Some Thoughts on the Aurora Massacre

 It’s a story we’ve all heard before; some man armed to the teeth walks into a public place and starts shooting everyone and everything in sight. The recent events in Aurora Colorado have gone from being rare, shocking occurrences to being near commonplace, with new massacres happening nearly every year, sometimes multiple times. While the details of the cases vary, these tragedies all tend to create the same reactions in the media and public. They also should serve to remind us that our society is its own worst enemy, as much a danger to itself as any real or imagined external threat could be.

Cases like this one have been occuring for a longer time than most realize- Howard Unruh’s 1949 shooting rampage in Camden and the 1966 shooting at the University of Texas to name a few, but there is no doubt they are happening with far greater frequency today than at any time previously in the history of the United States. When these things happen, they tend to play themselves out in a familiar pattern. There is a need for something or someone to blame to make sense of the tragedy. The politicians and interest groups of course, make careers for themselves by either blaming a violent video game, music, lack of gun control. These empty suits can always been seen mugging for the camera after these tragedies, on site to give some bland feel good speech about “holding together” and “staying strong”, undoubtedly hoping to profit as best they can off these tragedies politically. It wouldn’t be a surprise if they have these speeches already written for such occasions, just add a date and location later! At Columbine, there was much said also about the students being bullied and this being a sort of revenge for the bullying Harris and Klebold endured in school. Most of the time, some similar motive can be dug up for spree killers. As for James Holmes, whatever his motives were, there seems to be a constant need in the United States and elsewhere to pass the blame partially elsewhere, but never in the right place. Whatever bullying these students received, or however easily they acquired their weapons, the fact of the matter is they are responsible for their actions, not the guns, video games, music or movies. The political class has a vested interest in gun control, and of course, incidents like this make it easy to pass gun control laws. We have the Mayor of New York, Bloomberg for exampling rallying that we need to restrict guns further in states with lax gun laws. Perhaps one day, if Mayor Bloomberg has his way, every part of the country can be as safe and crime free as New York City! A recent survey found 300 million privately owned guns in the country. Yet the amount of these guns used to commit crimes like these is probably miniscule in comparison, indeed if guns were the danger they are seen by the liberals as, and these incidents would be happening far more often. The fact is taking away legal firearms will not stop someone who is unconcerned with consequences. Someone who has snapped is not going to concern himself with whether he acquires weapons legally or not, or whether the penalty for the crime will be greater if the guns they used were purchased on the black market! Its no coincidence that some of the most unsafe, crime-ridden cities in the United States (New York City, Washington DC, Detroit to name a few) also have some of the strictest gun control laws!

Also grating is the media’s focus on the fact that this latest shooter was a “brilliant aspiring scientist” with excellent grades, and education. This has been brought up in nearly every article on the shooting. It seems that Americans are making the mistake often made today of confusing intelligence or academic success as the measure of a good or decent person. It would have been far more surprising had Holmes been a dullard considering the amount of meticulous planning that would have went into this massacre. But Americans are today so materialistic that they only can measure success or failure by the grades or resume of a man, as if that is his measure. Education today, especially education in a science has nothing to do with any kind of morality or spiritual direction so whether or not James Holmes was the top student or not has little bearing on his ability to commit a violent crime. It is a sign of a pure materialist way of thinking to measure one’s ability or character by looking at a lettered or numbered grade on a report card.

Crimes like this one are symptoms of a greater problem in our society. Our society breeds these sorts of sociopathic tendencies.. There is a degree of alienation in modern society, both economically as Marx would have argued, and spiritually as there is no defining purpose except “progress”, simply moving forward. This might work for those who are content to not think but as they say, “ignorance is bliss” and indeed this may be the point. This alienation will not bother those who don’t consider it but it may be shackling to those who’d like to see something more out of life. This explains why so many need to escape into drug abuse, alcoholism, the great restlessness of our age. The unhealthy mental conditions which this environment breeds can also both be witnessed in and compounded by the sheer number of people who need to take anti depressants and anti psychotic drugs in this country. Between 1996 and 2005 the number of people on anti depressant treatment nearly doubled from 13.3 million to 27 million, amounting to 1 in 10 Americans using anti-depressants.  For a society that totes itself as a model for the rest of the world, how is it that so many people need anti-depressants,  let alone a whole host of other illegal drugs and vices? How many lose themselves on vices? This certainly isn’t, as many would have it, to forget hardships caused by economic poverty.

