worse.

I just wonder: are online news services getting better or are people getting worse?

Kris Kotarski can be reached at kotarski@home.com

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