Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thoughts On The Colorado Theater Shootings

I wasn't going to write anything about this here. My emotions were too raw yesterday and I was in a state where I thought it was best not to say anything, lest I say the wrong thing. A day later we are still gathering all the facts and there's way too many conflicting reports for any of us to get an answer to the big question - Why?

This is a tragedy, any way you slice it. And there's too many people who are seeking to exploit it for their own personal pet causes.

I've seen Marvel Comics fans boasting about how this sort of thing didn't happen at Avengers.

I've seen DC Comics fans joking that the shooter must have been a Marvel fan who couldn't cope with the thought that a Batman movie might unseat Avengers as the highest-grossing movie of the summer.

I've seen liberals proclaiming that the shooter must have been a Tea Party member with more guns than sense, spurred to action by Rush Limbaugh's claims that the Batman movie was liberal propaganda manufactured to make Mitt Romney look bad.

I've seen conservatives declaring that the shooter was an plant from the Occupy movement and that this is all clearly an Obama plot to take our guns, ala Fast And The Furious - Part 2.

I've seen numerous cosplayers decry the action of one theater chain, who has declared that they are banning costumes and fake weapons from their theaters in the wake of this tragedy.

I've seen numerous NRA members decry the ban most theater chains maintain on concealed weapons, even if the local laws do allow for licensed conceal carry.

This has got to stop. For a few days, at least... can we stop this?

Can we just be united as decent people in the face of madness for a little while?

Yes, there are a lot of heavy issues at play here. And we do need to have a discussion about a lot of things. But not right now. It isn't the right time.

I had a talk about all this with one of the teenagers I work with yesterday after he cracked a joke about the tragedy that I said was made too soon. I told him I understood the need to try and lighten the mood and that I've got a rather dark sense of humor myself. (My friends and regular readers are right now are probably thinking "Now THAT'S an understatement.") But time needs to pass before a comedian can hope to bring comedy out of tragedy and right now everyone was in a state of shock about the whole thing.

We talked about all the people trying to blame someone or something for all of this and he asked me that big question again - Why? Why is everyone looking for a conspiracy of liberals, conservatives, Marvel fans, DC fans, gun lobbyists, cosplayers, gamers, rappers, heavy metal fans, celebrities, religious zealots or terrorists when it was more than likely the action of one lone person with mental issues?

I told him that I think it's easier for most of us to cope that way. And disturbingly, as I was explaining this, a quote came to mind. From the last Batman movie...

"You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go "according to plan." Even if the plan is horrifying!"

Nobody wants to think that these things happen randomly - that one guy just snaps one day and decides to go out and hurt people. Because if it happened once... it can happen again. And the next time it happens randomly, it might happen to you or someone you know. Much better that there be some organized conspiracy out to do this sort of thing - some enemy you can put a face to.

That is also why we fall back on these arguments. This wouldn't have happened if everyone was armed. This wouldn't have happened if our gun laws were stricter. This wouldn't have happened if everyone went to church. This wouldn't have happened if there weren't violent video games. On and on and on. Because we need to feel like Something is being done.

That's why the theater chains are banning costumes and fake weapons now. Because it's Something that can be done. It's not Something that's going to be useful, but at least Something is being done. As George Carlin once noted, it's all about providing the illusion of safety... whether your idea of safety involves.

I can't pretend to have an answer for all of this. As I said, there's a lot of complex issues here and this isn't the time to try and discuss it. Now is the time for healing and there is a lot we can all do to help that.

So please, if you're able - sometime this weekend or in the next week - find a place where you can donate blood and do so. And if you can't donate blood for whatever reason, pass this information on to those who can.

Thank you.

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