On Friday morning, I (along with the rest of our country) woke up to the terrible news of the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. When something horrible like this happens, I am desperate for more information, so I am usually glued to the news and internet. As we all know now, there were several children injured in the theater, and a six-year-old little girl was killed. On Twitter and Facebook I started noticing tweets and status updates questioning why children were in the theater, with varying degrees of hostility.
So, I wrote about it over on The Babs. The crux of my post was that we shouldn’t put this judgement and disapproval onto these parents currently suffering. That we should save our disagreeing opinions for another day, and that on the day of the shooting, we should be respectful and compassionate. I was very sad that many people claimed their first reaction to the shooting wasn’t, “Why did a man open fire on a packed movie theater,” but instead was, “It’s absurd that children were at a violent movie at midnight.” Despite the point of my post, many commenters still insisted on discussing the latter.
I’m not saying that a discussion about the appropriateness of children at movie theaters should never be had. It is a valid conversation topic, and one I know people will be very passionate about. However, I thought it was in poor taste to discuss it online that day while the bodies of the deceased were still literally laying in the theater. Talking about it that day was, by virtue of the timing, shifting some blame onto the victims. Someone compared it to asking why the rape victim was in the bar full of drunk men.
Some people disagree. That’s fine. Some people disagree so much that they’ve called me names, told me to stop breeding, and to go fuck myself (Babble removed those comments). Those people obviously have other issues. The lack of empathy and compassion for the loss of life is so sad.
I really feel for the parents who brought their kids to the theater that night, especially the mother of the six-year-old girl. She is going to blame herself forever. She doesn’t need to hear it from anyone else. I will always blame myself for Madeline’s premature birth and death. The situations are vastly different but the outcomes are the same. People died on Friday. Let’s support the families of the victims and stop pointing fingers at anyone but the man who pulled the trigger.
Katrina @ They All Call Me Mom says:
I, too, was shocked to hear so many comments about the kids in the movie theatre that night. The blame was immediately shifted to the “terrible parents” who brought their children to a midnight premiere. So sad.
I read your post on Friday and I agree with you. The last thing any of those poor people need, especially the parents on the WORSE day of their lives is other’s judgements and/or abusive words.
I’m so SORRY people became so abusive and cruel towards you, especially since you were only asking people for a little empathy and compassion. Being cruel to people is NEVER okay with me….especially when it’s one of my friends being abused!!
I commend you for standing up for the parents who made the choice to take their child to that late movie. I’m sure they would be very thankful for your voice of reason and compassion. A little kindness goes a long way which is good b/c unfortunately, for every one of those people and their families the road of grief and healing is even longer!!!!
Thank you Heather for a different perspective. Sadly, I have to admit I was one of those folks pointing fingers at the parents who took those children to the theater so late at night. Life can be full of what ifs and I should not be the one to add those parents misery – judge not lest ye be judged.
Alison F. says:
Yes! Well said. Very sad that things like that have to be pointed out to some people. My heart goes out to ALL affected by this.
Totally agree, and I’m sorry people were jerks in the comments. Yuck.
I could not believe that people would blame the parents for the actions of a calculating killer. It goes beyond the pale, in my opinion. I am a person who has taken my baby to a late nite movie before because I was too afraid to leave her with a sitter. I never would have even come close to anticipating someone coming in to purposely kill all of us. There are no guarantees in life and we all make choices that have no bearing on where or when some crazy bastard is going to snap.
Amen, Heather. And sorry you got such nasty feedback.
Samantha F in St. Paul says:
Well said and a very good message for people to keep in mind.
I’ve never really understood why anyone has to resort to insults. (Well, actually, I understand it perfectly. Insults are where you turn when you have nothing left of actual value to say.) I guess you must have said some pretty convincing things to have them run out of valid argument!
I am one of those people who thought, “why were those children there?” but not in a harsh way, more in a despairing, “I wish I could undo it!” way. I ached with sadness for the poor parents who aren’t going to be given the opportunity to rethink taking their six year old to midnight showing. I don’t judge them for doing it because I have no idea why they did. I am not the parent of their child. To me it was more the overwhelming tragic realisation that the world really is that kind of place where you can’t take your kids out at midnight without risk.
You are right – and victim blaming is NEVER the answer.
I completely agreed with your article. Good for you for saying it.
Leigh Anne says:
You rock! I can’t believe that anyone would have gotten mad at you for pointing out the obvious. My heart breaks for all involved. One of the guys that was killed because he was shielding his girlfriend is from our area. HE died a true hero.
I can see both sides, but you are so right when you say there is a time and a place and that wasn’t it.
I shouldn’t really be surprised that people are so judgemental and vicious, but I am, and it’s a real shame.
My heart breaks for the families of those who died.
Not to mention the mother of the girl who was killed is now paralyzed. She has enough on her plate to deal with. People are so heartless. I just don’t understand that way of thinking.
Your blog is so refreshing at times.
