Friday, July 20, 2012


April 19, 1995: Timothy McVeigh changed the words Oklahoma City forever.

April 20, 1999: Two young men transformed the word Columbine from a beautiful flower into something unfathomable.

September 11, 2001: Including 911 is almost obscenely obvious.

January 8, 2011: Loughner.

Am I forgetting any?

Probably, but it's not a serious question, just a way to delay the next entry. My stomach clenches at the thought of typing it, yet here we are.

How is it possible that on July 20, 2012, we have added Batman to this list?

How is it possible? How? How? How?


*  *  *


Anonymous said...

Everything is possible now.

Joe said...

Sorry to be crude, but just what the fuck is wrong with some people?

It is a sad day.

B.E. Earl said...


Erin O'Brien said...

I was at the vid store yesterday asking the clerk about Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. They weren't available. The clerk was a cute kid, 20-ish, maybe 17, maybe 22. I don't know.

She was so excited to tell me about the movies, how much I would love them, how I could buy cheap copies at Walmart, or go to a big-screen trilogy and see all three.

Some kid just like her is probably among the dead in Colorado.

B.E. Earl said...

There are no words.

The last blog post of Jessica Redfield, an aspiring sportscaster who was killed this morning in Aurora, is about how she was at the food court in the Toronto Eaton Centre 3 minutes before gunshots rang out back on June 2nd. She had a "weird feeling" about something, so she stepped outside.

Mike Lawless said...

Kurtz said it all in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" and again in "Apocalypse Now." Something we all will say someday.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

Erin asked how we have added Batman to the words Oklahoma City, Columbine, 911, and Loughner.

It's possible simply because as much as some would like to think otherwise, there are evil people in the world. McVeigh was certainly an evil person, twisted by an ideology and The Turner Diaries. I think we all know that the Columbine folks were, well, evil. The 911 extremists had certainly bought into a twisted, evil interpretation of a religion. Loughner? Mentally ill by all accounts, so I'm not sure evil is as applicable.

We don't know much about the shooter as of yet. We do know he's not affiliated with the Tea Party (thanks ABC, Stephanopoulos), but there is certainly something wrong with this guy (he booby trapped his own apartment). I guess we'll find out more over time.

There will be some who will use this horrible tragedy to call for stricter gun laws, etc. My take is stricter gun laws wouldn't have prevented this guy or anyone else from harming people. Why? He could have made a homemade bomb, pipe bomb, and tossed it in the place (he was certainly capable if he booby trapped his own apartment). The sad truth is we just don't know how twisted and evil some people are until it's too late after the fact. History is replete with examples, unfortunately. They always find some way to hurt people regardless of the obstacles reasonable people put in their way. And I don't think gun control is going to change that if history is any judge.

All this being said, my thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those injured or killed. No one deserves that fate. And I do hope the alleged shooter is brought to justice and held accountable for his actions.


Erin O'Brien said...

Al you are the first person to bring gun control and divisive politics into this thread, before the victims have even been identified.

DogsDontPurr said...

This hit wayyy to close to home for me. Alan, my husband, oversees a chain of movie theatres. He was working the Batman premier in San Fransisco last night.

Although this didn't happen at one of his theatres, it easily could have been. When I saw the headlines this morning, my heart dropped. I'm still shaking at the thought of it. It's unfathomably horrifying.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

Erin - I did so because based on past precedent (Columbine, OKC, Loughner) that's what I've seen and heard when terrible things like this happen. Based on past precedent, I believe that this guy would have killed people regardless of what laws were in place - he obviously had the intent and wherewithal to kill. Note also that ABC brought the Tea Party into this (much like the media did when Jeffords was shot) before all the facts were known.

My intent was to say that we'll hear the usual things, e.g., a new call for gun control that accrues when these horrible events take place. They'll gloss over the fact that we have some true monsters living amongst us, and that we're usually not good at identifying them before it's too late. Wasn't trying to politicize this, merely pointing out what I think will happen in the aftermath, that's all. I'm sure we'll hear lots of politicizing of this in the days to come, from both sides.


Bill said...

