Anatomy of a mass murderer

Jul 25, 2012 at 5:00 am

Nowhere is the boundary between tragedy and comedy as blurry as the blogosphere. Under the headline “Murderous Asshole Who Killed Those People Has Small Penis,” J. Harvey writes on the celebrity gossip website, “I’m not gifted downstairs either. But I would at least have the courtesy to shoot myself in the head first if I was feeling rage-y over it.”

Harvey refers to 24-year-old James Holmes, who left no Facebook or Twitter footprint but whose profile on is providing grist for the gallows-humor mill in the wake of his horrific midnight movie massacre in Aurora, Colo.

Amid the clamor to comprehend the incomprehensible, TMZ captured a screenshot of a profile he created July 5 while “Looking for a fling or casual sex gal.” He purported to be a “nice guy” with a “short/average” member. But there were a few forbidding flags: his unwillingness to say whether he indulges in smoking or drugs, his ridiculously red (dyed) hair, and the creepy question, “Will you visit me in prison?”

By all accounts, “classicjimbo” (his screen name) was a classic, loveless loner. By all appearances, he didn’t aspire to romance. Perhaps he knew, firsthand, that it’s impossible for severely sick people to have healthy relationships. And make no mistake: He didn’t become a sociopath overnight. We know dysfunctional people seek one another, but we don’t know whether his lust was consummated. If so, investigators presumably will interview his playmate(s) and document every detail.

During the last two weeks, he meticulously planned the deadliest peacetime shooting spree in U.S. history, leaving behind a forensic footprint on his hard drive. Maybe that’s why he’s reportedly spitting on prison guards. Maybe he’s feeling naked, like his privacy is being violated. Maybe he’s feeling a fraction of the hatred he unleashed on 70 shooting victims, 12 of whom died.

Maybe he thought he’d finally be popular — among subversives and anarchists instead of inmates who so want him dead that he’s been isolated for his own protection after a dark, self-imposed isolation where perilous thoughts proliferated.

Maybe he realizes that no matter what went so dreadfully awry in the promising life he squandered, he misguided his diabolical rage away from himself. Or maybe he’s sputtering, “I don’t belong here; I’m a Phi Beta Kappa neuroscience major!”

We may never know precisely why he dropped out of graduate school. But poet Langston Hughes surveys “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore — and then run? … Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?”

We already know too much about Holmes’ anatomy, but we can’t learn enough about why he exploded. We also already know that domestic terror tragedies like this will replicate until a currently craven Congress enacts meaningful, reasonable arms controls. Until then, we’ll remain “A Nation of Wusses” (chronicled in former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell’s book) led by lobbyists’ prostitutes. They make no secret they’re terrified of the NRA.

For the foreseeable future, they may as well utter a pivotal line from “Batman Begins”: “I won’t kill you, but I don’t have to save you.”

They might do well to heed other key quotes from the film, including: “The will is everything. If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, you become something else entirely (a legend).”

“Why do we fail? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

How many more fatal failures will it take for us to pick ourselves up? I need to remember that “Your anger gives you great power. But if you let it, it will destroy you.”

I’m still seething at the shooter, a beloved child of privilege who has no exonerative excuses and who has forever stigmatized the “Batman” TV series (1966-1968) that was an integral part of my childhood.

I couldn’t help but watch it on MeTV last Saturday through the twisted prism of a senseless tragedy. Catwoman (Julie Newmar) stole the voices of British rock duo Chad & Jeremy. Holmes stole the voices of at least 12 victims forever. When the two crooners got their voices back, they sang “Teenage Failure,” the last line of which could have been written by Holmes, whose self-pity is a bad joke: “But even so it seems that the world has passed me over.”