I feel the same way.
I wonder if it’s that people need to find a way to protect themselves and so if they can point out what the victims did wrong, they can prevent it from happening to themselves. While I understand this desire, I think this mentality only removes us from the situation and leaves a painful lack of empathy for those who are suffering.
I’m so glad there is such a compassionate and heart-felt voice here. You are my hero.
Not to defend the insult slingers, but I think that some people, when they hear about something terrible happening, try to insulate themselves by finding reasons why the same thing would never happen to them – “I would never take a child to a midnight show, therefore I am safe”. Most people can see the randomness of the event, but some people need to hang on to the idea that “this happened to those people because they did something that I would never do”. The idea that this same thing COULD have happened at an afternoon showing of a G-rated movie would never occur to them. Because that would expose them for being what we all are – vulnerable to tragedy. And for some people that’s just too scary to admit.
I’m sorry your opinion was treated harshly Heather. I think you’re right, but even if we’re both wrong, we should be able to share our opinions without fear of insulting and abusive comments. Apparently those same people have lost the ability to say “I disagree”. Or maybe they are just to scared to say “you are right”.
My thoughts exactly!
Hard for some people to deal with the harsh reality that none of us have total control in this life. Well stated, Lisa. Very well done, Heather, in stating what should have been obvious to everyone. I just imagined that mother feeling so excited to be taking her little girl somewhere new, but now instead of a fun memory they will always share, she has only pain and devastation. How could anyone not feel compassion for her? You might as well ask why were *any* people there.
Brilliant. I completely agree with you.
amen. very well said!
Very eloquently put, Heather. I agree with you totally. When I heard the news on Friday, I felt so badly for the victims and their families and then I did say to my husband “what were young children/babies doing at that movie at midnight?”. But then I read your article on Babble and it really opened my eyes. Suddenly, I could see my brother having taken one of my children at the age of six to a midnight viewing because he’s the cool uncle and that would have been a very special treat in the middle of summer for a child who might idolize Batman. And I could also see young parents who might be on vacation taking their 3 month old because they were blessed with a very easy baby who sleeps for hours in their infant car seat not bothered by any sound and not disturbing anyone. So what did I learn on Friday? Stop judging people, especially ones we know nothing about. I also realized that, like you said, these parents will be blaming themselves for the rest of their lives, so the rest of us shouldn’t pile more judgement onto them. It’s all just so tragic and senseless. It shouldn’t have happened. Period.
Catie Williams says:
Thank you SO much for talking about this. I’m from Denver, and all day I heard “why did parents bring their babies to a movie?”. Even a guy I know back home in WI said something. I made a comment back on his FB that he shouldn’t be focusing or ridiculing the parents for this, especially because he doesn’t have kids. He went on & on about how in the wrong I was. It infuriates me that people can’t look past parents bringing their babies to a movie. I have a 4 month old who is an amazing little dude who would most likely sleep through world war 3 – my husband & I on more than 1 occasion have said “would we be bad parents if we brought the boy to a movie tonight with us?”. We haven’t, mostly because we’re already in our pajamas by the time we say that, but I can see how it’s crossed their minds. And please, like you said Heather, STOP ridiculing these parents, they are not awful parents and they did nothing wrong. Better bring their kids with them than leave them at home unattended.
Heather, I agree with you 100%. It’s a terrible, terrible thing that this happened, but it’s not the parents’ fault. Especially the parents of the six year old. My six year old nephew is completely superhero mad. I’m sure he’d have loved a midnight movie premier if he napped really well during the day and there was no school. Even I, living in Johannesburg, South Africa where crime is insane, would still probably take him to something like that. In fact, I’d love to.
The person to be blamed is the fucker who opened fire on those people. Instead of blaming the victims, people need to stop being utter fucking douchebags and stand together against this monster, who would open fire on children. Midnight or not.
Well done to you, for standing up for them, against the idiots who have nothing better to do than attack grieving or heartsore parents. The world needs more posts like yours.
Very well said Heather. Everyone wants to place the blame on others in these type of terrible situations. When really it was this very disturbed young man that’s to blame. The mother that lost her 6 y/o, she is also critically wounded with a shot in her neck and belly and she is pregnant. It is a miracle that her and her baby are still alive. I also read that she will most likely be somewhat paralyzed, so she most certainly will reget it the rest of her life. But no one knows where and when evil will show up.
I am praying that everyone recovers. And that they nail this guy who did the unthinkable.
You are right, Heather. There is a time and a place for everything. Last week in our local news, a father left his 5 month old in a hot car ALL DAY LONG while he was at work. The child did not survive. People are calling for the death penalty for that man and cannot understand how he forgot his child. I can’t understand their lack of compassion. I try my best never to judge situations like that, lest I be the next one guilty. Thank God I am not in their shoes.
