Torrance Brown Jr. And Attorney Donald Karpel Are Responsible For Rampant Violence In America

Law, Politics & Current Events

Act One is tragedy, Act Two is farce. In Act Three the foul vultures descend, smacking their beaks.

Today's vultures are Torrance Brown Jr. and his attorney, Donald Karpel.

Mr. Brown was present at the horrific Aurora theater shooting last Friday. His friend was killed, but he was not injured. His experience was undoubtedly life-changing and awful.

But not content to survive, Mr. Brown has hired Beverly Hills attorney Donal Karpel to threaten to sue various defendants, including (1) the theater, for not guarding and alarming the emergency exit doors the shooter allegedly used, (2) the shooter's doctors, for not adequately controlling the shooter, and (3) Warner Brothers, for making a movie with violence in it. Karpel said to TMZ:

Karpel says "Dark Knight Rises" was particularly violent and Holmes mimicked some of the action. The attorney says theater goers were helpless because they thought the shooter was part of the movie. Karpel tells TMZ, "Somebody has to be responsible for the rampant violence that is shown today."

I recognize that I open myself up to criticism by using TMZ as a source. I can only say, in response that (1) though the story is breaking elsewhere, TMZ appears to be the primary source, (2) Mr. Karpel is the sort of lawyer, and Mr. Brown the sort of client, to give TMZ a statement about a contemplated lawsuit, which is relevant to determining their character and the quality of their legal theories, and (3) TMZ seems like one of the better resources for stories about Karpel anyway.

Leaving aside Karpel's and Brown's theory of liability against doctors is a fairly straightforward Tarasoff duty argument; their argument against the theater is similarly unimaginative (though it's a classic case of a double-edged-sword liability theory that, if accepted, could increase risk — anything that makes it harder to use an emergency exit quite likely poses more of a risk than failure to guard an emergency exit from the rare crazed gunman).

But Karpel's and Brown's theory of liability against Warner Brothers, as explained by Karpel to a tabloid, is pandering, unprincipled, censorious, and verminous. Every time this nation faces a tragedy, vile opportunists crawl out from beneath their oily rocks to urge censorship of expression. Sometimes it's music, sometimes it's video games, sometimes it's movies, sometimes it's political rhetoric — but the vapid messages are always the same. "Somebody [meaning my personal hobgoblin, hated by my target audience] has to be held accountable." "Think of the children!" "How much longer will we let this continue!"

If we restrict expression — whether it is movies or television or comic books or music or games — because of what some maniac might do when exposed to it, then no expression is safe. There is no theory compliant with the First Amendment — or with fundamental American values — under which Warner Brothers may be sued for the Aurora shooting because they produced this film. The only reason to do it is tawdry attention-seeking and mere thuggery. Brown should have our sympathy for enduring such a terrible event, but should also have the open contempt of his peers for engaging an attorney to indulge in such behavior. And Karpel deserves to be regarded as the worst sort of bottom-feeder.

In fact, I put it to you that Torrance Brown Jr. and Donald Karpel are responsible for rampant violence in America. Why? Well, their actions convey to potential mass killers across America that if they engage in a brutal assault, their story will not only be told, it will be prolonged and re-told and hyped by opportunists. This encourages the deranged lone gunmen.

Does that theory of responsibility sound far-fetched, even bizarre? Sure. It is. But it's just as credible as Brown's and Karpel's theory of liability against Warner Brothers. And, as Karpel says, somebody has to be held responsible.

(Hat tip to tipster Peter)

Last 5 posts by Ken White

99 Comments

98 Comments

  1. Connie  •  Jul 24, 2012 @9:21 am

    THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS. People like this frustrate me SO much. They're just looking for a payday. Keep blame where blame is due and don't go looking to sue willy-nilly to capitalize on the tragedy.

  2. Phe0n1x  •  Jul 24, 2012 @9:23 am

    Scum.

  3. Luis  •  Jul 24, 2012 @9:24 am

    Yeah somebody has to be held responsible!!!! damnit guys!

    how about….

    the shooter?

  4. bw1  •  Jul 24, 2012 @9:36 am

    Quick! What's the statute of limitations? Can the Manson victims sue the Beatles over the White Album?

  5. Globex Corporation  •  Jul 24, 2012 @9:38 am

    I blame the lawyer for even taking this file on. How hard is it to say, "I'm sorry; but, based on my review of the available material, I don't see a valid cause of action."?

    I say that all the time to potential clients. It's the right thing to do and it has other added perks such as protecting my name/reputation in the legal community, protecting me from having to deal with a nutbar/high maintenance client (as somebody like this is likely to be) AND protecting me from getting sued personally when the action falls flat on its face and the nutbar/high maintenance client decides it's my fault.

    FML…

  6. C. S. P. Schofield  •  Jul 24, 2012 @9:47 am

    I don't suppose it's possible for the judge in this case to, in dismissing the suit against Warner Bros (for example) to direct the bailiffs to hold the plaintiff and his attorney(s) by the arms while the defending parties kick them repeatedly in the fork?

    *sigh*

  7. Orville  •  Jul 24, 2012 @9:48 am

    My local paper had a good article today that broke down the potential legal liabilities in the Aurora massacre.

    The basic conclusion was that it was very unlikely that, other than the shooter, anyone is legally liable for what happened.

  8. The Six-Fingered Monkey  •  Jul 24, 2012 @9:49 am

    This is the most disgusting thing I have ever heard. You hit the nail on the head with, "not content to survive…" This is absolutely disgusting.

