The tragedy in Colorado last Friday was another dark moment in our history. Some psychopath decided to take his bloodthirsty anger on a crowd of people who were just there to watch a movie.
People can debate until they are blue in the face about the rationale behind the so-called “Batman Massacre.” Almost immediately, liberals and conservatives were trying to mold this horrible act of madness into a nice box that would both fit their ideologies and explain everything. But they couldn’t. Obviously they couldn’t. Like everything in our culture, there is no black and white, absolutes rarely exist, if they do at all. 99 percent of it falls in to the murky depths of the gray area.
The man who committed these murders and injuries no doubt committed an act that can be described as evil. Do I care what drove him to this point? I’d be lying if I said no. But any reasoning he had will never justify the end effect. He shot kids. He killed kids. He killed 12 people in cold blood. He should never be a free person again because his vile actions were horrendous.
Perhaps what bothers me as a follower of the goings on in pop culture is how some people seemed to attribute it to the film itself. Now, I’m no expert, but I’m guessing his deadly plan had less to do with this being a Batman film and more about his mental state. He allegedly told police he was “The Joker,” an obvious reference to the character who is Batman’s nemesis. Reportedly, he also had a Batman mask in his crazily booby-trapped apartment.
But history has shown anything can become a catalyst for the mentally unhinged. For Charles Manson, it was The Beatles. Mark David Chapman was obsessed with “Catcher in the Rye.” Insane people tend to read into things that are not really there. The Beatles were no more responsible for Manson’s actions as the makers of “The Dark Knight Rises” are for what happened in Colorado.
I’m sure as his trial proceeds, people will start coming out of the woodwork and say how “troubled” he was. Have we not learned anything at all in all of history? If someone seems “troubled,” alert someone. All sorts of people knew the two kids responsible for the Columbine massacre in 1999 were “troubled” and had issues. I was a junior in high school when Columbine happened and immediately we had in-school sessions about spotting people who may be a bit disturbed.
I was a sophomore in college when the Virginia Tech massacre happened. SCSU had the teachers talk to students about, once again, spotting personalities that seemed troubling. They key was to report abnormal behavior to someone in authority.
So how is it no one spotted issues with a guy who spent $20 thousand plus on weapons, ammo, body armor and bombing equipment? A guy, who suddenly dropped out of college, lived alone, had no job, yet was able to pay the bills? This is not (in my mind) a gun control issue. This is an issue of spotting behavior that is not normal. If he had a history of being an avid gun collector, perhaps his purchases would not be odd. If he was in the military, owning body armor and weapons would not grab the attention of most people. But, from what I’ve read about him, he does not fall into either of those categories.
There are enough knee-jerk reactions to this. Some say he should not have a trial. Some demand he be put to death. My own views on what should be done with him are irrelevant. By law, he deserves a trial. By law, he is owed a public defender to defend his case (not sure how much of one he actually has). I’m fairly confident he will be found guilty.
But in the end, whether he rots in prison or is sentenced to death, his actions were reprehensible and nothing can undo the damage he committed. It should never have happened in the first place.