Tagged: Aurora Colorado

Glenn Hauman: A Bang-Up Opening Weekend

Boy, what a week, huh? We haven’t even recovered from the mass shooting in Colorado Springs, their second in six weeks, and whammo! We have a mass shooting in San Bernardino.

With two major shooting events in America back to back, the usual script of recriminations and wailing didn’t hold, and people stopped being publicly polite and deferential to the enablers– the people who are now being called out for offering thoughts and prayers, but are not thinking about how to prevent more deaths from guns and praying that no one calls them on it.

This has led to unprecedented public calls for change, like the New York Daily News front page which has been retweeted over 22,000 times; by contrast, the New York Post front page of “Muslim Killers” got less than 4% of that. And the New York Times ran their first front page editorial since 1920, calling on America to end our gun epidemic.

This led a right wing wacko pundit to stop using his words and start using his gun:


Ain’t he sweet?

Well, no, he ain’t. Because this isn’t the only place he wants to use his gun. He wants to bring his gun to the opening night of Star Wars.

I have never worried or fretted about things like this. Even after the Aurora, CO, shooting at the “Dark Knight Rises” showing, I never once worried about going to a theater and getting shot. I have taken the view of Stonewall Jackson that, believing in God, I am as safe on the battlefield as I am in my bed. Of course, Stonewall Jackson was killed on the battlefield.

After the events of Paris and in light of the unvetted Syrian refugees coming into this country, I am rather nervous about going to the opening day of “Star Wars.” […] I would like to find a theater in my area that allowed concealed carry permit holders to bring their guns to the movies.

Let’s ignore the racist fear-mongering and the daffy idea that fired bullets are worse if they come from outsiders rather than good old Americans. He wants to bring his gun into a movie theater showing Star Wars so that he can protect himself and maybe other people, because he thinks that guns are useful in a crowded, noisy, confused venue with cluttered sight-lines full of innocents.

I know lots of people who are going to go to movie theaters to see Star Wars on opening day. Heck, I know people who own movie theaters that will be showing Star Wars on opening day. (If you’re in Jacksonville, enjoy the wretched hive of scum and villainy.) And we have someone who shows his displeasure at ideas he doesn’t like by shooting them. To prove he’s a responsible gun owner.

Can’t you imagine him shooting at the screen if he doesn’t like John Boyega’s character?

Aw, but really, what are the chances of that? Everybody always reacts so calmly when J.J. Abrams reboots a science fiction franchise.

Erick, heed the lesson of Master Yoda. You’re carrying a gun because you’re afraid, and fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to… ah, I’d tell you to go watch The Phantom Menace for yourself, but do yourself a favor and lock up the gun first before you fire into your TV.

As for me, I’m giving the wast word to Barry Kripke:


Dennis O’Neil: The Elephant in the Punch Bowl

Dear Uncle Huff ,

Look, I know that your guns are important to you: more important than Emmy’s knitting is to her, more important than the twins’ comic book collection is to them, maybe more important than Gran’s daily mass and communion is to her.

For openers, there’s your collection, the best in town. From the nifty little .22 derringer to the awesome AK47, it’s a display of firearms you’re justly proud of. And yes, I remember sitting in your living room, cocking and dry-firing your Colt Peacemaker. Sure, guns fascinate me. I’m an American male.

But the collection is only the beginning. Guns provide a focus for your energy and enthusiasm. They give you a social life, too. I’ve seen you at the gun shows, kidding around with your pals, sharing information and opinions with them. They’re your tribe and you’re happy to have a tribe and to be part of this one. And guns give you an area of expertise – something most of us want. You stand holding the Glock in both hands and empty it downrange and the target you’re shooting at is shredded. You smile. You’re a damn good shot and you know it.

I wonder if fear isn’t part of your devotion to weapons. Some where along the line, you realized that the world is dangerous and unpredictable and having the capability to end an enemy’s life with a half-pound of pressure on a trigger give you a feeling of security.

Let us not forget your patriotism. When the “liberals” – a word you expel from your mouth like it has a bad taste – criticize guns and gun owners, you cite the Second Amendment and when the liberals suggest that our founding fathers meant for state militias to be armed and said nothing about ordinary Joes, you shrug.

Even if the founding fathers hadn’t limited their recommendation to military organizations, they lived and wrote about 236 years ago. Do you still ride to work on a horse?

I’ll ask one more question – a snide question, I admit: if you’re so star-spangled patriotic, why have you never worn a uniform? You’re strong and healthy and intelligent and, let us remember, a fine marksman; the Army would have welcomed you. Okay, like I said: snide. I have no right to judge you, or anyone else.

