There’s a name for catastrophe in Aurora. It’s James Eagan Holmes.
It’s not, “The Suspect,” “The Shooter,” “Suspect ‘A,’” or “He Who Shall Not Be Named,” as a growing number of people are insisting, including Gov. John Hickenlooper.
There’s a growing push for the Aurora Sentinel and every other newspaper, TV and radio station in the country to quit referring to the suspect of Aurora’s horrific July 20 theater massacre by his name, or run his picture.
That’s as crazy as Holmes is. Have no doubt, Holmes is crazy. It is, however, yet unseen as to just what flavor and degree of crazy the guy is. It’s unclear whether he’s “not-guilty-crazy” or “Son-of-Sam-crazy.” Reading anything into it past that would at this point only be an assumption. And the biggest assumption so far is that Holmes did it — at least in part — for the media attention.
That’s a pretty sane assumption. If I were to go to these kind of lengths to murder a lot of people, It would have to be to get everyone to pay attention to me. But it’s a huge leap to think that Holmes was craving attention and could only think of this as a good way to make that happen. He’s crazy, so we don’t know what the hell he was thinking.
In the mean time, I can GUARANTEE you, that everyone who doesn’t want to utter his unimaginative name was as anxious as the rest of us to find out what it is. And every person who is clamoring to strike his photo from news coverage of the tragedy couldn’t take their eyes off his glowing-orange weirdness as he sat there in court like a bobble-headed troll doll.
Mass murders may well be narcissists, but narcissism doesn’t turn people into mass murderers. There are so many things to understand and deal with in a catastrophe like this. Understanding who Holmes is and why he did what he did could well help us prevent someone like him from striking somewhere else.
What’s more, our job on the news side of the paper is to tell the news as completely, fairly and objectively as possible, without political pressure. And we strive to be clear and complete. By electing to run the identification of some criminals and not others is bad business for journalism, and bad for our readers. On the opinion side, which is where my byline lives, we’re more free to point out our opinion of what a creep Holmes is, no matter how crazy he turns out to be. On the news side of the paper, it’s important our stories be concerned about news, facts, clarity, fairness and truth.
There are endless reasons to hate Holmes. My instinct is to believe that he was intentionally cruel and malevolent. But that’s a leap we can’t make on the news side yet. For now, I just know that heinous has a name, and it’s James Eagan Holmes.
Dave Perry is editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303-750-7555.