Perfectly said. Thank you so much for sharing. I was astounded by the comments and questions of those that are placing blame on the parents, when in reality it has nothing to do with who was at the theater, or what age they were. Bottom line is that it’s about those that lost their lives, those that were injured, and those families that are hurting and going through this tragedy. Society has to learn that placing judgement is never going to fix things. Never. So you wouldn’t take your kid to a midnight showing? Great, fine, all good. But that’s a parenting decision that each person has to make. There is no manual, no guidelines for what is wrong or right in life. It could have been a 2 pm showing that this happened at. Quite frankly, it could have happened anywhere, anytime, and there is nothing that can be done that changes that. If half of the energy that people use towards focusing on the negative and trying to make themselves look “better” went towards positive thoughts or actions think about how much good we could do. Unfathomable that those parents that are suffering have to be put on trial in front of the country in a time like this. I hope that they are able to find peace, and have strength to pull through this awful time.
I admit to thinking/wondering about a child in that movie at that time. But it wasn’t my first thought – or even in my top 10. And I would NEVER say it or make some sort of comment about it on the internet. People are allowed to have different values and they are allowed to take children to some place that should be safe. They didn’t bring their child to a war zone, they brought her to a movie.
Heather, you’re a wonderful spokesperson on compassion, thank you.
My hubby and I argued about this too. While I commented this was so horriable he said what I want to know is, why was there a baby in the movies(there was a 4mo) I stared at him and said why not. At that age they are the best, and who are you anyways, this is not about bringing your kid, its about a mass loss of life it was so awful…
after fussing for awhile we just stopped since it was getting heated. My last parting shot to him was well you never go to the movies anyway so shut up
Yes, yes and yes. You are so right!
I can’t believe people were so rude in the comments to you. I’m so sorry!
Praying for all involved in the terrible tragedy. It’s unfathomable.
Heather B. says:
Perhaps it’s because I am not a parent that my first thought isn’t to blame the parent for doing something that I wouldn’t do. I also find that other parents are quick to judge in a moment like this. I saw this on Twitter and am totally paraphrasing here but it’s not “Why was a 3 month old in a movie theater at midnight?” but “Why did someone bring an automatic rifle into a movie theater?”
Heather..I will be completely honest..when I heard that a six year old was among the victims..my first thought was “OMG what was a six year old doing there.” Then, I took a step back and thought about it…it doesn’t matter what she was doing there…I am not her parent…(and I have taken my 5 year old to see Spider Man and Iron Man and other super hero movies..so what that they weren’t at midnight)…it isn’t for me or anyone to judge. It’s summer, she was with a family member..spending time with family is what she was doing there. And for this her family is being judged…Hell I almost did it myself.
well said!!! thanks!
I agree with you Heather.
And you know, I think people always look for someone to blame in nonsensical situations like this one, even when they’re not blaming the right person.
Though I’m not sure I agree with you on the timeframe bit. I probably wouldn’t be online or watching the news on the day my daughter died… I’d probably be curled up in a ball dying myself. So even if people held their tongues on that day, it wouldn’t protect that family. I think it’s really best to simply keep it to yourself period, you know?
You know, when I heard about the shooting, my first thought was also “what were babies doing in the theatre??” (The 6-year old girl wasn’t mentioned until Saturday; initially they reported only the 3 month old baby who was injured.) But it was not from a blame perspective; it was from a “I can’t imagine bringing my tiny baby to a late, violent movie” perspective. But I can see how a remark about this could come off wrong. (And that’s why it stayed in my head! Not on Twitter!)
The 6-year-old isn’t all that odd to me. Maybe she loved Batman. Maybe she took a nap so she’d stay awake through it. And her parents were there, so they could have pulled her out if it got inappropriate. I don’t see any problem with that. It’s summer; what did she have to wake up for in the morning??
I just feel so awful for those parents. As you said, they’ll blame themselves forever, which is just so unimaginable. And society is just making it worse.
I so agree with you – why does it matter if the parents decided to take these young children to a late night movie? That isn’t the issue – the issue is that a crazy wacko thought nothing of walking into a movie theater and shooting at dozens of people! It is a horrible, horrible thing that happened and for people to question why the children were there is wrong! They and their parents are victims and did nothing to deserve what happened!
I totally agree. I think a lot of people who are critical of bringing a kids to the movies forgets that most of the time, I would say about 99% of the time, theaters don’t get shot up. Theaters are generally pretty safe places to go, and fun places to take the kids. How was anyone supposed to know what was going to take place? It just seems silly to argue over this like it’s going to change what happened. Just let it be, let the families grieve.
Christian Kay says:
I read that the mother of the 6 year old is now paralyzed from the shooting. Horrible situation all around.
I 100% agree with you Heather. Yes, I did initially question why there were children in the theater. I personally wouldnt do that, but that in NO WAY contributed to their deaths.
The fault lies solely with the shooter.
I feel so badly for the mother of the 6 year-old, she will never recover physically or emotionally from this.
I feel badly for everyone affected by this tragedy. That is the main point today, not parenting decisions.