  9. nlp  •  Jul 24, 2012 @9:56 am

    Sometimes I wonder if there was an addition to the Bill of Rights that most of us missed, but lots of other people saw: "Everyone is entitled to sue giant corporations and get lots of money, because that's how we're going to encourage wealth distribution."

  10. Tim  •  Jul 24, 2012 @9:56 am

    ::overt sarcasm:: I'm sure The Dark Knight Rises is responsible.

    1) He never saw the film. He went outside to gear up at the start of the movie and came in about 10 minutes into the film.

    2) If he had seen the film, maybe the film would have persuaded him to not use guns. There is a very strong anti-gun sentiment in the movie (…for those of us who have actually seen it, unlike those who ran from the theater and never went back.)

    3) There's no duty to alarm valid exits. They aren't emergency exits. They are exits. People exit from auditoriums using those doors all of the time. They lead to the back parking lot. They lead to other businesses. Employees use them as shortcuts to the dumpster out back. I know this because I managed for 8 years a Colorado movie theater 5 miles away from the Century 16.

  11. Allen  •  Jul 24, 2012 @9:59 am

    It seems like due diligence is so passe these days. Just as a matter of cursory inspection one might go to your prosepective attorney's website, assuming he has one, and just read a bit.

    If you were to find the following: " The Law Offices of Donald E. Karpel practices law and represents clients…" You might just want to look a bit further afield.

  12. Kelly  •  Jul 24, 2012 @10:08 am

    How disgusting! I also join the group asking 'why the seven hells did this lawyer even take this case?'

    If this logic is true, can people sue certain politicians who have very anti-LGBT stances for being the cause of the violence against all LGBT people?

  13. Nicholas Weaver  •  Jul 24, 2012 @10:08 am

    Just because the theater, Warner Brothers, the gun shops, etc, would clearly win in court doesn't stop ambulance chasers from filing.

    After all, it costs money to mount a defense, and courts are very reluctant to make the plaintiff pay the defendant's costs, even with ridiculous suits like this one, that many companies will settle for a token fee.

    And ambulance chasers, such as what Mr Karpel appears to be, know this.

  14. Lindsay K  •  Jul 24, 2012 @10:26 am

    Donald Karpel is the worst sort of bottom-feeding suction eel. "Lawyers" like him are what keep the specter of tort reform afloat, not to mention giving the haters endless anecdotal evidence about what sleazebags attorneys are.

    The reason Karpel took the case should be obvious from his litigation history: he clearly loves the media, and I'm sure delights in any attention whoring that will get his name in the paper, the crasser the better.

    Like Nicholas said, this will be all about trying to milk a quick settlement out of WB and the theater, using the threat of prolonged litigation and the defendants' fear of being painted as unsympathetic to the Aurora shooting victims. I hope that the proposed defendants tell them to go to hell and refuse to pay one red cent. Coprovores like Karpel would not be nearly so eager to attempt these litigation tactics if they didn't work.

  15. Dan  •  Jul 24, 2012 @10:29 am

    One of the drawbacks of being an attorney for me is that sometimes it means being grouped by association with reptilian bottom-feeding headline-grabbing cencorious scuzbuckets.

    Ugh. I need a belt of scotch, even though it's 9:30 in the morning. I mean, I haven't slept in days.

  16. John Kindley  •  Jul 24, 2012 @10:36 am

    "Somebody has to be responsible for the rampant violence that is shown today." Didn't Brown pay to see Dark Knight Rises? If anyone should be held responsible, shouldn't it be him?

  17. RavingRambler  •  Jul 24, 2012 @10:49 am

    I'd be willing to bet if it makes it past the (hopefully) strongly-worded and well written MTD's that Karpel will start letting defendants know his client would be willing to settle for an amount roughly equal to their estimated cost of defense. I can't bring myself to believe the really *want* a trial; there can't be twelve people in America silly enough to give these two money for this.

    This is a good example of why we should switch to a "loser pays for everything" legal system.

  18. RavingRambler  •  Jul 24, 2012 @10:52 am

    @Nicholas Oops! Didn't see you'd already made a similar point about a potential settlement.

  19. Joe  •  Jul 24, 2012 @11:20 am

    Only in America where the land of "Frivolous Lawsuits" are allowed to transpire. There are enough "REAL" victims here.

  20. bob  •  Jul 24, 2012 @11:28 am

    It is inevitable that as some point there will be death threats against this piece of shit plaintiff and his equally vile attorney. It is probably equally inevitable that when that happens, you will come out in opposition to that.

    I'm just taking this opportunity in advance to roll my eyes at you for the record. :-)

  21. Chris R.  •  Jul 24, 2012 @11:31 am

    Wow way to go and shit on your friend's memory less than a week after their death.

  22. Shane  •  Jul 24, 2012 @11:32 am

    Lulz, this guy is a fraud. You know how I know, well duh, he didn't party the Bass Pro shop and Glock etc …

  23. Nicholas Weaver  •  Jul 24, 2012 @11:42 am

    Shane: Yeup. Thats because any ambulance chaser worth his mail-order-law-degree from Lionel Hutz Memorial Law School knows that Bass Pro, Glock, Remington, and whoever made the AR will never settle in a case like this.

    Rather, the manufacturers and major stores will fight to the last, knowing that to settle may cost less in the short run, but will cost more in the long run as then they would face a continual tide of such nuisance suits.

