What happened in the early hours of the morning yesterday in Aurora, Colorado, is nothing short of repulsive. It sickened me–and that is no stretch. Hearing that unsuspecting, innocent lives were cut short by an armed madman–small children included–brought me to the edge of nausea. In the midst of that inhumane brutality there were assuredly many acts of personal bravery that we will never know because the heros and heroines who performed them now lay among the dead. “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for another” (John 15:13).
The story of one hero, however, has emerged. Jarell Brooks appears to be a typical 19-year-old, but yesterday morning he showed the courage of a lion when he saved the life of Patricia Legarreta and her two young children, one of whom is only four months old. While trying to escape the hail of bullets echoing through the theater, he took time to assist the young family as they attempted to flee the building. As he did so, he was shot in his right thigh from behind. Patricia was also hit. That’s when they fell to the floor, but Jarell continued to push the family to safety. “I was thinking, I have to get this family out, without getting hit myself. I managed to do one,” Brooks told ABC News. Their injuries turned out to be minor, and both adults were treated and released from medical care. We can all be comforted that, as Patricia later said, “in times of trial, there are good people out there.”
Not everything from ABC yesterday was so uplifting–or so accurate. As live coverage was aired of Aurora police peering into the assailant’s booby-trapped apartment yesterday morning, ABC anchor George Stephanopoulis cut to reporter Brian Ross. Rather than demonstrating any type of professional journalism, Ross announced that he discovered the name “Jim Holmes” on the webpage of the Colorado Tea Party. Stephanopoulis set it up by stating that Ross was “looking into, investigating the background of Jim Holmes” (whom police had just identified as the accused shooter).
“We don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes,” Ross intoned, but one wonders about the point of this stupidity nonetheless. Does this simply represent the poor state of what passes as contemporary American journalism, or as I suspect, is something much more sinister at work here? What kind of prejudice controls a person who imagines implausible connections between a daranged rifleman and the Tea Party activists whose protests have never been marked by violence?
ABC later apologized. Again, one is given pause to wonder. Was it sincere or was it an automatic gesture extended because of the outcry against the ridiculous misconstrual of the Tea Party movement? Either way, the damage was done … again. I suppose if you’re blinded by self-righteousness, anything goes and anyone can be an ideological victim.
We go to the movies to escape for a while. In the anonymous darkness we can be asbsorbed into fantasy, excitement, and action. We leave behind our cares to enjoy a couple of hours of pretending. Perhaps we revert to the innocence of childhood at these moments as the images and sounds of Hollywood fill our heads. Fixed in a short time of enjoyment, we’re no longer political adversaries. Our physical and ideological differences aren’t even of concern as we sit together in the dark.
As on-screen fantasy turned into real-life horror yesterday morning, the darkness of entertainment brought its participants to the edge of absolutes. Ideology and politics didn’t matter. Only life mattered. Jarell Brooks responded with a generosity that could have cost him his life. The pundits at ABC simply continued down the path of a political bigotry firmly planted in fallacy.