Sunday, July 22, 2012

Really, Bill?

In all of the turmoil and grief over the Aurora shootings, surely our hearts go out most of all to the parents of the child victim, 6 year old Veronica Moser-Sullivan. At least, this is true for those of us who have hearts.

I don’t want this to sound harsh to anybody, but the reason that these children were in the theater at midnight to see Batman was because their parents didn’t want to pay for babysitters because babysitters are expensive. So they take the children, the children fall asleep in the movie and the parent watches the movie. And the (six) year-old girl who’s dead – the mother of the girl was shot in the chest – you just heard her father. She survived.…The story about this is that the mother, the father – and you heard the father – took the six year-old to the midnight movie. And they did that, as I explained, ‘cause they didn’t want to pay a babysitter, because babysitters are 15 bucks an hour, OK? OK? And there you go. 
I have found that if you feel the need to say “I don’t want to sound harsh to anybody”, you probably should rethink what you are about to say. If what you really want to sound is loving and sympathetic, then you don’t tell somebody it’s their fault a loved one is dead. That’s not the way not to sound harsh. You say something like, “Oh, this is horrible; this is dreadful. Your poor baby! I’m so sorry this terrible thing happened. It should never be.” That might still not be comforting, but it isn’t likely to get you accused of being harsh.
You know why parents don’t leave their children home with a baby sitter? It isn’t just the money. Some parents prefer to be with their children. They don’t want to turn their children’s care over to other people. That doesn’t mean they need to hole up with the kid in a cave. They go places and do things and take their children along, because they like being with their children.
Some people are afraid to leave their children with a babysitter. We hear stories of abusive babysitters. Even babysitters who are kind can have poor judgement. Your teenage babysitter may mean well but be tempted to take the opportunity to make out with her boyfriend on the living room sofa while the kids set fire to the house trying to toast marshmallows. Worries like that make parents  just feel safer keeping their children with them.
Do you think that kind of worry is a little extreme? Your chances of experiencing a reported house fire in your life are 1 in 4. The chances that someone in your household will suffer an injury in a home fire in an average lifetime are 1 in 10. The chances that someone in your household will suffer an injury in a reported fire in an average lifetime are 1 in 89.
Remind me again - what were the chances of being shot by an assailant in a movie theater prior to the Aurora shootings? For that matter, what are they now?
And if little Veronica had been left at home with a babysitter who turned out to be abusive or who panicked and couldn’t get her out of the house in a fire, would Bill O’Reilly be saying, “At least her parents didn’t take her with them to the movies where she could be shot by an armored gunman”? Yeah, right.
Why in the world would someone even think it is okay to talk about parents like this? They didn’t take their daughter hang-gliding or rock climbing; they took her to a movie. Yes, it was a midnight showing, but the worst they could reasonably have been expected to anticipate is that she would be crabby the next day. This goes beyond just the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy; this is just plain cruel.
Really, Bill. You don’t want to sound harsh? Then keep your mouth shut.


  1. What's more, I would bet cash money that the parents are already tormenting themselves with "If only we'd got a babysitter, if only we'd skipped the movie, if only we'd gone somewhere else, she'd still be alive." It's one of the ways we try to make sense of senseless tragedy, and the compassionate response is "No, don't blame yourselves, you had no way of knowing."

  2. I sort of assumed that one possible reason for the babies and small children at the movie was that the theatre was airconditioned. I mean, the kids get some sleep, possibly the adults do (possibly they watch the movie), everyone wins.

    I still can't believe the rubbish people come out with after tragedies like these. Some people need a better mind/mouth filter.