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Right Opinion

Exploiting the Colorado Theater Massacre

Arnold Ahlert · Jul. 22, 2012

It didn’t take long. Despite 12 dead and more than 71 injured, reckless media were looking to exploit the rampage perpetrated by alleged killer, James Holmes, as quickly as possible.

ABC News reporter Brian Ross led the despicable charge, immediately attempting to politicize the issue. "There’s a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea Party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year. Now, we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes. But it’s Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado,“ Ross irresponsibly told Good Morning America‘s George Stephanopoulos. Yet within hours, the network was forced to make a retraction. "An earlier ABC News broadcast report suggested that a Jim Holmes of a Colorado Tea Party organization might be the suspect, but that report was incorrect," ABC News said in a statement. "ABC News and Brian Ross apologize for the mistake, and for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted.”

On CNN, criminal profiler Pat Brown theorized that the rampage constituted the “best night” of alleged killer Holmes’ life, one for which he had “planned extensively,” and that such planning likely involved violent video games. “This has been something he has really been into. And now we’re going to find, probably on facebook or anybody who knows him will say, ‘Yeah, he did have a lot of interest in that. He was always playing the video games,’” said Brown. “And I’m not saying video games make you a killer. But if you’re a psychopath, video games help you get in the mode to do the killing. So it is a problem in our society with teenaged psychopaths, that they do get inspired by this and want to make it real. So it is a danger but it doesn’t make you a psycho.”

Time Magazine‘s Michael Grunwald, in a piece titled “The Aurora Shooting: Sometimes There’s Nothing Wrong With Politicizing a Tragedy,” contends that the "telegenic schoolmarms we call pundits are all denouncing the politicization of the tragedy in Aurora, calling out the crass opportunists who would dare to use human suffering to advance their preferred public policy choices. I feel terrible about what happened in that movie theater, and I’m agnostic about gun control, but there is nothing wrong with politicizing tragedy.“

MSNBC used the tragedy to slam the National Rifle Association (NRA), while a blogger at the Daily Kos website blames America in general, contending that real problem "is getting past the mental and emotional resistance of those who continue to believe that we’re the best country in the world, the best culture ever produced by human beings, and the best everything else.” Film-maker Michael Moore echoed that sentiment, contending that “anthropologists and historians will look back on us and simply say we were a violent nation, at home and abroad, but in due time human decency won out and the violence ceased, but not before many, many more died and the world had had its fill of us.”

Several politicians, led by Nanny State NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, demanded gun law reforms. "We can talk about it on the talk shows, we can wring our hands and say it’s terrible. You know, 'I need more guns to protect myself,’“ Bloomberg contended. "That strategy doesn’t work.” Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said Friday’s shooting underscores the need for a ban on assault weapons. Yet the Century 16 Movie Theater where Holmes allegedly opened fire does not allow anyone to carry firearms on the premises, including holders of concealed handgun permits. And the Brandy Campaign that has long lobbied for stricter gun control laws, ranks Colorado in the top third of all states in that regard.

Twitter was alive with recklessness. Rush Limbaugh was blamed for the atrocity because he reviewed "The Dark Knight Rises,“ the movie playing in the theater at the time, and noted that the name of the lead villain, Bane, was a homynym for Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, and that it was no accident. CNN‘s Piers Morgan tweeted that "America has got to do something about its gun laws. Now is the time.” A tweet from Slate contends that no one should blame Dark Knight writer/director Chris Nolan for the tragedy “but we have to ask – why there?”

Why anywhere? The essence of senseless tragedies such as this one is just that: utter senselessness. And that is exactly why irresponsible speculation, armchair psychology, and attempts to politically exploit them are so despicable. Yet the nonsense continues, led by the Associated Press, which compiled a list – of more possible parallels between the massacre in Aurora and the Batman comic book character. Perhaps, much like the current bleating for more gun control, such “insight” will lead to calls for more comic book or movie controls as well.

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