When James Eagan Holmes had been in custody for hours and the sun broke over the tragic scene of a mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, the typical recriminations began. Surprisingly, both President Obama and candidate Romney showed dignified restraint. Each made poignant speeches and halted all political advertisements in the state.
Instead, it was for the pundits to do the predictable.
Fox News commentator-lawyers called for metal detectors at all film theaters. Will-o’-the-Lisp Ron Reagan of MSNBC attacked the National Rifle Association. CNN anchors were eager to investigate whether Batman comic books inspired homicidal rages.
Worst of them all, inept ABC reporter Brian Ross quickly and incorrectly attributed the shooter’s actions to Tea Party influence. Ross’s recklessness immediately gave credence to Rush Limbaugh’s claim that a biased liberal media was using the new Batman film to advance their agenda. Ross has not yet been fired for his gross incompetence.
However, all anchors were in agreement on one score—it was the act of a crazy person.
Madness requires no motive. Therefore insanity is an easy explanation for society at large because it means it has no responsibility to review what might have been the cause. A deranged act needs no more investigation than to clean up the crime scene.
Yet the facts as they stand are in stark contrast to irrationality. The shooter had rigged his booby-trapped apartment to a sound system which began to play loudly at 12 AM. Neighbors below him considered a noise complaint, and one occupant went to the door that had been purposely left ajar, yet for some providential reason she choose not to push inside. Had she done so, an explosion was designed to ignite which would have directed the vast majority of the Aurora police force to the burning apartment instead of the movie theater.
This would have greatly reduced the available officers at the shooting scene, synchronized to occur afterward at 12:30 AM, consequently giving Holmes expanded opportunity to carry out his massacre. Authorities were on the scene within three minutes; his diversion would have given him many more. It was a diabolical plan but a thoroughly logical one. The best available evidence thus suggests anything but madness in the clinical sense.
It is far too early to know for certain what motivated this carnage. It is also likely we will never be allowed to know the true reason.
According to one neighbor near Holmes’s California residence the shooter was a “typical American kid.” He was described as helpful and a hard studier in school. This is borne out by his honors degree in neuroscience. Some professors reportedly described him as brilliant. Holmes was even awarded a competitive internship at the prestigious Salk Institute. This was not the sort of mind one would describe as unhinged.
Yet after graduation, despite stellar references and outstanding grades, Holmes could only get a job at McDonald’s. People who knew him describe a change in his demeanor around this time. Not long afterward he moved a thousand miles from home to attend graduate school in Colorado, though he later dropped out.
One of two surgical residents at the Colorado hospital to which most of the victims were brought was named Comilla Sasson. Another was Allen Waziri. On ABC, correspondent Cecilia Vega reported on the matter. At NBC, it was Miguel Almaguer. And Kyung Lah for CNN. Did any of these people occupy positions Holmes might have filled? Probably not, but they do occupy American jobs that would have once gone to actual Americans, and they occupy them by the millions. Meanwhile, the descendants of those who fought for, built up, and created the country are cavalierly shunted aside in favor of a glorified and crushing “diversity” neither they nor their ancestors ever voted on or requested. What could go wrong?
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