A Man is Shot and Killed for Texting in a Theater; the Internet Says He Deserved It

Last week, my wife and I saw the Disney-masturbates-to-itself film Saving Mr. Banks. It was a sweet, heartwarming tale about how alcoholism, daddy-issues and mental illness led to the creation of the timeless classic Mary Poppins.

Seated in the middle of the back row of the theater was a 30-something white guy who was clearly high as a kite on meth (or similar). For the first ten minutes of the movie, this guy was loudly humming along to the movie’s score. He also reacted out-loud to everything that happened. Whenever the Emma Thompson character would say something obnoxious (which she does throughout), the meth guy would shout, “You stupid bitch!” And, worse, he was rhythmically stomping his foot on the floor.

A family of four — husband, wife and two teen-aged daughters — were seated immediately in front of this goon, and after everyone in the theater had taken a turn asking the guy to quiet down, the dad leaped out of his seat and shouted at the guy, “Shut the fuck up!” I had a clear view of everything and, yeah, I thought there was going to be a brawl.

Long story short, theater security entered and asked the man to calm down or be ejected. Gratefully, he stopped what he was doing, moved to the end of his row, and that was that. Back to the, you know, Disney movie.

Now that I think about it, maybe someone should’ve shot the meth-head. You know, with a concealed firearm.

No? Too much?

Well that’s what I learned from the internet yesterday after news broke of a shooting at movie theater in Tampa where a retired cop, 71-year-old Curtis Reeves, shot a husband and wife for texting during the movie. The husband, 43-year-old Chad Oulson, died from the gunfire.

But in various comment threads, missing was the barrage of comments calling for more gun control measures or a repeal of Florida’s infamous “Stand Your Ground” law. Instead, I read comment after comment in which the victims were blamed for the shooting. Because they were committing the obviously death-worthy trespass of texting in a movie theater.

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And these were just a few selections from one comment thread below the FOX 13 article. Incidentally, it wasn’t just conservatives who were posting these sorts of remarks. (I won’t even get into all of the racist comments by rednecks who assumed all parties involved were African-American.)

Not only are these comments yet another indication that the gun control debate in the United States is all but dead, but it also shows how cynical we’ve become when it comes to gun violence. When it becomes acceptable to blame the victim of a cold-blooded killing because he was texting during a movie — in fact, during the trailers no less — we’ve de-evolved to a wild west state of proto-civilization in which we cheer violent retribution for acts that we personally find annoying.

Yes, of course moviegoers who think they’re lounging around in their living rooms behaving like self-indulgent morons are — GRRR! — profoundly irritating, and theater management should do a better job ejecting them, especially before trouble brews. But what have we become we when we publicly muse — either seriously or jokingly — that a man who was merely texting during the trailers ought to be shot in the chest at point-blank range?

Chad Oulson had a 3-year-old daughter — in fact, it was her babysitter whom Oulson was texting at the time. His wife, by the way, was shot through the hand when she tried to protect her husband from the shooter. Because of a gun culture that permits concealed handguns in public places, as well as a society that elevates gunmen who believe they’re standing their ground to hero status, Oulson’s daughter will grow up without her father.

But he was texting in a movie theater, so, you know… justice.

We’re disgusting.

  • George A

    One of the persistent myths in this country is that
    private gun ownership prevents tyranny. The United State has the largest number
    of guns of any industrialized nation. This has not stopped us from having the
    largest number of people in prison of any country nor has it stopped the NSA
    from reading all e-mails and texts nor has it stopped the increased
    militarization of the police. What good is preserving the 2nd
    Amendment when all the others are being undermined?

  • CartoonCoyote

    Why are people having such a hard time grasping that one can A) be appalled at anyone being shot to death over poor cell phone etiquette and B) acknowledge that turning your cell phone off on request at a place where you are expected to do so is not too much to ask? Some call it “victim blaming” (no matter HOW many times you agree that the shooter was a psycho who shouldn’t have been let out of the house), I call it “holding two mutually-compatible thoughts simultaneously”.

