In the wake of violent tragedy people seek out reasons and places to cast blame. Most people blame guns. Some people blame the media. Some blame our society as a whole. Some blame movies. Ironically, few people blame the man who pulled the trigger.
By virtue of the sheer magnitude of the decision to destroy lives it stands to reason that the decision to do so will be executed at all costs. No matter how arbitrary and insane it is, a conscious choice has taken place. Gun control couldn’t stop it. There are simply too many loopholes in the system and there are too many corrupt pipelines for firearms. James Holmes attained his firearms legally. His background checks were clean. Had they not been he’d have gotten his guns elsewhere.
I am not a violent person. I do not like guns, or even being around them. This morning when I read that James Holmes was being threatened by other inmates I found myself thinking, “Good, I hope he doesn’t make it to trial.” That transference of violence upset me. Not because the man doesn’t deserve justice, but because I don’t like the idea of someone else’s violence being perpetuated in any way. I’m sure it’s a reaction a lot people may have – but would that be justice? For justice to be served who must be satisfied? Satisfying the families of the victims seems to be as fair as it will ever get. Prosecutors have released that Holmes may face the Death Penalty. Should that come to pass is it damaging to rejoice? When is it alright to feel good about death? How far can we allow our own souls to dip into darkness over the actions of the thoughtless and violent?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. I know we owe it to ourselves to examine them. Any slide towards violence, no matter the justification, is adding to the snowball. Does James Holmes deserve the Death Penalty? By definition of justice, yes. Eye for an eye. If I were a family member of any of the victims I am not sure what I would want. My first reaction would probably be definitive: fry the bastard. I may toy with undertaking justice of my own. I’d imagine many sleepless nights would pass wherein I would fantasize various scenarios that would end with James Holmes dead. I have certainly been up thinking “what would I have done if I were there?” In every scenario I don’t do very well.
Like most of life’s extreme circumstances, perspective plays a huge role in how we deal with the resulting fear, anger, sadness, etc. I don’t know what is the right or wrong thing to do. Should James Holmes get the Death Penalty I certainly won’t feel bad about it. Our culture is violent enough, but justice is justice. And like I said: it shouldn’t be up to me. It should be up to the victim’s families to reflect and propose a means for closure. While I may know what is just, I do not know what is best. What I do know is this: no matter what the inspiration or motivation was to do such a thing; and no matter what anyone thinks is to blame – the media, guns, video games, movies; – it was James Holmes who decided to go into a movie theatre and kill people.