To say what happened in Aurora last Friday night was horrific is an understatement. Twelve people died and at least 50 were injured after 24-year-old James Holmes fired into a crowded movie theater at a midnight opening of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Media coverage of the shootings and of Holmes has been relentless. Unfortunately, too much has also been downright tasteless, if not simply disturbing, with many public figures pointing fingers left and right and even blaming the victims for the shooting.
Something that words cannot begin to express happened last week in Aurora. We need to stop the blame game and start trying to understand why we still don’t have stronger gun control laws in the US and why, after Columbine and Virginia Tech and too many other tragedies, it happened again.
Six really horrendous things people are saying about the Aurora shooting.
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1. Blame the Victims For the Shooting
Former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, has criticized the victims of the shooting for failing to stop the attack.
This seems equivalent to saying that a woman “deserved” to be raped because of her clothing and appearance.
As Care2 blogger Jeff Fecke wrote,
Pearce referenced the September 11, 2001 downing of United Flight 93, a hijacked plane which was brought down due to the actions of passengers, at the cost of their lives. “Where were the men of flight 93????” Pearce asked. “Someone should have stopped this man. Someone could have stopped this man. Lives were lost because of a bad man, not because he had a weapon, but because no one was prepared to stop it.”
Pearce added, “All that was needed is one Courages/Brave [sic] man prepared mentally or otherwise to stop this it could have been done.”
The assailant, James Holmes, used tear gas to disable and disorient his victims, and was wearing full body armor during his attack.
Besides the victims and survivors themselves, Pearce has someone, or rather something, else to blame for the attacks.
2. The Massacre Is Proof of Why We Don’t Need Gun Control
After the attacks in Aurora, Pearce wrote: “Had someone been prepared and armed they could have stopped this ‘bad’ man from most of this tragedy. He was two and three feet away from folks, I understand he had to stop and reload.”
His remarks appeared in the Arizona Republic, which Pearce accused of misrepresenting what he’d said. He then specifically mentioned gun control laws:
“All I did was lament that so many people should be left disarmed and vulnerable by anti-gun rules that try to create a sense of safety by posting a sign that says ‘No Guns’, when the only real effect is to disarm everyone who could have saved lives.”
Ah yes. If only gun control laws weren’t so stringent, the moviegoers would have been packing heat and all would have been different.
3. Victims Who Aren’t Christian Enough Are Going to Hell
Evangelical leaders wasted no time in singling out the obvious culprit for the shooting, secularism.
Continuing Pearce’s shocking lack of compassion for those killed in the massacre, Newcombe also said that the Aurora victims would end up in hell unless they were “suitably Christian.”
4. Teaching Evolution Is To Blame
Actually, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer did not simply blame liberals for the shootings in Aurora. Fischer, the director of issues analysis for the conservative fundamentalist Christian group, blamed the “liberals’ way” of teaching evolution and science in schools, instead of prayer and the Ten Commandments. Said Fischer:
“Don’t forget the 6th or 7th Commandment — I lose track of the numbers in there — ‘Thou shalt not murder.’” “What if [James Holmes] had been exposed to that every day in the educational system? What if the Ten Commandments were reinforced: ‘Thou shalt not murder’? What if that had been his daily dose moral instruction and spiritual instruction?”
As Fischer said in a comment (that suggests he might do well to brush up on his own understanding of Darwin) accused gunman James Holmes “sees himself as evolutionarily advanced just like he was taught in school about Darwin, that this is how natural selection works.”
5. The Aurora Massacre Was An Attack On Judeo-Christian Beliefs
In an interview on the “Istook Live!” radio show, Tea Party favoriteRep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, portrayed the shooting of moviegoers innocently seeking to start a summer weekend with a blockbuster movie as an attack on Judeo-Christian beliefs.
Said Gohmert: “You know what really gets me, as a Christian, is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs, and then some senseless crazy act of a derelict takes place.”
Like Pearce, Gohmert suggested that the moviegoers should have been armed. “Was there nobody that was carrying a gun that could have stopped this guy more quickly?” he asked.
6. Blame Hollywood, the Internets, the Media and the Movie Theater
Fred Jackson, the host and director of the American Family Association, blamed Hollywood for the attack in a radio segment, as well as the internet and the media with the “liberal bias” therein displayed.
It’s not surprising to see a conservative Christian speaking out about Hollywood or the media, of course.
Torrance Brown, Jr., was present at the Aurora cinema last Friday and lost a friend, A.J. Boik. He is reportedly filing a lawsuit against Warner Bros., the studio behind the film “The Dark Knight Rises,” because the movie was “especially violent” and Holmes was “basing his actions around it.”
Brown is also said to be suing the movie theater for negligence in not having a more secure emergency door (Holmes was able to prop it open) and also Holmes’s doctors for not taking better care of their patient.
Yes, even as many of us are just trying to get our minds around what happened not even a week ago in Aurora, the lawyers have already been contacted.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons