It took me a few days to think through my reactions to the Aurora, CO shootings and NOT write a knee-jerk-reaction post. I saw much of the following (in a zillion variations) over the weekend on Twitter, Facebook, and various news outlets:
1) "Why were there children at an R-rated movie at midnight anyway?"
2) "This is why we need to ban all guns!"
3) Add security to movie theaters!
4) Politicians using the shootings as a platform to speak for or against guns, for or against religion, etc.
Let's cover all four, shall we?
1) Today there are a bunch of "don't blame the victim!" posts and articles on blogs, CNN, and HuffPo. The thing is, while asking why children were in the theater in the first place is indeed blaming the victim, I can't claim I didn't think the EXACT SAME THING when I first heard a 3 month old was injured and a 6 year old shot. I spent quite a bit of time considering why that was the first thought that popped into my head, because in general I loathe when parents bring toddlers/babies into an adult movie. Not because babies distract me: because it's not good for them. I've asked pediatricians in the past: movie theaters are BAD BAD BAD for babies: it's too loud for their little eardrums can cause hearing damage. It's overly stimulating, and there are a myriad of viruses/germs floating around. I can't help thinking all those things whenver I see babies and toddlers in a midnight R rated showing (and it happens a lot), so it popped in my head right away. However, I immediately killed off that thought, because it has nothing to do with the victims of the shooting. Really. And blaming the parents for their kids getting shot is just mean.
My not-professional-at-all opinion why so many people went there first: it's easier to focus on one small, trivial detail than it is to face the bigger horror. Because what happened is terrifying, it could happen anywhere, and there's no way to stop it, predict it, or prevent against it. Therefore, compartmentalizing the entire tragedy and thinking "maybe the kids wouldn't have been hurt if they hadn't been there" is a knee-jerk reaction. You may not be able to stop the asshole thoughts from popping in your head, but you don't have to share them, either. Have a little self control.
2) Gun control (and the lack thereof) are ridiculous at this stage of the grief process. And make no mistake: the nation is in shock: anger and grieving are part of the national process. However, jumping on the "BAN GUNS" or "GIVE EVERYONE GUNS" bandwagon right now is insensitive and stupid. It does NOTHING for the victims, it doesn't bring justice or stop the shooter today, and it doesn't actually get anything accomplished at this stage. It's fucking RUDE to start politicizing before the victims families are even notified, and all the media "debates" (Piers Morgan, I'm looking at you) about whether gun control would've prevented the shootings is nothing more than using a tragedy to get ratings. Gun control is a sticky issue in this country with many valid reasons on both sides of the fence (and good lordy that's a post of its own, so that's all I'll toss out there for now).
3) This morning MN news announced new "security" measures in local theaters, including no face masks, no fake weapons (as part of costumes), and no "costumes that make patrons uncomfortable.) I find this ineffectual and ridiculous, as well as COMPLETELY open to anyone's interpretation of "uncomfortable." No fake weapons? Sure. What about real ones (MN has conceal and carry laws)?
4) Using the shooting to expound a hate-filled discussion by people angry and helpless to do anything to assist the victims only creates a national feeling of fear and hate. Is a national lynch mob really what we need right now? A Texas representative immediately used the shooting NOT to say he was sorry for the families and victims, but to immediately attack non-Christians by saying "not believing in God allowed this to happen." Really, asshole? I didn't pray enough/he's an atheist/she's a Buddhist so we're to blame for this? Fuck you. That's just the worst level of slimy politicking possible.
Knee-jerk reactions don't need to be shared with the world, particularly if they're asshole-blame-the-victim responses. No one expects that level of tragedy. This situation is heartbreaking and terrifying to me because a fanatic cannot be stopped, and this guy is as much a fanatic as the Norway shooter a year ago. Label him insane, psychopathic, evil...whatever label he ends up with after psychoanalysts are done with him, no one could've predicted this guy would go into a crowded theater in full body armor and start killing people. Killers like this are NOT LOGICAL, they have no empathy, they have no feeling of responsibility or respect to their fellow humans. That makes them unpredictable, vicious, and violent. What if the terrifying reality is that there is no way to make sense out of him? What if there IS no way to logically predict or prevent these actions? What if there is no cause, other than the shooter's own nature?
It's easy to try to assign blame: blame the victims for being there, blame the theaters for allowing him in, blame society for allowing guns or removing God or whatever you want. Every instance of blame avoids the real issue: a man for reasons of his own decided to take lives, create chaos, and ruin our sense of security. HE'S to blame for this, and he should be punished as well as permanently removed from society so he can never harm another person again. How about instead of spreading negativity and nastiness, we all try to do something REAL to help, like paying medical bills or taking care of the victims' houses or funeral costs, or blocking the asshole Westboro picketers from the area? That's positive and helpful.
In the meantime, all my thoughts are with the victims and their families, who were in no way at fault for this asshole's rampage and in no way deserved what happened. I hope the survivors are able to heal and move on as best they can.