The Under-Appreciated Casualties of Aurora, Colorado
The appreciated casualties are manifest: 12 dead, 58 injured -- all shot. This occurred 20 July 2012 at the Century 16 Theater, operated by Cinemark, at the Town Center at Aurora. Thanks to the internet, we were kept abreast of every detail of this tragedy as it unfolded. So immediate was the delivery, it was not unlikely watching a real-time broadcast of a baseball game.
The same internet also imparts fame with equal real-time velocity. On 19 July 2012, James Holmes was simply an unknown medical-school flunky, orange-haired randy, and serial loser on Adultfriendfinder.com. A few hours into 20 July 2012, he was a Wikipedia entrant and a worldwide curiosity.
The perpetually plugged-in media has been freely profuse in eulogizing James Holmes' victims. To be sure, the victims are much more deserving of their 15 minutes of fame than James Holmes is. Through no fault of their own, they are lost forever, and in a month's time they will be little more than a memory to their families and closest friends.
The victims are enough of a tragedy. Unfortunately, there are always supporting (and unnecessary) casualties to the human one, and these casualties are of even greater significance to disinterested observers.
The truth is the most prominent of these casualties. In the Aurora shooting, George Stephanopoulos was ridiculously vocal in deflecting the truth to gain political advantage. The Democratic shill who masquerades as an independent morning show host and an epigone newsman, Brian Ross, speculated aloud and on air if the Tea Party member Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado is the James Holmes of the Century 16 Theater killings.
Of course, the killer James Holmes and the Tea Party's Jim Holmes weren't one and the same, and both Stephanopoulos and Ross knew that; they were simply employing their own experiment of Pavlov's dog and imprinting the association on their audience's mind. If only James Holmes had been named James Smith, God only knows the array of right-wing organizations Stephanopoulos and Ross could have speculated aloud and on air about.
In the name of truth, we can cross off any Tea Party culpability. But can we cross off the welfare state? Shouldn't this possibility have been speculated about aloud and on air? The state's culpability in the horrid affair is just as plausible as the Tea Party's -- nay, more plausible.
Idle minds are the devil's playground; if government is a master of anything, it's creating idle minds, which is in direct proportion to its ineptness at picking winners (General Motors, Solyndra, and now James Holmes). The importance of work on a person's psychology will likely get short shrift in the pop analysis of James Holmes' psyche, though it's remarkable how effective 9:00 am deadlines imposed by a boss or clients are at tempering desires to dye one's hair orange and to kill the world. That's the truth.
Stoicism, sadly, was another notable casualty. The ability to endure pain with dignity and reservation used to attract admiration. Not anymore, thanks to the exponential growth of the grief counseling industry. Ghoulish grief counselers hover in the wings, waiting to be asked their "expert" opinion. When the spotlight is eventually shone in their direction, they repeatedly assure everyone that the tragedy is about everyone, and that we must be willing to bare our souls -- whether we are victims or mere voyeurs -- to nip repressed memories or hurtful thoughts that might bloom years later.
Public displays of prostration appear to be on the same trajectory as grief counseling. The cameras flock to those who hug, cry, commiserate in a group setting. The aggrieved can relieve their vicarious pain through candlelight vigils or by creating great heaps of teddy bears and flowers. Forget the Hemingway Hero -- the person who displays grace under pressure, self-control, self-containment, courage, and personal honor. Prostration is the new stoicism.
Because so much time is squandered emoting, proportionality suffers: can we safely venture out into public? What course of action should I take when confronting the mass murderer I will never confront? The ability to extrapolate an immediate event infinitely along with the inability to understand probabilities unnecessarily raises anxiety, not to mention state lottery revenue.
The law also suffers, and the law is perhaps the most underappreciated casualty. The law takes hits after any tragedy or crisis, and the blows are always delivered by legislation. The two are not one and the same. Legislation is ad hoc, capricious, and endless. We bristle at legislation: Illinois requiring ID to purchase drain cleaner, Colorado criminalizing the "illegal use" of bath salts (legislation written and signed hastily after a man not on bath salts chewed another man's face in Miami), New York City prohibiting 32-ounce soda vessels. That's legislation -- oppressive and so very often stupid.
Laws, in contrast, are organic and resolute. Laws are few -- prohibitions against murder, theft, and trespass; protection of property rights; self defense -- and seem as natural to us as the atmosphere we inhale. Laws reflect behavior that is right and others that are wrong always and everywhere. Laws are few in number.
Laws promote freedom. Legislation, in turn, impedes freedom (yet another casualty) and undermines actual law. A week after 12 were shot dead and 58 were injured, Democratic senators offered an amendment to a cybersecurity bill that would impede the law assuring self-defense by limiting the purchase of high-capacity gun magazines. As to be expected, posturing spotlight whore Charles Schumer was a lead sponsor of the amendment.
Said the opportunistic Schumer in the prevaricating, duplicitous language of the political operative:
The basic complaint is that the Chuck Schumers of the world want to take away your guns. I think it would be smart for those of us who want rational gun control to make it known that that's not true at all.
Of course, taking away guns is exactly what the Chuck Schumers of the world want. That horrible world "rational" ranks with "fair" as the great extractor of freedom, as does the public's willingness to accept the politician's explanations of himself and his deeds, which are always diametrically opposed to reality. So thanks to Senator Schumer, the English language and transparency can be added to the list of casualties.
If anyone is so moved to empathize and extend condolences to the unfortunate souls who wanted nothing more than to enjoy a movie on a warm summer night, by all means, do so. But keep in mind the potential ancillary casualties, because unlike the center casualties, their fate is not a fait accompli.
Stephen Mauzy resides in Aurora, Colorado. He is a financial writer and principal of S.P. Mauzy & Associates. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.