  24. Jess  •  Jul 24, 2012 @11:42 am

    "It is inevitable that as some point there will be death threats against this piece of shit plaintiff and his equally vile attorney. It is probably equally inevitable that when that happens, you will come out in opposition to that."

    Bob, probably, but I’m not sure if you are being sarcastic RE the eye rolling and if you would agree or disagree with the position of thinking the attorney and plaintiff’s actions are vile, but that it is still not OK to harass or threaten them.

  25. John Kindley  •  Jul 24, 2012 @11:48 am

    Probably Bob was being no more sarcastic than this piece in the Onion about the Aurora shootings: http://www.theonion.com/articles/sadly-nation-knows-exactly-how-colorado-shootings,28857/

  26. bob  •  Jul 24, 2012 @11:49 am

    Would it be "wrong"? Sure. Would I care? No.

  27. John Ammon  •  Jul 24, 2012 @11:52 am

    Ugh.

    You know how I feel safe? I hang out with a former Army Infantryman and a former Marine Sniper, they're always carrying concealed weapons and I trust both men with my life. I guarantee if I were in a theater seeing a movie with these men and some maniac opened fire, he would be dropped in seconds, they wouldn't hesitate. These men have a sense of honor and duty and a personal responsibility to keep people safe.

    For every lunatic out there with a gun, there's probably 5 sane, rational, trained people who know that there's a lunatic with a gun. And they're prepared.

  28. Colin  •  Jul 24, 2012 @11:53 am

    Well, Brown himself was obviously someone who wanted to see this horrendous, mass-murderer-activating movie. If the film is as dangerous as he claims, perhaps we should lock him up before he starts spraying gunfire into crowds. *eyeroll*

  29. bob  •  Jul 24, 2012 @11:53 am

    In addition to seeking costs, Warner Bros. motion to dismiss should include a permanent restraining order against Terrance Brown from ever going to any Warner Bros. movie ever again.

    Just on principle.

  30. Chris R.  •  Jul 24, 2012 @12:01 pm

    Warner Bros also brought us the Looney Toons, I'm just sayin' possible long ranging conspiracy?

  31. Anita  •  Jul 24, 2012 @12:15 pm

    Heck, Warner Bros. was bringing us the "ripped from the headlines" gritty gangster dramas from about the same time as Looney Toons. It's obviously a long ranging conspiracy that only the Hays Code was able to squash at the time.

    It's obvious we as a society are far too immature to view violence without thinking we should participate in it as well. We need to be protected! Bring back the Code! Oh, and pay me money for the damage viewing these horrible movies has done to my psyche.

    Actually, forget the Code. Just give me cash.

  32. Nance  •  Jul 24, 2012 @12:22 pm

    You had to know it was only a matter of time, right? I'm thinking they'd have a difficult time showing premises liability on behalf of the theater, and it's a stretch to blame WB without evidence the shooter actually saw the film. I'm assuming this is meant to be a quick "cost of suit" type of settlement?

  33. T Norton  •  Jul 24, 2012 @12:23 pm

    Perhaps Mr. Brown should also name himself in this action; he was, after all, there to see this unusually violent film, and therefore bears responsibility for generating the demand for such entertainment.

  34. Dan Weber  •  Jul 24, 2012 @1:12 pm

    If Warner Bros. didn't know what was going to happen, then how did Entertainment Weekly know to put this on its cover?

  35. Dan Weber  •  Jul 24, 2012 @1:12 pm
  36. bob  •  Jul 24, 2012 @1:14 pm

    Is there going to be a Popehat Signal to try to get some pro-bono assistance for Warner Bros.? :-)

  37. leo marvin  •  Jul 24, 2012 @2:05 pm

    I agree that the lawsuit as reported is obnoxious, but this:

    "I recognize that I open myself up to criticism by using TMZ as a source. I can only say, in response that [...] (2) Mr. Karpel is the sort of lawyer, and Mr. Brown the sort of client, to give TMZ a statement about a contemplated lawsuit, which is relevant to determining their character and the quality of their legal theories"

    looks circular.

  38. T. J. Brumfield  •  Jul 24, 2012 @2:16 pm

    This reminds me of the case where a Stephen King novel and Pearl Jam's Jeremy video were blamed for a school shooting:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frontier_Middle_School_shooting

  39. Hughhh  •  Jul 24, 2012 @2:56 pm

    Is gun ownership another form of expression which shouldn't be restricted?

    /can of worms

    Seriously though, in western countries which don't have such high levels of gun ownership, scores fewer people die from gun-related violence (shock horror). It's also quite rare that those countries are invaded by the British.

    I know that "your right to bear arms" is intrinsically American, but surely there's a better option than the status quo. Sorry if I'm being too black and white; I'm obviously not fully across all the issues. I just think that putting up with the occasional mass murder is wrong.

  40. bob  •  Jul 24, 2012 @3:00 pm

    I'm not taking a pro or anti gun stand, but I just want to point out that saying that countries that have fewer guns have fewer gun deaths is kind of a "duh!" statistic that is true but useless. :)

    Here's another true statistic: in the thousands of years before the invention of gunpowder, there were exactly zero gun deaths.

    The real question is whether or not reducing guns reduces violence in general, not just gun violence. I don't know the answer to that, but it seems like no one is asking.