Gun violence might be preventable. Human violence cannot be prevented. It's heartbreaking to see the suffering caused by man's inhumanity to man. And sad to know that there is nothing we can do about it. Do we teach our kids to be more vigilant? One thing that bugs me is the talking heads who suddenly become preachers and holier than thou. They could do well with a few moments of silence.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

Thinking more about the horrible events in Aurora, I'm drawn to Hannah Arendt's comments about Adolf Eichmann on trial in Jerusalem. Now, I'm not comparing Eichmann's crimes and the alleged crimes (as much as some may not like it, we are all innocent until proven guilty in a court of law under our justice system) of Holmes - two different things and on different scales. However, what struck me was this ...

Both Eichmann and Holmes (by the initial accounts, anyway) appear to be very ordinary people in terms of their private lives. Neither was/is particularly extraordinary in any way (well, by all accounts, Holmes was a brilliant student), and indeed appeared banal, to use Arendt's word. Holmes himself was by the accounts I've read thus far a quiet person who kept to himself for the most part. Eichmann's career prior to World War II was also unremarkable in many ways. Yet both were capable of tremendous evil (Holmes' alleged shooting rampage, Eichmann's role in the Holocaust).

It's this banality that strikes me most. People like Holmes are among us every day, yet they go largely unnoticed. I wish I knew why this is, but someone smarter than me is going to have to explain it. In the meantime, 12 are dead, and 59 (as of now) wounded.
And God only knows what occurred to allegedly lead Holmes to do what he did.

I think Bill is right - we can't prevent human violence. We've seen the carnage of two world wars, conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Grenada, Panama, etc., and other countries have experienced the same or worse. I guess that it is one of the enduring conditions of mankind - that we are prone to violence against one another for any number of reasons. It is indeed a very unfortunate characteristic, but, at the same time, I feel it is also reality.

My thoughts this evening are with the wounded, the dead, and their families this Friday evening.


Vince said...

Dear heavens nearly one hundred people.

Without getting into the inns and outs of Yank Gun Law. All I'll say is that the volume would not be achieved with anything else. And another, given the population the numbers of utter nutters together with the amount of free range firearms the blessed wonder is there isn't more of this type of occurrence.

Anonymous said...

"Gun Control" is not the issue. "Gun BANISHMENT" is. I don't want to hear any b.s. about "people kill, not guns", etc. Guns just need to go. Now. Before this happens again.

Nobody needs guns but the police and the military, and with any luck, they won't, either, one day.

As for hunters, you can use a bow-and-arrow like the Native Americans did. Run down your prey like a real sportsman, not pick off a helpless animal you tricked with some urine.

As for "if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns", here is a shocker: I agree. And I insist that such gun-owning outlaws be arrested on sight and have to do five years of hard time with manual labor, *mandatory sentence*. And their guns destroyed in front of them. So there.

And don't whine about "defending my home"--a german shepherd and a baseball bat will suffice. Vince is right.

"An armed society is a polite society?" Well, let's see you walk down Harlem (or some other place with a reputation for being heavily armed) brandishing an automatic and demand to be treated politely. How far do you think you'll get? Maybe half a block?

Guns just need to go. If you don't agree, go can argue about it with some fresh widows and orphans in Aurora. Though I'd rather you tried to see what you can do to HELP them rather than antagonize them.

Thank you, EOB. You are a gem for putting into words the pain this has caused.

Bill said...

What a load of crap, the previous two posts. Why not blame the Tea Party too, like Brian Ross of ABC, mistakenly did

Bill said...

Previous two "comments" is, of course what I meant.

Vince said...

You know something Bill, it will not be a concentrated move by those with a liberal agenda that will remove your access to weaponry but something like this coupled with the crass reactions of the NRA.
Other reactions I've seen on this side of the Atlantic make the Gun Lobby look more and more like the Boers of South Africa about 1990

Bill said...

On November 18, 1978, 909 men, women and children died in "revolutionary suicide" at Jim Jones' Peoples Temple in Guyana

They were forced to ingest a grape flavored sugary drink laced with poison. 909 people. Changed the meaning of the word Kool Aid.

Major Hasan slaughtered 12 soldiers at Ft Hood in 2009. The soldiers were not allowed to carry their firearms on base. Allah akbar.

Erin O'Brien said...

No one would like to see strict gun control more than me, but it's simply a moot point. The gun lobbyists are omnipotent. The Left conceded to them years ago.

This is our new normal, people. Get used to it, which is admittedly easier said than done.

For instance, I can't wrap my head around this: The Right is all red-faced and spittle-flecked over ABC's Brian Ross making a reporting blunder, but they couldn't care less that someone like Holmes can legally carry an armed assault weapon.