  • SuMB

    If he is so great for doing that, then why is the shooter being denied bail? People should wait until all the facts are in before passing judgment!!

    http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/movie-theater-witnesses-no-punches-only-popcorn-thrown-before-shooting/2160911

  • GTFOWI

    Until we break the NRA and its rabble of white racist supporters, civilized life will not be possible in the USA. We need to treat these murderous degenerates as terrorists and pursue them without mercy.

  • kfreed

    RW gun nuts trolling Twitter say he deserved it, you mean. Tweet anything about guns… then wait.

  • Jeannine Valentine

    He wasn’t fucing Standing His Ground. The Retired Policeman pulled out his gun and shot him cause he was texting his babysitter during pre-movie trailers. Get it right people That guy should not have been shot and killed. PERIOD. There was no threat the man had no gun or his wife the asshole excop took it upon himself to just go ahead an shoot him. And all the witnesses stories match so now what do you have to say. He had no right to shoot anyone at all!!!!!!

  • gregorylkruse

    Too bad there wasn’t another person in the theater with a loaded gun with which he or she could shoot to death the guy who shot to death the first guy. And then….

  • villemar

    This entire country is turning into Mogadishu, and we deserve it.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bobcesca_go Bob Cesca

      Wait until you read my column tomorrow morning.

      • villemar

        Yay! I see you’re joining me in celebrating National Anhedonia Month!

  • http://www.politicalruminations.com/ nicole

    We’re disgusting.

    Yes we are. I can’t believe it’s come to this.

    • Nick L.

      Loss of social contract and Ayn Rand-ian, childish slant on rugged individualism hasn’t helped. More than the pure existence of guns, it is the idea that guns solve problems that is the issue. Guns create far more problems than they solve.

  • dukesirius

    Can we meet in the middle and agree that texting during the feature itself is worth a severe beating instead?

    • Victor_the_Crab

      No.

      It’s very, very easy to say/type that we’d like to beat the shit out of someone for doing something to anger and/or annoy us. I know I’m guilty of posting that idea on more that one occasion. That’s the id coming out in all of us.

      The ego, on the other hand, is there to get a grip on our psyches, and to kindly tell us to knock it off and not try and attempt anything so stupid, whether it’s wanting to beat the living daylights out of someone for texting in a theatre, or pulling out a gun and shooting someone dead for texting in a theatre. Either way, you’ll end up paying a price for those actions with jail time.

      • dukesirius

        I do hope it was clear that I was kidding.

        However, I have and support getting up and taking people’s phones away until the end of the movie.

        • http://www.politicalruminations.com/ nicole

          Why not do the adult thing and report the person to the theater personnel?

          Seems to me to be a far less hazardous method of eliminating the problem.

  • Milt Shook

    When the hell did the right to keep and bear arms become the right to shoot someone because you have a gun? It’s easy to blame this on Florida, but the fact is, this kind of thing is happening way too often. Just in the last few weeks, a woman was shot for knocking on a guy’s door to ask for help because her car broke down in Michigan. In Colorado, a teenager was shot and killed by her stepfather as she came home after sneaking out all night, because he thought she was a burglar. And in Virginia, another young person was shot and killed when they stumbled into the wrong house because they were too drunk to realize where they were. In every single one of these cases, the shooter had a choice, and chose to take a life immediately, rather than assess the situation and call police for assistance.

    United States, we have a problem. We’ve always had the right to bear arms. But that does not mean the right to shoot anyone who frightens you…

    • Christopher Foxx

      But that does not mean the right to shoot anyone who frightens you…,/i>

      You do in Florida.

      And I’m not being facetious.

      • Milt Shook

        As I noted, the problem isn’t only in Florida… Stand your ground is a stupid law, regardless of the state…

        • Christopher Foxx

          Oh, absolutely. It’s saying an individual’s irrational fear gets to decide what’s right, and provides the perfect alibi for premeditated murder.

          Someone had an argument with you and decides they’d like to kill you. A few days later they walk up to you on the street and shoot you dead. “Last time I saw him we argued and I was afraid he was still mad and would attack me.” No charges filed.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bobcesca_go Bob Cesca

      I’m quoting this in my column tomorrow, Milt. Well said.

    • Gena Cygnar

      I’m quoting him too (on my Facebook page.) People think it’s normal to have this level of carnage. I live in Michigan and it’s just as bad (as well as many other states.) We had a guy shoot up a funeral of a shooting victim recently, we just had a dude shoot himself in the butt because he was reaching for his wallet and accidentally grabbed the gun… People are bringing firearms into restaurants and other public places and having them go off when they accidentally drop them on the floor, and then injure someone. One guy shot his wife in the abdomen while cleaning his gun at the kitchen table. I think that the “right to bare arms” should not include the right to be an imbecile and bare arms. It should be a privilege reserved for non-morons. If only we could easily discern and label which ones are which…. maybe tattoo “imbecile” on their foreheads, so all the gun merchants know not to sell guns to them. But, oh darn. That’s not possible.

      Hey look…. a LOT of people annoy the s*** out of me. If it was the right thing to do to murder all of them with guns…. uh…. that would be a lot of dead people. The radical pro-gun rights fanatics (for example) ….trust me, they don’t want it to be legal and acceptable to shoot people (without consequence) who one finds annoying, because THEY are the most annoying people in our society by FAR.

      • Christopher Foxx

        Minor note, it’s “bear” arms. We’d have far fewer problems if it was just a right to go sleeveless. :)

        But you’re exactly correct. The right to bear arms doesn’t include a right to be dangerous. One person’s right to bear arms has to end when it starts to affect another person’s right to life, liberty, etc.

        The right to bear arms shouldn’t mean you have the right to use them indiscriminately or carelessly.

        • Gena Cygnar

          Are you sure? I like bears as much as the next person, but I don’t think that level of furriness would be a very feminine and attractive look for me. I think I would prefer the right to bare arms. ;-) (Minor note. When I did a quick search check on it, it came up as “bare” arms, and I wasn’t concerned enough about it to actually look up the 2nd Amendment and cross-reference it. Oh well…. nobody’s perfect.) Thanks for the tip.

  • waspuppet

    “Long story short, theater security entered and asked the man to calm
    down or be ejected. Gratefully, he stopped what he was doing, moved to
    the end of his row, and that was that. Back to the, you know, Disney
    movie.

    Now that I think about it, maybe someone should’ve shot the meth-head. You know, with a concealed firearm.”

    God thing the meth-head didn’t have a concealed firearm, or he might’ve shot everyone who was “hassling” him.

    Though if there were “good guys with guns” around him, he’d have gotten plugged too. So everything would’ve worked out OK.

    Or something.

  • Christopher Foxx

    http://banter.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/texting_shooting_comment_3.jpg

    Gruff McGruff: “The shooter had every right to stand his ground against an unlawful popcorn assault””

    That one’s satire, surely.

  • neonnautilus

    What is annoying about texting? (Not a rhetorical question. My phone as far as I know doesn’t do texting) Does texting make noise? I can understand why talking on a phone in public is annoying (not a shootable offense, tho’), but texting?

    • Sean Richardson

      From the complaints I have seen, people who have difficulty concentrating in movie theaters find the light from the phone distracting.

      • CartoonCoyote

        It’s a totally *avoidable* distraction, wouldn’t you say?

        • CartoonCoyote

          And this:

          “[P]eople who have difficulty concentrating in movie theaters find the light from the phone distracting”

          Conversely, people who have difficulty concentrating on the movie dick around with their cell phones. They should head to the food court, instead.

    • Ipecac

      Yes, the light shining from the phone is a major annoyance. Not worth someone’s life, of course, but it is a problem with movie-going.

      Of course, since the actual movie hadn’t started, it wasn’t a problem at the point this asshat shot the poor guy.

      • Christopher Foxx

        I meet folks halfway. I figure the trailers are their chance to wind down and wrap up any phone activities they have going on. When the trailers start it’s a signal to finish up the text and put the phone away, to wrap up the conversation (on phone or with the person next to you). And usually most folks do.

  • bbiemeret

    Ladies and gentlemen, without further comment, i give you… God Bless America (NSFW)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yruArw21EGA

  • dbtheonly

    And another school shooting in NM.

    WHY?