So instead of judging you, let me plead with you to be enormously brave. Admit that you’ve been ignoring the elephant in the punch bowl, that guns may bear some responsibility for the barbaric slaughter of innocents we are continuously witnessing. Heed facts and ignore slogans. Find the courage to abandon important elements of your life so a greater good can exist. Admit that you might be wrong.

Whenever there’s an Aurora or Virginia Tech or Gabby Gifford, the pro-gun pundits say that now is not the time to discuss gun control, let’s wait until emotions cool. Then time passes and other matters claim the national attention, and eventually, there is more cause for mourning.

At least start asking the questions. Last week, 20 school children were shot to death.

Your nephew,


THURSDAY: Martha Thomases


Dennis O’Neil: The News Re-Cycle

There was something I wanted to discuss…what the devil was it? Something about a theater in Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming – one of those cowboy states. But have you heard about that movie star from the vampire flicks and how she admitted to cheating on her boyfriend? Boy! Wasn’t that something? Wonder if they’ll get back together. I kind of hope so because it’s always sad when young love goes blooey, though that seems to be mostly what young love does. These days, anyhow. Now when we were young… Oh wait. I did get dumped at tender age 21, didn’t I? Well, good luck to the youngsters, anyway.

Back to that cowboy state – was it a movie theater or some other kind of theater? A music hall, maybe?

And speaking of music… Elton John’s kid is just turning one year old. Bet Elton throws him a heck of a party.

And while we’re on the subject of music…Did you hear that JLo is quitting American Idol? You’ve got to wonder what that’s really about. She says she wants to devote herself to performing, but Idol’s ratings are sinking and has it been the same since Simon Cowell split? Some might say yes, some might say no. Me – I’m just asking.

Seen any of the Olympics? Monday Michael Phelps got his Speedo kicked. Came in fourth in a swim race. Fourth! Michael Phelps! Last Olympics, he medaled eight times and now…a fourth. You know, he was caught in a photo smoking weed, or at least holding the kind of pipe used to smoke weed – I forget the details – and you gotta wonder… I mean, they say that weed doesn’t hurt athletics – “they” being weed smokers – but still…

Did that business in the cowboy state –was it Texas? – have anything to do with smoking in a theater? Or maybe smoking out on the prairie, where the deer and the antelope play? Maybe smoking is allowed in theaters west of, say, Kansas. I can’t remember when I was in a western theater, but I’m sure I must have been in one some time – probably during one of my visits to California. Don’t recall what the smoking situation was.

One more item before we abandon the Olympics… did you see that some of the athletes got in trouble for pictures they posted online, or Tweeted, or something like that? One of those cyber things that seem to consume people my children’s age, or maybe younger. Yes, let’s say younger! I don’t know what the pictures showed, but how bad could they be? A shot of somebody smoking weed? Would that be considered bad? I mean, didn’t the president admit to trying the stuff at a party?

Wait! The president and his chief opponent and that western state… Something about what those guys are saying? Or not saying?

Well, end of the day, who cares? I mean, whatever happened happened last week – ancient history, no? And there are so many other things to think about.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases and her Green Lantern Problem


Zombies Vs. Westboro Baptist Church

A Westboro Baptist Church protest was overshadowed Friday when demonstrators dressed as zombies gathered at a DuPont, Wash. military base to counter the radical group’s efforts.After members of the controversial Kansas-based church announced plans to picket Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a military base south of Seattle, 27-year-old Melissa Neace decided to organize a counter-protest, launching a Facebook group titled “Zombie’ing Westboro Baptist Church AWAY from Fort Lewis!”

“We wanted to turn something negative around, into something people could laugh at and poke fun at,” Neace told the News Tribune. “It was the easiest way to divert attention from something so hateful.”

About 300 counter-protesters showed up in varying degrees of zombie garb, far outnumbering the picketers from Westboro. According to KIRO in Seattle, just eight protesters from the controversial group showed up.

“I think that their message is very hateful, and Jesus was not a hateful person. He loved everybody,” one of the counter-protesters told KIRO.

via Westboro Baptist Church Military Protest Countered By Zombie Demonstrators.

And hey, Jesus came back from the dead too, so not only does he love zombies, he qualifies as one. Doesn’t it say, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”? God makes zombies all the time!

We can only hope for such creativity when the Westboro Baptist Church goes to Aurora, Colorado.

John Ostrander: Seduction of the Gun

In the wake of the terrible shootings in Aurora CO during the midnight showing of The Dark Night Rises, I was contacted by television station WRTV in Richmond VA to comment about my Batman anti-gun violence book, Batman: Seduction of the Gun, that was first published in 1993. Those interested in the interview can find it here.

The stand-alone Batman story was done in response to the killing of John Reisenbach, the son of a Warner’s executive. DC wanted to respond at the time and it was felt that Batman was the logical choice for the story as his own parents were victims of gun violence and had a well-known aversion of handguns.

Denny O’Neil was the Batman editor back then and offered me the writing job, knowing I had once worked with an anti-gun organization. Denny emphasized that we couldn’t just preach; first and foremost we had to tell a good story. We could make our points but they had to be part of the story. I had no problem with that; it’s one of the lessons I learned from studying Shakespeare – theme should be hardwired into the plot.

I took what I knew and then researched more. One of the things that I learned was about “straw men sales.” If you lived in a state or municipality that had strict laws about the sales of firearms, you could get around it by having someone in another state buy the gun(s) for you, even in bulk. Gangs in New York City were doing that down in Virginia. I used that as a small section of the overall story, but it resonated. Virginia’s then-governor L. Douglas Wilder used the comic to help get his modest but controversial gun control law passed – buyers could purchase one gun a month. You could have belonged to a “Gun of the Month Club” and still been perfectly legal.

I was and am proud of the book. I’ve been asked recently if I thought that DC might or should reprint it in light of the events in Colorado. I’ve thought hard on it and I’ve come to my own conclusions.

I want to say, first of all, that I have no idea whether DC has any plans to re-issue Seduction of the Gun. They haven’t said and I haven’t asked or suggested it. I don’t think they will re-issue it, however, and perhaps they shouldn’t. There are reasons why not.

First of all, it would be months before it would get out there. It would have to be solicited in the Diamond Catalog and that’s planned way ahead. I don’t know as it would appear before next year and one could question the relevance.

Second, even if the book was re-published tomorrow, this is an election year and everything gets politicized. Putting Seduction of the Gun out there now would be characterized as a political statement and I don’t think it’s one either DC or Warners wants to make. The Dark Knight Rises is already connected with those terrible murders and I can’t see Warners wanting to keep reminding people of that. They want to sell tickets. It’s hard enough these days to get people to come to the movie theater instead of just waiting to see it at home. This wouldn’t help.

Third, what audience would the book reach? There’s no stomach, no political will these days, for a further conversation about gun control or banning guns. None. Sales of guns in Colorado spiked following the tragedy. Furthermore, in the comics community, any time you do a story about an issue these days a certain very vocal percentage of the comics’ blog-o-sphere dismisses it automatically as an “Afternoon Special.”

Finally, and I don’t want to seem too bleak here, but what good would it really do? Yes, Governor Wilder used it at the time to pass his gun control legislation but that law was repealed not long ago. You can once again buy as many guns as you want in Virginia. I heard one leader in the VA government claim the law wasn’t really needed now – that they had background checks and such to prevent bad things from happening. Tell that to the victims of James Holmes. He was able to legally get all the guns he wanted.

Let me be clear: I’m not in favor of banning guns and never have been. At heart, the country is not prepared to go for that and I think you would create the same sort of situation that the government did when it banned alcohol, that it does now in banning marijuana – people wouldn’t/don’t obey resulting in a large sub-rosa underground market that would make plenty of money for Organized Crime. There are also plenty of people with a legitimate reason for guns and rifles – hunters, for one example, and on farms and ranches there’s a need for pest control. That’s always been true.

On the other hand, what need does any private citizen have for an AK-47 or similar attack rifle? Explain it to me, please, someone. It might be argued that people have a perfect right to own them and its guaranteed by the Constitution. I’ve read somewhere that your Constitutional right to self-expression ends where your fist hits my face.

I’d say the same thing applies to a bullet.

When I wrote the story, I thought it was important for the reader to have characters who were sympathetic who became victims of gun violence. I wanted the reader to feel for them, to identify with them, so they would feel some sense of loss at their deaths. You can’t argue with a closed mind but you might be able to reach people by engaging their hearts. In the Aurora shootings, there are stories of people dying to protect ones they loved, shielding them with their own bodies. There was the single father who was out with his kids for the day. There were the very young children who were shot or killed. If these true stories don’t engage the heart, I don’t know what my fictional story will do.

