In the aftermath of yesterday's mass murder in Aurora, Colorado, one disturbing trend has emerged and that is the misplaced anger directed at the parents who brought their children to the midnight showing of Dark Knight Rising.
Understandably, people are emotionally shocked by what happened in that theater. The thought that children as young as 4 months turns justifiable outrage into fury, also understandably. But, as is usually the case with misplaced anger, the outrage turned to the wrong people: the parents of these children, rather than the gunman. And this is wrong, as well as unjust, and even cruel.
We place a premium on family here in the US, particularly when it's an election year, or some piece of legislation and/or social initiative such as lgbt rights is proposed. Then, inevitably there's a tidal wave of 'family' oriented speeches designed to underscore the fact that the family is the basic unit of our society. But the parents who took their children to the Batman movie were engaging in a family oriented activity went they together to that movie. I raised a child, and while I never went to a midnight showing when he was a baby, neither would I have gone before he was born, and twenty-one years later, I still haven't shown up at one. That's just me, I hate crowds. But there are people who love midnight showings, who waited Dark Knight Rising
to come out and when it did, thought no more of it than to pack the family up and go. It was supposed to be a fun night out and the very last thing on anyone's mind in that theater was that a madman would come in to slaughter them, innocent people all, young and old.
And this is why I have such a problem with the backlash, because we have come to the days when an attack like this could happen anywhere people take their kids: movies, malls, McDonalds, amusement parks, music concerts... the list goes on and on. The fact that it was midnight in a movie really is irrelevant. The issue is that the gunman chose a soft target venue that was crowded and where people couldn't get away fast enough, and that could be anywhere large groups of people assemble: church, school or a Norwegian summer camp. In truth, those parents are also innocent victims of the gunman. They could no more anticipate an attack than I could predict tomorrow's lotto numbers, but they are being vilified for taking their young children to a late night movie where a maniac struck. It's not enough that they will live with that choice for the rest of their lives, but as someone on Twitter said yesterday they should just "Stay the fuck home.", a sentiment which is echoed all over the internet. And now, because people are angry and need a scapegoat, they are the bad guys.
The irony of this, of course, is that most mass slayings of this type occur in schools, from colleges down to high schools. So, if one is going to blame these parents for going as a family to the movies, then one might as well blame the parents who sent their kids to Virginia Tech, or put them on the bus to Columbine or who drove them in a buggy to the Amish one room school. Because, by these standards, all these people deserve the same scorn and contempt heaped upon them as someone who leaves a baby in the car while shopping in the local Walmart: the emblem of careless, irresponsible parenting. But I disagree with this shaming: parents shouldn't 'stay the fuck home'. We should be able to take our kids with us to events, secure in the knowledge that they and we are safe. That should be a basic, fundamental right that we take for granted. 'Stay the fuck' home is not the solution.
The ultimate irony, of course, is that the very administration which prided itself on having family values, the Bush-Cheney administration, is the one that let the law lapse that banned AK-15s. And that is where all this misplaced anger should be directed, at the scumbag who attacked those moviegoers and at our elected officials who refuse to take a stand against the gun lobbies who have set the stage for this and the future tragedies which are sure to come.