  41. John Ammon  •  Jul 24, 2012 @3:02 pm

    @Hughhh – If you make guns illegal, will the criminals stop carrying them? They care about the law right? That's why their criminals.

    While I don't own any firearms myself, I support the right to bear arms because I know people who do carry guns, and I wholly trust these people to protect me if they had to.

    Also, if you're going to purport that western countries with lower levels of gun ownership have lower gun-related violence, please site some statistics or sources, so we know you're not just trolling us.

    Additionally, the "right to bear arms" isn't a freedom of speech thing, that's first amendment. It's a whole different amendment, the second, it's not just "intrinsically American", it's a guaranteed right granted to us by out Constitution.

  42. John Ammon  •  Jul 24, 2012 @3:05 pm

    @bob – Good point, I hadn't considered the wording >_< it is rather "duh" in that sense. People are quite capable of killing many people at once without the use of guns, they always have toxins, bombs and biological attacks.

  43. T. J. Brumfield  •  Jul 24, 2012 @3:48 pm

    I don't think you can put guns back in Pandora's box with 350 million guns in America. Are you going to go door to door in an armed society and try to take them away?

    Furthermore, it is sometimes speculated that there are more illegal, unregistered guns than registered guns.

    I'm not a fan of guns, but you can't simple pass a law and make them go away.

  44. M.  •  Jul 24, 2012 @3:52 pm

    To put it more simplistically than some of the other commenters, if the movie was so evil, why was he there?

    If you want to screech at Warner Bros. for making something objectionable, try Mortal Kombat 9. Between the dialogue and the fatalities, it's like Saw meets Charlie's Angels. They should compensate me for emotional pain and suffering. Mostly because of the dialogue.

  45. John David Galt  •  Jul 24, 2012 @4:03 pm

    Mr. Brown seems to have left out one cause for his suit that might actually make it both legitimate and worthwhile: namely, the theater posted a "gun free zone" policy. "Gun free zones" are always effectively free fire zones, since everyone but the bad guys obeys them. Any rational discussion of gun laws must start with that fact.

  46. Rob  •  Jul 24, 2012 @4:18 pm

    Nicholas Weaver • Jul 24, 2012 @11:42 am

    Shane: Yeup. Thats because any ambulance chaser worth his mail-order-law-degree from Lionel Hutz Memorial Law School knows that Bass Pro, Glock, Remington, and whoever made the AR will never settle in a case like this.

    Rather, the manufacturers and major stores will fight to the last, knowing that to settle may cost less in the short run, but will cost more in the long run as then they would face a continual tide of such nuisance suits.

    That, and there's a federal law that specifically shields gun shops and manufacturers from such nuisance suits. It was passed as a result of anti-gunners trying to do an end-run around the 2nd Amendment by suing gun manufacturers out of existence.

    Furthermore, it is sometimes speculated that there are more illegal, unregistered guns than registered guns.

    Most jurisdictions in the US do not require people to register their guns, so there's definitely far more LEGAL, unregistered guns than there are legal, registered guns. As to whether there are more unregistered guns in jurisdictions that require it than registered ones is hard to say, but that wouldn't surprise me either.

    I'd also like to point out that if the guy hadn't used a gun, he'd most likely have used all the bombs he used to booby trap his apartment instead. The potential body count for a bombing is far higher than even the worst mass shootings we've ever had, especially in a crowded theater. Consider the OKC bombing and 9/11, for example.

  47. Mike K  •  Jul 24, 2012 @4:44 pm

    You reminded me of a paper I wrote and presented in high school. My visual aid consisted of having someone play a modded version of Mortal Kombat (the mod consisted of extra blood as I recall). Of course that was back in the day when MK was the game people thought of as the most violent before Grand Theft Auto took its place. Basically, research shows that people are primed to a more violent interpretation of events after being exposed to violent media, but there is also a lot of research showing that games in general (including violent games) benefited players in multiple areas. I would say that violence has a tendency to follow patterns in the media, but that the violence would have been there in some form anyway without a game/movie to copy it from.

    I have no idea how going to see a movie prepared to murder people is a fault of the movie that you haven't seen yet. I doubt there are any legit studies showing precognition of violent movies causes violence.

  48. M.  •  Jul 24, 2012 @5:16 pm

    @Mike K: I've been a hardcore gamer for about 15 years now, and while it's definitely desensitized me to violence in the sense that nothing shocks me anymore, it's made me less likely to commit violence because the delineation between electronic games and reality is quite sharp, and the idea of doing such things to real people makes me feel ill. Unless I've been in line at the grocery store, or some extreme circumstance like that.

    My father claims my empathy/squeamishness is because I'm female, but I believe that unless you're supremely sheltered or a sociopath, it's impossible to get to the age of 14 or so without realizing the seriousness and permanence of death. People who go on killing sprees have serious psychological problems whether they know right from wrong or not, and I suspect one reason that a gun tends to be the weapon of choice in these incidents is that it separates the killer from the more visceral act of killing. That is to say, if we had to rely on MK-style disembowelings to commit our killing sprees, many fewer people would have the gastrointestinal or testicular fortitude to go through with it.*

    *This is not intended as an argument against gun ownership. Today here in Dallas, some tool accidentally discharged his gun while digging for his wallet; the bullet hit the floor, and produced concrete shards that injured two children. I'm certainly against gun ownership for him!

  49. Vladimir Moscher  •  Jul 24, 2012 @5:24 pm

    What low life scumbags. Why do our courts even entertain this crap. Anyone have access to the phone # of these asswipes. I would love to call them repeatedly let them know how they are destroying our country. If anyone has them, please reply!