  • Lodge

    It kinda makes me think back about the theme song of this long forgotten (1989) Bond movie :

    Hey baby, thought you were the one who tried to run away
    Ohh, baby, wasn’t I the one who made you want to stay?
    Please don’t bet that you’ll ever escape me
    Once I get my sights on you

    I Got a licence to kill (to kill)
    And you know I’m going straight for your heart
    (Got a licence to kill)
    Got a licence to kill (to kill)
    Anyone who tries to tear us apart
    (Got a licence to kill)
    Licence to kill

    Hey baby, think you need a friend to stand here by your side?
    Yes you do (your side)
    Ohh, baby, now you can depend on me to make things right (things right)
    Please don’t bet that you’ll ever escape me
    Once I get my sights on you

    I Got a licence to kill (to kill)
    And you know I’m going straight for your heart
    (Got a licence to kill)
    Got a licence to kill (to kill)
    Anyone who tries to tear us apart
    (Got a licence to kill)
    Licence to kill

    Say that somebody tries to make a move on you
    In the blink of an eye, I’ll be there too
    And they’d better know why I’m gonna make them pay
    Till their dying day
    Till their dying day
    Till their dying day

    Got a licence to kill (to kill)
    And you know I’m going straight for your heart
    (Got a licence to kill)
    Got a licence to kill (to kill)
    Anyone who tries to tear us apart
    (Got a licence to kill)
    Licence to kill

    Gotta hold onto your loving
    Licence to kill
    Ooohooo!
    Kill

  • moelarryandjesus

    The shooter has a 50-50 chance of getting away with it.

    Florida is an uncivilized shit state.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bobcesca_go Bob Cesca

      Sad to say I agree.

  • trgahan

    I know comment trolls (particularly pro-gun ones) need to be taken with a freighter full of salt, but supporting the actions of the shooter in this case does not fall under the two most popular arguments for the 2nd Amendment. Those being A) we need guns protect ourselves from crime and B) we need guns to project ourselves from oppression.

    In this particular case, support of the shooter’s actions is support of the argument that the 2nd Amendment is meant to grant the freedom to use guns to oppress someone else. So therefore, you should be free to violently project your will/desires/viewpoint onto another person.

    • Liberservativeuslimjew

      Stupid libtard! This country is in the midst of most blatant oppression and corruption we’ve ever seen. Benghazi, Fast & Furious, IRS orders to deprive Americans, NSA spying, intentional destruction of the health care system, hundreds of firings of top military officers, sending billions of YOUR TAX DOLLARS to terrorists, an agreement with an enemy allowing them to build nukes… all perpetrated by a muslim usurper supported by a communist community group that stole TWO elections… and I can go on!

      Oulson was a libtard drugged out PUNK! A white trash version of Traythug martin. He deserved exactly what he got.

      • trgahan

        Yeah, I didn’t like George W. Bush’s presidency either….

  • Steven Skelton

    One other thing Bob, Gruff McGruff is obviously satire. He more than likely agrees with you.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bobcesca_go Bob Cesca

      You can discern between the crackpots and the satire? Wow.

      • Steven Skelton

        Come on Bob. Read it again.

        Being a leftwinger yourself, you probably don’t read as much satire from the left as I do…but this one is pretty obvious. The misspelled “looser.” Defending the man believing his life was in danger from a popcorn assault.

        In the end, it doesn’t really matter as you have plenty of other presents from the dog park trash can to prove your point.

        People say insensitive shit on social media. Give yourself a Pulitzer for breaking that story.

        • JozefAL

          Are you suggesting that right-wing nuts DON’T misspell “loser” as “looser”?

          I’ve certainly read more than my fair share of nutcases (mostly from the right-wing end of the spectrum) who use “looser” as the opposite of “winner.”

          • Steven Skelton

            No Joze. I’m not suggesting anything. I’m stating the obvious fact that Gruff McGruff was being satirical.

      • bbiemeret

        I feel like drowning myself for saying this, but I think Skelton’s right on this one minor point. I thought the “unlawful popcorn assault” was a dead giveaway.

        • D_C_Wilson

          My first impules was to think it was satire, too. But these days, Poe’s law is in full swing and even stuff that five years ago I would have thought was clearly satire has turned out to be dead serious.

