Terror born from rage

July 20, 2012

Thus far, nothing of reliable note has been revealed about the motives of James Holmes, the arrested suspect behind the Dark Night Massacre, where a dozen people were murdered and others injured at an after-midnight premiere of the latest Batman movie. What we do know suggests intricate planning, and the planning suggests a rationale, irrational though it may be.

Holmes carried a shotgun, a high-powered pistol, an assault rifle and a knife.  He was reportedly costumed in body armor and might even have employed smoke or tear gas grenades. Holmes’s apartment was deftly booby trapped, stymieing police search efforts. In custody, the suspect has so far been unrevealing.

The explanation here might be as simple as a psychotic break with reality, as when Jared Lee Loughner murdered six people and shot 19 in Tucson as he attempted to assassinate Representative Gabrielle Giffords last year. Or there might be more of a narrative behind this, as there was with high school outcasts Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who killed 13 people during an assault on Columbine High School in 1999.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation does not believe Holmes has any connection to terrorism, but for 71 people shot and hundreds who were at risk, terror is no longer just a synonym for radical Islam. Holmes fits the Bureau of Justice Statistics definition of a “spree killer,” which would include all workplace and school shooters, or highway snipers like John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, convicted of a Capitol-area killing spree in 2002.

Writer Mark Ames is the co-founder (with Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi) of The eXile, the first alternative newspaper in Moscow, formed in the years following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. As an underground journalist in the era of Russia’s oligarch-fueled transition toward capitalism, he witnessed all manner of criminality and violence. In 2005 he wrote Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond. Ames contends that what he calls rage killings amount to acts of rebellion against a callous and uncaring society, where the perpetrators of these crimes have been subjected to lives of humiliation and unrewarded sacrifice.

To Ames, the frequent rage killings since the 1980s are symptoms of a sick society. Schools and workplaces have been the focus of most, and this is no surprise. These are places where people feel compelled to go and where the hierarchies of our society are made the most personal. For example, he tells us about Joseph Wesbecker, who killed eight co-workers and himself in a rage assault on the Standard Gravure printing plant in Louisville, Kentucky. Contemporary accounts dismissed Wesbecker as somebody who had snapped. Ames dug into the story and interviewed former colleagues years later to reveal that the unpopular Wesbecker had been purposefully assigned to work a dangerous and noxious piece of equipment called “the folder,” which emitted fumes that were causing his physical health to deteriorate. Wesbecker was assigned this task because he was the least popular man in the office. He was, by some accounts, tortured because his co-workers didn’t like him. In Ames’s telling, Wesbecker earns some understanding, if not sympathy.

What turned Ames onto writing about this topic was the reaction of his own friends to the Columbine killings. There was some surprise, he recalled during an AlterNet interview about his book, that something like Columbine hadn’t happened sooner. Bullied and berated adolescents can only take so much, particularly if they feel like they are looking forward to adulthoods with more of the same. Might Wesbecker have been Dylan Klebold three decades later, trapped in social and professional isolation?

The fantasy of the violent rage or revenge act is a fundamental part of the human psyche. It’s safe to say that murderous thoughts are indulged, at one time or another, by all people. The Columbine massacres were compared to the stylized violence of video games and The Matrix movies. It is possible that the anarchic violence of director Christopher Nolan’s take on the Batman mythos had some inspirational effect in Colorado.

But we should probably look further back than contemporary culture. The Odyssey, a foundational text of Western storytelling and the epic from which so much else follows, ends only when a great letting of blood satisfies honor. Odysseus returns from decades of war and exile to find his house overrun with suitors to the hand of his wife and with the desire to take his kingdom from him. The returning hero, his son and their most loyal servant bolt the doors on this unarmed assembly and slaughter all but one of them, who they leave alive to tell the tale.

Ames argues that rage killings picked up in the mid-1980s, as the economy was restructured in response to globalization. As individuals face continued social and economic diminishment, the Odyssean fantasy of setting the world right with violence is too difficult for some to resist.

PHOTO: FBI officers, Aurora police officers, and fire crews are pictured outside the Denver shooting suspect’s apartment building in Aurora, Colorado, July 20, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Hatfield


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Any body wonder if the access to firearms would be more restricted he could not have had so easy access to such a lethal arsenal?

Posted by robb1 | Report as abusive

What began in the 1980’s was the wages of workers losing out to inflation, so each worker needed to either work more hours, have a working spouse, or reduce their standard of living compared with their own upbringing and parents. I have experienced the decline of the middle class both first and second hand in that time, but the basic facts came from an analysis I read at a website of the Federal Reserve System. I also sse in in my adult childeren. My oldset son has yet to achieve the relative level of income I had within six years of starting work, even though he is smarter, quicker, and far more educated than I was at his age. The decline also coincides with the decison by Republicans to use every opportunity to raise the National Debt in order to constrain spending–a strategy that never worked, but reduce available lending while increasing the cost of interest on loans.

Like with global warming we cannot escape the effects of decisions made in either our personal pasts or in our natino’s past. The book Moment in the Sun, which I read in college, has proven to be right. It said our peak standard of living was nearing its end.

My father and mother raised five children with my mother only working intermittently as a nurse, but we were only able to afford two and one of my in-laws figured they could not afford to raise more than one child. All of these people earned college degrees.

Posted by SeniorMoment | Report as abusive

To draw links between this tragic event with the deterioration of the ability of the middle class to earn a good living (according to income) is somewhat narrow minded. For a man to make a decision to go out in public and cause so much death and pain and the ease at which he can go this suggests there is a serious flaw in American society, particularly when considering the sensitive issue of firearms legislation. This man like many others before him are obviously deranged and suffer from a serious mental disorder and the fact he can go and purchase firearms at his leisure suggests a major problem with the law. Until the Government is willing to tackle this issue head on there will continue to be massacre after massacre no matter what the average income of the middle class.

Posted by finster72 | Report as abusive

The article, and SeniorMoment make good points relevant to each other. Both relate to obtaining success, respect and fulfillment in life, which we believe is the natural result of doing all the right things our society expects of us. Even if it is just hanging in there out of necessity when one has no other option, in the face of injustice (as did Wesbecker). Both articles are underpinned by a sense of worth and personal honour. From news accounts, James Holmes did all the right things society expects. What’s more, he excelled, graduating with honours, in neuroscience for heaven’s sake. A Master’s degree. Yet he was unable to find employment – pushing him further to a Ph.D. that he probably didn’t have his heart into. There is no excuse for the tragedy and loss of life he instigated at the theater. But, I do feel sorry for young people today, because no matter how hard they try, some still are not able to launch into life due to our economy, outsourcing, technological change and and many other factors. One can’t help but consider that perhaps underneath it all he may have come to the conclusion that doing all the right things expected by society,and putting out and puttin up – that someday his ship would come in – that it was nothing but a lie and a joke. Perhaps he did snap in the worst possible way – perhaps feeling deceived by the path society portrays as the right way to succeed, he equitably sheds his value of others’ lives in reflection of the way society’s broken promises has devalued his. Did he, in his despondency, irrevocably shed his beliefs, completely giving up on life after having tried so hard to no avail? Could he, having snapped, presented himself in the role he despondently concludes he truly plays in life’s deception? That of a joke, thus a Joker.
… can’t help but think here is one more example why Americans need an easily accessible universal health care system — to quickly catch persons whose stresses and mental health are deteriorating in these difficult times. It only takes one who is not given the care he/she needs to cause many a great deal of heartache among many.

Posted by takeapill | Report as abusive

I wonder if anyone is aware of the literature surrounding the phenomenon of “running amok.”

It’s something that’s been around since humans started living in cities. Mass stabbings were recorded thousands of years ago.

This phenomenon is not a new one. It goes back far, far longer than a mere thirty years.

Posted by Burns0011 | Report as abusive

I think there is definitely some truth to the author’s claim that some of these mass murders have been partly motivated by cruel peers and/or a cruel “society”. For instance, the two kids in Columbine (as evil as they were) were bullied incessantly. But with that being said, it’s important to not feel *too* bad for these murderers (which I think the author goes close to doing). Clearly there is something innately sick with them to be capable of premeditating crimes like this. Hitler’s father killed his dog when he was a kid, does Maiello think Hitler deserves sympathy too by extension? Here’s another thing I’d like to say to the author: I think it’s really messed up that you try to find a correlation between these mass shootings and the economic liberalizations that occurred under Ronald Reagan. You have no scientific evidence supporting this theory, and I would venture to guess you have a political motivation for positing it (I know for a fact Matt Taibbi does, that guy is a complete populist demagogue). After the shootings in Phoenix last year that nearly killed Congresswoman Gifford, a lot of people politicized the attacks and blamed it on conservative groups like the Tea Party. I am not a fan of the Tea Party, however blaming them for the Phoenix shooting was a completely unfair characterization (in fact, the shooter was a 9/11 Truther and read Marx and Mein Kampf). Mr. Maiello – you should not make the same mistake these insensitive people made after Ms. Gifford was nearly killed. Do not politicize this event, that is what low lives do. A lot of other societal shifts have occurred since 1980 (e.g., violent TV and video games, the rise of the internet, increased bullying, increasing divorce rates, increasing migration rates, a more materialistic society, etc.) which could also explain the rise of these mass shootings since then. Many social scientists (from economists to political scientists) fall into this same trap of post-hawk fallacy. You cannot run controlled experiments on societies and economies, thus you can’t prove your (politicized) theory. It is one thing to preface your assertion as a theory, but from how I read the article, it sounds like you state the theory as pure fact.

Posted by asalam | Report as abusive

Yes, but if all people were kept in chains, and not permitted to gather anywhere, I think he would not have been able to kill either. He would have been in chains.

When it comes to slaughter by the millions, what it takes is Governmental Authority. Not guns. American missiles kill that many civilians every week, by remote control. Your tax money at work.

Posted by usagadfly | Report as abusive

Well, Burns, that could be true to – and a much simpler act, although doesn’t running amok border on insanity? Perhaps James’ methods are simply a product of the increasingly violent and insane nature of inputs of this particular time.

Consider how ironic it is that the audience at first thought the attack was part of the movie; unable to tell the difference between entertainment and a real threat. Or maybe not ironic at all but a matter of slowly accumulating cause and slow to bare, but eventual effect. From a 2008 article about the original film:
“Christopher Nolan . . . has tried instead to make the violence and fear as believable as possible, and in this he has succeeded.”

People have become so conditioned to violence, they find it entertaining, and children emulate it. Enough is enough – this is worth reading:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebrit ynews/2461820/Our-attitude-to-violence-i s-beyond-a-joke-as-new-Batman-film-The-D ark-Knight-shows.html

Posted by takeapill | Report as abusive

So, we arrive to that question:

when a caucasian goes on a violence spree, it was because of tough economic times, mounting workplace pressure and social isolation;

When an arab did it, it was because of religious fanatism?

Consider also the economic sanctions now imposed on Iran. How many James-Holmes-like people will appear with the Iranian economy in severe crisis from the embargoes? How many will decide that their woes are caused by the US?

Posted by AliceCengal | Report as abusive

Obviously people who cannot tell friend from foe or reason cannot be allowed loose. Also normal people should be required to be armed trained and use the arms in obvious terror attacks. The key word is obvious, unless you saw the beginning you do not know who is innocent in a confrontation and should keep out. One should not think he is in a free fire combat zone. A mass killing is different.

I have a gun and a conceal carry permit for years and have not pointed at any living thing only at paper targets. I have no plans to use it unless battered or threatened with
a serious weapon (it could be built-in weapons lie the arms of someone much bigger and stronger than me). The law says, “I should run first” but I am not a noted track star so plan to shoot if I am sure I will be battered. I do not live in a free fire combat zone.

Posted by Samrch | Report as abusive

I agree… Demonization and Isolation of individuals tends to breed hatred and extreme responses.

But, at the same time, our modern society feeds that isolation and hatred and helps to channel it with intolerence and graphic violence…

That is:
Current political rhetoric feeds the intolerence.
Graphic violence in movies, TV and video game direct the affected individuals towards exteme violence…

Posted by GeorgeBMac | Report as abusive

Current information indicates that the Aurora shooter would not have been identified through any of the existing gun regulations in Colorado. I therefore make bold to issue some predictions:
1. There will be no attempt anywhere at any level to increase or change any existing gun laws or regulations.
2. Pro-gunners will say that the outcome would have been different if people in the theater were allowed to carry their own guns. (This has already happened. Fifty people in a dark crowded theater shooting at someone? Different outcome guaranteed.)
3. The gun control lobby will argue that restrictions should be tightened, some classes of weapons banned, and the overall number of guns in circulation reduced. (A complete waste of time. There is no political will to buck the pro-gunners in any way, and the country is awash with firearms. It would take decades to have any impact on the numbers.)
4. The NRA and pro-gun organizations will continue to insist that guns are not at fault, that any talk of any kind of control is tantamount to taking away their constitutional rights, and they will offer no solutions whatsoever to the problem of gun-related massacres which now take place almost monthly across the United States. (Gun organizations have, in the past, fought legislation to register weapons, to ban the sales of major assault weapons, to impose a waiting period on sales, to do background checks, and every other form of control.)
5. Within 90 days there will be another mass shooting in America.

Posted by steve778936 | Report as abusive

“As individuals face continued social and economic diminishment, the Odyssean fantasy of setting the world right with violence is too difficult for some to resist.”

But 1776 was OK. Right?

Posted by Cliff574 | Report as abusive

Why was the assault rifle ban allowed to expire? Why does anyone other than police/SWAT/military need assault rifles?

Posted by quark2 | Report as abusive


Let’s presume that those with a “carry” license are able to hit the broad side of a barn with their weapon and do not “freeze under fire”. Do you, then, REALLY think a talley of 12 dead and 72 hit would not have been reduced by one or two armed “victims” willing to “become involved” and engage/distract this sociopath?

Please. You speak as one who believes such intervention involves closing one’s eyes and pulling the trigger until all chambers are empty or the gun jams.

Considering your “predictions 1, 3 and 4, what’s your point? As to 5, yeah, America has plenty of crazies “out there”, including copycats incapable of original thought.
Is your “90 days” of significance when the question is less “whether” than “when”?

Criticism without suggestions for improvement is a waste of everyone’s time. Precisely how would YOU propose to meaningfully change such future liklihood, wise one?

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

Metal detector security in theaters, schools and shopping malls entrances and no accessible back doors without keys?

We r supposed to be safe and protected by the police.

Or r we going back to the “Western” scenario where almost every men will carry a gun?

Posted by robb1 | Report as abusive

An AR-15 is a semi-automatic weapon. Unless it has selective fire features, it is not an assault rifle. Tens of thousands of people own AR-15s in the U.S. and wouldn’t be able to do so under the “assault weapons ban” of many years ago. Time for the oppinion writers to get some basics correct.

Posted by MitchS | Report as abusive

This is a tragedy and I offer my condolences to the families of the victims.

Holmes appears to be someone who took a lot of time to plan this and I think it is an excuse to try to explain this as some sort of disenfranchisement. The fact is that there always has been those who commit atrocities and the police or another set of laws will never be able to protect the rest of us from them. The only chance you have is to protect yourself and that has always been the case. Always. Throughout history. Acting as if it were otherwise is self-delusional. I wish the world was at peace and people respected each other – most do, but there will always be those who are violent. Whether it is government sanctioned genocide, a thug on the street corner or a lunatic with a rifle in a theater is simply a matter of scale.

I do what I must to protect myself and my family. It is too bad there was not somebody like that in the theater the other night. The outcome would likely have been different.

Posted by AuAgExpl | Report as abusive


You say “Demonization and Isolation of individuals tends to breed hatred and extreme responses.

But, at the same time, our modern society feeds that isolation and hatred and helps to channel it with intolerence and graphic violence…”.

I am reminded of the story of the young warrior seeking wisdom from the old Medicine Man. He says: “I don’t understand some of the emotions I feel and some of the things that I do”.

The elder explains that “within each of use there is a good wolf and a bad wolf”. The warrior asks: How do I know which one will prevail?”

The elder smiles and says: “The one YOU feed”.

Those who shirk personal responsibility never develop a moral compass. If one’s course is determined only by the ebb and flow of life’s tides, of COURSE they will always be “a day late and a dollar short”. We all have choices.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

Any discussion of gun control is now moot. Let us not waste any more time on it. The NRA has won the day on that topic. Guns will continue to proliferate exponentially in America and the discussion must now turn to how we can secure ourselves from their harm. Much more in the way of security in public places is essential. Armed guards everywhere. Neighborhoods like mine will need to hire armed security guards to patrol the neighborhood. So, forget the NRA – – they’ve won their battle. Now we must deal with the consequences going forward.

Posted by explorer08 | Report as abusive


IMHO I think you really are missing the point of what has happened here. You talk about hiring more police and armed security guards. This is the root of the entire problem – the expectation that somebody else will deal with the issues we all must face. It is the same mentality that expects the Nanny state to hand out freebies or bail out mismanaged companies. There are many other places that are far more violent than the USA that have far more restrictive gun laws. We already have more police per capita than any other country in the world, so it is obvious that is not the solution. I, for one, think that freedom is more important than an artificial sense of security offered by a police state.

I think the solution is for each of us to stand up to these people, being ready to do something right now. It is about not accepting that we are victims and expecting some hired hand to deal with the problem of the day. This is not easy or simple, but I think this is the only thing that will actually work. It takes courage and a willingness to act. I know it’s out of fashion and I am sure many will think I have ridiculous expectations, but the more of us that stand up and take action, the fewer problems we will have. Sometimes that means fighting back. You, personally – not some security guard.

Posted by AuAgExpl | Report as abusive

@OneOfTheSheep. Sorry, but I do think that the outcome would have been many more dead and wounded if armed citizens had opened fire. Trained combat troops fire wildly under conditions of extreme stress, lack of visibility, etc. Additionally, the shooter was prepared for such an eventuality – he was wearing full body armor. Following the Arizona shooting, a licensed concealed carry individual came out of the shopping center and almost shot one of the bystanders who had picked up the shooter’s gun. Its easy to make a fatal mistake.
As for solutions, try these: Ban all automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons with high volume magazines from being held by civilians. Why on earth does anyone need one of these for any kind of sport? If these citizens are trying to protect themselves from their own government, why not let them buy tanks and jets? Otherwise, what kind of crime is going to occur where they need an AR-15 with a banana clip?
Self defense and self protection are perfectly legitimate, but why does one need an arsenal in the home. Have owners of multiple weapons keep them in central armories, to be checked out as and when needed.
Quite a few common sense things might be done to reduce risk and frequency without advocating that everyone in the country needs to go about armed to the teeth.

Posted by steve778936 | Report as abusive

Renew The Federal Assault Weapons Ban.

Assault weapons kill thousands of Americans every year. Assault weapons are easily obtained in America by thousands of non-peaceful people. We will reject weapons of mass destruction. Weapons manufacturers & forceful NRA fund raising, pays lobbyists pressuring congress to support continuing distribution of military grade weapons. These practices make more money for those involved. We will reject current gun control policies as being ineffective. They simply endorse fear,greed & bigotry from enthusiastic weapons collectors.

Tell congress that the majority of Americans support peace loving compromise, thus only allowing regulated,sport designed weapons to be legally owned by private individuals. Tell congress that the majority of Americans want peace on American streets and in their homes. American no longer wants “Militias” based on a wild wilderness mentality dating back to the 18th century. Tell congress that the majority of Americans will no longer easily tolerate fear mongering tactics;irrationality & overbearing force from those living in the distant past.

We will make America a more peaceful nation, now.

Posted by Luckbelady2nite | Report as abusive


You are certainly entitled to your own opinion, but I think you cherry-pick and offer illogical half-truths to support some questionable presumptions.

Let’s agree to disagree about more or less dead or wounded. Trained but inexperienced “combat troops” may, individually act unpredictably and unreliably. Those more confident and experienced do not.

A shooter in “full body armor” is NOT invulnerable, nor can he ignore someone targeting his weapon(s). If a bystander is dumb enough to pick up a loose weapon during or after a killing spree, I would argue that their associated demise might be GOOD for the future human gene pool.

You ask “Why on earth does anyone need [semi-automatic assault weapons with high volume magazines] for any kind of sport?” They don’t.

They need them to protect their families if and when a dirty bomb, hurricane, etc. stops electricity and the delivery of food and fuel into an area. Very soon desperate gangs of people will roam unrestrained looking to take food, water and shelter from those who have it but can not or will not defend it.

