The Batman Shooting
Sigh. Some nutbar opened fire in a movie theatre in Colorado and killed a dozen people or so. It’s a terrible thing, If you have thin skin, stop reading now, you’ll just have a stroke. Trust me, a stroke is no fun. In no particular order (I’m sometimes using poetic license when I say that,) my reaction to the Batman shooting.
First off, how people initially react to this sort of event is often a great indication of their prejudices and biases. So far pundits have blamed this shooting on: The Tea Party, OWS, bullying, media violence, teaching evolution, and anti-Christian values. (Mike Huckabee took the cake though.) Pretty much covers all the bases there. The only people who haven’t been blamed yet are Hezbollah and Iran. I’m sure my reaction is biased too. I think violence that results in the death of innocents is wrong. If that belief tarnishes my view of this event, so be it.
Gun control. Many will see this as a way to get gun control back into public debate. Good luck, aint gonna happen. The NRA by promoting gun control hysteria makes oodles of money for the gun industry … and oodles of votes for right wingers. The NRA didn’t skip a beat when the Supreme Court ended a century of debate and ruled that yes indeed, Americans have a constitutional right to be armed. If winning the battle didn’t make the NRA want to compromise and discuss reasonable ways to keep guns out of the hands of lunatics, why would this event? I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think this will lead to any meaningful efforts to regulate gun ownership in the USA.
Media inspired violence. Oh, please. Despite overwhelming scientific evidence that media violence inspires violence in some people, the issue is closed to debate. How many readers are upset that children under 12 were at a midnight showing of a movie that is steeped in homicidal violence? The mainstream media is intensely profitable, and for deep rooted psychological reasons people love violence, until that changes this is also off the table. Hell, getting mad at your enemies and killing them all in a wild shooting spree is bread and butter to American moviegoers, how could that not have played an influence in this man’s thinking? Like I said though, I think this debate happening is even less likely than a meaningful debate on gun control.
Random factoid. The first shooting incident like this in the USA was in 1949. There have been dozens since then. Make of this what the gentle reader wants. There was certainly plenty of homicide and murder before then, but individuals going on shooting sprees like this is new. The technology to do so has existed since at least the US Civil War, so it’s more than just weaponry. People have also committed mass murder with swords and knives. Even of children. Best not to think about.
The professionals don’t have a whole lot of insight into this crime. That’s because it is both exceedingly rare, and even then, the perpetrators often don’t survive. And when they do, they aren’t the most cooperative research subjects. Whatever factors are common to them, they share with millions of other people who don’t go on shooting sprees. Maybe someday science will have an answer as to why particular individuals snap, but for now, despite a lot of general understanding, specific causes elude definition.
I tuned in to watch President Obama’s first press conference on the shooting. I was sickened. I had to turn it off. The man is a psychopath. He said with amazing sincerity how terrible this shooting was. The empathy, the caring, the terrible injustice of it all, he was so convincing. This coming from a man who was giving orders within weeks of taking office that he knew would result in the deaths of women and children. I’ve yet to see any sign of caring about those innocent lives lost. He was so warm … it was as cold as ice.
This illustrates the psychopathic dichotomy about America that makes me angry and despairing. We live in a culture steeped in violence and violent imagery. We glamorize violence in our movies and video games. Our language itself is brimming with violence: war on poverty, war on drugs, etc. We glorify retribution, the death penalty, and the idea that our enemies must unconditionally surrender to us. We routinely commit violence abroad, not to mention violence against nature. We arm and train brutal regimes around the world. We are the world’s arsenal of violence, shipping more weapons abroad than any other nation. And yet somehow, in some fashion that yet eludes me … Americans are shocked and wronged when somehow such violence strikes us at home.
“Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” —Matthew 26:52
Lastly, and what compels me to write this, and compels me to write period, is just the senseless loss. People, people who had their whole lives before them, everything they would have experienced and done … gone. Maybe just ordinary people, with loves and lives, maybe future Einsteins and Shakespeares and Ghandis … gone forever. Lost to us. Never to be.
I don’t understand. God rest their souls.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law, it’s probably public domain for all practical purposes. It’s Thelma Irene MacDonald. She died at age nine in 1927 in the Bath school bombing, when another madman killed many in his rage against society. The bomber also booby trapped his farm in an eerie similarity to the Batman shooter. Thelma had two sisters that lived until a few years ago, but her life was cut off so long ago that it is ancient history to most people. Just a photograph of a life that could have been. Madness.)