Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Colorado Shootings

For my two or three regular readers, my apologies for the light blogging, and not commenting on this already.  However, one advantage of working is that stories often get a chance to take shape before I get an opportunity to comment on them, and this can lead to **gasp** almost having a few facts before it's time to put thoughts into electrons.  In this case, the lapse was even greater because of family obligations/privileges that came before blogging.

I suppose it's possible that someone, sometime, from somewhere odd reads this without knowing the facts as they've unfolded, so here's a brief summary of the facts:

Late Thursday night, at a first screening of the new Batman Movie "Dark Knight Rises", a man later identified as James Holmes, of Aurora, Colorado, sneaked out the backdoor of the theater, which he propped open, returned with a number of guns and tear gas, and proceeded to shoot as many people as possible. Twelve people are dead and 58 injured (at this point). He was apprehended in the alley behind the studio, apparently without much resistance, and admitted to the shootings, claiming to be "The Joker".  His hair was dyed red.  Upon entering his apartment, it was found booby trapped with explosives and chemical devices, and police have not fully cleared them at this time.

James Holmes is a graduate student in neurosciences at the University of Colorado, where he is/was in the process of withdrawing (I think we can consider this effectively complete). There seem to be no credible reports of any previous run ins with law enforcement, other than a speeding ticket, and no reports of violence or threats of violence to family, neighbors, fellow students or faculty. Neighbors report him as a pleasant person:
"He seemed to have a good demeanor," Parkman said. "The news reports you hear about him, it's as if people are talking about one person in San Diego and one in Colorado. Who he is now is not who he was in San Diego."
although one high-school friend reported that he had a penchant for rooting for the bad guy.

He was a good student as well:
Holmes graduated in the spring of 2010 with a degree in neuroscience from the University of California-Riverside, where he was remembered as an outstanding student who attended on a merit-based scholarship.

"He was at the top of the top," said Chancellor Timothy White at a hastily called news conference. "He really distinguished himself."
although, he was reportedly upset at being unable to find a job in his field.

He purchased his guns and ammunition legally, starting in May of this year, purchasing the four guns (an AR15, a Shotgun, and two Glock pistols) at two stores in Colorado, and had accumulated a large amount of ammunition, approximately 3,000 rounds, or two weeks of practice for Ted...

No specific motive has been offered for his deeds.  At some level you have to grant that mental illness is involved; people with normal brains simply don't do things like this.  Unemployment after a brilliant undergraduate career is certainly disappointing, but hardly sufficient grounds to shoot up a theater full of random and innocent people.  If it were, there would be thousands of such shootings annually, particularly in the current economic climate.  The Batman and Joker connection would seem to indicate that some seriously delusional behavior going on, but unlike say Jared Loughner, no one (with the possible exception of his mother) appears to have seen any previous signs of it.

At some point, you simply have to allow for the possibility of evil in addition to the apparent mental problems.  Is the evil a result of the mental problems, or is it an independent personality development.  Can the mental problems be relieved or at least lessened by treatment, and if so, will the evil go with them or remain behind?

Now, for the "other" things that happened after the shooting.

ABC news immediately covered itself in disgrace when long time correspondent Brian Ross breathlessly reported to George Stuffingevelopes on the Today Show that a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado had a page on a Tea Party Patriots website.  (Aurora has a population of about 300,000 and the statistic suggest up to 25 or more Jim or James Holmes).  Clearly, Ross had been fishing for evidence that the shooter was a right wing extremist of some sort, and had an orgasm when he discovered (or more likely was tipped) to this.  That Jim Holmes turned out to be a 52  year old Hispanic law enforcement officer completely innocent of any involvement.  Over the course of the day, however, he received death threats.  This earned Ross the Title of "America's Wrongest Reporter" by Gawker (I guess in the "it takes one to know one" sort of spirit).

ABC has admitted the error, and apologized (well sort of).
"An earlier ABC News broadcast report suggested that a Jim Holmes of a Colorado Tea Party organization might be the suspect, but that report was incorrect," ABC News said in a statement. "ABC News and Brian Ross apologize for the mistake, and for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted."
This is not Brian Ross's first brush with ignominious reporting.  He was involved in the affair in which NBC reporters arranged for GM trucks to be rigged with explosives to start fires at staged crash for Dateline NBC.  GM sued and NBC settled, and subsequently Ross and others lost their jobs. He was almost immediately picked up by ABC.

Keeping the car theme, a Brian Ross report on sudden acceleration by Toyotas was found to contain staged footage of a tachometer redlining (in a car parked in a garage). Ross was one of several journalist who linked the 2011 anthrax attacks to Al Qaeda (we know it to be the work of a lone researcher today).  He accused Republican Speaker of the House Denny Hastert of connections to the Jack Abramoff corruption scandals, which the Justice Departement (and Denny Hasteret of course) denied, and which were never pursued.  He is reported to have rushed Michelle Bachmann at a campaign event, ignoring requests to stay back and forcing her guards to man handle him.  He whined like a baby:
Ross said he'd only been treated like that before "mostly by Mafia people.
There is really no excuse for Brian Ross to be employed in the news business at this point.  One has to presume anything he reports on to be tainted.

The usual suspects, gun control advocates such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York Daily News, have seized on this news to push gun control.  Michael, you already have strict gun control in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.  How's that working out?

In short, a bad day all around for truth, justice and the American Way.

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