Tag Archives: theater shootings

Cops, Women, Movies and What I might blog about more if I were really a celebrity….

When the Aurora  theater shooting was perpetrated there was a whole series of issues in the way the event was handled that I found very upsetting. I wrote some things about police handling of the investigation that were among the angriest and most offensively worded things that I have ever written. It was a desperate attempt to attract more attention to reforming police procedure, reporting on mass shootings, reporting between agencies and public police relations. Of course I got no response from any of the parties I tried to offend — not the police, the mainstream media or the sort of half-breed institutions  that act as part media and part police. No response except some evidence that some isolated elements in both media and police took offense and put me on their enemies list. Fair enough, I have earned lots of enemies but although I hate reading those words I  still think that if I was not so universally ignored it might have prevented some of the horrors of police – public connections and relations that have plagued us ever since. Yes that is egotistical, but if you read this blog regularly you already know that I am fairly egotistical. Insulting the most capable group in society of inflicting harm was not a choice I made lightly even in the heat of anger.

O. J. Simpson’s legal team demonized the police so he could get away with murdering his wife and her associate or lover — his tactic succeeded despite the lack of any relevance to anything. I suggested that the police needed to disprove that a man dressed entirely like a cop, in a place cops were known to work and who shot with skill was not in fact a cop. I suggested that this lack of confronting that issue was inexcusable. I did it in ways that were over the top. But my goal was to start a discussion — I failed to achieve my objective where Simpson’s attorneys did achieve theirs. I never said a cop did it and I laid out the facts that Holmes probably did it and said so clearly to those few who can actually follow an argument they do not like.  But I achieved no discussion whatsoever of how to handle situations when a cop may have run amok. That was around this  time of year in 2012. All of the corrosive events since then may make many people (whose point of view I can’t respect) feel that such criticism contributed to the bad will sense. They are basically fools and self-deluded cowards but many of them hate people like me on sight so this won’t gain me new enemies really — they sense that I dislike the status quo they don’t wan’t criticized  as soon as they see me. Still I would apologize for how angry those words were if I thought it meant anything.
When the Lafayette theater shooting occurred in 2015 and the killer was not dressed like a cop in the view of hundreds of witnesses and the reporting was in my mind sane I said nothing negative about the cops or the cop reportage media industry. I focused on the victims and shared reported links about them such as this and this which emphasized their great human beauty as people. I also shared other links like this. Until this sentence I have never mentioned that Train Wreck is a disturbing movie which many people would find offensive and hard to watch in any of my other treatments of this topic. That is true although as I wrote with empathy in the Charlie Ebdo massacre I never took up the Je Suis Charlie Ebdo tag. I actually think Amy Schumer has some serious things to say in the film and they need to be said. I am not at all sure she says them in a way that deserves major feature film distribution acroos America. But until now I did not mention that and I did focus some attention on the killer and his horrible points of view which led to this crisis. A post or two on that shooting made this blog. So my criticism harsh as it was had a very specific context. Positive posts about police have appeared here , here and here. But that first post which I do not link but which is still here on this blog and elsewhere will haunt me for the rest of my life with a long and more complete line of ghosts than most people have.

So two lovely women who are part of the Acadiana community which I have loved and lived in were killed at a movie about women’s issues that were offensively portrayed by a man whose whole life was devoted to offensive behaviors and thoughts. the cops and media handled it well and that scarcely lessens the tragedy. That is not the kind of writing I would like to do about women, movies are cops but it beats the Aurora piece. I have blogged about the Louisiana Story and the Blob which have been big parts of my life. I have also blogged about other movies such as here  for LA LA Land,  here for a local film and here for the classic Belizaire the Cajun and here for other films. Films are a major interest of mine.

In my brother’s recent foray into feature films I had a chance to shoot the pictures below of an attractive young woman, Dasha Nekrasova a Belarus native who grew up in Las Vegas and lives in Los Angeles and is making a movie in Louisiana. It reminds me of a time when I was able to think of cops, women and movies all in a different and more hopeful way than I can now. It reminds me of a time when my past life was less complex. That being said I was never the kind of person cops look like and say “he is a good citizen and we want to be on his side” with any kind of universality. I have a certain instinct for trouble, am usually unhappy and they usually sense both things pretty quickly.
I have never really known what it is like to move forward in life without feeling that terrible tension between what was going on and what is tolerable in the world but I am trying to understand things better. All the good things in life get more distant to me as I age even when they are present. But I did  feel connected to something better seeing this girl/woman telling an American story.

 

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The Planned Parenthood Videos, Theater Shootings and Stress

 

I am sure that anyone who stumbles along here will be able to relate to being and feeling stressed. I have felt stressed dealing with this  blog post today. Little and not so small computer errors and glitches have made life difficult as I have been engaged in this process.