  50. John Ammon  •  Jul 24, 2012 @5:47 pm

    @M. – Well said.

    @Vladimir Moscher – Harassment solves nothing, and Ken will certainly frown upon the notion.

  51. Ken  •  Jul 24, 2012 @5:55 pm

    @Vladimir: Harassment is not only illegal. It's unhelpful. Harassment turns bad actors in to victims and gives them weapons to use against their critics. It's the province of morons, lowlifes, and losers. Discussion of harassment is not welcome here. Don't do it again.

  52. Isha  •  Jul 24, 2012 @7:21 pm

    Oh gods. I saw this pop up in my news feed and Googled it for more info not believing it but cynically knowing it was true. I'm so glad that popehat is one of the top links. I immediately came over here knowing Ken would have something sane to say about it.

    I'm sorry for him. I really am. I can't imagine what he saw in that theater and what he experienced. No one deserves any of it. But this is ridiculous. I have a feeling there's going to be a lot of negative reaction to something so crass so soon. I wonder what A.J. Boik's family is saying about this suit and how this man is waving his name around like some shield

  53. Docrailgun  •  Jul 24, 2012 @7:42 pm

    Hmm. Should the other people in that theater sue Mr. Brown for not stopping the shooter from killing people? Shouldn't they? It sounds like he has a lot of free time and money to spend.

  54. AlphaCentauri  •  Jul 24, 2012 @8:19 pm

    Should those of us who didn't see the movie sue Mr. Brown for supporting violence in movies by paying to see them? Since he feels they are encouraging violence to a degree that justifies suing the studio for negligence, he must agree that movie violence is creating risks for those of us who shop in malls or attend sporting events where shooters may attack. It's people like Mr. Brown who are driving that phenomenon.

  55. Chipsa  •  Jul 24, 2012 @11:24 pm

    I can kinda see suing the theater chain, as by prohibiting methods of self defense, they arguably took on a duty of care to prevent violence from happening inside the theater. Everything else is off the wall though.

  56. Hughhh  •  Jul 24, 2012 @11:32 pm

    To paraphrase, saying that "if he hadn't used guns, he would've used something else to equal or greater effect" is not necessarily true. Most people are fairly easily dissuaded when obstacles are put in their way. Say you have 100 criminals with guns, then you take away the guns; will 100 of 100 criminals replace the guns with something else, or will a portion give up on the idea of injuring (or threatening to injure) innocents? Now I have no idea whether — had guns not been so entrenched in US culture — Holmes would have used other means to achieve the same end. But (magically) taking the guns out of the picture can't hurt, can it?

    I suppose you can't just "take the guns away" in the States, because that particular horse has long since bolted. I guess I just think that it's all very sad. Here in Australia, the Gun Buy-Back in 1996 took 600,000 guns "off the streets". Farmers and sporting shooters complained, loudly, but in the end the guns are now gone. I don't doubt that there are unregistered, illegal guns still in the hands of criminals, but I've never seen one.

    When folks say "if you make [noun] illegal, then only the outlaws will have [noun]," my point is, try replacing [noun] with [C4 plastic explosive] or [rocket-propelled grenade launcher] or [child porn]. Criminals possess, them, yes – that's why they're called criminals. They act outside the law. I don't think another person's right to bear arms should trump my right not to be shot.

    I'm sorry to have deviated from the actual post topic; I thought it was fairly clear that the lawsuit was entirely frivolous and stupid, and there had already been sufficient comments to that effect.

  57. Rob  •  Jul 24, 2012 @11:46 pm

    Hughhh: It isn't speculation in this case. The guy built and booby trapped his apartment with several dozen bombs, all of which were illegal to make and possess. It is highly likely that if for some reason he couldn't use firearms, he'd have used the bombs instead. The potential death toll from setting off several bombs in a crowded theater is vastly greater than for a mass shooting.

    I'd also like to point out that since Australia having banned firearms, your violent crime rate has rocketed skyward. The same has been true in Great Britain, which now has a violent crime rate that is higher than the United State's. In the US, on the other hand, we have both increased the number of firearm owners and passed many pro-gun laws, and yet our crime has overall been decreasing. This isn't to say that there is a causation between gun control and higher violent crime rates, but it does show that there absolutely is NOT a correlation between gun control and LOWER violent crime rates, and several studies have born this out.

  58. Bruce  •  Jul 25, 2012 @12:20 am

    @Rob – cite please. I am aware of no published stats that show a skyrocketing violent crime rate in Australia.

  59. Hughhh  •  Jul 25, 2012 @12:22 am

    Regarding homicide in particular, statistics taken from a UN report published in 2000 would seem to indicate a correlation between higher gun ownership and higher firearms homicide.

    If you theoretically take the firearms out of the picture, would you really expect to be left with such a staggeringly high incidence of homicide per capita?

    I've extracted the USA and Australia stats from that page for ease of reference: http://hughhh.com/hosted/wikipedia.png

  60. Hughhh  •  Jul 25, 2012 @12:23 am

    [My comment is awaiting moderation; I knew I should've left out that second link!]

  61. Ben  •  Jul 25, 2012 @1:31 am

    Anger and aversion are natural responses to an event like this. It would seem that want the Torrence individual wants is to regain a sense of control, the money is incidental to that.

