Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Details of Aurora Massacre Show the Huge Role Blind Chance Played

WIth the details of the Aurora Theater massacre released last week during James Holmes' preliminary hearing, we are now aware of the enormous role blind chance played in determining who lived and who died.  This is important because in the immediate aftermath there were a number of victims who felt they had special protection from God. For example,  a Denver Post piece by Lynn Bartels, recounted how survivor Bonnie Kate Pourciau proclaimed "God was holding us in His hands" as the shooting unfolded - and hence, she and her friend (Elizabeth) managed to walk out  of the Century 16 cinema with Bonnie Kate only having one gunshot in her leg.

Much of this egoistic foolishness can be forgiven or overlooked either out of youthful folly (Bonnie Kate was only 18) or because too many people inhabit a mythical world of their own confabulation where a 'Daddy God' watches over everything and knows when every sparrow falls or when every rose bud blossoms. A lot is also engendered because of the U.S. of A's hyper religious culture and enabling media which pays more attention to religious nonsense than anything else. I already noted a lot of this and how the American press enables it in an earlier blog, e.g.

Anyway, let's look at the findings to see the extent to which people were affected based on totally chance contingency as opposed to any "divine intervention". In other words, it was basically the movie goers' chance decisions which put them in the brunt of harm's way or not.

Some of the chance components of good fortune - which otherwise meant many more killed:

-Investigators found 76 used casings and 224 live rounds, with unused magazines picked up outside as the suspect was searched.  They also found evidence that Holmes' high capacity magazine had jammed, otherwsie perhaps three times more would have been killed. Blind chance!

-Of the total of 375 move goers in Theater 9, 12 were killed, and 58 others injured, including three in the adjacent theater (Theater 8).

- Holmes' actual movie ticket was punched for Theater 8, not Theater 9. Had he followed the information the  killings would have been in Theater 8, not 9. All the victims' names would have been different.

- By happenstance, at the time of the shootings two Aurora police shifts overlapped, allowing 129 officers to respond in 5 minutes to 911 calls, and help ferry the wounded to hospitals. If only one shift had been available many more victims would have died with barely half the number of officers available.

- At least a couple of victims, including Jesse Childress, chose to go into Theater 9 when they had friends who invited them into Theater 8. Others, like Jordan Crofter, had sneaked into Theater 9 to sit with friends. Choices!

- The most lethal area of the Theater was in rows 8- 12 where six were killed.

- A number of victims wouldn't have been in the Theater at all had they followed their usual norms, routines. Jansen Young and friend, for example, noted how tired they were and that "maybe we shouldn't go tonight". They did anyway.  Two bikers were headed for San Francisco and weren't Batman fans at all. They just happened to pull up near the Aurora 16 Cinemark  when they were tired and decided to take in the film.

Each of the above, and more, discloses the extent to which chance decisions and happenstance intervened on that July night. Meanwhile, diehard religionists like Bonnie Kate Pourciau will continue to believe they were spared by some divine intervention - never mind not far from them a 6-year old (Veronica Moser) died a brutal death.

We know the human brain is prey to these exceptionalist fantasies, and we also know there is no way they will ever stop. They are part and parcel of the religious exceptionalism that threads its way through our culture, culminating in the skewed belief that only a chosen select are "saved", who happen to "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ". Never mind, 'Jesus' was a god-man fable stolen from the Mithra template, e.g.

At some time, however, most humans will grow up and finally put away their childish things, including immature beliefs and acknowledge their lives are more hinged to the vagaries of blind chance than they'd like to think!

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