But there are  other reasons to  be stressed that come from beyond our own lives. Many Americans of very different persuasions are disturbed by undercover video of doctors with Planned Parenthood discussing slaughtering late term fetuses  babies and selling their part on demand. Disagreement over what it all means still goes on and the United States Senate failed to pass a bill to defund Planned Parenthood but clearly a lot of people are aware of these videos and concerned about what they mean about the state of our society. The reader here can get a view of these thoughts about the videos from a couple of links provided in this article.Planned Parenthood videos as discussed in the Daily Beast are  here. Planned Parenthood Videos as discussed in the realm of the Christian Broadcasting Network are here.

We all know that family love and  motherhood itself as a symbol and  fact of welcoming and nurturing matter  a great deal to the species and to society. All of the child sacrificing cults, infanticide regimes and abortion programs of human history have not changed the fact that people still know these are sacred and important matters that deserve care and consideration. We are right to worry about what parenthood and its plannning look like in the world and in our country.

Hindelang Gulf Mary &Naomi

 

Americans especially want things to not be too terrible we ant to believe that even that worst events are isolated and unrelated to other problems that we might have.  In my writing on the recent theater shooting in Lafayette I took a view that this was not an act of random psychotic rage. You can see that post here. But it is hard to say what to make of all of this connected ness between tragedies.

There was a family in which two sisters were caught up in the shooting at the Grand Theater.  One was an EMT responding to the incident when she saw her uninjured sister responding to other people covered in blood herself. The sister was a swim instructor who was trained in first aid and CPR and was helping out. You can see their story here. This family has become one of the local symbols for hope and courage in this area.  Now the people  who were at the heart of this part of the story have lost a third sibling, their brother took his own life yesterday after posting a cryptic assumed suicide not on Facebook. He also seemed angry at people who were attacking him in some way. I am leaving out the words and his name to protect some privacy but I have read the note.

The sign that is a feature of the city announcing showtimes is dark

The sign that is a feature of the city announcing showtimes is dark

Did a family that was a symbol of hope in stressful times come under attack from some amorphous source of stress in which real people who are our enemies might have a part? Did someone see a weakness in the brother and exploit it to bring down this symbol of resistance to the madness in the world?

It could happen without the brother knowing it. Nobody has the resources to investigate such subtleties. In America it is more or less a religion to mock much more obvious connections.

Stress propagates across society in complex ways.  Is it possible to pretend that such stress is not always random. Many people seek to create stress and direct it and we all know that to be true. Conspiracies abound in the real world and not just in derided theories. The world is a dangerous and stressful place. My belief is that we can build a better future if we accept that nightmares do lurk around us than if we make it a false matter of faith that they do not.

Snakes and other issues complicate my life

Snakes and other issues complicate my life

Not everything that threatens us is evil and not everything that is evil directly threatens us. But we cannot afford to live in a world of our imagining. It would be nice if horrible things did not happen — but they do. We all have to decide how to deal with that reality day in and day out.

The Lafayette Louisiana Theater Shooting

In the hours after the theater shooting the whole city and region were trying to understand how to react and what exactly had happened at all kinds of different levels. One of the news organizations helping law enforcement to deal with the very central nature of the site is the story linked here.

Soon enough it became apparent for me and many others that as horrible as this was we had a lot to be thankful for in the midst of horror. I was soon stating that I was grateful for the excellence of the first responders, the courage of the teachers in the theater and the dignity of the bereaved. This, region I would say and realize  is still a special place.

But I was also deeply troubled by the event  — not only because it was in a place I have used countless times, frequented by many friends . Not only because of the horrible murders and acts of mayhem. The heinous act committed by John Russell Houser was loathed and must be condemned by me for other reasons as well. I do not see this act as random in every regard and I also condemn much of Houser’s life and political-philosophical career. He was an institution over time, in the shadows around the edges of right wing dissent to the American political consensus. I believe people should denounce the people who are in their part of the political spectrum who violate their principles and beliefs. Houser and I  both more or less have been on the far right of American politics. I do not want to burden this tragedy with politics but I believe that the political element is there.

Perhaps alone the fact that the shooter had been on numerous talk shows ( or a few show numerous times) is not an ideology of terror being manifest and does not make this political terrorism. The fact that he had run for office and been penalized for vandalism  does not make his act a cause for which he killed or an act of terrorism. The fact that he plotted against lawyers who defended pornographic theatres and disliked this kind of movie does not make it terrorism but it does show he had thought long and hard about the idea of theaters as his enemies in a sense of armed struggle.. The fact that he was a lawyer, had a long history of violence and was a planner does not make it terrorism. However, police investigation in this case show a planned event by a man who hoped to survive it. The fact that police were on premises is what prevented his escape. He had disguises and a car with switched plates.

