Silence is the right response in such a moment, decided David Lantigua, a moral theology professor at Catholic University:
"Our initial response should be careful not to attempt to explain away the suffering by identifying some cause," he wrote in a long, anguished contemplation of the Connecticut shooting. "We are not prepared as a society to face such evil without first responding to the countless victims and their families. And this calls for silence. Only silence will enable us to weep and grieve with those who are weeping right now."
The news coverage was sketchy much of the day. The spokesman for the state police used procedural language to describe the securing of the crime scene, the "several fatalities" and the fact that "the shooter is deceased." There was no obvious motive for the heinous act, and the shooter was misidentified by news organizations for much of the day. TV crews, desperate for information, interviewed children on camera, which drew protests online from people who felt the interviews were invasive.
As Friday wore on, people around the country found their voices. Many spoke about gun violence, and the mechanization of depravity. Or they talked about mental illness and the lack of access to good mental health care.
"We're sick," said Patty Hassler, spokeswoman for the Children's Defense Fund, a children's advocacy organization. "It just makes you sick to your stomach, and your heart is pierced by every bullet that was shot."
The president of the organization, Marian Wright Edelman, released a blistering statement:
"What is it going to take to stop the craziness of gun violence in this country? How young do the victims have to be and how many children need to die before we stop the proliferation of guns in our nation? We can't just talk about it and then do nothing until the next shooting when we will profess shock again."