James Holmes: Disturbed Christian or an Occupy Black Bloc Activist?

In terms of James Holmes’ motive for his Batman movie shooting spree, there are a number of disturbing possibilities. One is that he’s a very troubled Christian or ex-Christian. As reported, for example, by the Christian Post, he seems to have visited a church service within the past few weeks:

Recalling the visit, [pastor Scott] Bloyer [of the Colorado-based The Elevation Christian Church] said Holmes ‘just walked in, sat in the back, and walked back out’ of the less than 2-year-old church, which currently draws over 200 people.

If this was indeed James Holmes, he may have been seeking spiritual help or scoping out the church as a potential target for his mayhem.

Another motive possibility, given that he calls himself the Joker, is that he’s involved with the Black Bloc wing of the Occupy Movement. If so, then Chris Hedges’ observation in February surrounding that faction within Occupy appears prophetic:

The Black Bloc movement is infected with a deeply disturbing hypermasculinity. This hypermasculinity, I expect, is its primary appeal. It taps into the lust that lurks within us to destroy, not only things but human beings.

It may be that James Holmes is one of these Dostoevskian underground men that moves toward either a fanatic fundamentalism or an emotionally desolate nihilism in response to his own failures, disappointments, and powerlessness. Or he may just be crazy. We’ll see.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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17 Responses to James Holmes: Disturbed Christian or an Occupy Black Bloc Activist?

  1. Marlen says:

    Dark Knight Rises out of the SCREEN? Enter-tamement Question:: http://youtu.be/qfK1T75ULeU @marlenlife – Is society responsible for this?

  2. Staffan says:

    Or he could simply be an American. After all, that seems to be the most distinguishing feature of a spree killer.

    • Mmmhm. says:

      Your lack of knowledge in your post shows your true self. It’s because of people like you that we still don’t have equality, and love for one another, in this world. I hope you are real proud of who you have become, or are becoming. Out of all the mass killings that have happened through out history in our world, this one just so happened to be American. Rather than choosing to discriminate, you could have expressed empathy. Keeping your hands off the keyboard would have been good enough. America struggles…never mind…words are useless against people like you so it’s up to people like me to believe in karma. Keep on dishing it out and you’ll get yours. Believe me.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Whatever Staffan’s motive, it is true that Americans seem more prone to these tragedies, and it seems the most obvious reason is that, unlike other industrialized countries, America has extremely lax gun laws. If you are deranged and living, say, in Italy, you’re going to have a harder time than in America getting hold of a gun that can spray 60 bullets a minute.

      I don’t oppose the ownership of a rifle for hunting or a handgun for private protection, but I do oppose the ownership of guns, grenades, or any other form of “arms” that can cause broad and quick violence to scores of people.

      Hobbes and Locke were both right: civilization basically begins with giving the chief monopoly of violence to the state. But that state also must be regulated by a constitution and democracy. We have that in America. Nobody needs to own a semi-automatic weapon or grenades.

      • jimstoic says:

        Norway had the most horrific spree killing (if we’re calling them that). Scotland, Canada, and France have had recent shootings like this. Considering the number of people in the U.S. compared to those countries, the per capita deaths by spree killer may be lower in the U.S.

  3. French Spy says:

    Or he could have been thinking of shooting up a church, and was casing the joint.
    He chose the theatre?

  4. French Spy says:

    Staffan, your statement is a wish, a lark, but not a meaninful, since this is America…..
    Is Hassan an American? Yes. But he’s a Muslim terrorist, a major catagory of spree killers. There are specifics, we must look for them.

  5. Staffan says:

    Mmmhm and French Spy:

    If you look at the list of spree killings listed on Wiki and remove those that can be construed as terrorism (which I think is reasonable to view as a separate category) it turns out that 23 were American and 17 were European. This means an average of 0.74/10 million inhabitant for USA and 0.26 for Europe. About three times as common.

    Mmmhm: Pretending everything is alright will enable this to go on. Where is the empathy in that?

    • jimstoic says:

      You’re treating Europe as a monolith, which isn’t accurate. You should compare individual European countries, or compare North America with Europe.

      Removing the ones that can be construed as terrorism–and for all we know, the Aurora shooting might fit that category–seems designed to prove your point. If we include only the shootings I want to include, I’m right!

      • Staffan says:

        Sure, we can compare comparable countries by restricting it to for instance USA vs EU but since all of Europe has fewer killings than USA in absolute numbers there is still going to be a sizable difference.

    • jimstoic says:

      And Holmes wasn’t a “spree killer.” Spree killers kill people in multiple locations. He was a “rampage killer.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rampage_killers

  6. Staffan says:

    So the distinction between spree and rampage killer is meaningful but that between spree killing and terrorism is just something I designed to prove a point?

    But I agree that spree and rampage killings are similar and can be discussed together in this context. If we use the list you provided the rampage killings amount to 0.63/million in America and 0.35/million in EU. We can alos measure the severity of the violence in terms of victims which is 4/million in America and 2/million in EU.

    • jimstoic says:

      I didn’t say the distinction between rampage and spree isn’t important. I just said you’re using the wrong comparison. Which isn’t to say it’s not important. I don’t like distinctions based on motive, because it’s very tricky to determine motive.

      I don’t think it’s apt to compar the U.S. to the EU, which has no head of state or constitution and does not have uniform gun laws. A better comparison is the U.S. and individual countries.

      I favor gun restrictions. My partner’s cousin was killed in a rampage, so I know the effect it has on a family. I just don’t think that Europe has much to brag about.

      Combining all of the gun-related rampage numbers from the Wikipedia Rampage Killer page for the past 50 years, here’s how Canada and countries in Western Europe compared to the U.S. death rate:

      UK 89%
      France 70%
      Switzerland 217%
      Germany 62%
      Spain 23%
      Canada 202%
      Norway 1887%

      Sweden and Italy had no rampage deaths during this time.

      The 11% difference between the UK and the U.S. is negligible when you’re talking about a rate of less than one per million. Switzerland, Norway, and Canada had higher rates. If you add in the spree killings, the numbers will change somewhat, but not enough to be able to say without qualification that Europe is doing it right and the U.S. is doing it wrong.

      The U.S.gun problem is more obvious when you consider the individual killings. Rampage (and spree) killings are not something that can easily be stopped. (See Oklahoma City and the Twin Towers.) Crazy people find a way. But gun control seems likely to prevent accidental murders and murders committed in the heat of passion.

      Our hearts are in the same place. I agree that we need to make changes. I’m not convinced that we can accomplish much when the number of guns per person in the U.S. is already so high. There’s no way people are going to give up the guns they already have. But tightening up loopholes that permit gun and ammunition purchased at gun shows and online would help.

      • Staffan says:

        The EU is similar to US in many ways in terms of standard of living and culture and technology. I don’t see how a head of state or constitution would affect these kinds of acts. And picking a handful makes for a biased selection. I pick all of EU for a bigger picture. And for an even bigger picture add the homicide rates.

        I agree that some people will find a way no matter the gun laws. But I suspect there is something within the American culture too, that promotes violence. This goes for other countries too, like Finland which has a conspicuous overrepresentation in these senseless killings. I could even be a question of genetics – the US tops every study on impulsivity, which is what you find a lot of in violent criminals. But that is also found in the entrepreneurs that made America such a great nation. It’s complicated…

  7. Staffan says:

    And on a related note, Wiki lists 193 serial killers in America and 74 in EU.

    Also, the rate of intentional homicide in the US is about five times that of the EU: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

  8. jimstoic says:

    Replace “accidental murders” with “accidental gun deaths.”

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