Playing Politics with the Colorado Massacre Doesn’t Help

by Bill Brenner on July 21, 2012

It’s inevitable. It happens every time we see something horrible like yesterday’s movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colo. People take the tragedy and twist it to fit their political tirades.

Mood music:


Some people ranted on Facebook that the killer was a registered Democrat and an Obama supporter. Others posted about how right-wingers caused this by suggesting liberals were behind naming the villain in the new Batman movie Bane, to remind moviegoers of all that nastiness that’s been bandied about regarding Mitt Romney and Bain Capital (never mind the difference in spelling).

Beneath all that was the more relevant debate about guns in American society — a discussion full of old slogans like “guns don’t kill, people do.”

Most of the time I don’t mind when people get political; I cherish freedom of speech and expression. But the political talk seems out of place to me in this case. After a tragedy like this, prayers and acts of kindness would be more useful.

According to CNN, the alleged shooter, James Holmes, had colored his hair red and was dressed head to toe in black tactical gear. He told police he was The Joker after he was arrested. Aurora police chief Dan Oates told reporters that Holmes had purchased four guns at local shops and more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet in the past 60 days. He’s been described as an honors student and Ph.D. candidate at a nearby college with no prior arrest record. Those familiar with him described him as a loner.

It’s too early for us to know if the guy is a cold, calculating killer or an emotionally disturbed man. Maybe he had political motives. If he did, they likely weren’t based on sanity. We’ll find out soon enough.

Making Holmes the poster boy for everything that’s wrong with liberals or conservatives is not only off the mark but so soon after the event is disrespectful to all those involved.

Most people I know would never shoot up a movie theater over political beliefs, and I know plenty of people who get hot under the collar over politics. Most people will get into political arguments and get thoroughly pissed with each other and eventually put it aside. Many of us like to hate certain celebrities who represent politics we disagree with. Yet we’re not about to rig our homes with explosives and kill a bunch of innocents over it.

Holmes doesn’t seem to represent a political movement. He seems like just one of the many lost souls of history who got a twisted thought that drove him to murder. Whatever his motives, the justice system will deal with him accordingly.

Meantime, we’re better off spending our emotional energy on ways to honor the victims and help the families.

Booking photograph of James Eagan Holmes, accused of killing 12 in Aurora, Colorado Theater Shooting.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Joe July 21, 2012 at 9:29 am

Spot on, and it’s bad enough when regular people do it, but yesterday I saw media figures and even elected representatives (most notably Congressman Louie Gohmert and Mayor Bloomberg) making political statements based on the tragedy. Musing about some Wyatt Earp/Rambo fantasy about armed civilians taking this guy down, or while the bloodstains are not yet dry parading the shooting as an example of why assault weapons should be banned, in my eyes is even more disrespectful than the utterly tasteless jokes that flew Round Twitter.

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