This morning I provided coverage of the breaking news and commentary for a shooting last night during a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rising that left a dozen people dead.
This afternoon will feature further updates of the tragedy and the attempt by some to utilize it for political gain. One example so far — from David Sirota at Mother Jones trying to label the act “terrorism” — disturbed enough to warrant its own post here.
So far in the progressive responses we’ve seen attempts to blame the Tea Party and Rush Limbaugh for inspiring the shooter. We’ve also seen calls for gun control.
Now MJ Rosenberg takes the discussion in a whole other direction:
2:30 Update: Both atheists and Christians have responded to the shooting. Mediate quoted Tom Flynn, head of the Center for Secular Humanism criticizing President Barack Obama for invoking God in his speech today:
“Even in a situation like this, [when] he leads a public prayer to a deity that it pretty recognizably the Christian God, much as you can understand the emotional context of it, he’s still sending to some degree a message of exclusion to other religions who don’t call their god “Lord” and to non-religious Americans.”
“By the very act of praying, that’s a message of exclusion,” he continued. “If I’m a public official, I think I’m going to look around in the morning and conclude that, ‘hey, this religion thing is just too hot to handle, I should stay away from it in my official capacity.’”
Hours after a horrifying armed assault that claimed the lives of 12 people and injured dozens more at a Colorado screening of The Dark Knight Rises, Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert took to the radio airwaves to call the tragedy an “attack on Judeo-Christian beliefs” and surmise aloud what would have happened if only more people in the hazy, dark movie theater would have had guns. Yeah, if only that 3-month-old baby that got shot had a gun and just a liiiittle bit more Christ, none of this would have happened.
The remarks came during a radio appearance on The Heritage Foundation’s “Istook Live!” and included some other gems like a bizarre ramble about how the Founding Fathers would have been upset about the state of the world today because some Americans aren’t all that into religion anymore, and how maybe if more people in the theater had guns, they could have shot blindly into the dark haze and ended the shooting spree, because everyone knows that when you carry a gun, you automatically get night vision. It’s like how Peter Parker got bit by a spider and became Spider-Man. And, really, even though God could have prevented this tragedy, God opted not to because God listens to American law enforcement, and Americans were like “Ugh, GOD, just GO AWAY you’re ALWAYS EMBARRASSING ME by SHOWING UP TO MOVIE THEATERS.”
And here’s what Gohmert actually said:
ISTOOK: We were going to talk about other things but since you are a former judge and you dealt with criminal cases on the bench…. I don’t know if you ever had something that was such a crime that is senseless as we seem to be seeing with this theatre shooting with at least a dozen people killed evidently in Aurora, Colorado. What? What is your experience, with the way we have so many twisted people in our society?
GOHMERT: Well it… some of us happen to believe that when our founders talked about guarding our virtue and freedoms that it was important … you know… whether it was John Adams saying that our Constitution was only for people with ‘moral and religious people’ and ‘wholly inadequate to the governments of any others.’ Ben Franklin, ‘Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom, as nations become more corrupt and vicious they have more need of masters’. I mean it goes on and on… you know… George Washington, ‘of all the disposition and habits that lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.’ We have been at war with the very pillars, the very foundation of this country… and when… you know… what really gets me as a Christian, is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo- Christian beliefs and then a senseless crazy act of terror like this takes place.
ISTOOK: Now, in this case we don’t know much about the individual. Now, about the suspect all I’ve heard is is he 24 years old, his name is James Holmes. Obviously, he had hom…
GOHMERT: What I am saying…
ISTOOK: We don’t know…
GOHMERT: Don’t misunderstand my statement … don’t misunderstand. My statement – by saying that it is terror…
ISTOOK: Oh, No, I didn’t take it that way.
2:54 Update: At Film.Com Elisabeth Rappe worries about the effect of the shooting on “Fan Culture”:
After Columbine, focus turned on Marilyn Manson, “The Matrix,” video games, and trenchcoats. I lived in the same neighborhood as Columbine High School, and can attest to the paranoia and anger that swirled for months after the event. If you wore a long black coat (and you dared to pair that black coat with boots or sunglasses), you were looked at with fury, silently condemned as someone who celebrated murderers. One felt guilt at enjoying “The Matrix,” even though it was proved to have no inspiration or connection to the teenage gunmen. It didn’t matter. Everyone needed something visual to blame and rage at.
The same is about to happen to movie enthusiasts and comic geeks. This is the price of going mainstream. Eventually, the world knocks on the door, and demands to see our “weirdos.” Rumors persist that the accused was in “costume,” which will undoubtedly put a focus on cosplayers. The worst of our culture will be emphasized and we’ll likely see costumes banned at midnight screenings from this point on, regardless of what evidence about the assailant is revealed. Perhaps midnight screenings will end as well. Geeks, their gatherings and their costumes are going to be seen as a powder keg.