So, in light of all of this I must disagree with several people who have cast this as an isolated act of psychotic rage. America has no real third-party systems. It is absurd to think that the two parties will represent everyone. I’m not in either party and am not all that happy. Some who say otherwise are old friends and some of the acquaintances who hold office. But I must take a different view.

 

Grand  Theater Shooting police presence  days later

Grand Theater Shooting police presence days later

The day this happened was the day that Seth Fontenot was to be sentenced again for killing my acquaintance Austin Rivault. The theater shooting pushed that off the news. It was the day among others when Aurora Colorado awaited the sentencing of James Holmes for that theater massacre. It was the day a power outage and fallen tree occurred where I live.

A fallen tree knocked out power at Big Woods

A fallen tree knocked out power at Big Woods

I do not have anything to complain about compared to the families of the bereaved. But the troubles  this added to are real enough. I could have easily been at the Grand at the time. My uncle Brian and his wife almost were but had to babysit grandchildren at the last minute. My niece and godchild had her boyfriend’s cousin among the 26 people actually in the theater where the shooting occurred. My niece was driving nearby at the time. An old friend had just left work there. But the deaths that occurred were no less tragic because they were not my close friends.

There has been coverage of the two murdered women. That includes international platforms such as the one linked here.  There are also more regional stories by the media based here and one of those can be see at this link.

There has also been a thoughtful response from the University of Louisiana. I print a letter from the President whom I know personally and whose open letter I believe to be in the public domain:

A message from the President:

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette community is deeply saddened by the loss of Jillian Johnson, 33, and Mayci Breaux, 21, who died in a tragic shooting at the Grand Theatre on Johnston Street last night. Jillian graduated from UL Lafayette in 2004. Nine others were injured, with one in critical condition.

The entire campus mourns the loss of lives in our Lafayette community. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends.

Jillian Johnson was a much-loved creative talent known throughout the community. She founded apparel store Parish Ink in downtown Lafayette and River Ranch, as well as the boutique Red Arrow Workshop in Lafayette and New Orleans. She had been a producer at KRVS, a National Public Radio affiliate on the UL Lafayette campus. She was a musician and lead singer for The Figs. She leaves behind her husband, Jason Brown, a 2005 graduate of UL Lafayette.

Our hearts go out to all who are impacted by this tragedy. As we experience shock and sadness, it is important to know that resources are available to help us move through grief. Students, faculty, and staff members affected by this tragedy may contact our Counseling and Testing Center at 482-6480.

As integral members of the Lafayette community, we are here to support each other.

Sincerely,

E. Joseph Savoie
President
president@louisiana.edu

Since it happened I have not blogged and  gotten the boost in view that might have brought this blog. I have been dealing with the shooting in terms of connecting people personally and feeling the pain myself  and am glad
that nobody I know seems to have been there on site at the time  so far. For two days after the shooting I squeezed in some yard work, meal preparation and family helping but several things need tending to and I am trying to get to everything.

The day after the shooting I was making lunch, doing minor chores, keeping a movie on in the background. I planned to see the work my mother has been doing to fix up Kissinoaks, one of my family’s sites. I brought her a stereo. She is based there while repairs go on and she tends to many family demands in Abbeville and Lafayette. Today I brought my brother Simon to see her there.

 

CNN was one of many news organizations around for the longer stretch

CNN was one of many news organizations around for the longer stretch

Mayci Breaux was close to a woman named Lacey who was my housemate with other people for a while and is a friend. She said, “I taught her religion for three years. She was one of my campus ministers. We also danced together for many years. Such a beautiful person.” What can I say to that except, “Really sorry Lacey….”

 

Shortly after the shooting I posted a notice from Peter who worked at the theater letting people know he was alright.  Later his mother posted on Facebook and I shared her post as well.  That appears just below this picture.

The sign that is a feature of the city announcing showtimes is dark

The sign that is a feature of the city announcing show-times is dark

 

I have known Peter’s mother Imelda for 30 years. I am leaving out their beautiful French last names like Lacey’s Acadian French last name for their privacy.  But it is an omission that makes things less clear. This whole thing is very much a near thing, a local thing and a regional thing… Imelda wrote

 Our hearts are heavy this morning as we all grieve for those woman and the gunman who died last night at the Grand. Lafayette has been known as the happiest town in in the US. Today it is the saddest. There is great faith in this community so we will rely on the grace of God to help us heal from this horrible tragedy. I give thanks to God that our son, Peter, who works at the Grand, had left just an hour prior to this event.

 

Local media has been all over this story.

Local media has been all over this story.

I am still working through this.

There is a woman I like and just recently told I like who has to go to a lot of public venues in the next few weeks and I worry about her. I worry about America, mourn with the mourners and do see some signs of hope.