Of course as a parent it might go through your mind and you might ask “Why was a six year old or other small children in a theatre which was displaying Batman, and at a time as such?”
It is certainly not unreasonable to be asking those questions! Now I am just a little confused as to why a person would or should be ostracized for doing so?
Asking these questions, Heather, does not mean persons are blaming the children’s parents for a random man walking into this theatre with firesarms and opening fire!
You have to remember too, in this day and age it is a little harder for persons who are not personally attached to this situation to make themselves relate.
Desensitization is certainly becoming the norm of our reality! Perhaps we should take this disscusion a step in an entirely different direction. Start at the beginning. The movie.
Beginnings are subjective. Why not take it back further if we want to go this route. Why didn’t the movie theatre patrons say, “No kids allowed”? Wait not far enough? Hmm how about with the movies the killer watched? Why not blame his parents, how about his grandparents. I mean somewhere along the line shit got screwed up. Right?
The point is blaming anyone but the man who took a gun into a theatre and shot people to death is a mentality that perpetuates a lack of morality where people feel they can take a gun into a theatre and shoot people to death. After all, if the victims just hadn’t been there they wouldn’t be dead, how hard is it to predict your families impending murder? I mean obviously, movies are dangerous.
Discuss your disagreement of petty parenting issues with someone who..Oh I don’t know…still is a parent.
I am not really sure what you are trying to say, to be honest.
I agree completely. My eight year old son has a friend that went to the midnight show where we live, and I can vouch that he has VERY good parents. I also took my son to see Brave at midnight, and he has also watched all of the Harry Potter movies. We all know our kids, and have reasons for our actions. I’m sure you’ve seen this (since your were quoted in it), but thought I would include the link anyway.
Lori McBride says:
There are so many people who just LOVE to jump on the judgement bandwagon. The only reason I can come up with for them doing so is that it makes them feel better about themselves in some sick way. I totally agree with you. People died, people are hurting. Where is the compassion for others’ pain?
I agree 100%. I am SICK that that is what people are talking about. It’s so beside the point, it is absurd. We get it, YOU would be a better parent, blah, blah, blah. NOT THE POINT. Jeez.
Daddy Files says:
You were right on Friday and you’re right today. Even the people who preface their parental criticisms with “This is horrible and my thoughts are with the family, BUT…” are blaming the parents. And, I assume, trying to assure themselves (and their respective audiences) that they would never do something so awful. And “awful,” in this case, is taking your kids to a movie.
Would I take my son to Dark Knight? No, I wouldn’t. Would I look at someone sideways if they brought a 4-year-old to that movie and I was in the theater? Yup. Would I then openly criticize them after a masked gunman put them all in the most horrific situation any of us can possibly imagine? Not a chance. Because other people parent their kids in ways that are none of my business, and every person — EVERY SINGLE PERSON — in that theater was a victim of a crime. They deserve our compassion, not our useless criticism.
Well said Heather.
I agree with your stance, Heather. And I also can’t believe people would post comments insulting you. That says a lot more about them and does nothing to give any credibility to their position in the argument.
I’m really sorry you got blasted. I have a friend who did a guest post on Babble (totally unrelated) and the comments back were absolutely ridiculous. I think, unfortunately, some people just feel the need to respond in disagreement (and sometimes, downright meanness). It’s sad and misplaced.
Anyway, I totally agree. I was also upset by the media attention on the suspect’s father. I mean, really. Every.single.person is a victim here because someONE made a devastating choice.
Heather, thank you SO much for writing this! I was shocked when I saw tweets from bloggers I really respect judging parents for bringing young kids to the theater. When I was little it was always a treat for my parents to bring us to movie premiers at midnight, we LOVED it and never disturbed other movie goers. It during summer of corse, since we’d get home very late.
I just can’t help but think these parents will regret this every single day for the rest of their life, and this is NOT their fault! This could have happened in the middle of the day, any time, any place. I just hate that this was some people’s first reaction.
I get that people want to try and make themselves feel better by thinking that this couldn’t happen to them because they wouldn’t take their kids to a midnight movie, but first of all, this could happen any time or place. Second of all, it is kind of selfish to look at this situation and put the victims down to make ourselves feel better.
I was in a horrible horrible car accident when I was 16. I had left school – with a pass – but was broadsided leaving the school parking lot. When I came to, all I was saying over and over again to the paramedics was “Why aren’t I in school??” It was like my brain was trying to figure out the situation and undo it, making it go away – if I had been in school, I wouldn’t have been in the accident. In school = safe.
I think that is what people meant when they were complaining about the kids in the theater. At least that is what I thought. If they had been home, the “typical” place for that time of the day, they would have been safe.
Thank you for this post. I live a mere 7 miles from the theater and I am afraid that in less than a week this horrible instance will be forgotten. We need to remember that something terrible happened and not that children were at a midnight showing of the summer’s biggest hit.
I think the only person responsible is the gunman. I have opinions that are more political in nature, but in the end, he is the only one responsible.
