So last night, with me gallows humor locked and loaded, I went to the local cinemaplex and saw The Dark Knight Rises, thus concluding my period of mourning.

Like most periods, this one began with some blood, which led to cramps, before finally ending with an with an over-indulgance in junk food. And now that my task is complete, I can honestly say I did the least–the very least– a man could do to not dismiss last week’s orgy of violence with a wave of the hand: I forestalled seeing a fictional orgy of violence for seven whole days.

You may begin constructing my statue now (I hear Penn State has some real estate available).

I was glad to see that my post regarding the shootings in Colorado elicited some conversation. Putting aside conspiracy theories, the most revealing (if predicatable) responses were the  “don’t let the terrorists win” sentiments. DewiMorgan (not his real name… his real name is N3rdg@sm_9265) wrote:

Don’t cower at home. Don’t avoid seeing the movie that these people died to see. Who’re you trying to hurt or punish, here?

To which LordFluffy (tragically, his real name) added:

(W)hat I decided was this: not going to see it was not a tribute to the victims, it was a declaration of surrender.

There weren’t an overwhelming number of comments of this kind, but I thought I would call them out, seeing as how I myself had suggested that the true blue response to Colorado would be to not see the movie. Some people seemed to think I was calling for a full-on boycott, but really I was suggesting that those on the fence simply forestall seeing the movie for at least a week, not because the film itself had anything to do with the killings, but simply out of respect for the dead, and for ourselves.

What? Me Serious?

When tragedies like this break, the country typically goes through a cycle of hemming and hawing (as illustrated in this brilliant piece from the Onion), bemoaning the need for a national “conversation” about gun violence before concluding with a shoulder shrug that one cannot be had, then throwing the event down the ol’ memory hole until the next massacre, when the same fruitless conversation will be had all over again.

This response, therefor, has become the de facto “national conversation”.

We are so used to shootings like the ones in Aurora that they have truly become mind-numbing. First comes the shock, then the grief, then the pretense of a dialogue from the politicians, then Romney sticking his foot in his mouth in London, then the torrenting of the season premier of Breaking Bad, then the shaking of the heads, then the forgetting. By this time next week, Aurora, CO will have vanished from our collective radar as if it had been swallowed up by  the Bermuda Triangle.

But I did not feel like dosing myself with our American NyQuil this time. I had been all set to cram The Dark Knight Rises down my throat last Saturday, massacre be damned, but I chose to forestall it, and invited you to do the same, so that perhaps that “national conversation” that is ever in the offing could actually begin. Twelve people butchered, 58 wounded, who knows how many with permanent injuries or disfigurements? Is Wayne LaPierre going to pay for their wheelchair ramps? And who knows how many of the dead would have eventually contributed more to our society than a crap song like Cat Scratch Fever?

We can’t keep pretending we care about this issue, but only while the blood is still fresh. We have to care the week after and the week after that and a month later and a year later, so that when the next massacre takes place (and you can almost set our watches by them), we will all be prepared to shout “Holy shit! It happened again! First Gabbie Giffrods, then Aurora, now this! Hey Congress, get your balls out of your mouth!!

Or you can put this event in your rearview and see the Dark Knight Rises with a clear conscience. Spoiler: You can’t understand half of Bane’s dialogue and Christian Bale’s Batman voice will have you digging in your pocket for a lozenge.

You may also, without thinking, find yourself peeking at the emergency exit, wondering if it is about to become an emergency entrance.