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The 6 Most Offensive Things Said in the Wake of the Aurora Shooting

Conservatives accuse liberals of politicizing the tragedy, but here are the worst examples of people using Aurora to push an extreme agenda.

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5. Russell Pearce blames victims. Here's the sorry tale of former senator Russell Pearce, who had a far too typical reaction and shared it on Facebook.

Via TPM:

Early Saturday morning, the former Republican lawmaker took to Facebook to mourn the victims. He then wondered why none were “[b]rave” enough to stop the atrocity.

“Where were the men of flight 93???? Someone should have stopped this man,” he wrote. “…All that was needed is one Courageous/ Brave man prepared mentally or otherwise to stop this it could have been done.”  

He later backtracked and declared he was blaming gun laws, not victims. But eventually, both Facebook rants disappeared. Well then.

6. The Daily Mail blames women. A common, and irritating, media narrative surrounding violence is that it's fueled by sexual rejection: had some woman just taken pity on the poor man, he wouldn't have acted out.

Witness this wording in the Daily Mail:

James Holmes reached out to multiple women on a sex website in the days before launching a massacre which killed 12 people and injured 58 during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises, it has emerged.

However, at least three of the women he contacted through AdultFriendFinder rejected his advances -- even though he was apparently just hoping to 'chat' with 'nothing sexual' on the cards.

The news follows rumours that Holmes may have broken up with a girlfriend shortly before the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, and that he was due to be evicted from his apartment after dropping out of grad school.

At Jezebel, Erin Gloria Ryan smacks this type of thinking down, pointing out that the killer planned his spree months ahead of time: "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."

7 (sorta). Rick Warren appears to blame the massacre on evolution, then says he didn't. People were understandably outraged when the megachurch pastor tweeted, the afternoon of the massacre. " When students are taught they are no different from animals, they act like it."

Steve Benen reminds us that we've heard this story before: "In June 1999, then-Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) appeared on the House floor to reflect on the Columbine massacre, and he proceeded to blame science textbooks for the murders. These tragedies happen,  DeLay said, 'because our school systems teach the children that they are nothing but glorified apes who are evolutionized [sic] out of some primordial soup.'" Amanda Marcotte also has a good retort, pointing out that if we actually acted like some animals, we'd be peaceful. "You almost never hear the phrase applied to describe behaviors that are most like our non-human animal friends. For instance, when you pick up and eat a raw apple, you're acting like lots of animals, ranging from raccoons to monkeys."

The sad rush to scapegoat everything but the killer and his weapons shouldn't underscore the thoughtful commentary--much of it here and on AlterNet's partner sites--on gun violence in America. But it should show how difficult it will be to have the debate about how to practically make us safer from weapons designed for the mass destruction of lives.

Sarah Seltzer is an associate editor at AlterNet and a freelance writer based in New York City. Her work has been published at the Nation, the Christian Science Monitor, Jezebel and the Washington Post. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahmseltzer and find her work at

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