        • Charles Hilton

          That’s what did it for me.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bobcesca_go Bob Cesca

      You can tell the difference?

  • Steven Skelton

    Two things Bob.
    1) You can head to the comment sections, facebook and twitter and find idiots saying just about every stupid thing you ever thought of…and some you haven’t. Making your political points through internet comments is like proving the world is going to shit by looking in the waste can at the dog park.
    2) Reality in this country is that there are over 350 million working firearms. Firearms have an incredibly long shelf life. Just last year, I fired a M1 Garand manufactured for WW 2. This gun was seventy years old and fired like a charm.

    Pass whatever gun laws you want and it wont do a thing about those 350 million firearms.

    Here’s a question for you. What gun law would take a firearm from that retired police officer yet not take mine?

    • ucdscholar

      You’re overlooking the fact that the world is becoming so increasingly filled with waste cans containing this kind of content that one can no longer differentiate a dog park from a movie theater.

      • Steven Skelton

        People say ugly shit on the internet. I can’t disagree with that.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bobcesca_go Bob Cesca

      1) Reactions like that we’re all over the place, even from people I know and respect.

      2) Gun buy-back program. Won’t get them all, obviously, but it’ll decrease the volume. Then I’d make it much harder to buy a gun. Training courses, stringent background checks, etc. But, granted, this requires political will and no one has it right now.

      • Steven Skelton

        Do you still respect them after finding out they believe people should be shot at a movie theater for texting?

        • dbtheonly

          Steve, it’s the ultimate paradox. Everyone is a “Good Guy with a gun” until he isn’t. And there’s no way to tell when the change will happen.

      • Milt Shook

        On the commenters, I agree. Trolls don’t usually use their own name, and recognize a couple of these folks.

        Gun buy-backs are good, but until we get a registration, licensing and insurance regimen in place, it’ll be like shooting turds on Fox News. Everyone who owns a gun needs to beheld legally responsible for it. And for God’s sake, a life has to be worth more than the cost of a movie, even with popcorn and a drink. If bad manners bothers people so much, they should stay home and wait to rent it.

        • Charles Hilton

          Thank you! That’s why God created Netflix, and is why I don’t go to the movies anymore.

      • stacib23

        We had a gun buy-back in Chicago. The gangs returned their non-working guns to the tune of over $6,000. Hmmm, I wonder what they did with that windfall of taxpayer loot?

        • http://vermillionbrain.blogspot.com/ Vermillion

          Maybe if there were better gun control laws in place, they wouldn’t be able to buy any working guns with that money, which is what I assume you are trying to insinuate here. Or at least wouldn’t be able to buy them without their names attached to each life taken by them.

          • stacib23

            It’s a busted program – I’m not sure if its the execution or the plan itself, but gun buy backs are not working at any level for controlling gun violence here in the city.

            Gun control laws only work if the surrounding areas have the same laws. When there are gun shops operating barely outside city limits (which can just be across a street) you cannot effectively enforce the laws of your town no matter how many of them are on the books. And, too, unfortunately, there are way too many other people. people who have no intention on shooting anybody, being duped, convinced, threatened into buying guns for those that cannot make the purchase themselves.

    • Christopher Foxx

      Here’s a question for you. What gun law would take a firearm from that retired police officer yet not take mine?

      So… how many outlaws get to have guns before you’d consider giving up yours? Would you give up your gun if it meant 100 bad guys with guns didn’t get to have theirs? Would it have to be a 1:1000 ratio before you’d consider it?

      Point I’m trying to make: Folks who want to carry guns are largely selfish and narrow-sighted. They see only the affect on themselves and ignore what it means for anyone else. Because their right to bear arms is sacred, absolute and not open to any discussion no matter what.

      Put another way:
      Here’s a question for you. How many children are you willing to make fatherless to exercise your right to carry a concealed weapon?

  • jebediahspringfield

    He wasn’t texting the three-year-old. He was texting the three-year-old’s babysitter. To tell her that his phone would be off for the duration of the movie.

    • petesh

      And the movie hadn’t started yet