Race to the bottom of Colorado Shooting coverage

At this point of the media frenzy surrounding the Aurora shootings, the victims have become known to us, the nature of this crime has been known to us and the overall breakdown of what happened before, during and after the crime has become known to us. Vigils have been held, family members continue to grieve and we continue to ponder what will come next.

Unfortunately, if you have ever seen one of these things unfold before, you know what comes next from a media perspective.

Scraping the barrel for a new angle, a new insight, a new scrap of information of any kind. We know all about the living and those who died at the hands of this guy, so now we need to know all about him.

So who is James Holmes?

Was this guy a Tea Party member? Was he a Democrat? No on both accounts, but media outlets had no problem putting that out there, as if how he voted reflected on anything. (Hey, he was a hell of a shot for a Democrat! = FAIL)

Did this guy have a conversation with guards regarding the movie’s outcome?According to the NY Daily News, he did, leading people to breathlessly speculate as to his Batman fetish.

Did Holmes frequent prostitutes and then rate them on a message board?TMZ says so, which a) means it’s probably true and b) means you shouldn’t give a shit.

Did Batman teach him to kill?It didn’t take some people long to hang onto that angle, despite the one comic historian who kept saying, “Look, this is so far out there that even Holmes probably thinks you’re nuts.” I wonder if he saw the one “My Little Pony” where Fluttershy gets all mean in the labyrinth, leading to some pony-on-pony violence.

I also found out that several people have had to rethink Twitter after making the oh-so-smart move of tweeting that they thought Carrot Top’s Evil Twin was “hot.”

Even that felonious lust wasn’t enough to reach the top of the “are you fucking kidding me?” list I was forming as I flipped through the articles on Holmes.

Here’s your weekly winner: The media is humanizing James Holmes because he’s white.

I think I read this column about six times, each time looking for “the smoking gun” that showed how the media was treating this guy with a gentle touch because of his general honky-ness.

(Side note: I know this is a student newspaper. I also do my best to avoid ripping student journalists. However, sometimes, it’s impossible to ignore something, much like when a stripper decides to park her ass in your face.)

Here are some of the “humanizing” moments the media has put forth, according to this column:

Many articles described him as a shy and hard-working student.

They elaborated on the Ph.D. research project he was involved in and had quotes from peers who were shocked by his behavior.

The LA Times had a tagline that read, “Was James E. Holmes a brilliant loner? A nice guy with circles of friends? A stubborn near-dropout? …”

Look back at the coverage of pretty much anyone who has done this kind of action and you’ll find that most of this is standard fare stuff. Who was this guy? What did people who know him think about him? Did they see this coming?

The author makes a lame attempt to figure out how the media treats people of color who do things like this, only to find that, strangely, an unprovoked mass shooting seems to be one of those things that tends to shade toward the more pale among us. To try to parallel this, then, the writer provides this:

In a recent article, it was reported that Rudy Eugene was not high on bath salts, and the only drug found in his system was marijuana.

However, that hasn’t stopped the media from calling him the Highway Cannibal, despite only having chewed off a man’s face and not having ingested it.

Even after the new evidence in the case, Eugene has not had the privilege of being called “mentally unstable.”

What’s the main difference between Holmes and Eugene?

Bluntly put, Holmes is a white man while Eugene is a black man.

Or one is shooting up a theater which is tragic, but has some historical parallels while the other is EATING A GUY’S FUCKING FACE IN PUBLIC FOR NO REAL REASON.

Oddly enough, this was the first “cannibal” reference I’d heard about this guy. I’d look it up, but there is no citation of any kind as to where this came from. In addition, I’ve heard him called the start of the zombie apocalypse and believe me, zombies will bite your face off. Eating it might or might not be involved, but either way, it’s fucking insane.

If you want a better look at race and mass murder, take a peek at Carl Robert Brown and James Edward Pough. Two guys, one white, one black, who were consecutively responsible for the worst random shooting spree in Florida several decades ago.

