Soon after a gunman opened fire on a Colorado movie theater killing 12 and injuring dozens, James Holmes freely gave himself up to authorities. And since his apprehension, we've gotten busy grasping, over and over, for what caused him to do this. He wasn't doing well at school! He wasn't Christian enough! He was lonely! And now, we learn he was rejected by three women on Adult Friend Finder in the days leading up to the shooting. But while it's tempting to search for something someone could have done, a sign someone could have read, a way a concerned and alert citizen could have intervened and prevented the Aurora shooting, all of the clichéd media narratives in the world can't ultimately make sense of the senseless.
Authorities now say that an Adult Friend Finder profile for Holmes that surfaced in the hours after the shooting spree is authentic, and so, of course, we're now dissecting every shred of information we can glean from the profile to try to determine what was going on between Holmes' ears. On the profile that has since been removed from the casual hookup site, Holmes described his penis as "short/average" — could that mean he was shooting people because of his dick size?!? — and that his intentions were for some no-strings-attached sex with a lady one-on-one or in a group. Could that mean that he was a sexual deviant? Also in his profile, he not-so-transparently asks other users if they'd visit him in prison; TMZ called the quip "cryptic," but it's hardly "cryptic" at all — James Holmes was allegedly hoarding ammunition and weapons for months before the shooting. Holmes declined to answer the question about whether or not he did drugs — does this mean that drugs are to blame?! Was he smoking pot like the Miami face eater? Out of his mind on some other easily scapegoatable substance?
Drugs? Loneliness? Dick size? Can we blame any of these things?
No. James Holmes was a deeply disturbed person who took months to plan a mass murder, and was able to execute it efficiently because he was able to acquire and use assault weapons.
But what of his romantic problems? The ever-classy TMZ reached out to three of the women Holmes contacted via Adult Friend Finder, and all of them said they declined his advances. The resulting headline reads "James Holmes REJECTED by 3 Women Before Shooting," as though those three casual sex rejections were just the thing to push James Holmes — who looks to have been planning something for some time, what with the growing stash of weapons and ammo — right over the edge. And The Daily Mail just comes right out and blames Holmes actions on women: Holmes had been in a relationship that ended right before the shooting, and no women would have sex with him, even though he was just being a nice guy and wanting to "chat" on a website that's for fucking, he was just being nice. Interesting details if they hadn't been shoehorned into a classic Woman Doesn't Give Man Sex He's Owed, Man Freaks Out narrative — the "relationship" that ended was apparently a casual friendship with another man that authorities have ruled out as a source of motive, and the "rejections" occurred just days before the long-planned attack. If only women had been nurturing toward Holmes, to the point of self-nullification, hints the "man scorned" coverage, then maybe this wouldn't have happened!
What if one of those much maligned internet sex-finding women could have somehow found it in the kindness of her heart to fuck James Holmes? What then?
Nothing. What happened in Colorado happened because a man who was trying to cause chaos was able to acquire the tools to do it successfully.
Attempting to make sense of the senseless is a natural psychological response to tragedy; we all want to think that if we were the ones encountering Holmes in the days leading up to the theater shooting, we'd be able to Batman him into submission. We'd see it coming; we'd dodge bullets; we'd bring guns and somehow stop him by firing blindly into a darkened, smoky theater. But ultimately, what happened in Colorado was an act of randomness enabled by deadly weapons. Not reefer madness. Not sexual rejection. Not heartbreak.