    You see something you believe to be wrong and you want to know it's cause – so that you can prevent it from happening again. We, as a culture, consider madness to be as blameless as a hurricane or tidal wave; a force of nature rather than an act of will or negligence.

    So attention turns from the afflicted individual(s) to the nebulous hinterland of causation that allowed the wrong to coalesce. With sufficient foreknowledge of this, anyone might have prevented it – but such fortuitousness/precognition/foresight/et al., however, is a scarcity.

    So I do not agree that this Torrence individual is necessarily acting out of base greed. It seems equally plausible that he is just another victim seeking emotional/psychological stability after having his world view traumatically altered.

  62. Chris R.  •  Jul 25, 2012 @1:34 am

    I understand when something shocking like this happens that people want to argue for gun control or for relaxing open/concealed carry. However I don't think using tragedy to highlight your ideological view is very productive or genuine. Crazy people bent on killing are going to kill. It's really that simple. I am also a firm believer that fear should not guide our decisions when it comes to our Constitutional rights. When it does, we end up with the Patriot Act and TSA. I'm just saying.

    @Rob/Bruce: http://www.snopes.com/crime/statistics/ausguns.asp

    Maybe that will clear some things up.

  63. Ben  •  Jul 25, 2012 @1:35 am

    Hehe.

    Getting too late.

    "What the Torrence individual", its not it's, only need one but/however. Apologies. :)

  64. Ben  •  Jul 25, 2012 @1:48 am

    Chris R,

    At the risk of even more typos than I normally generate; I think it is important to note a difference between fear informing our decisions and fear based decision making.

    Fear is natural and useful – like pain – it warns us of peril. Fear has a tendency to exert an abundance of caution rather than a deprivation of it (there being a larger evolutionary pressure towards the phobic than towards the fearless).

    So someone saying "This makes me afraid. Here is what we should do…" is not being necessarily unreasonable or irrational. Fear of people hijacking a plane and flying it into you and fear of being shot at a movie premiere both denote actual perils.

    It is only when we allow ourselves to exaggerate these perils out of proportion – to treat them as if they are more probable or more hazardous than they truly are – that fear becomes problematic. Otherwise, I think, fear can be useful.

  65. Hughhh  •  Jul 25, 2012 @1:52 am

    Ben, I think your self-correction almost raises more questions than it answers. ;)

    Posted from my iPod, hence no Lego dinosaur gravatar.

  66. John Ammon  •  Jul 25, 2012 @8:10 am

    I agree with everything Chris just said.

  67. B.Z.  •  Jul 25, 2012 @8:50 am

    This is a more blatant example of what happens when a culture has been fed decades of 'somebody else's fault' at the expense of personal responsibility. This guy may not be the complete lowlife opportunist that he appears to be. He may actually believe that he is 'owed' for surviving, being inconvenienced, spilling his popcorn,..whatever.

    The same media that you're consulting right now for details on this story – is the same media that has been feeding you the rules of the 'blame game' for your entire lives. Like the burglar who gets injured breaking into a home and sues the homeowner. The drunks that fall out of windows and sue because the building owner should have had the windows locked. So that later on when there is a fire, the building owner can then be sued again for having locked windows this time.

    The theatre's fault, Batman's fault, the Joker's fault, sounds ridiculous when it's written down in black and white doesn't it? This has all been done for a reason, 'nothing is your fault' sounds good on the surface, but actually what it does is tell you every day how insignificant that you really are. You're so stupid you can't even trip over a curb on your own.

    The other side of this psy-op works like this – anything good you have ever achieved, obviously has to be somebody else's fault too. The idea is to mentally grind you down to infinitesimally small little units of proletariat matter that cannot think, resist or run. You're being 'modified' albeit slowly. Can you feel it?

  68. John Ammon  •  Jul 25, 2012 @9:11 am

    @B.Z. – Nope. But then again, I've been pretty immune to peer-pressure and psychological conditioning for the vast majority of my life. If I mess up, I usually realize when it's my fault, and I'll admit it too.

  69. Grifter  •  Jul 25, 2012 @9:21 am

    @John Ammon:

    But that's hardly fair…judging by the mask, you're in the GLC, so obviously you're immune to Parallax.

  70. John Ammon  •  Jul 25, 2012 @9:24 am

    @Grifter:

    An astute observation!

  71. B.Z.  •  Jul 25, 2012 @9:36 am

    @John Ammon: I'm glad that you have the strength and knowledge to know when you're getting hustled,…but a lot of folks do not. There's an old saying: "you never know,..what you don't know". I think that applies to many people, hopefully not most people.

  72. John Ammon  •  Jul 25, 2012 @9:45 am

    @B.Z. – I've no doubt that most people are mentally deficient and lack fortitude and strength of character. This is actually a theory I've held for a long time, maybe I'm just being pretentious though :P

  73. Valerie  •  Jul 25, 2012 @12:16 pm

    The lawyer is a parasite feeding on tragedy like a tapeworm in America's digestive tract.

    I won't judge the victim. After the shock and horror he must have endured, I think he can be excused for wanting to find an explanation that allows for a rational explanation for the criminal act.

    The fact is, lone nuts are nearly impossible to stop. – We could act collectively to make attacks harder / less fatal by restricting gun sales or access to ballistic armor etc., but, at the end of the day, if a nut-job wants to kill people, he will, and there is precious little that can be done to stop him.