I would love if Seduction of the Gun became anachronistic; my fear is that it will remain relevant. The cycle will resume – more gun shootings, more hand wringing, more passionate defense of perceived Constitutional rights, and nothing more will happen. That’s the life we live.

Monday: Mindy Newell


Marc Alan Fishman: How the West Wing Cured Me of My Taste for Blood

Gentle readers, I have tried hard to stick to just comics here in my column since I started writing it. It would seem this will be one week I head to the fringe. We all know about the massacre in Aurora, Colorado. It’s gotten plenty of people talking about what to do. Do we tighten up the process to purchase weapons? Do we not allow the sale of automatic weapons of larger size? Do we install security checkpoints at movie theaters? And of course… when the scum is convicted of this heinous crime, should we kill him?

Before I get to the last aforementioned question (which is what I’m really here to discuss), here’s my take on those other sundry queries: We can tighten up the process to purchase weapons all we want. But we’re very adept at hiding lies, and getting our hands on what we need, legal or not. We could ban the larger assault rifles too, but again, if someone wants one bad enough, they’ll get one. And in the case of Aurora, I’m sure the “Joker” in question would have been happy to murder innocent people in cold blood with any ole gun he could get his hands on. And sure, we could install any number of counter-measures and protocols to survey public areas to try to remove ourselves from harm, but don’t complain to me when it takes an additional hour to get into the movies to see the Avengers 5.

On to the matter at hand. When the last booby trap is triggered, the damage accessed, and the trial begun, I’m sure the populace will demand nothing short of a public stoning. And initially, I’d be right there with them. You see, there was a time when I considered myself a conservative. I liked the idea of having a mighty military. I liked the idea that the government should be small, and get out of my way as I build empires from lemonade stands. And most important, I wanted every last evil muthtrucker dead dead dead. I mean, why waste my tax dollars to keep a murderer, rapist, or crack dealer alive? Damnit, that money could be spent on more planes to murder the evil guys on the other side of the world! And then, I went to college, and my friends turned me on to the show The West Wing.

The show (for the first four seasons at least) was a brilliant piece of fiction, depicting a world where the war mongering Bush family didn’t lay waste to a country, and bury our already indebted country further into debt. Instead, it presented one Jed Bartlet, a snobby elitist pinko commie liberal, and his staff of equally leftist yes men. It was pretty brilliant. Aaron Sorkin knows how to sound smart, and to a college freshman who thinks he knows smart, the show sunk in with me pretty deeply.

Over time my views gradually changed. I realized that not everyone is as entitled as others, and no amount of entrepreneurial spirit can necessary negate poverty. I also realized that human life is not ours to take away from one another. No matter how absolutely rotten to the core someone is, they don’t deserve to die. Simply put, for those lost souls in the world, death is a fate too easy.

James E. Holmes is accused of committing an absolute atrocity. There’s little doubt in my mind the families of the victims wants his head on a pike. Rightfully so, mind you. But as I said above: it’s too easy a punishment. I may not wish death on any man, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want suffering. I’d gladly see my tax dollars pay to ensure Holmes is fed the absolute minimum amount of food and water to live, confined to a cell no bigger than a twin bed, with a leaky faucet and broken toilet. I want every day of his life to include a solid hour of larger, angrier inmates given free reign to pummel, poke, prod, and pound Holmes within an inch of his life. I want a team of nurses and doctors to repair him to a state of consciousness, without any pain medication. And then, I want the process to start again the next day. Until Holmes passes away from old age.

I say these things not to be a sadist. I say them because like so many of us, I am angry, confused, and bewildered as to what it takes to lose all shreds of one’s being – such that one could commit an act so flagrant and foul. In one well-plotted outburst, Homes reminded us how fragile life really is. He stole a nation’s ability to enjoy entertainment, if only for a short period.

I am not deeply religious (if at all, honestly), but I am to believe that if this, in fact, is the only go around on this rock that we have, we should all know no pain, no hunger, no fear, no doubt, no sadness more than what comes with the natural order of things. What was committed in Colorado was as far away from natural as could be.

The state of Colorado has not executed someone since 1997. It is in my hopes that Homes will not be given the easy way out for what he did. Instead, may he be left to rot in a cell, forced to eventually accept that he is one of the lowest forms of life on the planet. May he suffer long beyond the families and friends that he hurt.

I end with a pull from “Take This Sabbath Day:”

Toby: The Torah doesn’t prohibit capital punishment.

Rabbi Glassman: No.

Toby: It says, “An eye for an eye.”