However, in all honesty, if I walked into a showing of Batman, no matter the hour, and I saw a 4 year old or a 6 year old, I too, would think, “What is a child that young doing here?” (not so much an infact because they don’t understand violence and would hopefully sleep). A midnight showing, I would think the same thing, probably more strongly. My reaction would probably be the same as if I saw a baby or toddler drinking out of a can of soda. (Yes, sometimes I judge other parents, we all do)
But here’s the thing and it’s the beauty of being the parent of our OWN children. I get to make the decision about what is most appropriate for my kids, and everyone else gets to do the same. Someone thought their 6 year old could handle a midnight showing of a movie like Batman? They know their child best and that’s their decision to make.
A year and a half ago, a 9 year old went to an event in Tucson to meet her local congressional representative and she lost her life to a different gunmen.
You never imagine in that going about your day, this might happen, regardless of what we’re doing or at what time.
I think people say this stuff because they believe it is some sort of protection against anything bad happening to them. We always look for the outlier, the one who did things the way we WOULD NOT and say “well that couldn’t happen to me”.
My sister’s oldest is going off to college in a couple weeks. My sister is in overdrive, talking to him about drinking, drinking-n-driving, sex, etc etc. He’s 18, so it’s not the first time she’s had these conversations. But she’s trying to pack them all in as many times as she can in the next 3 weeks. And I finally said to her “you’re only doing this for your benefit now, not his. You think it’s like some sort of protection and if you do it enough times nothing bad can happen to him. It can. Hopefully it won’t. But you need to stop”.
I agree completely.
There is no need to blame the VICTIMS for something that a MURDERER did. Its ridiculous.
I must admit that the thought crossed my mind .. ‘why were there kids there?’…. but I quickly answered my own question… the theater is not supposed to be something that you question whether you should take your kids. It was a movie.. entertainment! Who would have thought that it was not safe to take your kids to go see a movie because some crazy person was going to go shot up the place?
My 8 year old asks me to take her to movies late at night ALL the time. I do not do it because personally I do not want her out late. But how can we judge or blame those parents for wanting to take their kids out to a movie. Its unfair. They have lost enough.
I found myself scared to go to my 711.. which is down the street from my house. My daughter said ‘mom, can we go get a slurpee?’ and I thought to myself ‘what if I take her.. and something happens?’… its not fair to have to question where you can take your kids just because somebody isn’t happy with their life and want to cause fear. And that’s what this man wanted to cause.. fear!
You’re assuming that everyone who mentioned children and the movies were blaming the parents. That’s a judgment on YOUR part. I mentioned it because it was the ONE thing I could focus on during that anxiety-ridden morning. I was a student at one of the very first school shootings. This kind of thing makes me remember all that. I didn’t appreciate being called names and being told that there was something wrong with me simply because people ASSUMED I was victim-blaming. Shame on those who get on their high horses and look down at others, judging them.
While what happened to you is upsetting on its own not everyone can sit there and speculate what every single commenter has gone through in their life. While discussing an event such as the shooting at the theater for YOU to judge the victims is horrible. Being that YOU yourself have been in a situation like that then you should know that the victim is nothing but a VICTIM. By making comments such as ‘why were they there to begin with’ yes that a rational question but is it really worth posting all over these websites? over and over? When you go to articles and read the comments a lot of people are asking why were they there? why were the parents so selfish to take their kids to that movie? etc.. that is what is being referenced. There is a time and a place, like Heather said, for these comments– the day that this happened.. wasn’t it! If like you said you were in a situation like this before then you of all people should understand. By placing blame on others for ‘being on their high horses and assuming’.. well quite frankly that’s not very mature of you. Nobody knows each others backstories on these sites… therefore we can only go on what the person has said on their comment and sitting there and placing blame and focusing on the actions of the victims.. is not what people should be doing or commenting on. The one and only person at fault in this entire mess is the shooter. Plain and simple. The parents choices should not be a part of this equation at all. Should the shooter not receive the correct punishment simply because the parents should have left the kids at home like so many people keep saying? of course not! SO then the parents actions have absolutely nothing to do with the situation. Yes unfortunately kids were hurt and one has died… the only person to blame is the shooter. Had he not gone in that theater .. all those kids would have gone home and on with their lives like any other day. Because of the actions of ONE man.. that can not happen. & that is ALL people should be focusing on.
Way to not read. I wasn’t judging anyone. Don’t assume you know what everyone is thinking.
Actually thats what I was trying to tell YOU. But you dont seem like the person to see when they are wrong. Thats fine. But I read what you said.. you didnt seem to read what I said though. Good luck with that high horse of yours though.
I’m sorry, but “Why was a 4 month/6 year/9 year old there?”, while not explicitly judgmental, makes the case that if said child had not happened to be there, then they wouldn’t have gotten hurt. Which essentially implies “Oh, you bad parent, you! Why did you put your child in harm’s way?”.
