The country is abuzz with conversation about James Holmes, under arrest for shooting scores of people and killing 17 in Aurora, Colorado, at the midnight screening of the new Batman motion picture. The loss of life by itself is shocking. The fact that James Holmes has allegedly planned and executed the shooting without outside help gives us new reason to have concerns about the "kid next door". And though the Batman movie is setting records nationally in terms of revenue, the movie will doubtless have more negative meaning for anyone in Colorado, most especially in Aurora.
It's no secret that conspiracy theories have highlighted some of the columns on identity theft, and the conspiracy theories started surfacing within hours of the news all across Facebook and the internet in general, as we have come to expect. Surfacing details indicate the accused had an accomplice, perhaps even two. Questions swim around the fact that there was a substantial financial outlay in equipment, being spent by someone who could not afford the purchases. The timing of the event, just a week prior to a UN resolution that would address the disarming of American citizens has been the cornerstone of most of the conjectures and theories, while a surprising number are saying that just the opposite would have helped curtail the shooting in Aurora.
I'm sure there will be plenty more in that vein as time goes on. My point in today's article isn't to swim with conspiracies, though. Instead, I want to focus on something that has gotten very little media coverage, and the implications it brings about.
The day after the shooting, media broke the report that the FBI was surprised to find that James Holmes had no Facebook account, no Twitter account. In truth, James Holmes did not seem to have any digital identity. The C|Net article pointed out how unusual this was – saying 95-98% of the people in his peer group participates in social media. Information hasn't been made public yet about his surfing and browsing habits, probably because his personal computer was apparently buried under a layer of booby traps that took days to safely dismantle.
This one article tells us two very distinct things (aside from the actual point of the article.) It tells us that the FBI is accustomed to gathering information about suspects from Facebook and other social media, and it tells us that the lack of maintaining such an account is considered suspicious in-and-of itself, at least by criminal authorities.
Caught up in the clamor for information is another fellow by the name of James Holmes, who also apparently lives in Colorado. This other James Holmes was flooded with friend requests and (apparently) no small amount of berating at the keyboards of Facebook users across the country. (I have to share his disquiet in the fact that so many people would try to become friends with him after the shooting, but who knows what truly motivates people these days?)
The other James Holmes posted concerning the friend requests, and unwittingly pointed to yet another subject I have dealt with in these columns – the willingness of potential employers to snoop around our Facebook profiles. In his post, the other James Holmes mentions that his girlfriend had to answer questions about her relationship in a job interview. Now that should make everyone uneasy. No doubt, it was brought up as a conversation topic very innocuously, but the fact is the employer had been snooping on her Facebook page before interviewing her, and bothered to bring it up in an interview. I'm sure anyone would be curious about the apparent relationship, because the crime touches us all… after all, who hasn't gone to a movie theatre? But if the employer were as staunchly against homosexuality as Chik-fil-A's CEO Dan Cathy, relationship status becomes a venue for discrimination. Of course, since orientation isn't really grounds for termination or deciding not to hire someone, another reason might be given; but who here is not concerned about employers or potential employers continuing to use our personal lives against us?
What concerns your Guide most about the shooting isn't the fact that the assailant was able to get weapons with no cashflow, although that is definitely suspicious. The fact that he showed up in full riot gear, however, indicates that he either wanted to be perceived as a law enforcement agent (since this is who we are accustomed to seeing in riot gear,) or that he expected return-fire from the crowd, and wanted to accomplish whatever "mission" he had set out upon.
The obvious things here are to make sure the right person is identified to stand trial for the Aurora shootings, and possibly take a look at limiting public access to military-grade armor. Your Guide has always supported the 2nd Amendment (and indeed all the other ones, too,) but a civilian owning riot gear smacks heavily of someone preparing to be involved in a shoot-out, not personal protection – at least not personal protection as it is needed in our daily lives in America today.
But I would also encourage everyone to take a long, hard look at their digital identity, and figure out what needs to be public, what needs to be private, and what really doesn't need to be shared with the world. After all, just because we can speak our mind doesn't necessarily mean it is in our best interest to do so.