Rabbi Glassman: You know what it also says? It says a rebellious child can be brought to the city gates and stoned to death. It says homosexuality is an abomination and punishable by death. It says men can be polygamous and slavery is acceptable. For all I know, that thinking reflected the best wisdom of its time, but it’s just plain wrong by any modern standard. Society has a right to protect itself, but it doesn’t have a right to be vengeful. It has a right to punish, but it doesn’t have a right to kill.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


Hans Zimmer releases “Aurora” to benefit shooting victims

Hans Zimmer, composer of The Dark Knight Rises, has released a special composition called, simply, “Aurora”, to help raise needed funds.

“Aurora” is dedicated to those who lost their lives and were affected by the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. I recorded this song in London in the days following the tragedy as a heartfelt tribute to the victims and their families. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Aurora Victim Relief organization.

The track is available on iTunes shortly and you can listen to snippets and donate here.

Martha Thomases: Batman and Reality

Bob left a message on my phone last Friday. “I’m glad you aren’t DC’s publicity manager today,” he said.

Me, too.

After the Columbine shootings in the 1990s, we got calls at DC because the killers wore trench coats and so did John Constantine. This time, the alleged gunman actually said he was the Joker.

Most likely, if I were still the publicity manager at DC I would have received a zillion phone calls on Friday. And, most likely, I wouldn’t have been allowed to say anything. I would have told the media to call Warner Bros. corporate communications VP and let that person sweat it. Since I’m no longer on the payroll, let me show you what I would say if I got one of those phone calls and could speak freely.

Reporter: Does DC Comics have anything to say about the Batman massacre?

Me: This tragedy has nothing to do with DC Comics or the Batman.

Reporter: The shooter said he was the Joker. He died his hair orange.

Me: The Joker has green hair.

Reporter: Doesn’t the violence in Batman glorify killing and inspire acts such as this?

Me: For more than 50 years and scores of writers and artists, Batman has been an outspoken opponent of guns. Insane people will find inspiration where there is none. Son of Sam took orders from his dog, but no one blames the dog. I think it was Lenny Bruce who said, you can take any page of the Sears catalog, and someone will whack off to it.

Reporter: What’s a Sears catalog?

As usual, the mainstream culture misses the point. Batman isn’t the problem. Batman fans are not the problem. Guns are the problem.

Yes, I know the right to bear arms is guaranteed in the Second Amendment. You know what’s guaranteed in the First Amendment? The right to free expression. In the wake of Friday’s horror, theater chains didn’t ban guns in their places of business but instead banned costumes. Maybe the costumes they should ban include loaded weapons and Kevlar?

(Side note: I cannot imagine getting dressed up in a costume to go to the movies. I don’t even really understand why people get dressed up in costumes to go to go to comics conventions. There’s Halloween, and St. Marks Place, and, for me, that’s enough room for funny outfits. Also, the 1980s.)

It is true that the alleged shooter had unfettered access to comic books, graphic novels, fantasy films, video games and hair dye. He also had unfettered access to weapons and ammunition. Opinions may vary, but I think it’s pretty cut-and-dried about which contributed more directly to the massacre.

If there is a graphic novel that should be attracting media attention, it’s My Friend Dahmer  by Derf Backderf, published by Abrams ComicArts imprint. The author, with a grace and elegance that awed me, shows how easily society ignores and humiliates misfits, some of whom grow up to do horrible rings.

If you don’t have it, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman


Dennis O’Neil: Batman’s Lethal Force

It is one of the universe’s pointless ironies that the horror in Colorado happened at the showing of a Batman movie. Despite the grimness in the Batman mythos, the character has neither been an advocate of violence, nor an apologist for it.

Not that I think it’s necessary, but let’s put out a few reminders anyway:

The only time Batman used a gun was in a very early story when the character was still in the process of forming.

Similarly: the mature Batman has eschewed lethal force of any kind.

A couple of decades ago, John Reisenbach, the son of a colleague, was shot to death on Jane Street in Greenwich Village – one of those senseless urban crimes that will probably never be solved. At the urging of Jenette Kahn, and under my editorship, John Ostrander wrote a fine Batman story about city streets and guns in reaction to our coworker’s tragedy. The story, titled “Seduction of the Gun,” was later credited with helping to pass anti-gun legislation in Virginia.

A final example: In the movie that was showing in Colorado, Batman has a line forbidding another character to use firearms.

So it wasn’t our fault, and, happily, the only press I’ve seen tying the massacre to comics was in New York’s Daily News, which cited a Frank Miller story in which similar gun violence was committed.  But even that piece quoted Brad Meltzer’s observation that Batman has been vocally anti-gun for these many years.

