Despite what most people say about themselves, I can imagine what it would be like if my child were murdered.
“I just can’t imagine,” probably became the phrase most repeated in the hours, days and now months after the night James Holmes sneaked into the Century 16 Aurora theater and opened fire during a July 20 Batman movie premiere.
I can imagine. I did. And when it comes down to it, I think most of us have. In fact, I imagine all too well every time some dirt bag starts shooting up a school or a town meeting, or in this case of Aurora, a movie theater. I am palpably terrorized by my imagination every time I hear about the latest shooting, car crash or kidnapping.
What I can’t imagine is ever getting over it. Ever. I know firsthand that people who lose a child, a husband or a friend to some bizarre tragedy do, in fact, keep going. I’ve had young friends killed because of drunken driving. I’ve known families of murder victims. I’ve had friends who’ve lost children to war. The survivors moved on. I can’t say, however, that any of them “got over it.”
Callous officials at Cinemark, the company that owns the Century 16 Aurora theater, somehow managed to overlook the simple logic I’ve spelled out and invited the families of those murdered in the theater to attend a special re-opening event Jan. 17, which will include — ack — a movie.
It was without a doubt one of the most ghastly incidents of insensitivity I’ve ever heard of. Cinemark not only planned a gala night of remembrance, but then they were so obnoxious as to invite moms and dads whose children were shot to death in the theater just a few months ago to come and watch a movie — a movie. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, what were these people thinking? What movie does one show at a night-of-remembrance soiree where a dozen people are gunned down in cold blood and dozens more seriously injured? I would be equally as callous to even suggest one.
They weren’t thinking, and Cinemark needs to quickly to admit that and apologize. I’ve been at the front of the parade for Cinemark to keep the theater open. It’s just a cinema, a building. It had nothing to do with the crazy monster who dolled himself up and dragged his arsenal of terror into that packed room to carry out his madness. My stammering anger needs to be directed at him, not the theater. He’s a bully, and Lord knows there’s nothing I hate worse than a bully.
By razing that building or turning it into a storage unit, bullies like Holmes are emboldened by this malevolent stunt. For me, it really isn’t about thumbing my nose at Holmes. He’s irrelevant now, reduced to the eye-rolling, impotent jerk that he will be in a prison cell for the rest of his life. No, it’s important to me that I push back against the next Holmes and against my own fear. The cinema didn’t murder those people. Holmes did. And people like Holmes are watching. Miscreants like Holmes would be inspired to unleash their own madness after seeing that out of fear or respect or exasperation, we would tear down a building because of Holmes’ successful tirade.
I don’t go to many movies these days, mostly because I don’t see much in mainstream American cinema that’s very entertaining. But I guarantee that when that theater opens I’ll be up front to hand over my money. I’ll sit prominently inside and push back at the malevolent bullies here and all over the world who see murder and terror as the answer to whatever grotesqueness motivates them to kill.
But my daughter wasn’t murdered in that theater. And if she was, I wouldn’t go. I couldn’t go. I doubt, at this point, I would be getting out of bed. And if the owners of the theater were to invite me into the place my daughter was shot to death to watch a movie and have “a night of remembrance,” I can only imagine the hatred such heartlessness would provoke, and the endless stream of invectives I would hurl.
Reach Editor Dave Perry at 303-750-7555 or email@example.com.