Now leaving aside how I personally feel about the issue (for the record: (1) I don’t take my kid to the movies period because I don’t feel that most kids her age are mature enough to sit through many movies, age appropriate or not, in a theater, and being a parent did not magically change my opinion on the matter, so the least I could do is not inflict my kid on other movie goers; (2) I don’t go see movies that much as a result, because we have had the lousiest luck finding a reliable sitter lately, and surprisingly enough it’s not as great a loss as I would have once thought), the last thing I would do is kick that parent while they’re down. Their kid got hurt. Don’t you think that what is running through their mind is “OMG, if only we had stayed home that night?” right now? Why pile onto what is a deep dark misery already?
As a cautionary tale for other parents? It doesn’t change what happened, and it’s not likely to change anyone’s behavior: if you’re the kind of parent who believes children should not lead to any changes of lifestyle (been a teacher, met many), you’re not likely to be convinced by what ultimately was a random tragedy to change that. Many beliefs that are at the core of a human being are seldom about sense or logic but about individual wants and needs, and beliefs on how you bring up your children often fall into the category of core beliefs.
That being the case, often all those “I told you so”s are a way to make the teller feel superior to others, and what does that accomplish, truly, other than alert the listeners that this person is kind of a jerk?
Not trying to single you out personally, just pointing out that stating the obvious seldom comes from a judgment free point of view.
Just curious where I kicked any parent in my comment? Oh, that’s right. I didn’t. Regretting saying anything since a non-popular opinion isn’t welcome.
Again, I wasn’t saying you personally did that, I was saying that if a person’s first instinct is to say “what were you thinking!!!!” to a grieving parent, that person is being a tad insensitive (i.e. are metaphorically kicking someone when they’re down). Fair enough?
You were a student at one of the very first school shootings? How lucky we are to have a time lord in our presence! That would have to be the only explanation for this considering the first (American, not sure about the rest of the world) school shooting took place in the 1700s!
Karen Wangensteen says:
I totally agree with you. While we may not agree with parents bringing their young children to a midnight movie, that does not change the fact that their children were shot/killed by this crazy act of violence. My heart goes out to the victims of this heinous crime.
Also, did I read somewhere that the mother of the 6 year old is fighting for her own life and has not even been told yet of her daughther’s fate?
agreed, agreed, agreed!!!
Beautifully written. I am so sorry that people have been ugly to you. The F word is not in my vocabulary and never will be. It is the utmost insulting thing that has ever been uttered. No matter what decisions parents make, someone will judge them. Over 30 yrs ago, my father died. The funeral was held in our church where he was not only a prominent member and leader, it could hold the hundreds of people who came to remember him (over 500). DH & I walked in with our 5 yr old daughter and my brother carried in their 4 yr old son. (younger ones left with a babysitter) Later, my former roommate in college let me know that she was horrified that my 4 yr nephew was at the funeral. She didn’t see my daughter. Why she felt that I needed her opinion at one of the worst times in my life, I am not sure. The service was a beautiful church-like service that we will always remember. Even well remembered by my daughter and my nephew.
I agree 110%.
Chills. I couldn’t agree more. I will always feel blame for losing my daughter, for not being able to carry her as long as I should have, for a million things. The last thing these grieving parents need is blame from the rest of society.
I agree that now is not the time to talk about whether or not it was appropriate for children to be in the theater. The point is they were, and they were slaughtered.
I had those thoughts too, but in retrospect it just seemed so incongruous to hear that there were small children in that place at that time. However, I fully recognize that we’re talking about a back alley in East Baltimore or a war zone, this was not an inherently dangerous place which is why it was so shocking.
Well said. Although I wouldn’t go to a midnight showing of a movie (I like my sleep), my husband would’ve taken our 5 year old son to a midnight showing of a movie like “Batman” because that is how you make memories.
Such a well-written post, it was exactly what went through my mind, save for one element you missed… Whenever something like this happens I always ask myself, “Why does America still protect the right to own guns?”. It’s something I’ll never understand as an outsider, especially when there are so many internationally-reported incidents like this.
Thank you for being brave and standing up for people in the worst moments of their lives.
Nicely said Heather! Who are we to judge anyways? Like another commenter said up above, something like this could have happenened at an afternoon matinee too and then what would we all say then?
It’s so sad , so awful and so unimaginable.
Well written Heather, and particularly liked your take “we can have the discussion, but not today”.
I think the issue isn’t so much people judging (because we ALL do, every single one of us), it the internet. (And yes, I fully see the irony that I am sharing this on the internet).
