Batman shooter: Mentally ill, not a terrorist

Published: July 25, 2012
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People like Holmes are slaughtering innocents because they were inspired by some fictional character who dresses up as a clown. PHOTO: REUTERS

Denise Paba, who lost her 6-year-old niece Veronica Moser, cries during a memorial for victims behind the theater. PHOTO: REUTERS A woman holds her hands in prayer during a morning mass remembering the victims at the Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Aurora. PHOTO: REUTERS A cross is inscribed at a memorial for victims behind the theater. PHOTO: REUTERS People like Holmes are slaughtering innocents because they were inspired by some fictional character who dresses up as a clown. PHOTO: REUTERS

If you are a Muslim, or have Muslim friends, chances are that you’ve seen the gem above doing the rounds on social media websites like Facebook, where the caption states that had Holmes been a Muslim, he would have automatically been labelled a terrorist by the American media.

Heck, you only have to visit video coverage of Holmes’ violent shooting spree on YouTube, or read the news reports on websites like CNN, to find random comments from outraged Muslims asking why he wasn’t labelled a ‘terrorist’.

But let’s just backtrack a little, in case you aren’t familiar with the situation.

On July 20, 2012, in Aurora, Colorado, James Eagan Holmes, during a debut screening of The Dark Knight Rises, walked into a theatre armed to the teeth, and horrifically, started firing indiscriminately at the audience. Although many escaped with their lives, 12 people were killed, while 58 were injured during the harrowing killing spree.

The incident shook the nation, even affecting the film’s business at the box office, where it was once expected to near The Avengers opening weekend record of USD 207.4 million.

In the end, this final Batman film in director Christopher Nolan’s trilogy made a lower than expected USD 160.1 million on its first weekend, even though on the opening night, it had made nearly twice as much as The Avengers had in the same period. Of course, this was clearly before the incident had taken its toll on the sentiments of cinema goers.

Holmes, who was later discovered to be a huge fan of comic books, especially Batman, had dyed his hair orange, and had apparently announced that he was the deranged Batman villain, ‘The Joker’, to victims during the shooting. Obviously, this is a man who wasn’t in control of his mental well-being, so why do Muslims insist he be called a terrorist, rather than the murdering psychopath that he is?

Very quickly, here is how the dictionary defines what the word terrorist means, and what terrorism itself stands for:

Terrorist: “A person, usually a member of a group, who uses or advocates terrorism.”

Terrorism: “the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.”

Clearly, this man is not a terrorist. He has no organisational affiliations, nor was he in any way through his actions attempting to dictate government policy (though hopefully his actions will inadvertently affect gun control in the United States). While the American media without doubt is a biased group, they can’t be blamed for labelling Muslim killers as terrorists, when these misguided extremists so publicly state that their actions are in the name of their twisted version of Islam.

Besides, is being a terrorist really worse than being a psychotic killer?

While most terrorists are vile people, their actions are dictated by their own demented logic. They believe that they are fighting a war, and that their actions, even when they kill civilians, are just. For terrorists, there is a reason behind the madness.

On the other hand, people like James Eagan Holmes are simply out of their minds. They aren’t terrorists – they are mentally ill. While Muslim extremists are killing people in some false sense of furthering their ideology, people like Holmes are slaughtering innocents because they were inspired by some fictional character who dresses up as a clown.

A great example of what I am saying, are the terrorist rehabilitation programs in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, where former Muslim extremists have turned their lives around, and are preaching a moderate version of Islam to youngsters on the wrong path.

The other image making the rounds on Facebook is this one:

As you can see, it very similarly insists that the media has a bias against minorities, stating that had Holmes been black or Latino, the media would have painted a sorrier picture; instead they have made him out to be a genius.

Again, it is a ridiculous image designed to play on the sentiments of the simple minded. Of course the media isn’t reporting that James Eagan Holmes was a drug addicted gang member, and of course they aren’t reporting that he was an illegal alien.

Why?

Because he wasn’t any of those things.

The fact is that he really was an intelligent student, who showed no obvious signs of containing such madness. If he wasn’t an illegal alien, or if he wasn’t a drug abusing gang member, is the media supposed to skew the facts in some false attempt at equality? And as I have asked before, how is this providing Holmes a more positive public image?

When there is violence, involving drug addicted gang members, or illegal aliens, poor social economic backgrounds are often seen as the reason.

What reason did Holmes have?

If you are looking at things in terms of ethnicity, you can argue that certain blacks, Latinos, and Arabs of particular backgrounds are more likely to commit violent crimes.

But what if there is a race whose people randomly commit violent crimes without any clear indicators, as in the case of James Eagan Holmes?

Is that not more frightening?

At least you can try to heal a terrorist.

Read more by Noman here or follow him on Twitter @pugnate  

Noman Ansari

Noman Ansari

The author is the editor-in-chief of IGN Pakistan, and has been reviewing films and writing opinion pieces for The Express Tribune as well as Dawn for five years. He tweets as @Pugnate (twitter.com/Pugnate)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.