The slide from civilization into anarchy takes about 72 hours, give or take a few. I guarantee you those starving mobs will have more than one gun and one short clip! Serious lead throwing capability and lots of lead is the most effective way to convince such “scavengers” that there are “softer targets” elsewhere MUCH less risky!

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

Time to get a grip folks, there is no gun law that can prevent incidents like this. Killing sprees happen even in countries where firearms are very tightly controlled. In Japan, where only the police and certain government agents have handguns, killers have gone on stabbing sprees that left many dead and wounded. For what it’s worth, Japan has now outlawed most knives: one of the most recent multiple-fatality events was accomplished with a car. In Great Britain, where handguns have long been hard to obtain, Thomas Hamilton used four handguns to murder 16 children and a teacher at a school in Dunblane, Scotland, in 1996 and Derrick Bird murdered 12 people and wounded 11 more in a half-day jaunt through Cumbria, England in 2010. Bird used a shotgun and rifle in his crimes.

The one good thing that can be said of these incidents is they are rare. Overall gun violence is down in most of the U.S. That’s pretty good considering the fact that millions of Americans now possess handgun licenses and carry weapons on a daily basis.

Would an armed citizen have made a difference in Aurora? It would depend on the citizen but, in most cases, the only difference is most likely that the body count would have been higher. Even for a trained professional, such as an experienced police officer, it’s hard to make accurate shots in a confused, high-stress situation and Holmes made things even more difficult with the smoke and the darkened theater. Understand Holmes didn’t have to worry about where he shot; he had no specific targets. Someone trying to stop him doesn’t have that luxury: they have to first identify him and then try to get a clean shot on an area not protected by the body armor. This is of course, most likely after the would-be defender has learned Holmes was wearing real ballistic armor by discovering the center-of-mass shots taught to just about everyone from police to concealed license classes didn’t work. Worse, the majority of people who carry a handgun carry small, short-barreled 5- or 6-shot revolvers or pistols with no backup ammunition. It’s easy to foresee a scenario where the defender runs out of ammunition and luck at the same time and Holmes is still standing, ready to kill some more. I’ve carried a gun for years and I believe that In this situation, my best weapons would be a cell phone and cover.

I personally have no problem with civilians owning semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 or the various clones of the AK-47. I also have no problem with them owning World War II M-1 Garands, which are also semi-automatic. There’s a fascination with military-style weapons and they are very seldom used in crimes. As far as I know, other than the Aurora incident, the only times an AR-15-style rifle was used in spree killings are the Beltway Snipers, John Muhammed and Lee Malvo, and the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre by Martin Bryant in Australia.

Those who get their shorts in a knot over civilians carrying handguns should know there are currently four states (Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming) that permit the open or concealed carry of a handgun without a permit. Of these states, Vermont’s laws have been in force the longest – since the state was formed. Not one of these states has turned into a bloodbath and Vermont has one of the lowest gun crime rates in the nation.

Posted by TexasBill | Report as abusive

Hello all, I’m the author of this column. I have agreements and disagreements with all of you, of course, but just wanted to drop by the praise the quality of this discussion. I’m really impressed and have enjoyed reading. Very thoughtful stuff, all around. Thank you and have a great weekend.

Posted by michaelmaiello | Report as abusive

“Ames contends that what he calls rage killings amount to acts of rebellion against a callous and uncaring society, where the perpetrators of these crimes have been subjected to lives of humiliation and unrewarded sacrifice.”

Exactly right. The greed and evil that is capitalism rewards the few unworthy who are either fortunate enough by having access to large funds or promoted through nepotism and corruption. Congress is a great example. No member of congress is worth $30000 per year, yet each scum bag earns over $170000 per year.

CEOs are granted huge pay packets but are not worth the rewards. A CEO can fail and still remain employed with benefits and possibly an increase in salary.

These are the “peaceable fruits” of capitalism/greed.

If this is indeed the reason James Holmes committed these killings, then he is a hero. Ignorant and indifferent people need to be shocked.

Posted by JohnG-73645 | Report as abusive

Hypocrisy is finally slaming on our face, and can’t simply be exported to the rest of the world through wars, media, propaganda, or the financial system. The reality is simple, the world is not big enogh, not anymore, and we don’t have anyone left to bully but ourselves. Our society is choking on its own “values” like discrimination, alienization, segregation, destructive competition, fear, paranoia and war psicosis, among others, no wonder we need drugs so badly. We are compelled to destroy, not compete, competition is too intangible for us because it envolves tricky words we might have heard on tv like courage or fairness, so the accepted concept of success is the amount of damage or degradation inflicted into others putting on top a precious few cool, popular or insanely rich people while leaving a vast majority hurt, humiliated or empobrished, and then what? Gloating on false sense of achievement, ignoring reality and with it history. It is important to remember that Thomas Jefferson stated in the declaration of independence that all men are created equal, endowed with certain unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and to secure these rights, governments are instituted, deriving from the consent of the governed, and whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it. And if we consider that goverment means something more than beurocracy, a form of organization that contitutes a social system and if that form of organization deprives society from these rights in order to benefit a few, then the people will see as their right to destroy or abolish that system, it is inevitable, no matter how much mind numbing elements are pumped into it. Drugs, media, consumer culture will act as placebos in order to sustain such self destructive system, but in the end beyond ideologies or economics something will prevail, the will of people to survive.

Posted by VoyagerProject | Report as abusive

As reported by WKMG and shown world wide a few days ago (CNN=07/18/12) an armed 71 year old senior citizen in Ocala FL sent two armed robbers running for their lives. Six shots fired, not a scratch on ANY of the 30 or so hostages and both hoodlums in custody with only minor injuries.

I learned how to shoot at age 5, had my own rifle by 12 and even though my military marksmanship leaves much to be desired (mostly due to poor coordination/distance vision) there should be no doubt in any evil doers mind that I will not submit to their demands.

At this time I do not have a concealed carry permit so I generally don’t go around armed but when I travel through the Piney Backwoods of Arkansas, especially during bear, bobcat and snake season taking along a Ruger 22 at least gives me a chance to make some loud noises that might distract or annoy one of those varmints long enough for me to escape.

The urban jungle is no different it just has critters who have become anesthetized from a constant barrage of fear and stress. In a manner similar to cattle these sheeple simply stand there frozen by fear or worse kill each other in a stampede of panic when the theater fills with smoke whenever the curtains catch on fire.

Posted by GLsword | Report as abusive

The comparison to the Odyssey is somewhat misapplied: in Odysseus’ case the suitors would stop at nothing til they had taken Penelope, Odysseus’s wife, with a strong political subtext, remember: Odysseus was the king of his island, and had been away for 20 years. He massacred the suitors because they never would have stopped trying to kill him. This doesn’t really match a modern mass-murder where the victims are not people who were hounding the perpetrator. What does that tell you? In our society all members expect to be treated like kings, and since their real “enemies” are invisible to them, they hold everyone they can find responsible in a devastatingly violent and futile fashion.

Posted by bivomaster39 | Report as abusive

People have different ideas about what might have worked in this particular situation and how it could have been prevented. All I can say is that Holmes may have been stopped if somebody had fired back. He apparently didn’t put up a fight when the police arrived with their weapons. I can keep all 8 rounds of my compact 9mm in a 10″ diameter ring out to 15 yards. That’s drawing and firing quickly, not slow aimed fire from a bench. I suspect that if somebody hit Holmes in the chest, even with body armor, he would have withdrawn. Bottom line is that I would have tried to take him out before he took me out.

@TexasBill is right, even with extensive gun prohibitions, somebody determined to harm others will find a way. For example, if Holmes had used the explosives from his apartment, things might have been worse.

I’ll say it again: stand up and fight back – that basic principle has not changed in thousands of years and it works. Taking weapons away from law abiding citizens will just empower the criminals and the mentally disturbed. More police will not help either – they simply can not be everywhere, in spite of their best intentions.

Posted by AuAgExpl | Report as abusive

It generally takes two components for these type of tragic and destructive episodes to occur. One is individual and the other is a collective, social component. Even under social duress such as the current financial crisis and dearth of opportunities for self sufficiency, careers, and personal fulfillment, most people continue to live “lives of quiet desperation”, as described by Thoreau, and manage to maintain their sanity and carry on. There are no exact factors which could either cause or prevent such tragedies, but recognizing that everyone has both individual and social needs as well as responsibility, suggests that societies cannot sacrifice one for the other.

