I woke this morning expecting to read reviews of the newest Batman movie. My 16-year-old son had been counting the days to the premier and was in attendance last night. I had seen that Tyler Segan, our local hockey star, had put out word that he was looking for a date and had gotten hundreds of responses. I was actually thinking about Heath Ledger, who is perhaps my favorite actor of all time for his roles in Brokeback Mountain and as the Joker just before dying of an overdose. The deep dark part of masculinity that Ledger showed in his Joker role seemed somehow connected to his tragic end only months later.
What I didn’t expect was to hear that a Colorado boy had sent tear gas into a packed theater before opening fire in a mass murder rampage. My wife informed me of this over my coffee as I worked furiously on a bunch of trivial fatherly duties.
Honestly, I tried to ignore what she had told me. I didn’t want to hear about another young, white male who had gone supernova, imploding in on himself to such an extent that his only solution was to kill himself and take as many people with him as he could in some cosmic scale cry for help gone horribly wrong. I kept coming back to Heath Ledger as the Joker in my mind’s eye.
Then I began to think about the list–the horrible long list–of similar incidents in the last decade of young people being massacred at the hands of an insane murderer. I tried to come up with one female involved in one of these mass killings. And I couldn’t think of a single one.
So I am left with the question of what is going on with our boys that they exclusively are prone to the strike to such powerful, insane, derranged, and hurtful forces that would cause some tiny fraction to come up with a plan to go into a school or a movie theater or an isolated island to kill as many innocent children as possible?
At its most basic core, the Good Men Project was founded to explore the answer to that question. Unfortunately, as last night demonstrates, we have an awful long way to go.