Go America!

Bill said...

I laughed at your term "red-faced and spittle-flecked". I think of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chris Matthews, Barney Frank, though.

Erin O'Brien said...


I don't think there's anything funny about any of this.

Bill said...

Sorry. I can't associate "red-faced and spittle flecked" with sadness. You were trying to make a political point, unrelated to greiving, and it struck me as funny.

Anonymous said...

Bill, it struck you as funny because you're a jerk.


Anonymous said...

You have a better idea than banishing guns? Let's hear it.

Bill said...

The title of this post is "Words". Thanks for your entry, Michael.

Bill said...

Comments from a Blog or site calle Daily News:

Eric AndersonLess than a minute ago1. He didn't use an assault rifle. Assault rifles have, among other things, a select-fire option. His rifle bears a superficial resemblance to assault rifles. Millions are sold every year. You're more likely to be hit by lightning than to be shot with one of these.

2. The NRA's lobbying is responsible for the system of electronic background checks that keeps criminals from buying guns in gun stores. We are also responsible for the Federal "gun ­enhancement&qu­ot; laws that add extra prison time for criminals who use guns. You're welcome.

3. The worst mass shooting by a private individual in history happened in Norway last year. Norway has strict gun controls. It is surrounded by countries with strict gun controls. He bought the guns from CRIMINALS in a country with strict gun controls.

4. Most states have followed Florida's lead and established "shall issue" policies regarding concealed carry permits. Millions of Americans now carry guns on a daily basis. IN EVERY CASE, without exception, the states have seen a sharp reduction in violent crime as well as a reduction in the rate of shootings of all sorts, including ­"accident­al." The most violent cities in America are those that still attempt to keep guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens.

These are facts. Deal with them.

Harry Finch said...


Love your children. Tell your spouse you married wisely. Show a little common sense in your public behavior. Give your neighbor the gift of common decency.

We search for answers when we should search for hands to hold.


Erin O'Brien said...


twinklysparkles said...

Erin, I'm here reading your posts every day, but I haven't commented in a long, long time. So sad.

Vince said...

While people like Ni Brien will debate you Bill, you and your position are safe enough. It's a mistake she makes because she believes argument is an answer.

Anonymous said...

@ Bill...look at the gun violence stats in California and New York, which have some of the strictest gun laws in the country. They're in the bottom five in gun violence per 100,000 in the country.

Go to The Atlantic for a peek at a map of gun violence per 100,000 of's extremely high in red states with lax gun laws, and there is also a huge correlation to median income levels, which also correlates with low-information voters and with voters who reflexively vote against their own interests for Republicans who cater to their prejudices.

PS-The Atlantic has been in publication since 1857. It's not Breitbart or Drudge. It's a real magazine, with real journalists and real fact-checkers. You probably won't like it, but they publish true stuff.


BTW-WV: "yourtoy"....WOW...that curveball is hangin' over the plate...gotta go get fresh batteries for the 'toy'...

Anonymous said...

Anyone heard from 'Jobu'? I guess the truth was an allergen for him/her...


WV is a goldmine this morning..."redrafts"...custom made for Erin...

Bill said...

Gun violence vs violent crime. I'm not going to do the research for you, Michael, but the statistics are hugely different.

Anonymous said...

What happened has nothing to do with Batman. Your post and pretty much all the comments are so completely lacking in any sort of thought or understanding of why these things happen that it is amazing.

B.E. Earl said...

@Anon, I don't believe anyone here, including Erin, is saying that what happened had anything to do with Batman. The original post was about how some words or phrases are now tragically associated to the senseless violence that occurred in that town, on that day, or during that movie premiere.

The comments are the normal comments with the anti-gun folks on one side and the pro-gun folks on the other. Hammering away when no amount of hammering will get either side to budge. Regardless, no one is blaming Batman.

Erin O'Brien said...

Dunno, Earl. I think the anti-gun folks have budged plenty. When I was a kid, gun control arguments were about whether or not to loosen up handgun sales.

B.E. Earl said...

Erin - Yup, I agree. I was thinking more about the current climate.

Erin O'Brien said...

All these Dirty Harry wannabes are making me crazy. I just posted this on Facebook:

To those who believe there should have been more guns in the Century Theater on July 20, 2012

Here's a few things to consider while you sip your latte in front of the computer and talk about how the Colorado shooting would have played out-so-much differently if only you were there to heroically take out Holmes with your trusty firearm:

Have you ever been under fire? Maybe you have. If so, was it in a relaxed civilian setting or were you caught completely off guard?

