I haven’t been posting anything really in a long time. I’ve been writing so much for work, that even though there are lots of things I want to write about, I just haven’t been able to find the motivation. However, there are a couple of stories lately I would like to share some thoughts about, and one is the horrible event at the movie theater in Aurora, CO this past weekend.
My second thought is, everyone else needs to just take a breath, and let’s bring some sanity to the discussion. We all want to know why. We want to understand how this person came to this place. We want to assign some motivation, some identifiable cause. We want to blame someone or something so it will look like we can control these situations. We want these answers because we want to be safe. We want to know how to identify this person in the future, or how to create circumstances where this can never happen again.
There are already those taking to the airwaves and the internets to blame Hollywood’s violent movies, gaming violence, guns — both the lack of regulations and the lack of a gun-toting savior, our mental health system, troubled youth, social media, normalization of gun violence, lack of prayer in schools, gays, abortions. I’ve heard criticism of parents who brought children to the movie premier, midnight openings, and once in a while, even some mention of the alleged shooter.
We search for meaning in madness, and don’t take the time to simply grieve. I understand that very basic human compulsion. But “why” will drive you crazy. Has everyone in the entire country forgotten what it’s like to be around a two-year-old, … Why? Because I said so. Why? Because I’m in charge. Why?….” Sometimes there’s just no good reason anyone can articulate for some of the things that happen in this world.
In my Sunday School class were doing a study from a book called The Psalms for Today by Beth LaNeel Tanner. Coincidentally, This past Sunday’s lesson was “Learning to Live Without Fear.” Appropriate for the time, no? This coming Sunday’s lesson is on Psalm 13, and the Chapter is titled, “Living In A Broken World.” The first five verses of the Psalm are, in the American Standard Version:
How long, O Jehovah? wilt thou forget me forever? How long wilt thou hide they face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Jehovah my God; Lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; Let mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; Lest mine adversaries rejoice when I am moved.
You see, even David didn’t have all the answers. Sometimes he cries out to God for some sign, for some deeper understanding. The Rabbi in Ecclesiastes often has the same response. They don’t understand why some things happen in this world, yet we desperately want those answers. However, the rhetoric we’re getting so far is not going to do anything to heal anyone, nor the nation, nor the world.
In her book, Dr. Tanner talks about how the Israelites often, for protection, carried a Psalm rolled into an amulets. We Christians wear crosses and many wear St. Christopher necklaces. Dr. Tanner writes, “We have become a society where fear sells everything from the latest weather forecast to new cars. Much of our economy is fueled by tapping into our fears. If we own the right things, we can protect ourselves and our family from harm, and that will make us happy. We have replaced amulets with things that supposedly will keep us from harm and offer that ever elusive contentment.”
We have this overblown fear when things like this happen that is out of proportion to the real danger. It’s been noted that, while nothing takes anything away from terror and pure evil of this event, the 12 people killed here represent merely one-half of the total number of people killed by guns on an average day in the United States. John Mueller writes: “International terrorism generally kills a few hundred people a year worldwide—not much more, usually, than the number who drown yearly in bathtubs in the United States. Americans worry intensely about “another 9/11,” but if one of these were to occur every three months for the next five years, the chance of being killed in one of them is 0.02 percent. Astronomer Alan Harris has calculated that at present rates, the lifetime probability that a resident of the globe will die at the hands of international terrorists is 1 in 80,000, about the same likelihood that one would die over the same interval from the impact on the earth of an especially ill-directed asteroid or comet.”1
Let’s take a look at some of the rhetoric up to now. Not surprisingly, the krazy kristian kooks have taken to the internets will all sorts of bullshit.
Representative Louie Gohmert (Lunatic – Texas) said in an interview with the Heritage Foundation, “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 terror like this takes place. People say … where was God in all of this? We’ve threatened high school graduation participation, if they use God’s name, they’re going to be jailed … I mean that kind of stuff. Where was God? What have we done with God? We don’t want him around. I kind of like his protective hand being present.”
I’m guessing the krazy kristian kooks are all working from talking points written by someone because Jerry Newcombe, quoted below, says almost the same thing in an article in Onenewsnow.