    The idea that none of this would have happened if only SOMETHING had been done differently, is comforting because it means someone reasonable, someone with power – the doctors, Warner Brothers, the theater – could have prevented the tragedy and similar events in the future. This is simply untrue.

    There is someone who could have stopped it, but he is either psychotic or sociopathic – its uncomfortable to think that the responsibility for this type of crime lies with him or others like him.

  74. John Ammon  •  Jul 25, 2012 @12:23 pm

    Good points Valerie, and as much as I hate to drive the discussion into this can of worms… Parenting, I don't know anything about the perp, but I would guess that his childhood was less than ideal.

    Bad parenting develops bad people. I'm sure there's a lot of science to back that up, but doesn't it also just seem like sound logic?

  75. B.Z.  •  Jul 25, 2012 @12:51 pm

    @Valerie: You said: "I think he can be excused for wanting to find an explanation that allows for a rational explanation for the criminal act."

    Will he find that 'explanation' in someione else's pocket? Do you really think he's looking for an answer? Somehow, this young man does not seem to be exploring the existential meaning behind it all. Maybe a 6 figure settlement will 'enlighten' him,..and his lawyer.

  76. Valerie  •  Jul 25, 2012 @12:55 pm

    @ John Ammon I'm not sure there was necessarily bad parenting, but I certainly wouldn't rule it out.

    There is considerable evidence that psycho / sociopaths literally have brains that are wired differently from other people. Interestingly, however, recent studies have shown that nurture seems to play at least some role in how the mental disorder manifests itself in adults. (Awesome BBC documentary on the interplay between nature & nurture in psychopaths called "What makes us good or evil? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzf73oEcUnE )

    Likewise, paranoid schizophrenia, which often becomes manifest in young adulthood, has biological causes and, in my understanding, would not necessarily be preventable by "good" parenting, though, again, bad parenting may make the situation worse.

    Still, you do have to wonder – I am sure more info on his background / mental state will emerge going forward.

    I guess my main point was that these atrocities seem to be beyond the control of the authorities and society, which is unsettling for everyone and hardly helps give closure to a victim like Brown.

    The perpetrators, for whatever reason, do not behave rationally or predictably in a conventional sense. They aren't simple thugs or criminals who behave selfishly & could have used some boundaries and/or ass-kickings growing up. There are plenty of those on our streets, in our jails, and in our boardrooms, but they don't tend to be the ones who commit horrendous crimes against strangers with no reasonable prospect of personal gain.

  77. Valerie  •  Jul 25, 2012 @12:57 pm

    Oops – I got the link right, but the title of the BBC documentary is actually "Horizon: Are you Good or Evil?" Well worth a watch, at any rate.

  78. Valerie  •  Jul 25, 2012 @1:10 pm

    @ B.Z. I don't pretend to know his motives. He may be a greedy jerk who immediately thought to exploit his situation for gain – that is entirely possible, and certainly wouldn't surprise me.

    Then again, he may just be a victim who desperately wants someone to take responsibility for and pay for his trauma & suffering. I think the case is without merit and the lawyer is scum, but I am unsure about whether the client has been taken advantage of or if he is just a greedy bastard – insufficient evidence for me to judge at this point.

  79. Barbara  •  Jul 25, 2012 @1:14 pm

    I grow weary of the notion that someone's upbringing is a reason/excuse for committing horrific acts as adults. I had a very difficult childhood with an alcoholic abusive parent which segued into a marriage with an abusive man. I've never harmed an animal or another person and can not begin to imagine what it takes to go that route. I know who caused my pain and I chose to not let her be the catalyst for my life…as a matter of fact I'm more often inclined to want to help those in need because of the empathy I have. The bottom line is that each person is responsible for their actions and this man, this lone gunman, he alone is responsible for this tragedy. Trying to gain monetarily as the result of his actions makes the people involved just as despicable in my mind.

  80. John Ammon  •  Jul 25, 2012 @1:48 pm

    @Barbara: It's not an excuse, but it probably is a contributing factor in a lot of scenarios.

    I can empathize with with your stance Barbara, while I have two wonderful, loving parents, I am also a gamer. I play violent games and greatly resent people asserting that violence in games indicates violence in real life. It's not in my nature to hurt real things, I have a hard time killing spiders… and I hate spiders… I can easily separate myself from fictional game worlds.

  81. Ken  •  Jul 25, 2012 @1:50 pm

    @John: Maybe you can, BUT I AM A PRETTY PRETTY ELF.

  82. John Ammon  •  Jul 25, 2012 @1:52 pm

    @Ken: I believe it.

  83. Valerie  •  Jul 25, 2012 @1:55 pm

    @ Barbara I agree that, the legal issue of sanity not withstanding, the shooter is fully responsible for his actions, whether or not he had a hard life. We have free will, and as adults, have to take responsibility for our actions.

    On the other hand, to pretend that awful parenting or a traumatic childhood can have no bearing an adult's behavior absurd. The child of violent addicts, who didn't care if they went to school & made good choices, could very well have a harder time than someone who had a normal upbringing. That fact doesn't excuse, but it can help explain and, depending on the circumstances, may mitigate.

    Also, while in many cases there is only one person to blame – the criminal – there are occasionally others whose negligence facilitated the crime – not in this case, but what about the Sandusky case? There were certainly people and institutions in that instance who did not actively participate in the abuse, and yet could be held partially responsible for creating the circumstances that allowed for Sandusky's serial abuse of young boys.