Think about being in that theater on that terrible night: You're settled in with popcorn and JuJubes, relaxed and ready to see a movie. All of a sudden, there's a commotion. Smoke blooms from one corner of the theater. Holmes bursts onto the scene in menacing gear and opens fire.

Do you:

1. worry about sheltering your wife/kid/friend or getting them out danger?

2. worry about getting away yourself?

3. fish out your gun and risk becoming the most obvious target in the room?

Remember: There are people screaming and running all over. It's dark, smokey and tear gas is stinging your eyes. He's got a weapon in his hands ready to fire and you're still trying to decide what to do.

Here's my point: Maybe you have no clue how you'd behave until you've lived it. So have some respect for the victims and what they went through. This was not a Bruce Willis movie complete with a "perfect shot" moment.

glittergirl said...

i don't think there are any easy answers. arguing about gun control won't help. blaming violent action movies is futile. thinking that the people who commit these horrible acts are "evil monsters" isn't right either.

discussing mental illness might be a start. because these humans committing these violent & strange acts, they weren't born evil. someone had to have known they were coming unglued.

there's so much shame around mental illness. people don't know how to get help for their loved ones. or they are too embarrassed.

but it's a very real condition, and so many people are suffering. some turn to drugs & alcohol, some end up homeless (or all of those things, like i saw when i was a social worker at a men's shelter.)

it just seems like the elephant in the room.

Bill said...

I tend to agree with you, GG. I heard an "expert" say that the most common trait shared by serial or mass killers is depression. Often, depression causes people to kill themselves. A huge national problem. Evidently it can also cause people to want to take others with them. Depression is treatable.

Anonymous said...

"Assault weapons". It's not even legal to hunt with them. Why the fuck should there be an absolute right to own one?

The right is really bad with clauses. They want to pretend the 'establishment' clause and the 'militia' clauses aren't in their revered Constitution.

I love the Constitution. I carry a copy in my briefcase along with my Big Book and my Bible. People shouldn't be allowed to ignore parts of a document that they revere as if it were scripture. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison didn't know from banana clips and the 18th century a GOOD marksman was good for 3 rounds a minute, standing straight up in clear view of his target.

Anonymous said...

The above was me.


Kirk said...

I wonder if this whole if-someone-in-the-theater-only-had-a-gun argument won't someday deteriorate into a blaming the victim argument. In other words, that the person who was shot SHOULD have had a gun, and should've been a good enough marksman and a fast enough draw, etc, and, if they're not, well, that's what they get. Before anyone gets upset, I'm not saying anyone's arguing this right now, only that's where it COULD go.

Gun control is not a hot-button issue for me. Basically, I feel it should be a local, rather than a national, decision. Owning a gun in the sparsely-populated countryside being a different matter than owning a gun in the inner-city where people may be packed like sardines. I also don't see why the laws governing, say, shotguns have to be the same as those for machine guns.

Finally, the pro-gun forces seem have to gone beyond arguing for a singular freedon--owning a gun--to advocating a culture of guns. That's why they show up at non-governmental entities like Starbucks carrying guns. I beginning to think they regard people who DON'T carry guns as the real threat!

Bill said...

A good place to test your "local control" theory, Kirk, is Chicago. I forget how many people are killed every week there with illegal guns. Someone want to volunteer to go from house to house confiscating illegal firearms? Current laws aren't being enforced and kids are being raised by gangs. We need good conserevative mayors and governors. Remember when NYC was one of the most dangerous cities in the world and Rudy transformed it into one of the safest? He enforced already on the book laws.

Anonymous said...

New York State in general, and New York City in particular, have some of the toughest gun laws in the country, which is why Plaxico Burress, for example, did real time for shooting his own silly ass in the thigh.

Cleveland's mayor and city council passed a stricter gun bill and the asshole Republican hicks in the state legislature overruled them. It's virtually unknown to overrule local home rule in the State of Ohio. It's in the state's Constitution. So much for your theory about the virtues of Republican governance.


philbilly said...

@Glitter Girl +1

Bill said...

I didn't use the word republican in my comment, Michael, but you go ahead and keep making shit up. Want to address the Chicago issue?

Anonymous said...

We know exactly what you meant, yaggoff. Even though you misspelled conservative.