So it wasn’t our fault and it wasn’t the fault of anything the gunman read or saw or played. All extant evidence indicates that normal, psychologically healthy individuals and not prompted to atrocity by anything in the media. And the unhealthy? That’s scary and I’ve experienced occasional momentary uneasiness when I’ve had a hero in something I’m writing use lots of physical force to solve some problem. Was I setting a bad example? I don’t think so. Like it or not, we humans have aggression in our nature – that ol’ devil Evolution again – and if that weren’t true, we probably wouldn’t be entertained by depictions of warriors doing their thing. The earliest stories we have – and a good bit of what’s known as Scripture – are full of bloodletting.

Maybe the tactic for us modern storytellers is not to glorify the violence. Sometimes it’s necessary to use force in defense of self or other, sometimes the skills of the warrior are valuable. And, arguably, warriors are legitimate heroes. But, in our stories, let’s not glory in our characters’ infliction of pain and death. That glorification might be the line between heroism and sadism.

None of this is of any use to the people in Colorado and I’m too cynical to say that some good will come of it all. I don’t believe that much good came from the Columbine massacre or the Gabrielle Giffords shooting or the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan or the murder of John F. Kennedy or the million gun death that have happened in our nation since the deaths of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.

Maybe the best we can hope for is that we will stop blaming movies and television for these indescribably sad events and have the courage to begin investigating the real causes. It is a forlorn hope, but it may be the best we have.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases


Mike Gold: Bat-Madness

We don’t want to think we’re all just one brain-vein rupture away from committing murder, but most of us know in our heart of hearts this is so. To avoid that horrible prospect, every time something like the Dark Knight slayings happens we try to pin the blame on … something … somebody.

Attention-hungry quack shrinks who have never met the accused killer in Aurora Colorado let alone examined him or even studied his still-unfolding life history run to the nearest media outlet to promote themselves and their baseless theories – baseless because they don’t know the suspect or his story. And the media, like greedy whores in their own gravity-free reality show, lap it up and put it all in print and on the air as though there’s actually some legitimacy in these pontifications.

Liberals clamor for gun control, nonsensically posturing that if there were no guns there would be no killings. This is like blaming water for drowning. Mr. Holmes – and I note the American Way caveat of innocent until proven guilty – seems to have been resourceful enough to come up with alternatives, as the 24-hour stand-off at his booby trapped apartment clearly illustrates. Sure, citizens need assault weapons only slightly more than we need personal tactical nuclear weapons, but it doesn’t take a PhD in science to make a weapon of mass destruction. 20 minutes alone at a Home Depot should do it.

Modern conservatives say if everybody were armed, the shooter would have been put down early. Right. In a dark theater. Many of these same people put down Scientology or Mormonism because they think that stuff is wacky.

Some media, in their insatiable need for gaudy art, blame the comics – in particular Frank Miller’s best-selling Batman work. At least this gets Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan off the hook for creating a villain with a name that sounds just like the Republican presidential candidate’s Achilles’ heel. Of course, there have been about a million Batman stories published 73 years and you could find hundreds of similarities within the greater Bat grimoire. In fact, the whole Joker-gassing-the-public bit dates back to the earliest stories. I can’t forgive Frank for The Spirit, but people who are trying to conflate the Colorado shootings with his work are lazy slobs.

The fact is, James Holmes is a smart, highly accomplished young man of 24 from a church-going family in San Diego, California, the nicest city in the nation. That’s reality. Some cheap-shot artists are braying “somebody should have said something!” Well, his high school friends said he was pretty normal. His colleges acquaintances said he pretty much kept to himself, although there are reports he would frequent bars and other public places and engage in rational conversation, even up to a few days before the killings. I don’t think Philip K. Dick could have seen this one coming.

Again, reminding us all that he is merely the suspect and hasn’t been convicted of anything, Holmes appears to have simply snapped. Perhaps this happened a couple months ago when he started the process of dropping out of his post-grad programs. It would have taken him that long to put together the guns, the ammo, the hand-wired bombs and whatever else turns up.

I’m not saying he’s insane, at least not in the legal sense of knowing right from wrong. That’s a matter for the prosecution, the defense, and the jury. I’m saying he snapped. Just like anybody could snap. Anybody who feels he or she has nothing to lose, or something important to prove. Under the exactly wrong circumstances, that can be any one of us.

And that’s the true horror of the Aurora Colorado Dark Knight shootings.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil