Within hours of the tragic shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado last night, politicians and others rushed to stake out the tragedy as their own. Some pointed to the senseless murders as proof of their beliefs, while others have used it as an opportunity to gather donations and expand their mailing lists. Others have simply been unable to resist the powerful urge to rush to their computers or smart phones and say, "I told you so!" as loudly as they can.
Here's Raw Story's round-up of the five worst opportunistic offenders at just barely twelve hours or so since James Holmes reportedly fired his first shot.
5. Iranian-American author and activist Reza Aslan
Aslan took to Twitter early and often this morning to make pointed jokes about the killings. "Guy shoots, kills 16 ppl in a Colorado theater last night but don't worry folks he wasn't a Muslim so obviously this is not terrorism," he quipped just after 10:00 a.m., when most people were first waking up to the news.
About 15 minutes later, he followed up with, "I demand Peter King call hearings on radicalized Batman fans."
Granted, Aslan has a point about the reluctance on the part of the media to brand any act of violence not performed by a brown-skinned person of Islamic faith as "terrorism." As The Atlantic.com editor Max Fisher tweeted, "'Shooter was not Muslim' is a line I've seen in quite a few news stories this morning. Well, he wasn't an Eskimo either."
Nonetheless, the phrase "Too soon!" was invented for remarks like these.
4. Huffington Post blogger Cindy Handler
Every time there is a headline-grabbing mass shooting, responsible gun-owners everywhere groan inwardly and brace themselves for the deluge of hand-wringing columns and editorials calling for more stringent gun laws, as well as the equally self-righteous, defensive pushback that inevitably follows from The People Who Care Way Too Much About Guns. Thank you, Cindy Handler, for not wasting any time whatsoever in getting that process rolling.
Not that Handler doesn't have a point when she says that law enforcement personnel "could be more effective in their jobs if it weren't so easy for every idiot and his grandmother in this country to be packing," but this column could just as easily have run on Sunday morning, couldn't it? A day or two of reflection before the moralizing starts seems polite, at least. Plus it avoids the appearance of circling the block looking for a crime scene to hastily erect one's soapbox in.
The NRA has (perhaps wisely) declined to comment on the incident for now.
3. Ditto New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who didn't even wait to finish his second cup of coffee Friday morning before clambering up on the moral high ground.
“Soothing words are nice, but maybe it's time that the two people who want to be President of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it,” he said in his weekly radio address. “If it was one of your kids yesterday in Aurora, maybe you'd stand up and say I'm not going to take this anymore.”
2. The Brady Campaign
A great organization working for a laudable cause, but this morning's petition sign-up seemed like little more than an excuse to gather email addresses.
"I Demand Congress Stop Arming Dangerous People" reads the petition, and who in their right mind doesn't agree with that?
Of course, an aside at the bottom of the call for petition signatures notes quietly that those who ease their consciences by signing up will automatically be added to the Brady Campaign's ongoing communications -- including, one assumes, calls for donations.
1. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX)
Our top honors go to Texas Congressman Rep. Louie Gohmert, who opted for the Jerry Falwell on 9/11 approach, which means to hang all responsibility for a senseless and complicated tragedy on your own personal set of pet issues.
In an interview with The Heritage Founation's "Istook Live," the Tea Party congressman blamed "ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs" for the Colorado massacre, as well as for the escalating rate of suicides among active duty military personnel.
You can hear audio of Gohmert's full remarks, embedded via YouTube, below: