The killing of 33 at Virginia Tech shuts down the mind for a moment or two. No, they must have the numbers wrong. But it seems it is not wrong. 33 dead. Absorb this. A howl of anguish, long and uncontrolled spews up and out.

Two “hand guns” is what the preliminary reports say. More weapons will be found. It will be an act of a “deranged” man or an act of terror –but not both– depending on how the stereotypes fall.

Of course all we are allowed to say for a while is “tragedy,” “sorrowful,” “pray” and other such analgesics. Anything else would be to “politicize” it, according to those who are usually so anti political correctness. I wonder what the appropriate period is before we can start asking questions like how did the young man get the guns? Is there a problem with his having got them? Are there laws, nay basic understandings, that need to be changed?

How long is it polite to wait before pointing out that 33 deaths is an everyday occurrence in Iraq — the horror of which is different, somehow, to most. Perhaps it’s the distance. Perhaps it’s because those deaths (30 in Baghdad on Sunday) take place in a war, though that seems odd. The families of the dead will feel the grief, identically. Grief does not come in different packages for peaceful campuses and invaded countries.

The Senate put off it’s interview with AG Gonzales today. It seems as if, were horror at 33 deaths felt without bias, were our mirror neurons reflective enough, there might never be an interview. We would be in perpetual mourning. Though of course, if more of us us felt as intensely about those foreign kids as we do about the kids at home, the American involvement in the war would be over before the funerals could begin.