Former Republican Senator Russell Pearce posted on his Facebook page that the reason this happened was that there were no brave and armed men in the audience who stopped the guy, “Had someone been prepared and armed the could have stopped this ‘bad’ man from most of this tragedy.” In a later sentence he said, “Where were the men of flight 93????”And, since he got called out for these stupid comments, he’s tried to deflect the criticism with another post today, “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.” (You can see the screen captures of the two statements, and learn more about Pearce at Think Progress)
So let us look at the former Senator’s statements. Let me just get the Flight 93 statement out-of-the-way first. Lest the known homophobic Senator forget, the men he’s praising on Flight 93 included as a major player, a gay man…so take that Russell. To top it all off, the passengers could act because no one on the plane had a gun. Guns were, in fact, banned on that flight, so the playing field was a little more level. Now, for those who say that if one of the audience members had a gun, it would have leveled the playing field; I’d remind you the shooter was dressed, head to toe in Kevlar, and was smart enough to have created confusion by tossing one or more smoke or tear gas grenades. So frankly, the only thing that could have resulted from having a bunch of armed, untrained, civilians executing a totally unplanned and uncoördinated attack on the gunman in a dark and smokey theater would have been even more dead people. So Mr. Pearce, your statements are just absurd on their face.
Hate Group Leader Matt Barber of Liberty University couldn’t resist comparing this to, and blaming it on, abortion. According to Barber, “In our perverse society, a woman exercising her ‘right to choose’ death for her innocent child represents ‘courage,’ while the Batman shooter’s ‘choice’ to kill innocent moviegoers represents cowardice. And it is. They are both acts of cowardice. The only relevant difference is the victims’ age…We have left Him, so why are we surprised He’s leaving us?” (Statement here)
It is with unmitigated gall that someone takes one of their own personal issues, and twists into these kinds of contortions to try to lump their issue into a particular act of violence and terror like this. But then Matt’s never been known to care about the feelings of others.
Fred Jackson, News Director of the American Family Association is, not surprisingly, blaming it on TEH GAYZ. Oh, and their liberal church enablers. “The AFA Journal has been dealing with denominations that no longer believe in the God of the Bible, they no longer believe that Jesus is the only way of salvation, they teach that God is OK with homosexuality, this is just increasing more and more. It is mankind shaking its fist at the authority of God. We are seeing his judgment. You know, some people talk about ‘God’s judgment must be just around the corner,’ we are seeing it.” (Read and listen at Right Wing Watch.)
We gay people are incredibly powerful. I seem to recall getting blamed for the World Trade Center bombings, Hurricane Katrina, and now this…just to name a few. Well Fred, trust me, if we gay people had the power and influence you think we do, you, Don Wildmon and especially Bryan Fischer would have been the target of an “extraordinary rendition” operation a long time ago.
Damian Goddard with anti-gay group, National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is touting a video he previously made about a shooting in Canada, and tying it to the Aurora shooting in which he blames it all on people being fatherless. “shooting in Denver, CO or Scarborough, ON can be linked to one thing – ALL kids need good fathers and solid #marriage.” (The Tweet is here)
We know enough about NOM to understand that everything not pure is related to gay people wanting to have civil marriage rites, and being able to share their lives.
Pat McEwen of Operation Save America (Whatever the hell that is) writes on the Christian Newswire, has decided it’s all the fault of the Democratic National Committee. “The whole National Guard couldn’t make James do what is right. He has become his own law, showing contempt for authority and doing what is right in his own eyes. He is the product of the Culture of Death that the DNC has embraced…This is the spawn of the ideology of the Democratic Party and now we look at each other in awkward amazement, wondering ‘what in the world just happened?”
You know, Pat, perhaps, if the Republicans and tea bagger party members would have a sane discussion, we might have a bit of reasonable gun control, so people like this guy couldn’t get semi-automatic rifles that can fire 80 rounds a minute from a 100 round clip. Those who live in glass houses….
Greg Stier, some kind of youth minister and founder of Dare 2 Share is quoted in a story on Christian Post blaming it on Adam and Eve. “You can’t help but think of Satan – you know that dark knight who was once that white knight … the highest of all angels who got thrown out of heaven and has now been on the earth perverting, killing, whispering in ears. There is a highly organized, systematized army of darkness. I kind of go back to Adam and Eve and blame Adam for taking a bite of that fruit and poisoning humanity with the capacity for horrific sins.”