I don’t blame the parents for the child being injured or killed, that is ridiculous, but I also I don’t think if I say or think something like “wow, who the hell brings a 3 mos old to a midnight show, or a 6 year old to a dark, violent movie?” I am off the charts judgemental and mean. And I am not trying to stave off bad things happening by thinking “I would never do that, so my kids are safe”. I would never do that, and my son died at 25, so I know up close and personal that is now how it works. I get it. I think when all is said and done, the fact remains many people do question doing that sort of thing, just as we would question parents not having children in seat belts, or seeing someone let their child play with a sharp object, etc. There is plain concern for the children, for many many people. And instead of talking about it over the water cooler at work, people now tweet it, and tween it and facebook it, and on and on. Thought is in my head, let me social message it somehow. 6 years old is too young to go an R rated, violent movie. 3 mo. old ears don’t need loud noises working on diminishing their hearing so young (yeah, okay, maybe they brought ear muffs, but I’ve yet to see a baby in a theater with them, but I concede they me be the exception). Some of the so called judgment is actual concern. And yes, there are also those who are mean and nasty and blamers, and they unfortunately have ipads and cell phones and all sorts of stuff to throw their opinions out there.
And with that, I will sign off the internet, at least for now
I think the lashing out at parents about why children were in the theater that late is a coping mechanism. People being shot in a movie theater is scary. Nobody deals well with the death of a child, and when a 6 year old was killed in a place most people think are safe from guns, people automatically think, “I’ll never send my kids to the movies again,” as a way of protecting them. Does that make it okay for people to lash on verbally online? Not really, but the mother of the slain child is probably not reading online comments about her anyway.
WELL SAID!!! Those ugly statements coming back to you only indicate ignorance! Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’m sure that the majority of people FULLY agree with you on this!!!! I was shocked and disheartened by this reaction myself!!!
Omg I am speechless at some of the comments on your babble blog. People really can be needlessly cruel.
I agree with you. Placing blame on a victim is never okay. The question we should all be asking is why did this happen? Not why were these “types” of people at the event where a random violent crime occurred. I grieve for the 6 year old whose life was taken away from her. I am a mother of a 6 year old my self and I cannot imagine a worse heart break then that. Also a rating on a movie is and always has been a suggestion of age appropriateness, it is up to our own discretion as parents what we allow our children to see. And not any one else. Just as nutrition information on fast food boxes inform you of what is inside, it is your decision to ingest it or allow your child to ingest it or not. No one else.
I can’t believe people would say such heartless things at such a time. I just clicked over to read your Babble post; I loved it but was shocked and saddened by some of the comments. Thank you for speaking up for the victims. I can’t imagine how much guilt those parents must feel- but of course there was absolutely NO WAY they could see that coming and they are in no way to blame for what happened. Auto accidents are one of the leading causes of death for U.S. children; does that mean we have the right to blame parents for letting their kids ride in a car if something bad happens? Of course not- and blaming the parents for bringing their children to the theater where the shooting occurred is equally ridiculous.
Every person who died or was injured that night is someone’s child. Are those deaths any more justified?
Questioning the decision to bring a young child to a late movie, as a response to that tragedy, implicitly lays some of the blame for their death or injury on the parents. That is callousness at its worst. Question the place of kids in late movies after you have sat through a show next to a screaming three-year-old, not after a girl has bled out on the theater floor.
Leigh Elliott says:
I have to admit my knee-jerk reaction was “Why were those kids there?” but I certainly never blamed the parents. However, your post made me see it from a different way and I absolutely agree with you.
Thanks for giving us perspective.
being devils advocate here…… please don’t hate me!
how is asking a question, judging someone? Is it the tone in which the question is written, or the tone that someone reads it in?
Couldn’t it just be someone wanting to understand why a parent would take a young child to a midnight showing of a film without that person judging the parents of said children?
there are times when I may not understand a reason for something and asking a question is an obvious way of getting an answer, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that my questioning of something is an automatic judgement of a situation, it is simply a question.
in this case, I did ask that question, not on social media, just in my head, but I certainly didn’t judge anyone. when I was a kid, we only had 1 movie theatre with 2 screens. first showing was at 7pm and 2nd showing was at 9pm. When my parents took me to the 9om showing it was for a treat, so I understand somewhat that these children may have been having a treat. in fact there are many reasons why parents could have taken them, however it’s unlikely that one of these parents is going to answer this question and nor should they have to. Their child, their decision, their parenting.
Crime can happen anywhere, to anyone. Those children could have easily been in a park in the afternoon when that man decided to shoot a load of ammunition about.
it breaks my heart that the mother of that 6 year old girl doesn’t yet know what happened to her daughter, and I’m sure she will forever be haunted by that moment. Right now I want to give her and other families involved in this tragedy a bug hug.
a *BIG* hug. i don’t even know what a bug hug is!
I completely agree with this post. Good on you for having the guts to write it.
Heather, may I please apologize. Although I didn’t have anything to do with writing on the site you are speaking of, I did get into the discussion with my friends on FaceBook about the appropriateness of kids being there…and also the Dad who abandoned his family and drove home. In hindsight these were very judgemental & unnecessary. I am disappointed in myself for so easily participating. I do not want to be that kind of person. Although never abusive or rude (I really can’t get my head around mean-spirited people), I feel I could set a better example for my family. And will. I have been trying to focus on gratitude instead. xx
You are so right. How is it that this monster does the unspeakable, and yet the victims are blamed?! Whaaaaa?!
