The Joker, or Fool, of Denver

Those of you who know me know I live in Denver, and two and a half years ago, give or take, Aurora Theater was shot up by a wannabe super-villain with a plan as twisted as any plot from a Batman movie. The attack resulted in 12 people killed, almost a hundred injured, and an ongoing legacy that sticks with Denver to this day. The trial is mired in legal maneuvers and is no closer to trial today than it was when the case was brought.

Many people just want to put Holmes out of their misery. Others want to do the same, but make sure to dot every i and cross every t on the way there. Some (like me) argue that Holmes being killed won’t necessarily send the right message, and that a more appropriate punishment would be life in prison without parole, spending the rest of his miserable life in a 6x6x6 box, given the most tasteless food available, surrounded on all sides by visions of people’s lives going on brought by monitors encrusting his cell, not a hint of fresh air, not a hint of sunlight, and just the knowledge that until he finally expires, this is his life. But before we condemn him, we should first understand him.

For a moment, let’s put ourselves in this ‘Fool’s’ mind. For many of us, this will be hard, not only because we aren’t cold hearted murderers, but also because we aren’t nerds. As a nerd, I’ll help you on this journey.

Holmes is obviously a Comic Book fan. He went to great lengths to select his movie and his appearance, and obviously planned this long ago. From his choice of hair color (bright orange) through his MO (bomb his apartment and lure his neighbors in to their doom, while shooting up a theater full of movie goers), down to his behavior afterward, this guy is showing he idolizes the Joker.

For those not familiar with the insane clown from Batman, the Joker is a psychopath super villain who tangles with the main character on a regular basis. Joker has been portrayed throughout history in varying ways, from the bumbling doofus who always comes up with overly complicated plans that the Caped Crusader (Batman) defeats at the last moment, most famously the Adam West Batman running with an oversized bomb, through the suave and insane killer clown and gangster played by Jack Nicholson in the 1989 movie Batman, to the insane schizophrenic as portrayed by Heath Ledger in Dark Knight from 2008. In earlier portrayals, the Joker is seen to use gag-weapons, but the Heath version of the character uses mundane firearms and explosives.

One thing all the Jokers share, however, is a complete disdain for society and all it represents. The Ledger Joker in particular exemplifies this. “Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It’s fair!” This is a glimpse at the motivations behind the insanity, and when looking at Holmes, it’s instructive.

Holmes shot up the Aurora Theater, and had he gotten what he wanted, more people would have died at the apartment, and he would have had more time to kill people at the theater. People went into the theater expecting a Batman movie, and they got one — they became front row spectators to the fear that Bane brought to Gotham, as the Fool did to Denver. Their perfectly ordered lives degenerated in a handful of minutes into chaos, and it has been chaos ever sense.

Not satisfied with shooting up the theater, Holmes has moved further to bringing chaos to the entire state, in a way that bombs and bullets never could. Make no mistake — the just-passed Governor’s election was tainted by his presence. He has made his impact felt, and will continue to be felt for years down the road. Do we give in to our base instincts and kill this man? Do we show compassion and just put him in jail for the rest of his life? Do we carefully dot every i and cross every t? No matter what we do, he wins in the end. His chaos will remain with us.

You have to be sure he’s laughing in his cell this morning, at the news of Sony caving to hackers that held them hostage to threats of terrorism and sabotage. This article and even this comment would bring glee to him. He enjoys the chaos he’s sown in society. He relishes the discord between family members, and friends, between politicians, and between complete strangers. It proves his point, in his sick twisted mind.

Sadly, we will continue to feed his insanity. In one way the Joker is right. We abhor chaos, and refuse to plan for it. We believe that life is always orderly, and that chaos will never happen. And when it does, we rarely pull together — just look at the political debates on this site. Joker would be proud of all of us. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could step back from the brink and reevaluate what’s important? Live and let live. Worship in the way you will, even if that’s no way at all? Let the wheels of justice turn for this sad Joker wannabe? If we could do that? There wouldn’t even be a need for Batman.

That said, we need to get the trial on the road, as soon as feasible. He may be able to delay justice, but he, and those like him, should know that even if the wheels of justice turn slowly, they inexorably turn, and eventually, you will be ground beneath them. “Guardians of Peace”? You are next…

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