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Friday, May 25, 2018
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Steve Otto Columns

Otto: There’s nothing rational about movie theater shooting

Explain to me “the movie shooting,” which is all the reference you need to describe the incident at the movie theater in Wesley Chapel this week.

I don’t think you can, although I have read plenty of accounts and theories as to why this happened on a slow weekday in a mostly empty movie theater. Social media has seen to that.

Not that everyone doesn’t have a right to his or her opinion, even posting after posting of frothing at the mouth, quickly followed by counter-frothing at the mouth. There’s not only no middle ground here, there is no ground.

The shooting has become a rallying point for or against almost every social ill in America.

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One of the difficulties is the first thing you try when you examine something like this is to find rational explanations in a largely irrational world.

Right away there is disagreement. For instance, why is it rational to carry a loaded gun into a movie theater?

The theater owners have signs posted everywhere about no guns, but who pays attention to signs and more importantly, who enforces them? Are you going to put a metal detector in every business?

There have been occasions in recent years when someone with a loaded gun — in fact, with a small arsenal — has jumped out in a darkened theater and begun firing. You are thinking it would be prudent to have something on you to fire back. It is dark in those places; maybe a hand grenade would be better.

I’m not kidding. It does make sense to me, even if the guy with the arsenal does not.

I suppose you could call that rational thinking, if you also agree that living in a society that is armed to the teeth and where it is possible to go berserk over something as insignificant as a text message and kill someone when an argument escalates is also rational.

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This is the point where to make something rational we begin rationalizing, dragging out thinly related paths such as “stand your ground,” and the right to bring weapons into most any public place.

There are lesser issues, at least in the circumstance of our growing dependence on electronic devices to stay tethered to a world we seem to be increasingly afraid to face alone.

But that and others are minor issues when there is violence and death following what should have been at worst a nasty shouting match. Find something sane or rational in that.

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I’m not going to speculate on the alleged shooter, except that he was apparently deemed acceptable to carry a weapon in our community. There aren’t too many of us who legally cannot carry arms around if we choose.

In an irrational world — where you don’t know what is lurking out there — that makes some kind of sense, although the consequences — as happened here — can be devastating.

About the only thing you can be sure of is that in this irrational world this will happen again.

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