SAN DIEGO, July 20, 2012 – It happened in a flash. The media blame game began in record time following the horror of the shooting at a movie premiere for “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Call it 12, 14 hours tops. The array of organizations, cultural influences, moral failings, and political policies pinpointed as the so-called cause of the shootings was headspinning to say the least. Even in the current 24-hour news cycle on steroids universe we live in, pundits (or rather, people who play pundits on TV) didn’t let a lack of any facts get in the way of their theories.
If you add it up, shooter James Holmes is a unChristian, chronically depressed, bullied, Tea Party dark-Trekkie type who played too many video games and was involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement. Of course. Duh!
Whoops, throw out the Tea Party part. We’ve already had a retraction and apology for this. On ABC’s “Good Morning America,” reporter Brian Ross claimed “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.” Uh, when I was trained as a journalist, we were taught to report facts, not rumors. Certainly not raw guesses.
ABC later issued this 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. Several other local residents with similar names were also contacted via social media by members of the public who mistook them for the suspect.”
CNN joined right in playing the blame game. At least this time it wasn’t a reporter. Profiler Pat Brown blamed violent video games, saying “teenaged psychopaths get inspired by video games and want to make it real.” Never mind that the suspect is 24, hardly a teenager.
Former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt said on MSNBC that the shooter could be a “dark, Trekkie-like person.” Whoa. Then how come we haven’t had a bunch of shootings at Comic-Con from those dangerous Star Trek fans? Or maybe he meant Borgs or Klingons. Everyone knows they are dangerous and shouldn’t be allowed to walk the streets. Wait a minute. Isn’t President Obama a Star Trek fan, AKA a Trekkie? (Many thanks to Gawker.com for pointing out this one).
And didn’t you just know bullying would enter the mix? Criminologist Jack Levin told the Boston Globe the gunman was a chronically depressed person who must have been bullied and humiliated, perhaps by a failed relationship or job loss, and acted out by taking lives in revenge.
TMZ.com reported that Holmes’ downstairs neighbors called the police because techno-music was blaring from his apartment this morning at 1 a.m., around the time of the shootings. It won’t be long before we find out he was listening to Swedish House Mafia and it’s THEIR fault. They have “Mafia” in their name, don’t they!
Across the Atlantic, where people in London are understandably nervous with big crowds coming to town for the Summer Olympic Games just a week from now, the Daily Mail quoted a British investigator who pointed the finger at the “Black Bloc” faction of Occupy Wall Street. Apparently the movie portrays the Occupy Wall Streeters in an unflattering way, which surely must have enraged the shooter.
Twitter traffic is circulating about the shooter’s possible participation in a group called the Denver Anarchist Black Cross, which states on its Facebook page that it exists “to contribute to the defense of social movements, both internally and externally, working against oppression and for self determination.”
The blogosphere is also floating the theory that the shooter was affected by the “poisonous atmosphere of ideological Leftism that influences university students,” seems to have been a perpetual student and part of ABC’s audience. How they know he was a fan of George Stephanopoulos and Diane Sawyer is impossible to say.
Naturally, sure as night follows day, the calls for reforming gun laws in the United States are flowing fast and furious (no pun intended), led by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, CNN host Piers Morgan, film critic Roger Ebert, and that all-knowing pundit, actor John Leguizamo.
People continue to look for clues in Holmes’ upbringing. He lived in San Diego not much more than walking distance from my own home, in the neighborhood my own brother and his family live in. It’s shockingly suburban and mighty white. He came from a family with both parents in the home and seemingly no drama. He participated in sports. He was a good student. He went to a Presbyterian church, hardly “unchristian.”
It’s not unreasonable for good and decent people to want to try and make sense of what happened in Aurora, Colorado. But all of these theories completely miss the point. It seems the last person ever blamed for shootings of this nature is the person who committed them. The one and only person or movement responsible for this shooting is the person who did it.
But Travis Bickle did not shoot President Ronald Reagan. John Hinckley did. Batman, Bane, or the Joker did not shoot anyone in Colorado.
There is no denying that we have many other societal ills and issues to address. But none of them ever forces an individual to arm himself, get into a movie theater or school or political rally, and shoot innocent people. An individual makes the choice. An individual pulls the trigger. An individual is responsible. No one else.
In this case, we believe that person to be the man arrested by Aurora Police, 24-year-old James Holmes. The buck stops with Mr. Holmes.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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Copyright © 2011 by Falcon Valley Group
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