James Holmes, Aurora, and U.S. As Empire Of Violence

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America is a very violent society. Daily, 87 people are killed by guns and 183 people are injured by gun violence—at a cost of $100 billion. Moreover, 45 people are murdered daily in America.

[Speaking Truth To Power]


It’s been two weeks since James Eagan Holmes’s murderous carnage left 12 dead and scores injured inside a Colorado theater.

Given the current frequency of these atrocities, isn’t it time to ask serious questions about the relationship between gun violence within American society, mental instability, and the NRA’s role in gun manufacturing?

On Monday, James Holmes was charged with 142 criminal counts in the after midnight shooting rampage on July 20 inside an Aurora, Colorado theater, during a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.” During the formal charges, the former 24-year-old San Diego honors student was charged with 24 counts of murder and 116 counts of attempted murder.  He was also charged with possession of firearms and explosives. It took bomb experts quite some time to disarm the apartment where the former neurosciences graduate student lived.

Among the charges, Mr. Homes was charged, with murder, twice for every person he is accused of killing. Charges of deliberation and extreme indifference to human life were filed for each victim as well. Much as he did at his earlier court date, Mr. Homes sat silently in the courtroom—although he seemed more lucid. He spoke only once to say “yes” he understood the charges against him.

A pre-trial hearing is set for September 27 and a tentative preliminary hearing is scheduled for November 13. Mr. Holmes could face the death penalty, if prosecutors choose to seek it. Life in prison is the least he could receive if convicted.

There is speculation regarding the mental state of Mr. Homes, especially, now that it has been revealed he was being treated by psychiatrist Dr. Lynne Fenton. Dr. Fenton is the medical director of the student mental health services at the University of Colorado Denver’s Anschutz Medical Campus. It is, now, still unknown what Dr. Fenton was treating Mr. Holmes for. However, Dr. Fenton’s fields of research include: psychotherapy and neurobiological schizophrenia.

There is now curiosity about what light Dr. Fenton might be able shine upon Mr. Holmes murderous rampage. It is known that Holmes—who by several accounts was a brilliant student—was in the process of withdrawing from the neurosciences graduate program at the University of Colorado.  A still unfolding question is: what was in the unopened package Mr. Holmes sent to Dr. Fenton? The mysterious package was seized after the killings. It might be some time before contents of the package become public, since District Chief Judge William Sylvester has now issued a gag order in the case.

There are several important questions to be asked here:

[] Why did this standout student commit such much murder and mayhem?
[] What was this defendant being treated for by Dr. Fenton?
[] Is it true the defendant bought all, or most, of his bullets from the Internet?
[] Why are these atrocities occurring with such regularity?

The unspeakable carnage we’ve just witnessed in Colorado isn’t new to us. We’ve been down this awful road before.

On January 8, 2011, U.S. Representative Gabriel Giffords was among 18 people shot—six were killed—in Tucson, Arizona by Jared Lee Loughner.  In April 16, 2007, Seung-Hui Cho shot 49 people—killing 32—at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. On April 20, 1999 students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students—and a teacher—at Columbine High School—in Colorado some 25 miles, or, so from the site of this latest massacre. And who can forget the atrocity carried out by New York-born Timothy McVeigh—awarded a Bronze Star for his “exploits” in the first Gulf War—who killed 168 people at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, in Oklahoma on April 19, 1995?

Unfortunately, because these outrages happen in cycles many miss a larger problem: America is a very violent society. According to the University of Chicago Crime Lab and the Centers for Disease Control, every day, in America, 87 people are killed by guns and 183 people are injured by gun violence—at a cost of $100 billion. Moreover, 45 people are murdered daily in America.

Whenever these massacres take place, the gun control question arises in the media and public. However, many on Capitol Hill won’t honestly debate this issue. Too many—on both sides of the political divide—are petrified by the power of the NRA.

Gun and weapons manufacturing is big business in America—for foreign and domestic consumption. Republicans, who always back big money, use the argument of protecting Second Amendment rights to stifle any sensible legislation that could limit the damage of these senseless killings. And Democrats—ever fearful of being called too “liberal” and weak—are afraid to spark a serious debate about gun control—let alone enact legislation to address it. Don’t expect another Brady Bill anytime soon.

In this Colorado case, the ease with which Mr. Holmes, apparently, bought bombs, bullets and guns mirrors the ease many of the other killers in the aforementioned massacres got their ammunition. In terms of the bullets Mr. Holmes, reportedly, purchased them on the Internet. Doesn’t it seem somewhat crazy—we’ll get to the insanity angle next—that one can buy bullets in this manner, especially, in this age where stolen credit cards and identity theft is so prevalent?

But, sensible gun control isn’t the only problem here.

Isn’t something seriously pathological going on in this country’s national psyche which speaks to these killings? Is it possible these things are related, in some way, to America’s bloody, genocidal history—especially, as it relates to the massacres of Native Americans, forced enslavement and lynching of Africans and ongoing imperial warfare that Washington often wages on the non-white world? Are these instances of the chicken coming home to roost? Hasn’t America had more than its share of domestic serial murderers?

The mental state of Mr. Holmes is an issue of maximum importance here. If Mr. Holmes was such a brilliant student what happened to turn him into this monster? Another question we must ask is: was he being treated with medication? Could that be the reason for his bizarre appearance in court? And if he was being treated what for? Did Dr. Fenton know Mr. Homes was a potential homicidal danger to the community?

Many of these questions will be answered as the case progresses. However, America must start to seriously grapple with the question of why these atrocities occur with such repetition? How else can we expect to stop the needless and senseless bloodletting that is taking so many lives?


"Speaking Truth To Empower."



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