The Devil made me do it is a classic cop-out. We’ve studied the devil in our Sunday School class too. I think he’s a creation of people who, as we discussed above, have to have someone/something to blame when they encounter incalculable evil. Get over it Greg. It wasn’t Satan, it was a mentally unstable human…same species as you.
Jerry Newcomb, Krazy Kristian Kook and head of Truth Wins Out has written at Onenewsnow that it’s all because we’ve kicked God out of high school graduations, and says that everyone not saved before the shooting has gone straight to hell. “People say … where was God in all of this? We’ve threatened high school graduation participation, if they use God’s name, they’re going to be jailed … I mean that kind of stuff. Where was God? What have we done with God? We don’t want him around. I kind of like his protective hand being present…If a Christian dies early, if a Christian dies young, it seems tragic, but really it is not tragic because they are going to a wonderful place … on the other hand, if a person doesn’t know Jesus Christ … if they knowingly rejected Jesus Christ, then, basically, they are going to a terrible place…For those who are not ‘in Christ’ and see this incredible tragedy, this would be a good time for soul reflection and consider why have you not accepted Jesus Christ … I would urge anyone who is not in Christ to repent of your sins.
We Jeremy, first off, there’s nothing Christian in your statements about the victims who are not saved. This is a time of grieving, and all are God’s children. I know that’s a problem for you, but that’s just the way it is. Furthermore, I think it’s important to point out; I blame this tragedy on you being born, Mr. Newcombe. Clearly, God’s wrath has befallen us for the travesty that was your birth. Oh wait, that would be a grotesque example of the fallacy of post hoc, ergo propter hoc, where events that follow each other in time are somehow presented as causally connected without the benefit of actually presenting evidence to connect the events, which is exactly what you have done here.
Oh, and quit plagiarizing Rep. Louie Gohmert (Lunatic-Texas)
Mike Adams, Lunatic and Editor at NaturalNews has decided it’s all a put up job by the FBI, or the shooter got in over his head in some deep neuroscience research…or some such craziness. “There is already conjecture that James Holmes may have been involved in mind-altering neuroscience research and ended up becoming involved at a depth he never anticipated…this guy was equipped with exotic gear by someone with connections to military equipment. SWAT clothing, explosives, complex booby-traps… c’mon, this isn’t a “lone gunman.” This is somebody who was selected for a mission, given equipment to carry it out, then somehow brainwashed into getting it done…This is not your run-of-the-mill crime of passion. It was a carefully planned, heavily funded and technically advanced attack. Who might be behind all this? The FBI, of course, which has a long history of setting up and staging similar attacks, then stopping them right before they happen.
Their motivation: “The mission, as we are now learning, was to cause as much terror and mayhem as possible, then to have that multiplied by the national media at exactly the right time leading up the UN vote next week on a global small arms treaty that could result in gun confiscation across America.”
I’m just going to leave this alone. It’s just too crazy even for me.
Jim Hoft of The Gateway Pundit has blamed it all Obama in a tweet. “Breaking. Colorado Shooter Had Difficult Time Finding Job in Obama Economy.”
He seemed to be doing OK. He was able to buy a large arsenal (legally thanks to people like you).
It is not time, but in the future I think we can discuss lessening the damage a person can inflict on others by having certain guns inaccessible to the public. We need to have a discussion about the mental health system moving beyond stigma and on to real treatment regimes that leave people either numb or experiencing terrible side effects. I know that public attention is fickle, but we need a few more moments of grieving the victims without wondering why, and stopping the attempts to blame on everything/everyone we don’t like.
Blame doesn’t mend the families or even the nation. The answers given so far are little more than tiny band-aids. Some are even more hurtful than helpful.
Because there isn’t a good answer, we need to just stop and say a prayer for the families and friends of the victims in Aurora and a scared nation.
As quoted on American Broadcast Network’s 20/20, Feb. 23, 2007. John Mueller was commenting about his book Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them (New York: Free Press, 2006). These statistics apply to the world in general and not war zones such as Iraq. ↩