Friday, June 05, 2015

What Do I Know?

"We are vain and we are blind
I hate people when they're not polite"
- Talking Heads "Psycho Killer"
And so, years later, the trial of Colorado's "cinema gunman" continues to unravel in a Denver courtroom. Guilt or innocence isn't the issue here. The murders James Holmes committed back in the summer of 2012 continue to spark frustration, concern, and paranoia by the truckload. Mister Holmes is not denying his participation in the events that lead to the death of twelve moviegoers at that long-ago midnight premiere of "The Dark Night Rises." He has admitted to that. The trial is all about whether he was sane when he did it.
I am not a mental health professional, but fifty-some years of living in a moderately polite society has given me some guidelines, some of which I try to impart to my young charges on the playground each day: If you are upset, it's best to use your words to try and solve your differences. If the differences you are having happen to be with the voices in your own head, then there may be a bigger problem. I deal with problems like ADHD, but not schizophrenia. Being able to distinguish reality from fantasy can be a chore when you're seven, but if you're still not clear on the distinction once you pass twenty-something. And when those differences are so very unclear that you start to see murder as a chance to "power up," as Holmes did, then maybe we're leaving the realm of the common senses. 
Of course, when he said that he targeted a midnight showing of a PG-13 movie with the intent of avoiding any children as casualties, James showed a kind of reasoning that might border on compassion. This contrasts mightily with his assertion that the seventy people he wounded "didn't count" because it didn't fit in with his spiritual economics. "Human life has value. If you take lives away, that adds to your value," Holmes said. "Anything they would have pursued gets canceled out and given to me." As for that whole reasoned attempt to avoid killing children? He shot six-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan four times, killing her. So much for the master plan. 
Is he sane? I would suggest that my rule of anybody who goes to a movie theater with the intent to kill as many people as possible for "power-ups" would probably live on the opposite side of the fence from those of us who don't. Then again, when they make a movie about a guy who goes to war with the intent to kill as many bad guys as he can, we call him a hero. It's a pretty thin and twisted line. 

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