The late comedian Richard Pryor used to riff about a fictitious interview with a mass murderer.
"But why did you kill [gulp] everyone in the house?" asks the reporter.
"They was home."
Today it wouldn't be funny.
The occasional Susan Smith or Andrea Yates who kills her kids has given sway to the weekly child, sibling, parent, grandparent, spouse and all-of-the-above killer.
And like an Airbus A320 landing in the Hudson river rather than at the airport we adjust with sweeping efficiency.
This week in the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates, D'Andre Howard is accused of killing his girlfriend's sister, father and grandfather and leaving her mother in critical condition.
The same day in Middletown, MD, Christopher Alan Wood killed his wife and three children.
Earlier this month Kerby Revelus killed two of his sisters in Milton, MA--decapitating his younger sister in front of her birthday cake while police watched in horror.
In Orting, WA James Harrison killed his five children.
Last month Devan Kalathat killed his two children and three other relatives in Santa Clara, CA and left his wife in critical condition where she clings to life.
And Michael McLendon murdered his own mother and grandparents in southeast Alabama.
Of course the press is quick to indict the economy for making the US home "less safe" than before--something of an understatement.
It bring to mind Bob Dylan's "The Ballad of Hollis Brown" in which a down and out farmer--who "looked for work and money...and walked a rugged mile" and whose "children are so hungry that they don't know how to smile"--kills his wife and five children in a mercy massacre.
Not only can a bad economy and being destitute turn you into a "family annihilator," say psychologists, so can the threat of losing your wife and kids which produces a feel of loss of control.
Some have even blamed Binghamton murderer Jiverly Voong's spree on his poor English and Kerby Revelus' spree on his lack of job skills after prison.
But of course the elephant in the room is that when people lost their jobs or wives in the past they didn't kill their entire families in a burst--make that gun burst--of irrational rage. Not, at least, every week.
No, behind the deeds of Howard, Wood, Revelus, Harrison, Kalathat and McLendon et al--who are always called "depressed" and "bipolar"-- no doubt are health care professionals thinking I shouldn't have prescribed that psychoactive med and hoping the press doesn't come around.
Especially as California psychiatrist Christian Hageseth III goes to jail for similarly prescribing Prozac to John McKay who killed himself.
There might even be gun sellers--private or licensed--thinking I shouldn't have sold that squirrelly dude that weapon.
After all, killer mother Andrea Yates was on a double dose of Effexor when she drowned her five children in 2001.
And Virginia Tech's Seung-Hui Cho, Binghamton's Jiverly Voong and Pittsburgh's Richard Poplawski passed their background checks with flying colors. Police killer Poplawski even had a Conceal and Carry permit.
No, behind the new spate of family annihilators is not just the economy, job stress and failing marriages: it's a government that approved a cohort of psychoactive drugs with proven homicidal and suicidal side effects. Blockbuster antidepressants and antipsychotics that are kept on the market so their companies can get their "patent's worth."
It's a government that allows unlimited weapon arsenals--including military and assault style weapons which we used to call machine guns--in the hands of all including the unbalanced on "depression" drugs.
Only to act surprised when another "entire family" is killed.