- Blind No More: Sight Restored (for Mice)
- Under Fire in Aurora: Stress Test
- Police are People, Too
- Aurora, Zanzibar, and the World
High-profile, emotion-drenched, tragic situations are a sort of Rorschach test: particularly for opinion pieces. I think what's written tells more about the writer, than about the incident. I'm no exception.
In my opinion, we still don't know why James Holmes killed a dozen people. On the other hand, I'm quite sure that:
- The Tea Party wasn't controlling Mr. Holmes
- The killings aren't a government plot
- Shape-shifting, space-alien lizard men are not involved
- "Mourning Aurora's Dead: Good News, of a Sort"
(July 23, 2012)
- "Colorado: Prayer Couldn't Hurt "
(July 21, 2012)
The 'government conspiracy' and 'Tea Party plot' have been presented as 'real,' or at least 'likely.' ABC and the BBC seem to realize that they goofed about the Tea Party being involved, but I'm pretty sure that some Americans will remain convinced that 'the truth' is being suppressed.
- "Lebanon, Israel, Pakistan, India, and the Lizard People"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (January 14, 2009)
- Human life is precious
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2258)
- It's wrong to
Before discussing how folks responded to being attacked at a movie theater, there's a difference between recognizing evil actions, and judging another person:
"...although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1861)
"Chemical Helps Blind Mice See Again"What's important about acrylamide-azobenzene-quaternary ammonium (try saying that fast) and a seriously uncomfortable medical procedure isn't restoring vision to some rodents: or, rather, that's not the most important point in these experiments.
Dave Mosher, Biotech, Wired (July 26, 2012)
"Injections of a recently discovered chemical into the eyes of blind lab mice has restored at least part of the rodents' vision.
"The chemical, called AAQ - short for acrylamide-azobenzene-quaternary ammonium - was not tested in humans, nor is it a cure for blindness. But researchers who treated mice with the molecule, a type of light-sensitive 'photoswitch,' think their method represents an advance in the quest to help the blind see.
" 'The photoswitch is injected into the vitreous cavity of the eye, but unlike the other strategies, it does not require highly invasive surgical interventions and its actions are reversible,' the authors of a new study about AAQ wrote July 26...."
This sort of thing could - probably - be done with folks who are blind: letting them see again. And, although we're supposed to treat animals humanely: people are more important than animals. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2415-2418)
Well, actually, you can: but the mice won't talk.
The Catholic Church says that using human beings for medical experiments is okay: provided that the risks aren't too great. Incidents like the Tuskegee experiments, what got sorted out in the Nürnberg trials, and the Cincinnati radiation experiments, are not okay. Not even if the people 'volunteer.' (Catechism, 2292-2295) I've been over that before. (August 30, 2010)
"...In a healthy eye, light strikes rod- and cone-shaped photoreceptor cells lining the retina, which transmit the signal into a network of nerves below them. Those nerves ultimately usher visual information to the brain.Scientific research is a good idea, provided that it's done in an ethical way. (Catechism, 2292-2295) Practical applications of the research are okay too: although again, ethics are important. For example:
"Retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration kill off the rods and cones, eventually causing blindness, but the network of nerves behind often remains intact.
"By taking advantage of the intact nerves, a few biomedical tricks can already partially restore vision. Electronic sensors implanted in a retina, for example, can stimulate the nerves to send visual information when struck by light. Likewise, engineered viruses can implant genes into retinal nerve cells that make them react to light.
"But these and other techniques are irreversible and can trigger immune responses that destroy the rest of an eye...."
(Dave Mosher, Biotech, Wired)
"Organ transplants are in conformity with the moral law if the physical and psychological dangers and risks to the donor are proportionate to the good that is sought for the recipient. Organ donation after death is a noble and meritorous act and is to be encouraged as an expression of generous solidarity. It is not morally acceptable if the donor or his proxy has not given explicit consent. Moreover, it is not morally admissible directly to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons."In other words, donating a kidney is a good thing to do: provided that the benefit/risk ratio is right. Donating organs after death "is a noble and meritorous act and is to be encouraged...." But killing someone, breaking the body down for parts, and using one of the pieces to save another person's life? That isn't right. It's like the fellow said:
" 'An evil action cannot be justified by reference to a good intention' (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Dec. praec. 6). The end does not justify the means."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1759)
"Archbishop Aquila praises heroic actions during theater shooting"Quite a bit of attention is focused on Mr. Holmes. That's understandable. I think it's important to look at what others did, too.
Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News (July 25, 2012)
" Those who offered their lives to save their loved ones in the recent Colorado theater shooting exemplified the Christian virtues of courageous sacrifice and selfless love, said Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver.
"Such acts of courage testify to 'the natural goodness that is present within the human person,' he told CNA on the evening of July 24.
"Stories of heroism are beginning to emerge from the Century 16 Theater in Aurora, Colo. where one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history took place early on July 20...."
"...Reports have emerged that four of the victims were young men who died while shielding their girlfriends from bullets.Like I've said before: we still have heroes.
"Jon Blunk, Matt McQuinn, Alex Teves and John Larimer all gave their lives to protect their girlfriends - Jansen Young, Samantha Yowler, Amanda Lindgren and Julia Vojtsek, respectively - from the gunfire in the theater.
"Several of these women spoke to the media after the shooting, crying as they told how their boyfriends - who were all in their 20s - used their bodies to block them from harm, knowing that they were risking their lives....
(Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News)
Young was hit, a neck wound, but remained conscious. She urged Davies to run and hide. Instead, Davies pulled Young into an aisle and applied pressure to stop the bleeding.
(Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News)
Knowing how to treat a bullet wound is one thing. Having the presence of mind, while under fire, to apply that knowledge: That's impressive.
Then there's the sort of considered courage it takes to forgive an attacker.
"...Shortly after emerging from surgery, O'Farrill was interviewed by radio host Todd Schnitt. Asked what he would say to James Holmes, the alleged shooter, he responded, 'I'm truly blessed to have forgiveness in my heart, and I do forgive him completely for what he’s done.'"Forgiveness" isn't "stupidity." As a Catholic, I'm expected to forgive others - and myself. But I'm also expected to clean up the mess that sin leaves. (Catechism, 1459-1460)
" 'I honestly would like to see him. I would like to talk to him. I'm a man of deeply devoted faith,' O'Farrill explained. 'Jesus is my world, and Jesus is how I get through every single day, and that’s how I got through this ordeal.'
"O'Farrill said that he has been praying for Holmes, and if he had the chance to speak with him, 'the first words that I would say are, "I forgive you, James." '...
"...The archbishop encouraged continued prayer during the coming weeks and months that God may bring comfort and peace to the victims of the shooting and their families.
" 'The Holy Spirit is present,' he said."
I think Mr. O'Farrill was quite sensible, forgiving his attacker. I also think that justice demands that Mr. Holmes face some sort of sanctions. That doesn't mean that I think he should be killed.
Killing a murderer might be 'just,' and impending death can have a wonderfully focusing effect on one's thoughts: but I think Mr. Holmes might benefit from having a long time to reconsider what he's done with his life, and how he's affected others.
I'm not 'absolutely' against capital punishment, and that's another topic:
- "Capital Punishment: Killing Those Who Deserve to Die"
(October 2, 2008)
"Chaplain says faith can help officers cope with Aurora shooting"Police officers are trained to deal with trauma and tragedy. But that training doesn't stop them from being human beings. Police in Aurora, Colorado have been dealing with quite a bit:
Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News (July 24, 2012)
"A strong faith in God can play an important role for law enforcement officers struggling to deal with the aftermath of the recent mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., said a chaplain who has experience ministering to those involved in tragic killings.
" 'There is a kind of spiritual journey that takes place,' said Gino Geraci, who serves as a chaplain for the Denver division of the FBI....
"...Geraci spoke with CNA on July 20, shortly after returning from the Century 16 Theater in Aurora, Colo., where one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history took place....
- Aftereffects of a dozen lives abruptly ended
- Contact with the person who killed those folks
- Knowledge that the killer intended to kill others with a booby-trapped apartment:
"...While officers 'are trained to deal with tragedy and trauma,' the gravity of a situation like the recent rampage can be overwhelming, he explained.
"For many officers, the events of July 20 may be 'one of the most difficult experiences' they will ever face, he said, adding that the experience of trauma can also be 'cumulative.'
" It's impossible to not have it affect you,' he said, and these effects can be physical, spiritual and emotional...."
(Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News)
"Pope Promises Prayers for Denver Victims""...Aurora, Denver?"
"Also Remembers Those Killed in Ferry Accident Near Zanzibar
Zenit.org (July 23, 2012)
"Benedict XVI promised prayers for the victims of a shooting that took place in the early hours of Friday morning at a movie theater in Denver.
"Sunday after praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered at the papal summer residence, the Pope said he was 'deeply shocked by the senseless violence which took place in Aurora, Denver.'..."
Ideally, Benedict XVI would have known that Aurora is a municipality near Denver, Colorado. If he was running for office, he might have added a few words about next month's road work on Havana Street.
The Pope is spiritual leader to more than a billion people. He's also a human being: with the capacity for misstatement we all share.
I'm impressed that he noted the Aurora killings, along with the nearly-80 people killed in a ferry accident. About that: the death toll has gone up, with many of the folks who were traveling between Tanzania and Zanzibar 'missing and presumed dead.'
Prayer for folks affected by the Aurora killings is, I think, a good idea. So is prayer for those who lost family and friends when the MV Skagit/Kalama went down:
- "Zanzibar says 145 people were killed in ferry disaster last week"
Reuters (July 22, 2012)
- "Transhumanism, Bioethics, and Me"
(April 8, 2012)
- "Ancient Style and Today's Discussions at the 'Vatican Science Academy' "
(October 2, 2011)
- "Christina Green, Organ Transplants, and Rules"
(January 16, 2011)
- " 'Artificial' Bacteria, Genetics, the Vatican, and 'Courage With Caution' "
(May 22, 2010)
- "Prayer, Medicine and Trusting God"
(March 4, 2010)
- "Transhumanism, Bioethics, and Me"
- Science and Catholicism
- "The World isn't Flat"
(June 9, 2012)
- "The World isn't Flat"
- "Catholics aren't Calvinists"
(May 7, 2012)
- "Beauty, Science, and a Crazy Idea"
(March 14, 2012)
- "Science isn't a Four-Letter Word"
(January 29, 2012)
- " 'In a State of Journeying' "
(January 18, 2012)
- "Heroes; Freedom; Doing Good and Avoiding Evil"
(July 6, 2012)
- "The Power to Hurt: Or Help"
(June 27, 2012)
- "Murder and Suicide at Johns Hopkins: My Take"
(September 16, 2010)
- "Discovery Channel Hostages and the Environment: It Could have been Worse"
(September 1, 2010)
- "Father Damien: Another Hero"
(April 17, 2009)