As of this writing, 14 people died and more than 70 were wounded in the Aurora, Colorado, theatre massacre. I can’t imagine the pain and horror felt by the people in Theatre 9 and their families and other loved ones. Please pray if you swing that way…and even if you don’t.

How to you get to be that crazy by the age of 24?

The man alleged to be the Aurora, Colorado, theatre assassin will undoubtedly turn out to be Nucking Futs, but how do you get that crazy that fast?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say we are going to find out that the people that loved him knew he was crazy. In all fairness to his family, I’m betting they never thought he was dangerous. However, when they heard what he is alleged to have done, they never doubted that he was capable of it.

The usual cultural suspects will be dragged out…it was guns…it was television…movies…video games…drugs…bad parents…acceptance of gay people…the devil…

James Holmes lived in a world where all of the above existed, and he killed people. Other people live in the same world, and they don’t kill people.

Why?

In Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger, Mr. Antolini tells Holden Caulfield he is worried about him. He tells Holden he is heading for a fall;

“This fall I think you’re riding for – it’s a special kind of fall, a horrible kind. The man falling isn’t permitted to feel or hear himself hit bottom. He just keeps falling and falling. The whole arrangement’s designed for men who, at some time or other in their lives, were looking for something their own environment couldn’t supply them with. Or they thought their own environment couldn’t supply them with. So they gave up looking. They gave it up before they ever really even got started.”

The question I need the answer to is, “What did James Homes want that this world couldn’t give him?”

The human mind operates on oxygen, electricity, chemicals, and experience. That’s a simplification, but it’s accurate.

One day, these four elements in James Holmes’ brain kind of turned into the metaphoric devil on his shoulder and began to whisper that this carnage would fix what was missing from his life.

What flipped the switch? Will they find a tumor? Was it too much religion? Was it not enough religion? Was it the “wrong” religion?

Was it an elbow to the head in a pickup basketball game? Was it one too many tokes on a doobie? Was it fracking poison into his water supply? I want to know…in the words of Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Full Metal Jacket:

“What is your major malfunction, numb-nuts? Didn’t Mommy and Daddy show you enough attention when you were a child?”

What broke? Why did it break? When did it break? Can we predict or detect it, and if we can, can we fix it?

I think these things every time something like this happens.

When your brain starts to misfire and you start down this road, how fast do you pass the point where you can still ask for help? Do you even know when you need help? Maybe whatever goes wrong is undetectable, and one morning you wake up and think, “I’m going to need some tear gas?”

Some people drink and become alcoholics. Some people take drugs and become addicts. Some people hear Helter Skelter and believe God is telling them to commit murder to start an apocalyptic war between the races.

We need to figure this stuff out, man.

In the past we had clubs, spears, and arrows. We invented gun powder and that led to bombs, bullets, and bigger bangs. The technology of death gets better and better, but people have gone on killing sprees since all we had was rocks and sharp sticks.

I live in Chardon, Ohio, where, so far this year, four students were killed in a school shooting, a man committed suicide by cop, and a divorce-fueled murder/suicide took place at a local auto repair shop. Incidents like this one in Aurora, Colorado, or like the three in Chardon make you wonder if people are starting to get crazier faster.

Today, I am just asking the questions. I don’t pretend to have the answers, and I may only think this because I’m afraid someday I’m going to wake up and think, “I need some tear gas, or I don’t think I’ll wear pants anymore.”

My deepest fear is that my mind will betray me in the end through some electrical malfunction or a lack of oxygen or an overdose of some usually benign brain chemical.

There are no guarantees, and I’m frankly sick to death of seeing that proven time after time…I’d like to register a complaint to the person or persons in charge, please.