By Jeff Girod
Twenty-four-year-old James Holmes entered a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., armed with an assault-style rifle, shotgun, Glock handgun and gas mask. He threw canisters of gas into a crowd and began shooting. At least 12 people have died, including a six-year-old girl. Another 58 were injured. It is one of the deadliest shootings in American history.
Almost everything that has happened afterward has been conjecture, warped half-truths and flat-out lies to promote one agenda or another.
Conservative blog Breitbart.com “reported” Holmes might possibly be a registered Democrat, as if that alone could explain why anyone would shoot up a movie theater.
Turns out, Holmes is not a Democrat. He might not be registered to vote at all.
ABC News personality Brian Ross accused Holmes of being a member of the Tea Party.
“There’s a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea Party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year,” Ross said on Good Morning America. “Now, we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes. But it’s Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado.”
Turns out, it wasn’t the same “Jim Holmes.” In fact, there are at least 24 other James Holmeses living near Denver, according to USA Today.
But you don’t have to be an irresponsible blogger or incompetent TV boob to force your opinions down everyone’s throats.
Facebook, Twitter and online comment sections have lit up with normal, everyday folks attacking Republicans, Democrats, Christians, Obama, Bush, video games, Batman and, yes, even the National Rifle Association—all in a crusade to “fix” things and make sure the tragedy in Aurora is never repeated.
And what we’ve learned (hopefully) is there’s a lot of self-righteousness and misinformation parading around and wagging its finger under the guise of solace and reason.
Stop using James Holmes to push your personal agenda. People died. Dozens were injured. Hundreds were personally and permanently affected. None of it has anything to do with pimping your beliefs about religion, politics or even guns.
Even if somebody winds up believing your half-baked, poisonous opinions about banning handguns or even arming every kindergartener, it’s a debate for another time.
After the attack in Aurora, the only thing out of anyone’s mouth should have been, “That’s terrible. My sympathies.” Or even, “I don’t know what happened. Let’s wait for all of the facts.”
That’s it. That’s all you get.
It’s like when you go to a funeral. Here’s the only thing you should say: “I’m sorry for your loss.” Whatever you’re thinking after that? Keep it to yourself. Not: “He’s in a better place.” Or: “At least she’s not suffering anymore.” Or: “Someday you’ll be together again.” No. Stop it. Shut up and keep the line moving.
Same decorum applies in this situation. Keep the line moving. Keep your ideology to yourself. Keep your tweets to yourself. Keep your status updates to yourself. Keep your blog comments and forwarded emails to yourself.
Because you can’t fix this. You can’t. No one can.
Everyone likes to think, “Well if we had just done this differently, none of this would’ve happened . . .” or “It’s all blankety blank’s fault.” You know why? Because it’s less scary that way. Because the world seems fixable. Because tragedies like a maniac breaking into a movie theater and murdering 12 people seems avoidable.
It’s not avoidable. Bad things happen. All the time. Yes, even in places such as England or Sweden where guns aren’t as freely available as the United States. It’s terrible. God, it’s awful. But don’t make it worse by attaching your shortsighted bullshit.
Don’t for a second think I’m pro-gun. I’m just anti-noise pollution.
Instead of pointing fingers and criticizing, consider how you personally could do more to help. I could do more to help. Other than putting a few Goodwill bags on the curb once a year, I don’t contribute anything in my community. How much good could we all do if we volunteered with troubled youths before they become as desperate and crazy as James Holmes?
Will it make a difference? In a few lives, yes, certainly.
Will it stop senseless tragedies like the one in Aurora?
Maybe. Maybe nothing can.
But let’s stop pointing fingers and pushing blame.
Contact Jeff Girod at email@example.com.