About Not Being About Aurora

     |    Wednesday July 25th, 2012

The minute the news about the Aurora shootings came onto my screen, I knew exactly what I was going to do: nothing. Or, rather, I wasn’t going to get involved in any discussions or arguments or take any sides. I had just been handed a prime opportunity to watch information in action, and that’s just what I did.


After all, what other choices did I have? Searching for a meaning in the event is just plain dumb: it has no meaning. Unlike Anders Breivik, last year’s Norwegian mass-murderer, there doesn’t seem to be any political overlay to this guy (I am deliberately writing this, and planning to finish it, before his first court appearance on Monday at 9:30 am Pacific time), and it’s hard to imagine one. In what way, even in the depths of twisted imagination, does one improve the world by shooting up a bunch of costumed Batman fans? Nope, nothing there.



The great thing about the Internet is that you can count on people crawling out from under rocks and saying dumb stuff, as well as people coming from elsewhere to offer well-meaning, but irrelevant, commentary, and that both of these things will happen very, very quickly. If you’re lucky (or not) you can watch inaccuracies and falsehoods assume the level of Biblical text within hours. The classic example of this was 9-11 (did you know that thousands of Jews stayed home from the World Trade Center because they’d been warned of the attack? No? Well, actually, they didn’t) but the information machine was in its infancy back then. This time, it took all of about two hours for the first bomb to drop: the shooter was an Evangelical Christian! How someone could have found this out is anybody’s guess, but of course it’s apparently not true. Almost immediately, the second bomb dropped right next door: he was a Jew! Uh, sure. These two statements appeared just before the Aurora Police Department held its press conference in which the grim truth was laid forth: innocuous grad student in neurology, in the process of dropping out of a PhD program, previous interaction with the police: one speeding ticket.


Next up, of course, was the Gun Thing, and here, of course, we’re on very predictable ground. If Americans didn’t have such easy access to guns, this wouldn’t have happened! Except I don’t remember reading that it was easy to get guns in Norway, but Breivik got some. It’s not real easy in France, either, but that guy up in Toulouse not only got one but videotaped himself killing Jews. I know from living in Germany for 15 years how hard it is to get guns there, because I had the laws explained to me by friends, yet every now and again, some kid will take one to school and start killing people, usually starting with a teacher or two. And this guy bought his iron at a couple of local gun shops. It doesn’t look like ease of access to guns had a whole lot to do with what happend in Aurora.



I’ll admit my own feeling about this is complicated. I myself would never own a gun. I can’t conceive of what good it would do me, but I sure can conceive of what bad it could do. But then, I know a guy who belongs to an organization called Pink Pistols, and he bought his gun and learned how to use it after getting gay-bashed one night. He knows exactly what his machine is, what it does, and although he has it with him at all times he’s never used it off the shooting range. He is, however, a very good shot, and I would suggest to any Philadelphia-area homophobes that keeping your beliefs to yourselves and not acting on them in any way might be a very prudent idea. I would also say that any women who are in danger of rape or who are in high-risk situations who want to take training and carry have my blessing. And I realize that saying that means nothing, too: the U.S. Army is chockablock with very good weapons, but it doesn’t seem to stop the epidemic of rape female soldiers endure. It should also be noted that my Pink Pistols source once analyzed the “assault weapon” ban, pointing out all the loopholes a given gun could exploit, and showing a chart of weapons that, under the ban, were legal, and others that weren’t. Not a whole lot of difference between them. Such is politics. Politics, too, is what keeps these weapons legal, allegedly for hunting. I’m having a hard time imagining what kind of animal (besides humans, of course) you’d hunt with one of these rapid-fire automatic weapons. So the assault weapon ban means nothing, either.


And, after the Gun Thing comes the analysis. Analysis of stuff that, since I’m writing before the court appearance, is mostly just conjecture. I was bitterly amused by Saturday’s Salon digest, a daily e-mail I get with the day’s stories listed in it. Ten of the twenty stories were about Aurora, and it was barely twelve hours later! One was, predictably, headlined “Let’s Talk About Guns.” Another was asking whether Batman was responsible. (Uh, no general audience in the world had seen a frame of this film at the time of the shootings, guys). Another was interviews with eyewitnesses. Another, which only made me mad, stated that “After the Aurora shootings, the theater experience will never be the same,” which set me off thinking about a million other “never the same” moments that came in the wake of 9-11 — some of which, like flying or privacy, really never will be, unfortunately. But the one that made me sigh was the one that said “After Aurora, there are too many tweets, too many craven politicians, too much coverage. We need a moment of quiet.” Fat chance.


Oh, and then there were the idiot preachers saying the dead were going to hell, and the idiot state legislators saying this was a product of the decline of American values. I guess the reason Pat Robertson hasn’t blamed it on homosexuals yet is because it’s only Monday as I write this and of course there’s the head of the cult which styles itself a “Baptist church” who’ll no doubt parade his family to some funerals where, unfortunately, the media won’t ignore him, the only thing that might, eventually, get him to go away. There’s already talk of banning costumed people from attending movies, which spells doom for further rentals of the Rocky Horror Picture Show and reminds us that it wasn’t the costumed nerds who committed this attack and that body armor isn’t a costume. Can’t be too safe.


So in the end, I really have only a couple of things to say. First, my sympathies to the families of the dead and wounded. Nobody should have to go through something like this, ever. Second, there’s really not too much reason other than voyeurism for the rest of us to be paying attention to this story, and particularly to its “analysis.” Because third, there will always be crazy people, and there always have been, and if they don’t have guns they use knives or hatchets and sometimes they use fire, which can kill just as many people just as horribly. Or they spray gas in the Tokyo subway. Their actions are horrific. But they don’t mean anything.


And congratulations to the Onion for its coverage, too.