Posted by Greenspan2 | Report as abusive

Rather than waste our time writing new comments, let’s just save these old ones for the NEXT time a whackjob blows the lives of innocent people away?

Europe is laughing at you. Can the guns, huh? How dumb do you have to be?

Posted by Neil_McGowan | Report as abusive


Europe isn’t laughing at the USA. Norway had their massacre too.

Europe still expects/hopes the U.S. will bail out their perennial and unsustainable ratio of social benefits for too few hours and years “invested”. Yeah, how dumb do you have to be.

You like their decisions so much, you’re free to move there!

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive


[You like their decisions so much, you’re free to move there!]

I live in Europe, thanks. I would never live in the USA, ever – not for any reason whatsoever, not even if they paid me to move there. You can KEEP your gun-nut country.

Posted by Neil_McGowan | Report as abusive

Holmes is a statistical outlier and not a product of our changing society. His motives were his own and his method was meticulously thought out. Even the bombs he used in his home were of his own making. I would not presume to say he was lashing out at society because of his lack of vocational opportunities, or stressed as a result of inability to adapt. His actions are his own.

Posted by JayJay1855 | Report as abusive

LOSS OF HOPE IS AND HAS BEEN THE GREAT ISSUE OF OUR TIME for several decades now. The quoted Mark Ames is rather precisely correct. You don’t fix such things by simply labeling someone a “loner,” and then asking him or her to live a degraded, empty life. Society makes loners by excluding people as human and removing their hope. Hollywood adds to this by “proving” every day that the one and only interest of Americans is in killing one another. Where is the data to support this, and are there really any other forms of drama on TV? NO. A society cannot have its cake and eat it, too. If you instruct people daily that murder is the solution, then how can anyone be surprised at events like those in Colorado? What this man allegedly did does, in fact, occur in a somewhat similar fashion in the Batman film. Instead of such unrelenting violence, when are we going to teach ourselves once again how to go about solving problems, how to create new success, how to achieve a good and decent life? We’re either going to behave as a productive society or as a destructive mob. Right now, we think behaving as a mob is correct. Are we sure that’s the right answer? Is that what we got by driving this unfortunate and lost man over the edge?

Posted by JRMessenger | Report as abusive

Holmes fits the profile for schizophrenia, young smart person suddenly drops out and then does something crazy. If any of the moviegoers had been armed this person could have been stopped and some of the patrons could have been saved, just as if any of the troops mowed down at the military base had been armed the fatalities would have been fewer.

Posted by zotdoc | Report as abusive

I wonder if the rage comes from being a collaborative monkey. As Viktor Frankl observed most of us are nice, a few on the other hand are nasty enough to end up “persona non-grata”. The uncle we don’t talk about because of his beastly nature. For the nice collaboration is a powerful competitive force for our species. Predators, both intra-species (those destined to be persona non-grata) and inter-species tend to shy away from small ad-hoc teams of nice people. Both, intra and inter species predators, see a lone person as easy prey. Our intra-species predators find 12 and more safe prey. For us nice there is safety in numbers and that number is about 5. Fairness is key to this collaborative advantage as a species. It allows more than two to work together and not be at all concerned about sharing the spoils of the effort. Again this does not scale up in numbers. It has to be small, 4 or 5 and maybe as much as 6. But fairness is key, not that every one agrees with what is fair. This is a very late in the evolutionary process forward. And some are not fair at all. So our DNA goes berserk if in perceives an unfair act. It will commit its host to suicide to do damage to what it believes is the intra-species predators actions. This can be easily faked by liars, those who should be persona non grata but instead get paid $1,000 an hour, who use false flags type tactics to get the DNA of nice people doing what they can not do on a sustained basis, kill. Only those nasty types, that Frankl saw rising the occasion, can kill on a sustained basis. Fairness is our species competitive advantage that is exploited by our intra-species predators, nasty people they are. The nasty are here for the good of the species, should we need an intra-species cull. It is their nature. That is their lot. You can read about them in Robert Hare’s book “Snakes in Suits, when psychopaths go to work, as Oil Executives and Cable News types with the highest ratings.

Posted by donnieholdfast | Report as abusive