Since so many in the media cannot resist turning every tragedy into a political talking point, it was perhaps inevitable that (1) someone would try to link the shooting rampage at the Batman movie in Colorado to the Tea Party, and that (2) some would try to make it a reason to impose more gun control laws. Too many people in the media cannot seem to tell the difference between reporting the news and creating propaganda. NBC News apparently could not resist doctoring the transcript of the conversation between George Zimmerman and the police after the Trayvon Martin shooting. Now ABC News took the fact that the man arrested for the shooting in Colorado was named James Holmes to broadcast to the world the fact that there is a James Holmes who is a member of the Tea Party in Colorado. . . . The James Holmes who belongs to the Tea Party has been deluged with phone calls. I hope he sues ABC News for every dime they have. This is not the first time that the mainstream media have tried to create a link between conservatives and violence. . . . Similar things have happened repeatedly, going all the way back to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which was blamed on a hostile right-wing atmosphere in Dallas, even though the assassin had a long history of being on the far left fringe. But, where the shoe is on the other foot — as when the Unabomber had a much marked-up copy of an environmentalist book by Al Gore — the media heard no evil, saw no evil and spoke no evil. . . .
Public discussion and debate about the Aurora, Colo., horror has missed the point. With numbing predictability, liberal opinion leaders in the press have focused on gun laws as the potential solution for such atrocities, while conservatives have responded that maniacs will find ways to kill people and therefore, nothing can be done about rampage shootings. Others have speculated that our excessively violent entertainments are tipping borderline types into spasms of real violence. . . . We don’t know much about the killer in Colorado yet, but in many cases of rampage shootings, family members, colleagues or teachers saw signs of trouble before the eruption of violence. Family reports of disturbing behavior are often not enough because too many state laws require that a person be “imminently dangerous” before he can be involuntarily committed — even for a short time. Thus, we have failed utterly to protect those in dire need of treatment and also placed society at increased risk from the minority of mentally ill people who are dangerous. . . . For the most dangerous mentally ill, estimated to number about 40,000 nationwide, a red-flag alert system could be adopted that would give mental health professionals, police and firearms dealers warning. With the proper safeguards, such a system would permit families of the mentally ill to get help for their relatives, as well as provide warnings to society. There are partial solutions to atrocities like that in Colorado, but they require abandoning the extreme civil libertarian approach that has marked the treatment — or mistreatment — of the mentally ill for the past half-century.
…Whenever Americans find themselves transfixed by stories of senseless slaughter, there’s an irresistible impulse to seek causes and cures. We’re supposed to probe some chain of cruelty and complaint that impelled the alleged lone gunman (and it’s almost always a lone gunman) to undertake his deadly rampage. Custom also calls for earnest pronouncements by every preening pundit on social and governmental changes that might prevent such carnage in the future. Concerning causes, we usually hear about the devastating impact of adolescent bullying, the influence of violent media imagery, the breakdown of the family, or, more generally, the toxic nature of our “sick society.” When it comes to cures, the most common recommendations involve tighter regulation of guns, or new restrictions on brutal entertainment, or more emphasis on character building in school, or more anti-bullying protections, or mental-health programs, or enhanced economic mobility, or smaller class size, or more spirituality in public life, or some idealized combination of all of the above. Of course, none of these causes or cures seems to fit comfortably with what we know of the alleged shooter. . . .the evidence suggests that the suspect was a bully rather than the bullied: with a reported height of 6 feet 3, he no doubt would have cut a hugely intimidating figure on the night of his alleged crime, dressed in black ninja garb with body armor and gas mask. . . . The stories from Aurora also concentrated on the tragic case of one 24 year-old victim, Jennifer Ghawi, who previously survived a bloody gun massacre at a shopping center in Toronto only to succumb to this latest outrage in the Rocky Mountains. . . . Meanwhile, the incidence of homicidal violence in the United States has dramatically declined over the last 30 years, even as gun ownership has soared in every segment of society. . . . There’s no cause for the killer’s unspeakable acts and no conclusive cure for senseless violence in society. Insanity and evil represent eternal and inevitable elements of the human condition. The killing doesn’t carry a politically correct point, or a particularly timely lesson, or some deeper meaning. It is, in the worst possible sense, meaningless and all the more horrible for that. …
On ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday morning, Brian Ross, chief investigative reporter for ABC News, announced to George Stephanopoulos and millions of viewers that there’s “a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado page on the Colorado Tea Party site,” which mentions Holmes “talking about joining the Tea Party last year.” . . .the purpose of the news media is not primarily to present news as impartially as possible. It is to improve society — which to liberals means, above all, fighting the right. …defeating the right is more important than moral or factual accuracy. . . . Lest the ABC News smear be forgotten, I thought it important to devote a column to it. But the truth is that, in varying degrees and in a variety of ways, it happens every day — in movies, in schools, in courtrooms, and, of course, in the news media.
I had an entirely different column prepared for this week, but, in light of this horrific event, its subject matter seemed trivial and inappropriate. . . . Although no one is to blame for this man’s objectively evil actions but he alone, those actions are, sadly, a dreadful sign of our desperate times. . . . Let me be clear: Am I comparing this incredibly wicked, illegal mass murder at Aurora’s Century Theatre to the incredibly wicked, legal mass murder committed at Planned Parenthoods across the country each day? Absolutely – and you can quote me on it.