I cannot believe people would say those things about you. Umm, opinions…we are all entitled to them!
I SO agree with you, and I am shocked at the comments that you saw. I have to admit, I live here in Denver and my very first thought was the same…”why were the kids there?” But my second thought was “who cares, this was AWFUL and not their fault” and I was irritated at myself for thinking it…I would never have said it out loud! Great post, so true!
Could not agree more. Instead of kicking these poor, grieving parents when they’re down, why are we not holding out our arms instead?
As you once said Heather, these parents and families are literally, without question, going through the worst time of their entire lives – so why in the world are we trying to make them feel worse?
I read your Babble post on Friday; I also re-read it after reading this post. Initially, and even upon re-reading, I’m not sure I agree with your Babble post.
Your post here suggests that it is appropriate to ask “why were small children at a midnight showing?” but is appropriate ONLY after some time has passed – not in the hours, days following the shooting. I agree with this.
Your Babble post, at least the way I read it, does not suggest that there is a time/place/forum to discuss why young children were at a midnight showing; simply, people should never discuss why young children were at a midnight showing. I don’t agree with this (and I don’t think it makes me a “victim shame-r” either, just simply curious if it is appropriate to take a young child to a midnight movie, just like I’d discuss spanking/AP/pacifiers/breastfeeding/etc).
I posted above as well, but I think, at some point, the question should be asked not only why were such young children at a midnight showing, but why were they are a movie that is filled with darkness and violence and rated R?
This is my question, and not aimed at the parents of these kids, but as a larger society. Why do we think it’s seemingly ok for young child to habitually be exposed to that kind of violence in the name of entertainment?
I totally agree with your post.
Let’s break the rules for once… let’s live wild and free. Let a 6 yr old enjoy her summer break… let’s go to the movies late! who cares?!!!! It’s OK! Let’s not JUDGE!!! People need to stop the judging!!!!
I was watching the news last night and the father of Alex Teves said he challenges the journalist reporting to stop giving the suspect the time of day and making him infamous. He challenges the journalist to address the victims, and let’s call the suspect a “COWARD” from now on, because 99% of the times people remember the face or name of the COWARDS, and not the names of the innocent victims.
If all of these people needed to blame someone or ask questions perhaps they should have asked why tear gas can be bought on amazon for less then twenty bucks ,but I digress.
It’s fine to discuss this topic but not in conjunction with this tragedy it demeans the people who were injured or died. As well gees it’s summertime and kids are out of school and totally would think it’s a treat to see batman and to go out late. My godson went to a midnight showing he is nine and hasn’t stopped talking about it and his five year old brother went too. They are better behaved in movies then the teenagers. Blame the shooter and thats it.
I was sooo glad you wrote on this topic, Heather. And I really cannot believe (yet I can) that people responded in such horrific ways that Babble had to remove their comments.
I agree, the topic may be a great one to discuss under a parenting forum, but NOT in the midst of a tragedy when these families need love & support in the midst of the horror and sadness.
Thank you for speaking out on their behalf!
Thanks so much for your post Heather. I have to admit, I think one of my first thoughts was why was there children in that theatre? I have been in numerous movies that were not suitable for children with parents that insist on bringing a crying baby in. We don’t know if these parents habitually did this or it was a “one time treat”. The parents of the 4 year old and the 4 month old did say they decided at the last minute. Had the baby been crying they may have left which is more than others who bring babies into the theatres every day do. Thank you for opening my eyes and allowing me to see this for a different perspective.
People pick that one thing to focus on because it’s make them feel like they have control. Nothing like that can happen to *my* child because *I* am a better parent and would not allow them to go to that movie. They’re scared and want to feel like random violence won’t happen to them. Doesn’t make it right, but perhaps explains it a bit.
I enjoy your blog every day and rarely post – but I wanted to voice my agreement with you. This is hardly a place to judge or place blame. I am impressed with your ability to write about such a “touchy” subject.
mary c says:
Very Well said. I understand why someone might take their young child to a showing that late. Maybe it was as simple as the kid asked. As parents we want to give our children everything. I guess when I heard about this, there were other things I was thinking about, like why would anybody do this. The only person I want to place blame on is the man who did this.
I think if I were to walk into a “grown-up” movie and saw a bunch of kids, I’d turn right back around and demand my money back! I know that there are some children who know proper movie theater etiquette but those kids are severely outnumbered by the kids who DON’T know how to behave and parents that refuse to DEAL with their kid. If I’m at the theater to see a kiddie movie with my daughter, then I don’t care so much. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay an arm and a leg to watch a movie that is going to be spoiled by other people’s kids!
Love this post. I’ve noticed lately how social media has opened my eyes to how judgmental people are. People can say anything behind a computer screen.