The media reported on both of these guys fairly extensively, which is how we learned that Brown taught junior high until he had a mental breakdown.

He was often known as someone angry about racial issues and someone who saw America sliding into the Bell Jar.

On Aug. 19, 1982, after complaining to a worker at a metal welding shop that the work they did on his bicycle’s new motor was shoddy, Brown declared that he was leaving, but would come back to kill everyone there. He returned the next day with two newly purchased guns and killed eight people while injuring three others.

Extensive writing by the Miami Herald shortly after his rampage revealed that he had been going slowly mad for months. His racism and his anger toward others was reported on as well. His principal had him seek psychiatric help and noted after the fact, he sort of saw this coming.

His neighbors saw him shooting a pellet gun at stuff and picking grapefruits in his underwear prior to the shooting.

Pough, known as “Pop” to his friends, was described in media stories as being a reliable worker, who was never late and was one of the best at whatever labor he was doing.

Neighbors described him as being a quiet and nice man who kept to himself. He was known to fits anger when dealing with money. Relatives called him a recluse and said he kept mostly to himself.

He had an affinity for his car, which had been repossessed by the GMAC finance division when he couldn’t make payments on it any more. On the morning of June 18, 1990, Pough went to GMAC with an M1 Carbine and a .38 pistol and began killing people. He killed nine and injured four others. The day before, he had apparently killed a pimp and a prostitute, shooting both of them to death.

Go through the coverage of these people and you’ll find two things: 1) the only mention of race is that it was weird that Pough did this, as most of these multiple shooting whack jobs are white and unemployed and 2) the coverage is almost a perfect overlay of what’s being done with James Holmes.

Were there any indications that he was going to crack?

What was he like before the shooting?

What did people think of him?

None of this stuff is “humanizing” but instead informative. I don’t think, “Aww… Holmes was a Ph.D. candidate! As a doc, I totally feel for him.” or “Hey, this guy liked hookers! Big ups!” He is who he is and he was who he was.

Taking this issue and making it about race makes no sense.

The victims weren’t targeted for their race.

The assailant hasn’t made any statement involving race.

Let’s chalk this guy up to nuts and save our discussions of racism for a time and place where they might actually apply.

It’s too serious of a topic to apply to this Joker.

3 thoughts on “Race to the bottom of Colorado Shooting coverage

  1. While agreeing with Brooklyn, I also wonder how much of the tabloid-type reporting isn’t also a for people to escape any sort of awareness of how their own internal world is filled with unacceptable images. Rather to understand, they are erecting walls to shield them from any insight that no one is pure and untroubled.

  2. Some crazy people are white. Some crazy people are not.
    The end.
    Seriously, WHO CARES about the details of this guy’s life or “what kind of person” he is?
    Yet another red herring to take our attention away from the fact that this CRACKPOT got his hands on GUNS.

  3. You want race to the bottom? Yesterday afternoon I turned the TV on and caught about 3 minutes of a show I never, ever watch: “Inside Edition.” Yes, it’s tabloid journalism, where this kind of shit is right up there with the Kristin Stewart-Rob Pattinson breakup as BREAKING NEWS. I never watch these shows so I was sort of fascinated by the whole tawdry spectacle.
    Their coverage of the Aurora shootings was of course grossly sensationalized. They referred to Holmes’ booby-trapped apartment as “the monster’s lair,” not once but at least three times. And of course, Holmes was “a monster,” repeatedly. I know our traditional news media is a massive fail but for some perspective, watch one of these tabloid “news” shows and at least be grateful that outfits like CNN haven’t descended this far yet.
    Of course, that’s not much of a silver lining. Inside Edition’s anchor is Deborah Norville — someone who was briefly the co-host of The Today Show, remember? And didn’t she replace Bill O’Reilly? Now pretending to be a serious person over at Fox News? So yeah — revolving door and all that.

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