No matter how many restrictions the government places on guns, or what is discovered about James Holmes’ personality that could have caused him to snap, the root cause of this is beyond Holmes, and beyond guns, and beyond anything of the sort, it is something deeper in our society, an insanity right on the fringes which for some people can take the form of harmless eccentricities, but for others turns to depravity and violence. Only a few weeks ago news came out of a disturbed pornographic actor and homosexual Luke Magnotta filming the murder, mutilation and sexual violation of his lover. This sort of senseless vile behavior does not happen in a sane society. While we pray these tragedies never happen again, it is doubtful that this was the last of these sorts of horrific crimes. Indeed as society pushes further and further into this dissolute, alienating future of individualism and materialism, mental disorders and episodes like these may become more and more common.

About Ray Wilson

Ray Wilson is a New York City resident with a degree in history and interests in philosophy, theology and entomology.
  • usul

    I’ll agree, but i do think that it’s at least in part the media that makes it acceptable to act out in ways that kill other people. I’ll point out a very odd thing — these events are neigh on yearly events in the US, but they rarely happen in other places. Norway had one event like this, Japan hasn’t ever had one that I know of, nor frankly has any other place in Asia. In Japan, however, they have other well-known problems that we don’t have. Most notably a high communal suicide rate and a higher rate of Hikkimori (people who for whatever reason are unable to deal with the outside world and shut themselves off from society). We have a culture that in a sense teaches people how to deal with frustrations like this — our culture says kill that which is making you upset. They have a different culture (as does Britain, which is why they aren’t doing this either), one that as the poster puts it says “Keep strong and carry on”.

    So perhaps we need to look at a few issues about how we teach people to handle problems, as well as how we handle reporting on people who do stuff like this. One immediate suggestion is a blackout on the perp’s name and likeness. There’s no value added by giving those details, and it in a real sense can validate the action. I said so with Cho. As I watched the media show him posing with guns and listening to the newslady reading the “manifesto” over and over and reporting on every detail of his actions, it occured to me that Cho got everything he had ever dreamed of — his image all over the news, his manifesto read on every news outlet. So I’m pretty much expecting a replay within a year. And once again, the media will make sure that the next perp is as famous as Cho.

  • RWilson

    South Korea had an incident like this in the late 70s early 80s i believe, and a tremendous body count. This happens more in western europe and the United States than elsewhere in any case. I’m not counting the norwegian case because as disturbed as the man may have been, he had political motives and the entire operation was carried out with a sort of precise, political intent, however skewed and insane. I’m more interested here in the senseless shootings where a person wakes up “:on the wrong side of the bed” and snaps, firing on anyone in range with no motive except causing carnage.

  • Harrison H.M Elfrink

    This is another attempt to revitalize the gun control issue in the United States, ditto for the recent shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsion

  • Ray Wilson

    The norwegian case was very different in that it was a political act, cold and insane as it may have been, it was calculated and the victims were targeted for a specific reason beyond the shooter just waking up and having a bad day. I can’t say the same for the Aurora case, and i’m more interested here in those, where a person simply snaps and shoots a bunch of people without any real cause or purpose. South Korea did have a mass shooting by the way, Woo Bum-kon and he killed a very large number of people, precipitating a government crisis. But the majority of these cases happen in western Europe and the United States especially. I’d say this has alot to do with the “Herostratus” effect, if you are familiar with the ancient greek arsonist. He burned down the temple of artemis, one of the wonders of the world back in the 3rd century BC if i’m not mistaken. He did this not for any cause except everlasting infamy which is precisely why we know his name today. To an extent these shooters definitely have this in mind, i’m sure. That said one can’t blame the media for reporting on this story, or treating it the way it did in that this sort of thing is going to cause a huge stir as it is so shocking and senseless.