I trust you have all followed with dismay the story of the theatre shooting in Aurora, Colorado.
To be purely factual, it was not the deadliest shooting even in the United States. It is a much larger discussion as to why (If I write about gun control, I’ll only be preaching to the choir.), but such incidents are routine in the country. This particular incident however was captivating and that wasn’t by accident. It was designed to be so: The Joker reference, the insanely popular Batman movie, the booby-trapped apartment and the in general chutzpah of the killer.
At one level, I don’t understand the killer. But at another level, I do. It is so easy. There is usually a very straightforward reason that causes someone to take an affirmative decision to go on a rampage. Then they just work towards it. It’s not very different from how you and I decide things and follow through.
What struck me was the killer’s somber look in the court today. Several clues indicated that he was after fame and attention. And he got what he wanted. So then what changed between Friday and today that caused him to look gloomy? Was it the realization that he had taken and affected so many lives? Surely he saw that coming. Or was it that killing was only a theoretical concept until the shootout, and now that he has done it, it is a much more visceral experience?
As the trial continues, I’m hoping to get a few answers for my own closure.
By even talking about this incident, I am perhaps helping cement the killers place in popular culture. For all that we know, that was precisely his motive. But that doesn’t stop me from being fascinated by his thought process. To feel better about it, I’ve tried to follow some of the rules of covering a massacre the right way.
One of the most common reactions is ‘I don’t understand the killer’s motive’. That assigns a certain aura of enigma to the killer. If I were a killer, I’d totally want to be enigmatic.
Which is why it is important to differentiate between not understanding something and not identifying with something. I totally understand Kasab and I’m sure you do too; it’s just that we don’t identify with him.
That said, how we express ourselves on the internet ought to be the last topic to discuss after such tragedies.
There is another reason why this incident prompted me to write about it. Colorado is one of my favourite hiking destinations. It is one of the most beautiful and diverse places I’ve seen. In the last post I wrote, I was in Colorado earlier this month climbing a few 14ers. I was there once again last Friday for some more climbing. I landed at the Denver airport shortly after midnight, rented a car and on the way to Denver, stopped at a dinner place in Aurora. I saw cops cars driving so fast on the road they seemed crazy. I did not realize what had happened until the next morning.
To be clear: I’m not drawn towards this incident because I-was-so-close-it-could’ve-been-me. I don’t consider myself that important. I’m drawn to it because it feels tangible.
Needless to add, hiking in the aftermath of this incident wasn’t pleasant. What was worse is that the feeling wasn’t new. On the previous visit, I drove through a town that had been evacuated only days earlier due to a massive and devastating forest fire.
I hate that I’m going back to Colorado in September once again for hiking.