    As to the plaintiff in this case, like I said – I don't think we have enough evidence to judge his motives, and, for the moment, I am willing to give the victim of a horrible crime some benefit of doubt & allow for the possibility that they are not depraved and amoral.

  84. Ben  •  Jul 25, 2012 @2:36 pm

    Valerie,

    If we accept that the victim could be simply attempting to assign blame upon something more easily controlled than a mentally unbalanced individual… Why do we scorn the lawyer?

    Is it not the nature of our adversarial system that each side should have an advocate who argues for the person/people they represent, without regard to the advocates personal feelings upon the subject?

    People seem to be of a consensus that there is only the remotest of possibilities that Donald Karpel could 'win' such a case. So it would stand to reason that, unless he is privy to some undisclosed facts that are not available to us, his motivation is to provide a form of catharsis for Torrance Brown, would it not?

  85. Grifter  •  Jul 25, 2012 @2:39 pm

    @Ben:

    The issue is that he's profiting off this "catharsis", and that it would be his job as a good legal counsel to say "this case has no merit, sir, and I can't in good conscience waste your money".

  86. Ben  •  Jul 25, 2012 @2:46 pm

    Grifter,

    Do lawyers/attorneys ever do that? My closest contact with our legal system is Jury Duty (which was interesting). My impression had been that you paid an attorney his hourly rate and he or she attempted to achieve a particular goal for you.

  87. Patrick  •  Jul 25, 2012 @2:56 pm

    Ben, speaking only for myself, I continually tell potential clients that I can't help them, and why I can't help them.

    Whether they're offering to pay me by the hour, by flat fee, or by contingent fee.

    Most civil lawyers would tell you the same.

  88. Grifter  •  Jul 25, 2012 @2:56 pm

    @Ben:

    It is my understanding that a lawyer has an ethical/professional obligation to his client to at least try to dissuade him from stupidity.

    For example: if I stormed into a lawyer's office and wanted to sue Patrick on the grounds that he's a big meanie head and I wish he lived in Oregon, a lawyer should tell me "Umm, that's…not a lawsuit".

    The real lawyers should chime in here, though, I think.

  89. Hughhh  •  Jul 25, 2012 @3:45 pm

    If I am ever to sue anyone, I will request that "… and I wish he lived in Oregon" be included in the… lawsuit… description… thing.

    IANAL. Obviously.

  90. Robert White  •  Jul 25, 2012 @5:55 pm

    I am evil, but I use my evil majesty for the betterment of humanity…

    How does that work?

  91. M.  •  Jul 25, 2012 @7:08 pm

    @Valerie: I saw a similar discussion on the Science Channel and didn't care for it. It's all too Minority Report for me. I just can't get behind judging people for anything other than their actions – it's entirely possible to be utterly twisted and "mis-wired," to have some of the most horrifying dreams and sexual proclivities, and yet to still have either a working sense of empathy or proper terror of retribution and thus never harm another soul.

  92. Robert White  •  Jul 25, 2012 @7:23 pm

    @M. — It's even simpler. The only things you need to have to not become a serial killer are one-or-more of the following:

    (1) A sense of manners.

    (2) A understanding that without set dressers and property masters, killing people is really messy and annoying.

    (3) The practical experience that if you cannot make a cake turn out perfectly, the likely hood that you are going to get a victim to exactly fulfill your fantasy of exactly how they ought to beg and how the blood will fountain just so, just isn't going to happen.

    (4) The lack of a Mickey Mouse try-try-again work ethic in an attempt to overcome item 3.

    (5) No access to an inconspicuous car who's trunk is empty, not a hatch-back, has a nice and low loading deck, and is large enough to take a body that can only be folded to about ninety degrees. (wrapping a body in plastic makes it awfully hard to bend very far. Try rolling up a piece of paper and then bending it in half.)

    8-)

  93. M.  •  Jul 25, 2012 @7:42 pm

    Yes, you see: I'm not a serial killer because I don't drive and would have no way to get rid of the bodies. As soon as I move out into the country, all bets are off.

  94. A.J.  •  Jul 26, 2012 @7:38 am

    If thought and emotional expression are repressed, no matter what the content of that expression is, we will end up at a point where the entire population of the planet simply combusts from withheld emotion, OR we run the risk of turning the movie Equilibrium into a prophecy fulfilled.

  95. John Ammon  •  Jul 26, 2012 @8:06 am

    @A.J. – Great movie though :)

  96. Stephanie  •  Jul 26, 2012 @8:28 am

    From a Denver Post article today:

    ""Entertainment Tonight" is among [media outlets] tapping sources in Colorado, and offering payments for information. Shooting eyewitness Torrence Brown Jr.'s father told a Denver Post reporter he couldn't talk because the family had "an exclusive contract" with Entertainment Tonight."

    Classy. It's amazing that someone so traumatized has the energy to figure out how to cash in on this tragedy in so many ways.

  97. John Ammon  •  Jul 26, 2012 @9:12 am

    Entertainment Tonight should change it's name to "Exploiting Tragedy Tonight". Since when is any of this mess classified as "entertainment" ಠ_ಠ

  98. Max Kennerly  •  Jul 26, 2012 @5:36 pm

    The lawyer is soon going to regret filing this trash. The press right now feels nice, he can shrug off the criticism, and I'm sure his intake volume is up. But, in time, as the intake turns out to be crap, and he's stuck in a case that swallows up loads of time for a purely emotional injury, he's going to wish he'd just told the client "no."

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