It may very well be that this man was obsessed with DC Comics, Christopher Nolan and Batman. He may be one of the very people who was sending death threats to critics. He may have been too into Nolan’s world, a sick mind who fancied himself a supervillain, and wanted to make his mark on a piece of pop culture in a louder way than in a comment field. We’ve seen the positive sides of fandom – fan-made posters, trailers, web comics, costumes, charity events – and it’s constantly thriving and shaped by people who want to be a part, on some level, of a property. Where there’s good and honest people who just want to join with others, celebrate and even leave the world better than they found it, there are people who want to hurt, maim, and ruin in the name of obsession.
We have to recognize this. We have to be prepared, and we have to be ready to defend the integrity of fandom we’ve all seen and experienced. Again, there may be no direct correlation, but we have to brace ourselves that the claims – which are already being made – could turn out to be true.
No, Ms. Rappe, I don’t think you’ll have to “defend the integrity of fandom” even though we now know he committed the act dressed as the Joker.
4:00 Update: Bill Maher weighs in from his blackberry:
4:11 Update: Like Rappe at Film.com, Alyssa Rosenberg at ThinkProgress also interprets this tragedy through the lens of “fandom”:
Mostly what I feel is this: Midnight screenings are big, hyped, advertiser-driven events that have become a source of new information to feed the Hollywood data beast, by indicating how motivated audiences are to see a movie. But they’re also a product of genuine enthusiasm and an expression of collective joy. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has meant a lot to an enormous number of filmgoers. And as someone who writes about movies, and who cares about the big, flawed thing we call fandom, I’m saddened by someone turning that shared enthusiasm into a weapon. And even if this tragedy hadn’t happened at the premiere of one of a dwindling number of genuinely mass cultural events, I hate the idea of using an audience’s suspension of disbelief, their openness to and absorption in the spectacle unfolding before them, as cover—the gunman reportedly started shooting during a sequence involving gunfire, meaning the audience was slower to react. We are vulnerable when we go to the movies, open to fear, and love, and disgust, and rapture, surrendering our brains and hearts to someone else’s vision of the world. We don’t expect to surrender our bodies, too.
4:19 Update: Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood with Christopher Nolan’s statement:
Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises, I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community. I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime. The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families.
4:32 Update: Nation contributor Max Blumenthal, who now describes himself as a “Desert bloom denier” in his Twitter bio:
4:36 Update: Michael Moore:
4:48 Update: Bill Moyers and Michael Winship declare at Salon that “The NRA has America living under the gun”:
Every year there are 30,000 gun deaths and perhaps as many as 300,000 gun-related assaults in the U.S. Firearm violence costs our country as much as $100 billion a year. Toys are regulated with greater care and safety concerns than guns.
So why do we always act so surprised? Violence is our alter ego, wired into our Stone Age brains, so intrinsic its toxic eruptions no longer shock, except momentarily when we hear of a mass shooting like this latest in Colorado. But this, too, will pass as the nation of the short attention span quickly finds the next thing to divert us from the hard realities of America in 2012.
We are a country which began with the forced subjugation into slavery of millions of Africans and the reliance on arms against Native Americans for its westward expansion. In truth, more settlers traveling the Oregon Trail died from accidental, self-inflicted gunshots wounds than Indian attacks – we were not only bloodthirsty but also inept.
Nonetheless, we have become so gun loving, so gun crazy, so blasé about home-grown violence that far more Americans have been casualties of domestic gunfire than have died in all our wars combined. In Arizona last year, just days after the Gabby Giffords shooting, sales of the weapon used in the slaughter – a 9 millimeter Glock semi-automatic pistol – doubled.
We are fooling ourselves. Fooling ourselves that the law could allow even an inflamed lunatic to easily acquire murderous weapons and not expect murderous consequences. Fooling ourselves that the Second Amendment’s guarantee of a “well-regulated militia” be construed as a God-given right to purchase and own just about any weapon of destruction you like, a license for murder and mayhem. A great fraud has entered our history.
5:12, Last Update of the Day: Chris Kelly, a writer on Real Time with Bill Maher, featured at the Huffington Post:
Early this morning, 71 people were shot — 12 died, one of them six-years-old — in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. They were killed, apparently, by a rifle and a handgun and the faulty wiring inside the head of an alleged gunman named James Holmes. And our response — America’s response — is going to be nothing.
No. They were not killed by guns and “the faulty wiring inside the head” of James Holmes. They were killed by James Holmes. He is the one who will bear responsibility for his evil acts.